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Gately

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(p924-p933)Gately, for several months before he did his State assault-bit,

was disastrously involved with one Pamela Hoffman-Jeep, his first girl ever with a hyphen, a sort of upscale but directionless and not very healthy and pale and incredibly passive Danvers girl that worked in Purchasing for a hospital-supply co. in Swampscott and was pretty definitely an alcoholic and drank bright drinks with umbrellas in Rte. 1 clubs in the late P.M. until she swooned and passed out with a loud clunk. That’s what she called it—‘swooned.’ The swooning and passing out with a loud clunk as her head hit the table was more or less a nightly thing, and Pamela Hoffman-Jeep fell automatically in love with any man she termed ‘chivalrous’ 374 enough to carry her out to the parking lot and drive her home without raping her, which rape of an unconscious head-lolling girl she termed ‘Taking Advantage.’ Gately got introduced to her by Fackelmann, who one time as he came up through a sports bar called the Pourhouse’s parking lot to dialogue with a Sorkin-debtor Gately saw Fackelmann staggering along carrying this unconscious girl to his ride, one big hand quite a bit farther up her prom-looking taffeta gown than it really needed to be to carry her, and Fackelmann told Gately if Don’d give this gash a ride home he’d stay and do the collection, which Gately’s heart wasn’t in collections anymore and he jumped at the trade, as long as Fackelmann could promise him she could hold her various fluids in the 4×4 he was driving. So it was Fackelmann who told him, as he put the tiny and limp but still continent body in his arms in the parking lot of the Pourhouse, to watch his personal six, Gately, and be sure and violate her a little, because this gash here was like one of those South Sea–culture gashes in that if Gately took her home and she woke up nonviolated she’d be Gately’s for life. But Gately obviously had no intention of raping an unconscious person, much less even putting his hand up the gown of a girl that might lose her fluids any second, and this locked him into the involvement. Pamela Hoffman-Jeep called Gately her ‘Night-Errand’ and fell passively in love with his refusal to Take Advantage. Gene Fackelmann, she confided, was not the gentleman Gately was.

 

What helped make the involvement disastrous was that Pamela Hoffman-Jeep was always either so leglessly drunk or so passively hungover all the time that any sort of sex any time at all with her would have classified as Taking Advantage.

This girl was the single passivest person Gately ever met. He never once saw P.H.-J. actually get from one spot to another under her own power. She needed somebody chivalrous to pick her up and carry her and lay her back down 24/7/365, it seemed like. She was a sort of sexual papoose. She spent most of her life passed out and sleeping. She was a beautiful sleeper, kittenish and serene, never drooling. She made passivity and unconsciousness look kind of beautiful. Fackelmann called her Death’s Poster-Child. Even at work, at the hospital supply co., Gately imagined her horizontal, curled fetal on something soft, with all the hot slack facial intensity of a sleeping baby. He imagined her bosses and coworkers all tiptoeing around Purchasing whispering to each other to not wake her up. She never once rode in the actual front seat of any vehicle he drove her home in. But she also never threw up or pissed herself or even complained, just smiled and yawned an infant’s little milky yawn and snuggled deeper into whatever Gately had swaddled her in. Gately started doing that thing about yelling they’d been robbed when he carried her into whatever stripped luxury apt. they were crewing in. P.H.-J. wasn’t what you’d call great-looking, but she was incredibly sexy, Gately felt, because she always managed to look like you’d just X’d her into a state of total unmuscled swoon, lying there unconscious. Trent Kite told Fackelmann he thought Gately was out of his fucking mind. Fax observed that Kite himself was not exactly a W. T. Sherman with the ladies, even with coke-whores and strung-out nursing students and dipsoid lounge-hags whose painted faces swung loose from their heads. Fackelmann claimed to have started a Log just to keep track of Kite’s attempted pickup lines—surefire lines like e.g. ‘You’re the second most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen, the first most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen being former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,’ and ‘If you came home with me I’m unusually confident that I could achieve an erection,’ and said that if Kite wasn’t still cherry at twenty-three and a half it was proof of some kind of divine-type grace.

Sometimes Gately would come out of a Demerol-nod and look at pale passive Pamela lying there sleeping beautifully and undergo a time-lapse clairvoyant thing where he could almost visibly watch her losing her looks through her twenties and her face starting to slide over off her skull onto the pillow she held like a stuffed toy, becoming a lounge-hag right before his eyes. The vision aroused more compassion than horror, which Gately never even considered might qualify him as a decent person.

Gately’s two favorite things about Pamela Hoffman-Jeep were: the way she would come out of her stupor and hold her cheek and laugh hysterically each time Gately carried her across the threshold of some stripped apartment and bellow that they’d been ripped off; and the way she always wore the long white linen gloves and bare-shoulder taffeta that made her seem like some upscale North Shore debutante who’s had like one too many dippers of country-club punch and is just begging to be Taken Advantage of by some low-rent guy with a tattoo—she’d make a sort of languid very-slow-motion bullwhip-gesture with her hand in the long white glove as she lay wherever Gately had deposited her and simper out with an upscale inflection ‘Don Honey, bring Mommy a highball’ (she called a drink a highball), which it turned out was a deadly impression of her own Mom, who it turned out this lady made Gately’s own Mom look like Carry Nation by comparison, lush-wise: the only four times Gately ever met Mrs. H.-J. were all at E.R.s and sanitaria.

Gately lies there pop-eyed with guilt and anxiety in the hiss and click of resumed sleet, in the twilit St. E.’s room, next to the glittering back-brace-and-skull-halo thing clamped exoskeletally to the empty next bed and gleaming dully at selected welds, Gately trying to Abide, remembering. It had been Pamela Hoffman-Jeep that finally clued Gately in on the little ways Gene Fackelmann had been historically getting over on Whitey Sorkin, and alerted him to the suicidal creek Fackelmann had got himself into with a certain mistaken-bet scam that had blown up right in his map. Even Gately had been able to tell something was the matter: for the last two weeks Fackelmann had been squatting sweatily in a corner of the stripped living room, right outside the little luxury bedroom Gately and Pamela were lying in, out there squatting over his Sterno cooker and incredible twin hills of sky-blue Dilaudid and many-hued M&M’s, not much speaking or responding or moving or even seeming to cop a nod, just sitting there hunched and plump and glistening like some sort of cornered toad, his mustache flailing around on his lip. Things would have had to be bad indeed for Gately ever to try to get coherent data out of P.H.-J. Apparently the deal was that one of the bettors that bet with Sorkin through Fackelmann was a guy Gately and Fackelmann know only as Eighties Bill, an impeccably groomed guy that wore red suspenders under snazzy Zegna-brand menswear and tortoiseshell specs and Docksiders, an old-fashioned corporate take-overer and asset-plunderer, maybe fifty, with an Exchange Place office and a souvenir FREE MILKEN bumper sticker on his Beamer—it was a night of many highballs and much papoosing, and Gately had to keep flicking the top of P.H.-J.’s skull to keep her conscious long enough to free-associate her way through the details—who was on his fourth marriage to his third aerobics instructor, and who liked to bet only on Ivy League college hoops, but who when he did so—bet—bet amounts so huge that Fackelmann always had to get Sorkin’s pre-approval on the bet and then call Eighties Bill back, and so on.

