they came in the middle of the night

They Came in the Middle of the Night

They came in the middle of the night, a squad from the new Committee. They yanked me out of bed and slammed me face first against the bookcase full of prized books–a whole shelf of Miller, another of Bukowski, lots of levy and Kryss and other Cleveland stuff, Moritz Thompsen, some Salinger and Sillitoe, Patchen and e.e. cummings, other books too, there because of when they entered my life as much as because of what they had to say, some of them signed with messages to not let the bastards get me, all of it battered and dogeared. I knew my nose was broken, I could taste the blood running down my throat.

“Why didn’t you stick to roses and buttercups and sunrises?” one of them said. Actually there were two of them, and they said it simultaneously with one voice. “Why didn’t you stick with all that ‘hell no, we won’t go’ crap? Drunken rampages? Yellow-fanged angst?”

“Yellow-fanged angst,” I said in a slurred voice, my lips smearing blood over the spines of Tropic of Cancer and The Smile at the Foot of the Ladder. That’s good.”

They twirled me around and hit me in the mouth and then the gut. I felt the hernia mesh in my abdominal wall sag and the Dacron arteries from the aneurysm surgery quiver. I doubled over, and as I was going down I noticed that they were joined at the hip, which helped explain the one voice.

There was a lot of mayhem throughout the house, a crew was smashing up my computer and printer and turning over old metal file cabinets fat with folders of writing and correspondence from the Gone World of typewriters and mimeo machines.

I closed my eyes, and my last sensation was olfactory, I could smell the smoke from the cigarette one of them lit up as they were leaving. What I wanted most before everything shut down was a drag off that cigarette.

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