Litkicks Message Board Archive
'My Daughter is Bad Sick'
‘My Daughter is Bad Sick’
The sounds of the city crowd through the windows of my daughter’s hospital room. Still waiting on the answers for why her kidneys are failing, I stumbled outside for a walk. I came upon a tourist Mexican restaurant. Being the only patron with an authentic Cowboy hat and boots, some of the Khaki short, Hawaiian shirt wearing wine drinker’s from out of town thought I was with the Mariachi’s and popped camera bulbs in my face…but me…I was looking for a bar. A big bar…wooden and heavy…like on the old western movies or on all the Texas brochures. My daughter was sick, bad sick, and I wanted a bar fight and a good big bar to rest my soul on, one thick enough to slap down a half-dollars worth of pain and guilt, and it being big enough to hold the weight.
After a few Mexicans in tuxedos pointed ‘this way and that way’ and I waded through the crowd of Alligator shirts and people pointing to my hat, I finally found the bar. It was big. It was heavy. But it wasn’t real. When I sat down, my elbows stuck to the slimy, imitation, vacation oak rail. It wasn’t Texas Wood. Someone assembled it from a cardboard box that said ‘Made in China.’ No, this wood an’t never seen a niggar hung, whipped a Wetback, and never soaked in a flood of piss, blood, shame, sweat, tears, pride, and regret that makes Texas wood too hard to cut with a Chainsaw.
Sure enough, when I sat down, an old Mexican with a cheap guitar slipped up behind me and thought he’d croon me for a buck. I was just about to tell him to fuck off and save his breath, when the drunken kid beside me yelled, “El Rancho Grande!” And off the Mexican went into the song, out of key and humming the words he never learned. When it was finally over, both me and the kid gave him a dollar to leave us alone.
About then, the Spick-Bartender finally noticed me and let me order like I was wasting his time. So…I ordered everything. Two Long Island Ice Teas and two Coors Light Long Necks…cuss I figured he’d disappear again into the sea of lonely vacationing white women and I’d be damn near parched dry before I saw him again. And he mumbled in broken English, “Now, or when your party arrives?” I told him that I was the fucking party, I’m over twenty-one, I’m paying American green, and I’m a foot.
Mr. El Rancho Grande next to me tried to strike up a conversation about rock climbing in Monterrey or some other bullshit, but I ignored him. Why…cuss I’ve seen his sorry-ass in every tourist trap in this shitty Lone Star State. It goes like this…rich kid, twenty-two or three, parents still dragging him on vacations, confused about life, getting plenty of pussy, sleeping on couches, rock climbing, mountain biking, he’s playing Techno music at all night clubs…until he’s thirty and he thinks that taking over his dad’s business isn’t such a bad business after all. Fuck him and El Rancho Grande. Oh, and fuck the bar-whore behind me going on and on about being a Hispanic Band Director. Who fucking cares?
I drank, but I was sick. I drank, but I was sick. My daughter was in the hospital up the street with kidney failure…she’s sick, bad sick, and I’m in here. In this shitty, tourist, over-priced, fake fucking Bar. And I’m drinking thirty dollars worth of booze…that would cost me ten anywhere else.
Yeah, I drank…but I was sick. I wanted to grab the Meskin Bar-Keep by the throat and tell him, “I’m not from fucking Idaho, Michigan, or Indianapolis! I’m was born in this shitty town and you weren’t! So charge me the price you give your Meskin friends and slip me a free drink or two like you do the white women down there.” Hell, I wanted to pull out my six-guns and kill a few ex-college football players just to give everybody their money’s worth for coming to Texas.
But I don’t have no six-guns and I was feeling too foreign myself. I was too conscious of my movements, too judged, too sucked into the Tourist sights and sounds. I had to steady myself before I did something stupid like holler out, “Where the hell is Willie Nelson, and all those damn Armadillos and Horny-Toads!” Clearly, the alcohol was taking its toll, but even sober…I’m un-stable at best. I needed out, down my drinks and out, out of the postcard, out of the meaningless bullshit, out on the streets, to be mugged or knifed like decent folks.
