I’ve made three further trips upstate, reckon I’m half-resettled. I’ve transferred canned food, rustic clothes (read: too worn for Avenue D), tools, and utensils. I’ve stocked decontamination supplies and filled oil tanks and gas canisters. Foul weather gear and books and music and movies. Satellite service is up. Crusoe would envy me.
My home is taking on a desolate air. Sneeky’s comments have begun to echo. Nina doesn’t even write any more. I reckon she has settled into her job and her new yuppie friends. No need to dredge up confusion from our old life.
Last night I went to a club to watch a band of once-famous, ever-infamous East Village old-timers for whom Bruno plays drums. I stood in a packed basement full of wriggling hipsters coughing from what I presumed was too much smoke of one sort or another.
I was watching the group play a jolly, lilting—yet somehow nasty-sounding—song that goes something like “I don’t know me and you don’t know you/Maybe we both got reflecting to do/Let’s get started now….”
Suddenly I started feeling pandemic.
I could smell it through the fog of illicit tobacco. I heard it in the desperate throat clearing that rivaled the band’s roar. I saw it in wheezy dancing moves, jittery bloodshot eyes. I tasted it in my beer. The mug was open to every passing breath.
I fled that simmering, oozing, viral pit. This was a full-on premonition, not my customary logical conviction that disease is coming back. I felt I could touch it, that those people are doomed. As I may be, too.
I was all elbows, all the time, all the way home. Empty boxes greeted me like hungry hatchlings.
Tomorrow I’ll start transferring masks and gloves and goggles. Last will come the rest of the food, my stereo, and Sneeky.
I’m staying up too late, reading a novel I bought for a buck from a sidewalk vendor: Josh Russell’s Yellow Jack, about a revolutionary photographer who documents a series of yellow fever outbreaks in New Orleans in the 1840s. Those folks knew how to party during an epidemic. They even paid to have images taken of their beloveds’ corpses, dressed up with dolls, toys, books, and sabers.
It’s fascinating that Yellow Fever now occurs only in South America and Africa, even thought the Aedes aegypti mosquito that best spreads the virus is common in the Middle East, Asia, and the Pacific. Another how-can-this-be viral moment, brought to you free—by nature.