I was a bit of a monster when I first met the future Mrs. Milo. I had long hair, a shaggy beard, an attitude problem and unresolved mental issues. I was chronically unemployed, belligerent, had poor dietary habits, questionable hygiene, a gambling problem, abused alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and regularly entertained impure thoughts.
Getting married was the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed my life and made a new man out of me. Since entering into holy matrimony, I have shaved off my beard and gotten a haircut.
I’m still working on the other stuff.
Marriage is a wonderful institution, but it’s not for everyone. Some people (and I’m referring to males of the species) are incapable of withstanding the rigors of marriage.
There are rascals and rogues loose in this world, men who are so set in their doggish ways, so unwilling to compromise even the slightest bit of their independence, or answer to anyone for their behavior, that matrimony is simply not an option for them. They live by their own rules and schedules, and answer to their own consciences, coming and going when they choose, eating when they’re hungry and sleeping when they’re tired. They want an unencumbered life, free to drink, smoke, gamble, and fornicate with as many women as possible.
Having a wife complicates matters for the independent minded. Wives generally frown on excessive drinking or smoking. In fact, they tend to disapprove of excess of any sort. And they’re damned unreasonable about the whole fidelity issue.
One of The Third City’s attorneys takes the position that marriage is unconstitutional. He has prepared a class action suit, arguing that marriage violates the “Pursuit of Happiness” clause in the Constitution. He says he’ll file the lawsuit as soon as he can scrape up the dough for the filing fee.
I have a dear friend, who I’ll call Bruce Diksas, to spare him undue embarrassment, who has never married and doesn’t plan to get married anytime soon. He lives on his own terms, enjoying a rigorous lifestyle that most wives wouldn’t tolerate. I once asked Bruce if he had ever considered getting married.
“I almost asked Martha to marry me.”
“I remember her. You two were together for a couple of years. What happened?”
“It was just one of those things. I was getting ready to have my usual breakfast. I rolled a joint, popped a beer and got the cold pizza out of the fridge, when Martha said, ‘Are you sure you wouldn’t care for some granola and skim milk?’”
“I couldn’t believe she said that to me.”
“Swear to God, just when you think you know somebody…”
“Yeah, I moved out a few days later.”
While there are lots of men who have never gone to the trouble of getting married, there are many others who are plainly unsuitable for matrimony, yet they keep getting married, over and over again. They are as unfit for marriage as any boozing, drug-abusing, whore mongering career bachelor, but that doesn’t stop them from marching down the aisle whenever they can convince some poor woman to join them in wedded bliss.
I asked a friend, an old hell raiser named Rodney, who had been married four or five times, why he didn’t just give up on marriage and live in sin, or make some other satisfactory arrangements. Why, I wondered, did he insist on being married when he was obviously so bad at it.
“I’m Catholic. I was schooled by nuns. I’ve got a lot of guilt in me. I don’t want to add to my bad karma by living in sin.”
“That’s a bullshit excuse. Catholics aren’t supposed to get divorced, either.”
“Heh, heh, I’ve given that a lot of thought. There’s a very fine line there. You see, technically, I never divorced any of my wives. They divorced me. So, I figure that gives me some wiggle room.”
Ah, well, I guess people get married for all sorts of reasons. They marry for love and for money. Some marry because they want to and others marry because they have to. Some peoples’ marriages are arranged and some marriages are deranged. Some unions last forever and some are doomed from the start. I suppose the great thing about being married is that if things don’t work out, you can always try again.
There are not many situations in life where people get second or even third chances. The institution of marriage, however, comes with a lifetime supply of mulligans.
I was having a few drinks and discussing the subject the other day with one of my neighbors, a guy named Phil, who is a commodities trader and a ladies’ man with a string of ex-wives in his wake.
“So, why did you marry your first wife?” I asked.
“She had great tits.”
“What about the second wife?”
“She had a fantastic ass.”
