from The Book of Lazarus
by Richard Grossman
 
 

go downstairs and in the cupboard were drugs and i shot up and that made me satisfied although not with any sense of release but with a taste in my mouth of fish oil and paprika from a cheap hungarian restaurant and i got down on my hands and knees and crawled out the door and wound up kneeling in front of a naked woman with a voluptuous body who was holding a thermometer and wanted to jam it up my rectum and i was afraid that if she did i would come which i really wanted to do and i needed to fix again immediately in order to rearrange myself and especially my liver and the needle was in my arm and i felt that tiny hurt that signals an end to misery and found myself at a dinner party that was taking place onstage at a theater with favors and noise makers and heaping platters of double patty burgers and i was aware of the presence of a large audience and felt a spontaneous desire to entertain and satisfy them and a waiter came around behind me with champagne and murmured something in my ear while across the table sat an elderly couple and the man was wearing an ascot and double breasted jacket with a yachting emblem on the pocket and there was a diamond in each of the older womans upper teeth and a tiara was clasped on the front of her hairdo and the man had on a yellow boating hat with a black plastic bill and they seemed to be talking disapprovingly about me since they were snickering and so i left the table and walked into the wings of the theater where several ropes were holding a scaffold that was hanging over the stage and i grabbed one of the ropes and untied it and the rope hurt my hand as it flew into the air and there was a high pitched whine and the scaffolding tilted to one side and fell against the far end of the banquet table and several chairs fell over and the old woman was running around the stage with a gash in her forehead and her tiara had fallen off but the audience stayed silent and the man with the boating hat came up and said that something had to be done but i couldnt make out what he was complaining about and i stumbled up an aisle and hurried towards the exit and was a few steps away from the swinging doors when the audience went rushing down tunnels in the upper balconies and passageways buried in the buildings interior and were shoving each other and pushing shopping carts and seemed to be searching for things to buy under the neon lights of a theater mall whose anchor tenant was a vast discount toy warehouse and there was a section in the store where catechism lessons were being given and a line of wooden ducks stood on a shelf next to the class and one of the ducks began to talk and had a hinged mouth like the mouth of a marionette and there was another section of the store that carried table saws and lathes and the man with the yellow boating cap was busy working a drill into a block of wood that turned out to be one of the wooden ducks and the metal was whirring into the ducks asshole and the duck didnt seem to mind as its mouth moved on its hinge while quack quack quacking very rapidly so that it sounded like an engine sputtering and blood poured like a river out of the asshole of the duck although the river had globs of yellow fat flowing through it and the fat fell to the floor of the warehouse in soft piles and began to melt slowly into the blood that was covering the floor and the man in the boating cap rolled up his sleeves and had scars on his arms that werent precisely tracks although they moved along the tops of his veins but were more like cross hatched welts with hairs like the hair on the forearms of women growing out of them and his rocky muscles traveled up and down between his wrists and shoulders and he turned away and was wearing an apron and i thought for a moment it was giappetto from the pinocchio story and that we were in that kind of workshop situation and i began to back away because the duck was on the floor and attacking my ankles as it waddled through its own fat and blood and i was becoming apprehensive and started to panic because i felt that the duck was poisonous and contained black widow spider venom and i had been told a long time ago that there was a cure for this venom but that you had to search out a tree and i began to think that there might be a department in the warehouse that specialized in the kind of tree that would relieve the pain of a black widow spider bite and wandered among the avenues of toys while keeping my eyes peeled for the duck that i knew had its own attack path because the duck understood where i was going and had planned out a strategy and had a map in its brain that contained all the aspects and intricacies of the warehouse and there were arrows on its map that traveled at right angles around the store and at a certain point the forward moving tip of the ducks arrow path would intersect my feet as they moved down the aisles of the warehouse and i would become poisoned before getting access to the tree i needed but as luck would have it there was a book store across the street and i hurried in to look for magazines because i wanted to learn how to escape the black widow spider bite and a number of body building journals with pictures of women with huge physiques who were squeezing dumbbells and making grimacing expressions and were ridiculously happy to be lifting and men who were holding them up like prima ballerinas but hadnt shaved and werent presentable were in the racks and one of the magazines was entitled dumbbells in hiding and another was called precious moments and then i was standing at the bow of a boat that was bringing me over from a distant country and staring into the water as it folded back along the keel and dreaming about what it would be like to get to the distant country and had a vague idea i was heading in the wrong direction and was singing to myself but couldnt make out what i was singing and was unaware of what was coming out of my mouth or even of what i intended to sing although i knew i was singing something but there was no way that i would ever be able to tell what kind of singing i was doing as the waves folded around either side of the boat that was taking me in two directions at once and i was looking at a contraption resting against a bollard which had a lever sticking out the top and grinding jaws made of openwork bronze and i thought that it was office equipment or used in cutting cloth but it began to move like the duck moved and the lever jerked back and forth and the various parts of the machine worked together in such a way that it assumed some of the behavioral aspects of a mallard although i realized that it couldnt poison me because it was totally empty and fabricated out of metal and sea air and this made me comfortable until i felt a sharp pain in my side and realized that somehow the machine could jump high in the air and attack me at any soft and vulnerable part of my body and eat out my eye for instance or bite me in the balls or snatch away one of my fingers and i knew that as long as this machine was around i had nowhere to hide