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Monday, August 31, 2015


"It looks vaguely like you sister.  And that one there, is shaped like me" remarks the bored voice.  "So...what is it?"

"Mortal creation."

"Why does each one come with a hole?"

"So they are never satisfied dear brother.  So they are never complete."

"You have always had a nasty streak in you sister."

The band of starlight glitters above as women dance barefoot in a desert tent.  They wander past an empty throne and watch the women.  The soft jingling of silver bracelets mixes with the perfumes of the night.  Vining flowers, myrrh and incense.  He senses his sister's creations are already lost in their nature.  

"Give them Hope at the very least."

"Agreed.  And Wisdom.  Without Light they will never last the night.  But let us make it interesting.  Our brother Euphoria would enjoy this."

"Three forces?  Balance?  That is a lot to ask from these pitiful creations but very well sister.  I will leave them alone."

"I will give them visions."

"And I will give them pleasure" says Euphoria walking out of your dreams.        

Gods and humans mingled then.  But that was a long time ago child.


Jason looks up the stairway and knows.  He can hear them.  Same old shit as last week.  Too many people.  The old man down the hall pretends to sweep the floor.  He knows.  The resident hall manager downstairs knows.  Jason is sure the blank cars down the street with undercover cops in them know too.

And he feels helpless.  No way to reach her except going to the room.  But fear of cops, fear of jail and fear of death keep him from that walk.  He can't even speak to her these days.  Residents here share a pay phone in the hallway and she won't leave her room.  She doesn't have to.  They come to her.  Fuck.  She is less than 200 feet away but she might as well be across the sea.  Maybe this is what she wants.  All those cuts on her arms and thighs.  All the times she starts crying for no reason at all.  Misery wraps around her like a padded cell.  

Fuck this, thinks Jason as he turns around to leave.

As he walks out he knows she wants this.  This is her design.  A customer funded death.  As Jason turns the corner he see's one of Caesar's boys casually driving by.  Jason knows the car from the Mission.  This guy delivers the dealers to the parks.  There is a Bay Mart halfway down the block.  Jason goes over to the phone.  He thinks about options.  He thinks about how crazy she is.  He thinks about how sane her smile was when he held her.  When she was safe.  

He makes the call.


"Ever notice how they never have any personal shit in their rooms?" says Detective Diaz.

He walks gingerly through the mess.  Clothes on the ground, newspapers, magazines and a small TV.  These state sponsored rooms are hard to get.  The waiting list is long because so many people have sad stories.  But the one thing on the contract that is inherently specified is: No Drugs.  

"Gone" sighs Detective Madison looking around.

But Diaz's statement holds true.  If there are pictures of loved ones, posters or even the slightest hints of a decorative touch like a houseplant or even a fucking kitten calendar there is hope.  But a room with nothing but a bed, blank walls, garbage and a TV is a space to conduct business.  Or a place to die, muses Detective Madison.  

But the evidence of what goes on here screams JUNKIE.  All over the table are balloons.  Rainbow-hued rubber shards.  But these balloons didn't pop.  They were peeled and clawed by desperate fingers.  

Detective Madison sighs.  She was hoping to catch their prey passed out.  Searching state sponsored housing is always depressing.  A phone cord people used to tie off veins lies on the ground next to an overflowing trash can that will need to be searched.  In the garbage there will be needles, cookers, bloody tissues and maybe receipts to log in the file.   But Jessica Ann Salter AKA Jasmine Pepper AKA Autumn Smith is long gone.  

"Boss?  Should I call base?  Let Jackson know?"

"Ok" agrees Detective Madison.  

This tip was from a someone that knew Jessica.  Relatives will often call but so will your friends.  The ones that know how black the fucking night can get.  Someone knew what was happening.  No one dealing this much tar would ever get a pass from the locals.


"I used to love cooking with my mom" says Kym wistfully from the couch as I make her a peanut butter sandwich.  "Lamb kebabs, citrus salads and tahdig.  Remember tahdig babe?  The crunchy yogurt fried rice one?"

"Yup.  Like Persian potato chips" I respond mechanically.  

