Errid Farland

Alive

What the hell is space opera, anyway? If Tommie Munchkin, that’s his real name, wanted to sing in space, he’d just hook up a bunch of weather balloons to a lawn chair, like that Darwin awards guy, and sing in space. Like opera is worth dying for. It’s not. All that Italian with soprano whining and basso badgering. Who needs it? Who even speaks Italian? Well, Italians do, of course, but what Italians ever go to operas? That’s the irony.

Anyway, so Tommie Munchkin didn’t want to sing in space. And he didn’t want to win the Darwin award. And he didn’t want to have the surname of a bunch of dwarves in The Wizard of Oz. Home, home, home. What a crock.

What he wanted was to be alive. They say you’re closest to alive when you’re almost dead. Life is full of ironies. Being close to dead, but still alive is a dicey business, especially when you end up looking like a fool, which is what close to dead people often look like.

Say Tommie took too many drugs – whatever kind – pick one. Say alcohol. Say he guzzled a fifth of vodka and lived. He lived because he puked it up before it absorbed into his system. But he puked it up while simultaneously passed out. It was only the luck of the draw that he passed out on his side and didn’t aspirate. But then he wakes up the next day all covered in puke, and he doesn’t feel so alive. He’s thankful, though, that he didn’t have to get his stomach pumped, get rushed to the hospital by ambulance, get made a big fuss over, land in three day looney bin observation. At least it’s just puke everywhere, all over, burning his chest where he lay in it for two days, or however long it was that he was so close to alive by being almost dead.

Say Tommie joined up with the service, fighting a noble cause, against a cause the other guy thought was noble, too. Say he had to shoot some young asshole who’s all caught up in his own ideal, so much so that he wants to kill Tommie because Tommie is the enemy, and they both shoot at each other, and they both end up wounded, but not mortally so – but close. Say Tommie lost an eye and the bullet or shrapnel or whatever went clean through his brain and lodged in his skull. Ow. And he got sent home with a purple heart and drooling. He doesn’t know how alive he feels because he just drools and his tongue only says mush, like, “Awwwuuugublummpit,” for “I don’t feel so fucking alive,” but who will know it?

Say Tommie goes to a bar, and there’s some asshole there who talks smack on the war, and Tommie drinks down a beer with the left side of his mouth, because the right side doesn’t move anymore, and when he ordered it he said, “Blaufumpligit,” for, “I’ll have a Bud Light,” and he’s drinking it on the left side, and drooling it on the right, and the asshole is saying how fucked up war is, and he doesn’t even have a clue, and Tommie says, “Aufzemendasen,” for “Fuck you, asshole,” and the asshole thinks Tommie agrees, and buys him another beer, and Tommie drives his motorized wheelchair into the asshole’s knees, and the asshole says, “Hey, asshole!” and Tommie says, “Ingamangfinistezen,” for “Come on, asshole. You and me. Right now,” and the asshole says, “Watch where you’re going, retard,” then buys him another beer. And then Tommie cries a little into his beers stacked up two deep, because the asshole doesn’t know that Tommie really wanted to have a row, especially because he’d be on the losing end and bloody and almost dead, but the asshole won’t hit him, which is the biggest humiliation of them all, so far.

Say Tommie goes home at night, and he’s twenty-three, and he can’t talk, and he’s drunk, and he cried in the bar and hoped nobody saw, and he gets home and he’s had enough of this shit about life being so close to death and all that. Say he rides his wheelchair up the handicapped accessible ramp then circles around to the five stairs where the real people walk, and he revs up the electric motor on his chair and gets a running start and propels himself headlong down those five stairs and he lies there until morning, fully conscious, a gash on his forehead streaming blood all the way to the parking lot, and nobody even sees, and it’s fucking cold, and he says, “Blapupstikasl,” for “Fuck this shit.”

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