The Anonymous Diaries of a Sozzled Scribbler #5
As transcribed by DMETRI KAKMI
16 March 2020
Greetings from the Hotel Cortez in beautiful downtown Los Angeles.
I’d like to say I hunker down here while the coronavirus cleans out the planet, but I’m just avoiding having to deal with the four recycling bins rolled out by the Victorian state government in Australia. One for glass. One for garden clippings and food scraps. Another for paper and some plastics, and yet another for everyday rubbish. All too hard and confusing.
As a neighbor said afore I fled the country, ‘I haven’t a fucking clue what goes in which cunting bin and when to put ‘em out, mate.’
The eloquence of the average Australian cannot be underestimated.
‘Dump it in the streets,’ I told him. ‘It doesn’t matter. The world is drowning in rubbish and the Chinese will soon take over.’
‘What did you say?’
‘Who would have thought the Chinese would wipe us out with a virus,’ I went on, oblivious to the trap I was walking into. ‘The consensus was they’d do it through finance and infiltration of Western universities and schools.’
I should have been more careful with my audience. Turns out the neighbor—a Caucasian named Clancy Smith—‘self-identifies’ as Chinese. Taking on the mantle of victims everywhere, he was greatly offended by my insensitive comments.
‘You are racist,’ he shouted as I fled up the stairwell. ‘I’m going to get the Chinese government to harvest your filthy organs.’
So here I am in the Cortez, safe as virgins in Harvey Weinstein’s orifice.
After freshening up in my room, I made my way to the Blue Parrot Lounge on level two. There to be greeted by the elegant bartender, Liz Taylor.
‘How are you, old piss pot?’
Liz and I go back a long way; I knew her when she was a salesman called Nick Pryor.
She slid an extra-dry gin martini across the countertop.
I tossed it back and said, ‘Feeling rather misanthropic. The coronavirus can’t come soon enough.’
‘My, my, we are in a bad way.’ And when I didn’t play word ping-pong with her, Liz added: ‘The personification of the virus sits yonder.’
She aimed a gleaming talon at a booth occupied by bombshell with long black hair.
‘Who is she/he/it/them/they?’ I said to Liz.
‘The Italian Eurodance singer?’
‘Strictly speaking she/he/them/they is Brazilian. But yes, that Corona.’
‘Baby, baby.’ I leaped to my feet with more zest than I’d shown in ages. ‘Bring a martini for the esteemed personage.’
‘She/he/them/they only drinks Corona beer,’ Liz advised, lowering her voice.
‘Furnish me with a bottle forthwith, fair lady, and stop dawdling.’
Excited, I approached the Corona booth with a fresh martini in one hand and an ice-cold bottle beer in the other.
‘May I join you?’
Corona looked up and said, ‘Slide your toosh in, baby, and hand me that piss.’
I dared not disobey.
Beer chugged and burped, Corona said, ‘Ah, cold chill down my spine. No no more tears, give me a smile.’
I showed my pearly whites and, in a sign of the times, asked: ‘And what pronoun do you prefer?’
Corona looked at me as if I was barmy. ‘I am She.’ Head tossed back, she sang, ‘I’m every woman. It’s all in me,’ in excellent imitation of Whitney.
‘I’m glad that’s sorted,’ I said, settling in my seat.
‘What about you,’ she said. ‘What pronoun do you prefer?’
‘We,’ I told her. ‘I have sixteen different personalities, like Sybil.’
‘And are you into men, women, or goats?’
Corona smiled. ‘I’m going to like you. Okay, spit it out. What do you want?’
‘I hear you’re the embodiment of the coronavirus.’
She preened, serious when an opportunity presented itself. ‘Word gets around.’
‘Help me destroy civilization as we know it,’ I said, putting my cards on the table.
‘You better have a good reason.’
‘I don’t like having four recycling bins.’
‘That’s good enough.’
‘It won’t be easy,’ I pointed out. ‘Trump has used magic to erect a forcefield that stops Mexicans and viruses from entering citadel US.’
Corona bristled. ‘Trump erections are useless. He is a powerful mage from the hellmouth, but he is no match for moi.’ She stood, resplendent in figure-hugging red latex catsuit. ‘Come.’
I came, dear reader. And then I followed her to elevator. It took us to the rooftop. The view as the sun set was across ragtag buildings to the Port of Los Angeles. A giant cruise ship, big as an apartment building, was about to berth.
There was triumph in Corona’s voice when she cried, ‘Behold.’
‘Is that what I think it is?’ I said, astounded.
‘The Diamond Princess cruise ship.’
I could barely believe it. ‘But that’s like the Demeter arriving at Whitby with Dracula’s coffin and the rats.’
Corona’s proclamation rang over the basking city. ‘Let’s party.’
Upon her word, the plague ship opened, the quarantined spilled forth in their thousands, and invaded the streets. And when the avenues and boulevards of the movie capital thronged, all stood still, took their places and waited.
Techno pumped out of nowhere. Corona stepped onto the parapet of the Hotel Cortez, spread her arms, and began to sing.
I want to roll inside your soul
To know the things you need and feel…
By magic, the world broke into spontaneous synchronized dance. A seething mass of perfectly timed movement, as if all of humanity had been practising its moves and awaited only this summons to show its expertise. The music was infectious.
Every time that you’re by my side
I can’t get serious, because you got me…
The refrain swept the width and breadth of LA, encompassing the high and the low— even Steve Bannon was momentarily light on his feet.
Baby baby, why can’t we just stay together, yeah yeah yeah…
After a while, I began to pirouette and gyrate, giving myself over to the spread of the Corona Virus as it dispersed nationwide, infecting all of North America so that in time the Un-united United States stopped tearing themselves apart and tripped to the light fantastic.
The Sozzled Scribbler was born in the shadow of the Erechtheion in Athens, Greece, to an Egyptian street walker and a Greek bear wrestler. Of no fixed abode, he has subsisted in Istanbul, Rome, London, New Orleans and is currently hiding out in Melbourne. He partakes of four bottles of Bombay gin and four packets of Dunhill cigarettes a day.
His mortified amanuensis, Dmetri Kakmi, is a writer and editor. The fictionalised memoir Mother Land was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia. He edited the children’s anthology When We Were Young. His new book The Door and other Uncanny Tales will be released in May 2020.
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