North Texas is not a good place to get sick, and the end of May is a good time if you really feel like taking out your nasal passages with muriatic acid and ice picks. It’s bad enough that the local plants respond to impending blast-furnace temperatures by spreading pollen across the countryside in a desperate hope of reproducing their genes before they die. (In many ways, plants in North Texas are like the attendees at a comics convention.) It’s bad enough that prevailing south winds blow up Austin’s, Houston’s, and San Antonio’s respective fugs and drop it right atop Dallas. (When friends ask me if I want to come to Austin, I tell them all I need to do is inhale deeply inside of a hipster bar while its patrons cough and sneeze in my face to catch the whole experience.) It’s bad enough that more sensitive co-workers adjust to the increasing heat by turning down the air conditioning to liquid-nitrogen superconductor level, which leads to a much larger shock when they finally step outside during the worst of the heat at closing time. It’s bad enough that all of the children in the state grab souvenirs from their classmates on the last day of school in the form of exotic and horrible diseases and share them with everyone in the neighborhood. Combine all of these, and you understand why I was afraid the neighbors would hear my influenza-inspired coughing and sniffling, chain the front door shut, and write “DON’T OPEN – DEAD INSIDE” on the front of the house. And I wouldn’t have blamed them.
The Czarina is doing her best to assist with getting me back to full form. Decent food, herbal teas, generally checking up to make sure that my skull hasn’t filled with phlegm. Of course, I know that this won’t last, because she’ll want to go to bed soon. At that point, she’ll crank the AC down to “comfortable” levels, meaning that she’ll sleep soundly but I’ll be pulling ice crystals out of my gums. The only time she ever freaks out over cold is when it’s outside, and I suspect that she fills her pillows with dry ice when I’m not looking.
Being this ill, though, does a wonderful job at preparing me for my impending mortality. I know now that my last moments are going to involve yet another flu-instigated bout of pneumonia, three bouts of which have nearly killed me in the past. It’ll be when the doctor comes into the hospital room to check on me and charge my bill for another “consultation” that I’ll finally go. That’s at the point where I start coughing. Then retching. Then performing a perfect recreation of John Hurt’s final scene in Alien, with my spleen baring sharp teeth, hissing, and running across the room. I’ll be coughing up blood, coughing up urine, coughing up xenon gas (my favorite after-dinner tipple), and you don’t want to know what’ll be coming out of my tear ducts. I’ll finally flop back on the bed, bile and insulin and navel lint dripping off the ceiling, before rising slightly as the doctor screams and runs away like a little girl and the nurses ask “What the HELL happened?”
At that point, I’ll gasp “We call it…(wheeze) ‘The Aristocrats’!” *thud*