“The Night I Spent with Pre-Accident Montgomery Clift” by Anthony Dragonetti


A little order, please. I’m on Wikipedia trying to get my arms back around my thoughts so I can smother them, but my muscles are wasting. There has to be something new to know. Some factoid I haven’t already committed to memory.

My body is failing me. It’s terminal. It started in the stomach, like so many things do. If I had a CT scan, I’d show you. I don’t have the money, but I know. It began like ink being spilled in a bowl of water, blooming tendrils reaching into my soft meat. I feel it every time I eat, and the food gets pushed back up into my throat. My central nervous system has been compromised by now, no doubt.

I’ve been twitching more. My leg just jerked. A heart palpitation. No, I have to burp. I’ve been burping a lot. I keep a fecal journal for color and consistency. I piss in a glass to keep an eye out for blood and foam. It always foams in the toilet, but I’m told you can’t go by that. I only have a few glasses and I forget which one I use for piss, so I make sure I wash them all in very hot water.

My shit has been floating for the past couple of days. It looks lighter than usual. I turn my phone’s flashlight on it to really get a look. I’m Googling “clay colored” because I don’t know what clay colored actually is, but I know it’s a possible sign of bile duct obstruction. Hepatitis. Cirrhosis. Pancreatic cancer.

I drink too much, I know that. I did this to myself. I knew it would catch up to me. I get up and look in the mirror, pulling my cheeks down away from the whites of my eyes to check for jaundice. Is my skin more yellow than yesterday? Could be the light. I’m naturally pale as it is.

I finish up in the bathroom and sit in my bed to watch TV. I scroll through the channels. The words in the guide don’t mean anything. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I forget what I wanted to watch. Memory loss and twitching can mean a brain tumor. If you cut me open, I’d be a single carcinogenic mass, blackened inflammation. How do you donate your body to science?

I think I’m starting to smell, but sometimes I imagine BO. I haven’t left the house in a few days, but I shower. Three times a day if I feel like it. The running water is nice when I’m anxious. If I go out, people will know I smell.

The Misfits is playing on TCM. A black and white movie in the dark is cozy and I need cozy, considering my condition. I turn it on the moment the camera is fixated on Montgomery Clift and his broken face. There are hints of beauty still there, at least on his right side, but the drugs and alcohol were eating away at that too. I feel you, Monty. I’m being eaten, too. Neither of us can remember our lines.

I pick up my phone because I’m spooked. This is a sign. A handsome, bisexual guy dies tragically at a young age after years of suicide. That’s me. They’ll find me here, like this. He had so much potential, they’ll say. So cute, too. Now look at him. Yellow, in a U shape from rigor mortis.

I’m having chest pain. I think I feel it in my left arm. I reach for the aspirin next to my bed and chew a couple. That’s good for heart attacks. I need to take the edge off. I open my phone and search for pictures of pre-accident Montgomery Clift. Impossibly handsome. How could someone like that have lived? And died?

I shove my hand into my shorts. I wince when my fingers touch the raw, tender flesh. I’ve been extra nervous lately. I look up at the TV to see Montgomery Clift in a cowboy hat, half his face paralyzed. Everyone in this movie died shortly after filming it. I shut off the TV and get comfortable, looking at him on my phone before death took root inside of him. Maybe it started in his stomach, too.

Monty, stay with me for a few minutes while we’re both beautiful and our bodies work.


Anthony Dragonetti writes fiction and criticism. He lives in New York City. You can read more here: http://neutralspaces.co/anthony_dragonetti/
Twitter @dragoneddied

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