But so—according to Pamela Hoffman-Jeep—this Eighties Bill, who’s a Yale alum and usually unabashedly sentimental about what Pamela H.-J. laughingly says Fackelmann called his ‘almometer’—well, on this particular time it seems like a little impeccably groomed birdie has whispered in Eighties Bill’s hairy ear, because this one time Eighties Bill wants to put $125K down on Brown U. against Yale U., i.e. betting against his almometer, only he wants (–2) points instead of the even spread Sorkin and the rest of the Boston books are taking off the Atlantic City line for a spread. And Fackelmann has to cell-phone down to Saugus to bounce this off Sorkin, except Sorkin’s down in the city in Enfield at the National Cranio-Facial Pain Foundation office getting his weekly UV-bombardment and Cafergot refill from Dr. Robert (‘Sixties Bob’) Monroe—the septuagenarian pink-sunglasses-and-Nehru-jacket-wearing N.C.-F.P.F. ergotic-vascular-headache-treatment specialized, a guy who in yore-days interned at Sandoz and was one of T. Leary’s original circle of mayonnaise-jar acid-droppers at T. Leary’s now-legendary house in West Newton MA, and is now (60s B.) an intimate acquaintance of Kite, because Sixties Bob is an even bigger Grateful Dead fanatic maybe even than Kite, and sometimes got together with Kite and several other Dead devotees (most of who now had canes and O2 tanks) and traded historical-souvenir-type tiger’s eyes and paisley doublets and tie-dyes and lava lamps and bandannas and plasma spheres and variegated black-light posters of involuted geometric designs, and argued about which Dead shows and bootlegs of Dead shows were the greatest of all time in different regards, and just basically had a hell of a time. 60s B., an inveterate collector and haggling trader of shit, sometimes took Kite along on little expeditions of eclectic and seedy shops for Dead-related paraphernalia, sometimes even informally fencing stuff for Kite (and so indirectly Gately), covering Kite with $ when Kite’s rigid need-schedule didn’t permit a more formal and time-consuming fence, Sixties Bob then trading the merchandise around various seedy locales for 60s-related shit nobody else’d even usually want. A couple times Gately had to actually finger an ice cube out of a highball and slip it under the shoulderless neckline of P.H.-J.’s prom gown to try and keep her on some kind of track. Like most incredibly passive people, the girl had a terrible time ever separating details from what was really important to a story, is why she rarely ever got asked anything. But so the point is that the person that took Fackelmann’s call about Eighties Bill’s mammoth Yale-Brown bet wasn’t in fact Sorkin but rather Sorkin’s secretary, one Gwendine O’Shay, the howitzer-breasted old Green-Cardless former I.R.A.-moll who’d gotten hit on the head with a truncheon by a godless Belfast Bobbie once too often back on the Old Sod, and whose skull now was (in Fackelmann’s own terminology) soft as puppy-shit in the rain, but who had just the seedy sort of distracted-grandmotherly air that makes her perfect for clapping her red-knuckled old hands to her cheeks and squealing as she claimed Mass Lottery lottery winnings whenever Whitey Sorkin and his MA-Statehouse bagmen-cronies arrange to have a Sorkinite buy a mysteriously winning Mass Lottery ticket from one of the countless convenience stores Sorkin & cronies own through dummy corporations all up and down the North Shore, and who, because she could not only give what Sorkin claimed was the only adequate cervical massage west of the Berne Hot Alp Springs Center but also could both word-process a shocking 110 wpm and wield a shillelagh like nobody’s business—plus had been W. Sorkin’s dear late I.R.A.-moll Mum’s Scrabble-pal back in Belfast, on the Old Sod—served as Whitey’s chief administrative aide, manning the cellular phones when Sorkin was out or indisposed.

And so but P.H.-J.’s point, which Gately has to just about crack her scalp open flicking out of her: Gwendine O’Shay, familiar with Eighties Bill and his Y.U. Bulldog sentimentality, plus cranially soft as a fucking grape, O’Shay took Fackelmann’s call wrong, thought Fackelmann said Eighties Bill wanted 125K with (–2) points on Yale instead of (–2) on Brown, put Fackelmann on Hold and made him listen to Irish Muzak while she put in a call to a Yale Athletic Dept. mole out of Sorkin’s Read-Protected database’s MOLE file and learned that the Yale U. Bulldogs’ star power forward had been diagnosed with an extremely rare neurologic disorder called Post-Coital Vestibulitis 375 in which for several hours after intercourse the power forward tended to suffer such a terrible vertiginous loss of proprioception that he literally couldn’t tell his ass from his elbow, much less make an authoritative move to the bucket. Plus then O’Shay’s second call, to Sorkin’s Brown U. athletic mole (a locker-room attendant everybody thinks is deaf), reveals that several of Brown U.’s most sirenish and school-spirited hetero coeds had been recruited, auditioned, briefed, rehearsed (i.e. ‘debriefed,’ giggles Pamela Hoffman-Jeep, whose giggles involve the sort of ticklish shoulder-writhing undulations of a much younger girl getting tickled by an authority figure and pretending not to like it), and stationed at strategic points—I–95 rest-stops, in the spare-tire compartment at the rear of the Bulldogs’ chartered bus, in the evergreen shrubbery outside the teams’ special entrance to the Pizzitola Athl. Center in Providence, in concave recesses along the Pizzitola tunnels between special entrance and Visitors’ locker room, even in a specially enlarged and sensually-appointed locker next to the power forward’s locker in the VLR, all prepared—like the Brown cheerleaders and Pep Squad, who’ve been induced to do the game pantyless, electrolysized and splits-prone to help lend a pyrotechnic glandular atmosphere to the power forward’s whole playing-environment—prepared to make the penultimate sacrifice for squad, school, and influential members of the Brown Alumni Bruins Boosters Assoc. So that Gwendine O’Shay then switches back to Fackelmann and OKs the mammoth bet and point-spread, as like who wouldn’t, with that kind of mole-reported fix in the works. Except of course she’s taken the wager backwards, i.e. O’Shay thinks Eighties Bill’s now got 125K on Yale coming within two points, while Eighties Bill—who it turns out’s cast himself as White Knight in bidding for majority control of Providence’s Federated Funnel and Cone Corp., O.N.A.N.’s leading manufacturer of conoid receptacles, with F.F.&C. CEO’d by a prominent Brown alumnus so rabid a Bruins-booster he actually wears a snarling hollow bear-head to conference games, whose ass Eighties Bill is going about kissing like nobody’s beeswax, P.H.-J. inserts, hinting it was Eighties Bill who’d tipped the Bruins staff off about the power forward’s Achilles’ vas deferens—E.B. quite reasonably believes he’s now got Brown within a deuce for 125 el grande’s.

