I know it’s been done, but I had a drink and I thought maybe it needed an update:
“I think I made a mistake,” he said, as he exhaled. The white smoke curled around his head. He sat down heavy on the couch. “Too much. You guys go without me.” His eyes were moist and glassy. They all looked at each other. His friend looked down at the floor.“I really want you to come,” the woman said, softly. “I….I…are you sure? Raj got a new suit and everything. It’s New Year’s…..” She smiled a half hearted smile. She knew he wasn’t coming.
“I’ll call you and catch up with you in a bit.” He answered, stumbling into his bedroom.
He woke with a start and sat straight up in bed. His head spun around and he grabbed it quickly with both hands, hoping to catch it before it flew off across the room. A man, who looked strikingly like Salvador Dali, stood at the foot of his bed, fondling the end of his mustache and staring at him intently.
“No, son. The question is..who the fuck are you?”
“Shit.” He flopped back down on the bed. “That asshole must have laced it with something.”
“There is nothing wrong with your drug dealer. Aside from his profession, of course. And his impatience.”
“In September of next year he will get arrested for selling to an undercover cop. Had he been more careful he would have finished his degree in neurology and found a chemical compound in marijuana that safely treats partial seizure disorder in children.“
“Oh good. You’re up and ready to go then?” Dali asked.
“Go?…Where…? No! Give me my damn phone!” He snatched it out of Dali’s hand. Arrogantly, he began swiping the screen. Angrily, he swiped – as – the – phone – slowly – melted. It draped over his hand. He stopped. He shivered. He wasn’t cold. At least not on the outside.
“Shall we what?”
“Where are we going?” He asked, dazed and still somewhat stoned.
“Haven’t you read Dickens? To Christmas past, present, and future, of course.” Dali gave a wave of his hand.
“It’s New Year’s and I’m Hindu…”
“My ass,” Dali answered, wiggling his with a smile.”….you tell everyone you’re atheist.”
“Still….Dickens?” He questioned, waving a lighter as he scrounged around on the nightstand for a cigarette.
“Seems like the right setting for dickens, don’t you think?” Dali said.
“What’s that obnoxious noise?” He asked, looking around, “and why is it so fucking cold in here?”
“That obnoxious noise is you and you are wearing your boxer shorts…perhaps an adjustment is in order….” Dali suggested, twirling his mustache and looking down.
With a flush of embarrassment, he reached down to tuck himself back into his shorts. Then he realized Dali wasn’t looking at him, he was looking past him. He spun around.
“You WERE quite the sniveling little shit, weren’t you?”
Hidden under a blanket was a very small boy with very large eyes, crying for his mother.
“This is it,” Dali said,”Yes, yes….here it comes….” He rubbed his hands together in anticipation and wiggled his backside.
The boy sniffed, wiped his tears, sniffed again and pulled the blanket over his head. He stopped crying.
“Yes. You remember that, don’t you? The moment you decided the course of your life.”
“I just realized that crying didn’t help anything, that’s all.” He grumbled, then a sneer.
“Tears aren’t going to help anything…” the man said. It was his dad.
“Please, I’m trying my level best to help you understand,” his mother said, wiping her cheeks, “I waited so long to have him. The boys will never be this age again. We can’t just send him away – he’s eight. He won’t get to spend time with his brother. We won’t tell them not to fight. We won’t know what girl he likes. We won’t read his silly little stories or see his drawings or be able to comfort him at night. Why don’t you care?” She touched his shoulder. He casually pushed it off by reaching into his pocket for a cigarette.
“I do. I just…this is the way it has to be. Crying won’t help.” He lit up and took a drag.
“I wish you would quit. It’s not good for your health.”
“I know,” he answered. “He needs a good education.” The words were temperate, but, having made up his mind, he turned and walked away.
“See, Mr. Dali. Dad was right. I turned out fine. It’s fucking hot here. I want to go home and take a shower.”
“Thank god we’re not doing A Tale of Two Cities, we’d already be beheaded…well, on with it then…..”
“Great….Christmas present…..the whole premise of christmas is ridiculous to begin with.”
“We’re not doing this for those crazy christians. Think of this as an Archetypal Advent. A Freudian Festivus. Think of yourself as a man for all seasons! Know your history, son. ” He gave him a slap on the back for emphasis.
“Are you stoned?”
Dali was twirling his moustache again. “You should have stuck with her.”
“Her. You know, the single mother, the divorce, the socially unacceptable one. The thing that was supposed to teach you so much. It might have if you had let it. She loved you in spite of yourself.” Dali nodded toward the woman sitting at the table in front of them. He was too busy stared at himself sitting across from her. Did his hair really recede that far? He was tapping away on a tiny little computer.
“Try it now,” he said, sliding it back across the table to her.
“Worked. Thanks. Always helps to have an IT guy around.” She smiled at him.
“I guess that’s what I am,” he mumbled.
“I like you fine the way you are.”
“Hey! This isn’t the present!” He sneered.
“Yes, I know. But it was a revealing moment for you.” Dali grabbed his arm, laughing, “look again. This time look at her, you narcissistic little shit.”
