"If you'll come meet me in San Diego, I'll let you try some of my Prozac," N. says when he calls me on Saturday. The tryst is strictly hypothetical, proposed with ironic distance. He is teasing me and teasing himself.

Now that his wife has moved out he cannot sweet talk me with pilfered Valium from her endless supply. I'm certain she took her stash with her, all those pain pills and tranquilizers, prescription bottles of barbiturates and newly minted sleeping potions like Halcion and Ambien.

"I must be the last person in America who isn't on the stuff," I tell him as I ink in all the O's in the San Jose Mercury News headlines. "So, you like it?"

"Oh yes," he says, "But it's quite expensive. Two dollars a capsule. But I think it's worth it. My doctor's on Prozac herself."

"So are you a zombie now or what?"

"No. No. My friend in Key West said it shriveled his penis, but I haven't noticed anything."

But I'm not asking about his sexual potency, by innuendo or otherwise.

Instead, I'm picturing more manic times when he tried to put termites down the front of my shirt. The basement was infested with them and all the wooden shipping pallets had crumbly piles of termite droppings next to them. He had the bugs in his cupped hand and we were running dizzy circles by the basement's locked elevator.

Certainly I am not thinking of a fine motel on El Camino Real where the big red LEDs on the clock radio bolted to a nightstand read 3:10.


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