I am all alone in my pad, man, my piled-up-to-the-ceiling-with-junk pad. Piled with sheet music, with piles of garbage bags bursting with rubbish and encrusted frying pans piled on the floor, embedded with unnameable flecks of putrified wretchedness in grease. My pad, man, my own little Lower East Side Horse Badorties pad.
I just woke up, man. Horse Badorties just woke up and is crawling around in the sea of abominated filthiness, man, which he calls home. Walking through the rooms of my pad, man, through broken glass and piles of filthy clothes from which I shall select my wardrobe for the day. Here, stuffed in a trash basket, is a pair of incredibly wrinkled-up muck-pants. And here, man, beneath a pile of wet newspapers is a shirt, man, with one sleeve. All I need now, man, is a tie, and here is a perfectly good rubber Japanese toy snake, man, which I can easily form into an acceptable knot looking like a gnarled ball of spaghetti.
SPAGHETTI MAN! Now I remember. That is why I have arisen from my cesspool bed, man, because of the growlings of my stomach. It is time for breakfast, man. But first I must make a telephone call to Alaska.
Must find telephone. Important deal in the making. Looking around for telephone, fighting my way through piles of sheet music, man, piled up to the ceiling. And here is an electric extension cord, man, which will serve perfectly as a belt to hold up my falling-down Horse Badorties pants, simply by running the cord through the belt loops and plugging it together.
Lookin’ through the shambles wreckage busted chair old sardine can with a roach in it, empty piña-colada bottle, sweet sticky gummy something on the wall, broken egg on the floor, some kind of coffee grounds sprinkled around. What’s this under here, man?
It’s the sink, man. I have found the sink. I’d recognize it anywhere . . . wait a second, man . . . it is not the sink but my Horse Badorties big stuffed easychair piled with dirty dishes. I must sit down here and rest, man, I’m so tired from getting out of bed. Throw dishes onto the floor, crash break shatter. Sink down into the damp cushions, some kind of fungus on the armrest, possibility of smoking it.
I’m in my little Horse Badorties pad, man, looking around. It’s the nicest pad I ever had, man, and I’m getting another one just like it down the hall. Two pads, man. The rent will be high but it’s not so bad if you don’t pay it. And with two pads, man, I will have room to rehearse the Love Chorus, man, and we will sing our holy music and record it on my battery-powered portable falling-apart Japanese tape recorder with the corroded worn-out batteries, man, and when we play it back and listen to it we will not be able to hear it. How wonderful, man.
Sitting in chair, staring at wall, where paint is peeling off and jelly is dripping and hundreds of telephone numbers are written. I must make a telephone call immediately, man, that is a MUST.
Sitting in chair, staring at wall. Unable to move, man, feeling the dark heavy curtain of impassable numbness settling on me, man. Roach crawling up the wall. Yes, man, even my roaches have roaches.
Falling back to sleep, head nodding down to chest, arm falling off side of chair, fingers touching smooth plastic. I’ve found the phone, man. It was right beside me all the time, man, like a good little animal, and I am holding it up, man, and there is margarine in the dial holes. This, man, is definitely my telephone. My avenue of communication is now Ma Bell into whom I am inserting my dial finger, man, again and again. She’s excited, man, she’s responding . . .
“. . . hello? . . . hello, man, this is Horse Badorties . . . right, man, I’m putting together a little deal, man. Acapulco artichoke hearts, man, lovely stuff . . . came across the Colorado River on a raft, man, it’s a little damp, but other than that . . . can you hold on a second, man, I think I hear somebody trying to break through the window.”
I cannot speak a moment longer, man, without something to eat. I am weak from hunger, man, and must hunt for my refrigerator through sucked oranges, dead wood, old iron, scum-peel. Here it is, man, with the garbage-table wedged tightly against it. Tip the table, man, this is no time for formalities, I’m starving.
Some kind of mysterious vegetable, man, is sitting in the refrigerator, shriveled, filthy, covered with fungus, a rotten something, man, and it is my breakfast.
Rather than eat it, man, I will return to my bed of pain. I will reenter the Bardo of Dreams, man, if I can locate my bed. It’s through this door and back in here somewhere, man. I must get some more sleep, I realize that now. I cannot function, cannot move forward, man, until I have retreated into sleep.
Crawling, man, over the bureau drawers which are bursting with old rags and my used sock collection, and slipping down, man, catching a piece of the bed, man, where I can relax upon a pile of books old pail some rocks floating around. Slipping onto my yellow smeared stiff mortified ripped wax-paper scummy sheets, man, how nice. And the last thing I do, man, before I sleep is turn on my battery-powered hand-held Japanese fan. The humming note it makes, man, the sweet and constant melodic droning lulls me to sleep, man, where I will dream symphonies, man, and wake up with a stiff neck.
William Kotzwinkle is a two-time recipient of the National Magazine Award for Fiction, a Book Critics Circle award nominee, a winner of the World Fantasy Award, the Prix Litteraire des Bouquinistes des Quais de Paris, the PETA Award for Children’s Fiction, and he wrote the narration for Michael Jackson’s E.T. record which won a special children’s Grammy.
Copyright © 1974 by William Kotzwinkle from The Fan Man. Reprinted by permission of Pharos Editions, an imprint of Counterpoint.