To be honest I'm nauseous.  Only soda and simple sandwiches stay down.  But Kym's notion of comfort food?  Things like pomegranate chicken stews?  No fucking way.



"Why are we talking about this?  You refuse to cook-"

"I don't know!" moans Kym.  "I feel like shit.  I hate this!  Where's Jason?!"

Where indeed?  

In this great port city, all the connections dried up.  Nothing.  No more Chinatown Dragon powder, no more Mexican tar.  No more nothing.  Even the oxy is gone.  Nothing.

When Jason pulled up to X-Files Friday with NO HEROIN Kym and I were like What the fuck...?  But we dealt.  And now it's Monday morning...Still no FUCKING HEROIN.

We suffer.  A gray day in the city is like slow death when you have withdrawals.  Sad and hopeless.  Tombstone gray skies with cold earth chills.  Hope?  During the pain of withdrawal, hope is a corpse forgotten in the ground.  

We are civilized.  But it begins to unravel. I go in Jason's room and steal some tar he has hidden in the garbage.  We don't have maid service so hiding tar in the garbage is brilliant.  I share with Kym who urged me to steal it.  We feverishly burn it on foil and pass it back and forth in passionless kisses.  Like CPR.  Trying to bring the dragon back to life.  

"When I was in boarding school I had bronchitis" says Kym lighting a cigarette.  "I had codeine cough syrup you know?  Back then I used a spoon instead of just chugging it.  I remember waking up and seeing all these ants.  They crawled into the spoon and drank the syrup."

"Yeah?" I say taking the cigarette from her hand.  

The hit dulls some of the pain but euphoria soars impossibly high above us.  The wings of the god stir up the air so we can almost feel him...but he is so far away.  

"Yeah babe.  I was like stupid druggie ants!  They OD'd in the spoon.  Now I think we're the stupid druggie ants you know?  Oh babe are we fucked or what?"

"What?" I laugh projecting calmness.  "Why would you think that?" I ask softly touching her face.

"I don't know.  I feel pain without it.  I'm afraid it will go too far..."

"No!" I say sitting up.  "We won't let that happen.  We're NOT like that ok?"

"Yeah...ok" says Kym glumly.

I don't like the way she sounds.  Everything is so harsh when there is no love from the Flower God.  The shower burns your skin, cigarettes taste toxic,beer tastes sour and food is a disgusting paste to keep you alive.  

But the passion of being alive is gone.  


I awake in Darkness.  Freezing cold and dopesick.  My body is wound up, sore and snot and drool flow freely.  Kym has claimed the comforter, thrashed herself almost perpendicular so her knees were shoved into my back.  She hugs her pillow in angst but I can tell she is asleep from her rhythmic breathing.  For a moment I get lost in her looks.  She sleep's naked...Usually this would be acceptable boyfriend behavior but last night was tough for both of us.  Getting drunk helped a little but not nearly enough.  Kym kicked, groaned and sweated all through the night.  Poor thing.  I let her sleep, dress in the dark and walk to the kitchen.  

I boil water, grind some Sumatra coffee beans and make a cup of coffee in Kym's press pot.  The smell of fresh coffee brings hope to the morning gloom.  My copy of Modern Control Systems lies on the table.  I slip my fingers in the spine, feel the package and pull it out.  Two 30mg oxys I stole from Kym.  I take one as I add sugar to my coffee.  The warmth returns to my bones.  

A half smoked joint lies in the ashtray.  I relight it and toast frozen waffles.  I play Kym's Moody Blues tape Tuesday Afternoon.  

"Fuck dude!" comes the groan from the living room.  "First you grind coffee and now you play this hippie shit?"

Nearly ninja invisible, Jason is huddled all in black and melts into the couch shadows.  Only his pale face and exposed white arm reflect light.  He rolls up his sleeve, sighs and leans forward.

"Did you get anything?" I ask eagerly.

Jason looks up, visibly annoyed but then shakes his head.  I sigh.  Plate up my waffles with butter and hand him one.

"Besides what you 'borrowed' from my stash" says Jason accepting the waffle, "I got less than half a gram.  Here-"

Jason tears off a dark rock, puts it in a cigarette wrapper and hands it to me.  I fold it into my wallet.  