So, I go. Up the street, through the flowery park, by the Statue of Someone No One has Never Heard Of, and into the night shadows of the towering Hospital, passed the Walk and Don’t Walk blinking lights, passed the ‘What the Fuck was that?’ rattle in the bushes, And up the Whiskey Beer Staggering elevator.
I always get lost in hospitals. Maybe it’s me, but ever floor is painted the same fucking color. I can’t never tell whether I’m in the ER, ICU, or the fucking Maintenance Department. One time I actually walked into a room with a kid getting twelve stitches in his eye. Hell, I didn’t know what to do except watch. The Intern standing by the doctor finally asked, pressured by the stares of a worried mother, “Are you with the family?”
‘No.’ “Then I’m going to have to ask you to leave.” I slurred something about, ‘Being with everyone in the world who‘s getting stitches tonight.’ But even I’m not sure whether I was joking or serious. “You’ll have to leave, Sir.” ’Ok…Good luck, kid. Hope you feel better.’ The kid said, “Thanks.”
I was giving everyone hell about the results of Charley’s last blood test and her failing kidneys and What the fuck is being done about it! Most of the nurses didn’t even work on Charley’s floor, but four of them and a janitor lady took me to the right floor and the right room. Charley was sound asleep, but the nurses started taking temperatures, blood pressures, measuring this and that, and the janitor started cleaning the room. I sat down on the stone hard chair beside her and cried too hard to make any sense. After the nurses left, I kissed my little girl and promised that Jesus was going to make everything alright…and passed out drunk.
Sometime that night I had a dream. I dreamed that great artists, musicians, and writers were trying to tell me something from behind Sound Proof Glass. I dreamed I was standing with Jack Kerouac, at midnight, on a street corner in Dilley Texas, and a bum came out of the shadows and said, “Go Moan for Man,” then disappeared.
I woke up to Charley coughing and throwing up. I held back her hair and held the can and silently prayed that she’d puke the poison out. I cleaned her up and gave her a drink of juice, and she drifted off into childhood innocence with a “Thank you, Daddy.” She’s so kind and beautiful…how could she ever have come from her momma and me. And I thought, “If this is one of those, God gave you an angel to watch for awhile bullshit things, then fuck God. If God was dropping Angels on people, then he should have keep Charley up there where it’s safe. Fuck him.
Anyway, I go to the bathroom…and it has two doors. One goes to Charley’s room and one goes to the adjoining room. I was feeling every year of my previous lives, every wrinkle, every ache, pain, and broken bone in my father’s father’s body. Damn, I wanted another drink.
In the bathroom, standing over the toilet, I reached my arms out to lock both doors. And something of the dream came back to me. Something the Writers and Artists were trying to tell me flashed up into my mind. It was something along the lines of…………….
“If you open the door to your right, you’re going to see a small baby dying of Cancer. Don’t do it. You’re too close, you’re skins too thin, you feel too much. You can go in there and be a Quiet Witness. You can see the pain, experience the death. Good Art can come from that. But, beware, you’re nerves are too raw. You feel too much. You’ll have few Novels, a Painting, and a Poem…but always with a bottle at your lips and a gun to you’re head. What does it mean when artists are shooting medicine that is used to help Cancer patients sleep…and they can still feel too much of the world. Go back, go back to Charley’s room. Go make her laugh tomorrow…while the baby is at the morgue. It’s not your baby. Don’t try to carry another man’s burden. Make Charley laugh, and do your Art…but surviving requires a bit of shielding. A bit of aloofness. A bit of ignorance. You didn’t ask Christ to die for you. You didn’t sign-on to carry the world’s pain. Relax. Raise your kids, work, die and be happy. That is enough.