“And the third wife?”
I suppose that’s as good reason as any to get married.
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There is a storefront church a few blocks from my house called The Sweet Baby Jesus Church of God. I walk by the place several times a week, but don’t pay much attention to it. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of storefront churches in Chicago and I’ve never set foot in any of them.
A couple of Sundays ago, as I was passing by the storefront church, I happened to glance in the window and saw something that stopped me in my tracks. Otis, the mangy alley cat who’s made my life a living hell for the past nine years, was inside the church, along with about a dozen members of the congregation, and he appeared to be listening intently to the preacher’s sermon.
Normally, I don’t give a shit what Otis does. I hate the bastard. I’ve been trying to get rid of him for years. If it wasn’t for the fact that my wife and daughters adore the cat, I would have strangled the fucker a long time ago.
That said, this was unusual behavior for Otis and it piqued my curiosity. When the service was over and the congregation had left, I walked into the storefront and asked the preacher, “What is that damn cat doing in here?”
“Please watch your language,” the preacher replied. “This is a house of God.”
“It may be a house of God now, but a year and a half ago it was a massage parlor. You still haven’t told me what the cat is doing in here.”
The preacher shrugged. “All God’s creatures are welcome here. He’s been coming to our services for a few weeks now, and he seems like a well-mannered, God-fearing cat. He’s never caused any problems.”
“Wait until you know him better.”
Later that morning, as I was sitting in my backyard, enjoying a cigarette with my pre-lunch whiskey, it occurred to me that Otis had indeed been acting strangely these past few weeks.
For example, the cat had not killed anything recently, which is completely out of character for him. By nature, Otis is a cold-blooded assassin, a brutal and efficient killing machine. My backyard is usually littered with the pathetic remains of mangled song birds, bunny rabbits, squirrels and mice.
I also noticed that Otis had given up using drugs. He normally went through a bag or two of catnip every day. And there was a time when I was convinced he had designs on my reefer stash. But now he no longer seemed interested in getting high.
Otis’ strange behavior also explains why, in the last few weeks, gnawed and chewed-up religious pamphlets, from cults like the Branch Davidians, Aum Shinrikyo, and the Raelian Church have been appearing on my front stairs.
When I approached my wife, the lovely Mrs. Milo, with my concerns about the cat, she looked at me suspiciously and said, “I don’t know what kind of scheme you’re cooking up, but you better leave the cat alone. Do we understand each other?”
It was a welcome change having a pious, well-behaved cat around the house, but I knew it wouldn’t last. Eventually he would revert to his beastly nature. He couldn’t help himself. At heart, he was a mean, treacherous, rotten bastard of an alley cat. It was just a matter of time.
I didn’t have long to wait. About a month later, a good-looking, silky angora cat named Gigi, who belonged to my neighbor, Mrs. Shimkus, went into heat — and Otis plunged into an existential crisis. He was fighting the eternal battle between good and evil, and it was a struggle for his very soul.
He didn’t eat or sleep for days. Most of his time was spent sitting by the front window, staring at Mrs. Shimkus’ house across the street. When he wasn’t at his post by the window, he was pacing fretfully and meowing to himself. He looked drawn and haggard. He had lost weight and his ratty fur looked mangier than ever. I almost felt sorry for him.
In the end, like most of us, Otis gave into to his baser nature. The demons had won. Otis and Gigi ran off together and I didn’t see the cat again for three days.
The next time I saw Otis was on a Sunday morning and he was passed out in my back yard. There was a pathetic carcass of a half-eaten bunny rabbit close to him and two emptied bags of catnip were nearby.
“Hey, dumbass,” I said, “it’s Sunday morning. How come you’re not in church?”
Otis slowly roused himself, stared at me for a moment, licked his nuts, and went back to sleep.
