A fifth-grade bully, a blossoming romance, a late-night crash
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Stephen Elliott lives in New York City. He is the author of seven books, including the memoir The Adderall Diaries, which was adapted into a movie starring James Franco. Elliott, in turn, made a movie about James Franco playing him in a movie and called it After Adderall.
Since I started this essay, I have found a relationship of sorts and taken a job with a magazine that some friends started. The difference between a happy ending and an unhappy ending is simply the place you decide to stop telling your story.
Lieberman stayed out of the race until Gore had announced that he wouldn’t run. Now the man Lieberman considered his friend has gone on record as backing Howard Dean. Lieberman must feel like a plane overhead just cracked in half and dumped fifty tons of shit on his campaign bus. How does a person recover from that?
I’ve been staying with my friend Jackson, and I’m wearing his large red flannel jacket with the blue padding inside. I hope he lets me keep it. It’s a comfortable jacket, and I’d freeze otherwise. The wind is blowing. In Chicago in the winter, the wind chill is the only measurement that matters. I wish Maria would get here before the cold sinks into me permanently.
Before the ground war started, we hunkered behind berms, firing shots at targets built from crumb rubber, careful not to shoot the Bedouins and their camels when they appeared on the horizon. We stood in jeeps and flashed the Saudis on the highway, making lewd gestures with our tongues and fingers at the Saudi women sitting in the back of their husbands’ Mercedes, because only men can drive in that country.
My father’s e-mails could be used to chart his manic-depression. When he’s in a good mood, he tells me how much he likes my books. When he’s in a foul mood, he tells me that I didn’t have it so bad as a child. He wants to know why I’m always writing about having been handcuffed to a pipe in our basement; after all, he did it only that one time.
It’s 6:30 in the morning, and Maria is still asleep. I’m awake before the alarm goes off, but I don’t move yet. I just stare into her auburn hair. Her back, with its thick pale scar, is pressed against my chest. I have to be careful when I get up. If I move too quickly, Maria will startle awake and want me to stay, and I can’t miss another day of work. We can’t afford that. I want to get inside her now, but I resist.
My first night, I am awakened at two in the morning by either a bomb or a gunshot; I can’t tell which. Then at 4 A.M. the Jews start singing their sad song down at the Wailing Wall, followed by the bells from al-Aqsa Mosque at 4:45: the sounds of two great monotheistic religions disturbing a good night’s rest.
The Sun doesn’t usually report on current events, but September’s terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. marked a turning point for all of us. We put out a call to our writers, inviting them to reflect on the tragedy and its aftermath. The response was overwhelming. As word got around, we received submissions not only from regular contributors but from writers who are new to The Sun’s pages.
Nobody wants Al Gore to be president. Democrats will vote for Al Gore for only one reason: they hate George Bush. They hate Bush so much they would vote for anyone else — even someone with a record of voting pro-life; even someone who’s in favor of more military spending and against universal healthcare; even someone who supports capital punishment and other forms of institutionalized racism. By accepting all of this, the Democrats have sold their ideals down the river. Their candidates are obvious crooks. At least the Republicans mean it when they say something stupid. The Democrats just say stupid things because they think that’s what the voters want to hear.
The psychiatrist wants to know if I have allergies, if I take any medication. I tell him I have hay fever. He rubs his bald head; I rub mine. His window is covered with wire mesh. Outside, it’s starting to rain. He pages absently through his manual with a large thumb, not really looking for anything. I can feel the rain in my bones. Since I ran away a year ago, I’ve spent a lot of cold, wet nights huddled under boxes, hiding in boiler rooms. Running, running.
On the counter top there’s a pad of paper with some familiar but illegible scrawl. The handwriting is angry. Next to the pad is a five-dollar bill under a refrigerator magnet. Too obvious. More clunking sounds from the basement. I wonder if he’s down there.