Every night I drive aimlessly around Lake Merritt and through downtown Oakland and into the peaceful vanilla suburbs surrounding Berkeley. I try to forget about how little money I have, and how I don’t have health insurance, and how I probably own too few pairs of underwear. I go to dark places and see the darkness there. And once inside of it I park beneath a row of trees and get out. I wander the streets and put poison in my lungs. I stare emptily at warmly-lit windows and wonder about the mundane things going on behind them.
I walk by playgrounds and remember that children exist.
In vain I hope that someone will invite me into their house to drink tea and listen to music. Or climb small buildings and look at the hills.
No one else is around. I am alone. I am the only one seeing the nothing that happens there at night.
Later I drive back to Ghost Town and park the car two blocks from my house. I kill the engine and sit there listening to a few songs. Eventually I decide to go home. Walking down Sab Pablo Avenue I see graffiti on the sidewalk that I have passed hundreds of times. It says “GOD IS LOVE.” I think about getting a can of spray paint and changing it to “GOD IS TIRED.”
As I turn onto my street a homeless man asks me for a buck and I hand him a two-dollar bill I was planning to include in a letter to a pretty girl in Lafeyette. He tries to sell me a suitcase and I decline.
Further down another man asks if he can give me his dentures for collateral. I say, “Collateral for what?” and with watery eyes he says, “Brother I just need ten dollars to make it through the week.” I tell him to keep his teeth and I go inside and find whatever bills I have on my desk and give them to him.
I lock the door behind me and put the kettle on the burner. I make sleepytime tea and take a melatonin. I have absentmindedly made the fatal error of combining the two. Either I will sleep forever or I will die before the sun comes up. As far as I can tell there is no real difference between these outcomes.
Dante jumps on the kitchen counter and chirrups to let me know he is hungry. With a silver knife that is not mine I slice a puck of expensive cat food in half and shovel it out of a tin can and into a little blue bowl. I pour warm water over it and set it on the floor. He laps it up and purrs.
I don’t open the cabinets or the refrigerator to make food for myself. I have no food for myself.
I go into my room and sit in the center of my bed. Under the glow of many Christmas lights I write letters to people in Texas and Virginia and Quebec and Nova Scotia. The window is open and I hear my neighbor screaming at her children.
Blade Runner is muted on my television. I glance up at the screen and watch Harrison Ford kiss Sean Young for maybe the five-hundredth time in my life.
No one will be coming to kiss me tonight or any night. When they want to see me they will make me come to them. And mostly I won’t.
When I sleep I dream of all the different ways I could die.
Tonight my car is on Stinson Beach. There are no stars and no moon in the sky. I am sitting in the driver’s seat looking at the ocean. I am not thinking of anything. After a while my vision goes black.
Now I am someone else and it is daylight. I trace the tire tracks in the sand to the decommissioned police car resting near the shoreline. The inside windows are covered in blood. The person behind the wheel is probably dead. I am probably dead. I don’t approach the car. I wince at the sun. I stare at the waves.