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This past weekend, I spent a long, stress-filled day in the pestilent State of Indiana, trying to get my aging mother’s finances straightened out. I was hoping to have all the paperwork completed and be back in Chicago in a couple of hours, but, unfortunately, my sister was there and she always complicates things.
She had been drinking all morning and was in a foul mood. I had to keep a close eye on her, because she gets mean when she’s drinking. At the slightest provocation, she’ll reach for the can of pepper spray and blackjack she always keeps in her purse.
Dealing with bankers all day while keeping a wary eye on my sister had worn me out. My nerves were shot when I left Indiana. I was desperate to get home, open a bottle of wine and relax in my easy chair. The drive from Munster to the North Side of Chicago normally takes 45 minutes, but accidents, breakdowns, stalls and road construction turned the trip into a two and a half hour ordeal.
It was nearly seven o’clock when I got home. I was a mess when I walked into the house, sweaty, limping, suffering with a low-grade headache, and dealing with a persistent cramp in my right leg. I decided to take a pass on the wine and head straight for the whiskey.
I had just taken a healthy swig of Old Granddad, when the lovely Mrs. Milo said, “Oh, honey, I’m glad you’re home. I don’t feel like cooking tonight, but I’ve got a taste for fish tacos. Would you be a dear and run out to Garcia’s? I love their fish tacos.”
“Are you shitting me? What the fu…”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to extremely coarse language from both parties, threats of a dire nature, and rash statements which will eventually have to be resolved in a court of law, the next three paragraphs have been deleted. We are resuming Milo’s narrative after this rather interesting, but deplorable, interlude.)
So, I drove over to Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant on Lawrence Avenue near Ravenswood to pick up some fish tacos. The place was nearly empty when I walked in, a few diners were sitting at scattered tables and three or four people were seated at the bar.
I took a seat at the bar and told the bartender I wanted to order something for carry out, “But first I’d like a bottle of Bohemia and a shot of Tequila Milagro.”
I had just knocked down the shot and was gnawing on a wedge of lime, when the gentleman sitting next to me said, in a lilting Spanish accent, “That is an excellent choice of tequila, my friend. I will have one, too.”
My new drinking companion, Fernando, was a handsome, middle-aged man with dark, slicked-back hair and he was wearing a maroon-colored silk shirt with ruffles at the neck and cuffs. When he drank his tequila, he savored the burn for a moment, and said, “Mexico is a vile, godless place, populated by whores and bandits, but they have mastered the art of making fine liquors.”
“I take it you’re not from Mexico?”
“No, my friend, I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina. But I consider myself a citizen of the world.”
“I was almost an Argentine myself,” I replied, then told him the story of my parents, who were post-WW2 refugees. They had the option of relocating to several countries after the war, including Brazil, Australia, Canada and Argentina. My father decided on the United States because he had an uncle living in Milwaukee who promised to find him a good job in a factory.
“My friend, let’s drink to lost opportunities,” he said, and we ordered another tequila. “It is obvious to me that you would have made a fine Argentine.”
We chatted a while, about all sorts of things, a typical rambling barroom conversation. Fernando talked about Argentina’s political situation, its cuisine, the “Dirty War” of a few years ago, and even discussed Eva Peron’s legendary sexual skills.
Fernando informed me that it was common knowledge in Buenos Aires that Evita was triple-jointed, and had studied the blow job arts at the now-shuttered Imperial Concubine Academy, in Hong Kong, the same place where the Duchess of Windsor and Yoko Ono had matriculated.
When I asked Fernando what he did for a living, he said he was an electrical engineer, but in his spare time he was a tango instructor.
“The tango is the essence of passion. When a man and a woman dance the tango, they reveal their sexual natures to each other, their repressed passions, their explosive sexual lusts, their unrestrained primal desires. Every step, every movement resonates deep in the soul. Let me tell you, my friend, no woman can resist a skilled tango dancer.”
“I’ll take your word for that.”
“Ah, I see you have doubts. Let me show you.”
