‘Twas one of those nauseating midsummer days in the city, a day existentialists love to include in their nauseating novels. The day was already so hot and humid when I arose drenched in sweat that the disc jockey on the little radio I had bought for eight bucks on Canal Street said his listeners should not go outside, not if we could help it, for it was muggier than the Amazon Jungle. He might as well have called the day putrid as well. Such a Manhattan day might be Amazonian in terms of clime, but the noble Amazon savages, although they wear T-shirts, have not been as corrupted as we have been; nor has their air been so fouled by the grime of degenerate materialists, namely the capitalists, the gentrified swine who are converting the world into a vast garbage dump in the name of their one and only god, money, pursuant to their money-commodity-money dogma.
My squalid rented share of the capitalist dump has one grimy window and sixty-four square feet of living space not counting the tiny bathroom where I also keep my little refrigerator box and hotplate. The sorry dump, an illegal sublet to an illegal sublet, was once the bathroom of a spacious apartment covering half the fifth floor. To make matters worse, the mice- and cockroach-infested building will soon be converted to a condominium. The mock gentry shall then pay through their noses for pieces of the rock. We see them scurrying about the Upper West Side like ants – in fact the Irish cops refer to them as ants.Like Sisyphus, they are condemned to roll the rock to the top of the garbage heap, just to have it roll back down. Unlike Sisyphus, each one believes he or she causes the Sun to rise and set on them all. Notwithstanding their arrogance, these tiny American ants are a mighty force, capable of bearing several times their weight. One day they shall pick up their hammers and smash everything in sight; whatever remains shall be good. And the Americanized children of Mother Russia shall be ready for that great day, thanks to the Formica movement.
I am a creature of circumstances, and as such I have no choice but to go outside on the most oppressive of summer days, sometimes even at night, to sleep in Central Park, where teenage werewolves from Harlem go wilding. For one thing, I cannot afford an air conditioner. My window is four feet away from the exhaust vent of the huge Chinese noodle restaurant on 84th and Broadway. I get blasted with MSG-laced fumes when I open my window. The noise from the huge vent duct and the three large air-conditioning units below is unbearable even when my window is closed. I dropped several boxes of differently sized nails down into the fans, but they were soon fixed and screened to prevent further sabotage of the kitchen from hell. In the wee hours of the morning, there is an awful racket appertaining to the filling of the garbage bins, which are sometimes not emptied for days. The garbage bags are dragged by the jibber-jabbering kitchen crew out the front door, around the corner and down the sidewalk, leaving streaks of ooze all along the sidewalk, then thrown into the bins. The lids are slammed down and the bins rolled under my window and crashed against the wall. Complaints to the authorities are to no avail – the enforcing authorities, led by Mayor Jinkens himself, frequent the establishment and take out cash in their doggie bags.
My direct complaints to the Chinese-American management had also been ignored, so I had recourse to tying up their Take Out number with back-to-back obscene calls from a pay phone down the street; a Columbian drug dealer had rigged it to make free calls – he was garroted one late night, allegedly by the father of the off-duty Puerto Rican cop who accidentally blew his balls off while drawing his weapon on the dealer. Furthermore, I sprayed red enamel paint on the plate glass windows of the noodle shop one morning. And I squeezed Crazy Glue into the front door locks. And I poured hydrochloric acid on the manager’s new car. And one morning I shot out one of the windows on my way to work. All to no avail – security guards were hired to cover the place twenty four seven. And the pay phone was fixed, believe it or not.
A victim of circumstances, I could not escape. I might as well have been in my late father’s Siberian concentration camp, where inmates, instead of trying to change their pitiful circumstances, cling to them for fear things might get worse. My father froze to death during an escape attempt. If crabs are left in an open bucket, he used to say, they will claw each other unto death instead of clawing their way out the top.
