FICTION: “The Bill”

I used to think that I would be able to pay any price that came due for my partying ways. But the government just put out a bill to hike the price of anti-retrovirals. Second time through. Probably going to pass, this time. I don’t know that my insurance will be able to cover it. When I called to ask, they kept hemming and hawing and putting me on hold. Shit, I must have been transferred fourteen times before I got disconnected that last time.  I didn’t care enough to call back. What good would it do? There is the not inconsiderable fact that I will likely be dead before the price change goes into effect.

I was a writer, once. I did all right at it. I wasn’t rich or anything. Stephen King, I ain’t. But I had a comfortable life and a following of loyal readers. I’d put out a book every other year or so. Genre work, you know? It was fun. I remember being good at it. World-building. I wish I had nailed that graphic novel gig down. I thought I had time. But, I was busy doing other things.

Like going to parties. I went to a lot of parties. As an approachable author who genuinely liked his fans, I was on the convention circuit non-stop. I don’t think I saw the inside my house for more than a few days at a time during those years. I wasn’t lonely, though. There are always people who want to touch greatness. Even somewhat hackneyed greatness like mine. Fuck, I must have slept with a hundred different people. It’s kind of a blur though. I know that I did a lot of drugs. I’d hang out with a few fans and get wasted, wake up the next morning next to the love du jour. Fun times.

While he he writes, the con circuit is good to a prolific author. Stop writing though? Your fans and friends just drift away like smoke.

I’m sick all the time, now. I sweat all night. My hands shake if I hold anything heavier than a pencil. Plus, my mind isn’t what it used to be. I have these episodes. Moments where things just sort of fade out. Heh. Like my fans, I suppose.

For example, last week, I found myself in the men’s restroom at the Safeway. I had no clear memory of going in there. I just…I dunno, sort of woke up and found myself on the floor, next to the toilet. I could see the dirty mop swirls under my knees. No idea how I got there.

Oh, I know what is causing all these lapses in memory. I read up on my disease. Us authors – we’re keen at research. Dementia, its called. Just one of the little side bennies of what I have. Of course, I will have to look it up again in a few days.  The sicker I get, the stupider I get too. Maybe if I were fuzzy all the time, I wouldn’t mind so much.

Its the clear moments that bother me the most.

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