Guilty on all Counts – Round 4 : Page 2

July 4th, 2008

“Maybe three months until you start showing symptoms, if that. From there, it’s rapidly downhill. Bedridden in six months. Your type of malignancy has a survival rate of about five percent at a year. There are always miracles, of course.”

The studio bigwigs are also concerned about the deficit in law enforcement, which partially explains the proliferation of the even more extensive and putridly stale genres of “Copaganda,” in which I also made a cameo appearance as a “scumbag,” and “Trialhypnosis,” where I had starred as the controversial defendant.

It always comes down to the Verdict: a uniformed authority figure pronouncing a fate over which you are helpless. The message is powerlessness, and the show might as well fade to black after that, the rest is all padding to fill the hour. It’s over for the hapless extra, he’ll never be seen again when the Verdict is delivered, whether it’s a cop chanting, “You have the right to remain silent,” a judge reading, “Guilty on all counts,” or an allopath gloatingly declaring, “Your type of malignancy has a survival rate of about five percent at a year.” Same late prime-time slot; different night.

There’s even a subtle aesthetic to it, a balance. Cosmic justice, wholly distinct from cultural justice, which is at least theoretically based on fairness. The Universe fosters no such delusions. All the stars demand is that both sides of an equation be equal. My winning streak was bound to turn.

Defeat/Triumph
Pleasure/Pain
Life/Death
and so on.

I get up and leave without a word or gesture. To what point continuing to stare at his smug mug, enduring the glaring light and sickly alcohol miasma of his Death Chamber? Shall I appeal to reason, come up with a logical argument to convince the doctor of his error? Will I pry some neglected nugget of hope from his overcluttered mind, my one chance in a million he forgot to mention? I have nothing further to discuss with medicine.

Courtesy is for the living. Time to start losing those habits.

On the bright side, I can finally give the IRS a big fat bird.

No need to give up smoking or cocaine. In fact, I believe the time is ripe for a good old-fashioned heroin habit. I always wanted one of those.

I can trade in my exercise equipment, which mostly goes unused anyway, for some skydiving gear and maybe a dragracing motorbike.

My diet from this point on may as well consist of pure cholesterol. I can live exclusively on pastries without a twinge of guilt.

I can fuck strangers without a condom.

I can tell off all the people I was afraid I might need someday, my agent and publisher and lawyer and probation officer and everyone else that no longer matters.

Fuck ‘em.

I never again have to pretend I’m seriously considering matrimony so as not to lose a good, steady lay.

I will drive the Porsche into the ground and never spend another minute in a mechanic’s shop.

I will tell Llewellyn Reece I have a crush on her.

Can I write a novel in three months?

Absolutely. Thousand words a day. Cake.

Two in six months?

I don’t see why not.

Will I be able to write when I can no longer walk?

Marcel Proust wrote seven million words in the sickbed, by hand, no less.

Sure, but god, what a dull seven million words! He wrote about ghosts. An exercise in stasis. Seventy pages on one instance of tea-and- biscuits and the associations conjured. How can you create dynamic fiction, if you’re not really alive?

Will I waste away to a corpse, still madly scrawling my impressions from a life cashiered, clutching my memories to the end?

I know in that moment that there will be no sickbed. I ain’t goin’ down like that.

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