edited by professor dan leo
illustrations by konrad kraus and roy dismas
part three of six
to begin at the beginning, click here
"Of all the cheap, two-bit, one-horse planets in all the universe, Arnold Schnabel had to be born on this one: but his bad luck was our great good fortune." - horace p sternwall
I did something I should not have done yesterday.
Against not only several doctors’ orders but my own personal experience and supposed good sense, I had one too many last night, all right, perhaps two, what am I saying, three, all right, say four, four too many considering two is my limit and I had six, but no, wait, I think I had seven.
It was at the Ugly Mug on Washington Street.
Normally I prefer the slightly more refined Pilot House, but since I had been to the Pilot House two nights running and still felt like going out for a cocktail I chose “the Mug”.
All went well really, considering, until that sixth Manhattan.
I had a sort of conversation with a couple of Coast Guardsmen, primarily on the efficacy of Pancho Herrera as opposed to Johnny Callison, and I managed not to disgrace myself.
Then a sort of chat with a charming middle-aged couple from Allentown.
Well, boring middle-aged couple, but then I was no Steve Allen or Victor Borge in the sparkling repartée department either.
Then a blank hour or so staring at the TV and a Yankees-Red Sox game. An hour I shall never retrieve.
Then a jumbled sort of exchange of grunts and whinnyings with a couple of young college guys, about God knows what and who cares anyway.
Then a period of void staring drunkenness, surrounding by chatter and madness, and then it happened.
It happened again, this leaving of the body, this departure from within myself to without, somehow coolly observing the wreckage of myself leaning upon the bar,
surrounded by laughing yelling people shouting words that meant nothing even though the beings shouting them thought they meant something, but none of it meant anything, not their words, nor their thoughts, nor them, nor that drunken wreckage leaning upon the bar there, that thing called me.
I considered leaving it all for good.
Just floating away finally this time, and this time no punking out and coming back in no matter how comatose or psychotic a state.
Just leaving it all for good.
Well, obviously I didn’t.
Somehow I found myself reeling home through the cool salt ocean air.
Arriving at my aunts’ house I heaved myself into my accustomed wicker rocker on the porch.
By the dim porch light I saw on the blue wooden floor a pile of my young cousin’s comics, all of which I had read earlier that day.
I shoved my hand down and scrabbled them all up, laid them in my lap.
Which super-hero shall I be tonight? I thought, riffling through the comic books.
What about Iron Man, after all I wear a layer of iron around me twenty-four hours a day.
Or The Thing, because the way the Thing looks is exactly how I look inside, the Human Torch because I am aflame, Mr. Fantastic because I can stretch myself endlesssly, the Invisible Girl because no-one, not even I, sees the real me.
Or the Incredible Hulk, because I am scarcely credible and fully a hulk, or Spiderman because a spider is my soul, but no, here we are: the Ant-Man.
Yes, that’s it. I am the Ant-Man.
Digging my little hole, crawling about looking for my grains of sugar, crawling back into my hole with my precious sweet cargo, I am Dr. Henry Pym, at your service, sir, yes: The Ant-Man.
Perhaps I should write a poem based on the above tale. But then again, no.