I walked into the Venice clinic at ten o’clock Thursday morning
with my bag of tricks. An artist in my situation has to be something of a mountebank
and performer, a little shy but energetic, one foot in the grave but innocent and childlike.
I don’t need an appointment because I am homeless.
I study the people and do a few thumbnail sketches for half an hour or so.
Then I read for awhile oblivious to the tottering infants and crying children, the
Talkers out loud, the truly down and out who have lost their wits.
Eventually my head drops down to my chest and I doze soundlessly sensing the
Deliciousness of my unconscious seas of strange thoughts and images,
a river of non-sequitors.
When I hear in my semi-stupor “orange 2” I spring to my feet and appear at
The window designated by the blaring voice on the microphone.
Intake is short and sweet; the computer knows me from four years ago,
And I’m a shoe-in with the ‘gold team’ at 1:30, a two hour wait, so I shuffle on down to the beach and treat myself with my last $10 to a serving of eggs benedict; that will get me through the rest of the day nicely.
Now I’m back in the big waiting room at 1:30. I make a list on the frontispiece of “loaded dice” by james swain ( a book I gleaned from a bagful by a garbage can).
I want to take care of the flu I woke up with yesterday, get screened for prostate cancer and alzheimer’s, some aspirin for the numbness in my feet, some motrin for my spinal arthritis, glucosamine, chondroitin and calcium for my aching joints, nystatin for an insidious fungus, triamcinolone for planar psoriasis, and a high cholesterol antidote. Then I want to have my ears cleaned (they do that very well with a water pik filled with warm water and hydrogen peroxide), I want a referral to a dental clinic to find out why my implants hurt so much I can’t chew on that side (and the other side only has one root canal stump to stab my food with), and finally, I am really concerned about my left eye which fogs up irritatingly when I am reading. Funny I don’t notice it when I’m painting.
At about four-thirty I leave the clinic with twenty aspirins, some salve for my hands, and a fungicide. I was grateful, but puzzled. I read my list of ailments to the doctor, he listened concernedly, answered a cell phone call in the middle of the examination, which you can be sure was using up my fifteen minutes that I had waited all day for,and yet he gave me nothing for my sore throat and sinusitis or the cough which we could hear deep down in my lungs.it could have been tuberculosis or polio or just simple pnuemonia. he looked in my ears, he looked in my eye and that's it. a child playing doctor would have known to do more. like how about a blood test and urinalysis? this is a picture of the best of american socialized medicine.
Years ago when I first went to the clinic I brought my ‘book’ a collection of nice prints with about 100 paintings I have done and five books I have illustrated. The doctor was so taken with them that he called the other doctors and nurses to see my ‘work’, and I overheard the head doctor say “put him on the ‘gold team’.” But I guess their memory is short, or I am wrong in imagining that the gold team is ‘code’ for “take care of this one, he’s valuable.”
I can’t help wondering what it would be like to be on the copper or tin team.
the money angel saille sent me.