Bad Medicine

Trashman faces a cure that's worse than the illness

Jesus, I had never enjoyed a beer less.
The stuff went into my overheated and plugged head, fizzed in the brassy confines of my mouth and crept past the burnt spot in my throat--the part that is swollen just enough to allow only liquid to pass.

The agony of my fever and sore throat is complete--peaking, in fact, as we speak--and it is my duty--as always--to cut it off at the pass.

My medicine.
The Lord's way of offering up painkiller to those who can't afford shrinks has always been the booze, sure. But I've had no choice but to also use beer to ward off physical ailments like the flu, toothaches, birth defects and even hepatitis. (Though the latter was certainly a tough one.)

Sometimes when I have the flu whilst pounding beers, I get this cozy, up-from-the-bones warmth and these whacked hallucinations. Freudian fuck-ups, if you will. The resulting dreams are like a patternless void; a splintered subconscious with its bits ping-ponging behind my eyeballs and spitting up images fit enough to shame even the devil.

Here's one: I am held in place by straps that also hold me motionless to the bed, pinned face down with a sheet up to my neck. The room is dimly lighted. I could be on my bed, could be on some other dank bed, I can't know. My face is flat on its side and turned toward the door. The door opens and a woman is standing there, backlighted by some shimmering outer light. I can see she is tall, big-boned, and more than curvy, with ample cleavage. Her hair is shiny and pinned up.

But because of the lighting, I can't make out her face. She is wearing some kind of tight uniform with a skirt stretched tautly over muttonesque thighs--like an obscene Army suit--something P.J. Soles could've worn in Stripes had she been a good 25 pounds heavier.

The uniformed woman moves over, closer. From three feet away, she looks very porn, and I can smell a soft vanilla mixed with a kind of fruity fragrance, like some sort of generic goop available in adult shops. But her face is still shadowed.

"Relax," she coos, stepping closer, her voice like a fluttering soft-reed instrument. "I have a degree in Swedish massage."

My eyes follow the trace of her shape, every little bend and push of her womanhood. She's an every-boy cracker-jacked dream, a Boy Scout ready to spurt.

What is this woman doing, and why do I feel so warm and fuzzy? She lifts her right hand, and in the wan light I can see she is holding some kind of medical apparatus, a longish, gunlike thing. Whatever it is, it lends an evil presence to the room. The woman moves back toward my feet, and I swear I can hear her smiling. She pulls the sheet back, down around the backs of my knees. I feel her hand, a frighteningly cold collection of palm and fingers; the feeling of something all wrong.

Then come these unmistakable words from her grinning lips: "Time for your colonic irrigation, Mr. Blake."

My mouth opens but carries a hideous silence, a helplessness borne of a dream from which one is unable to be awoken. Then darkness falls.

Later, I come to, open my eyes, and I see that my little succubus is still here, sitting directly before me in the half-light, smiling in a sadistic way.

Drawing a pack of cigarettes and matches out from some dark spot below her chair, she pulls out a smoke and puts it between her lips. With a graceful swishing movement, she tears a match and strikes it against the rough strip of the matchbook. And in that instantaneous sulfurous flash of light, a horror to end all terror is revealed to me.

Yes, yes, her body may be butterflies-in-the-loin pure porn; but her face, her face is like a twisted harpy: old, wattled like the fleshy lobe that hangs down from the chin of a turkey.

And with this recognition, I slip into a convulsing panic: . . . and I knew her . . . yes, I recognize her . . . but really? . . . It's a different time. . . . How can it?. . . . NO, NO, it's Mrs. Higgens, MY SEVENTH GRADE HOT LUNCH LADY!

Black Sabbath
(Epic Records)

Black Sabbath defined a precise moment of American history for true Beavis and Butt-head antecedents; the ones who smoked weed from things called lids, avoided eye contact with all people, including their friends, and frumped through a couple years of high school hallways with mouths agape, knuckles dragging and things like Led Zeppelin I and Fairies Wear Boots etched into the covers of their textbooks.

They were old enough to misinterpret Learyesque "dropout" ideals, yet inside of them festered a healthy misanthropic glow that kept them locked away in the black-lighted haze of their bedrooms hunched over a bong with "Iron Man" blaring at an ungodly volume. These guys had the longest hair, the loudest car; and if a girl was involved, she had feathered hair parted in the middle, wore flares with flower patches and never said a word.

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