"Do me a favor" smiles Jason rubbing his skull and eating the waffle, "don't show Kym where I hide shit.  You're bad enough."

"Yeah sorry about that dude."

"Its alright.  It's fucking dry out there.  I tried last night.  My sure fire girl...but man it was bad."


"Remember Autumn?  Short girl with black hair and the eyebrow rings?"

I think for a moment.  Yeah that girl who was sleeping with Jason for awhile.  Always wore a black Greek fisherman's hat.  He had a pretty big crush on her but she disappeared.  Autumn dealt heroin.  What a fucking pair these two made.  Mr. Coke and Ms. Smack.

"The one with the stupid hat?"

"Hey c'mon!" chuckles Jason.  "Yeah her.  I'm kinda worried about her."


"Well I called the cops on her for one thing."

"What?  Really?"

"Yeah...fuck.  It was ugly.  Things were out of control.  Caesar's guys knew about her.  She had this Seattle mail connection" sighs Jason.  "I don't know.  It was fucked up but dude, I freaked out.  It was bad.  Scary bad."

I stare at Jason's face.  The carefree parts are missing.  He looks haggard.  Grim.

"I didn't know what to do!  Like last time I went there I knew it was fucked.  Blood on the walls fucked.  People were using her.  She has this new guy from the park.  I just wanted to take her out of there.  But she wouldn't go.  People started shit.  It got ugly."

I look at the clock.  Eleven minutes to Muni.  I will have to run for it.

"This is between you and me ok?"

I nod.

"Fuck.  So yeah.  Not sure when I can score.  I'll try again later but I need sleep."

"Don't worry.  You did the right thing" I say as I leave.  

Jogging through the Mission in the dark.  My body aches but I keep going because this is what I need to do.  Like Jason.  He had to do it.  The part that pisses me off is how I feel about it.  Like why didn't he just score one more time before calling the cops?  I could care more about Autumn if I had one little hit this morning.  This is a junkie thought.  This is not a good feeling.  But I catch the bus.  


I open my door.

"Where the fuck is Jason?" bitches Kym miserably from the couch.

I sigh and toss my backpack and jacket on the chair.  I was praying for a miracle.  I wanted to find Kym half nodded out on the couch meaning Jason has scored.  Not this.  Not again.  

"Fuck!" I groan.  "I was hoping..."

"Yeah that's great babe!  I was hoping too.  Now I'm going back to bed" sniffs Kym.

I look at my girlfriend.  She's walking around in tiny, ass-hugging cotton shorts with cartoon prints of panda bears eating ice cream cones.  She wears a NOFX t-shirt with the collar and sleeves torn off.  No bra so when she stands there, one hand on her hip the other waving a cigarette as she bitches at me there is no question.  She is ridiculously hot.  She cut her purple hair recently.  One side is flat from sleeping and the other side wildly points west like the winds of fortune.  

I want her.  I want to finish my chemistry lab work that is due tomorrow.  I want to make a peanut butter sandwich.  But instead, I sit down useless, miserable and bury my face in my hands.  So ill.  So tired.  Kym turns and I watch her ass strut back to the bedroom.  I hear her fall onto the futon with a UMPFH!  I hear the comforter scrunch around between her athletic thighs before she settles, sighs and starts reading magazines.  

I feel slightly guilty.  The 30mg oxys I took from Kym's makeup bag four nights ago have been making school sane.  I couldn't handle school dopesick.  So while I am in the unpleasant poppy netherworld where I am neither high nor sick...I have left my poor girlfriend behind.  

I think.  Because I swear I can smell tar...Hmm.

I go in the bedroom and lay next to Kym.  And I can smell it in her hair.  I definetly smell that vinegar, burnt bandaid, crispy foil scent we both know oh so well.  I smile and kiss her neck.

"What?" she demands looking at me.  I can see light in her eyes.  Secrets.  She is daring me.  And it dawns on me.  Of course she knows I took her oxy.  


"Oh nothing.  Just thinking.  Might be awhile before we get anything.  Jason's dealer left."

"Well" says Kym rolling over to stare at me, "maybe it's time."  