The wrench in the ointment that nobody in Providence has counted on is the picket-and-knuckleduster-wielding appearance of Brown University’s entire Dworkinite Female Objectification Prevention And Protest Phalanx outside the Pizzitola Athl. Center’s main gates right at game-time, two FOPPPs per motorcycle, who blow through the filigreed gates like they were so much wet Kleenex and storm the arena, plus a division of Brown’s pluckier undergraduate N.O.W.s who execute a pincer-movement down from the cheap seats up top during the first time-out, at the precise moment the Brown cheerleaders’ first pyramid-maneuver ends in a mid-air split that causes the Pizzitola’s scoreboard’s scorekeeper to reel backward against his controls and blow out both HOME’s and VISITORS’ zeroes, on the board, just as the FOPPPs’ unmuffled Hawgs come blatting malevolently down through the ground-level tunnels and out onto the playing floor; and in the ensuing melee not only are cheerleaders, Pep Squad, and comely Brown U. sirens all either laid out with picket-signs wielded like shillelaghs or thrown kicking and shrieking over the burly shoulders of militant FOPPPs and carried off on roaring Hawgs, leaving the Yale power forward’s delicate nervous system intact if overheated; but two Brown U. Bruin starters, a center and a shooting guard—both too wrung-out and dazed by a grueling week of comely-siren-auditioning and -rehearsing to have sense enough to run like hell once the melee spills out onto the Pizzitola hardwood—are felled, by a FOPPP knuckleduster and a disoriented referee with a martial-arts background, respectively; and so when the floor is finally cleared and stretchers borne off and the game resumes, Yale U. cleans Brown U.’s clock by upwards of 20.

Then so Fackelmann calls up Eighties Bill and arranges to pick up the skeet, which is $137,500 with the vig, which E.B. gives him in large-denomination pre-O.N.A.N. scrip in a GO BROWN BRUINS gym-bag he’d brought to the game to sit next to the ursine-headed CEO with and now has less than no use for, but so Fackelmann receives the skeet downtown and blasts up cheesy Route 1 to Saugus to deliver the skeet and pick up his vig on the vig ($625 U.S.) right away, needing to cop Blues in what’s starting to be the worst way, etc. Plus Fackelmann’s figuring on maybe a small bonus or at least some emotional validation from Sorkin for bringing in such a mammoth and promptly-remitted wager. But, when he gets to the Rte. 1 titty bar at the rear of which Sorkin has his administrative offices behind an unmarked fire door and all wallpapered in stuff that looks like ersatz wood panelling, Gwendine O’Shay wordlessly points behind her station at Sorkin’s personal office door with a terse gesture Fackelmann doesn’t think fits with the up-beatness of the occasion at all. The door’s got a big poster of R. Limbaugh on it, from before the assassination. Sorkin’s in there working spreadsheets with his special monitor-screen-light-filtering goggles on. The goggles’ lenses on their long protruding barrels look like lobsters’ eyes on stalks. Gately and Fackelmann and Bobby C never spoke to Sorkin until spoken to, not out of henchmanish obsequity but because they could never tell what Sorkin’s cranio-facial vascular condition was or if he could tolerate sound until they verifiably heard him tolerating his own. (Sound.)

So G. Fackelmann waits wordlessly to hand over Eighties Bill’s skeet, standing there tall and soft and palely sweating, the overall shape and color of a peeled boiled egg. When Sorkin hikes an eyebrow at the GO BRUINS bag and says the knee-slapping hilarity of the joke escapes him, Fackelmann’s mustache positively takes off all over his upper lip, and he prepares to say what he always says when he’s flummoxed, that whatever’s being said is with all due respect a goddamn lie. Sorkin saves his data and pushes his desk chair back so he can reach all the way down to the fireproof drawer. The goggles are often used in data-processing sweatshops and list for a deuce. Sorkin grunts as he hauls out a huge old Mass Lottery box for Quik-Pick cards and heaves it onto the desk, where it bulges obscenely, filled with 112.5K U.S.—there’s 112.5 fucking K in there, all in ones, 125K minus vig, what Sorkin via O’Shay believes to be Eighties Bill’s winnings, all in small bills, because Sorkin’s pissed off and can’t resist making a little like gesture. Fackelmann doesn’t say anything. His mustache goes limp as his mental machinery starts revving. Sorkin, massaging his temples, staring up at Fackelmann with his goggles like a crab in a tank, says he supposes he can’t blame Fax or O’Shay, that he’d have OK’d the bet himself, what with the neurologic tip on the Yale forward they had. Who could have foreseen thuggish Feminazis screwing up the ointment. He utters a bit of Gaelic that Fackelmann doesn’t know but assumes to be fatalistical. He peels six C-notes and an O.N.A.N.ite 25-spot off a wad the size of an artillery shell and pushes them across the metal desk at Fackelmann, his vig on the vig. He says What the fuck (Sorkin does), this Eighties Bill kid’s irrational sentimentalism for Yale will sooner or later catch up with him. Veteran books tend to be statistically philosophical and patient. Fackelmann doesn’t even bother to wonder why Sorkin refers to Eighties Bill as ‘kid’ when they’re both about the same age. But a high-watt bulb is slowly beginning to incandesce over Fackelmann’s moist head. As in the Faxter starts to conceptualize the overall concept of what must of happened. He still hasn’t said anything, Pamela Hoffman-Jeep emphasizes. Sorkin looks Fackelmann over and asks if he’s gained some asymmetrical-type weight, there. Fackelmann’s left tit does look noticeably bigger than his right, under his sport-coat, because of the legal envelope with 137 1000s and one 500 in it, the skeet from an Eighties Bill who thought he’d lost. Just like Sorkin thought E.B.’d won. The slight high whine in the room that Sorkin thinks is his Infernatron disk-drive is really the whine of Fackelmann’s high-speed mentation. His mustache roils like a cracked whip as he works his own internal mental spreadsheet. 250K in one lumpy sum represented like 375 sky-blue grams of hydromorphone hydrochloride 376 or like 37,500 10-mg. soluble tablets of the shit, available from a certain rapacious but discreet Chinatown opiate-dealer who’d only deal synthetic narcs in 100-gram weights—which all translated, assuming Kite could be persuaded to pack up his D.E.C. 2100 and move far far away with Fackelmann to help him set up a street-distribution matrix in some urban market far far away, into close to like let’s see carry the one like 1.9 million in street-value, which sum meant that Fackelmann and to a lesser jr.-partner extent Kite could have their chins on their chests for the rest of their days without ever having to strip another apt., forge another passport, break another thumb. All if Fackelmann just kept his map shut about O’Shay’s confabulation of Yale/Brown//Brown/Yale, mumbled something about an I.V.-adulterant causing a sudden and temporary gigantism in one tit, and blasted out of there straight down Rte. 1 to this one Dr. Wo and Associates, Hung Toy’s Cold Tea Emporium, Chinatown.

