I’m trying to think if I ever really loved a president and I don’t think I did. Johnson was a baby-burner, Nixon a killjoy and a sneak. Ford, meh. Carter, double-meh. As for Reagan, I couldn’t stand him. We had all these dying AIDS patients and he acted like there was no epidemic. One night Lucy and I were driving around waiting for something to happen when we saw a guy with one of those big cardboard cutouts that people pose with. He had an instant camera, so we got him to take a picture of us pretending to molest Reagan. Lucy had her stethoscope on his groin and I had my scissors out. A crowd instantly gathered to cheer us. Everyone thought it was so hilarious that medics did anything but be medics. as if we came out of a box like action figures and didn’t have any other life. I wonder if I’m part of someone’s New York story. How years ago they came to the city and saw two lady medics clowning around with Reagan, and how strange and only-in-New York it was.
1981June 5 Los Angeles, California.
(Report of PCP cluster, pg 2, CDC weekly newsletter)
1. Previously healthy 33 year old man developed pneumocystis carinii pneumonia and oral mucosal candidiasis March 1981. He died May 3rd.
2. Previously healthy 30 year old man developed pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in April 1981 after five months of fever. Pneumonia responded to a course of TMP/SMX. As of latest reports he continues to have a fever each day.
3. 30 year old man was well until January 1981. In February developed pneumocystis carinii pneumonia that responded to oral TMP/SMX. Esophogeal candidiasis recurred after pneumonia was diagnosed.
4. 29 year old man developed pneumocystis carinii pneumonia in February 1981. He had been diagnose with Hodgkin's Disease three years earlier and successfully treated with radiation alone. Pneumonia did not respond to treatment and he died in March.
5. Previously healthy 36 year old man diagnosed in April 1981 with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia. He is still being treated.
All the players in history have stories, though. Even if we’re just props for someone else’s tale. I know I’m in a bunch of far-flung people’s life and death memories. And some people are in mine. Nameless, with their faces mushing together. Who was Lazarus? Just a man born to be raised from the grave?
All five were active homosexuals./All five used poppers./None of the men knew each other./None had sexual partners in common.
I think I only remember molesting Reagan because I have that photograph.
Just a few paragraphs on the second page of a dry newsletter./Not news. An oddity, a strange confluence of events.
It seems like what happens is, a few things get haphazardly frozen in time like that, but the rest I have to spend months reconstructing. Because I didn’t know it was going to be important.
In west-coast gay world, a vague sense of unease./Blinking in the morning sun/Venice Beach no longer entirely bakes away the effects of the night before.
I keep thinking I should keep a journal. Right now, of the Trump times. Document how no one I know can sleep, how we obsessively flit from one newsite to another. The way I wake up every morning wondering what he did while I was lying in bed, staring at the inside of my eyelids.
Before, the five men were: a hairdresser, a freelance model, a drug-addicted swinger, a publicist, and a hardworking man in a monogamous relationship.
That sounds so normal. Like it could be five men today. Except for the drug-addicted swinger. He’d be a drug addicted loser now, and people would be trying to get him to reform himself before he OD’d.
What became of the three who still lived?/I don't know. All had thrush./Deranged white cell counts. Fevers and sweats./They must have died soon after./But that's just speculation/ based on my expectation./It doesn't have to be true.
Part of me thinks, it must be on the internet. Everything is. I even found a death notice for my great-great-uncle who drowned January 7, 1906, in Dawson Creek in the Yukon.
I search and search, trying to find a reference online/as to what became of the men./ Nothing./They’re not men. Not anymore./When they got sick/they stopped being human, and became a part of history./Who they loved, who lost them,/Who cares? They're only our beacons now/Blinking a warning into the fog.