His tiny room stinks of sweat and stale cigarette smoke.
Oh, the danger of all that smoke and what it’s done to his lungs; oh, the danger that Xanax will do for him what Valium had done to Rosemary Clooney.
Morning for Bob is 4PM. He wakes and has his first cup of coffee. He wakes and has his second. He wakes and has his third.
Bob flops into bed and thinks. About bitches, boredom, and trendy
cynicism. About sensitive poets sucking their way to anonymous
A 4PM as black as night.
He takes three more Xanax and sleeps.
He wakes and finds a penknife on top of a handwritten note:
Dear Bob, I got this penknife from my Dad. I think it’s a treasure ’cause it’s full of love. I want you to have it ’cause I love you. You might remember me as a friend.
I think you need to start eating apples, dude.
That penknive is good at slicing apples.
Bob throws the penknife into the trash. Then he sits
at the laptop and writes:
I’ve wanted a pen knife ever since I was that little fag.
At that time, I kept wax models of movie monsters on my bed stand to protect me from the human monsters outside.
Have you considered writing a real friend, someone whose grief won’t spoil your soul?
Bobby’s letter is bright is full of reconciliation.
I’m at Battery Park where I go to when I want to figure things out.
I watch the birds and smell the ocean and think something
wonderful has happened.
When I feel the rain it feels like everything magic!.
I guess I like to talk to older dudes because they’ve got things
more figured out.
I bet you have stuff figured out, right?
Yesterday Mom was drunk again.
Do you remember my Mom’s problem?
Do you remember we talked about how the real problem is she
thinks she don’t have one?
I try to help her but all she says is laters.
4PM at on a hot September day at the Laundromat on 16th Street and Mission Street; a toddler screams and Bob’s skin crawls. He takes a Xanax and writes:
I’m may stuff a nerve wracking baby into a hot drier; it sounds like your Mother needs to dry out too. Charleston must be a beautiful town; I’ve read that it reeks of Magnolia and racism. It’s nice that they let the poor visit parks like the Battery. Science will eventually discover that everything is magic. Why do you write to me? I’m a hateful old man.
In the early 1960’ss a bacteria infected the Spanish moss in Charleston. Bobby has watched the Spanish moss vanish from the tall oak trees that line Battery Park. An old woman shares a bag of peanuts with the squirrels. Bobby jots her down in his notebook. Then he writes another letter to Bob:
I just read a bunch of books about astrology. You’re a Scorpio. These books say Scorpio is a dark and passionate sign. They say we’re shamans and can turn dark into light.
I’m back at Battery Park and there’s a sweet old woman hand feeding a squirrel.
It’s hard to make a frightened creature trust you.
How come when I say I believe in magic adults say grow up..
Do you still believe in magic?
The cruising was vicious last night. Bob watched the boys dance at the End-Up and wondered what sign they were. He stumbled home at 2 and took enough Xanax for 12. He woke at 4 and had his third cup of coffee.
He wrote a reply to Bobby.
We think of children in terms of potential.
When children believe in magic, we call them imaginative; when adults believe in magic, we call them devout.
Two women had a fist fight in front of Bobby’s house that day.
They were tweaked on dexys.
They called each other names and chased each other around the courtyard.
Bobby watched from the porch and wrote Bob:
Sorry it took so long for me to write but I thought you didn’t want to hear from me no more. I thought you was being polite in that way adults are sometimes polite to kids by being rude.
Two women beat each other up in the Courtyard today. They called each other a whore- dyke-bitch and how one of them said ‘I can buy and sell you!’
I gotta laugh when poor folks say shit like that cause everyone knows we’re slaves.
Momma says they was fighting over a man.
Do queers in San Francisco fight over men in public?
We can’t even look at each other here.
I bet it’s nice to hold your boyfriend’s hand in public.
Bob, why are you so unhappy!
You sound like you got no hope.
Maybe your planets are outta wack!
Astrologers say that when your planets go outta whack things get crazy
Love and Friendship,
Bob was too high to read all Bobby’s letter. He tossed it into the trash but decided to reply: Dear Bobby,
Psychiatry defines reality testing as follows: Any means by which an individual is able to clearly asses his or her limitations as they relate to biological, physiological, social or environmental realities, or the objective evaluation of sensoryimpressions, thus allowing the person to distinguish between the internal and external worldand between fantasyandreality.
I cannot say this with authority but I suspect that all severe mental illnesses affect the ability to correctly assess ones interactions with others.
Though I rarely say this outright; I believe that my alternates are real.
I have to force myself to think of myself as ‘I’ and I only say “I” when discussing myself as separate from the people we call our ‘alternates’.
When I am “the self” I initially have vague memories of what happened before
I took over but they quickly fade
My compromised reality testing also compromises my ability to protect myself from exploitation.
This is an excerpt from an interview with Kim Noble.
Kim Noble is a British artist and Mother who has over 20 distinct personalities. This is an interview with an alternate that is a 21 Year old Gay Man. On the couch next to Kim is her daughter. The alternate thinks that the daughter is the daughter of a friend.