This morning I woke up to the sound of my phone vibrating. As I bitterly emerged from the depths of my unconscious, I flailed my left arm in a feeble attempt to grasp the offending possession and smash it to smithereens upon the floor. Fortunately the cellular was out of reach and so I was afforded more time to think before acting. That thought/time lapse led to the revelation that perhaps it would be more prudent to check the caller ID before out-and-out destruction.
A 208 number not saved to my contact list. Who could it be? My mental fog was lifting, like fog does but far faster, and I recalled that I was trying my hand as a used car salesman, an effort that would certainly be far easier if aided and abetted by telecommunication. I speculated that the unknown caller might be someone in need of a 1993 Toyota truck with 279,000 miles. They might be so in need that they’d willingly part with eighteen hundred dollars.
I spared the vibrating device and stood up. I took inventory of myself, my surroundings. Living quarters of an old-school motorhome. Fully dressed, slept in clothes. Awful tasting teeth, failed to brush. Crusty, puffy eyes. Tight lower back muscles. Matted hair. Half-drunk Odell Red Ale. Half-finished handwritten diatribe on the virtues of some bullshit or other titled “above the chaos” on the back of an oil change receipt. Everything was telling me I drank too much again and was hung over except for my lack of a headache; that was telling me I was still drunk.
I slipped my feet into their flip-flops and ambled outside. I grinned at the rising sun and barked at the setting moon. I thought about how to make my life and the lives of others better. I dug in my pocket and found the Sharpie that’d been digging into my thigh all night. I pulled the top off of it and placed its point upon the cream-colored surface above the license plate and to the right of a brake light. I wrote “Fuck OFF, Relax.” I smiled while imagining some ass sphincter in L.A. stressing about getting somewhere fast and resigning themselves to reading bumper stickers in traffic, reading my little note and saying, “What?” to no one in particular.
Then I thought about Tom’s great line on writing, something about performing a living autopsy, mining one’s own odious intestinalesque intellectual innards for nuggets of gold, tirelessly grovelling neck-deep in one’s own shitty neuroses while lucidly dreaming of finding, creating, something meaningful, something useful, like a bicycle pump. “I want to do that,” I thought and set about it again.
Peter Nichols is a poet, rock climber, and vagabond originally from Toledo, Ohio.