The peacocks were squawking again. The bastards! They were trying to fuck with me. I didn’t hold it against them though. Peacocks were well known for being the assholes of the avian world. They lift up their psychedelic plumage to mesmerise you, then spray rancid, liquid shit into the air. It was a party trick I had employed on countless guests. My leg dragged across the floor behind me like a peg as I made my way to the turntable. One last spin of Bringing It All Back Home would drown the bastards out! How many times had I listened to this record? I’d worn through and replaced so many copies that by this point I must have spent a whole advance on financing the R.A. Zimmerman Corporation.
I sunk back into my chair like a deflating balloon and the now-familiar pangs of pain made themselves known in my hips and back. I wasn’t like the great red shark convertible outside, acquiring greater value as it aged. I was an old jalopy, destined for the scrapheap, the only use left for me was terrorising tourists in the local supermarket. Wild eyed like a crazed mandrill, sweating profusely, screaming obscenities about the monsters that lurked in the woods.
I had watched Juan and my grandson playing in the snow yesterday and knew my time for having fun was over.No more games or walking or swimming. Boring.
I hadn’t written anything worth my name since the start of the eighties. The decadence of what followed was too much even for my taste. My brain was like a sodden sponge rotting under the sink; saturated with alcohol, unable to absorb anything new. No use to anyone. The rest of me was no better — so fat and bloated. Ahab’s great white whale. The myth overtook the real man long ago. Now all this limp flesh and cartilage was getting in the way; defiling a damn good legacy. It was a useless appendage — like a shell-shocked veteran’s dick. I never expected to make it this far. Never wanted to either.
All the arrangements had been made. I just needed to do one last thing. Something to sow a little confusion. I moved my 45 Smith & Wesson out the way, pulled the dictionary from the shelf above my desk and let it drop open. I stabbed my finger down blindly onto the onionskin paper. That would do. I put a fresh sheet of paper in the typewriter. Counselor. It would keep them guessing. Hell, it would keep me guessing. Perhaps Sheriff would have been more appropriate.
I was no longer fit for this world and America was not fit for me. It was no country at all anymore, only a cesspool of snivelling lobotomised morons. The banana republic that looked at the utter devastation, the spiralling shame, the squandering of international goodwill and decided they loathed themselves enough to give Bush a second term. Nixon may have been an unconscionable, crypto-fascist, warmongering monster but at least he was smart. He had a keen sense of political tactics. He didn’t owe his rise to anything other than his avaricious thirst for power. Bush, by contrast, is a Nazi, a war criminal and a dumbfuck. Someone who thinks the presidency of the most powerful country in the world is something you inherit from your Daddy like a second hand fucking car. I had three square miles clear around the farm and it was still not enough. I could not stand to even share all the space in America with the flag-fucking racists who put that brain-dead little Daddy’s boy back in power to finish his rampage of murder, rape and pillaging. I refused to believe there could ever be a president worse than him.
The phone rang and I thrashed out my leg to knock the needle off the record.
‘What is this?’ I demanded.
‘Oh… Have you had a nice time at the gym?’
‘Yeah. I’m still there. I just wanted to check in.’
‘We’re all good. Juan and Will are playing next door. I’m settling at my desk getting ready to start my ESPN column.’
‘Ok. I think I’m going to do a few laps of the pool.’
‘Listen… I’m sorry again about last night. I’m sorry about being such an asshole. About ruining a pleasant evening. You know I have these moods. Things haven’t been the same for me since Hawaii… Are you there? I don’t know what else to say. Why don’t you come home? I want to see you and I could use your help with this column.’
‘Fine. I’ll come home now.’
‘See you soon then.’
This won’t hurt.
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