Fernando stopped a passing waitress and whispered something to her in Spanish. She looked doubtful, but Fernando was insistent. She put down her tray and stepped into his arms. For a couple of minutes he led her through some basic tango steps. Everyone in the bar was watching them but Fernando and the waitress only had eyes for each other. The waitress was unsure of herself at first, but in a few moments she became totally engrossed in the dance.
When they finished, several people in the bar applauded. Fernando gallantly kissed the waitress’ hand and returned to his barstool. The waitress seemed reluctant to go back to work. She was glassy-eyed and pale, and unsteady on her feet. It was obvious to me that that there were other things she’d rather be doing at that moment than waiting on tables.
I left a few minutes later, after ordering a fish taco dinner to go. The lovely Mrs. Milo was asleep when I got home. I had lost track of time and, apparently, she didn’t care to wait up for me. I figured I’d have some explaining to do in the morning.
I went into the kitchen for a nightcap. While I was drinking I wondered if there was any credence to Fernando’s theory about tango dancers being irresistible to women. If it was true, then it would behoove me to learn the tango.
I tried to copy a few of the steps that I had seen Fernando perform at the barroom, but I was clumsy. Well, I suppose nobody becomes a tango master overnight. If it was easy, there’s be a lot more tango masters in the world.
The fish tacos, however, were very tasty.
Memorial Day is a wonderful day for politicians. There are graves of fallen American soldiers scattered all over this country and the photo opportunities for Senators, Congressman and Governors are endless. No career political hack can resist the opportunity to wrap himself in the flag and be photographed at a soldier’s grave site on Memorial Day.
For other folks, the best thing about this holiday is that they don’t have to work on Monday. It’s an extra day away from the office or factory, another day free of the indignities that come with working for a living.
Memorial Day has an entirely different meaning for veterans, especially combat veterans. Military personnel who have been awarded the CIB (Combat Infantryman Badge), which is given to soldiers who have personally fought in ground combat operations, often have mixed feelings about a holiday that was created to honor the dead.
Chances are, if a person has a CIB, they’ve seen and done some terrible things. They have spent time in the Inferno. They have experienced true horror. And the absolute worst of those horrors was seeing friends die. The ghosts of Alpha Company still haunt my dreams.
Some combat veterans, including me, are uncomfortable with the overly sentimental veneration of America’s fallen soldiers. It’s too little, too late, and the sentiments are usually off the mark.
It makes me uneasy when I hear politicians exalt dead soldiers, or read editorials comparing them to saints, calling them God’s warriors, elevating them to the status of angels with assault rifles. The image of the American foot soldier as a noble warrior, different than all the cruel, heartless bastards that came before him, is a false one.
The truth is, the American foot soldier is a bad motherfucker, a dangerous, highly-trained, superbly armed, brutal and efficient killing machine.
A lot of the soldiers in my outfit were tough kids, urban and rural poor boys, before they went into the service. A few months in the jungles and paddies made them even tougher. Spending three weeks at a time on Search and Destroy missions, sleeping in muddy foxholes at night, waiting for the next bit of Hell to arrive, and wondering if your next breath will be your last, has a way of bringing out the beast in a man.
After three weeks in the bush we’d be sent to a relatively safe firebase to relax and unwind. Those seven days were spent trying to forget the terrors of the previous three weeks. We drank heavily, smoked copious amounts of weed, and visited the whores who set up storefronts near every American firebase.
The liquor and drugs helped us escape the grim reality of our lives. The intoxicants made it possible, for a short time, to forget some of the things we had seen and done.
The young whores made us feel human again. The act of love, the skin-to-skin contact, the primal connection between a man and woman, helped soften the rough edges of our memories.
True, these were coarse comforts, frowned upon by church, state and the general public, but they were all we had. A few drinks and a piece of ass made an intolerable existence somewhat bearable.
