Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Health Care, Chapter Four
The door slammed and Ben relaxed a little. It was a lot easier when nobody was here and nobody was expecting him to talk and he could just shut his mind down. He was exhausted. He wouldn’t have thought that your mind could exhaust you that much, but his certainly had.
What was in his hand?
Oh, shit, it was the bong. He’d been about to take a hit when Claire came in. Better do that now, then.
He touched the flame to the bowl and started the bubbling. Joan was getting pissed, he could tell. Not like it was a hard thing to do, pissing Joan off, but usually it was more of a “for the fun of the argument” pissed. This was seriouser. More serious. Why could you make some words superior (superiorer?) by just adding on an er but others you had to put “more” out front? Huh.
Anyway, Joan. Yeah, he could tell she wasn’t happy. He was perceptive like that. Perceptiver? More perceptive. More perceptive than people gave him credit for.
But even though he knew how everyone was feeling, he couldn’t stop himself. He, well, wait. He was stopped. Maybe it would be better to say he couldn’t get himself moving. Well we movin’ on up…to the East Side. To a de-luxe apartment in the sky. Stop. He couldn’t get himself moving, what he couldn't stop was his thoughts.
He’d been on the same fucking loop tape since he got here. It went something like, “I’m an idiot. How could Simone love an idiot? She couldn’t. Why did I think this time would be different? Because I’m an idiot.” Lather, rinse, repeat. The same thoughts over and over.
Occasionally he’d steer his mind away to think about what he should be doing now. Now that his plans were floating in a sewer somewhere. Now that he had no girlfriend, no band, no apartment. He had to be careful. This is where his buddy Rafael had been. And look at him.
Rafael had been a great guy to hang out with. He always had pot. He was always in a good mood and always up for some Nintendo and pizza. Then one day Ben had found him sitting in his kitchen crying nonstop. And he couldn’t get him to stop. After about an hour of joking and pleading and listening and, and hugging for Christ’s sake, he’d actually tried hugging Rafael, but it did nothing. After an hour of that, Rafael just asked him to leave. And he did. And the next time he saw Rafael, he’d been Born Again. They must have had some alarm system that goes off when people are in spiritual/emotional crisis. A bell goes off in their station house and they send in a team to do an emergency convert. Conversion? Conversation? Whatever.
He didn’t want to end up Born Again and telling his friends they were going to be cast into eternal hellfire. If he didn’t pull himself out of this, there was no telling where the hell he’d end up.
Oreos. Oreos would help. He groped around him on the floor for the bag. Floor. Floor. Floor. Plastic! Shit, empty. This meant getting up. He tried it. Whoa. The room was doing weird shit. It was tilty. The Tilt-a-Whirl was a fun ride, wasn’t it? This wasn’t. Okay. Steady yourself. Couch to chair. Good. Chair to table. Table to doorway. Doorway to counter. Made it.
The cupboard wasn’t quite as well stocked as he’d remembered. There was nothing that he could just shovel in. No cookies. No Chex mix. No pizza. There was peanut butter and jelly. But no bread. Shit. There were saltines. He could smear the peanut butter and jelly on crackers. That was a lot of effort. Oh! Peanuts! Half a jar. Aaaaand…grapes! There were grapes in the fridge. Why, that’d be like an even fresher version of a PB&J.
He grabbed his supplies and walked, more steadily now, back to the TV. He sat down and chucked a handful of peanuts into his mouth, following it with three juicy grapes. Crunchy sweet. What a great idea. He could market this. Sell grapes and peanuts together in one package. If he had a pen, he’d write that idea down for later.
He saw that the Headline News broadcast had circled around back to the top of the hour. He’d already seen the same broadcast about four times now and was pretty sure he had a good enough handle on world events. He flipped to Nickelodeon, hoping to maybe catch some Ren & Stimpy.
No dice. That wasn’t Ren. Who was that? Blonde lady. Fat blonde lady. Oh, shit, it was Gloria. From Archie Bunker. She was talking about job training. Wow. She was talking about job training and he needed a career. This was, wow, she was talking to him. There were so many things he could do. A whole world of opportunities that Gloria was laying open for him. She was giving him a new chance. Car mechanics. Data entry. Dental hygiene. Veterinary assistant. Nurse’s aide. Wait.
Nurse's aide. Nurse's aide. Nurse's aide. Gloria wanted him to be a nurses's aide.