"What?  Quit?"

"Yeah.  I don't even get high anymore babe.  Just feel ok you know.  I miss the euphoria.  Maybe we were using too much.  Maybe we can-"

And the phone rings.  I look down the hall and turn back to look at Kym but she is already gone.  Long legs sprinting down the hall.

"Hello?  Devika!  Salam, chetori!  What?  Yes!  Duh!  I gotta bunch of cash from tips and he has the rest.  Ok!  Love you sweetie!"

Kym materializes in the doorway beaming a huge smile.  And I feel it.  Relief.  Euphoria.  Beethoven's Ode to Joy blasting from the sky.  

"You're gonna put out before they get here" smiles Kym taking off her shirt.  

Jesus.  I stare like a fool as she approaches.  Wild.  An explosion of matter echoing the creation of solar systems.  Radiant and free she falls on me and I laugh knowing only her.  Kym takes her pleasure like the Universe takes galaxies.  An abundance of energy, beauty and chaos.

And just like that, the Darkness is pushed away again.  Coiled above us, beating his metallic wings is the god.  Circling closer and closer.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yum Bakery, San Francisco at 2:37am


With a firm, controlling hand, the Chinese donut lady commands the mass of wasted, after hour revelers.  In twos and threes they stumble forward for donuts and coffee.  Fried, sugary delights to soak up excess booze and put drug fractured minds back on track.  Hot coffee to animate the bones of the drunk and drugged.  On a cold, black winter’s night by the bay, there is nothing better to rekindle the soul than donuts fresh from the fryer with a cup hot coffee.

I can watch the Chinese donut lady all night. She is my role model.  I aspire to be as efficient in my employment when I'm all grown up.  They should make her a required class at my university.  You can tell from her harsh, unwavering glare that the Chinese donut lady hates us all.  We are beneath her dignity, but she is a professional.  You never wait more than a few minutes for food.  If you're too wasted to talk, you can groan degenerately and point at what you want.  She'll even count your money if you’ve travelled way past the point of math.  

Kym lowers the bag of ice she got from the Chinese donut lady and places a cigarette between her glossy, lollipop-purple lips.  Wow, her cheek is swollen.  Poor thing.  There is probably a life lesson in all of this.  Like never throw a pint glass at security.  I learned that ghetto bouncers who are puffed up on steroids do not live by the 'No hitting girls!' rule.  Luckily Kym fell backwards just as the ape punched her because he was big.  Like Sasquatch smashing cheek bones big.  

Kym winks at me through purple eyeliner and pouts her candy lips as I reach over and light her cigarette.  The pointer finger on my hand is grotesquely swollen from sucker-punching the bouncer.  Another lesson.  Never strike a neanderthal on his long, flat shallow braincase.  Next time I'm sucker-punching a neanderthal, I’ll aim for it's throat.  Jason was upset at Kym as we ran away but appears to have forgotten.  Let bygones be bygones.  But this is the third club we have had to flee since Kym has turned 21.  Probably just a coincidence...Melo shakes his head at us as he gets up to check on Dev who went to the bathroom to puke. They were on their way to meet us when we ran past them yelling "Cops!"


Yum Bakery, San Francisco at 2:37am.

Melo comes back supporting Dev who looks a little pale but smiles.  Kym slides a chocolate Devil's Food Cake donut with rainbow sprinkles towards her which she starts nibbling.  Dev takes out her yellow Walkman from her Guatemalan knit bag and hands Kym an earbud.  They sit there listening to music and smoking cigarettes.  Kym listens with her right ear, Dev with her left.

"Imagine the thoughts being transferred between their brainwaves" smirks Jason.  

"Moths..." breathes Kym.

"Hummingbirds!" smiles Dev as she widens her eyes.

"Hey.  Do you think the cops are looking for you guys?" asks Melo.

Fair question.  I know Melo has drugs on him because he was meeting Jason to sell some.  Jason might have a warrant or two.  But I don’t.  So I shrug and go back to my chocolate old fashioned donut.  

"No way they’d look here!" says Jason as the cafe door chimes: BingBONG!

"Babe" says Kym quietly looking down at her half eaten blueberry jelly donut.  "Cops."

