Ezekiel, my trusty five-year-old Wallstreet PowerBook, will not turn on. Right now the going theory is that his logic board needs repair. This repair will take at least several days, and in the meantime I am reduced to performing everyday tasks, such as checking my e-mail, on the PC. This means several days of tooth-crazing hair-yanking frustration in the form of Windows '98.
Example: I try to open Solitaire and I get a message telling me that the program has performed an illegal operation. How can Solitaire perform an illegal operation? It's part of the BIOS. So is this like one of those autoimmune diseases where your body starts attacking parts of itself? Or am I merely in Hell?
Until Ezekiel comes back from the shop I'm divorced both from the beginning of Chapter Nine and from the stuff I distract myself with when I don't want to think about Chapter Nine. But I have to do something, so here on the PC I have written a handful of paragraphs with little relevance to anything. (The perspicacious reader may notice a character about whom I've nattered on at tiresome length before.)
"Are you going to commit suicide?" his doctor asks. They see each other too often for any pretense to exist between them. Eric has had lovers who never touched him as much as Dr. Forrester has, though some of them did use similarly elaborate equipment.So I have a weakness for wasting illness as a narrative catalyst. So bite me. I'm cranky and I want my Mac.
"Am I supposed to?" he asks.
"The patient will answer yes or no, please." Dr. Forrester is preparing a syringe.
"No, I'm not," says Eric.
Dr. Forrester swabs the crook of his elbow and jabs the needle into it.
"Wrong answer, huh?" says Eric. He presses against the tiny wound the square of gauze Dr. Forrester hands to him. "Why don't you make me put that paper gown on anymore?"
"Waste of a gown," says the doctor. "I've got your whole body committed to memory. I have nightmares about it."
"You're not the first."
Forrester laughs, briefly, through his nose. "Here's the prescriptions, blah blah blah, call me if et cetera. And listen, I want you to promise me you won't kill yourself."
"Okay," says Eric.
"No, say it," says Forrester.
"I promise I won't kill myself," says Eric.
He knows himself well enough to realize that he is in love with Dr. Forrester, but he also realizes that it isn't very serious. Historically, he falls in love with about half the people he has any prolonged contact with, and with almost anyone who is kind to him. He is inclined to be sentimental about Forrester, who calls him an idiot and jabs him with needles and makes him promise not to kill himself. He loves the dreamy look Forrester gets when listening to his heart with a stethoscope.
I have actually been working on Chapter Nine -- writing blind, as it were. I guess I shouldn't complain, I mean Marcel Proust spent most of his life in a sickbed and it's not like I have something like that to contend with, and James Thurber lost an eye in a childhood accident and Virginia Woolf went completely insane and something nasty probably happened to Herman Melville at one time or other, I bet. But we still have À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, not that I've read it, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Mrs. Dalloway and Moby-Dick, which I have read, so I guess I should just suck it up.
None of those guys had to use Windows '98, though.
Total word count: 61,187