“I’m 37 years old now. That means a little time has gone by for this carcass I call my body. I say carcass sort of affectionately. Like it’s an old horse I keep in the back field and still feed alfalfa to and give rub downs to and bring in to sleep in a nice warm barn. Instead of sending her to the glue factory. I’m kind to this ole carcass. Yet it continues to ail.”
This is the second to the last journal entry I wrote. It’s dated two years ago…
I started listening to Chopin’s Nocturnes, especially on warm summer nights with all the windows of the apartment open. Chopin had a distaste for his body too. He probably had consumption (they call it tuberculosis now) and he was weak and uncomfortable all his life. Despite that though, he managed to create some seriously gorgeous shit.
I loved the movie “Tombstone” because Val Kilmer did such an exemplary Doc Holliday and there is that memorable scene where he’s playing one of the Nocturnes and one of the dickhead cowboys is flip to him and asks what the hell he’s playing and Val/Doc says “Frederick Fuckan Chopin” in that sexy Southern drawl.
Val/Doc was an inspiration to me because even though he was all pale and sweaty and lunger-ey he still was really sexy and handsome. It was a good boost for my self esteem. I had always been a sickly child and then, a sickly adult.
I had chronic asthma and a host of other breathing problems. I was always hacking stuff up. And I got pneumonia often twice a year. I hated the antibiotics because upset my stomach. And I tried to avoid using my asthma inhaler because it can suppress the immune system but sometimes I didn’t have a choice about it. I was out of breath frequently and always felt a little plaguey. Thankfully though I had nights where I didn’t cough that much and could go out on dates without the guy thinking his date was going to die at the dinner table.
Because that’s the thing, I was always sick, but I wasn’t sexually unappealing. I was a little like Doc Holliday. I mean, I certainly wasn’t as cute as Val Kilmer, but I was the type of girl certain guys found sexy. And I made the most of that. When I was younger I hated school and but I had an active social calendar. I was thrilled when certain fellows expressed an interest in hanging out with me down by the river or at the little feed store where they would buy me candy and snack pies in a plastic wrapper. There was one boy in particular. We really got along.
He and I had spent a whole summer laughing and taking walks in the woods and fucking in them too. He was a very tender lover and how he held me and shuddered made me start shuddering too. His grey eyes were so deep and soulful and when he looked into mine I felt like I was simultaneously sinking and flying into our own private heaven. One time we did it in a graveyard and afterwards he perched naked on a headstone like a gargoyle and crowed like a rooster. That’s how happy he said he was.
But his mother told him he couldn’t marry a girl who would drag on his finances and surely wouldn’t live to see thirty and she was enough of a testicle mutilator that he gave in and avoided me. It was sad because I knew he hated her and wished he could be free of her, he’d told me so. She was that classic Norman Bates type mom, she even had the creeped out granny wig hair.
But he never did break free and for me that was the bittersweet youthful love affair I suppose most of us get assigned to having at least one of. That bitch was so full of it because it’s not like I couldn’t take care of myself. Sure enough I got a job. I went to a couple years of community college and then kinda through luck became a researcher at an environmental planning firm. Basically, if a company wants to build or rebuild any kind of structure, legally they must hire a company like ours to determine what kind of impact on the environment the construction will have. Sometimes they aren’t allowed to even build it at all. Other times they have varying levels of mitigation they have to comply with like also constructing a park nearby or changing the type of outdoor lighting used at night so there is no interference with night flying birds’ migratory flight patterns etc.
I did everything from meeting with prospective clients, to hiring biologists and geologists, to meeting with local activists and attending town hall meetings, and then finally writing environmental impact reports. If a company was going to build or rebuild anything under my watch they were not going to harm the earth. I liked my bosses and the people I worked with. They were real environmentalists and we made money because our work was extremely thorough. Our clients knew if they implemented the environmental mitigation procedures we recommended that they’d avoid delays and lawsuits and instead, actually be respected and welcomed by the community.
My folks were proud of me. They had me really old and I think deep down they blamed themselves and their potentially aged and deformed gametes on why their kid was a sicky. My mom birthed me when she was 47 and my dad was already 55. It was a freak pregnancy but they were Catholic types and it wasn’t an option to flush it. I was very close with my dad. He was real sweet and gentle and liked to draw. My mom has a bunch of his charcoals framed around the house, and they are real pretty. He drew horses, and country scenes, and occasionally naughty ones like a woman with no panties riding a dragon. My dad passed away a few years ago.
