in the middle of the night, i am awoken by the sounds of the bubbling breathing tubes and the humming emanating from this enormous electronic apparatus at my bedside. as i pull my hand up to my face i notice that multiple layers of tape are covering the back of it, underneath which i see two hollow cylinders carrying red liquid outwards towards a destination i cannot see. the room is dark; the only source of illumination is that mysterious tower of buzzing next to me and the pale light coming from the slightest crack adjacent to what looks like a door. i try to sit up in bed but for some inexplicable reason i am incredibly weak. as i force myself up with a surge of feeble strength i feel pulling throughout my sides and back. it's more of those red-stained cylinders. what time is it? where am i? this is not where i'm supposed to be. i'm thirsty.
i notice a half-empty water bottle on a little table next to my bed. i try to reach for it, but it's a little farther than i expected. i scoot my lower body sideways, now halfway overhanging the side of the bed, and stretch for the water bottle. grabbing it from the top, i exert too much force downwards on the bottle, and only then do i learn that the table is on wheels. the entire table quickly slides away from the bed, throwing me off-balance, and in a matter of seconds i am plunging over the side. i feel the pull of the cylinders as a few of them detach from my body during the fall, which in turn drags the computerized tower down, crashing on top of me on the floor. immediately, the loud whistle of threatening signals, the sense of warm fluid escaping. all i can think is, what time is it? this is not where i'm supposed to be.
i try to stand up but i am buried beneath the rubble of tubes and gadgets. i begin to crawl towards the pale light that indicates the door, with all my attachments following closely behind. i maneuver my sallow fingers through the crack in the door and yank it open, the gizmos behind me responding to this action with an intensification of their warnings. one arm outstretched, pull forward, the other arm outstretched, pull forward. i crawl outside the room into an empty hallway. there is nobody around, it's only me, my noisy attachments, and a forming trail of red. one arm outstretched, pull forward, the other arm outstretched, pull forward. in the hallway, i notice a clock that claims the time is ten o'clock. i ask myself, what time was i supposed to be there?
one arm outstretched, pull forward, the other arm outstretched, pull forward. past the automatic doors, my clamoring computer companion gets caught, pulling me backwards, yanking even more of the cylinders out of my body. now, a puddle of red beneath me. i was supposed to be there at ten-thirty.
one arm outstretched, pull forward, the other arm outstretched, pull forward. i crawl away from the building, until it cannot be seen, an undeterminable distance. i crawl past hollywood boulevard, i crawl past sunset boulevard, i crawl past a line of people unfazed by the person in a gown on the floor covered in cords and tubes and machines, up to the woman standing at the door. i manage to convince her, from my position on the floor, that despite my appearance indicating grave sickness, that i am supposed to be here, that i belong here, that my name is on some kind of list, that i am a guest to some kind of party.
it is even louder and darker than i remember. the inside is reminiscent of the haunted house attraction at disneyland. and suddenly, one of the actors in the movie i watched two nights ago is standing next to me at the bar. and then what happens? something miraculous, you're betting. i find my one friend, the person that invited me, and complain that i am already losing my voice. there are some introductions, some exchanging of names and brief biographies, but mostly it's a lot of me standing there, struggling to decide what to do with my hands. i feel i can see this place for what it is, a very large group of young people convening in one location, dark, loud, standing around, waiting for someone like me to come and make something happen. except nothing is happening. i am paralyzed by ten years of inexperience and two of incapacitation. they all use alcohol to obfuscate the fact that nothing is happening, but i am sober, and i can see. it's all my fault. i am too stiff, too slow, too anxious, just awful. everyone goes home disappointed. the miracle is that i could even come here.
there was a guy, a friend-of-a-friend, that i met for the first time. i am told he is the friendliest guy that our mutual friend knows, a strange thing to hear considering how all this time i was sure that was me? anyway, we didn't really hit it off. he didn't seem very friendly to me, but it could have been my fault. i have this issue with, upon discovering that an individual has a girlfriend, developing a slight feeling of utter disgust. a girlfriend?! what an asshole. seriously though, what the hell am i supposed to talk about with a guy that has a girlfriend? i'm only interested in people in the struggle. not people that are fat and happy. i don't ever want to be fat and happy. guys with girlfriends are trying to avoid the struggle. and married people, oh god, don't even get me started on married people! could there be anyone more useless? married people think there is more to life than the struggle. they insult me! the struggle is everything. life is supposed to be a struggle. life is supposed to be a perilous, beeping-monitors-dragging, blood-and-fluid-collecting-tubes-leaking crawl from the german hospital to the hollywood nightclub, where you can't see a thing and the only way to communicate with the opposite sex is by screaming at the top of your weak, metal bar-infested lungs. underneath that screaming is another voice, soft and serious, unable to be heard. it speaks every time i do. it is the collective voice of a lineage of genetics that has travelled for hundreds of thousands of years. tired and dying, it whimpers, "pLeAsE... lEt Us... LiVe."