By this time Pamela Hoffman-Jeep had succumbed to the highballs and her own swaddled warmth and was irreversibly swooned, ice or fillip or no, twitching synaptically and murmuring to somebody named Monty that he was certainly no kind of gentleman in her book. But Gately could chart the rest of Fackelmann’s shit-creek’s course for himself. When approached by Fackelmann with a GO BROWN gym-bag of Dr. Wo’s finest wholesale Dilaudid and invited to decamp with him and set up a distrib-matrix for their own drug-empire far far away, Kite would have staggered back in horror at Fackelmann’s obviously not knowing that the bettor Eighties Bill was in fact none other than the son of Sixties Bob, viz. Whitey Sorkin’s personal migrainologist, who Sorkin trusted and confided in as only a massive I.V.-dose of Cafergot can make you trust and confide, and whom Sorkin would undoubtedly tell all about the guy’s own son’s huge win on Yale, and who wasn’t like Ward-and-Wally close with his son, Sixties Bob wasn’t, but naturally kept distant paternal tabs on him, and would certainly have known that E.B.’d in fact bet Brown in an attempt to cozy up to the conic CEO, and so would know that there’d been some kind of mix-up; and also that (Kite’d still be staggering back in horror as all this added up) plus, even if Sorkin somehow didn’t get told of Eighties Bill’s loss and Fackelmann’s scam from Sixties Bill, the fact was that Sorkin’s newest savagest U.S. muscle, Bobby (‘C’) C, old-fashioned smack-addict, copped regular old organic Burmese heroin from this Dr. Wo on a regular basis, and was sure to hear about 300+ grams of wholesale Dilaudid bought by a Fackelmann known to be C’s co-employee off Sorkin… and thus that Fackelmann, who when he came to Kite with the proposition was already in possession of a Brown-Booster bag full of 37,500 10-mg. Dilaudids and minus Sorkin’s 250K—plus with as Gately later knew only 22K in suicidal-scam-backfire-insurance capital—was already dead: Fackelmann was a Dead Man, Kite would have said, staggering back with horror at Fax’s idiocy; Kite’d have said he could smell Fackelmann already biodegrading from here. Dead as a fucking post, he’d have told Fackelmann, already worrying about being seen sitting there with him in whatever titty bar they were in when Fax hit Kite with the proposal. And Gately, watching P.H.-J. sleep, could not only imagine but Identify fully with how Fackelmann, on hearing Kite say he could smell him dead and why, with how Fackelmann, instead of taking his bagful of Blues and gluing on a goatee and immediately fleeing to climes that’d never even fucking heard of metro Boston’s North Shore—that the Faxter’d done what any drug addict in possession of his Substance would do when faced with fatal news and attendant terror: Facklemann’d made a fucking beeline for their luxury-stripped home and familiar safe-feeling hearth and had plopped down and immediately fired up the Sterno cooker and cooked up and tied off and shot up and nailed his chin to his chest and kept it there with staggering quantities of Dilaudid, trying to mentally blot out the reality of the fact that he was going to get demapped if he didn’t take some kind of decisive remedial action at once. Because, Gately realized even then, this was your drug addict’s basic way of dealing with problems, was using the good old Substance to blot out the problem. Also probably medicating his terror by stuffing himself with Peanut M&M’s, which would explain all the wrappers littering the floor of the corner he hadn’t moved from. That thus this is why Fackelmann has been squatting moist and silent in a corner of the living room right outside this very bedroom here for days; this was why the apparent contradiction of the staggering amount of Substance Fackelmann had in the gym-bag next to him together with the cornered-toad look of a man in the great fear one associates with Withdrawal. Charting and thinking, drumming his fingers absently on P.H.-J.’s unconscious skull, Gately realized he could more than empathize with Fackelmann’s flight into Dilaudid and M&M’s, but he now realizes that that was the first time it really ever dawned on him in force that a drug addict was at root a craven and pathetic creature: a thing that basically hides.

The most sexual thing Gately ever did with Pamela Hoffman-Jeep was he liked to unwrap her cocoon of blankets and climb in with her and spoon in real tight, fitting his bulk up close against all her soft concave places, and then go to sleep with his face in her nape. It bothered Gately that he could empathize with Fackelmann’s desire to hide and blot out, but in the retrospect of memory now it bothers him more that he didn’t lie there up next to the comatose girl being bothered for more than a few minutes before he felt the familiar desire that blots out all bother, and that that night he had unwrapped the cocoon of bedding and arisen so automatically in service of this desire. And feels the worst of all that he’d lumbered out of the bedroom in just jeans and belt out to the gloaming living room where Fackelmann was hunched moist and smeary-mouthed in the corner next to a mountain of 10 mg. Dilaudids and his mixing bowl of distilled water and works-kit and Sterno unit, that Gately had lumbered so automatically out to Fackelmann under the pretense—to himself, too, the pretense, was the worst thing—the pretense that he was just going to check on poor old Fackelmann, to maybe try and convince him to take some kind of action, go penitent to Sorkin or flee the clime instead of just hiding there in the corner with his mind in neutral and his chin on his chest and a stalactite of chocolated drool from his lower lip lengthening. Because he knew that the first thing Fackelmann would do when Gately left P.H.-J. and lumbered out to the defurnished living room would be to fumble in his GoreTex works-kit for a new factory-wrapped syringe and invite Gately to hunker on down and get right with the planet. I.e. ingest some of this mountain of Dilaudid, to keep Fackelmann company. Which to Gately’s shame he did, had done, and no part of the reality of Fackelmann’s creek and the need for action had even been brought up, so intent were they on the Blues’ somnolent hum, blotting everything out, while Pamela Hoffman-Jeep lay wrapped tight in the other room dreaming of damsels and towers—Gately did, he remembers vividly, he let Fackelmann fix them both up but good, and told himself he was doing it to keep Fackelmann company, like sitting up with a sick friend, and (maybe worst) believed it was true.

