It sucks but I was poor a.f. and all my options were as awful as Sophie’s Choice. So I went into the field of organ donation. I mean, I sold the rights to my body after I am deceased to Northwestern University’s medical school.
The check was too huge to believe it would clear the bank, but there were no snags. I lived like a rock star for a few months. Apparently I was not recording many of my purchases. The mortgage check bounced.
Back to the drawing board.
I sold a tremendous amount of blood during this period. Quart a week, quart and a half. Blood banks have strict limits and this is why I split my donations between several of them and used various names doing it.
Maintaining that level of blood sales was harder than I thought. Still—I love you AB-negative—my rarer blood type was a blessing, financially, so I refused to panic when I’d fall down walking and sleep wherever during the weeks of heaviest bleeding. It was my understanding that a human being has about twenty pints of blood. Blood bank guy told me in the third week that we only have about six pints circulating in there. Can’t believe I didn’t die.
I stopped selling blood and a day later the constant narcolepsy let up. That was nice for me.
It seemed like a shit job at a factory or the mall was in order, but who can stand it? Don’t lie, Gentle Reader. You wouldn’t do it either. Shit.
I developed cost consciousness. First thing cut was food. That saved money right away. If you turn stoic, skipping meals is not a super-big deal.
Then the vultures sold my house and there went ten years’ equity. Oopsy-daisy. Not going to lie, that pissed me off pretty hard.
Two years after my last limo ride to the clubs I was living in a six-by-eight-foot storage space outside of Gary, Indiana, on a road buckling/heaving so severely that no one takes it unless they have to. My life flat out sucked.
Every facet was an exercise in Bullshit Studies. No girlfriend. No heat. Right, Einstein, no job either. I was stuck with Comcast for cable that I’d spliced in from the Self-Store office.
Friend of a friend tracked me down out there. I’m not listed in the phone book, but the motivated find a way. He fed me good, lined me up a long hot shower. Then we drove into the city, to a bar in Lake View whose claim to fame is that the pop singer Richard Marx once beat the snot out of a journalist there after a scathing record review.
My friend’s friend’s friend was late, but the man kept buying me scotch and beer boilermakers, so I figured they could be as late as they wanted. Then the other guy made it, ordered his own boilermaker and asked me would I like to sell a kidney to a guy who is stagnating on the transplant list. He won’t make it without me, twenty thousand dollars, another boilermaker, sure. Shit, I’ve got two and I only need one. No-brainer.
I said, “Let’s do this. Which hospital are we going to?”
Both the guys laughed. I like to laugh too.
If anyone tells you that surgery doesn’t hurt, kill them. Oh my God.
In retrospect that was one I should not have done.
Made it eighteen months on the kidney money, because of all the cost-cutting strategies I’d learned. Even slept well for the early months of that run, after my recovery was over, that is. I had every basic thing I needed, and it felt wonderful.
Today they’re coming for my right arm. That might be sad if it were yours, Gentle Reader, but it’s fine with me. I’m left-handed, so I’ll figure it out. Lucky break.
Todd Mercer won the Dyer-Ives Kent County Poetry Competition, the National Writers Series Poetry Contest and the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Contest. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance, appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Recent work appears in 100 Word Story, Defenestration, Literary Orphans, Praxis Magazine and The Magnolia Review.