On Monday morning I woke up with a knife in my throat. My vocal chords were swollen and my tonsils felt like I had swallowed two basketballs. It was the recent 100 degree heat wave, I muttered, coupled with the air conditioning that had finally done me in.

There is nothing more treacherous than an out-of-season cold. It creeps up behind you when you least expect it and has the mercy of an Old Testament prophet. Wasn’t having an eternal cold one of the punishments in Dante’s Hell, I pondered? Was it for making fun of Eskimos?

Knowing what was coming next I drove to the local grocery store and loaded up with orange juice, cough drops, cough medicine, Kleenex, a jar of Vick’s VapoRub and two frozen pizzas. When I got home, I locked the door, turned off the answering machine, climbed into bed and turned my face to the wall.

That was three days ago. Since then I have sweated, shivered, hacked, groaned, sneezed, moaned, and sniffled. While drifting in and out of consciousness, I have listened to AM radio talk shows discussing Armageddon and UFO’s, and political pundits discussing Sara Palin’s economic policies.

In the small hours of the morning I heard my lungs wheeze like an old accordion and gnashed my teeth remembering all those years of smoking cigarettes. It wasn’t fair, I thought. I had reformed and given up the filthy fags. Even when I submerged myself in that two week film noir marathon I had resisted their smoky allure.

During the lonely afternoons I cast my mind back to previous colds trying to remember how long it had been until the ‘turning point’ was reached – was it three days or five before the death wish finally subsided?

This morning I stumbled into the living room and dropped some flakes in the bowl for Mikey the Beta fish. To his query about my plans for the day, I cocked an eyebrow (a Victor Mature affectation from my film noir experience) and said I was going to the grocery store for another pizza.

Did I have time, he asked, to swing by PetsMart to pick up some blood worms? When I replied in the affirmative, he advised me to take plenty of cough drops to forestall any incipient throat tickle from becoming a full fledged hacking attack and to remember to cross my legs tightly if I sneezed.

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