Genuflect by Gordy Grundy
January 2006; Issue No. 78
THE THIN PURPLE LINE
I am in the throes of quitting smoking and it's been rather nasty for this chimney-like abuser. Upon the advice of a Deity, I am about to fulfill my destiny. When your Id gets that kind of kicker, it's probably best to leave the bad habits behind and travel light. Unfortunately, unpacking this habit is Hell.
Not so long ago, I had a vision. Fortunately, this time I was not driving the car but was sleeping rather soundly in my own bed when a blinding light awakened me. I sat up, startled. The clock read 1:11AM. A dazzling golden glow, spinning like God's own disco ball, hovered above the foot of my bed.
From it, a female voice said, "Fernando Suzuki?"
I yanked the covers to my chin, not out of fear, but modesty. I sleep in the nude and I didn't want to get slapped. Plus I had just woken up and, you know, the wood was a bough.
"Fernando Suzuki" repeated the voice like a thunderclap.
"M-my--my name is Gordy Grundy", I replied.
"Sorry," said the now-velvet voice, "Suzuki is my 4:20."
Suddenly, the light before me exploded like a thousand roman candles. A sound, a crash, both frightening and comforting, was so loud that I knew the neighbors would be calling the cops again.
From this radiating light, a woman began to appear. At first I thought it was the Statue of Liberty. She was robed, sandaled and her gaze was steadfast. Instead of a torch, she held a down turned sword that was emblazoned with the word 'Fortuna' on the hilt. It was then that I realized she looked just like Angelina Jolie.
"You're Grundy then?"
"Yes," I replied, "Yes!"
I didn't mean to sound eager but it was obvious that my time was up. I was grateful to go in my sleep, without pain. I've lived a good life, however short. I've seen Beauty go in and out of fashion and back again. I remember art before it had issues. I'm sick of hearing about the Middle East, Katrina and the box office dearth in Hollywood. My regrets are few.
I raised my arm and extended my hand.
With the speed of the ethereal, Angelina slapped me upside the head with her sword. The blow made a loud, hollow thwack, but it didn't hurt.
"I'm not here for that," she said tiredly. "Besides, you're not gonna die painlessly in your sleep."
"Then how am I gonna?" I started to sound hysterical.
"I shouldn't say," she snickered, "But it's a good one."
I yelped again like a scared puppy. Angelina shook her head and wiped an eye as if she were recovering from a laughing jag.
"Oh! It's nothing you can't handle," she said reassuringly. "You're an artist. You already know all about destitution, ridicule and insignificance. Relax."
Her glow seemed to burn a little bit brighter as if she were getting down to business.
"I'm here with a message," she said. "You've been chosen as a Messenger. You must bring peace to the world."
My pause was long. I couldn't help but sound sarcastic. "World peace?"
"Yes. World peace."
"How the hell am I gonna do that?!", I cried.
She whacked me again with her sword. "Stop swearing so much. Your art. Use your art to prove that religion is fashion. We figure, if everyone realized that, then you all might stop killing each other. It's a last ditch effort. We've tried everything else."
"Last ditch eff-- My art? Lady, I can't even get a dealer in my own home town."
"I write for Coagula."
"I know," she said apologetically, "That's why I wanted someone else. Unfortunately, I don't manifest destiny; I just swing it."
The room was silent except for the quiet "But But But" which was coming from my mouth.
She glanced at her wristwatch that looked like a sundial on a strap. "Hey, I've got a 3:15 in Philadelphia. You'll have to figure it out. You're a smart ass. And you're lucky. And now, you're the Messenger!"
By then, my morning erection had all but vanished. And so was she. Her sharp features began to blur and the light began to intensify in the room.
I called after her, "Messenger?! Why can't I be a spokesman? A PR flack?" I was whining. "You know what they do to the Messenger...!"
But it was too late. She was gone. The last thing I saw were those fleshy lips fade into the light.
And the room fell dark once again.
I couldn't sleep after that. It wasn't the alarming vision that kept me awake. It was the cops, pounding on the door, thinking they were about to break up another party.
The next day felt like a bad hangover. It wasn't the usual "Another round! Another round!" thundering in my head like two trashcan lids banging together. It was "World Peace! World Peace!"
Damn. I wish she said "Lottery Winner! Lottery Winner!"
Now, I must follow the Vision and fulfill this destiny. Naturally, I cancelled my vacation plans not knowing what this fresh hell will entail.
If it is a journey that I must begin, then let the first step be sound. I listed all of my bad habits and crossed the first one off the list. No more smoking. For a while.
Detox is a condition of which I am completely unfamiliar and highly unprepared. I need to marshal all of my resources. Thank God I'm still drinking.
This morning, Day Three, I took to the Internet to learn more about my harsh new reality and the changes that are torturing my body. Phlegm? Plentiful. Insomnia? It's killing me. Clammy hands? Don't shake mine. Night sweats? I'm swimming. Two showers a day? I can't get clean. Lack of concentration? What? Sudden anger? Fuck you! Emotional jags? Y-y-yess-ss. And the website promises that several nights from now, I can look forward to a flood of vivid nightmares
This detox is gonna kill me. Better that, than the Lady with the sword.
All I can say is, she had better be a Vision. I'll be really pissed if I find out she was merely a hallucination.
Or is that the razor sharp edge of the thin purple line?
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at www.gordygrundy.com
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