i loved that my foot was wrecked. i loved it because it became my focus, my singular point of attention. school was worrisome, boring, and heavy, it gave me new assignments to fill and unanswerable questions to question all in the name of corporate advancement. i mean, the whole thing was stupid. i didn't want any part of this, i wanted to fly away. but i couldn't. or i didn't have the stones. i didn't have enough stones, enough weight in me to be a person of weight and stature, a fully-formed man who could make decisions on a whim and stick by them for all time. i didn't know who i was. still don't, but here at home it doesn't matter. over at the pot of boiling oil of college where recommendations mean jobs and Ivory Towers are built everyday, everything mattered, every decision you made, every class you didn't take, every credit you upgraded because you slept with the professor, this was building your portfolio for the future. it was all too complicated, i was just a guy who liked to read in the rain, did that automatically preclude me from a calculus major? yes it did, there was no fucking way i'd survive university math, i'd draw doodles on my napkins as the entire-chalkboard-sized equation was being formulated in chalk, i would get bored with the maths teacher's standard business haircut quickly. but was i then automatically an English major? thing is, reading books for enjoyment is one thing, taking essays on those books for grades and your career destroys the experience, it kills the initial loving of books.
none of this mattered anymore, because all i and Ariun concentrated on was the tending and ultimate full cure of my foot which had been slashed and bruised and battered without me knowing. i didn't notice my foot because my head was so constantly filled with thoughts of the futility of college and the inability to sprout wings. i was smart, but too smart, i focused on too many things, ran them into the ground with overanalysis, and i was left with mash. i needed to rub a carbon into a diamond for two weeks to where at the end of the two weeks i would accomplish something tangible and worthy, to where i have the finished diamond in my hand, all of the thinking leads up to a gem. i sure would enjoy this coming time...
the weather cooperates as well. we have our first thunderstorm downpour since the Great Flood, eroding the beaches and hiding the sun from view. the sun is a magical orb which keeps us alive. we still don't know anything about the sun, but we know without it, there would be no us. we are scientists who pray to the sun as our ancestors did, hoping it will stay so we can stay. i adorn my broken backpack with the hanging-chad zipper and go to visit Ariun for our first official school-sanctioned medical appointment, and i couldn't be happier, i'm getting out of the house.
the streets are so awash with the river that they lose their markings and turn into moorings. the streetsigns are no good, the streetlights have deactivated and electrocuted. does red mean stop anymore? is it my turn to go or the car's? i swim past the intersection to the grey building where grey-brown-haired Ariun will be despite the rain, hardworking and always prompt and reliable. i slipped finally coming into the office on the front mat ironically. survived the hurricane only to be felled on the very destination. that triggered a daymare: my mom wanted me to print out her church program. i hated doing it because church is a fraud. mom said it was only a little thing she asked me to do each week. she was right but i was right. she always wanted me to do it on my busiest day when i had the most amount of busywok. if this was simply the next day, the argument could be nullified. this happens every week. but then, this is the only time i speak with my mom face-to-face...
...Ariun: hello son, care to join me for our date?
me: you're too easy, you harlot! is this all anybody has to do, call up for a visit? those aren't business cards, they're business cards!
Ariun and i have this strange thing of nonsexual tension where we both know nothing will ever happen between us so we highlight that fact each and every time we try to make everything sexual. this was the strangest relationship i ever had because we started talking like old friends after only having met a week ago. the best friends are fast friends.
Ariun: let's take a look (removes the bandages). hmmm, not the best. it's a lighter shade of purple, but it's not progressing. i used the strongest solution, too. i think we have to start the search over at square one in a different ocean.
me: that's the problem with true patience, nobody has it anymore. we want solutions at the speed of the internet, but most real problems take lifetimes to solve. what good is a riddle if the answer is on the other side of the bubblegum wrapper? i'm here for the duration.
Ariun: good to know, i've cleared my schedule until i get this cured. i'm staking my long reputation on this one. dammit but i'm the queen of the foot and no one will take my crown. my name will be uttered in the Indian spirituals, Ariun whom the witchdoctors came to when the witchdoctors had a problem walking.
me: ah, so you're Indian?
Ariun: we all are native to the land. let me try the purple stuff. want some Sunny D while you wait?
Ariun took some tests and some x-rays. i had to go to serpentine lairs for the x-rays and be fondled by other people who weren't Ariun. that was uncomfortable. i wanted to get back to mom's comfort soup. i was still in my salad days but i melted easily in front of older mature women rather than the next youthful bimbo. shhhh, Ariun is back.
Ariun: i tried the orange stuff as well on a model, but nothing. thing is, i'm still not entirely sure what you have on your foot. it's some sort of alien growth without a name in the medical journals. i'm pretty certain as to what family it belongs to but not the exact term. once i know this, i can prescribe the right-colored stuff as the salve. for now, let me do some more homework, you do some more college homework, and i'll pencil you in for tomorrow. i'm used to pulling all-nighters, all-nighters are in the air here on campus, i'll be okay. i will ken this. let me undress you and dress you with my eyes scanning your foot as i replace the old stinky bandage with new bandages that smell of fresh cream and care.
me: wait, why not let me rub some of that orange stuff on it as i sleep tonight? you said you tried it on a model but maybe the model is a floozy. i'm the real deal, it could work out of chance.
