Dead Man Walking
"The dead, however, are a notoriously perverse and unmanageable lot." Luc Sante Lowlife:Lures and Snares of Old New York
"I was in the hospital," Arthur says. "It was a myocardial infarction." The Amazon is sitting at the bar in comfortable longuewear. "What's that?" "A heart attack. The bastards stole my shoes." If you worked at MGM around 1947 and you called central casting for a NYC cop, Arthur would show up. He has close cropped salt and pepper hair, blue eyes, a square jaw, a cleft chin, and a habit of standing with his hands behind his back and his feet apart in "at ease" position when he is casually conversing. He has a genuine New York accent and so words like "work" and "bastard" become "woik" and "bastid."
"I walked home in a dead man's shoes. Really." "Should you be out in your condition?" Arthur ignores the question. He has an audience now. He stands behind us, three women-myself the Amazon and Texas T, and spread his arms. "I was in the ER and I heard the beeping." He immitates the beeping of an EKG machine. The beeps speed up and then he is imitating the dull throb of flatline. "I sat up and heard. I saw all these people rushing towards me. Then everything went black." The Amazon has a question, "Did you see the Light?" "No, nothing. Then I heard muffled sounds. They had to use the paddles on me." Mentally I correct him, he means a defribulator. I reflect that he must have burns on his chest. I don't ask. He lifts up his shirt revealing his abdomen and gum from surgical tape that is still bonded with his skin. "I can't get this stuff off. Just today," he says rolling his sleeves, "I finally got the marks from the IV off." I turn my head away.
Arthur orders a Redbull and vodka. "Should you be drinking that?" asks the Amazon. "Oh, I'm ok I'm on four types of medication." The Amazon makes eye contact with me. It is that "You do see this guy is fucking insane?" type of look. I return an even expression. I give nothing away about my attitude towards Arthur. I ask for a shot glass to have the extra Redbull. "I can't believe they took my shoes." Texas T sits next to him fooling with the ends of her hair and staring upwards as if her lines in the conversation might be written on the ceiling. They broke up on Saturday night, but now it seems they are back together. I think of a line from the musical Zombie Prom "Oh what's a girl to do when her dead ex-boyfriend asks her to the senior prom?" Arthur is sucking down his drink. I'm not concerned about the vodka, as the Amazon is, I am concerned about the caffeine. The Amazon is looking to me to help her persuade him that he shouldn't be out or drinking.
My father suffered his first heart attack at age thirty. He had two more a quadruple bypass and went into heart failure the first time when he was 53. The second time he went into heart failure, about four months later, he died in the middle of the night. One of his nurses found him when he didn't show up for surgery and she went to see if he was alright. He never quit smoking, drinking, or eating fatty foods. I could tell Arthur this, but if my experience with my father taught me anything it's that it would be a waste of time. Arthur keeps ignoring the Amazon's questions and comments about the relative danger of his behavior. If I joined the chorus I would annoy and maybe provoke him, but one thing I wouldn't do is convince him to stop. He seems set upon drinking.
"I'm getting a tattoo." He hands us a folded up square of paper. It has the the seal of Marchosi, one of the Great Dukes of Hell. He is getting on his right shoulder. He has the seal of Gabriel on his right. "That's intelligent," the Amazon quips. "Well," and this is the first I actually get involved, "there is no reason for him NOT to get a tattoo." I don't say that it is considerably safer than drinking liquor and caffeine. The Amazon gives me a warning glance. I look at the seal. "Where did you get this?" The Amazon says. I look at the paper. He printed it from some website called "Demon Central." I wonder about their research. I could go home and get some of Aleistar Crowley, but, well, I have a drink in front of me. Arthur backs all of us up. Clearly he wants an audience for his ressurrection or self destruction, depending of course on your point of view.
I start leafing through a Post. Suddenly the Amazon is quicly turning the pages. "You have to see this article. There is some big deal about this lobster. There are these two groups fighting over the g-d damned thing." She finds the article. She is amused by "a battle between People for Ethical Treatment of Animals...and a rival group, People for Eating Tasty Animals, which wanted the lobster fried." I am not so amused, and certainly quite disturbed that there are people with enough free time to get pissed about a 22 lb lobster. I was more amused by the comments of the owner quoted in the article, "'What range of emotions does a lobster have? Greed? Lust?'" I have never pondered the inner emotional subjective experience of lobsters. Perhaps I have been missing out. Later in the article it comments "Bubba ranks as one of the massive mollusks ever in captivity." My dating life has been pretty slow lately. I wonder if Bubba the lobster is single. I tear the article out and put it in my purse along with the story David wrote about me, Henri's telephone number, and an invitation to Cain's 40th birthday party.
I saw Arthur earlier in the evening. I had been at Rohr's and he came in to say hello. He smelled of whiskey already. He told me then about the heart attack. We chat for a bit and when he brings up the story of Icarus, he mispronounces the name. Unconsciously I correct him. "See that's why you intimidate me. You are the only person who really does that. I've faced a lot of people, but you are one of the few who could take me down." Arthur was trained to be a sniper for the military. He is six foot two. I am a disabled English professor. Clearly I am the more threatening person.
The Amazon wants more details about how Arthur managed to have a heart attack. "Well, I drank about a gallon of whiskey on Sunday. I came in here asked Brisley to set me up, and she did. Then I went home and took about 1500 mills of a muscle relaxant." Now not only does this sound staggeringly like trying to kill yourself,but it also bears a striking ressemblance to what he is doing now. He orders a snake bite "I gave them up for Lent but.." "Fuck Lent," I finish the sentiment flatly. I can. Afterall, I'm Jewish. "Anyway so my father took me to the emergency toom. Those bastards stole my shoes. Can you believe that? I had to buy a new pair." He lifts his leg up onto the bar so I can see his new white sneakers.
The conversation lags on and finally Arthur and T decide to go to another bar. They lie to the Amazon and tell her they are going home. T tells me the truth. I contemplate meeting them. The Amazon and I continue to drink. I order cognac for the walk home. I tell the Amazon about Arthur's intimidation comment. "You know on saturday he asked me if you had a crush on him." I put the glass on the bar. "He WHAT?" "Oh yeah, when you went to the bathroom he asked me i fyou had a crush on him because you were flirting with him." "Oh jesus christ, he is sitting there like the Grim Reaper who just lost his puppy to cancer and I'm not supposed to cheer the ass up?" The Amazon agrees. "Oh I told him. I flirt with him more than you do." "Besides I don't play second fiddle to anyone. I'm either the entire fucking string section or nothing at all." The Amazon doesn't acknowledge my comment. Now I'm actually angry. Please. He went after Texas T. I wouldn't date him if for no other reason because he had the bad taste to fuck her and then tell the Amazon how unsatisfying it was. Besides do I really need a government trained suicidal obsessed killer in my life? I would rather date the crustacean.
After our drinks, I tell the Amazon where Arthur really is. Partially because he shouldn't be drinking, but really because I derive a sadistic pleasure from siccing a six foot blonde on Arthur at one in the morning. She stalks away to save him, while I walk home. The next day she send me an email to tell me the lobster died.

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