The Luminary Postgraduate Magazine Lancaster University

Thanksgiving, no Thanks

David Garrett Izzo



Timing is everything— and juxtaposition.

If something bad happens followed by something good, the good takes the sting out, like if you get an unexpected bill that you can’t afford to pay followed by a check in the mail you didn’t expect. The opposite happens too and is much, much worse. For example, your girlfriend is thirty and still lives with her mother. She won’t stay overnight ‘cause she’s got to get home before dawn. Like I said, she’s thirty; I’m thirty one, and haven’t done this dance since I was a teenager: I want her to move out. Her younger sister who is already out wants her to move out. After six months of long rides driving her home—she lives in North Jersey; I’m in Queens—she agrees to move out. I’m happy. I rent a truck, and we ask her sister to help out and we move her into a two bedroom apartment still in Jersey—no more long drives in the middle of the night. After we finish, I’m smiling. She’s not smiling.

She says, ‘What’s that stupid grin for?’

I figure she’s kidding; she’s not.

She says, ‘I suppose you’re gonna want a key now?’

This cannot be real. I bust my back moving her in and now this.

She says, ‘We’re over!’

She brushes me off like a piece of white lint on a dark sleeve. In essence, she tells me to get lost and that I can remove the knife in the back myself. Her sister is still there I guess as a witness if I try to kill her. A band tightens around my head. I can feel its pressure at the temples. My inner temple is now a sacrilegious abyss where pride and ego have been buried alive. I cry, I beg. The pitiful wails are unbearable because they are mine. Her face is unyielding; there is hatred there. Could there be a crueler ending? Move her in and get dumped. That is it.

We’re Over!’

She steps on my corpse with six-inch stilettos to make sure I am dead.

The Blue Angel is a woman. The Blue Angel is a Devil. The Blue Ice is her heart. The Blue Lips are for the frozen kisses. I’m next to death, no heartbeat, no rhythm, no music.

I grovel and beg, and taste the sweat off the floor. It is bitter, like her words. Before, she’d said I was the lover she’d always wanted. Then the moon went full five times and I went from undisputed champion to bum of the month. How will I ever recover from the humiliation? My pride goes down with the ship, tangled in sea weeds, sadness, and a little madness as well.

While I weep and beg, she says: ‘So what that I told you how wonderful you were? So what? It was six months ago; I changed my mind.’

And to think I had been looking forward to great sex tonight.

I feel like a martyr. Reality check: No one wants to know martyrs.

I stumble away, get in the car, drive off. The booming bass I hear is my heart reaching through the windshield into the desperate night in front of me.  Pedal to the metal, I scream.  Primal rage. Final betrayal. 70, 80, 85 - welcome to a high speed nervous breakdown.

Death wish/death kiss/kissed off/did I have the balls to kill myself?

No!  Too bad!

‘You’ve changed,’ her sister had said to me just a month before this apocalypse, meaning my jovial self had degenerated into self-loathing since I began seeing the calculating bitch.

I’d become a valium-head being jerked on a chain. The only sight more pitiful than me was how much the bitch enjoyed her whip. The more I shrivelled up into a quivering slinky, the more her horns grew. The loss of my pride was the rise of her power. She enjoyed it. And now she thought it was get even time.

On me? Noooooooooooo... On the nightmares only her sister and I knew about. The hate harboured against the vicious past that robbed her sleep. From this, her barely subconscious wish was to get even. Never put your hands on her neck, even with affection.

The fear on her face, the cold sweat, her hand slapping my hands away, the whelping ‘No!’ like a child frightened by a spider. I’d only done it that one time; the reaction assured no second. I didn’t know why, and I didn’t ask. I found out from her sister.

Twelve years earlier, a virgin Catholic innocent, eighteen, away from home for the first time at Marymount College outside D.C. Warm night, open dorm window, she was asleep. Two hands choke her throat; two hands cover her mouth and tear at her Mickey Mouse pyjamas. Four hands end her childhood. Now she was a statistic. Catholics don’t get therapy. Catholics don’t tell anyone. Catholics stop going to church because they’re ashamed. The shame gouges out the heart, scarring it, hardening it. Twelve years later, don’t touch her throat. Only her sister knows … and me.  Too bad. The craziest thing was that she was wild for sex - animalistic. Her sister said she had not been that way before me. Go figure—any theories?

There better be pot at home. God help me; this is the easy part. We’re over. It’s a forty minute drive. A long time to scream.

Oh, did I mention it’s Thanksgiving?

I’m home by midnight, take the elevator to the fourth floor in this pre-war building with walls as thick as Hitler’s bunkers. That’s what I need now, a bunker for my siege mentality.

From the bedroom I hear the rabid traffic rumble below on Union Turnpike. Honking horns, cutting off, screeching brakes, cursing mouths, terrible sounds.  The grace of Turkey Day and the imagined concomitant good feelings have a legacy lasting no longer than the five minutes it takes to resume the manly art of dodging potholes. This outside franticness is not helpful. People are nuts—and mean, too.

For some, Thanksgiving means empty homes.

‘Holy hypocrisy, Batman!’

‘Robbin’’ is a high art form. Most certainly on a day and night when many homes are vacant—burglars know this. Come home to that nightmare, sucka, and let’s see how far good-will goes.

Meanwhile, from my fourth floor tower of a room, a clear view of the Manhattan skyline seems a matte backdrop rather than any reality I knew. It is fake. An image glamorized by distance and Frank Sinatra: ‘Start Spreading the News’

What News?

