The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 38
By fall—the low sun now reflecting off the street, the Sony buildings across the street, the traffic, the exterior metal tables and chairs in front of the coffeehouse—further symptoms connected with glaucoma materialized: glare, the increased inability of the pupil to adjust to even a well-lit interior, failing depth perception.
I concealed it as best as I could, told no one except Dr. Bleckman, who dramatically altered my eye drop meds and doubled the frequency of use. A fairly radical surgical procedure, a trabeculectomy, was off the table. It was too late.
Bleckman: (Going over the visual field printout with me) All you have left is decent central vision in the right eye, less in the left. All I’m capable of doing—assuming the new meds reduce the pressure to an acceptable range, maybe trying an SLT once or twice a year—is helping you keep what little remaining vision exists.
Exasperated, she put down the paperwork and continued. “The other problem is that the pharmaceutical companies—they’re such assholes anyway—are tightening even further. I’ll do what I can, but they’ve severely reduced the amount of sample meds their reps are allowed to give us. So at some point you’ll need to start paying for these on your own. And without insurance…”
She grabbed a tiny, 5 millileter bottle and said: “This, for example, is $90 retail. And in your case only a 30 day supply. Getting the picture?”
Meanwhile, the people who drifted into the coffeehouse, the people I worked with, were turning from shadowy, underwater forms to solid, threatening creatures.
My desert experience with the little stick was wearing off.
Ingrid was showing up everyday with a coke and alcohol hangover. She was lovesick and hurt. She’d break down in the middle of making someone a double moca cap and insist I take over while she went out back for a half hour cry.
AJ was unhappy as well and on the edge of quitting, going to work for Peet’s where his only duty would be roasting. He was sick of David not allowing him to include Coltrane or Dolphy or Coleman, Sun Ra and others on the jazz playlist because David felt it was too distracting and would chase customers away.
Marie had lost all interest and Lorraine’s only interest—straight out of her ultra naive Marilyn Monroe 22-year-old virgin playbook—was me.
David didn’t like that, either. But he let it ride. “Just do me a favor,” he said one day. “Do NOT hurt her. She’s going back to Ireland Christmas week anyway but if you do anything to hurt her between now and then, you’ll be the only happy employee I have left.”
One Friday night after closing Lorraine and I walked down the street to a little Thai place. After dinner we made out on the sidewalk outside, her back against the building, head under a buzzing neon, right heel against the wall. She began gasping as if she were cuming. Some guy from inside the restaurant was watching us, banging frantically on the window.
My place, she decided. I just hoped Henry wouldn’t be driving.
He was driving Monday morning, too, when I caught the Crosstown #3 to work, the approximate scene of the crime. He was uncharacteristically silent. Then I saw his face in the rearview mirror: eyes directly on mine; biggest, happiest, most “You are so busted” grin you’ve ever seen.
“Henry, my man—you have a way of saying more without saying anything than anyone I’ve ever known.”