The Magic Elixir

It is between 1970 and1980, perpetually late fall. 

Henry sleeping all day, up at 530PM. He wasn't working, he felt weak and uninspired,  chronic drug and alcohol use was taking a toll on him. 

The previous day he had gone for a check-up at the welfare office and the news wasn’t good, the doctor says to him, 

Mr. Lucowski— your ALT test shows that your liver is functioning at a low level, you are in the early stages of Cirrhosis and  you have Hepatitis C. If you want to live you need to seriously consider giving up drinking, AA might help, we would like you to come back next week for further testing.

Henry saying,

Sure Doc, you’re the man baby, whatever you say!

He had no intentions to give up drinking and doping or to go Alcoholics Anonymous. AA meetings— the wankers all fired up, siting on their hands saying, hi I’m Happy Frank, or I’m Stanley suffering alcoholic. Henry would rather become a Bowery bum than go to AA, there was a bargain-basement feeling to it and he felt that AA people were celebrating sobriety when they should be mourning their own weakness and inability to use and enjoy it.

In Chaim’s Deli at 6PM, sitting in his favorite booth, Ruby his regular waitress comes over, He says, 

Ruby a spring broke through the fabric of this booth seat, it punctured my tuchas and I'm bleeding. I already have Cirrhosis and Hep C, so lock-jaw will be no big deal.

Ruby goes to the kitchen and brings back a large piece of cheese cloth that is soaked in alcohol and says,

Henry put this cheese cloth on your wound, in your underpants, on your tuchas and sit on it.

He says, 

Ruby in that I’m not long for the world, I want to order a Last Supper type meal, it will be a dry run. I’ll have some Manischewitz wine, matzoh ball soup, gefilte fish and some noodle kugel with plenty of whip cream and canned Bing Cherries on top.

After eating he was full— ready to come down to street level from the Upper Room and take a night-time walk in the city. 

Reaching the Bowery, he sees a gang of bums hugging a fire in a garbage can and walks over.  

A bum called Stinky Fingers says to him,

Henry you know you always got a place here, livin in da Bowery is rent free, no bosses tell-in you what to do, ya just gotta panhandle enough for a few cheap bottles, thats it guy.

Then a bum called Free Bird says, 

Henry stay away from the Salvation Army and AA, nothin good excepting for free meals ever comes from dem places. 

Henry not much for bum’s wisdom, bows out quickly without saying good-bye, he didn’t know what they were burning in the garbage can, but it was toxic. 

Henry ducks into a doorway and does a few lines of cocaine, it gives him a lift, hanging with the bums was a downer, they smelled awful, everything about them stank from head to toe, their breath was highly flammable. 

In Manhattan he goes to 57 Cafe— there were two drag queens at the door selling tickets, one is  Bette Midler and the other is Cher, Cher says, 

Tonight is a special night Marina Abramovic is performing, 50 dollars cover and the ticket is good for a free drink. 

Henry flashes his welfare ID card quickly and says, 

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene official business, we don’t drink on the job Cher. 

Henry standing with his arms crossed in the back of the room, looking sanctioned— a lovely European women in her 30s walks onto a small slightly elevated stage, she is naked. It is Marina Abramovic, the pooh-bah preeminent of the world performance art scene. 

Henry notices that her armpits were unshaven, very European. Abarmovic then begins to lecture the crowd saying,

You have to be ready for your death. There are three ways I want to do it: not to die angry, not to die in fear, and to die consciously. That's something I learned from grandmother who regularly laid out different outfits for her own burial, changing them over the years as styles changed. She lived to age 103.

And so on and so forth, Jesus what the fuck Henry thought?

She begins to comb her hair, pressing the metal comb acutely into her scalp, after 10 minutes you can see blood on the comb and in her hair. 

Henry could feel tension in the audience and felt tense himself. 

A stage hand brings out a meter by meter red Communist Star, pouring lighter fluid on it and setting it on fire. 

Marina  kneels in front of the burning red star and puts her head into the flames until they burn down, burning her face and hair.  

The crowd gasping aloud looked shocked.  

I don’t get it and what is the point? He leaves 57 Cafe.

He goes to Billy West’s Place for a drink, it was close. At the bar he orders a shot of tequila and a Bud Draft and says to Billy,

Jesus Billy I was at 57 Cafe watching a beautiful women hurting herself, it just doesn’t seem like art to me. 

Billy says, 

Yeah Henry, dem liberal art freaks are fucking up everything dat’s decent about da city, we need to keep dem shit-hole wackos outta-here! 

Henry finishes his drink and hits the bricks.

On the way home he stops in Siam Massage, he sees May, a young Thai women with long black hair. She is sitting on a cheap red sofa wearing a see-through nighty, she waves to Henry.

He goes to May and says,

Hi doll I’m really tense how about an oil massage? 

The two walk through a dimly lit hall that is painted black to room number 9 and go inside, it is draped with Indian prints and lit by a blue light. 

There is a massage table there, Henry strips and lays belly down on the table. May opens a lap top which is set to play Indian music from YouTube. She lights some musk incense and walks to him, laying down 4 lines of cocaine on his back, which she snorts.

She massages him lomi-lomi style, he can feel May's skin, it is silky and warm. She gets on the massage table and sits on him with her legs open, gyrating her crotch on his ass as she rubs his back. 

She tells Henry to turn on his back, rubbing his legs and lightly brushing over his cock with the sides of her hands occasionally. He gets a hard-on and May wets it down with drip-lets of warm saliva, then going down on him tea-bag style as she fingers his rose-bud. 

After the massage May and Henry talk for awhile, May says,  

I  send money to my family in Thailand every month, my X husband the no good Thai man ran away. My kids live with my parents in Isaan. 

They snorted cocaine, smoked hash and drank Japanese whiskey for a while, Henry kisses May deeply and then puts 2 hundred dollar bills on the massage table, going out through door into the dark hall.  

Henry leaving Siam Massage and walking back to Queens, he looks up at a crescent moon and thinks, 

Getting off is the magic elixir, the stairway to Heaven. 

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