(p933)

(p934-p938)So and but that night’s next A.M.’d found Gately and Fackelmann

still there in Fackelmann’s little corner, belts around their arms, arms and noses red from scratching, still at it, the ingestion, on a hell of a tear, cooking up and getting off and eating M&M’s when they could find their mouths with their hands, moving like men deep under water, heads wobbling on strengthless necks, the empty room’s ceiling sky-blue and bulging and under it hanging on the wall overhead to their right the apartment’s upscale TP’s viewer on a recursive slo-mo loop of some creepy thing Fackelmann liked that was just serial shots of flames from brass lighters, kitchen-matches, pilot lights, birthday candles, votive candles, pillar candles, birch shavings, Bunsen burners, etc., that Fackelmann had got from Kite, who just before dawn had come out dressed and declined to get high with them and coughed nervously and announced he had to leave for a few days or more for a ‘totally key’ and unmissable software trade-show in a different area code, not knowing Gately now knew he knew Fackelmann already to be dead, w/ Kite then trying to leave discreetly with every piece of hardware he owned in his arms, including the nonportable D.E.C., trailing cables. Then a bit later, as the A.M. light intensified yellowly and made both Gately and Fackelmann curse the fact that the curtains had been stripped and pawned, as they continued to hunch and cook and shoot, at maybe 0830h. Pamela Hoffman-Jeep was up and vomiting briskly and applying mousse against the workaday day, calling Gately Honey and her Night Errand and asking if she’d done anything last night she’d have to explain to anybody today—kind of an A.M. routine in their relationship—applying blush and drinking her standard anti-hangover breakfast 377 and watching Gately and Fackelmann’s chins fall and rise at slightly different underwater rates. The smell of her perfume and high-retsin mints hung in the bare room long after she’d bid them both Ciao Bello. As the A.M. sun got higher and intolerable, instead of taking action and nailing a blanket or something over the window they opted instead to obliterate the reality of the eye-scalding light and began truly bingeing on Blues, flirting with an O. D. They scaled Fackelmann’s Mt. Dilaudid at a terrible clip. Fackelmann was by nature a binger. Gately was typically more like a maintenance user. He rarely went on a classic-type binge, which meant plunking down in one place with an enormous stash and getting loaded over and over again for long periods without moving. But when he did start a binge he might as well have been strapped to the snout of a missile for all the control he had over length or momentum. Fackelmann was having at the mountain of 10-mg. Blues like there was no tomorrow. Every time Gately even started to bring up the issue of how Faxter had come by such a huge blue haul of the Substance—trying maybe to invite Fackelmann to confront the reality of his trouble by describing it, like—Fackelmann would cut him off with a soft ‘That’s a goddamn lie.’ This was pretty much all Fackelmann would ever say, when loaded, even in response to things like questions. You have to picture all the binge’s verbal exchanges as occurring like very slowly, oddly distended, as if the time were honey:

 

‘Serious fucking stash you managed to come by somehow right here, Fa—’

‘That’s a goddamn lie.’

‘Man. Man. I just hope Gwendine or C’s got the phone today out there, man. Instead of Whitey. No business getting done out of here today I don’t thi—’

‘ ’s a goddamn lie.’

‘That’s for sure, Fax.’

‘ ’s a goddamn lie.’

‘Fax. The Faxter. Count Faxula.’

‘Goddamn lie.’

After a while in all the distension it got to be like a joke. Gately would haul his big head upright and try to allege the roundness of the planet, the three-dimensionality of the phenomenal world, the blackness of all black dogs—

‘ ’s a goddamn lie.’

They found it increasingly funny. After every exchange like this they laughed and laughed. Each exhalation of laughter seemed to take several minutes. The ceiling and the window’s light receded. Fackelmann wet his pants; this was even funnier. They watched the pool of urine spread out against the hardwood floor, changing shape, growing curved arms, exploring the fine oak floor. The rises and valleys and little seams. It might of gotten later and then early A.M. again. The entertainment cartridge’s myriad small flames were reflected in the spreading puddle, so that soon Gately could watch without taking his chin off his chest.

When the phone rang it was just a fact. The ringing was like an environment, not a signal. The fact of its ringing got more and more abstract. Whatever a ringing phone might signify was like totally overwhelmed by the overwhelming fact of its ringing. Gately pointed this out to Fackelmann. Fackelmann vehemently denied it.

At some point Gately tried to stand and was rudely assaulted by the floor, and wet his own pants.

The phone rang and rang.

At another point they got interested in rolling different colors of Peanut M&M’s into the puddles of urine and watching the colored dye corrode and leave a vampire-white football of M&M in a nimbus of bright dye.

The intercom’s buzzer to the luxury apartment complex’s glass doors downstairs sounded, overwhelming both of them with the fact of its sound. It buzzed and buzzed. They discussed wishing it would stop the way you discuss wishing it would stop raining.

It became the ICBM of binges. The Substance seemed inexhaustible; Mt. Dilaudid changed shapes but never really much shrank that they could see. It was the first and only time ever that Gately I.V.’d narcotics so many times in one arm that he ran out of arm-vein and had to switch to the other arm. Fackelmann was no longer coordinated enough to help him tie off and boot. Fackelmann kept making a string of chocolaty drool appear and distend almost down to the floor. The acidity of their urine was corroding the apt.’s hardwood floor’s finish in an observable way. The puddle had grown many arms like a Hindu god. Gately couldn’t quite tell if the urine had explored its way almost back to their feet or if they were already sitting in urine. Fackelmann would see how close to the surface of the pond of their mixed piss he could get the tip of the string of spit before he sucked it back up and in. The little game had an intoxicating aura of danger to it. The insight that most people like play-danger but don’t like real-life danger hit Gately like an epiphany. It took him gallons of viscous time to try and articulate the insight to Fackelmann so that Fackelmann could give it the imprimatur of a denial.

Eventually the buzzer stopped.

The phrase ‘More tattoos than teeth’ also kept going through Gately’s head as it bobbed (the head), even though he had no idea where the phrase came from or who it was supposed to refer to. He hadn’t been to Billerica Minimum yet; he was on bail that Whitey Sorkin had bonded.

The taste of the M&M’s couldn’t cut the weirdly sweet medical taste of hydromorphone in Gately’s mouth. He watched an old stovetop-burner’s crown of blue flame shimmer in the shine of the urine.