Two plainclothes walk in.  A woman and a man.  The woman is in charge.  Her butt-chin face swivels around the cafe crowd suspiciously.  Through her tiny, wire-rimmed, smart-guy eyeglasses she scrutinizes us.  Beneath her asexual haircut, is a short, bullish, vicious looking creature in a wrinkled suit.  The young Mexican cop that trails her looks bored and unhappy.  

"Jeez" smiles Jason sipping his coffee, "don't they even try to look undercover anymore?  Like these two would ever hang out in public.  Kym!  Doesn't that bitch look like Elton John in a cheap suit?"

"BWA-HA-HAH!" laughs Dev suddenly coming alive.  "ELTON JOHN!  CHEAP FUCKING SUIT!"

Kym covers her face, Melo hugs Dev close to muffle her laughter and Jason and I stare at the cop.  So do other customers who start snickering.  Maybe it's the glasses or the haircut but when Dev yelled 'Elton John!', the lady cop morphs into Elton John.  

"Shut up Devika!" giggles Kym into her coffee.

The whole scene is getting sloppy.  Drunks in line start wandering around to check out the cop and the process is interrupted.  But, like a pro, the donut lady brings the crowd back under her control with her LOUD, barking voice.


The cops walk towards the counter.  Kym turns to me, wraps her arms around my neck and kisses me deeply.  The world fades. I forget about the Now. I let her beauty and the feeling of her lips melt away reality. Nothing but You sings my brain...and Kym smiles as she pulls away and slides out of the booth. I stare at her ass as she walks off to the bathroom. Goddamn. The younger cop watches her ass walk away too but he does so professionally. He stops halfway down the aisle and plants himself defensively to keep an eye on his partner's back while the Elton John cop casually strolls to the front of the line.

"Boo!  Cheater!", mumbles a drunk.  

Another one grumbles, "Cutter!"

The angry Chinese donut lady could care less about cops.  She ignores the cop and serves the drunks wobbling around at the counter.  Kym comes back from the restroom and I look at her.  Distant eyes, a zombie strut and she looks like she has wandered away from reality. She slides in next to Dev, picks up the earbud, shoves it in her ear. Before I can comment, the Chinese donut lady screams, "NEXSHT!  NEXSHT IN LINE!"

She bags two chocolate donuts and a cinnamon twist for an obese guy in an Erasure t-shirt. He farts loudly as the Chinese donut lady hands him a large coffee.  She takes his cash, gives him change. He does not tip or apologize for farting.

And she moves on.


"Did that fat guy just fart?" asks a mesmerized Jason as the fat guy walks past us. He glares at us but keeps moving.

The whole donut show is bizarre from our booth.  Dev laughs maniacally, Kym looks bored, Jason is staring deeply into his lighter flame and I’m trying to figure out what they are listening to on Dev’s Walkman.  It's bouncy and something from maybe 5th grade...Duran Duran?  Poor Melo is trying to look nonchalant but cops make him nervous.  Plus we are wasted.  Dev is on a hallucinating amount of MDMA and ranting.  Kym was coked out of her skull and belligerently drunk at the club. But now she is quiet...Suspiciously quiet.  Jason and I ate LSD gummybears.  We ponder the Universe while remaining useless and lame.  And Melo is sober.  Poor bastard.  Hanging out with us is like taking a bunch of cats out on yarn leashes and trying to cross a street full of dancing mice that shoot laser beams from their eyes.

"You see this is Female caucasian tonight?  Early 20's, brunette, glasses?" interrupts the Elton John cop to the Chinese donut lady.  

The Chinese donut lady gets pissed when anyone fucks with the donut flow and stares back defiantly for a moment, shakes her head and turns back to her customers.  BingBONG!  More drunks amble inside like foraging bears attracted to the delicious scent of fresh donuts.


"Hey!" yells Dev to the cop.  "I know you!"

To our horror, Dev gets up and starts walking towards the lady cop.  She appears to be in a trance as she lurches forward.  Guided by her unnaturally large MDMA pupils she approaches The Law.

"What the fuck?" whispers Kym in a hushed tone.

