On the Death of Hunter S. Thompson
The night the Good Doctor died by self-inflicted gunshot wound, I dreamed of deadlines.
At first the deadlines were textured, demanding. They floated between memory and the visible world: the heads of fleshy-cheeked men, the surfaces of worn typewriters, the hosiery of women's stockings. Messengers from a past I'd never known.
They came to me at my writing desk, checked my progress, and returned to their collected meeting place where they waited like a pool of floating daguerreotypes. After a moment, I'd turn back to my work, but one would rise from the pool to ask me again—a zeppelin of smoke-colored fire wondering if I just might finish before the deadline of midnight.
Then the deadlines became something I couldn't remember. I went through the motions of my dream world, fulfilling chores I always shirked in reality. I flossed my teeth. I scrubbed slime from my bathroom tiles. I fought a lonely centipede on my porch, cracking its armor with my barbecue tongs, its severed head sprouting hair feet and crawling, with the deliberation of the dead, toward my large and exposed toe. I snubbed it out like the cigarettes I've never smoked, grinding my toenail into the cement, the insect's face turning to ash.
I knew I was forgetting another task. The task was the deadline. If I could remember it I could accomplish it. But all I could remember were the chores I would never do. So I wiped dust from the blades of ceiling fans. I washed fingerprints from the windowpanes. I took Q-tips to the corners of the wall, hoping I could paw through the crevice and find the real task, the one forgotten, the one I now had the courage to complete.
When I woke up inside my dream, I wanted to tell people about it. Deadlines had always buoyed the Good Doctor's writing, as if they'd been his dark muse. I was overcome with the nebulousness of expectancy, the way he must have constantly felt. Like searching for the perfect elegy. Like the weight of water on your chest. I was struggling between the realms of deadlines and the newly dead to meet a deadline I'd been working toward for years, since I first read the opening line to his novel—We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert…
But in my dream, I was alone. Then I was surrounded by more demanding dreams about tasks I completed everyday in my waking life—driving to work, paying the parking attendant with coins. I gave into them, falling through characters and scenes the Good Doctor would have laughed at for their lack of cunning. But I bit my tongue and kept on. Until I woke up, I was like him.
There was nothing more I could accomplish.
|© Copyright 2006 Tim Denevi & Trout.
|This issue of Trout is sponsored in part by UNESCO.