How Brave, to Predict the World’s End – Curtis Eggleston
October 12, 2021
Last night I had a dream, the worst since I quit mixing Valium, Vyvanse, and alcohol in June when I married the beautiful, enlightened girl, that I was in bed with my grandmother, soothing her while she rocked over 82, a terrible age, sidling to death and with no chance to salvage this irreprehensible future through which I still have my whole life inside of me.
I am allergic to iodine, and Brazil has no access to substitutes, doctors cannot source the pain clotted in my side, but they tightfist their drugs, citing humanity prone to antimicrobial resistance: your pain respects lives, take solace in them, they said, trust nature’s redress, so I gave up bread and processed sugar, dairy, red meat and dross, but this pain, an ascetic one, needs what but remains to survive.
The phone in my grandmother’s robe burst sounds of her all precious jewelry collided, someone I don’t know yet is on the other end inviting of the phrase remember it’s all just a dream, and in a moment my will awakes up to the challenge of pain, and beside me my wife will lie there, blinking at the dark, curious, why lose solace for when no one proof can touch us in our night room, but she succumbed to heavy lids, rolled over and fell back asleep, and I would not wake her for she would rise to model lingerie, a model spouse, Paradise said we are beautiful together, and when she came home today purse-eyed, no thanks for her shoot, Paradise calmed her, oh honey, all male photographers act that way, the gay ones too, Paradise said the gays were over, but when I first met her, she was he was gay, that was 2016 and now the gays are all over apparently, the 2016’s I knew then are now all hot women loving men and that makes them straight and easier for them to say in Brazil time changes and Paradise says we are the only cis-hetero couple with whom she will talk real pain, and I am not afraid to compare, healthy reflection necessitates pure speculation, I will defend.
Thinkers I once had respected – American blinds – said nothing is more dangerous than nostalgia, but once, Hush Puppy and me, we were on an island called Florianópolis, both of us with powders worth hiding from the cops who rolled up on us, gravel to dust, slow crunch tired, don’t look back they say, and we hadn’t when we crossed a street and they’d turned right behind us, thoughts of robbery turned shot when red lights upped, and windows down, two officers held submachine guns and smiling asked, what fucking country you from, the last question I understood out of their mouths, but Hush, he speaks for all of us, and if you knew him you would understand that dialogues singed at the edge of your life stay branded, Hush recapitulated, remember, with barrels like black water wells regaling our pupils:
The United States.
What are you doing here?
What are you doing here?
He doesn’t speak.
Where are you coming from?
Stannis is that way (officer waving his gun).
Uh, no, well, also that way. We came from Stannis that way (Hush Puppy aiming his head).
Who is the owner of Stannis?
Officer lowered his sights, turned to his partner, who nodded. They apologized, waved, and I asked Hush how may one derive from all the details overwhelming God’s Blue Earth the name of the owner of the bar for our lives’ sakes and he said remember that guy who shook our hands, ushering us out, the last Portuguese words I heard tonight were Rony, I’m the owner of the bar, and when I think back I feel much like sorority girls, I have angels over watching, and much like my grandmother trusting in her husband to slip bar owners’ names into Hush’s flushed ears, and when I think back I feel safely nostalgic, the future named Nothing, it is She who has you in Her sights, Now what endangers, now please bow your heads and in silence pray a hearty Rest in Peace to Hush Puppy who last year peaced out on a heart attack’s behalf, and yeah I see why the saying of living back endangers, I get why clot kills flow, but Hush feared none of nostalgia, only of the sum, always collecting, never one to waste, when breaths allowed, Hush recalled, and gratefully.
Allergic to iodine contrast, I lay in a hospital bed – with grandmother in a dream, she could not understand on the phone whom she spoke with – I waited costless forever on the public healthcare nurse to pluck my IV (was finished) when beside the curtain there was a man I’d seen before (he’d been finished), looking brighter than before (won the present), a victory conjuring my wife and I were strolling Avenida Brigadeiro in a clouded heat, a beggar in a syruped drawl requested coin from us, I didn’t even look and after, she asked, you gave the homeless money more in Rio than here, why is that?, and it’s true there was a boy named Gabriel who unlike the many supplicated without expectation with subtlety, his sadness colored irises were shaded since his birth, not monetarily, and after I denied him one Real for mints I chased him down Avenida Atlântica and handed him a fifty, said this is yours now, spend it however you want but think about what got you here, all drunk and sincere but underneath thinking myself like a savior thin air born for this kid, not for the fifty but for asking him his name before disappearing I told him we would be around and every day I saw him he got thinner and coconut water and fish plates from me and boxes of candies so he could sell to whom, and this time I gave this guy nothing and told my wife I don’t like the way the homeless in general but especially that guy look at you, jealous but also protective but also possessive but only of what I love and overly critical of that which I deem I have no connection to, she said are you serious babe, that guy is gay, for sure, did you hear the way he begs?, and I thought nah she was trying to either make whatevers or get me to consider my intuitive wrongs, and that night I could not sleep, São Paulo is ridden on by horns, helicopter blades and but this time we heard silence beside desperate screams, socorro means help, fui atropelado means I’ve been run over, ambulância means it burns like Hell and my wife leaned over, said Oh my God, it’s that same guy from earlier, listen in his voice, and I did as he spoke to the nurse and smiled at me, Tramadol glazed with free easy meals worth the broken femur maybe for now, the nurse came and took my IV saying we don’t have Betadine in Brazil, we’re unsure what it is and we can’t prescribe antibiotics, you’ll have to deal with the pain and alter your diet, for now.
We were drinking red wine when she came back crying from the shoot. Paradise was the first to console but Silver and Beautiful joined. To be made uncomfortable, relatable pain, but to be killed, we don’t know, accostable proof. She began to ease and Paradise teased her own portrait of the boy who existed. I admire both the photo and the image I describe, for no other reason but having been aligned in Her scope, and regardless of what Paradise says, having lived.
To the other end of the line, I am yet unworthy and when the voice trails off, my grandmother whispers my name. She says 82 is a terrible age and hangs up. She goes limp, I stiffen, repeat what I have called her since she held me, wake in the sweat of me, flexed by my side. I have no missed calls. Besides the pain, which unlabeled lingers only as an inlet I can let fill or dry, I am ok.
And yes, maybe I should kill the man discomfiting my bride but what if Heaven, no, what if after I would never see her again. I can ignore what is not mine, what she can.
And yes, maybe I should give the man the contents of my pockets before he breaks his own leg, but I am no Heaven all the time, not while I remain.
Next month in Rio, I hope to see Gabriel again, even if for one last time, so I can buy him some. Once he asked for diapers, and someone near said, you know he’ll only trade those for drugs, but I bought them, because if diapers trade for crack, a baby receives them. And yes, maybe Gabriel spends everything I gave him on rocks, but you don’t know either, I’m entrusting his chances to my cash, let him look in my eyes as what passes into his hands.
When I woke from my dream, I called my grandmother. I told her I dreamt of us last night, that we were in a bed together, that she had complained of 82. She laughed and said she’s 83, thanks for calling. She did not ask what was dangerous today, or when I would come home to see my family. She said thanks for calling. She said remember to call your father. I remember it offended me, driving with my father past a school when two boys shot at our car, their hands shaped like guns. She said remember God is loyal. She said mom said you have been having stomach pains but that the doctors couldn’t see through you. I said it was a good thing, that all would be fine, I was feeling better, and she said oh my goodness that is wonderful to hear, and then she asked if we were considering children and I said not now, too poor, not the right time but maybe, hopefully someday, and she laughed and said down south the weather refuses to quit on change.