Ariun: i'm hesitant to just give you an untested chemical to use as a layman, but you're not a lame man, so here you go. sure, go nuts. this will save me three pizzas tonight if you luck into discovering the right salve. orange you glad i'm giving this to you to try?
the orange goop didn't work but i was happy for the new dress. there's nothing like the smell of new bandages in the morning straight out of the package at the doctor's office fastened tightly with a new shining prick pin. i feel secure and snug and loved. my foot is nice and tight and healing. it only heals when it's tight, tight, tight.
Ariun: how are you holding up? do you need crutches to get around campus?
me: it's only been a day. it's okay, i swim. also, i don't care about going to classes anymore.
Ariun: i'm running on no hours of sleep here, and i'm thinking of three new colors. if i get them confused, it's the lack of sleep talking. after you, i'm gonna sleep on this here exam table, use the roll of white paper sheet as a blanket. speaking of sheet, here comes the brown stuff. it looks like shit. it smells like shit.
me: are you sure it isn't in fact shit? man that's bad. it's like trash that went swimming in the road and waited to dry off first before presenting.
the brown stuff didn't work, and my foot was now dipped in poo. Ariun washed off the poop with pee, she smeared light yellow stuff on my broken foot bone...but to no avail.
me: maybe we just have to let it sizzle in there for a week or so. maybe there isn't always an immediate solution.
Ariun: there never is an immediate solution. everything takes time, anything that's worth anything anyway. okay, let's meet up here again in a week to see if the yellow takes. i'll miss you.
these two weeks are a delight. a joy. it's all about the cure of my foot, that's the only goal, the only test i take, the only lecture i attend, the only tv show i watch, the two of us locked in a death struggle working together for a common purpose, the eradication of bandages and crutches. my foot, my foot, the mystery of my foot, keeps us both up at night, i sleep well but Ariun doesn't, she doesn't eat, she doesn't drink, she drinks a little to take the edge of, until she has figured it out using the calculator and the calculator in her brain.
it's the end of two weeks but to me time has stopped and has started again from the beginning of these two exact weeks. nothing has mattered before or since, this is a singular time for me when time stopped, when i had a quirky relationship with an assigned woman who took it upon herself to take care of me when mom wasn't around anymore. Ariun cared about me. nobody else did. my friend who committed suicide didn't. Zeve didn't. mom did but she was far away so she didn't.
me: always, i'm human, but my SORE FOOT, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK seems to have stabilized.
Ariun: the wait is over, the journey complete...
...both of us are sadfaces...
Ariun:...anyway, i've eliminated the rest and kept the best for the best patient. it was pink stuff, like all of my clothes. of course. the answer is always staring you in the face, it's always within your reach, but it takes time and patience to calm down, take a breath, and see it, really see it in front of you. that's where patience comes in. i've waited a long time for a case like you. i've had to wait forever to find a legendary reason for my job, something that would become a fable, and i did, i removed the nail from the lion's foot.
pink stuff worked like a charm, and instantly, too, no need to wait, no need to be patient, instant cure. my foot bone healed instantaneously and the red scars turned to pink again, my pink skin. the purple scars turned red first before reverting to pink.
Zeve works at some highfalutin station on campus. he is in charge of the entire student body's health care. that is quite the trophy position for someone so young. Zeve is not much older than me and is a student like me, but he's a grad student so it's okay. i'm sure his father is the college president or something. i never asked him, but i'm sure that's the case. Zeve struts into the waiting room of the foot office with bermuda shorts and sandals on exposing his perfect, non-slashed, pink healed toes. this is typical of students at a hot California university by the beach. Zeve's just one of the guys at the end of the day, he wants to go surfing all the time but his job prevents it. he can't surf.
Zeve (knowingly): oh hello you two, just the two i wanted to run into. (yeah, sure.) i've been going over your papers and since your papers are incomplete the grace period is over. we give each student two weeks of free health care because we are generous and kindhearted. after that, you have to sign up properly or it's cut off. well, you are officially cut off. no more foot care, no more body care, and no more headcase care for you. it's over, buddy. you won't be seeing Ariun again. i forbid you to see her ever again.
Zeve thinks i'm crazy.
suddenly the air indoors is muggy, and the outside cool winds can't penetrate. faces are stern and sallow, even Ariun's usually bright one. she internally takes stock, closes her eyes, then opens them again and looks upon me with straight lips and accountant's eyes. i'm just another number again, another number in the college system, a bureaucratic filing stamped with a big red CASE CLOSED.
Ariun: thank you, sir. if you continue having problems, contact Zeve, not this office. goodday.
and with that, she slinks under the brown door with the closed screen and is gone. forever. i am left to overanalyze again, quiet in a room with Zeve my favorite person in the world. Zeve glances at me with his trademark sated smile and satisfyingly takes off his sandals revealing his bare handome feet (i must say).
Zeve: off to the beach! got a new board for the occasion. ah the life of a beach bum.
notice how he said got instead of bought. i found the beach bum thing tacky. really tacky. if you're gonna be an artist like me, be a real artist, not a corporate artist.
A NEW TACK.
just then, a rush of pointy metal thumbtacks rushes from the threshold doorsill opening of Ariun's shut office door like a stream of water from a downpour campus street. it perpendicularly slashes into Zeve's path straight out the office like a holy cross, destined to cleanse. Zeve is fitfully taken aback and falls to his hands and knees with a thud, the soles and bones and toes of his once prisitine feet pricked with red dots of blood, from tan skin to gushing polka dots. the prick is pricked.
screams Zeve: MY FUCKING FEET!!!
TO BE CONCLUDED...