Chili Con Carnage
I wake up in bed alone, with drool and sweat and worse on my pillow. There are crumpled dollar bills and a couple of bucks in change on top of the dresser, enough for cigarettes and scratch-offs, maybe a bottle. History is dead. Scum is all that’s left. The sun keeps showing up regardless.
The train was crowded, dirty, excruciatingly slow. I had boarded with the idea of arriving that night in time to be a character in someone else’s dreams. It doesn’t have to make sense, but, for a while, the train ran parallel to an oily black river in which naked corpses floated. None of the passengers traveling with small children even attempted to shield the children’s eyes. And that was fine with me. Growing up, I spent many hours watching TV alone in the basement in the dark.
I said to the doctor, “I’m dying.” He said, “How’s that my fault?” I had been having difficulty breathing for about a month. The doctor said it was my body attacking itself. “It’ll scald you,” he said with unexpected enthusiasm, “peel the skin and muscle right off your bones.” I wondered if this was a joke of some sort. I decided it must be and climbed down from the exam table. When I opened the door to leave, a man with a bloody face, his hands bound behind his back, was just standing there waiting his turn.
Howie Good is the author of THE DEATH ROW SHUFFLE, a poetry collection forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.