I did manage to sleep late on that nauseating summer morning. It was not an erection or the sweat trickling down my face but rather an urge to vomit that woke me up. To make conditions worse, my next door neighbor, who lived in the apartment that used to be the living room to which mine was the bathroom, had kosherized her oven the day before. The odor pervading the whole floor was g-d awful. She had had a man over the night before. They were having sex and her moans woke me up. She suddenly stopped moaning. He was evidently disappointed. I could hear every sound and could distinguish every word – the walls were thin and New Yorkers tend to speak loudly. He was complaining about the “yellow discharge” coming from her vagina, saying that it “stank” and was “unacceptable.” She pled with him, calling him ‘Good Bar’, saying she could not help it, and to please try it again because it felt so good. He said he would not “go down on that again.” The door soon slammed, and I could hear her softly sobbing. I went back to sleep; I dreamt of lemon-flavored Jello exuding from the bushy mouth of a cave at the foot of towering twin peaks. The gelatin was laced with bananas. All who came to eat of it were forever blessed with peace and happiness. Such dreams prove that I love everyone, just as my dreams of straight sex prove I am not gay.
I propped up my mattress against one wall of my box-studio after I got up. I squeezed myself into the bathroom and sat on the toilet for awhile, but I couldn’t do my duty. A huge cockroach lumbered by, knowing I could care less. I opened the refrigerator box while sitting there, grabbed a carton of milk and took a swallow, but the milk had gone bad, I dumped it into the sink – the taste and smell of the sour milk nauseated me even more. I could hardly breath – I had to get out of the stinking hole I called home.
I used to go to the Laundromat every Saturday morning, but the owners raised the ante for the machines so I decided to go every other Saturday to protest the price hike – I am also down to buying only one Sunday Times per month. If my math, a subject I flunked, is correct, that meant I had to wear the same pair of pants for three and one-half days – sometimes I rounded the number up and wore one pair for four days. I smelled the brown-stained backside of the pair I had used for the last three days – I cannot stand underpants because they give me crotch rash. The smell of one’s own is not that bad: I decided to wear them all day instead of changing at . After I got dressed I grabbed my beat-up cassette player and literally ran down the stairs for fresh air – I thought I was going to puke on the second landing, but only had the dry heaves.
Apparently many others shared my experience that Saturday. The streets were already packed when I stepped over the bum passed out on my front stoop. The air was so thick with filth you could cut it with a butter knife. The summery scene on the whole reminded me of a garbage can filled with writhing maggots. Of course it is best to look upon people more directly, as frogs, in order to dissect and understand them, for they are far more complex than worms, and they do look like frogs, but they seemed like squirming maggots to me on this particular day.
Two drivers had gotten out of their cars in the middle of the street and were threatening each other; a small crowd gathered around them in hopes of witnessing a cathartic fight; but the enraged drivers could not stand the heat radiating off the building and pavement, so they got back in their air-conditioned cars. I did not blame but I was still disappointed – I became so impatient to see blows thrown that I imagined sauntering up to the smaller driver and cold-cocking him up the side of his head just to get things going. Not that I would do such a thing to man half my size, but the weather was getting me hot under the collar. Anyway, I strode down the block, dodging all oncomers.
Good grief! I had not been on the street for five minutes and I was really pissed off. Everyone was of course walking right at me, as usual, as if I did not exist. A punch in the face might change that, I thought. A woman came at me with her head down. I straight-armed her and she plopped down on her ass with soft thud. She did not know what happened, nor did anyone else. New Yorkers are not really that mean: several people stopped and helped her get up. But I kept right on going. I should have said ‘excuse me’ right before I stiffed her, and then I could have identified myself and stuck around with impunity: Hey, lady, I said excuse me!
And then a big truck came around the corner and ran over a jaywalking roller-blade skater. He was dragged under the truck and crushed under the wheel, so traumatized that he felt no pain, obviously dying on the spot. A squad car happened to be across the street; two obese cops heaved themselves out of the car, waddled over and peered under the truck. Their sickened expressions indicated they did not like what they saw. They called an ambulance and stood erect with arms folded, letting no one get near. The injured man was calling out a woman’s name. The cops stood by, chatted and chuckled about something. I wanted to get under the truck, hold the man’s hand, get the woman’s name, but the cops told me to move on when I approached. I persisted and was told I would be arrested unless I moved away from the truck. I was so angry at them I imagined grabbing a gun from one of their holsters and shooting them both. The truck driver had gotten down from the cab of his truck in the meantime and was bawling like a baby.
