Treasure Island

Charles Wax

Utterly Bewildered by the Tenacity of Doom

When I didn’t hand over the yellow pills
Tony T said he’d have to
make The Call to Johhny Ice.
I calmly informed the dear lad
Johhny Ice was now 87 years old
blind in one eye
and strapped to his wheelchair
with giant rubber bands.
He then tried to describe the crippling
anxiety which had invaded his heart
taken root, and refused to depart
this going on now two decades
a fire, literally, blazing in his guts
the need to rip off his skin, again, literally.
I said for me a twelve pound sledge hammer
pounding my brittle frozen spine
time and time again the shattering
and me unable to shift position
or beg for mercy.
“Just a few, you cocksucker, ” he finally said,
then added, “A man without empathy is dirt.”
That hurt because a week ago
the great Arno Gruen visited Spinoza HS
where I asked him the secret of life, quickly,
as he left the building, and like Freud’s famous
Love and Work, words, not sentences,
in his case just one, empathy—
Understanding of another’s feelings, without that
Fascists would rule the world
but anxiety…
creating an absolute loneliness
where each soul believed his suffering
the worst
that ever existed, or could exit
no greater torment than the torment
of right now.
“Cut out the booze
and I’ll give you a few yellow beauties
one or the other, not both, ” I told Tony T
then added, ”that concoction’s a prescription for death.”
“I swear on my mother’s blessed soul
just pills, only pills.”
Then he stared at me as if I were insane finally moaning,
“I wanna live, Bernstein, but what I got ain’t life.”
Tears now in my eyes
his suffering so real, so intense
my own also, pity for us both, so when I heard
his hoarse voice whisper,
“Bernstein, just two yellow treats
will set me right the whole day.”
I delivered two tiny wonders to Tony T
which he swallowed with a hit
from a miniature bottle of Grey goose vodka.
miraculously materializing
from his tattered left shoe.

Submitted: Saturday, May 04, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, September 18, 2013

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