The alarm screams at me from the Darkness. Alone with the dopesick beast gnawing on my nightmare. A pale thing with holes and bruises. Propped up nude, I look like scarecrow corpse with madman eyes.
And my god follows me. Every moment of my waking life he whispers:
"You need me child. I will give you the pleasures of the Gods. Walk with the Night. Know my Love."
The first thing I do every morning is decide whether to shit or puke. I keep a bucket by the toilet for moments when I can't decide. One less dose has released the opiate binders in my intestines. Emptying my guts from both ends always leaves me shaky as I prepare for work.
Put on the Mask. Pray the glue in the cracks holds for one more day.
I start the shower. Purify the filth, cloak the death scent with soap. Put on a happy face! Only one bottle of shampoo in the shower. I smile remembering things like Japanese Oatmeal Facial Scrub or Papaya Restoration Conditioner for Colored Hair...A woman's touch.
It has been six years since I lived with a woman.
They invited 'just a few people' over. People from Kym's work, some musician friends of Jason. No big deal. But people kept knocking. Tired of opening the door every few minutes, they finally just left it open.
And they kept coming.
My brain is needed for this assignment and so why did I take Ari's LSD? Jesus. Did I really think it would make things easier? And there is a storm churning out there...The intensity of merriment is whipping up like a cyclone of beasts. The humming of drunken voices grows louder. Last time I went out for a Pepsi and a piss, I watched strangers shuffle in carrying twelve packs of beer. LSD makes me curious, so I stare.
"Oh hey man" smiles a short skater-looking suburb kid. "Like uhm, Kym said there's a party here..?"
Behind me is a girl is being held upside down over a keg and sucks beer from the tap. A crowd counts as her face grows red from gravity. At 17 seconds, beer foams out her nose and she spews on our carpet. The crowd cheers.
I suppose there is a party.
Back in my room Melo, Dev and three people I have never seen before have infiltrated my academic sanctuary. The microwave is plugged in on the floor. A coffee cup whirls within.
"Hi Lover!" chirps Dev with wide pupils and an extra happy grin. "We're making microwave crack."
"Hello Dev. Yes. That seems like a good idea."
"Dude" nods Melo.
"Hi! I'm Amy! We met at Rondo's" says a pleasant looking redhead with a pierced nose. "This is my boyfriend Jeff and this is Autumn!"
I look at them. Flannels, boots, piercings. Autumn wears a black Greek fishermen's cap. Rustic versions of city kids. Our Northern cousins. I go back to my desk. The LSD is starting to pulse through my core. Though they sit less than four feet away I have not spoken. I turn to them. They all look up at me expectantly. I struggle for something to say but the moment passes.
I turn back to my book and hear Dev giggle.
Two things became apparent. First, LSD is not a party drug. Who are these people? The one named Autumn seems to know me. She asks about Jason but I got lost in her t-shirt. A cow with a cigarette wears sunglasses. It says, 'Cool as fuck.' As I ponder this, Autumn pulls her flannel close. I realize I'm staring at her chest.
Mayan hieroglyphics spiral down from the ceiling on gossamer threads and it hits me like religion a moment before a violent death. I am Enlightened. I am the Chronicler on this night of drunkards and freebasing microwave crack smoking fiends...Then something smashes into the hallway causing peals of familiar laughter.
Oh yeah. The second thing. The second truth is Kym is wildly out of control.
At work, no one likes me. I am cloaked in a Serious Man disguise. A humorless, office drone. I will not high five you or accept your celebrity porn. Years ago they stopped asking me to get drinks, meet their children or hang out after work. Now they leave me alone.
I survive here by being high. My 10am oxy and cocaine bullet in the bathroom keeps me even. Oh and the 3pm one. Sometimes the emergency 11am one too. But as I withdrawal, my humorless side becomes palatable. I fucking hate this place. I fucking hate these assholes. My mask slips a lot due to the extreme physical distress of opiate withdrawal. I catch myself frowning a lot behind the cracks of my Mask.
I stare at the spreadsheet that shows how to bleed a third world nation we operate a lawless enterprise in. In column D are human beings far across the sea. In my withdrawal pain I consign them to flames without further thought. As cruelly calculated by Accounting, we just saved 1.4%.
I am one of ten thousand slimy tentacles writhing on a dark beast miles below the Earth's crust.
Time passes slowly here. I open another spreadsheet and wait to die. It's almost lunchtime. But no one will ask me to lunch.
When I hear Motley Crue's 'Kickstart My Heart' cranked up ridiculously loud I know Kym found the coke. This song is a warning.
"Uh oh Kym found the coke" cautions Melo looking up like he can sense a shift in the weather.
Dev rises from the circle of freebasing crack smokers. Then she points at me and says, "By the pricking of my thumbs! Something wicked this way comes!"
BOOM! The door explodes open pouring the drunken roar of the party and Motley Crue inside. Kym puts a finger to her lollipop purple lips and goes, "Shhhh! He's studying!"
Then she laughs and stumbles inside. Her followers peek into the room to see Kym's mysterious boyfriend. Hunched over a pile of books with my mouth hanging open at Dev, I do not impress. Kym stands there with one hand on her hip looking at me like I'm boring.
"Whas the fucks wrong with you?" slurs Kym as more random people pile in like lemmings. "Frying again?"
I smile. I can hide tripping sometimes but not now. Windowpane LSD is like walking around inside a cartoon. Everyone is staring at me. I'm an alien.
