Having been nearly crushed to death by the out-of-control mob at the Southwest Prepare or Die Expo, I had spent the following week trying to recover from my wounds, which included a severe concussion, cracked ribs and numerous facial lacerations.
My physical trauma was unfortunately accompanied by troubling psychological side effects. In particular I had developed a case of agoraphobia rooted in a terrified fear of being confronted by groups of strangers eagerly intent on trampling me. As a result, I had sought permanent refuge in my house, where I combatted my anxiety disorder with a heavy amount of anti-anxiety medication.
Holed up in my home, I now had ample time to reflect on the unmitigated disaster which had become the divine roosters & angry clowns book tour, a striking failure which had led its way to my now severely debilitated physical and emotional state.
While I may have played a small part in some of the missteps in the publicity tour, it was inarguable that the one constant participant in all of its breakdowns had been my publicist, Butch Whistles. As much as I hated to do it, there seemed to be no alternative but to dismiss him.
I didn’t want to callously terminate Butch over the phone; so I arranged for him to meet with me Monday morning at my home to discuss what I explained to him were “pressing issues”. Yet when a smiling Butch showed up at my house on schedule, his appearance had come at a bad time.
As part of my exposure therapy, I had begun to make short, tentative trips outside of the house, such as to the mailbox or to the driveway to get my newspaper. Shortly before Butch arrived, I had ventured out the front door to water the flower box on the porch when a group of girl scouts out selling cookies suddenly appeared before me.
While to that point I had been making what I believed to be good progress, the sight of the young girls caused me to relapse. In a state of high panic, I let out a terrifying shriek and turned the hose on them. Then, I raced into the house, slammed the door behind me and quickly ingested a handful of Lorazepam.
Butch was now standing in my doorway, the bearer of what he said was incredibly good news. Given my now loopy mental state, I informed Butch that glad tidings or not, I was in no condition to meet with him. Butch though was insistent, and so I reluctantly ushered him into my living room.
According to Butch, my stomping by the mob at the survivalist convention had been recorded by a participant in the riot. The resulting footage had found its way onto You Tube, where it had generated a large internet buzz.
While most of those who had watched the video had found the footage of me screaming from the room and subsequently swallowed up by the crowd to be highly amusing, there were a few who found it more sobering.
One such concerned person was Sidney Yakamura, host of a public affairs show in Honolulu called Aloha Today. Sidney felt my experience in Prescott would make for a compelling interview on the subject of the breakdown of civil discourse in America and, as such, had requested through Butch a video Skype interview with me.
Butch’s enthusiasm for the off-topic interview with Sidney Yakamura however didn’t translate to me. I patiently explained to him that the interview was just like my appearance at the survivalist convention, a poor tie-in to promoting my book and one that would undoubtedly garner equally bad results.
Butch quickly disagreed, arguing that any publicity, no matter how irrelevant, bad or misleading, was in actuality all good. Whether it was Butch’s impassioned display of his marketing acumen or my anxiety inhibitor meds fully kicking in, I found myself agreeing to do the video interview.
Butch then took the opportunity to inform me that he had anticipated my approval and already booked my appearance on Aloha Today, which he said was scheduled for that very morning and would take place within the hour.
His news naturally caused me great alarm. I was in no condition to give an interview that soon and began to bail out of my agreement, but my argument fell on deaf ears as Butch explained we couldn’t postpone it as we needed to strike while the marketing iron was hot.
So against my better wishes, I raced to the bathroom to get ready. After a quick shower, I got out of the stall, but in my haste slipped and fell to the floor, whereupon I banged my cracked ribs against the toilet seat.
As I lay screaming on the floor in pain, I yelled out to Butch that there was no way I could do the interview. Butch felt otherwise and suggested all I needed was a few pain pills to make things alright. On the surface Butch’s advice sounded counter-intuitive. I was already feeling slap happy from the anti-jittery pills and didn’t want to amplify the sensation by mixing in some potent painkillers.
Art though explained his medical diagnosis by citing his own personal use with mixing similar medications, experience in which he had found any potential bad effects were negated if the drugs were properly administered. While Art didn’t possess formal medical training, I had to admit his numerous drug and alcohol rehab visits over the years had given him deep, practical knowledge.
Butch promptly left to get me something with which to wash my Vicadin down, a chore that seemed to take an inordinately long time. By the time he finally returned, he was carrying a large glass of orange juice for me and one for him. I was not only touched by Butch’s concern for my well being but also pleasantly surprised at how good the juice tasted.
After a few minutes, I had become very relaxed. Any pain or apprehension I once had was now replaced by a newfound eagerness to do the interview.
I quickly dressed and went down to the office desk in my library where I found Butch had already signed me into Skype. As I leaned back in my chair and awaited the call from Sidney Yakamura, Art went into the kitchen and brought back another two glasses of orange juice.
As we both drank, I was overcome by a warm, almost blissful feeling. Maybe I had been too quick to think about firing Butch. Yes, the book tour had been having its share of difficulties, but Butch had always been working hard to find ways to ensure its ultimate success, which the upcoming video interview was just further proof. That type of professional dedication was hard to find.
I smiled over at Butch and asked for another orange juice but he quickly refused. His abrupt refusal must have caused a puzzled look to wash over me because Butch felt compelled to clear up my confusion. It turned out that Doctor Butch had been plying me with champagne cocktails as an added part of my treatment and believed another mimosa would upset the counterbalance with the psychoactive compounds in the analgesic and anti-panic pills I had already ingested.
I listened to Butch’s confession in a daze. The interview would soon begin, and I needed a coherent plan of action before the full effects of the alcohol and pills took hold. Unfortunately, that ship seemed to have already left port as the only lucid stratagem I could hatch was to rush over and strangle Butch.
