Tim Timmons, still in his green scrubs after a long night at St. Lukes, pours a shot of Devil’s River into his morning coffee and squints at the brightening sky. A cloud formation resembling an index finger and thumb has circled into a towering OKAY.
“Okay,” he says, “Everything’s going to be okay.”
He swallows the hot liquid, chases it with a deep cleansing breath, then exhales a 90 proof thought. OR maybe it’s a backwards 6, an evil sign of the occult, on this 30th day of October, the eve of Halloween.
No, after midnight, it became Sunday. Time to pray. Yeah. Go with okay.
He walks with a long easy stride through a balding city park scattered with fallen people, soggy leaves, and trash. A scarecrow of a man–misshapen, pale and bloodless of face–stares at the world through empty disappointed eyes. Late forties, beard streaked with gray at the chin, slumped and defeated on a wooden bench, wrapped in a soiled blanket and stuffed with the feather down of flammable dreams, wedding ring finger jammed into an empty vodka bottle. A pamphlet is soaking in the cold puddle at his feet: God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life.
Next to a blue trash dumpster, a wobbly-wheel grocery cart is being pushed by a woman wreaking of piss and tossing a word salad. Another 90 proof thought: She’s repeating the latest talking points of Biden and Harris.
The old lady stops and pulls something from her wire basket of hoarded treasures. She is stroking the rubber head of a one-eyed baby doll and repeating a single phrase, Because I love him . . . Because I love him . . . Because I love him . . .
Tim observes her for a long moment. Her filmy eyes don’t take notice. She’s like a living Halloween figurine. A bit frightening but harmless.
She ain’t come’n back from her hell. Not with counselling. Not with meds. Not with surgery. She’s broken beyond repair. Death would be merciful.
A hooded man exits a porta John and stomps away furious and fast.
Tim stops walking and takes another sip from his silver travel mug which resembles a time capsule. This particular carrier of coffee and bourbon has seen many years. Someone he once loved (and still does) gave it to him as a gift. Once upon a time it was painted blue. Hers was red. His is now dented with memories and the lock on the plastic top no longer works. He swallows the spiked coffee with his eyes closed and inhales deeply through his nose several times. This simple act increases nitric oxide in the body, which increases carbon dioxide, which releases oxygen in the body, and especially delivers to a quiet and resting cock. His thoughts often deviate to something sexual. The inner lining of the nose is erectile tissue, the same as that of the clitoris and penis. Another drunken thought: pecker nose. And the same sensory cells in an orgasm are the same sensory cells in a simple itch, that’s why it feels so damn good to scratch.
Tim laughs at the idea of Pinocchio. It is a medical fact that noses can get erections. Buzzing now, he starts thinking of high school level double entendres. Instead of a stuffy nose, one might point out that he has a stiffy nose. Or if someone is being stubborn or opinionated, one might say that he’s being hard nosed. If someone tells another, “You have a big beak” maybe it shouldn’t be taken as an insult. Old Pickle nose. You’ve got a big one. Erectile tissue lined with boogers.
Nipples are highly erogenous. But their erectness is actually smooth muscle controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Or a good hot tongue.
Bells from a church down the street. A song slightly off key. A familiar tune with lyrics long forgotten.
Tim does a slow 360 flying on a bottle of 90. Everything seems off. Halloween on a Sunday. The dead squirrel rotting at his feet. A disturbing text on his phone which has made every ding sound eerie thereafter so that now he’s afraid to look.
But the sky is virginal. There is freedom there, even for a life sentence prisoner. The sky. A blue wilderness of dreams, sometimes gray and threatening, sometimes heavy with snow, sometimes bejeweled with double rainbows and wishing stars. The firmament speaks to us with a language of wind that cannot be reduced to symbols.
The sun begins its holy ascent to the hymn of bells. Tim enters a 7 Eleven and decides on a hot dog for breakfast. The soft heated buns, his favorite part, lay cold and rigid in their little morgue drawers. He heats the bun in the microwave for thirty seconds, puts a weiner on it, and walks to a large plastic container of mustard with a pump. He pushes the pump and and a watery, vinegary, yellow squirt hits him directly in the chest, heart level, and he drops his dog on the floor.
The Indian man behind the counter is unforgiving. “You must pay for da dog.”
Tim, intoxicated with life and buzzing with a growing superstition, enters room 6 of the cheap Lucky Leaf whore motel. The brass 6 has loosened but is not backwards. Inside, he sets the temp of the room to 69, brushes his teeth, strips off his scrubs, and slides into a bed. Naked from nose to penis, neither one erect after a long shift, he’s trusting the sheets and pillows are somewhat clean. One of his few acts of faith.
The curtain in the window is thick and sufficient to block the sunlight. Tim clicks off the lamp and falls asleep with Norman MacLean on the brain, author of A River Runs Through It.
“At sunrise everything is luminous but not clear.”
Somewhere in Tim’s hard day’s night, there comes a knock at the door. He doesn’t want to open.
First, the sound is slow, too slow, and deliberate.
Knock (pause) Knock (pause) Knock (pause)
Followed by a loud rapping that is rapid fire fast like a machine gun.
knock, knock, knock, knock, knock
Tim’s heart is thumping as he opens the door.
Because I love him … Because I love him … Because I love him
The old lady. Her nose is a elongating. The head of a viper poised to strike. Tongue flicking from a nostril.
And the one-eyed baby is the head of a dry socket maggoty old man, now detached and rolling into the room with a thumpity-thump, licking and lapping at yellow mustard all over the carpet.