The next morning I was flat on the garage floor, reeling with a gutter wine headache. I opened an eye a crack. The light hit it and burned into my brain. I turned away from the light. The blood in my head shifted and produced a stabbing pain somewhere behind my nose. I imagined Jesus driving a railroad spike into my ear with a sledgehammer forged in woe. Ah, my sins. I reached for the wine at the foot of the bed.
When I sat up I began to puke so I ran into the house for the toilet. I didn’t realize how dizzy I was. I rammed my face into the door frame before I made it through to the bowl. I threw, flushed, then threw again. As I was heaving I had an epiphany of poetry. I washed my mouth and checked to see if I had any splashed on my pants. I was clean. I strode to the words.
I sat there for five minutes, but in the distance from the bathroom to the keys I had lost the epiphany completely. Nothing. What becomes of the beautiful revelation? A brief glimpse as the blood fades and crackles like electric dust into the past. A burp rose, and I tasted the previous night’s wine.
I still had a fair quantity of weed stashed away for just such an occasion. A spur was needed in the side of that goddamn horse called poetry. I rolled a joint and smoked.
A morning fog had rolled in since the sun had jabbed me in the eye, and now a soft glow masked the optimism of the day. Maybe it was the weed. I gaped at the neighbors next door mowing their grass, but my head still hurt and I didn’t feel stoned. I rolled another joint, this one twice as big, a real hooter, and smoked it down. I thought about waxing the antler. I hadn’t heard from Veronica in weeks. I returned to the ivory keys of truth.
There it was, shining silver, grand and alone, a lighthouse or ransom.
The thrill was gone. I concentrated on the blank page but it only mocked me, laughing at my literary impotence.
“You stupid fuck,” it said, “how dare you attempt to fill me with meaning. You are shit and you will never sell another word as long as you miserably exist.” Then it laughed again, “Ha, ha, ha.”
My head began to droop. It swung and rocked back and forth for a moment until my chin rested on my chest. A glob of drool rappelled from my bottom lip. I was out.
I woke with a start, fevered and ready. I swatted behind me. No one was there. Only the silence. The ghost. The fear. I had finally devolved into some lunatic caricature of metaphysics. Then the voice spoke.
“More wine,” it said, “more wine.”
Yes, I thought, that must be the answer.
“No, you fool,” the blank page said, “what about me?
What of your craft, your love, your life?”
I pushed away from the keys. Then the voice.
“Go, young Prometheus,” it said, “grab the fire and make it your own. Take the wine, take it, take it…”
I stood and stumbled backward. I considered the wine, but then I felt the gods of peristalsis lay their hands on me. I returned to the alimentary throne and sat in contemplation, but it was a false alarm. I looked at the tub next to me and decided what I truly needed was a long, hot bath. Then I looked closer, at the grime and mildew growing voraciously across the whiteness of its porcelain. A roach crawled from a crack near my shampoo. I would have to clean it before I could take respite. Only five minutes, I thought.
An hour later the mold had relinquished its hold on my vessel of bodily salvation. I had defeated the knight of sanctimonious decay and would now celebrate in the sweaty broth of inspiration. I made for the door to disrobe. Before I got two steps I slipped on a puddle of water that had formed on the linoleum. I reached for the sink but it was too late. I was down again, back flat and toes up. They would find me this time and shoot me for sure, like a poor broken horse not fit for glue.
I had been down for five minutes when the phone rang. It was Veronica. I could hear her voice on the machine in the other room. I reached for the shower curtain to help me up, but I pulled it down, ring by ring, like in that movie. The call ended and I heard a click.
A helicopter circled overhead, thumpa thumpa thumpa. My head was limp and began to spin. The smell of stale urine wafted around me from the base of the commode. Almost honey. Not cleaned in two years. The back of my head was wet. Rubber stamps, I thought. Sadness and bilge water, rats and the crowns of kings.
Then I remembered. Six month previous, during a bender at the house, I had half finished a bottle of Puerto Rican rum and staggered into the john where I had wisely hidden it from the madding crowd. Unless someone had found it in the interim it would still be there. I leaned up from my repose and cracked the cabinet. There it was, shining silver, grand and alone, a lighthouse or ransom. I reached, unscrewed, drank and fell back.
“This writing will be the death of me,” I thought as I lay on the floor. I had been forced to go into writing by my need to support the drinking and drugs, the good life. Now it was one or the other, the work or the muse. Prone there on the bathroom floor I chose the other. So be it.