I had to get out of there. Enough damage had already been done. I went into the Deli, bought a bag of pistachios and an ice-cold quart of Colt 45 malt liquor, and headed for RiversidePark. I was tempted several times to return to my hovel, retrieve my pistol, and shoot at least one of those cops in the head – in fact I had only one bullet left. Of course my author would not let me do that: I was a coward in action, and I feared the unknown. Yes, I had accidentally on unconscious purpose killed two little old ladies and had felt good about it, but I had never killed a man, much less a cop. If these notes are found, I would not want the reader to believe I am a misogynist: I would have him or her know that little old ladies are traditionally murdered by Russian existentialists of nihilistic bent, following in the bloody footsteps of one possessed rascal named Raskolnikov, in order to free themselves from moral conventions. But I am not even that, alienated although I am, for I did not set out to deliberately shove my grandmother in front of the train nor did I intend to hurl the little old horror story writer to her death down the theatre stairs, nor did I rob either one of them.
However that might be, Riverside Park was steamy along the river on Saturday, yet there was a slight breeze, and, best of all, there were not many people around. I sat down on a bench by the 79th Street Boat Basin. The stench of the sewage from the boats was horrid: I imagined the boats were turds floating in a toilet basin. I didn’t see Mr. Clean’s revamped yacht; I figured he must be out stealing another one. I moved further upwind along the promenade, sat down, put on my headphones, opened my quart of beer and took several long swigs. I had some traditional rap, Ice-T’s Body Count album, in my player. ‘KKK Bitch’ was playin’:
Aw yeah, what's up out there? BC's in the house. Right
about now, I wanna tell you a little love story, you know
what I'm sayin', this is a Body Count love story check out
the lyrics, you know, I'm a tell you 'bout what happened
when we went down South last year on tour.
Cool. They say that Blues heals, but Gangsta’ Rap chills me when I’m mad. I get sick and tired of being a honky day in and day out. Sometimes I hate honkies like me. So to relax I get to imagining that I’m a homey, and I even call myself nigger – we can call ourselves that when we’re black, you know. We loves to dish bitches and get some white tail too, like that fine-assed blond girl with big tits and blues eyes, way down South where the lovin’ is good. She loves me good, but her daddy don’t play, he’s the freakin’ grand wizard of the KKK. Hey, I’m glad she’s been had, cuz I loves my KKK girl, she loves me too when I treat her bad, she’s a real vacuum cleaner when she blows my wiener.
I was relaxing to the music, you know. The beer was hitting me good. I felt almost overwhelmed by love for everybody, not only Nazi girls but Black girls, Oriental girls, Latinas too. We should all get together one day for a gigantic Klan meeting, throw off our white sheets and have a gigantic orgasm together. I was getting a hard on just thinking about the relative positions everybody would be in on that occasion, when a white girl rode up on a bike, got off, and sat down on the bench next to me. I busied myself with the music and the bag of pistachios I had bought. She pulled a book from the rack on her bike and started to read. She soon glanced over at me, looking at me as if I were a worm, shaking her head disapprovingly at the quart of beer propped between my thighs. She looked doubly disgusted at the pistachios shells I was tossing on the grass between our benches. My love for all girls regardless of race went up in flames: How dare she look at me like that! My beer was, after all, in a paper bag, and pistachio shells are biodegradable. I had done nothing wrong!
I snapped. I showed her a thing or two! I jumped up, picked up her bike, ran to the rail and threw it over the rocks below into the filthy river. Oh my G-d, she cried out, climbed over the rail, slipped down the rocks, and jumped into the water to retrieve her bike. It was out of sight, under the slimy surface, and she began to flounder – Dammit! She couldn’t swim. I could not believe myself: I went in after her. Not only did I get her out of the water and onto the rocks, but I felt her bike underwater and managed to retrieve it too. She was so frightened and relieved that she forgot to be mad at me. She clung to me for dear life on the rocks. She was beautiful, sopping wet. Pale skin, blond hair, blue eyes, nice rear, not the bony ass so many white girls up North tend to have. Best of all, she had the smallish breasts of my dreams – my grandmother’s hung down to her waist from a hairy chest.I don’t know what happened. I no longer smelled the sewage, I was no longer nauseated, I was terribly aroused and I came. I couldn’t help it. I’m a victim of circumstances, you know.