It was so bad that he watched Dr. Zhivago four times in three days. Now this film had formerly been reserved only for watching once every five or six years when he was laid back with a bone-aching flu, when everything felt so dreadful that the only possible comfort was to be buried in a Russian snowstorm of melodramatic love.
It was so bad that he made one gigantic pot of it and ate, when he had to, helpings of oatmeal cold. Or, if he had moved to heat it up, heated a portion of it in a small saucepan and scorched the bottom of it over again.
It was so bad that when the fire went out overnight, he did not light it when he woke as was his habit still long before the light of dawn came up. He lay in bed cold or pulled another blanket fallen askew over his body. And if the house stayed that way all day, that’s the way it stayed.
It was so bad that his bones were filled with her screams of death and dying. They were inside his skull, they hunched his shoulders, they closed his eyes to them. Her furniture, her books, her bedside table, her belongings they were all thrashed and thrown about and her little body continued to thrash and throw itself about.
It was so bad he woke to screams that were not his own, traumas that were not his own, cries that were not his own, wounds that were not his own, parents that were not his own, in his own bed faraway from hers that was not his own, in his mind that was not his own.
It was so bad he could not imagine having once lain with her, his arms having ever held her, his heart having for years surrounded her. And her sweet voice was like another’s soft hand touching a green velvet mask behind which she gripped a silver sword; and her coiling naked body an emerald, scaly trap; her raw mind’s pure power, an indefatigably winning finger.
It was all so bad; all he saw were hapless visions of Welles’ Josef K. Notes, and words, and phrases flying by. A screaming, broken cavalcade of pain joined with death. Or, a make-believe, bed-ridden Western. They were horses’ hoofs flying, kicking up dry prairie grass and dust, all whooping and whooping, all the bonnet-wearing women in their wagons all bloody and slaughtered, while the Indians calmly riding upon the escarpment of the nearby mountain looked down at all the madness they do not recognize below them as human.