Now she was sitting on the couch with her son.
“I made him a picture for Christmas.” The boy said, holding it up for his mom.
“I don’t think he will be coming back anytime soon.”
“He wasn’t ready.”
“Oh….” There was a long pause. “Ready for what?”
“For life. To be a part of our lives.” There was a tear trying to get out. She let it.
“That makes me sad, Mom. Will he be back any time later?” He was only eight. He didn’t care to hold back his little tears just yet either.
“I don’t know…..maybe never. You can’t make someone ready.” She thought for a minute. “Maybe no one is ever really ready. Maybe that’s what the holidays really celebrate is our unpreparedness. Another year of muddling through. Another year of jumping into the unknown.”
“Oh. That sounds yucky.”
“No.” She smiled and hugged him close, “Ok. Yeah. Sometimes it is. But it also sounds like an adventure.”
“I should have gotten him a compass….”
“How about if we get ourselves one for sailing this summer?”
“Yeah. Oh, and Mom. I want to make a laser gun too….”
“Perhaps you should have told her this…” Dali pointed at him, made a circle with his fingers and then pointed to himself. “you complete me,” he mouthed.
It was met with a silent stare.
“Too much?…. I have been accused of being a little too wow…”
A silent stare.
“Tom Cruise isn’t my favorite either.” Dali admitted with a shrug.
“It wasn’t meant to be a girlfriend thing. I tried to tell her that. My parents would never have accepted her son.” He searched around to see if he had a cigarette in the pocket of his boxers then gave up, realizing he was wearing boxers. “Anyway, what is your point?”
“If you had allowed yourself to love her, she would have shown you the strength you needed to help you become a real artist. But you didn’t have the courage, did you? You had to do it together. It’s a common dilemma, best explained by de Quincey’s theory of mutual co-arising and consciousness…..MIT?….never hear of it I suppose. Of course.”
“She was way too emotional.”
“Ah yes, like mommy, of course.”
“Yes. No. I just want calm in my life.”
“I see. I think you succeeded…”
He looked up.
“Where are we now?” he asked.
“You have a master’s degree and you can’t figure that out?”
“The future….this isn’t my future. I’m going to Europe soon.This is a cubicle.”
“No one knows what the future holds….. except me, of course.”
“Would you stop saying, ‘of course’!”
“WHO IS THAT!?! THAT IS NOT FUCKING ME!” He stumbled backward, pointing at the man in front of them.
“I’m afraid so.”
He watch his older self. Maybe in his 40’s or 50’s or 60’s, he couldn’t tell. The ring of hair around the base of his head needed trimming, as did the lonely little patch on the top.
“Where are all my friends?”
“Oh, busy with kids, family, work, parties. It’s New Year’s Eve.”
The office was empty except for his older self, who looked up slowly at the clock, clicked off the porn site, and slowly gathered his things. He recognized the green jacket. His older self tapped his chest and looked at the palm of his hand. He realized he was looking at his cell phone.
“Hey, Raj.” He said wearily to his hand.
“Are you on you’re way?” His hand asked him.
“Why don’t you guys go ahead, I’ll catch up with you later.”
“You sure? Sujana got a new dress and everything.”
“Yeah. I’m sure.”
“Ok. Chelo, man.”
His older self shuffled out the door.
“What happened to me?” He said softly, in disbelief.
“Nothing really. You were just never ready. That day you stopped crying…well, you lost your chance to become the artist you always dreamed of being. And the day you gave up on a woman who loved you for who you were because you thought there was something better out there. And the day you thought a better job would be the solution to all your problems…”
“I want to go home! I know the rest of this story. I live in the big house, with the big job, and I’m all alone. Okay! Okay! I get it!” He paced around, looking for a way out.
“Actually. You hate your job so much you never really advanced. You live in a mediocre condo. You’re middle of the road. You have a girlfriend who is pretty much like almost every other woman you have ever dated. You know; the one’s who love you for what they want you to be. It will last another few weeks, because that sorry old fart going to go home to her later on tonight and tell her he doesn’t feel like going out on New Year’s, then he’ll get stoned and go to bed. Maybe we should have stuck with the classics and done Sisyphus…” Dali mused, twirling the moustache. “Oh, I forgot to mention…about the sex…”
“Don’t!” He dropped his head and put his hand over what was still left of his hair.
He let his hands drop from his head. They fell against something hard. A book. A yellow book with the end of a note sticking out. He got out of bed and switched on the light. His brain felt like someone had lit it on fire. He snatched a cigarette from the nightstand, shoving it expertly between his dry lips. Before he lit it he paused, and looked at the book in his hand. It was entitled Theory of Bloom.
He slipped the note up until he could read what was scribbled on it in her bad handwriting: I saw this and thought of you. Hope you are writing.
- 2 oz. gin
- 3/4 oz. lime juice
- Top with club soda
- Lime wheel
Pour gin and lime juice into a chilled highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with club soda, and stir gently. Garnish with lime wheel. Serve with two straws.