"Happy birthday and don't worry about anything, Alice," said the doctor, looking at his watch, "you're not crazy, just getting old, besides, there's absolutely no cognitive side-effects to Arava. Just stay inside at the hotel."
Arava were the white rheumatoid arthritis pills in the little plastic week-dose box, one every day, but Arava and no-good glasses--it was crazifying everything, turning unalive stuffs into live and blurring the world; headaches and nausea, but most worst was the scary, nutty, loneliness here in this dark dreary welfare Pennsylvania hotel lobby full of moans and unwashed old people who needed to politely die.
Some people just didn't know how to get out of the way.
But Alice couldn't sit here and hope to die. She remembered from her birthday party, long ago, a child said, "Cross my heart and hope to die," but she didn't, not on, well not today on what was her birthday again, people must be waiting for her to say, "Happy Birthday."
She put on her only nice thing, a very beautiful, bright orange birthday scarf and went out to say hello to everybody here on 7th st., all her blurry morning friends. Arava and no glasses made them vague color blotches--hard to tell more. And it was disappointing getting too close to them anyways, it made them freeze up, turn into something else, not a friend or even people.
Well, blurry or furry, here she was out here anyway, on the job, "Good morning," she said to them that were standing, cheerful, ticking and buzzing, these parking-meterish friends, standing straight pole-folks at the 7th st. curb, talking some foreign, their own tick-language, wishing her "Happiesst birsdeez," (Happy Birthday) popping up snappy red smiles at her.
"Why thank-you," she said and laughed delightly. Sometimes you had to pretend a little to find friends.
But whoosh, her birthday scarf jerked and kept pulling her little self at the end of this blowing orange scarf, in the automobile-car afterdrafts of 7th st. wind, on her neck, almost lifting, near swirling her around- a loose piece of waste people-paper in the whooshing hurrywakes of the world, too old-light to stay to the ground good anymore with her little belly full of Arava Helium along 7th st. in Los Angeles Koreatown.
Getting older you just got lighter and lighter and finally drifted off to heaven.
She tried to be temporarily heavier here on her birthday, just one more birthday would be nice, but there kept being a feary looseity to her brainshead--couldn't help it; needed to be tightened, she told the doctor, to keep it from bobbing, from looking up all the time into the chirping, bustling trees-at bird friends? Splatt, yes, birds.
A movie theatre sign was moving to her or her getting moved like a electricated sidewalk at the mall?
"But no," not supposed to look confused on her birthday and kept smiling up into all of them, these pink, closer and closer and then gone past blurfaces.
Got to have friends. Friends and God. She was always grateful when they still let her receive communion, that she wasn't too old to waste it on. She kept hoping to find her glasses or just some glasses to unblur the world.
Suddenly she was pretended back by a sidewalk smell-a little bakery--back into her little-girl time, her one birthday party, when in 1940? when she got her beautiful scarf?
"Thank you," she kept saying to every passing faceblur's "Happy birthday," or something, saying to her or something like it and she waved at goersby.
"Careful," she said to a sweet little red fireplugish girlperson on a corner, "yes, I see you holding your arms out," patting the burning hot, short, little metal girl on her heated-in-the-sun bolt head, "that's a very pretty little red dress, I'm afraid you have a fever honey, but don't try crossing the street by yourself ."
And to a very red-faced firealarmish ironish man, "Your sunburn'll get worse out here, but thank you for coming to my party," she said, "looking so nice today," smiling and waving, her golden slipper footsteps now pirouetting to follow each one passing, having fun, "how are you? so nice to see you," them all passing her all in a quick bunch, "Oh, I love that tie," she said to a green blur, "And your yellow dress," to a passing yellowish blob. It was nice making people feel good on her birthday.
Her curly gray hair, bounced, as her thin little raggedy gold lemay slippers with prominent bony bunions showing through their thin fabric danced the dirty 7th st. pavement.
Suddenly she stopped, who was that? Someone smiling a beautiful warm birthday smile at her with a pretty tinsley flash of orange?
She walked toward the smile; and as she got closer, the orange thing focused for the first time today into a wonderful person, a friend, short like her, also wearing exactly the same long orange scarf as she was. "Oh, hello!" she said, "that's a really beautiful orange scarf, it looks a lot like mine. You know I got mine for my birthday so long ago I didn't think that anybody else… ." and then, very close to the mirror reflection, she suddenly stopped, put her hand over her mouth in terrible recognition, letting out a frightened gasp, "Oh…it is mine. It's me. It's not nothing but Arava fooling me in the mirror… ."
She looked for a long terrible moment…"If this is just me, then all my friends this morning, even my birthday," trying to make some panicky sort-outs, was her brain really just so nutty? shook her head several times, "it's just mine, I'm seeing things" she began shaking and crying terrified tears. "Am I just alone anyways? Oh holy Mary, please help me, I'm so scared of going crazy."
Pierrino Mascarino has published in The Linnet's Wings, The Beat, Bartleby Snopes, Darkest Before Dawn, Dry Bones Anthology, currently in Black Lantern, Hackwriters. Has published the print quarterly Invertebrata, the instructional novella, My Aunt Rose, played the title role in the award winning movie, Uncle Nino, has appeared on National Television over 6000 times, won the Dramalogue Award in Los Angeles twice, and lettered in football at St. Anthony's Grammar School in Atlanta GA in 1952.