I look at Kym and see powder around her nostril.  I reach in my pocket and baggie of China white is gone.  Kym pick-pocketed me when we kissed.  Amazing.

"Wipe your nose dear" I whisper back.

Kym smiles at me dreamily, wipes her nose, snorts and then goes back to watching Dev TV.

"Ms. Liora.  Nice to see you again" says Elton John cop.


"It's Officer Elizabeth Madison.  Are you interrupting me because you know this person?" asks the cop showing the flyer to Dev.  

Dev doesn't even look at it.

"Nope!  I have a question!"


"You're like, old already...So what feels better?  Being happy in love or the first time you ever fell in love?"

The younger cop shakes his head and walks off.  Just being in the donut shop makes him self-conscious.  He doesn't workout as hard as he does to have drunks and junkies whisper cop-donut jokes behind his back.  

Officer Madison looks at Dev for a moment and then she pinches the bridge of her nose to stave off the migraine she gets from working graveyard shifts in the Tenderloin.  

"What?” questions Officer Madison.  “You mean like the very first time you ever fell in love?"


"Falling in love" sighs Elton John cop.  "Nothing like it."

"I feel the same way too!  Like it's raining stars and flowers and my heart is ticklish!" laughs Dev like a loon.

Elton John cop smiles patiently at Dev.  This is a lady with a gun.  Then she rolls up the flyer and walks out.  As the cops leave, Kym nods out.  I watch her do a slow motion face-plant into the table.  The array of silver bracelets she always wears chimes and clatters as she knocks Jason's coffee over.  He stares at his lap in disbelief.

“Oh putain de merde !” he grumbles.

“What?” asks Melo.

“Casse toi!” groans Kym from the table.

From her mop of blue hair I spy the Walkman earbud fell out.  I can hear the song clearly and as the vocals begin.  I stand up and shout, ”Her name is Rio, she don't need to understand!”

“Fuck that was close” says Melo as Dev sits back down grinning like an insane person.

Then Dev starts to sing, “Oh Rio, Rio hear them shout across the land!”

"I feel like a hamburger" says Jason. "Not hungry. But like I AM a hamburger."

Melo stands up and looks at me. "Pick her up dude. Let's get out of here."


Monday, August 24, 2015

Rise of the Lizard King

After three months of mouldering in the Darkness, I saw my face in the cursed mirror.  My road to ruin is littered with torn plastic bags, empty pill canisters and dull needles.  I hear the Priestess every night in my dreams. Come back, she says. Come back.  But I can't do it.  I won't do it.  Being high is what I know.

But that face in the mirror...I barely know him.  Has that much me really slipped by? What else has happened? I check my bank account.  Demons that move like liquid over my moods release the Panic.  Wild, uncontrollable creatures fill my thoughts.  Cynically, the world is money.  You can believe this or not. But if you like electricity, cable and internet you must acknowledge this shiny, glowing god.

And I acknowledge.  

Everything bad happens.  I run out of Unemployment.  The IRS sends me a threatening letter regarding a tax bill for a cashed out 401K plan that totals more than $10,000.  Do I have gold, jewels or anything tangible to reflect this poor decision?  No.  I pissed it away on heroin and pills.   

I got a blood infection a month ago.  Could literally be from anything. But with whiskey came many missed shots and my shooting hygiene has been poor as of late.  I went to a health clinic without insurance.  They sent me to a hospital.  So $300 to see a doctor and have his admin call an ambulance.  $7,000 for the emergency room visit.  Then a letter outlining my uninsured hospital stay.  Days start at $1,200 plus expenses.  The food was terrible and they were very stingy with the opiates.  Not sure how much of the discomfort was from withdrawal and how much was from sepsis.  But man, the agony was intense.  I was left alone in the Darkness and surrounded by machines.  Here I met a new god I will spend the rest of my life avoiding.  Pain.  

And now my bank is after me.  When Rosie fled the country for taxes or narcotics or whatever, she borrowed money from me.  A thousand here, a thousand there.  The check she wrote me for $6,500 bounced.  When I pointed this out she shrugged and said, "Oh my money is tied up in Costa Rica.  Have my car."  

