Tokin’ with Jesus

Last night was brain fever night. That’s my name for it. I don’t know if it’s a medical condition or not. A sudden attack of hallucinations and brain shudders. Like a bad trip on LSD.

I don’t know what brings it on, out of the blue, or rather out of the darkness of midnight. Unless it was the four gin and tonics, three beers and two brandies. But I’ve drunk that much before without a brain fever attack.

Maybe it was the Xanax at bedtime that went on a diabolical rage with the alcohol already streaming in my blood.

You can’t sleep. You lie in bed and ride it out like a storm in hell. Around four o’clock in the morning, the waking nightmare begins to abate. Finally you sleep, mainly from the exhaustion of the battle.

The doctor told me my liver was more like a die-r, and to knock off the booze. I don’t see how. Drinking is my last pleasure. Like smoking cigarettes and grass was to my wife. And when she fell ill and was told not to smoke, she still smoked.

And now she’s tokin’ with Jesus.

My wife was a believer, especially when she was high. I try to be, but I can’t get there. Jesus was always high. So were his disciples.

As Matthew relates (14:24): But the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And he [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea. … So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

If you get high, man, you can do anything.

As the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia said:

Brain fever night

Getting high on the Universe is cool and I can do that, but taking it a step further, maybe if you get high on Jesus, you end up getting high with Jesus.

I don’t know, man — just keep tokin’.


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Vengeance is Mine, saith the blah blah blah

Illustration Will Murai

God of vengeance, I understand. I understand that the illness is punishment for my sins. Sins aganst my father, my son, and most grievous of all, my wife.

So, vengeful God, I will accept my punishment like a man.

I have only one request — that you not bring down your final wrath in a hospital. Allow me to be stricken in my own home, with my books and my booze and my cat and the photos and memories of my wife.

Grant me that and I will gladly oblige you and join her in oblivion.


Romans 12:19 — Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”


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“Is this the end of Rico?”

The widower watches film noir movies to fill the void. Tough guy voices in the lonely house. The low-cut lure of femme fatales. The sound of gunfire. And when the movie ends that’s how he wants to go out. Shot down like Johnny Rocco on a boat off the Florida Keys. Riddled with bullets like Rico Bandello in a New York gutter. Plugged by a sniper like “Mad Dog” Roy Earle in the High Sierras. Filled with lead and burned up like Cody Jarrett (“Top of the world, Ma, top of the world!”)

Our antihero was hit with a double whammy — the death of his wife and isolation from the pandemic.

His life reads like a bad movie script. This guy and his wife, they went through hell, shee, yeah, through hell, I’m giving it to ya straight. The suicide of a son, love and hate, separation and desperation, retribution and redemption. And then she fell ill and together they fought the demons of death but they couldn’t catch a break and she ended up on life support and he sat by her bed and the monitor flatlined and he went home without her. The empty house. The death of hope.

He cried out to her in prayer but she wasn’t there. No spiritual connection. She had no awareness or memory of him or the love and the madness they had shared. She was nonexistent in nothingness. As though she never lived. Never loved or laughed or cried or know he died when he came home without her.

And the lousy part is, nothing has changed. In all the days and all the months, the same scene plays over and over, coming home without her, walking in the door, Hi, honey, I’m home, but she’s not there, and all the cries and all the prayers will never change that.

Roll credits, a mournful dirge fills the dead room and he takes the empty liquor bottles outside to the recycling bin and casts a glance at the night crushing the house and imagines a home invader coming out of the darkness waving a gun and he tells the gunman, Go ahead, shoot my ass, do me a favor, shoot me down like Johnny Rocco and Rico Bandello and Roy Earle and Cody Jarrett.

Bang bang bang!


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