Ay, Every Inch a King
Okay, that’s really it. If I think of anything else to say, I’ll maybe write a whole ‘nother book some day, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. I’m totally out of my settlement money. I’m totally out of everything. I seriously have to go get a job. I’ve already checked this morning’s Medford Mail Tribune, as a matter of fact. McDonald’s is advertising for a “Shift Supervisor.” I circled it. I’m going to go there as soon as I get done with this. I’d be the boss of a bunch of high school kids. How cool would that be? Way cool.
I’m happy. If I had to explain why, I couldn’t do it in a million years — all I know is that after telling Ginny that I was going to write a book about her someday, after threatening to write a book about her for longer than I can remember, I finally just sat down and wrote the fucker. Now I can go get that job at McDonald’s in peace. I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it. I hope I can start first thing tomorrow morning. In fact, if you’re ever on I-5 going through Medford, Oregon, stop by the McDonald’s on Biddle Road and say, “Hi.” Tell me you read my book on the Internet and I’ll see to it that you get extra pickles on your Big Mac — anything you want, relish, onions, ketchup, say the word. I’ll be the shift supervisor. It’ll say so on my nametag. I’ll have some authority. The high school kids will hop to it when I tell them to.
“Yo, Jimmy, extra pickles on the Big Mac for my buddy, here. He read my book. Is that slick, or what?”
Holy shit. I haven’t even applied for the job yet; I don’t even know who Jimmy is, and he’s right here in the room with me. Past, present, future, it doesn’t matter. All kinds of people are right here in the room with me. T. S. Eliot is over by my mother’s Christmas cactus, reading “Cats.” He’s reading aloud. We are having a PARTY! We are! The neighbors must think I’m off my rocker. Ginny’s here. Elliot’s here. Thulin’s up in the back yard by the horseshoe pits, smoking dope with Ralph and Wanda and Popeye and John White and Dick Joseph. Nicki and Murph are shaking their heads. My poor dead dad’s running around like a gadfly, flipping everybody off.
There are all kinds of people running around, real people, fake people, you name it — Edmund, Edgar, Bartholemew Cubbins. I half expect that crazy old coot, the king himself — ay, every inch a king — to show up. Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Who’s that knocking at my door? Who’s that knocking at my door? I have to stop. I have to stop. I can’t stop.
The feeling I have right now is the same feeling the crazy old king had toward the end of the play there where he’s sitting by the side of the road, dazed and amazed and whacked out of his skull, with flowers and thistles and brambles in his hair like he’s on his way to a free rock concert in Golden Gate Park and he says what he says. What was it, though? Fuck. He says something really extra slick, but I can’t remember what the heck it was. Son of a bitch! I forget. I fear I may not be in my perfect mind. I have to go look it up.
Okay, okay, check it out. Act Four. Scene Six. Here’s what the old coot says, word for word:
“None does offend, none, I say none. I’ll able ‘em.”
That’s not a bad way to feel. It’s the feeling you get when you’ve done things you thought you’d never do and have had your heart desiccated and ground down to around the consistency of talcum powder and suddenly it somehow gets itself, like, reconstituted or some damn thing. You like people again. You can’t help it. You love people; you love people no matter what. And that makes you happy. It’s like what Ginny said at the end of one of her letters:
“I love and am good.”
That’s it! That’s what I feel like. I love and am good. I’m sure there’s probably some fancy Greek word for a feeling like that. If I had any kind of decent education, I’d probably know what it was, too, but thanks to Mrs. Miller, I don’t got no decent education. Yeah, well, I’m glad I don’t got no decent education. I don’t want no decent education. Once you start reducing everything down to a bunch of fancy Greek words you don’t know what you even feel anymore. I’m grateful to Mrs. Miller. I love Mrs. Miller.
How long the feeling might last, I have no idea. Probably not long. Oh, well. Something else is bound to come along to replace it — some other feeling, some other thought, some other thing — who the fuck knows what. Not me.