During a ruddled sunset-light period Fackelmann had had a small convulsion and a bowel movement in his pants and Gately hadn’t had the coordination to go to Fackelmann’s side during the seizure, to help and just be there. He had the nightmarish feeling that there was something crucial he had to do but had forgot what it was. 10-mg. injections of the Blue Bayou kept the feeling at bay for shorter and shorter periods. He’d never heard of somebody having a convulsion from an O.D., and Fackelmann had indeed seemed to bounce to his version of back.

The sun outside the big windows seemed to go up and down like a yo-yo.

They ran out of the distilled water Fackelmann had in the mixing bowl, and Fackelmann took a cotton and sopped up candy-dyed urine off the floor and cooked up with urine. Gately appeared to himself to be repulsed by this. But there was no question of trying to get to the stripped kitchen for the distilled-water bottle. Gately was tying off his right arm with his teeth, now, his left was so useless.

Fackelmann smelled very bad.

When the buzzer sounded again they were watching the flames-film late at night. Now poor old Pamela Hoffman-Jeep’s voice came to them through the intercom. The intercom and apt.-complex-front-doors-unlocker button were all the way across the living room by the apartment door. The ceiling bulged and receded. Fackelmann had made his hand into the shape of a claw and was studying the claw in the light of the TP’s flames. Mt. Dilaudid was badly caved in on one side; a disastrous avalanche into Lake Urine was a possibility. P.H.-J. sounded drunk as a Nuck. She said to let her in. She said she knew they were in there. She used party as a verb several times. Fackelmann was whispering that it was a lie. Gately remembers he actually had to prod himself in the bladder to feel if he had to go to the bathroom. His Unit felt small and icy cold against his leg in the wet jeans. The ammoniac smell of urine and the breathing ceiling and drunk distant female voice… Gately reached in the dark for the bars of his playpen, grasped them with pudgy fists, hauled himself to his feet. His rising was more like the floor lowering. He wobbled like a toddler. The apt. floor below him feinted right, left, circling for an opening to attack. The luxury windows hung with starlight. Fackelmann had made his claw come alive into a spider and was letting the spider climb slowly down his chest-area. The starlight was smeary; there were no distinct stars. Everything out of the line of fire of the cartridge-viewer was dark as a pocket. The buzzer sounded angry and the voice pathetic. Gately put his foot out in the direction of the buzzer. He heard Fackelmann telling his hand’s claw’s spider it was witnessing the birth of an empire. Then when Gately put his foot down there was nothing there. The floor dodged his foot and rushed up at him. He caught a glimpse of bulged ceiling and then the floor caught him in the temple. His ears belled. The impact of the floor against him shook the whole room. A box of laminates teetered and fell and fanned clear laminates all over the wet floor. The viewer fell off the wall and cast ruddled flames on the ceiling. The floor jammed itself against Gately, pressing in tight, and he grayed out with his scrunched face toward Fackelmann and the windows beyond, with Fackelmann holding the spider out in mid-air at him for his inspection.(p938)

