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This is Claire de Lune. Claude Debussy, born 1862, died 1918. I know this. I know this and as long as my eyes stay closed, I am in my bed, listening to my music, enjoying my personal orchestra playing Claire de Lune, by Claude Debussy, born 1862, died 1918. I know this.
Denial can only last so long when you are rubbing your empty gums with the tip of your tongue.
Irony— atomic number 26, atomic weight 55.845, a common component in spoons and watering cans (I know this)— is dripping over my fat lip and splashing down my naked chest, is rolling down my throat in pea-sized wet beads, is staining my teeth and my tongue and my pants. Irony; I have not eaten meat in ten years, and I am drinking my own blood.
The music is changing my pulse, caressing my sweating face and kissing my broken nose, my sodden chin, my bruised ribs. I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry (I know this) and four years of medical school under my belt. I have witnessed countless surgeries, countless slip-ups. I know the human body. I know this. Irony; observing the dissection of humans convinced me I was invincible.
The sweat is falling faster now, working its way into all the little cuts and scrapes and insignificant surface wounds, adding humiliation as I sit, bound tightly, unable to brush the sweat away and forced to allow it to mingle with my blood, a cocktail of bodily fluids dripping down every plane of flesh, slowly, as though someone had poured hot grease over my head. Irony; the meticulous surgeon is cut open in a filthy basement, practically watching the infectious bacteria swim through the ocean of my draining life.
I have a wife, and two children. But as of now, I am not a husband or a father. I am not a son, and I am not a mobster. For too long, I have been defined by my relationships with others. For too long, I have been “Brillo Pad” Rozenspan. As of now, I am not “Brillo Pad” Rozenspan.
I am human. With my cracked skull and scummy fingernails, I am human, and I am learning what they never taught me in college.
Do you know how much five pounds of cocaine is? At thirty dollars a gram, that would get you aroung $40,860, in a time span of about a month and a half, if that. Do you know how much the average surgical resident makes in a month? $7,250. The benefits are evident. I know this.
That’s why I told myself “Brillo Pad” Rozenspan was going to steal a third of the biggest drug lord in New York City’s stash of cocaine. Right now, I’m confident the real reason was “Brillo Pad” Rozenspan wanted to die.
Somewhere between crawling through the window and heaving the bags into my car, he saw me, and I got hit over the head with a baseball bat; it was light, made out of pine. I swung around, ready to fight, but I was outnumbered, and it wasn’t long until they had me tied up like a nice little present in the back seat of their black Cadillac. Now the bat is leaning against my chair, offering chunks of human flesh, bone, and curly red hairs as a gruesome party favor.
Let the celebration commence.
Twenty minutes ago, I would have preferred he just shoot me. Get it over with. But I’m enjoying this, I’m enjoying my excited nerves, mentally examining every fracture, every cut, feeling every drop of blood as it leaves my veins. I am more alive than I have been. This euphoria is worth death.
This sense of fading is worth death.
I am swelling; I am twice the size of this room, I am a fly on the wall. I am the child molester down your street, I am your ruffled and weary flight attendant. I am your conscience and I am your dog. I am not “Daddy” or “Alan” or “Brillo Pad.” I am roadkill.
When I was young, my grandmother taught me how to play a song on piano; Claire de Lune, by Claude Debussy, born 1862, died 1918. As she patiently demonstrated the movements, the crescendos, the phrasing, I read, and consciously memorized, the black and white boundaries of the composer’s life. Facts; born 1862. Died 1918. That’s it. The man who lived his life through song, who left behind volumes of music, written music, so future generations could perform his works— his life, defined, by two words and two years, trusting the connotations of his name to illustrate the years in between.
Claude Debussy, born 1862, died 1918.
Black and white.