EXCERPT: Commitment Issues



from Chapter One

[two]I was clutched by an angel. My angel want­ed to have sex with me when I was sure that nobody on plan­et earth want­ed me. It was the worst day of my life. I was even think­ing about sui­cide, but my angel swooped down and saved me.

Wait, before you say any­thing, I want you to know that I’m with you. I bare­ly believe it myself, and I was there. It couldn’t have been an angel. It was some kind of mis­tak­en iden­ti­ty. Angels don’t have sex with guys. If they did, it wouldn’t be the kind of angel we should asso­ciate with. The only kind of angel that would have sex with a human is one of those “fal­l­en” angels. I mean, I’ve been through all those argu­ments. I agree with the damn argu­ments, but I was there. I know what I saw. I know what I felt.

It was a hor­ren­dous day: the fifth anniver­sary of the death of Car­los. Five years had passed since the day that I had got­ten blot­to on rum and Coke. Car­los was out of his gourd on beer and kick-ass hydro­pon­ic mar­i­jua­na. Car­los and I nev­er fought because we tried to be spir­i­tu­al. We med­i­tat­ed togeth­er and could sit for hours star­ing into each other’s eyes. We nev­er used chem­i­cal accel­er­ants dur­ing the week because of school, but Car­los was an expert on ways to tur­bocharge our week­end adven­tures. One week­end we might do fresh-picked psilo­cy­bin mush­rooms, and we’d spend the next week­end on mesca­line. Car­los intro­duced me to psy­che­delic drugs in col­lege, and he usu­al­ly pre­ferred those to street crap. For some rea­son, he decid­ed to do beer and mar­i­jua­na. I don’t like beer, but don’t tell me that I’m going to be left out of the par­ty. I got out the rum.

We were paint­ing the liv­ing room until the fight start­ed. It was my fault. I decid­ed it would be a good idea to put semi­gloss onto a lamp­shade. It looked good to me, but Car­los went out of his mind. He said the lamp had been his grandmother’s. That was why it looked so out of date. I told him that he’d love the update. He told me that I was out of my fuck­ing mind. I told him he was an igno­rant wet­back. My wet­back com­ment pret­ty much did in the rest of the day.

I knew how to curse in Span­ish, but he was rat­tling things off so fast that I wasn’t able to keep up. Car­los threw an ash­tray at me. I threw his stu­pid lamp back at him. I remem­ber hear­ing mari­conada and­cabrón, nei­ther of which you usu­al­ly heard pass the lips of my lover. May­be I had crossed some invis­i­ble line, but there was no going back.

We were down on the Gulf Coast, and he knew the area. He had plen­ty of fam­i­ly, but I didn’t know much more than the house and the city lim­it sign.

Car­los was so angry that he shook as he screamed at me in Span­ish. He grabbed his keys, and he stomped out of the front door. I heard him start his motor­cy­cle, and the wheels screeched as he raced down the street.

He didn’t come back that night. He nev­er came back, because Car­los was killed when a drunk dri­ver ran a stop sign. We were drunk and stoned, we fought, and Car­los was killed by a drunk dri­ver. He was rid­ing with no hel­met, of course. It was the five-year anniver­sary of that day when my angel showed up.

It doesn’t get worse than that, right?

Bull­shit. It gets worse. Car­los and I dat­ed all through col­lege, and we were set­ting up our life togeth­er. We had dat­ed for years, and final­ly we were out on our own. Our nest was com­ing along, and we were ready to ride into the sun­set with our pick­et fence and Lhasa Apso. When he was killed, we had lived togeth­er for three days.

Three fuck­ing days as a cou­ple after dat­ing for years. We got drunk and stoned, and you add a motor­cy­cle and anoth­er drunk dri­ver to the mix.

One more thing: it was Labor Day week­end. Every­body else is off being hap­py, but I have an entire hol­i­day week­end where my stu­pid­i­ty is laid out before me. Labor Day week­end. Yeah, I always feel like swim­ming and cook­outs on Labor Day.

Okay, I’m done. That’s the whole sto­ry.

I got sober a while back, but Labor Day is still there to raise its cru­el head. Some stu­pid­i­ty just doesn’t go away, and I car­ried that awful, hor­ri­ble day with me. Some­times I can’t for­get or for­give. I remem­ber.

My angel appeared on Labor Day. It was the fifth anniver­sary of me killing Car­los with our drunk­en fight.

It was bed­time, and I was com­ing in the back gate of my apart­ment. My Alco­holics Anony­mous spon­sor said that I was hav­ing a rough go of it. “Rough go” seems like a clin­i­cal way of describ­ing it.

Sharon knew all about Car­los, and she had seen what Labor Day did to me in the pre­vi­ous years. This year would be one of those major mile­stones: five years. She sug­gest­ed that I take myself out on a date to my favorite Chi­ne­se restau­rant. It was sup­posed to be a “date” with myself, not just sup­per. It was great until the for­tune cook­ie. When I opened up the cook­ie, the lit­tle piece of paper was blank.


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