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[whitespace] Excerpt from 'Miss Wyoming' by Douglas Coupland
(Pantheon Books; $23)


IN THE HOSPITAL John woke up long enough to hear the doctor tell a nurse that his lungs were plugged up with "about five cans of cream-of-mushroom soup," followed by, "Christ, he looks awful. I've eaten steaks healthier than this guy. He's down to what, sixteen T cells? He looks familiar. Movie guy?"

"Johnson. He did Bel Air PI."

"No way. What else?"

"Bel Air PI 2."

"Oh yeah--that was one of the few sequels better than the original."

"Yeah, sure, but did you see The Wild Land?"

"Nope. Never heard of it."

"Join the club. Didn't even go to video. I think it went, like, straight to Malaysia."

"Wait--didn't this guy do The Other Side of Hate?"

"Guilty. It went straight to in-flight. They might as well have shipped the dailies directly up to the Boeing factory."

"He deserves Holy Retribution for that one. I flew across the country about eight times one year and that movie was like a curse on my life. It haunted me no matter what flight or which direction I was flying in."

"At least it paid for Fun Boy's toy box. Check out the rope burns on the wrists and ankles."

The doctor and nurse inspected his body like it was a skimpy Christmas tree. "Well, like I say, whatever floats your boat. Time to Hoover out the lungs again. And monitor his CNS for the wobblies. This guy's pill soup. Christ, whatta mess. He's like the undead Sno-Kone that is Walt Disney."

The nurse turned on a suction tube, but turned it off when John made a noise. "Didnaw go vee-oh."

"He's saying something. What's he saying?"

"Didnaw go vee-oh."

"It sounds like mush. Listen harder . . . "

"I think he's saying, 'It didn't go straight to video.'"

"What didn't?"

"Wile Lann."

"The Wild Land."

"Yoo azzhoe."

"Well, Doctor, I think he just called you a prince."

That it was something bacterial, and not, say, an overdose of five different prescription drugs mixed with cognac and two Slimfast strawberry shakes that nearly killed him, was a fact not lost on him, regardless of what his medical team thought.

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From the February 10-16, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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