Around that time I received a job offer from another company to come work for them in a different state. It had lot of nice stuff in the benefits and relocation package but I was really happy at my small firm and I trust them. And anyway I had to stay in Los Angeles so I wouldn’t be too far away from my mother and could check on her up her where she lived in Chatsworth. She loved it when I visited. She would bring out a red heart shaped box of chocolates and make me watch soap operas with her. But I was just far enough away so I didn’t have to see her too much and that way she didn’t have to worry because I was becoming sicker. I had to use the inhaler all the time now and luckily I had good insurance through my job but the doctors were saying it appeared to be some kind of auto immune disorder maybe but they weren’t sure. It made me depressed and I started sleeping less.
I turned into a night freak. Some humans are diurnal and some of them are nocturnal. I morphed into a nocturnal one. I still went to my job but I took a long nap the moment I got home and then awoke at around eleven PM and was up for the rest of the night.
At first I just hung out in my apartment. I’d put on the Nocturnes like I said and lean way out the window and stick my shnozz in the air and sniff the scents of the forest. I lived in a small studio apartment on the edge of Laurel Canyon. There is nothing like the smell of the canyons at night. Night blooming jasmine flowers and belladonna and citrus blossoms in the moonlight. It’s like a midsummer night’s dream every nite.
But eventually I got too restless to stay put and I started taking long night walks. I sometimes had a funny feeling like someone was near me. Like I was being watched. But I never saw anyone on the street or in a car looking at me. I got relief from walking. It helped clear my lungs a little. Sometimes I went down to Hollywood Blvd and strolled up and down the stars. The hookers all got to know me and we’d say hi to each other. I got to be good friends with a woman named Sheryl.
Sheryl was really tall, like over six foot. She had a mass of reddish brown curly hair that was so pretty. She teased it to look like a fright wig. She always wore the same green sequin tube top (she bought like 20 of them) and said it was her lucky charm. We always saw each other in front of the same all night coffee shop and nodded and smiled at each other. Eventually we just got to talking and that’s how we met.
I asked her a lot of questions about her job and she answered them candidly. Sheryl is a trans woman. She’s been on hormone therapy for a couple years and is saving up for bottom surgery. She said she wanted to get out of the business as soon as she could but needed to save for a few more years. She was sorta like a house mother to the other girls working in that area. I got to know some of them too. One time a girl named Candy came up to us and asked SheryI if she had a tampon. “Sure honey” she said and gave her one. Sheryl always had a bunch of supplies in her enormous bag like extra condoms, tampons, aspirin, nutrition bars etc. Candy got picked up by a guy a little later. I asked Sheryl if the johns minded when someone was one her period and she said “Nah, it ends up looking like a crime scene but some of them like that.”
Sheryl usually couldn’t talk for more than 20 minutes because a customer would come by but this night was a little slower than usual. We got some coffee and talked for a couple hours in a booth by the window. It was starting to get so late it was early. The sun was going to come up soon. I had been up for a long time and wasn’t feeling that well. I was coughing more and was fatigued.
Staying up all night probably wasn’t helping but it eased my squirming brain so I just kept doing it. I got into a routine where I would walk down to the Blvd, say hi to Sheryl if she was there, then turn around and walk up the darker streets around my apartment where I could smell the night flowers. One time she told me to be careful, that a couple girls had gone missing. I said I would be and for her to be careful too and I thanked her. I wasn’t real worried, I carried pepper spray and was cognizant of my surroundings and who was around. But I guess I wasn’t aware enough.
I remember I walked by what I thought was an empty parked car and all I heard was a click and then my head was getting smashed into the brick wall behind me. It had some ivy growing out of it though which cushioned the blow. I must have only been out of it for about two seconds because I came to and a man was trying to put me in the trunk of his car. It was the dark empty car I’d just walked by. The vehicle was an old oxblood colored boat, one of those sedans with a giant trunk.