She signed over her car to me.  I have never actually owned a car and was excited for about a day.  Then the car was gone.  It disappeared from the office parking lot.  My last message from Rosie before her number was disconnected was contact information for the repo company the bank uses.  

My only good fortune in all of this was I was too high to go to the DMV to do the title transfer.  So at home, I burned it.

My net worth is a negative number.  Rent is coming up, there is no food and I have no answers.  Well, I have one answer.  I shoot up in my right arm which is tricky but I have less bruised puncture wounds on that side.  I slip into the nod and another afternoon drifts by.  Cottony clouds of cable TV shows slide into my shiny eyes.  The warmth of my god whispering only gentle things to me brings a lost smile.  Familiar bliss.  

When I awake, the withdrawals boil through me like writhing snakes. Besides muscle aches or nausea, a new sharp pain in my gut fill me with dread. Like roof nails driven into my bowels. I double over and groan. The clock on TV says I have slept for almost 12 hours...really?  Did I OD? Maybe my body craved the sleep.  The couch has a body-sized sweat stain where I twisted and burned.  

I feel terrible.  My first thought is to shoot up.  Just a little...But I remember the visions.  I saw her.  My little priestess.  My guardian.  Unlike the ghosts that chase me across the dream plane, the Priestess is forever kind.  The Priestess shows me only the paths I need to move forward.  Not the ones I enjoy visiting in sorrow.  Not the ones that lead me back to forgotten tropical seas.  Vast oceans of blue opening up like a ghost scream...

She only shows me the path that is needed Now.  

"It is time to summon him" whispers the Priestess.  "Your new mask.  Your old mask is lost and forgotten."


"Remember!  Your boldness.  Your confidence.  The powerful man from yesterday and the broken man on the couch today are the same man."

But he is gone Priestess.  Tortured, withered, dead, and forgotten.  But I understand. These problems are my problems, regardless of who wears the mask.

There is a Doors song that is actually a piece of a long forgotten spell.  But in the fragment is true power.  

"I am the Lizard King.  I can do anything."

I awake in clarity.  

When your path is lined with poppies, change will come hard.  Some choose not to leave.  But most do nothing and let the god decide.  The farther you walk down the Path of Flowers the more beautiful the madness becomes.  Each step into the god's garden is one step farther away from your soul.  But do you still care dreamer?  

I care. Thankfully there is the Lizard King.  I create him with half my soul.  I agree to keep one foot in the real world and the Lizard King is my envoy with full powers.  I bind the creature that thinks, ponders and pragmatically solves complex life decisions to my lazy dreamer, self.  

When I wake up, I cringe at my weakness.  My shooting kit is out in the open and a dropped cigarette has burned the couch.  I need help.  So I summon my creation.  Give him a test run.  

The Lizard King is weak from all the years of abuse and needs a little opiate to function.  I feed him enough to stave off sickness.  Two roxies.  I go over my options.  I need a plan.  I get the mail and divide it.  Bills on one side and credit card offers on the other.  Luckily, my credit scores are based on when I had a salary and zero debt.  The Lizard King sorts through the pile.  One is especially attractive.  $20,000 credit, 0% for one year.  I fill it out and call.  I give them my offer number and they run my numbers. Everything goes smoothly until they ask about Employment.

"Freelance" I answer.

The process halts.  I ask to speak to a superior rather than wait because I am on a business trip to Singapore, lies the Lizard King.  A manager gets on and I explain in tech jargon about Nothingness.  Nothing to show and nothing to worry about.  A Rosie trick.  They accept my answer.

Now I have a year.  Selfish me wants a shot.  Selfish me wants to figure out how to turn the credit card into cash.  But the Lizard King hangs up the phone and makes some notes in his planner.  

I go out and enjoy breakfast.  A bagel bacon and egg sandwich, coffee and Help Wanted ads.  The job market looks promising which is positive.  Then I go get a haircut.  I have rotted inside my tomb of an apartment for three months which means I am shaggy.  

