I hit the bank and got the cash, drove to the house and carried everything to the place downstairs. The hotel last night was a bitch, literally. This couple was going at it all night, yelling next door, fighting, the door slamming shut, flying open, on and on until 5 a.m. The entire motel smelled liked weed, which was fine, it was legal here now, but for someone like me, a once-a-year stoner at best, I hadn’t made friends with the smell, I couldn’t embrace the burning tire odor. Dog shit all over the back lot of the motel, garbage strewn in front of the door.
I got us fully moved in, fed the boy and stood in the shower, the high and perfect setting on the spout cleaning my flesh, my thoughts on the last month, and last night’s voices of domestic violence running off my shoulders and into the drain:
“BITCH, YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR MONEY AT! AH PAID THE MOTHERFUCKER SO HE WOULDN’T TAKE YO ASS TO COURT!”
“OH, FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER! I’M THE ONE MAKIN’ THE FUCKIN’ MONEY FO THE ROOM! YOU SUPPOSE TO BE THE MOTHERFUCKIN’ MAN!”
The slamming door, then another one of her screams:
“WHERE MY LIGHTER AT?!”
I felt the water move down my skin, and the last year of being out in the wind moved with it. I thought about the last book tour, my Australian girl, my diamond, really, the one who flew over and traveled the coast with me down California from Washington, to Vegas, to San Diego, to her departing flight from LAX. Six weeks of happiness, six weeks of beauty slated not to last, but to be ripped and torn from me, from her. We were the ghosts of each other now, she moved on and I moved on, which was healthy, it was essential. I counted back to the year when the word first found me with its tattoo, with its permanent mark. I was a young man, a cook in Tempe, my fingers weeping into the keys of my first typewriter, the bricks of the room bringing Hell onto the page, the reckoning of worth, the strength in pure solitude. As the water covered me there, I rested my foot back on the stone, and I felt the words start to grip me again, I felt the sentences strengthen, I felt the wind of words and the wind was the world, it reached from Mombasa to Montezuma, from the depths of Mars to mirror the Moon and flow back to Earth. We were all carbon, and the universe was carbon, there was nothing separate between us. I looked down at the floor unblinking, the water falling from my brow, and I remembered everything and nothing, and I remembered the loving eyes of my angel dog, Meg, my Border Collie-Blue Heeler girl, her electric soul and her bones in the ground. It would soon be four years since she left this place, since she left Chico and I behind to sift through all the things she knew, the things she took with her. I thought about the faces of the past, the ignorant faces on the jobs, the teeth of them, the look of them because they knew I hated them, they knew I didn’t share their fears, and they pawned me off to insanity.
I shook off the thoughts and killed the water. I dried myself and let the sorrow of those days go into the towel, the anger of them. Chico nosed his way into the bathroom and looked up at me, his mouth full of food, and I laughed.