(p974-p981)C returned shortly,

and at the head of a whole entourage-type group of people Gately didn’t like the looks of at all. There were DesMonts and Pointgravè, Canadian Harvard Square small-time thug-types Gately knew slightly, small-time freelancers, too Canadianly dumb for anything but the brutalest work. Gately was unglad to see them. They wore overalls and nonmatching flannel shirts. The poor eczematic pharmacist’s-assistant guy was behind them, carrying a black Dr.-bag. Gately was on his back pedalling his legs in the air, which is what anybody that’s played organized ball knows is what you do for a brody to the groin. The pharmacist’s assistant stopped behind C and stood there looking at his own Weejuns. Three big unfamiliar girls entered in red leather coats and badly laddered hose. Then poor old Pamela Hoffman-Jeep, her taffeta torn and stained and her face gray with shock, got borne in through the door by two Oriental punks in shiny leather jackets. They had their hands under her ass and carried her as if seated, one leg out and a white stick of bone protruding from her shin, which her shin was a serious mess. Gately saw all this upside-down, pedalling his legs until he could get up. One of the big girls carried an old-type Graphix bong and a Glad Cinch-Sak kitchen-can bag. Either Pointgravè or DesMonts—Gately could never remember which of them was who—carried a case of bonded liquor. C asked generally if it was Party Time. The room brightened as the sun climbed. The room was filling up. Another of the girls made negative comments about the urine on the floor. Fackelmann in the corner began saying it was all a goddamned lie. C pretended to answer himself in a falsetto and said Yes indeedyweedy it was Party Time. Now a very bland groomed collegeish guy in a Wembley tie entered with a TaTung Corp. box and put it down by where the pharmacist’s assistant was still standing, and the bland guy rehung the teleplayer on the wall and ejected the TP’s small-flame cartridge, dropping it on the wet floor. The two Oriental toughs carried Pamela Hoffman-Jeep over to a far corner of the living room, and she screamed when they dropped her onto a box of counterfeit little Commonwealth of MA peel-off seals. They were small, the Orientals, and they were looking down at him, but neither had bad skin. A small grim woman with a tight gray bun and sensible shoes entered last and shut the apt. door behind her. Gately rolled slowly to his knees and stood up, still bent a bit at the waist, not moving, one eye still swollen shut. He could hear Fackelmann trying to stand. P.H.-J. stopped shrieking and blacked out and slumped down until her chin was on her chest and her ass half off the box. The room smelled like Dilaudid and urine and Gately’s vomit and Fackelmann’s bowel movement and the red leather girls’s fine leather coats. C came on over and reached up and put his arm around Gately’s shoulders and stood with him like that while two of the tough girls in their coats passed around bottles of bourbon from the case. Gately could focus best when he squinted. The A.M. sun hung in the window, up and past the tree, yellowing. The bottles were the black-labelled boxy bottles that signified Jack Daniels. A churchbell off in the Square struck seven or eight. Gately had had a bad experience with Jack Daniels at age fourteen. The bland groomed corporate guy had inserted a different TP cartridge and now was getting a portable CD player out of the TaTung box while the pharmacist’s assistant watched him. Fackelmann said whatever it was was a total goddamn lie. Pointgravè or DesMonts took the bottle C had taken from the tough girls and handed to Gately. The sunlight on the floor through the window was spidered with shadows of branches. Everybody in the room’s shadows were moving around on the west wall. C also held a bottle. Soon just about everybody had their own individual bottle of Jack. Gately heard Fackelmann asking somebody to open his for him he was numb to the ceiling and climbing and he couldn’t feel his hands. The small grim librarianish woman went to Fackelmann, removing her purse from her shoulder. Gately was figuring out what he was going to say on the Faxter’s behalf when Whitey Sorkin arrived. Until then he figured it was C’s party and just not to unnecessarily rile C. It seemed to take a long time to formulate mental thoughts. Pamela Hoffman-Jeep’s shin looked like ground chuck. C lifted his square bottle and asked for general permission to like propose a toast. P.H.-J.’s lips were blue with shock. Gately felt bad that he felt so little romantic concern now that she’d fallen out of the tree. He spent no time wondering if she’d ratted them out, if she’d brought Bobby C to them or vice-versy. At least one of the girls in the red leather coats had an awful big Adam’s apple for a girl. C roughly turned Gately’s shoulders toward Fackelmann in the corner and toasted to old friends and new friends and what looked like a serious fucking-A score for Gene Gene the Fax Machine, given the size of this Dilaudid-pile and all the evidence of some serious fucking partying they could see, and smell. Everyone drank from their bottle. The grim-faced little woman had to help Fackelmann find his mouth with the mouth of his bottle. All three of the big women displayed Adam’s apples when they tilted way back to chug. The polite swallow of Jack almost made Gately heave. C’s Item in his belt pressed against Gately’s thigh and so did some of the belt’s spikes. DesMonts and Pointgravè both had S&W Items in shoulder-holsters. The Oriental punks didn’t display any arms but had a look about them like they didn’t ever even shower unarmed; safe bet they at least had little weird sharp chinky things you threw at people, Gately figured. Several of C’s group chugged their whole bottle. One of the big girls hurled her bottle at the west wall, but it didn’t break. Why is it you feel it in your gut and not your nuts per se, when you get brodied? Gately was turning and looking wherever C’s arm was turning him. The contorted face on the rehung viewer from the corporate guy’s cartridge was Whitey Sorkin’s, a portrait Sorkin had let some neuralgic painter do of him having a cluster-headache out at the National Cranio-Facial Pain Foundation in the city, for a series for an ad for aspirin. The cartridge seemed like just a continuous still of the painting, so that it looked like Sorkin on the wall was sort of presiding over the gathering in a mute pained way. The librarianish little woman was threading a sewing needle with thread, her mouth real tight. The pharmacist’s assistant was getting little skin-flakes all over the black bag as he hunkered down over the bag removing several syringes from the bag and filling them out of a 2500-IU ampule and handing them up to be passed around. The N.C.-F.P.F. painting had a red fist pulling a handful of brain out of the top of Sorkin’s skull while Sorkin’s face looked out of the viewer with the classic migraine-sufferer’s look of super-intense thought, almost more meditative than hurt-looking. One Oriental kid was squatting chinkishly in the corner drinking Jack and the other was sweeping up spilled laminates off the floor, using a flap from the TaTung box for a dustpan. Chinks could do some serious sweeping, Gately reflected. Another of the girls threw her bottle at the wall. It was when C didn’t even have Gately facing them that it dawned on Gately the girls in coats and slatternly hose were fags dressed up as girls, like as in transvestals. Bobby C was beaming. The first bit of real personal-ass fear Gately felt was when he realized these people looked like mostly members of Bobby C’s personal set, that they weren’t the people Sorkin would dispatch if he was sending his own people and coming himself, soon, that Sorkin’s painting on the wall was symbolic of Sorkin wasn’t coming, that Sorkin had given Bobby C free rain on this piece of painful business. The pharmacist’s assistant removed two pre-filled syringes from the bag, unwrapping their crinkly plastic. C told Gately quietly how Whitey said to say he knew Donnie wasn’t part of Fackelmann’s score to fuck Sorkin and Eighties Bill. That he didn’t need to do anything except kick back and enjoy the party and let Fackelmann face his own music and to not let any like 19th-century notions of defending the weak and pathetic drag Gately into this. C said he was sorry about the bit of the beating, he had to make sure Gately didn’t try and get Fackelmann out the window while he was down unlocking the door. That he hoped Gately wouldn’t hold it against him ’cause he wished him no particular ill and wanted no beef, later. This was all said very quietly and intensively while the two fags in wigs that had tried to break bottles were sitting on a box filling the Graphix’s huge party-bowl with grass from the Glad bag, which contained grass. DesMontes sat in a director’s chair. Everybody else was drinking out of their square bottle, standing around the sunny room in the awkward postures of way more people than seats. Their arms were pale and hairless. The two Oriental toughs were tying each other off. The draft through the fist-hole in the window made Gately shiver. The other fag was making like comments about Gately’s physique. Gately asked C quietly if he and Fackelmann couldn’t get cleaned up real quick and they could all go see Sorkin together and Whitey and Gene could reason together and work out an accord. Fackelmann found his voice and asked loudly if anybody wanted to hike on over here to Mt. Dilaudid and get fucking fucked up. Gately winced. Bobby C smiled at Fackelmann and said it looked like Fax had had about enough. But at the same time the psoriatic assistant came to Fackelmann and checked his pupils with a penlight and then shot him up with a pre-filled, using an artery in his neck.

 

The back of Fackelmann’s head hit the wall several times, his face flushing violently in the standard clinical reaction to Narcan. 386 The pharmacist then came C and Gately’s way. The portable CD player started in with poor old Linda McCartney as C held Gately and the asst. pharmacist tied him off with an M.D.’s rubber strap. Gately stood there slightly hunched. Fackelmann was making sounds like a long-submerged man coming up for air. C told Gately to fasten his seatbelt. Urine had turned part of the apt.’s luxury-hardwood floor’s finish soft and white, like soap-scum. The CD playing was one C’d played all the fucking time in the car when Gately had been with him in a car: somebody had taken an old disk of McCartney and the Wings—as in the historical Beatles’s McCartney—taken and run it through a Kurtzweil remixer and removed every track on the songs except the tracks of poor old Mrs. Linda McCartney singing backup and playing tambourine. When the fags called the grass ‘Bob’ it was confusing because they also called C ‘Bob.’ Poor old Mrs. Linda McCartney just fucking could not sing, and having her shaky off-key little voice flushed from the cover of the whole slick multitrack corporate sound and pumped up to solo was to Gately unspeakably depressing—her voice sounding so lost, trying to hide and bury itself inside the pro backups’ voices; Gately imagined Mrs. Linda McCartney—in his Staff room’s wall’s picture a kind of craggy-faced blonde—imagined her standing there lost in the sea of her husband’s pro noise, feeling low esteem and whispering off-key, not knowing quite when to shake her tambourine: C’s depressing CD was past cruel, it was somehow sadistic-seeming, like drilling a peephole in the wall of a handicapped bathroom. Two of the transvestals were doing the Swim to the awful tape in the swept center of the floor; the other had one of Fackelmann’s arms while the bland guy in the Wembley tie gripped Fackelmann’s other arm and was slapping Fackelmann lightly as the Dilaudid fought the Narcan. They’d seated Fackelmann in his corner in Gately’s special Demerol-chair. Gately’s balls throbbed with his pulse. The pharmacist’s assistant’s face was right up in Gately’s. His cheeks and chin were a mess of silvery scaly flakes, and an oily sweat on his forehead caught the window’s sunlight as he gave Gately a tight smile.

