Aththa! Aththa! Aththa! by Jayanth Sharma
March was a dead loss. Death of clowns (Anura Bandaranaike) and of prophets (Arthur C. Clarke). Counting my paycheck, mopping the floors. Meditate in the morning, just to keep my head from sliding off my skull. Walk past the warehouses in the hot sun – trying to stay awake, aware. When I’m paying attention I stretch my fingers out, trying to touch something. Just trying to breathe. Put one foot in front of the other. Down hospital halls and corridors. Nurses in their deceptive whites and unshaven legs. Dude operating the coffee machine, 30 bucks. Back up the stairs, and I know the way by now. It’s hallucinogenic, this toreador. Small room, but decent. People come and go, but the elephant remains.
It’s years ago. I’m in our favorite Italian cafe, clutching a canoli. They got this imported apple juice, tastes like Eve squeezed it herself. Jer’s lymph nodes were as big as apples when they took him in, made my eyes as big as jolly ranchers. Now we got the test results back and it ain’t good. Couldn’t think of nothing, so just teased him, as usual. Made fun of how radioactive his sperm would be, asked if his pubes would fall out with the chemo. That’s all we had though. Laughter. Hang out at the house after he did go bald. Play video games, pat his pasty skull, check out the thousand dollar vials of poison in the fridge. Jer made it. So lucky, but he always was. Not laughing so much this time. Too late in the day.
It’s today, or something like it. Sitting around, clutching a perfunctory beer that tastes like carbonated awkward. Elephant is there again, crossing his legs and reading the paper. Talk about stuff, the mundane, inconsequential, the real surreal. Verra Verra. Indeed. Never once ask the elephant how he got here, if his trunk is packed cause he’s going to leave. Dude does mention that he’s born in July. I got not a useful thought in my skull, not a wise word upon my lips. Just sit there, hoping the physical presence is enough, that my face doesn’t betray how lost I am. God only knows, and I’m a Buddhist.