No, we weren’t knights in shining armor. I doubt we would have been welcomed in polite society. We were just common foot soldiers, flawed in so many ways. But we were young and valiant, and did the best we could.
Here are a few lines from a Rudyard Kipling poem called “Tommy,” about British soldiers. I believe it captures the ambivalence that some civilians have for the military, why dead soldiers are honored, and living ones not so much.
“An’ if sometimes our conduck ain’t all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barracks don’t grow into plastic saints,
For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ ‘Chuck him out, the brute,’
But it’s ‘Savior of our country” when the guns begin to shoot.”
As I mentioned, I’m not a fan of Memorial Day. It brings back too many bitter memories. But I can understand how the holiday can be a comfort to people, especially those that have lost friends and loved ones in wars.
So, go ahead and celebrate Memorial Day any way you like. I’ll honor the occasion properly.
I woke up with a hangover yesterday morning. It was one of those cruel, oppressive hangovers that linger all day and make you bitterly regret not only your excesses of the past 24 hours, but also just about everything you’ve done for the past 30 years.
As I was wandering around the house that morning, dressed in my ratty bathrobe and slippers, feeling sorry for myself and muttering about the essential unfairness of life, I happened to glance at a mirror and was shocked by what I saw.
I looked like an ugly old man.
My face was puffy, my lids were drooping, and my eyes were still bloodshot. I hadn’t shaved in a week, my hair was standing on end, and my skin was off-color, almost jaundiced.
To be honest, I looked like shit. And I didn’t like it one bit.
Of course, most people look terrible when they wake up. But after cleaning up — showering and attending to toiletry details — they generally look a lot better.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work for me. After showering, shaving, trimming my eyebrows and nose hairs, and tending to the follicular growths sprouting from my ears, I still looked like Shemp Howard after a rough night.
Rolando, Benny Jay and Milo…..
Maybe I was being too hard on myself. Perhaps the hangover was skewing my perceptions. So I decided to get a second opinion. I asked my wife, the lovely Mrs. Milo, “Honey, do I look okay to you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. I guess I’m feeling kind of old and ugly today.”
“Well, you’re not that young anymore.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“And if you quit drinking and smoking so much it might improve your appearance.”
“If I think of something I’ll let you know.”
Thankfully, I don’t have to rely on my looks to keep my job as Society, Lifestyle and Religion columnist here at The Third City. Nobody cares what a blogger looks like. It’s like being a radio personality. Appearance is meaningless.
Milo in his good-looking days….
Now that I think about it, except for Ms. No Blaise, who happens to be a fine looking young woman, most of my colleagues at this blog site are mangy looking fuckers.
Benny Jay, for example, is an ugly bastard. He’s got a face that would give Stephen King nightmares.
Jonny Randolph has seen better days. I’d be willing to bet that he hasn’t gotten laid since the mid-1980s. And I doubt things will improve anytime soon.
Rolando is a nasty looking brute. People cross the street to avoid him. The local kids dress up like Rolando on Halloween, just to scare the neighbors.
Jim Siergey is another homely bastard. Years of obsessive cartooning have ruined his looks. He’s come to resemble a cartoon character himself. If he had a handlebar mustache, he’d look exactly like Yosemite Sam.
I suppose I shouldn’t dwell on appearances. What could be more superficial than judging people by the way they look? After all, some of the great people in history were not much to look at.
Abraham Lincoln was homely, to put it kindly. Mother Teresa could have used a touch of lipstick and a little rouge. Winston Churchill resembled a bulldog. Golda Meir probably had a tough time getting a prom date.
That said, I couldn’t shake the thought that I was becoming an unattractive older man. I was walking along Clark Street later that afternoon, depressed by the notion that time was working against me, that I was only going to get older and uglier, when I saw a very attractive young woman walking in my direction. As she passed by she gave me a beautiful smile and said, “Hi.”
I started feeling better right away.
