Dr. Mel Waldman
Looking out the window in my tiny room, I watch
the sun drop in the sky
and die, vanishing in the August night. For a few seconds, I imagine I’m back
in Mallory Square, Key West gazing at a gorgeous sunset. And my mind, an old
mustang, gallops into the sweet phantasmagoria of the Heavens, a beautiful
place that feeds my broken soul.
Soon, in a trancelike state, I turn around, sit
in a wooden chair and open
a paperback book. It is The Secret of
Evil by Roberto Bolańo. My gold eyes dart and flit across the hypnotic
pages and now, I too vanish inside his addictive words and eerie stories. Later,
I take my evening INFER pills for my
illness and saunter off into the seething night.
Leaving my room on the Upper West Side, I head
south on Broadway. Time
dissolves and space shrinks and I meander through the forbidden streets of
Manhattan. By chance or destiny, I find myself in Washington Square Park. I sit
on a bench by the Washington Arch and ponder the beautiful night.
The swirl of darkness swallows my brain and suddenly,
I rise and rush off.
I don’t know where I’m going. But it seems I’m heading west.
I wander through the West Village until my weary
body stops at the Riviera
Café at 7th Avenue South. “Thought the place had closed down,” I
mutter. “But it’s still here.”
I enter the familiar café where we used to dine
A short dark-eyed woman welcomes me and asks,
“Your usual table, Sir?”
“Sure,” I say. Yet I don’t recall
where we used to sit nor the tiny woman
who knows me.
She takes me to a dimly lit corner in the back.
“Your waiter will be with
you shortly.” She scurries off.
Soon, a lanky waiter arrives. “How are you
“Will your wife and twin girls be joining
“Well, give them my best.”
“Will you be having our Dinner Special #1?”
I look quizzically at him.
“It’s your favorite meal.”
He hurries off.
I gaze at the oval darkness through the Riviera’s
glass walls and vanish
in boketto. After drifting across an ocean of vacant gazing, I return to a
In my mind’s eye, we’re lying on the
sprawling sand in Manhattan Beach. My
wife Sarah and our twins Anna and Annette are by my side on a mammoth aqua
But soon, they scurry across the burning sand
and jump into the cool
waters of the Atlantic Ocean. I sit up and watch them splashing and swimming.
When Sarah and the girls return, Anna, my brown-eyed wonder, cries out, “Daddy,
can we go to Coney Island and eat some hot dogs and fries?” “And can we go on
the rides?” Annette adds, her brown eyes, a shade lighter than Anna’s, stare
longingly at me.
Sarah grins wickedly and says, “Your father
works hard all week, girls.
Maybe he wants to go home and rest.”
My girls hug my chest and beg, “Please,
“Okay, girls. Just for a short while,”
I growl. Yet being with my wife and girls is the thrill
of my life.
Then suddenly, my family and Manhattan Beach disappear.
I’m floating in boketto, looking out into
the merciless darkness.
“What happened?” a distant voice cries
out, cutting through the seething
darkness. “What really happened?”
The voice is eerily familiar. Is it the ominous
sound of my alter ego
shrieking from the other side of reality? Or is it Sarah’s mournful voice or
the melancholy voices of my precious girls? Who is calling out to me? Who?
Time dissolves and space shrinks again. Like an
out-of-body experience, I
watch the Riviera Café and Greenwich village vanish. Where am I? Who am I?
I look around and find myself back in my claustrophobic
room. The clock on
the night table says 3 a.m. Time to take my bedtime medicine-a cornucopia of INFER
pills. After swallowing the potent
pills, I lie down and read The Secret of
Time rushes slowly through my brain and I hear
someone crying next door. I
place my head against the wall. The crying stops abruptly.
After an interlude of silence, an uncanny voice
whispers, “What happened?
What really happened?”
I lie down again and notice a long white envelope
next to the clock.
Inside, is a note to myself.
in the Riviera Hotel. I
take 3 INFERNO pills 3 times a day to cope with my illness. Someday, I’ll remember…
Until then and forever, I love my wife Sarah and our twin girls Anna and
Annette. What shall I get them for Valentine’s Day, only 6 months away?
ponder these beautiful thoughts as I plummet into a deep sleep-a therapeutic
exploration of the 9 circles of inner space induced by my INFERNO pills. The pain
will diminish in time; my doctors tell me.
And now, from faraway, in a safe place, I whisper, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”