Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Dry by Augusten Burroughs

Author:Augusten Burroughs
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781466844308
Publisher: Picador


THE DANGERS OF CHEEZ WHIZ AND PIMENTO

“I don’t understand. You said the hiccups went away. When I called you on Sunday, you said you felt fine. You said it was some twenty-four hour thing.” I’m sitting in my office, stabbing a pen into a pad of yellow stickies. Panic has made me angry. Greer is hovering in the doorway.

“I was fine. But then last night, they started again. They didn’t stop all night. I called my doctor this morning and she told me she wanted me to check into St. Vincent’s for some tests.”

“How long are you going to be there?”

“Just a couple of days. She says.”

“Well … what … what are they doing, what tests? What do they think it is?” I ram the tip of a bent paperclip under my fingernail, making it bleed. Nobody goes into a hospital for hiccups.

“They don’t have any idea. They’ve been—hic—sucking blood out of me all day long.” He pauses. I can hear him breathing. Then another hiccup.

“Well, I’ll come over right after work.”

“No, don’t bother. There’s nothing you can do.”

In a way I feel rejected that he doesn’t think there’s anything I can do. But I feel an almost greater relief that he doesn’t expect this from me. And I’m ashamed. I ask, “What about Virgil?”

“My brother’s taking care of him.”

“What about work, weren’t you supposed to go back today?”

“I said I had a family emergency.”

I can hear something in the background, voices, commotion.

“I gotta go. They want to me to go downstairs for an MRI. Look, I’ll talk to you later, okay—bye.” There’s strain in his voice and hearing it rubs my heart a little raw. I want to protect him from the doctors. I don’t want the doctors taking his Valium.

I hang up the phone in slow motion, just sit there for a minute. Finally, I look at Greer. “I don’t know what’s going on. Neither does he.”

Greer sits in the chair across from my desk, her legs tightly crossed. “Well, is he okay?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” I say.

She gives me a look she has never given me before. I don’t like that this moment warrants a new look.

* * *

Foster told the group he kicked the alcoholic abusive illegal alien Brit out of his apartment. He gave him a check for ten thousand dollars and instructions to get out of his life and stay out of his life. When asked why he finally made this big move, Foster looked at me for one brief though ninety-proof instant before looking away and saying vaguely, “I just realized what I might be missing.”

I talked about Pighead. Not that there was much to say. “Is lost a feeling?” I asked the group.

“I’m sorry, Auggie,” Foster says once we’re outside on the sidewalk.

“Thanks,” I say. I feel small. A Disney dwarf miscast in Terminator 5.

“I wish I knew you better,” he says softly, “so I could give you a hug.”

“You don’t have to,” I tell him. Pause. “Know me better, I mean.



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