By the time I get to my seat in the waiting room it’s already been a shitty morning. These days it’s easy to get like that and usually happens sooner rather than later. The dog wakes me up twenty minutes before I have to get up, which is early as is. It’s fucked from the beginning. Either it’s me burning the coffee or the old ball and chain running me down or its stepping on a roller skate and eating it down the front steps.
But this morning starts shittier than most. It starts to go bad before it starts.
All a sudden I’m scrambling down the side of the road. It getting dark and the grass is slick. He’s way ahead of me and he won’t slow down. I try to scream after him but my voice is ripped away from me and jettisoned towards the sky. He gone and so is the sun; the moon bleeds in its place.
“Abe! Abe! Get up.” It’s Ilene and she’s nudging me. Back when we first got married she would rock me awake, hell, even kiss me awake, if I was lucky jerk me awake. Sharp jabs with the elbow were what passed for affection these days.
“Jesus Christ all fucking mighty. I’m awake. What is it?” My chest feels weaker than yesterday but I haven’t told her and won’t if I don’t have to.
“You were saying his name again. It’s been fifteen years, we don’t need to have this discussion every morning.” She rolled over in her baby blue robe and didn’t say anything else. It used to be dark blue, she used to be pretty, she used to have a glow to her. I fart in the bed and walk to the bathroom.
Standing in front of the mirror I rub my stomach, some pretty sizable stains have formed on my tank top under each arm. I started going bald about ten years ago and I marked that as the true and definable end to my boyhood good looks. I have gotten fat as fuck.
My socks are in the sink and I didn’t put them there, I suspect the beast I sleep next to. I have a habit of leaving my socks on the floor, its not a terrible habit, there are worse habits, some people have drugs habits for instance. Since the marriage went flat she’s found ways to subtly punish me for all the things that annoy her. Me, I don’t do shit, yeah she bothers me a good deal but what do I do, I shut my mouth, I get on with things. I leave the socks in the sink.
There isn’t any hot water so I tug one out quick and pull on some dirty underwear, I used to dress up for work, everyday I would wear a tie and slacks and the whole deal. Now I only wear a fully washed ensemble a few days a month, following laundry day. I cut myself shaving and stub my toe on the bedpost.
I had graded a bunch of papers the night before and can’t find them. I had stopped paying attention to a lot of things, I couldn’t really remember what the papers were about but I think it was something involving “the new deal” or FDR or what the fuck ever. I ended up finding them in a folder under a coffee table. Darla’s kids must have moved them sometime last night. Darla is my sister in law; she’s a lot younger than Irene and has two young children. They are annoying and I sort of hate them even though they’re children. They always have some sort of shit on their faces, be it spaghetti-os or ice cream.
Looking through the papers I realize I haven’t graded some of them, which isn’t really a problem seeing as I didn’t really read the other ones. I give some vague notes and leave it at that. I make oatmeal and it’s too hot. I burn my tongue and spill down the front of my shirt. Normally I would go back upstairs and change my shirt but I feel if I have to see Irene for another second today I might strangle her.
There is no gas in the tank and I wasn’t the last to take it out. I used to be responsible for that sort of thing, looking out for the family. Now I’ve just gotten sick of taking care of things and I don’t feel selfish for it. I’m already late for my appointment which means that I’m going to be late for work which means that asshole Garzo is going to be up my ass all week, again. Garzo, that smug ball licker.
Pulling into the gas station I realize I forgot my wallet on the nightstand.
“Fuck me. Fuck me. Fuck me.” I open the door to the Camry and slip stepping out by the gas pump. The oil marks on the cement have crystallized around the edges like they do in the winter, not when it’s just a little cold, when it’s really cold. When it cuts through your clothes and makes your bones ache.
I fish a couple dollars in change off the floor of the car, which is just enough to keep the gas tank from freezing, I pay for it and strongly consider stealing a snack from inside the store. The clerk gives me a dirty look when I hand him a handful of dimes. I want to break his fucking nose for the way he’s shaking his head and counting the coins but I don’t. I don’t even say anything because in general I’m kind of a pushover.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m full of anger but I rarely do anything about it. I kicked a guy’s ass in college one time for a reason I can’t remember and I chewed out a guy at Subway a couple years ago. Beyond that, total pushover.
I can hardly feel my hands when I walk into the doctor’s office, so cold in fact that I can’t feel myself pissing on my own hand. I wash my hands and check my hair in the mirror.
The girl behind the desk is a looker. She has her hair pinned back high and tight in a knot of some sort, a bun, that’s what it was. I throw her a glance as I approach the counter and say my name in my smoothest Bond voice.
“Dunleavy, Abe. Four o’clock.” She smiles and I think I’m doing quite well in my first flirtation of the day, that is until she looks down and her smile turns into a smirk. I look down and see that my fly is open. I grit my teeth and walk towards the waiting room.
The magazines all suck and are old as shit. I read an article about Curtis Enis when he was still playing at Penn State. Article has him pegged as the next big thing, hilarious. The doctor takes forever to get to me and I’m fifteen pounds heavier than I was at my last time I was in. At least I don’t have to strip down to my skivvies. After a while the doctor comes in to talk to me and he has some bad news.
When I get back outside it hasn’t gotten any warmer but it doesn’t bother me as much as it did before. I don’t even zip up my coat. I get back in the Camry and turn the key. Nothing happens, I guess it wasn’t enough to keep the lines from freezing.
“I’m fucked.” I wasn’t referring to the car. I was referring to my heart, which in a medical sense is fucked.