Somewhere Only We Know


“Discuss the child actor, now grown, who frequents the bar. He is red and bloated but beneath the bleached hair and tattoos you see traces of the baby face that brought him stardom in his youth. You have trouble looking at him peripherally and you will never look him directly in the eye for fear that you may come to know him, or that you will see for a moment his inmost being, which you are certain is a staggering, desolate, evil work of nature. His money is almost gone and his former agency no longer sends birthday or Christmas greetings and he buckles down for a suicide bender and asks that the employees of the bar assist him in this. No one knows what to say; no one says anything.

He is often recognized and will always make a fuss about it, as though his prior fame is the last thing in the world he wishes to discuss, when in fact it is the only topic he can speak of with any sort of insight or clarity. He calls you by name and makes sport of his decline, as if it is all in fun that he is drinking himself into a hospital or else to death, and you, hating him, are inspired to help him along: You give him an unlimited supply of well rum and confide that you will never charge him so long as he drinks the rum straight and without any water or cola backs and he agrees to this and can be found on the floor of the men’s room with dried vomit on his oversized flame-patterned button-up shirt. The doormen drag him onto the sidewalk after last call and you step over his sleeping body on the way to your car.

Weeks go by and he shows no sign of slowing down. One night he actually weeps at the bar and you hear him repeating lines from films he starred in and you still cannot look at him and no the sound of his voice is also poisonous. He screams himself hoarse and slaps the bar for another run; you have just slashed your finger on a broken pint glass and the dripping blood gives you an idea to help him along further. As you pour his drink you point your wounded finger downward and blood trickles in as a mixer. You do this because you hope to give the child actor hepatitis C, a liver disease from which you suffer and will eventually die from. It looks as though you have added a dash of bitters to the rum and this is just what you tell the child actor when he grimaces at his drink’s colouring. He tosses back the cocktail and moves to the bathroom to lie on the floor and gurgle, and Curtis drags him past after hours and you watch the child actor’s hanging gut and visualize the hepatitis moving toward his liver and covering the inflamed organ like a velvet coat. His will be a strong disease and he will not know he has it until it is too late, and then he will die, and never bother you for glasses of rum ever again.”

-Ablutions by Patrick deWitt