I had this dream once of becoming a successful writer. I’d be smoking a cigarette on top of a pile of money and every day, I’d buy some girl with nice legs a brand new car. Everyone would buy my books: lonely people would buy my books, the downtrodden would buy my books, bored middle-aged housewives would buy my books, high brow people with ‘a passion for the arts’ would buy my books, angsty but introverted teens would buy my books, prostitutes would buy my books, that dick from high school would buy my books – everyone would buy my books, and everyone would be happy because everyone was in my dream, and in my dream I’d be smoking a cigarette on top of a pile of money.
That dream never happened and I was still jobless. I had savings left so I decided to spend most of it on getting laser eye surgery to fix my shitty eyesight. They gave me valium before the surgery, which was great. The surgeon then had me lie down and look upwards towards a light. I watched with eyes wide open as he used something to scrape the outer layer of my eyes into a pile before using a machine to laser them; I could smell my eyes burn.
Everything was a blur once the valium kicked in. Apparently, after the operation, I loudly told everyone in the room how friendly the nurses were while walking around with my hips thrusting forward. I don’t remember the trip home.
Vail visited me in the evening.
“You look insane,” she said, sitting next to me. She smelt good. Like fruit.
“I can’t see,” I replied with my eyes closed. My eyes were hurting. “I can’t do anything for a few weeks.”
“Wow.” I heard her rummaging through my things. “Look at all these pills. We could sell these to some people I know.”
“Totally.” They gave me Nurofen for the pain, Endone for severe pain, Pramin for nausea and Hypnodorm for insomnia.
Vail put her hand inside my shorts and the both of us went quiet for a while.
“How have you been?” I eventually asked her.
“Good and shit, good and shit. The usual. A girlfriend of mine got punched by her boyfriend. Right across the face.”
“Do I know her?”
“I don’t think so,” she said.
“Is she hot?”
“She’s not bad.”
“How’s she doing?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I haven’t texted her yet. I think she works at Dotti. She’s lucky to have him anyway, he’s normally a really chilled guy. She can just be like, a real cold bitch sometimes. Especially to men. I think she deserved it.”
I didn’t say anything.
“How long are you going to be like this for?” she asked me. “It’s night time and you’re wearing sunglasses.”
“I’ve been told it may take a week, or even months before my vision will improve. There’s also a chance that nothing will happen at all.”
“Months? That’s a long time.”
“My brother bought me dinner,” I said. “People wished me luck.”
“That’s sweet of them. If you need help with anything, just call me.”
“I can’t see the text on my phone,” I said.
Vail giggled, pulling her hand out of my shorts. “You’ll figure out a way to call me.” She stood up, walked to the bathroom, washed her hands then sat back down next to me. “I heard about your night at the casino.”
“I’m so glad I didn’t join you.”
“You weren’t invited.”
Vail slapped my arm. “How much money do you have left?”
“Enough to pay the rent and eat for a few more months.”
“You better find work again, Dean.”
“I hate working. For people, especially.”
“Who doesn’t? But that’s growing up.”
“Can’t a publisher just publish my manuscript?”
“No, they can’t. Have you even been submitting to publishers?”
“Not lately. I’m tired of rejection letters.”
“Well, there you go.” Vail reached for something in my bag. She pulled out a pill and placed it in my mouth.
“What the hell did you just make me swallow?”
“That’s usually a question I ask.” She kissed my cheek. “I just gave you a sleeping pill.”
Vail’s iPhone vibrated – she quickly texted something back.
“I take it you have to go.”
“I’ll be here again soon, okay? Maybe… I’ll let you know.” She put her hand on my face before walking off and closing the door behind her.
As I lay there on my couch I felt terribly alone. I know I had people in my life, people who cared, but there was still something missing. There was still something missing – I sounded like a Hollywood cliché. I suppose loneliness has always been there with me, standing in the background like some weird looking friend I’ve always been ashamed of. It lingers there like a creep, waiting for me to do something stupid so that I can run back into its arms in tears. I took my sunglasses off, wiped them clean. I then sticky taped these things over my eyes, these plastic shields that I was supposed to wear before I slept. I squinted in the dark. It hurt whenever I’d keep my eyes open for too long, but I hated just sitting there. I stood up and stumbled around, found a cigar Jude once gave me and cut it and lit it and smoked it. I played some music and muttered to myself about the things I thought about in life before falling asleep.
(For those who are curious, I had two options when signing up for laser eye surgery. The first option I was given was to get Lasik surgery, which involved cutting my eyes to create ‘flaps’ in each cornea, lasering what was underneath the flaps and then repositioning them back together. Since I did boxing once in a while I was advised that there was a rare possibility that someone could hit an eye and dislodge one of the flaps.
That didn’t sound too promising so I opted for PRK laser eye surgery. I chose this option because it didn’t provide the risk of any of my ‘flaps’ being dislodged, and also because the way they described the procedure sounded exciting: they’d remove the outer layer of my eyes completely with alcohol or with a plastic blade before lasering the outer surface; then, I’d have to wait for a period of time before they’d heal completely again.)