However, just as I was getting ready to leap out of my chair, Butch noted that the video call button on the computer screen was now green. Reluctantly, I sat back in my chair and answered the call. On the screen appeared the smiling face of Sidney Yakamura. He was sitting in a chair on a studio set. Next to him was seated a very attractive woman who he introduced as his cohost, Hoku Mahina.
Up until that moment I had been feeling relaxed and happy, but sitting at my desk I could feel a series of uneasy changes suddenly taking place inside of me. I was sweating profusely, my muscles were spasming and a wave of nausea was cresting over me.
Whether it was the sudden awareness that I might possibly be on the verge of a drug and alcohol overdose that caused the sudden change in my condition, I couldn’t tell. All I knew was that I didn’t have much time before the full force of Butch’s narcotic and liquor-laced medicinal cure took effect.
So with great determination, I stared intently at the screen and marshalled every functioning fiber of my being in an effort to gain control. I concentrated at first on holding back my strong desire to faint, but unfortunately quickly lost focus when I felt a pen strike me in the side of the head.
I turned around and saw Butch standing out of view of the webcam in the doorway to my office. He was pointing over at the computer. Apparently I had failed to notice that Sidney had been talking to me for some time.
I turned back to the webcam, and asked Sidney to repeat what he had been saying, blaming my inattentiveness on a poor internet connection. I couldn’t be certain if Sidney believed the connectivity excuse because he didn’t say anything and just looked at me transfixed.
It was then that I saw Butch’s hand reach in front of the computer screen. Holding a wash cloth, he proceeded to wipe the long strands of drool hanging down from my chin. Once done, his arm retreated and Sidney then asked his question, which was what had brought me to the survivalist convention in the first place.
It was a softball question, one I felt confident I could adequately answer in my deteriorating state. Unfortunately, the words which in my head were perfectly articulated came out of my mouth as slurred gibberish. I tried again but, while I managed to formulate some sounds that were almost recognizable, the words were the same incoherent mishmash. After several more failed attempts, I gave up and just nodded my head.
After exchanging a series of confused looks with his cohost Hoku, Sidney asked me another question. As he spoke, I was able to track what he was saying, but the question for some reason seemed agonizingly long because by the time he finished I had almost dozed off. Just before my head slammed down on the keyboard, I was jerked awake by another pen striking my head.
I asked Sidney to repeat his question; but he seemed to be a little annoyed and not too eager to respond. I had a sinking feeling the interview would be cut short but was surprised when Hoku Mahina interjected and asked me to tell what my book was about.
Perhaps it was that the question was about my book because I suddenly began to feel a sense of control come over myself for the first time. No matter how bad my condition, I knew I would have no problem talking coherently about divine roosters & angry clowns.
As I started to answer, the words actually came out in recognizable form. Buoyed with confidence, I smiled over at Butch. Butch smiled back, gave me a big thumbs up and left the room. As I talked to Hoku, I felt myself becoming more and more comfortable. In fact I had reached a state of such ease that I had plopped my feet up on the desk and was drinking the rest of my mimosa.
It was then in the midst of my soliloquy that I felt another pen glance off my head. I turned around and saw Butch standing in the doorway, a bottle of champagne in one hand. In a loud stage whisper he angrily told me to start talking about the book. It turned out in my rambling exuberance I had been spending the entire time talking about why I wanted to become a writer, which after ten minutes still had me in my eighth grade English Composition class.
My response was to turn away from the computer and inform Butch that I was laying the groundwork for the book and more importantly that if he threw another pen at me I would rip his lungs out. This led to a brief flurry of angry exchanges between us before I was interrupted by the voice of Sidney asking if everything was okay.
I turned back to him and apologized, laying my odd behavior to the stress I had endured during the book tour, trauma which I laid directly at the feet of Art. Then, in a very therapeutic rant, I detailed Butch’s various miscues and my intention to fire him.
The only thing that stopped me from continuing on was the sound of Butch crying. He had slumped to the floor with his bottle of champagne and was sobbing uncontrollably. It was a loud, uncomfortable display that hadn’t escaped the attention of Sidney or Hoku.
I let them know that it was just a wounded raccoon that had wandered into my office. I then picked up a stapler from the desk and hurled it at Butch’s head. When I turned back to them, Sidney and Hoku were sitting in stunned silence. Finally Sidney managed to thank me for the interview but unfortunately said that time had run out and they needed to move on.
Before I could respond, Butch pushed me off the chair and onto to the ground, He quickly took my seat and began to drunkenly harangue Sidney Yakamura for cutting the interview short. Butch then launched a series of invectives at Sidney, which included Butch’s lingering anger over Pearl Harbor and his lifelong dislike of sushi.
As Butch went on, I was lying on the floor on my back, struggling to get up and get ahold of the drunken lunatic but was having great trouble, my coordination severely affected by the contents of the pharmacy and liquor store I had in my system.
By the time Butch had shifted his focus from Sidney and was now letting Hoku know he was thinking of taking a trip to Hawaii in the future and would like to hook up with her that I managed to reach up and drag him from his seat and onto the ground.
From there we wrestled around until I managed somehow to get on top of Butch. I had picked up the champagne bottle and was about to strike him when I glanced over and saw that I was staring at the open mouths of Sidney and Hoku. In the ensuing fracas, the laptop had fallen to the ground and managed to record our fight. Before I could set down the champagne bottle, the screen went blank.
I don’t remember much of what else happened after that other than waking up on my office floor later that night. Butch was long gone but, before he left, he had taped a note to my computer letting me know he was already at work preparing the next step in the divine roosters & angry clowns’ book tour.