The Water Pipes / 1 June 2002
Something in the water pipes, Dear Diary. Dear Reader. Dearest Reader, both Constant & Easy. And not what you’d expect (water). Sure, it’s liquid, that’s obvious enough, but I’m sitting here, tryyyyying to read a book (The Unexpurgated Cha-Cha Lanios, incidentally, highly recommended if you’re into you know maybe opening your fucking eyes and doing a little learning about the world around you, esp. if the world around you consists of sedimentology and geochemistry and funny golf anecdotes which of course it does) and feeling something just plain off somewhere in the house and it’s days before I track it to the pipes. “That’s not water,” I say to the empty house. “It sounds thicker.” OMG. Thicker than water, what could it possibly be, I wonder, though I’m being sarcastic by this point, stroking my chin in an exaggerated manner, like: Hmmmm, I wonder!
I turn on the bathroom sink to test my theory but no blood comes out. No water, either, and in fact no nothing except a deep, lurching, ratcheting sound, the house maybe trying to hitch up its concrete skirt and run down the street, shrieking. Clots! my mind cries. Cholesterol!
And I’m in the basement, still in my tuxedo pants, mind you (it’s Friday night), smashing a fire extinguisher against the shuddering pipes that creep along the ceiling. Every swing is accompanied by a howled syllable from yrs truly — got, to, reee, lease, the, presh, urrrr, punctuated by gasps that can be safely described as Monica Selesesque. The left (southwest) side of the house is numb.
Finally I manage to knock a pipe loose and there’s an action scene of some kind but I miss it in all the excitement. Alls I know is I wake up with about twenty gallons of fetid water in my gut and also I’m having trouble seeing like maybe I lost my glasses at some point and also I’m having trouble breathing, really labored, and also I’m underwater, thrashing around, no idea where the surface is. The one thing I remember from my days in the Scouts is not follow the bubbles but don’t ask don’t tell which does me zero good.
I drown. Drowning is like this: Gggggghhh, and then these little muffled squeaks as souls escape your waterlogged body. Then: rows of fluorescent lights like giant ice trays. Folding chairs and card tables. A five-subject spiralbound notebook with an orange cover and a writing instrument called Dr. Grip, commended for ease-of-use by the Arthritis Foundation. I’m in line to get in the line that gets me a number, so I’m killing time, now, here.