It happened just over a week ago. I was lying on a plasticized hot-dog bun shaped med-bed on the third floor of the local Nashville nuthouse, waiting for the Ambien to amplify all of the other shit coursing across the blood-brain barrier: Zoloft…150 mg, a zonester of there ever was one…Ativan, a 10 mg mini-pill, clicking along the mellow mental interstate like an unloaded 18-wheeler dead-heading home…and my personal favorite, Risperdal, its 1 mg packing a punch like a lead-weighted glove aimed straight at the deepest wrinkles in the old medulla oblongata. Suddenly I saw them, in Technicolor on the insides of my eyelids, these words: I am dying of a broken heart.
Don’t get me wrong. It had nothing to do with the drugs, and certainly nothing to do with checking myself into the nut for a much-needed life-recalculation and some chemical cell-tuning. No, it had been coming for a long, long time, and the only thing that had saved me until then was that tried and true foxhole fixation, Denial. I’ve been real, real good at it, Denial. After all, I’m a Truscott.
My grandfather, General Lucian King Truscott Jr., died of a broken heart, having won a war and lost several graveyards full of dead American soldiers. So did my father, Colonel Lucian King Truscott III, who lost his share of American soldiers in two wars, but most of all, lost the Army he loved so dearly. And so did my brother Francis Meriwether Truscott, who took his life with a Tokarev pistol taken from an NVA Major in Vietnam. The war finally got him, his wife Debbie told me on the phone the morning his body was found on the back steps of his local funeral home. Broken hearts in the Truscott family follow broken bodies and lost lives right to the bloody fucking end.
I’ve had friends, too, who died of broken hearts. Hunter Thompson, who shot himself in his kitchen when he finally realized that what he loved as much as life itself — the fun — was over. Gore Vidal, who died in his bed never having been able to bring himself out of the Final Closet: he was for the entirety of his life a terminal romantic who lost his first love and could never allow himself to love again. And Bill Cardoso, who died with a tall Dewars and soda in hand and his loving companion Mary Miles Ryan at his side, still raging against a world in which he had no place left to write, no place that would publish a marvelous wit which he wielded with a rapier, nearly intolerable ego.
The weird thing about lying in the dark full of drugs in a nuthouse realizing that you’re dying of a broken heart is how good it feels. It’s soft and psychically comfy to finally realize that where you are and what you are feeling has roots in family tradition, and looked at in that way, there’s really nothing wrong with you. You’re a Truscott. Of course you’re going to die someday. Of course your heart will be broken. The two go together like gin and tonic.
And the truly awful thing is that you can’t figure it out, which will be the subject of this blog/book/facebook/whateverthehell it is. This is how far I’ve gotten: my first inkling that all was not well in TruscottWorld happened along the Jalalabad Road in eastern Afghanistan at the bottom of the Mahi Par Pass in May of 2004. It was 3:00 a.m., and I was standing behind two busloads of armed Taliban fighters headed west for Kabul holding AK’s with blood on their minds and bullets in their ammunition pouches, and at that moment I knew more by sheer unadulterated happenstance about the military intentions of the Taliban and the intelligence apparatus of al Qaeda than the entire United States Army, and I was standing there looking up between the towering walls of the pass at a thin slice of black sky, and I was screaming at the top of my lungs: When do I get paid? Where the fuck is my check?