This semester, I’m taking a Representative Authors course on Toni Morrison. My professor is a white woman. There are two black students in the class, and the rest are white. One of the white students frequently comments in class and, though it’s usually in context, I’m beginning to suspect that he registered for this course because he wanted a safe place to say the word ‘nigger’. I’ll come back to that.

I’m a night person. I pull all-nighters. No, I don’t do speed (although I might as well). I simply hit an hour of no return and there I am watching the clock roll into the future. Bringing in the next day. Telling me I made one more.

2am.

4:30am.

Usually, if I get to bed before 10:30 then I’m good. But if I pass that time then who knows what’s going to happen.

1:30am.

3:20am.


As of late, I’ve been night binging. Like a junky. But I like the night. I like the deep black and find comfort in it. I like the silence that the light of day doesn’t offer.

In my latest binge I’ve reread Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Strange Pilgrims; John Fante’s Wine Of Youth; A.M Homes’ Things You Should Know; and Ishmael Reed’s The Free-Lance Pallbearers. Last night I started Annie Proulx’s That Old Ace In The Hole.

It’s pretty good. Annie’s a brutal unflinching writer. I love her to bits. I want to kiss her lesbian lips.

Muah, Annie. Muah, baby.

A few of these nights were spent talking to Zara Rose Potts via IM. A dear person in this life and any other. We shared notes on our respective countries. We talked politics, food, world accents, volcanoes, earthquakes, and the man/woman predicament, among other things.

I now know that fish and chips sounds like fush and chups on the New Zealand tongue. And what Americans refer to as screwing is rooting over there.

Rooting!

I told her that I don’t refer to sex as screwing but call it handled.

“Like in, ’Yeah, I handled her,” I told her over the long wire across the sea that divides us.

We had a good laugh. I told her she could have it, pass it around her town that in my mind is covered in green and distant gold.

We got off the line one night and she told me: “Kia ora.” 

A nice sentiment indeed.

Kia ora, Zara

Just waiting for the chocolate.

I’ll gobble them up and wink your direction.

Dimples and all.

Kia ora, Zara.

Kia ora.

* * *

I live in a cluttered neighborhood full of bleached houses and faded cars.

And action.

One night I sat in my driveway and took in the sights. Cats, like ghosts, floating across the street. A couple of dudes walked by smoking, the tips of their cigarettes sparking red like lightning bugs. I heard one of them say: “She’s a bitch.”

The people across the street opened their door, pulled out their lawn chairs and started drinking beers. They fired up a joint, throwing back their heads and blowing their hits into the tree they were sitting under.

The pot hit my nose and took me away in soft memory. I wasn’t the only one that was up at 3:30 in the morning. Burning through the day.

Night people.

We’re nuts. We’re going crazy.

I stood up and noticed the glow of a casino.

From my house I can see the neon pulse of the Eastside Cannery. It wasn’t too long ago a friend came into town and we stumbled in there and ended the night in a blur of smiles and flashing hands. I woke up, head spinning over the pale splash of the Boulder Strip, and shoveled in a huge plate of dry eggs, hash browns, and bacon in my hurting mouth.

No more whiskey, I told myself. No more fucking whiskey.

* * *

The late night also brings on a slew of commercials that you won’t see when Regis finally shuts his mouth.

Enter Girls Gone Wild. They own the late night. Young college chicks pulling off their silky bras and ripping off their skimpy thongs. Bodies twisting, turning, and bending over for your viewing pleasure.

These videos are big business. It’s straight porn. Make no bones about it. Porn, folks, porn. Sure, no johnnys flying around winking at you and sinking in, but porn nonetheless.

“We’re looking for the hottest girl in America,” a girl announces, her tits taking in some lame sun.

Then you get hit with a barrage of chicks pulling all kinds of stunts: flipping over. Kissing each other, slowly pulling down their best buy and revealing the goods.

Vagina.

It’s hysterical.

Totally hysterical.

But I remember those days.

Young reckless days.

Girls snapping bras and throwing them across the room. Strangers splayed in front of me laughing from the buzz of cheap beer and whatnot.

Girls bending over in front of me and going: “Reno, what do you see?”

Those videos sell for the obvious reasons.

Sex.

Sex.

Sex.

Like religion and cockroaches.

They’re here for keeps.

For better or ill.

* * *

Another amusing thing you’ll see when you stay up late at night is the infomercials that take over the TV. People who need this must need junk.

It’s pure Fool’s Gold.

Soaps that clean everything – even your dirty soul.

Mops that can wipe away your latest crime.

Quick cash cuts that will pull you out of your current predicament.

Make-up that will make you prettier than your eyes are telling you.

Knives that cut through tin cans and then slip through a piece of fruit with ease.

Those Jesus swine telling you their mud smells better than yours.

Cookers of various kinds that will make you look like a five-star chef. Or a one-star chef – depending on if you follow the directions correctly.

Exercise machines that will fix your flabby arms, chicken legs, flat ass, and bulging mac n’ cheese-filled gut. 

Dudes with big muscles, twisting and curling. Shiny skin, greasy jock hair, and dumb flat smiles. Girls in tight colored uniforms bending over, stretching back their arms pushing out their fake Vegas tits. Their faces the same: tight with make-up and stupid nervous. Hair pulled back. Cheap cheerleader smiles.

It’s High Art.

But the one that rules the night and is stamped on a thousand channels: ExtenZe.

Now, according to the commercials your performance is bumped up a few notches. The pills give you some extra fire, some extra zest. So, when your lady friend hits your bed you’ll have the ammo to knock her boots out of the proverbial park.

Smack.

Going, going, gone.

Homerun, baby.

Daddy’s home.

You’re alive again and not that limp shell of a man you were before you started popping pills.

Got to love science.

Wait! And the best part: your willy may get bigger. Oh, yes. And what man doesn’t want a bigger johnny?

What man?

* * *

Again the hours tell me the night is coming. Again the cats slipping across the gutted street looking for some shit. Again more books eating what’s left of my Mexican brain. Pick up Dylan Thomas, Carver, Cheever and Tomas Rivera and put them in my hungry I-want-it-all mouth.

I don’t know moderation.

Unfortunately.

Again those sleek steak knives and machines that will tighten up my ass and lift my sagging arms. Again, I’ll remember those slippery girls telling me things I could never tell my dear mother.

I’ll do away with the for-sure cash payouts, the make-up, the fuck pills, and those Jesus con-artists that make my Jesus as appealing as a dead rat.

And I’ll be there. Eyes wide. Watching like a child. Taking notes. Shaking my head. But maybe wanting a mop to clean my dirty soul.

Hey.

Hey, hey.

Goodnight, folks.

Sleep well.

Okay.