I was swimming across oceans, across continents. This is wonderful exercise, my daddy called. First the Guinness Book of World Records, then the Olympics!
But I disappointed my daddy. I decided records were bad karma. People always want to break them, as people always want to break me, people like my daddy and my mommy. Even after their acrimonious divorce, they were united in that.
I decided I would not allow anyone to break me. I would leave the cement confines of pools, reject rectangles forever, in favor of circles and ovals.
Although I decided I would not be broken, Chemo was unendurable. I had visions of newborns’ ears like cookies, side by side, in a box. Everything broke into black and white shards. I heard the doctor’s voice, but couldn’t respond, as if I were in another room in another hospital. They took my head off and put it in an MRI machine. Then they brought it back and told me it was fine. When no one else could hear, the male nurse told me I was pretty.
In the bruised skies above our republic, a tornado travels like a hobo looking for a handout, looking for a trailer park to rip to shreds, looking for my nephew, who is five months behind on his trailer payments. Now that he’s moved to another state, he thinks he’s outrun the bank.
He lives on Central Degradation Ave., where the weather is always squabbly and low self-esteem, like fog, drops ever lower. It permeates his clothes.
Senseless violence lurks behind every vodka bottle, every can of Red Bull, every tattered couch. Everyone wants something for nothing.
Here comes the funnel cloud. This hobo is deranged and howls with laughter, like a drunken trailer park resident on Friday night. The hobo wants to throw it all into the sky. He wants to call all the women Crack Ho and all the men, Douche Bag.There are holes in the atmosphere, gaps in the landscape, a puncture in the bald tire that’s me . The disaster has caused my flight to be cancelled. I sleep on the cold airport floor on illusory carpet, a refugee irreparably lost.
It takes two days for them to get me a flight. The flight attendant looks like she’s just come from singing in a gospel choir. We don’t have gospel in my country. If we try to vaccinate our children, madmen come to kill us. From the airplane window I see gaps in the atmosphere, holes in the landscape, trailer parks splintered to bits, my nephew with his arms held up in supplication. The flight attendant fluffs my pillow
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has struck the star of a local ballet troupe, and a retiree who’s been waiting ten years to take up the sitar, and the daughter of a famous sci-fi writer, and a pharmacist at the nearby Walgreen’s , even a rock’n’roll star who had defeated breast cancer, brain cancer, drug addiction and three ugly, painful divorces. There are too many others to mention, who have been likewise affected, who (barely) live from day to day, plywood nailed over the windows of their lives.
Better not take those boards down—as soon as we do, another hurricane will stalk us. There are unopened stacks of mail, piles of unread student papers, unfilled prescriptions, strings loose and out of tune. There are dishes piled to the rim of an empty hot tub. If we don’t recover our energy soon, all is lost.
Me, I not only suffer from CFS, I’m a member of the Arrestable Class. Therefore I am often arrested, put on a road gang, forced to march in broiling sun, to destroy mosques with my bare hands, to throw valued antiquities to the mosaic floors and break them into shards.
The Unarrestable Class hired the actor William Macy to be its spokesperson. The Arrestable Class has no spokesperson. Even my court-appointed public defender refuses to be my spokesperson. He has a defect that occurred when he was cloned. He knows he has it, but can’t figure out what it is.
Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois has had over a thousand of his poems and fictions appear in literary magazines in the U.S. and abroad. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, The Best of the Net, and Queen’s Ferry Press’s Best Small Fictions for work published in 2011 through 2015. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, based on his work as a clinical psychologist in a state hospital, is available for Kindle and Nook, or as a print edition. To see more of his work, google Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois. He lives in Denver.