I tried to punch him when he reached down to grab me but then something knocked both of us down. The guy who had a hold of me hit the cement with a grunt. I saw him for a split second. Just some random stocky white guy with brown hair. But now there was another man standing over both of us. He was tall and had big strong hands and a small nose. He looked about my age. His face was suddenly very close to my own and he bent down and simultaneously asked me if I was okay while he deftly removed a blade from his breast pocket and slit the guy’s throat. A wheezing gurgling spraying sound came out of it and the tall man pushed me back onto the sidewalk out of the way of the spray. Then he gutted the man on the ground in front of me. I remember the knife went in and made a snake like motion from the guy’s left nipple down to his pubic bone. The shirt made a ripping noise at first then nothing cuz it was soaked in blood. The tall man lifted the shirt back and pulled out the man’s intestines and heaped them on the cement. The whole procedure took about two and a half seconds.
The tall man said something I couldn’t hear but it sounded like “I love you”. And then he went up around the corner and was gone.
I’ve been over it in my mind a million times. Replayed the scene. How it happened so fast. And how the tall man in retrospect felt familiar. How apart from his height and smallish nose that was all that was distinguishable about him. Yet I had recognized his vibes. And I knew he’d been around me for a while. But I didn’t tell the police anything about him. They of course wanted to know what happened.
A neighbor had apparently seen the first guy try to stuff me in the trunk but she didn’t see the procedure because it happened on the sidewalk between the parked car and the brick wall and she was on the other side of the street. She called the cops but in the dark she couldn’t see the tall man’s face. I told them I couldn’t remember anything.
They didn’t press me too hard on account of the bloody bump I had on the back of my head and because they were pretty happy to have gotten the perp who had evidently transported a few other women he’d killed in the trunk of his car before he tried to put me in there. But once I got out of the hospital the next day they were very fervent about the other guy. Because apparently five other men had been found that had been similarly gutted. There was significant news coverage about the whole thing but after a couple months I didn’t have to have my cell ringer on silent anymore and fewer reporters knocked on my door.
But things didn’t just go back to normal. They fucking went to better. I wasn’t sick anymore. I swear. For the first time since I could remember I didn’t have to take ibuprofen all day long and I didn’t need my inhaler at all. It was blowing my mind how easy it was to breathe. I had no more muscle pain but seriously most importantly, the mucous in my lungs cleared up. I coughed it all out for about a month after the incident and then it was just dried up and gone. It was like I never was sick in the first place. Like it never happened.
And my health has stayed this good. It was two years ago that this happened for me. I haven’t had pneumonia. I haven’t had anything.
So much has changed since then, it’s bizarre how much fuller your life can get when you actually have a healthy body that functions well. I can actually exercise now. I run through the canyons every weekend. I take a martial arts class twice a week and am getting pretty good. I took my mom on a vacation to Alaska and she got to see some whales. Full time work isn’t physically agonizing anymore- it’s easy. And it’s actually a lot more enjoyable now that Sheryl is working at the office. I hlped her get a job there and she is doing great. It’s fun hanging out with her in the coffee room when we’re on breaks. She and I double date sometimes too. I feel like a whole person now- instead of a lunger.
It is a strange and magical thing but I know that the tall man healed me. I suppose it’s possible the shock and the adrenaline of the experience somehow reset my internal system so it would stop attacking itself but I think it was something beyond that. The tall man is the reason why I recovered. I don’t know how but it’s the truth. And I don’t want the authorities to catch him. The man deserves to have a happy life. I know he’s out in the world somewhere, I can feel him. I wondered what he was up to because there have been no new killings with his particular signature since that fateful night.
Later I had a few dreams about the tall man. Where I felt his presence again. The last and final dream was the clearest. In it, he told me he met a healer who cured him of killing. The dream was detailed, we were sitting together in the woods and while I couldn’t see the tall man’s face very well I knew it was him. In the dream he explained he took a bus out of town to see this healer who ran a small church and through word of mouth had become famous for healing sick people and performing miracles. He said after he saw this person, he no longer had the need to kill. The man said he was happy now. In the dream I hugged him and said I was really happy for him. And I thanked him for what he did for me. The man gave me a hug back. I could see his face very clear now, and hear his quiet voice. Then we said goodbye. When I woke up, the scent of night flowers had filled the room.
Copyright © 2013 by Kim Campion