‘I’m pretty much straight already, C-man, after that nut-shot,’ Gately said, ‘if you don’t want to waste the Narcan.’

‘Oh this isn’t no Narcan,’ C said softly, holding Gately’s arm.

‘Hadly,’ said the assistant, uncapping the syringe.

C said ‘Hold on to your hat.’ He poked the assistant’s shoulder. ‘Tell him.’

‘It’s pharm-grade Sunshine,’ 387 the assistant said, tapping for a good vein.

‘Hold on to your heart,’ C said, watching the needle go in. The pharmacist slid it in expertly, horizontal and flush to the skin. Gately had never done Sunshine. Next to ungettable outside a Canadian hospital. He watched his own blood ruddle the serum as the pharmacist extended his thumb to ease the plunger back. The pharmacist’s assistant could really boot. C’s tongue was in the corner of his mouth as he watched. The corporate guy had Fackelmann’s arms held tight and a transvestal who’d gotten in behind the chair held his head by the chin and hair as the gray lady knelt before him with her threaded needle. Gately couldn’t keep himself from watching the stuff go in him. There was no pain. He wondered for a second if it was a hot shot: it seemed like a whole lot of trouble to go to just to get him off. The pharmacist’s thumbnail was ingrown. There were a couple eczema-flakes on Gately’s arm where the guy was inclined over it. You get to like the sight of your own blood after a while. The pharmacist had him half booted when Fackelmann started screaming. The scream’s pitch got higher as it drew out. When Gately could look away from the stuff going in, he saw the librarian-type lady was sewing Fackelmann’s eyelids open to the skin above his eyebrows. As in they were sewing poor old Count Faxula’s eyes open. A kid on the playground had used to turn his lids inside out at girls like they were doing now to the poor old Faxter. Gately gave a reflexive jerk toward him, and C hugged him tight with one arm.

‘Easy,’ C said very softly.

The taste of the hydrochloride in the Sunshine was the same, delicious, the taste of the smell of every Dr.’s office everywhere. He’d never done Talwin-PX. Impossible to get scrips for, the PX, a Canadian blend; U.S. Talwin’s 388 got .5 mg. of naloxone mixed in, to cut the buzz, is why Gately only did NX on top of Bam-Bams. He understood they’d given Fackelmann the anti-narc so he’d feel the needle as they sewed his eyes open. Cruel is spelled with a u, he remembered. The two Orientals left the room at C’s direction. Linda McC. sounded borderline-psychotic. The little gray lady worked fast. The eye that was already sewed open bulged obscenely. Everybody in the room except C and the corporate guy and grim lady started shooting dope. Two of the fags had their eyes shut and their faces at the ceiling as if they couldn’t take watching what they were doing to their arm. The pharmacist was tying off the passed-out Pamela Hoffman-Jeep, which seemed like insult + injury. There was every different kind of style and skill-level of injection and boot going on. Fackelmann’s face was still a scream-face. The corporate-tool type was dropping fluid from a pipette into Fackelmann’s sewed-open eye while the lady rethreaded the needle. It was just seeming to Gately he’d seen the fluid-in-eye thing in a cartridge or movie the M.P.’d liked when he was a Bim playing ball on the chintz in the sea when the Sunshine crossed the barrier and came on.

You could see why the U.S. made them cut the buzz. The air in the room got overclear, a glycerine shine, colors brightening terribly. If colors themselves could catch fire. The word on the C-II Talwin-PX was it was intense but short-acting, and pricey. No word on its interaction with massive residual amounts of I.V.-Dilaudid. Gately tried to figure while he still could. If they were going to eliminate his map with an O.D. they’d have used something cheap. And if the librarian was going to sew his eyes open. Gately was trying to think. Too they wouldn’t have got him. Him. Got him off.

The very air of the room bulged. It ballooned. Fackelmann’s screams about lies rose and fell, hard to hear against the arterial roar of the Sun. McC. was trying to muffle a cough. Gately couldn’t feel his legs. He could feel C’s arm around him taking more and more of his weight. C’s arms’s muscles rising and hardening: he could feel this. His legs were, like: opting out. Attack of floors and sidewalks. Kite used to sing a ditty called ‘32 Uses For Sterno Me Lad.’ C was starting to let him down easy. Strong squat hard kid. Most heroin-men you can knock down with a Boo. C: there was a gentleness about C, for a kid with the eyes of a lizard. He was letting him down real easy. C was going to protect Bimmy Don from the bad floor’s assault. The supported swoon spun Gately around, C moving around him like a dancer to slow the fall. Gately got a rotary view of the whole room in almost untakable focus. Pointgravè was vomiting chunkily. Two of the fags were sliding down the wall they had their backs to. Their red coats were aflame. The passing window exploded with light. Or else it was DesMontes that was vomiting and Pointgravè was taking the TP’s viewer off the wall and stretching its fibroid wire over toward Fackelmann against the wall. One of Fax’s eyes was as open as his mouth, disclosing way more eye than you ever want to see on somebody. He was no longer struggling. He stared piratically straight ahead. The librarian was starting on his other eye. The bland man had a rose in his lapel and he’d put on glasses with metal lenses and was blind-high and missing Fax’s eye with the dropper half the time, saying something to Pointgravè. A transvestal had P.H.-J.’s torn hem hiked up and a spiderish hand on her flesh-colored thigh. P.H.-J.’s face was gray and blue. The floor came up slowly. Bobby C’s squat face looked almost pretty, tragic, half lit by the window, tucked up under Gately’s spinning shoulder. Gately felt less high than disembodied. It was obscenely pleasant. His head left his shoulders. Gene and Linda were both screaming. The cartridge with the held-open eyes and dropper had been the one about ultra-violence and sadism. A favorite of Kite. Gately thinks sadism is pronounced ‘saddism.’ The last rotating sight was the chinks coming back through the door, holding big shiny squares of the room. As the floor wafted up and C’s grip finally gave, the last thing Gately saw was an Oriental bearing down with the held square and he looked into the square and saw clearly a reflection of his own big square pale head with its eyes closing as the floor finally pounced. And when he came back to, he was flat on his back on the beach in the freezing sand, and it was raining out of a low sky, and the tide was way out. (p981)

 


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