Tim Timmons started the day laughing at his own fart. The smelly expulsion was the ass end result of a spicy bean and cheese burrito from the local Pollo Feliz and Taqueria, two large sides of guacamole, a quart of beer, two shots of rye whiskey, a potent combination that first introduced itself as a low rumbler beneath the blankets, a distant thunder in his adventurous dreams, a pleasant bass note vibration from a stringed instrument, quickly building with pressurized strength to a California butt tremor, a 9.0 on the sphincter scale, shaking him violently from a deep sleep, opening only one of his eyes at first, then the other, with a grand finale high-pitched squeak similar to air escaping from a taught balloon before finally stuttering out like a wet strawberry on an infant’s lips.
Tim wiped the sleep from his eyes, stumbled to the bathroom, peed for almost a minute, stared at himself in the mirror and said, “Oh, damn.” He brushed his teeth, scrubbed his tongue twice, rinsed with a shot of bourbon, made a decision not to shave, sat on and shat through a loose toilet seat, showered with Irish Spring soap and scrubbed away his bedhead with motel-supplied Royal Leaf shampoo packaged in plastic packets that look like fast food salad dressing, screamed but allowed a dime-sized spider to live, slipped into a pair of blue scrubs and a pair of cowboy boots, then entered the day fresh and clean as a whistle. He exited Room 6 of Brown’s Motel, stood for a Zen moment on a cracked stoop, and took a deep cleansing breath. He stared up at the beautiful pre-dawn sky and admired the lovely moonset. The air was sweet as he meditated upon one of the best kisses of his life. A blue-eyed girl who danced with him in the wee hours of the morning on a clinic lawn, his left arm draped dizzily around her shoulders, a bottle of grape vodka in his right hand that was passed back and forth between them (tipped straight up, Hemingway style), and Nat King Cole singing, “Fly Me to the Moon” on an iPhone.
Wistfully, he started the engine of his ailing silver Dodge Dakota and klunked down Old Baltimore Pike, saying “Shit” at the death rattle of the poor truck as well as at every eternal red light. Alexa, faithful Alexa, warned him, “Red Light Camera ahead. Watch your speed.” Every man needs a good woman in his life, even if she’s a robot. Recognizing this, he said, “Thank you, baby,” and slowed down at each camera with his recorded middle finger wagging before speeding up again to fifteen over the speed limit.
He drove with the windows down. The breeze felt good and awakened unspoken things inside of him.
The dying vehicle stopped at an Exxon gas station. Tim left his sweet Sylvia running. One of her headlights was out. She was coughing horrible amounts of exhaust and the only thing on four tires that had ever moved his heart to the point of crying. He was breaking with her. She’d been a loyal hardworking girl all across the United States. Her jaw smiled crookedly at him, her sexy black bumper having become dislodged after ramming an indecisive, hard-braking illegal alien in Omaha who was afraid of fire trucks. Both Tim and the immigrant didn’t call the police because both chose to drive away as two free men for a while longer. The man didn’t have his papers and Tim’s license had been suspended and his Geico insurance lapsed for two months. They nodded at each other with a mutual understanding and skedaddled.
The Indian man in the gas station was very kind and refused to charge him for a medium coffee with French vanilla and a pastry. “You are a nurse,” he bowed, “Congratulations.” Tim smiled at the last part, realizing that the little man who smelled strong of curry was still working hard on his English language skills.
Between sips of fresh coffee and sugary cinnamon bread, Tim sang, “Over the Patuxent River and through the woods to Greencastle Road I go…” and made a mental note to kayak the snake-filled river within the next two weeks. His pickup rattled and shimmied onto the bridge and he winced. A road sign indicated his entry into Montgomery County prompting him to remember an unpaid speeding ticket in Virginia and the outstanding warrant for his arrest. He winced again. He’s safe here. Maybe. In Maryland.
“God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and Father of Christ, please help me.” Tim meant nothing specifically by this daily prayer but mainly everything.
Spinning into a lot, he pulled his faithful and mortally injured Sylvia into a private section of the hospital parking prohibited to him, turned off the noisy grumbling engine, and relished the sudden silence. A digital face with Christmassy green numbers revealed that fifteen minutes remained until clock-in time. He reached deep into the console and fished around for a handful of mini-bottles. He poured two into his coffee and drank the third straight. Alert, functional, and buzzing, Nurse Timmons kissed a bronze key and a purple cross on his necklace, looked down at his phone and said, “Say something, beautiful woman, I still love you. I promise to stop self-medicating…”
Nothing. Wherever she was, she was still sleeping.
He closed his eyes and listened to Pavane for a Dead Princess on YouTube for over six and a half minutes as the alcohol warmed him.
Tim locked Sylvia behind him, draped a stethoscope around his neck, and sauntered into the building as a strange sort of celebrity, the regular staff high-fiving him and saying alright and experimenting with different combinations of his repetitive name. Tim Timmons, Timmy-Tim, T-T, T-dawg, T.Rex, Tebow, T-money, T-bone, T-time, T-rrifick, Ice-T (and more). He walked a lanky walk with a smiling face that hid a sad heart. A patient with sticky hands, Lou-Lou Sauer, grabbed at him as he passed, her fungal witch-like nails innocently grazing the tip of Tim’s frightened penis, spouting cataracted gibberish, a shell of a human being but still one of God’s precious creatures. A white-haired red-eyed rabbit trapped in a cage of dementia. “Good morning, Sauerkraut!” he said, and bent down to hug her. She wreaked of piss and paste.
Love them to the end, no matter what, he daily reminded himself. Touch them (and wash your hands frequently). Speak soothingly and reassuringly to everyone entrusted to your drunken care, you worthless son of a bitch, even when they no longer know what in the blue blazing fuck is going on in the world all around them.
The very essence of hell is abandonment.