The Benny Poda Years
A Novel by Kevin McGowin
Chapter 10 - Denver, Still
Fate was doling out its niceties in parsimonious increments, and I was going nowhere fast. I was keeping bar at the Island Paradise on York Street, and drinking away my tips after work, waking up in the middle of the afternoon with a hangover and getting ready to go do it all again. The human body is built to take some SHIT, but the human mind, its emotions, noI once knew this fucker with Gehrig's. His mind cracked up way before his body did. He started having insomnia and would get manic on steroids and call you up at all hours talking about some really whacked-out shit, let me tell ya. And he said to me one night, "I'm cracking up and it's because there's something left undone and I don't even know what it is." The fellow's still alive, too. His mind, however, is not. Totally gone. And mine was on its way.
Going thru opiate detox, even alone, is actually not that difficult. Cocaine, yes. Alcohol, yes. But I was off the White Horse and though I was dying slower than before, let me tell you, that vodka wasn't doing me any special favors. Whatever your most egregious alcohol consumption is, by the time you've spent your third week in Denver it's a safe bet that it's tripled, and mine had done just that, if not worse. I was popping Bennies just to make it thru work. I couldn't save a dime. I still can't, by the way, but at least now I have no good excuses. In those years, I was a fucking REPOSITORY, a DATABASE of excuses. And excuses are for fuckboys. Today, if I want to go on a Run and waste my money and piss my shit away, well, I have no excuse, and fuck you too.
But it takes a body a while to learn these things, and it takes a mind even longer, especially when that mind is under somebody else's faux-Hepplewhite imitation walnut table, in a manner of speaking. But I was scared, hoss. I was looking into the Soul of the World and seeing it for what it really is, a terminally ill melting icecap, in which every action taken by anybody is an action taken because of Fear. Fear of what? Death, loneliness? No, it's fear of having no more goddamn EXCUSES! This is what turns the earth on its axis and causes volcanic eruptions in the ocean and heart attacks in the middle of downtown Denver. I fuck you not. I fuck you not, brothers and sisters.
I became obsessed with the conviction that I was gonna die of Spontaneous Human Combustion. My life was like a cigarette lit from the wrong end when you're fucked up at three o'clock in the morning. I was taking showers 4, 5, 6 times a day.
That's when I shorted out. It was 2:30 am on a Sunday night and I thought I was having a Burton. And then, all of a sudden, things just got quiet. REAL quiet. Like death. I realized I had finally ceased to give a shit if I lived, died, got fucked by Nancy Sinatra or raped by a bear. I went to an all-night chain store and bought me a cue.
There was only one thing to do. There was only one place to ride the bus to. There was only one option.
I racked up the balls after hours in the bar and shot 'till I got my angle back. I shot five, six hours a night. I had nobody and nobody had me, and God in his heaven was watching me on the south side of York Street calling my eights in a cold sweat, sinking the stripes, getting solvent with the solids, feeling the green felt like fire green as grass, as the man said. Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs of Denver, tired of my part in Original Sin but not getting any younger, I robbed the till at the register and took all the tips and headed to the Western Wall, Luke. The Hound pulled into Vegas at 6 am, and by 8:30 I was playing again, with life or death just matters of degree.
Tangled up in blue, folks. I had nothing to live for, and nothing to die for, either. It's a simple world. Just live every moment as if you'll never ask questions again.