In Art Pepper’s brave and wonderful autobiography, Straight Life, the celebrated jazz saxophone player wrote about dreaming of heroin. Art had been a junkie for nearly 40 years and despite having been through three marriages and fathering a child, he claimed that the single most important relationship in his life was with heroin.
Pepper wrote that heroin was so vital to his existence that he, and most junkies he knew, regularly dreamed of the drug, and none of the dreams were good ones. The usual dreams were reflections of a junkie’s basic frustrations and fears – missed connections, lack of money, short counts, poor quality, rip-offs and police trouble.
When a junkie is experiencing the agony of withdrawal symptoms, the dreams became much, much worse.
When Pepper was kicking the habit, generally against his will in a jail cell, going cold turkey, he said that he had the most horrifying junkie nightmares imaginable. In these dreams, Pepper was usually trying to inject himself with heroin to relieve the bone-deep pain of withdrawal, but something always went wrong. He couldn’t find a vein, the needle was plugged up, he accidentally knocked over the spoon, or his outfit was faulty and the heroin solution gushed onto the floor.
Even worse were dreams that his family members were denying him access to his stash. In one particularly horrific recurring nightmare, he attacked his grandmother with a knife, stabbing her repeatedly, because she had hidden his heroin supply and refused to tell him where it was.
I’ve never had a heroin problem. I tried it once, about a month after I came home from Vietnam, and it felt so good that it scared me. I never tried it again.
If I have a substance abuse issue, it’s no doubt related to alcohol. But I don’t recall ever dreaming of bourbon whiskey or red wine.
That said, there are some things that are so important to me, so vital to my existence, I can’t help but dream about them. And, like Art Pepper’s junkie dreams, these dreams never turn out well.
For example, every once in a while I dream that my wife, the lovely Mrs. Milo, is planning to leave me for another man, usually some sort of celebrity.
“Darn, honey, I had the craziest dream last night.”
“I dreamed you were planning to run off with Robin Williams.”
“The comedian? He’s not my type. Now, if it was Steve Martin, you’d have something to worry about.”
Another nightmare I have is about losing my freedom, something that’s almost as important to me as it was to Patrick Henry. Specifically, this dream is about being drafted into the U.S. Army again.
In this horrid vision, I’m standing in a long line with a group of draftees who are all 40 years younger than I am. We are being herded toward buses by stern-looking soldiers who are wearing campaign hats pulled down low over their eyes. When I try to explain that a terrible mistake has been made, nobody will listen to me.
“Look here, fellas, you can’t draft a guy twice. I believe it’s unconstitutional. Besides, do I look like I’m of draft age? I’m too old for this shit. Here, take a look at my discharge papers. God damn it, will one of you fuckers pay attention to me?”
But, of course, they don’t. They just keep pushing us toward the buses. “Move it along. We’re behind schedule. Pick up the pace. Let’s keep it moving.”
As if those dreams weren’t bad enough, lately I’ve been having nightmares about computers. The problem, in my dream, is that I can’t get online. Everything that can go wrong with a computer goes wrong with mine.
I get incomprehensible error messages on my monitor, written in a language I don’t understand. The screen goes blank or shows a clown’s face. The keyboard crumbles in my hands. Smoke rises from the back of the computer stack. Weird noises screech at me from the speakers. When I try to reboot I get an electric shock. It’s just horrible.
Like poor Art Pepper waking from his junkie dreams, I wake up from my computer nightmare in the middle of the night, covered in sweat, gasping for breath, my heart beating at an impossibly rapid rate.
Slowly, surely, the computer nightmare fades away. I come to my senses. My breathing steadies, my heart rate slows down. Once I regain my composure, some frightening thoughts occur to me. Why was I dreaming of computers? Why were computers so important to me? Why had they become such a necessary part of my life? These unwelcome thoughts pointed to a radical change in my life and I didn’t know if I could handle it. I had mutated, become a creature I was unfamiliar with. And deep in my soul I knew there was no going back.
