I open the door. I must get this right.
Last week I came down with a fever. In the beginning it was only 102 degrees or so, nothing approaching my record. Still, I was sweating heavily. The sheets wet. The room muggy. In the distance rain threatened, but so far over my house, nothing.
I went down to the kitchen and opened the refrigerator door to cool off. I stood there naked for a few minutes and then went back up to bed.
I was in someone else’s home, paying $150 a night. One of the owner’s dogs had died and the remaining little dog was sad in the room. He lay like a shoe at the foot of my bed. I could hear him breathing and then I am sure my fever got worse because I began to imagine a movie made like a high fever and what a wonderful film it would be. I thought that someone like Houston, Buñuel, or Bergman could make such a film, since the essence of the story would be found in the tiny steel spaces of the body, the interlacing cubicles that keep us upright and moving forward. I figured one of those three would understand.
When fever comes, we are like a 1930s steamship crossing the ocean and the men below are pouring coal into the tiny steel rooms and it is deadly on that level, but there is a cleanness to the fire like dry bone or a vacuum. A final breath is also clean, as clean as anything in this world and so I lay there and thought about dying and it occurred to me that in a city of 25 million people, others were having delirium thoughts as well and they were on fire, just like me and the realization gave me comfort.
Of course, I don’t like to think about children being in pain, but it is hard not to think about them when you are feverish. They tend to come in long lines or silently in dark beds and slowly the little dog breathing in the room was breathing for every sick child in the city. He was like a machine hooked with wires to their bodies and a nurse, half asleep down the hall, was monitoring the vital signs. I wondered if anyone else could be having the same dream and I thought that yes, there must be someone out there in the night who was like me. Where is this person I wondered? Who were they? Maybe a prostitute, a drunk, a suicidal student, a grieving mother, a transgender, whatever the case, I needed to find him or her. We needed to exchange notes about fires in the tiny steel rooms of our bodies and we needed to devise a plan to help those in pain, we needed to love the misunderstood, the strange ones, we needed to fight evil, we needed to do so much more than we were doing and over and over I thought of this and it came to me in spoken words until the rain started and it was a hail storm and I got up dizzy and went out onto the balcony and the pellets of hail hit my body and allowed me to rise from the fire and I was clawing my way upward. I was alive and still moving through this wonderful, horrible world and then I got very cold and collapsed naked on the balcony, the one on a hillside, overlooking the screaming city below.