I left Gerry and Ichabod in the lobby and went downstairs to the locker room to get my toothbrush. Obsessive compulsive disorder hits everyone differently. I had more obsessions than I had compulsions. I don’t have tics or count things but I admit I paid close attention to numbers. I tended to seek out patterns. I probably washed my hands more than I thought I did or double checked to ensure that a door was locked behind me. I brushed my teeth too hard and too often, my pearlies only felt clean if I was spitting blood into the sink. So I hurt myself in the process, wearing away the enamel and receding my gumline.
My illness put the O in OCD. It could be harmless with the obsessions varying. I would obsess over a particular band or writer or painter. I would obsess over women. The danger was when my anxiety led to an obsession with something profoundly negative. All roads lead back to whatever bad thought was living inside my head, bringing me down to suffocating depths. If something wounded me I would make connections everywhere, linking things that twisted the knife and tightened the vice.
Let’s imagine something horrid occurred or a bit of a sad truth was revealed to me, let’s say it happened 13 years ago, 13 for the obvious unlucky reason, my brain would return to that gut punch whenever I saw the number 13. The thirteenth day of the month or 13 minutes on a digital clock would resuscitate my despair. If a friend bought a car for 4,700 dollars, I’ll think to myself that’s 4,700 days, and 4,700 days are just about 13 years. And then I’m right in the sinkhole of misery. Anything can bring it right the fuck back. Any connection could trigger the most unsettling feeling in my soul. Any people associated with said incident could bring back the imagery sharp and fresh as if it just happened. Sometimes it is one thing that eats away at me and other times it’s multiple issues at once. I’m juggling bad thoughts like chainsaws on the top step of a rickety ladder that was set on fire and placed on top of a crumbling tower. Suicide is heightened by OCD and a bedfellow to depression, I wonder if Kranepool had it too. He must have or he wouldn’t have jumped out of his fucking window. The poor bastard. I supposed we were more alike than I would have ever thought. Funny how that goes.
I understood being plagued by those vulgar, disheartening contemplations, those tormenting thoughts, real or not, that you can’t accept, that you can’t put to rest, being the last thing you remember before you close your eyes at night and the first thought to greet you when you awake. I knew suffering. I’ve always been too self aware so I knew when I was obsessing, I knew when my overthinking was malignant, I knew the symptoms and the diagnosis. Yet, I was unable to correct it despite any unwanted advice. I had seen the scribbled notes of my old psychoanalyst. We broke up. It wasn’t amicable but it was for the best and probably long overdue, If we’re being honest.
I didn’t want her fucking help. I hated her use of the C word. Such a trite unit of language. I was aware when I behaved crazy I didn’t need to be told by her that I was. I knew my loss of appetite was psychosomatic. I was not mistaken or deluded that my anxiety and my depression and the hurt I felt in my mind was passing it off to my body.
Mind tricks the body, body thinks the mind is crazy.
Midwestern Stylings, one of my favorite Glassjaw songs that was never released in any official capacity, although it should be, but some versions could be found on untimely file sharing services. A nod to The Smiths, maybe.
“As long as my hernia doesn’t get bigger than my dick I’m alright,” said Murphy, talking to Russell who was sorting the mail. The mail was delivered late that day. The porter sorted the mail and delivered the bundle to each individual doorstep. It was time consuming sifting through hundreds of bills, letters and magazines but I kind of enjoyed that particular task. I listened to music or bullshitted with Murphy the whole time. But god forbid one little letter gets lumped in the wrong pile and goes to the wrong tenant, it will be returned to whoever they see first and they will most certainly act as if we’re morons for letting it happen. Ugh, the utter incompetence.
“How many times a day do you brush your teeth, man?” Murphy knew exactly what I was up to.
“Too many I suppose.” My teeth made me anxious. They were not white enough white for me and my coffee consumption didn’t help any. The tenants all had nice teeth. The fear of cavities and root canals also made me uneasy so I brushed often.
“How’s it going up there? Did they send a crime scene clean up crew yet?”
“Everything is fine. Some tenants are kind of flipping out about it and others seem unfazed. The police are in a squat car outside. The detectives are gone. They said the Medical Examiner will be here soon to take Kranepool away.”
“Did they ever get in touch with Sydney?”
“I have no idea,” I said.
“She just hit the lottery.”
“Didn’t she already?” I didn’t like the lotto mentality.
“Yeah, but now she doesn’t have to fuck him for it anymore,” said Russell, leafing through Time Out New York, looking through the upcoming shows at venues like Knitting Factory and Irving Plaza in the music section. Sadly, our beloved CBGB’s closed its doors last month.
“I’d be shocked if he didn’t leave everything to her,” said Murphy. “Poor guy. He really loved that woman. Big dumb idiot.”
It’s sad that a person can be considered stupid for loving someone but then again in my experience I’ve always eventually felt stupid for caring about women, or anyone for that matter. There were relationships in general, family and friendships that in retrospect I felt foolish for letting anyone in close enough to know me. The planet is populated with undeserving people and they are not worth your time and affection. People will eventually disappoint you. They can’t help themselves. Everything ended up in ruin. No way around it.
“You think it was ever real?” I asked.
“Never,” said Russell.
“Not a chance,” said Murphy.
When I thought about it, I thought Kranepool was the saddest thing in the world, which I knew was inaccurate, the world is full of sad things. Too many to count.
The back gate buzzed. Russell peeked around the corridor lined with trash and various items being held for tenants: an old treadmill, a beat up couch, a bed frame. A delivery guy from the pharmacy on the next corner had buzzed the gate. The building got deliveries all day long. Parcels from UPS. Meat from the butcher shops. Assorted take out. Fish from the market. Street pharmaceuticals. Prostitutes. By far the most deliveries we received were from pharmacies. One of the wealthiest sections of Manhattan and no one was happy, despite their best efforts, reduced to popping antidepressants like candy on a regular basis to get through the day. Russell walked to the gate, took the white bag and thanked the man, then walked back to us.
“I hate these lids,” said Murphy.
“Fuck those lids,” I said.
“Right. These ones where you tear, and fold the tab and it is supposed to lock in place but never does. It doesn’t click in. It always flaps up. You have to rip the tab off completely or else it hits your nose each time you take a sip. Why bother manufacturing something that is almost always defective?” I couldn’t help but attribute that same thought to humans.
“Put your money up,” said Russell.
“Five?” I asked.
“Sure,” said Murphy.
We dug in our wallets and we each placed a Lincoln on the fold out table the mail was being sorted on.
“Who’s it for?” Asked Murphy.
Russell read the name on the printed paper tag, Dr. Duane.
Asshole, said Murphy. No one was fond of Dr. Duane. The doctor believed that all species were inferior, way beneath him.
“Antidepressant,” said Russell, smelling the bag.
“I’ll go, erectile dysfunction,” I said.
“Cholesterol. His cholesterol has got to be through the fucking roof.”
“Let the games begin,” said Russell, opening the legs of the staples, so they were now straight up, so he could carefully open the top of the bag without damaging it. He peeked in. “There’s two pill bottles.”
“Better odds,” said Murphy.
“Ok, the first one is Cialis.”
I threw my arms up victoriously.
“Last one is, fucking Murphy, Lipitor.”
“We split,” I laughed.
“Give me my fucking winnings,” said Murphy, with a hearty laugh as Russell put the pill bottles back and put the bag back to its original condition. None the wiser. You couldn’t do much with seven dollars and fifty cents in New York City but I could always appreciate a bacon, egg and cheese, with salt, pepper, ketchup and a good cup of coffee at any time of day, after which I would want to brush my teeth again.
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