Great God in heaven! I had become a computer geek.
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This was going to be a great weekend, a spectacular weekend, a weekend so filled with excess and debauchery that, if everything went according to plan, I’d be lucky to escape with my life.
You see, the lovely Mrs. Milo was going away for the weekend with a bunch of her slutty girlfriends. They were going to a cottage in Michigan where, they assured me, they planned to enagage in good-natured gossip, exchange recipes and knitting tips, and perhaps share a bottle or two of Chardonnay.
I would be alone for three glorious days, free to indulge in low-life pleasures on an epic scale. I was going to swim in rivers of Tennessee whiskey and float on clouds of fine California reefer. I was going to frolic with women, lots of women, preferably two or three at a time. And I intended to spend at least one evening in a brutal all-night poker game, where all the players were sure to be drunk, heavily armed and had aces up their sleeves.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. Shortly before my wife left for Michigan, I caught the damned flu.
I felt the first symptom on the morning my wife was leaving, waking up with a slight tickle in my throat. I didn’t think much of it. I often wake up with aches, pains, cuts, scratches and bruises of unknown origins. By late afternoon my nose was running and I was firing off sneezes four or five at a time. I felt like shit and sensed that things would only get worse.
The lovely Mrs. Milo exhibited the requisite spousal concern for my well-being.
“Darn, I hate to leave just when you’re getting sick, but we’ve been planning this trip for weeks,” she said, as she snapped her suitcase shut and edged toward the door.
“Don’t worry about a thing, dumpling. This is a mere bump in the road. It’s probably just one of those 24-hour nuisance colds.”
“I hope that’s all it is. Try not to drink too much. I doubt alcohol will help your condition.”
“Your advice is duly noted.”
When I awoke the next morning the flu had settled in my chest. I was feverish and coughing as harshly and steadily as a chain-smoking West Virginia coal miner. By early afternoon I was at death’s creaky door, and the door was slowly swinging open.
I called my physician at the VA hospital, Dr, Frankie “Disco” Lopez and explained my plight. He told me to come down to the hospital. “Make it quick,” he said. “I’ve got a horse running in the eighth race at Arlington and don’t want to miss it.”
Somehow I managed to drag my ailing ass down to the hospital in good time and was quickly admitted into the doctor’s office. When Dr. Lopez saw me, he shook his head and said, “Dude, you look like shit.”
“Is that your professional opinion?”
“I’m pretty sure that would be Stevie Wonder’s opinion, too.”
After a cursory examination, Dr. Lopez said, “You’ve got a real good dose of the flu. There’s a nasty strain of it going around now. I’ve seen a lot of cases in the last few weeks.”
“What’s the prognosis?”
“It depends on your lifestyle and, most importantly, your age. I had a patient last week who had a case similar to yours. He was a heavy drinker and smoker, and had a real bad cough like the one you’ve got.”
“Were you able to help him?”
“I gave him some pills, told him to drink lots of fluids and get plenty of bed rest.”
“What happened to the guy?”
“The fucker died.”
“Jesus! He must have been an old man.”
“No, I believe he was about your age.”
I’ve had a fear of the flu ever since I read “The Stand,” by Stephen King. The disease has been responsible for tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of fatalities over the years. Not only is it deadly, it’s treacherous, too. The virus mutates at an alarming rate. Every year science has to come up with a new vaccine to battle the latest variation of the fiendish and opportunistic affliction. Unfortunately, the vaccines don’t always work. I know people that have had flu shots and still caught the flu.
But I wasn’t worried. I was in good hands. Dr. Frankie “Disco” Lopez is a master of the medical arts. When I left the hospital I figured I was well on the way to recovery.
The good doctor had sized up the situation and come up with a solution. On my way out of his office he handed me a vial of pills and said “These will make you feel real good.”
He also recommended I drink lots of fluids and get plenty of bed rest.