A tall Korean woman with long legs and beautiful skin washes my hair and asks how I want my hair cut.  Her touch is magical and I realize I have been away from people too long.  Just to practice, I start flirting and lie about what I do.  She giggles and banters with me.  I see a wedding ring so I start shamelessly hitting on her and then I ask her out.  She turns me down.  But I have made her happy, given the two other ladies cutting hair something to talk about and I realize, I am happy too.  

As I leave, I think of Sera.  For immoral reasons at first but then I remember an email she sent me weeks ago.  Sera has a new job.  She is a recruiter for tech companies.  

With my excellent credit, I open an account at Macys and purchase a new wardrobe.  I must disguise the Lizard King appropriately.  Let them see only the bold creature in nice clothes and ignore the sick, frightened invertebrate cowering inside.  

Back home, the Lizard King does math.  I can live for eight months on what I have if I a spend carefully.  Yes, this includes drugs for the Lizard King is realistic about all matters from eating out to the rising price of illegal oxycodone.  I email Sera for more information about her work, put away my clothes and feel better.  I have taken one step in a direction.  Not sure which direction, but I have started moving.  

I sit down and open a bottle of beer.  Mycroft the fish looks at me so I feed him.  The dehydrated blood worms he eats are probably what my veins look like.  His giant glass jar looks filthy.

"I'm changing Mycroft's water" says the Lizard King.

Actually doing stuff versus dreaming about doing stuff soon is the true power of the Lizard King.  Little motions like cleaning Mycroft's jar beget energy.  This energy starts to gather and build momentum.  Mycroft flashes around his clean bowl and I rinse his anubias plant island in the sink to clean off the dust.

"I need to start exercising in the morning again.  Push ups, sit ups, crunches and yoga to start with" says the Lizard King.


"And we gotta cut back.  No more needles.  Let the holes heal, dude.  You know what I mean."

My gut tightens.  No more shooting until the wounds heal is his old trick.  After the punctures heal, the urge to shoot has usually passed.  Clever.  But I don't like the vague cutting back plan for I am a junkie. I need to know where I stand.  

"Cutting back?" I question.

"Yeah.  With your usual high, I can't function at the level required to trick bosses.  Though you barely feel it and would love to be higher, your brain is mush.  Zero concentration."

I sigh.

"C'mon we gotta climb out of the hole.  I can do this!  But I need you."

"Alright, alright..." I agree.

"Look a taper is all I'm asking.  No more needles.  Scale back the H.  Let's get off it and worry about the pills later ok?"

"Ok" I nod checking my computer.  "Hey, I just got an email from Sera.  She wants to meet tomorrow for lunch."

"Good!  This might be the easy way back in.  A few temp jobs will get the cash flow back.  Plus I'm out of practice.  Hey do me a favor and let me talk to Sera before you go into social mode and try to get laid.  I have questions on insurance, salary requirements and shit.  Oh, and I'm working on your story.  Maybe something like you took three months to travel?  Need something for the resume."

"Good call."  

The Lizard King goes on about other concerns and how to solve them but I grow bored. I send him back to the other side.  

Now it is just me.  I finish the beer and get my heroin.  I have about a gram of tar left.  I smoke a tiny ball of H on foil.  Haven't done this in ages.  The high is not as pleasant and the throat taste is just wrong.   But I still have the skill.  The foil is barely burned and the smoke rolls off evenly.  Very little dragon escapes my straw.  

Things are changing.  I inspect the Lizard King's work on my updated resume.  Very impressive indeed.  I print out copies for tomorrow's meeting with Sera.  I think of smoking more tar but nah.  I'll read in bed and try to relax.  Maybe make a grocery list and polish my work shoes.  Feels weird to do normal people things but it also feels good.  I'll finish this tar and keep the pills for later.  I can always get more pills.  

Sadly, I find that thought very comforting and use it to anchor myself in this new adventure.  

I wake up on Tuesday morning in my usual panic.  Dark moth wings fluttering against the windows in my mind. Strange animals screaming and pulling at me...Bills overdue, math not adding up, sinking, drowning, choking doom. The clock says 4:44 am.  I am psychotically alert and frightened and...wait.  

Wait a second.  Remember our pact?  Remember all the work we did?  Let the Lizard King handle it.

I close my eyes and drift away. A feather falling through starlight into the sea of dreams.