Frankie’s news is like so much of New York, a jello glimmer that fades up close into so many grimy cells of solitary confinement in distant APART-ments or for the trek on the steel cages of the A Train -- Duke Ellington has it wrong too -- don’t take the A Train filled with the other smelly cattle who make their way to the corporate slaughter where the ‘going green’ has nothing to do with ecology. They sit with their feet stepped on, asses in their faces, no room to open a newspaper except to hide behind. Others escape into rows of headphones to ward off the deafening roar of dark tunnels. Yet, the woman next to me had said -- after getting my attention -- ‘You know, I can hear that,’ as if she preferred the tunnel beast’s roar to Springsteen. What a moron.

Thanksgiving alone is a helluva bone to chew on - or smoke.

I chant:  Cannabis stupendous, profundus humungous.

I’ve got a Ziploc bag and plenty of matches. Hey, Mon!

GANGA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

McLuhan’s Wasteland beckons. Click, Click, Click. There’s nothing on the idiot box but The Waltons (‘Goodnight John-Boy; don’t jerk off too much or you’ll go blind’). What a mood-breaker. I eviscerate them as the TV screen goes black. I need a dark womb.

Instead I’ve got maniacal drivers and family viewing. This will not do.

I find a line of heavy bass on the stereo. I fondle the Ziploc bag with the special stash. I won’t be moving for a while. Don’t think!  Especially of HER. Puff! Puff! Puff! Puff!  Lionel got no choo choo train better than this.

Why am I not passing out?

It’s not for a lack of trying.

The bass is inside me now--Senssurround--tingling down to my fingers: My left fingers.

The pounding bass is riding me hard, syncopating with the dissonantly enraged car horns now manically enhanced by the Doppler Effect:


The screaming banshees are trying to get in my window. One of them has me by the balls. Every twist wrenches my internal Fender Bass. Ever heavier throbs eat my testicles. Giles Corey said, ‘More weight!’ Miller and I know how he felt.

Shit! I’m trapped in a fucking mammoth, reach-the back-row-of-the-Meadowlands- arena-sized gonzo rock speaker.

It’s as big as a house in direct converse ratio to my marble-sized ego.

The Pinball Wizard has my number. The little, tiny, puny, pathetic marble is ricocheting inside my brain, which is ricocheting inside the speaker, which is ricocheting inside my room, which is spinning around my head. The ballerina trick of not getting dizzy doesn’t work for two left feet.

I can’t fucking breathe!  My left arm is going numb!  Dumb! Dumb! Dumb! Steam is coming out of my ears. I’m tight. A corkscrew is in my chest and twisting. Each turn pulls my extremities towards my heart, which is being yanked from four corners in a massive coronary tug-of-war. The concept of ‘drawn and quartered’ has new meaning. All sides are losing, especially my left arm, which is tourniquet dead to the touch from my right fingers.

The bass keeps pace with my accelerated heartbeat. The bass is my heartbeat. Why haven’t I passed out? The room is too small.  I pace the long foyer punching my left arm to find life in it.

Where? What life?--in it? In me? In the universe?


The little persecutor/prosecutor inside my brain taunts me big time: ‘You’re dead, dickhead!’

He is lovin’ this. His bug eyes peer into the abyss like a cockroach Freddie Krueger.

‘Are you from Texas?’  the little Elm Street prick asks rhetorically. ‘If you’re from Texas, you must be an asshole from El Paso.’

I need help! I need help! I need help! I need help!

God, this is so humiliating.

I’m out in the fourth floor hall. Anonymous red/brown steel doors line up left and right. The elevator is across the Atlantic. I need help, but I don’t know any of these motherfuckers! I’m out of control.

Fools panic! Panic rules!

Somebody’s screaming. It sounds like me.

‘I’m having a heart attack.’

‘I’m having a heart attack.’

Multiple eyeholes click open to watch the show - no one comes out to deal with the madman. This is so pathetic. I don’t know any of these motherfuckers. Wait! 4C is Josh; I met him once on the elevator.

‘Josh! Josh! Help! Call somebody! I’m having a heart attack.’

No answer.

A door behind me opens a crack; a voice calls out, ‘An ambulance is coming,’ and slams shut.

I’m prone on the cold stone-tiled floor. I’m on ice, waiting to die. My head recites a mantra: ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry.’

Over and Over. My eyes are closed. My eyes are open. Light green EMS tunics hover over me like I’m a frog in Bio I. Condemnation registers on their faces.

I think, what an inconvenience I am.

I cough out, ‘I’m sorry.’

Over and over.

‘Tell my mother I’m sorry. Tell my mother I’m sorry.’

One EMS says, ‘Oh shit, here we go.’ In that uncompassionate instant I realize I’m not going to die - how humiliating.


‘Do you hear voices?’

‘Do you speak in tongues?’

‘Who is plotting against you?’

‘Do you think of suicide?’

‘Are there people you want to harm?’

I think but do not say, ‘Get in line!’ Which brings to mind a short list of potential victims: Judy who is a new woman, fresh minted from EST - Erhard Seminar Training - where she learned that she could demand what she wanted. If no one would say ‘No!’ to her scorched earth incursion that was not her responsibility as in (only semi facetiously) If I ask you to jump off a cliff and you do it, that’s your problem, not mine.  I taught her to drive stick shift and she drove me hard; Barbie, who just dumped me, denied that she ever said she loved me, and that I shouldn’t let the door hit me on the ass on the way out; my ex-wife who had given me the clap; any of my bosses past or present.)

They’d done an EKG to confirm what I already knew:  I’d smoked myself into a psychosomatic heart attack and nervous breakdown.

The Dr. says, ‘You know you need therapy, don’t you?’

Verily, I think, No shit!

I knew. I’d always known, but guilt and denial are formidable warriors against truth.

My brother comes and I cry in his arms.

Then I go home again - alone.

Back to Issue>>

Journal Home | Department Home | Editorial Board | Open Access Statement