Henry sitting cross-legged on a straw mat in front of his IBM electric typewriter, at home in his Queen’s apartment.
His mind ripped apart and addled, feeling like someone was watching. It was the incorrigible Hindu Monkey Gods at play, spying from their veranda on high, busting a gut, drinking mead, rolling Jackal bones, enumerating earthling fate— everyday stuff for them.
The Monkey Gods jacked-up on spirits, talking shit about Henry,
should we ax him, how about Leukemia or suicide? Set his apartment on fire.
Have him win the lottery and take a trip to Vegas and lose it all.
We can start a civil war in America, he can be the first to die in the Battle of Central Park, he will be a hero, a Much Ado About Nothing hero, full of bravado for the cause and dying for nothing.
Give him gout, draw out his suffering—
The Monkey Gods laughing like oafs, neophyte half-Gods who were pitiless. With luck, the Martians would step in and clean up the mess they were making before it was too late.
Henry would mess up the Monkey Gods plans for him, which he knew odds-on wouldn’t be charitable. He wouldn’t let them into his dreams, he would do everything in reverse, turn left instead of right, go to Harlem when he was thinking of Times Square, eat Halal instead of Kosher, so on and so forth— sabotaging the Monkey God’s voodoo with hoodoo.
He leaves his Queens digs at 830 PM, obsessed, hounded by the Monkey Gods— he had sat in front of his typewriter all day, unable to put a sentence together.
Henry goes to eat where he eats every night, Chaim’s Deli. He sits at his usual booth near the door so he can get out fast if he has too. He regular waitress Ruby comes to his table, looking worried and says,
Jesus Christ Henry, you look like a ghost, what is going on with you?
Henry pinches himself wondering if the Monkey Gods were breathing on him.
He then says to Ruby, not daring to tell her about the days musings, knowing she would call the shrinks at the Queens Welfare Office.
Oh, I’m great Ruby, you know me, solid as a rock, a pillar of sanity, then Ruby says,
OK Henry, you know we care about you here and you have my number.
Henry thanks her and orders saying,
How about some Halal today, something different, nonkosher too boot, Arab food, falafel, humous, koubah and the lot? And some Arak to wash it down, make it a double, liquid fire as they say.
Henry, drunk, still at the deli, he had drank a bottle of Arak and was slumped over his table mumbling about Monkey Gods. Ruby comes to his table and puts her arms around him, saying—
Henry baby, Chaim wants you outta here—NOW, please leave!
Henry pays his check and leaves, but he goes to the bathroom first to snort some cocaine, which wakes him up.
Walking through the Bowery he sees a dive called Suicide Hall. He walks in and goes to the bar, the smell in the place is awful—a milky-wine soaked-vomit-piss smell. Henry rips a napkin into two pieces and puts them in his nostrils
He orders a Jack, the bartender a no-neck guy with a blockhead that sits between his shoulders says,
A Jack? Youse aint in Soho Bud, youse in da Bowery, we got Ten High, if you don’t like it hit the bricks ass hat.
The bartender a dolt, thick-skinned, stupid and pugnacious, Henry then says,
OK a Ten High straight up—and
be a hero Mack, do the world a favor—get a vasectomy and take massive doses of Thorazine, the bartender says,
Whad you say Bud? You bein smart or somethin?
Henry smiles and says,
no nothin, I didn’t say nothin.
Henry sits in Suicide Hall and drinks for another hour, watching the show, doing his best to look invisible.
The bums, their brains putrefying by the second, sucking up cheap wine, yelling as they conversed blankly, gasping for air as they coughed up bloody death.
The Bowery was a raw scene, lacking pretense—once a bum descended into the bowels of the Bowery, his days were numbered.
11 PM, Henry happy to leave the Bowery, very few people except for cops and missionaries ventured into the hell-hole.
He walks uptown towards Chinatown, the day had been an ominous day, a threatening and baleful day. The Hindu Monkey Gods like hell-hounds on his back.
In Chinatown Henry goes to a noodle house called Flower Drum and orders lemon rice soup and jasmine tea. The owner John Chow sits with him and says,
Good to see you Henry, you always welcome at Flower Drum. Maybe you are going to Lee’s laundry for the usual tonight, you’re a bad boy Henry, Lees very bad, hahaha, Henry says,
John, sometimes I need to shake off my demons, you understand don’t you? John says,
OK, sure Henry you enjoy Chinatown, save face, go into dream and have fun, hahaha!
After eating he walks a few blocks to Lee’s Laundry, going into an alleyway that led to the basement door of the laundry. He knocks on the door, an elderly Chinese lady opens it and says,
Knee-how Henry, be careful, very dark in basement, many sleep and dream on the floor, come in.
Henry follows her to a straw mat on the cold basement floor. There is a small wooden stool on the mat to lay his head on when he nods out.
She sets him up with an opium pipe, the bowl filled with black tar, he takes the long pipe and puts it in his mouth and lights it, taking a deep draw, then nodding out and falling into a dream.
In the dream, he is walking through a lush jade jungle which leads to a fluorescent crimson poppy field. He lays down to rest in the field and looks into the sky. He sees a white colored blimp that is expanding, it ruptures into a thousand pieces, the poppy field is covered in a white dust. When the dust settles he looks around and sees he is surrounded by the Monkey Gods wearing flowing rainbow-colored pajamas. The Monkey Gods are standing in a circle, their eyes beaming like lasers at him. One of them says,
Henry, we are finished with you, you’re big trouble, you evade our voodoo with your hoodoo.
He wakes up in the basement of Lee’s Laundry, still feeling addled and confused—he began the day at ground zero and the day ends at ground zero.
Henry non compos mentis, his brain took him places that normal people didn't dare go.