Kym grabs my shirt and kisses me deeply fusing my dream world to her sexuality...I hear Dev explaining that we are her TV. I wonder what that means...Kym slides into my lap. Study time is over. Smeared rainbows trail from her silver jewelry as she coke jabbers at me. Water flows from the walls and stars twinkle in my peripheral vision.
Tonight she wears black. Tight black jeans, a Nirvana crop-shirt, black boots and dyed black hair coiled into two horns atop her head...I stare at the madness of her screaming blue eyes as she gossips about Jason. Then she tilts her head like a bored predator deciding to end it now or have more fun? She licks her lips and looks at me slyly.
"Do some coke with me babe. Do it off my neck" she smiles leaning back.
I inhale her scent and the cocaine. I lick her skin and drown in the ecstasy of her delights.
I'm choking on this damn day. As I lick an envelope I gag and burp up bile. Sweating and panting I hold onto my desk and fight the urge. Calmly, I swallow it, Not a great start to lunch.
I crawl into my car. I have a view of the some trash strewn across a hillside. I set my phone to wake me in 30 minutes. The morphine withdrawal makes me pass out almost instantly but I wake up ill. Groaning, I open my car door and puke. I open a Sprite, drink half and pour the rest over my puke and pass out again.
When I wake up, I take an oxy. Sorry taper. Not sticking with my plan. But since I'm starved, dehydrated and dying, I get a nice buzz. I almost feel normal when I walk back in. The manager that accuses me of stalling projects (100% true) sees me and nods. I nod back. Earlier I would have scowled. Chalk one up for prescription drug abuse.
I crawl through my day. The pill buzz is brief. The last two hours pass like gut wound murder. But I'm watched. I work the full 8 hours to justify my keep. As I leave, no one speaks.
My heart has been beating wrong. Like a caged fish flopping in my bones. I gasp, swoon and keep moving. Outside the sun burns so hot I could just lay down on the asphalt and die.
"Kiiickstaaart myyyy heeeaaaaarttt" groans Kym dramatically as the song ends. Loud bass music begins and the walls vibrate as Kym drops to the floor giggling.
I stand up to get my smokes when she suddenly grabs my leg and pulls me to the floor. People yank up their drinks and scatter as she roars and tries to pin me. When she bites my chest I yell and kick over the bong. She straddles me so I grab the coke, yank her shirt down and do a bump off her chest. She laughs, grabs my head and sways rhythmically to the Geto Boys.
She snorts bumps off my stomach and licks me as I stare at the gossamer stalagmites that drip crystal butterflies over me. Kym's head whips up in a deranged cocaine glow as she howls maniacally. Her eyes are peeled wide open like twin, exploding stars. I reach to stroke her face but she jumps up.
"Shots! Let's do some whiskey shots babe!"
Kym drags me out as more people stumble in to freebase Dev's microwave crack. Our house is packed. I feel otherworldly weird weaving through the crowd.
"Bye-bye Lover!" yells Dev as I trail my love star into the storm.
I am instantly surrounded by people and every single one of them is smiling.
I spend my days alone. At work I am surrounded by people I loathe. I live in a crowded apartment complex with hundreds of people I don't know.
Driving home, it hits me. I'm starving. I pull into a Taco Bell. The young, black girl that serves me smiles professionally. Like a lonely freak, I take her smile back to my table to ponder. So few smiles in my life. I wonder what it would be like to hold her dark skin in my pale arms? I actually feel lust. My penis still works.
I enter traffic and crawl down the El Camino past the stores that all look the same. So many people here. All dressed blandly in khaki, casual office wear. And I look like every other motherfucker. But appearances can be deceiving. My track marks, black bags under my eyes and the 1000 yard stare show I am the weakest creature in the herd. The one that will be picked off first by wolves. But no one cares. No one notices.
If I didn't get haircuts or go to the doctor I could avoid human contact for years in this strip mall town.
"There he is!" yells Jason who lunges through a throng of people to grab my hand and hug me. Bear crushing hugs are his specialty and he lifts me off the ground like we haven't seen each other for months. We actually ate dinner at Tacos El Unico when I dropped the acid.
It is a lovely thing being young and stupid. There are over a 100 people in a two bedroom flat. I sense the storm is raging slightly out of control but who cares? It all swirls together in a melting loop of cartoon madness as I tether my brain to three anchors for sanity.
My first anchor is Dev. She tells me everything is alright. I love Dev and believe anything she says when I'm dosed. Tonight everything is gonna be alright.
Jason is another one. He circulates and makes everyone feel awesome. Three random Mexican guys that can't speak English followed the noise from the street into our house and Jason gave them beer. That is so Jason. Plus I bet he dropped at least $200-$300 bucks on the booze and pizzas that keep appearing as the night rolls on.
My last anchor is Kym. She is dancing which is witchcraft when you are that beautiful. Her spell releases people from their lives so they are free. In my LSD eye I watch her transform them to music. No sense of self as they descend into her madness and follow the Maenad. Howling and crazed they move like the world is burning. Men and women surround her but I barely feel jealousy anymore. They are part of her world. Playthings. She weaves through them laughing.
Plus Kym publicly claims me with sloppy, overtly sexual displays of affection. These embarrass the hell out of me but make me realize I am one her anchors. A tether back to the world that lets her freely turn from flesh to energy without worrying about repercussion.
She knows I will catch her.
End of the day. My present to myself for going to work is heroin. A foil bead tribute to the Dragon god. I need to jump off the smack. I need to get more pills but they are so light and feathery in their touch. A flirting sensation that flees quickly from my weary mind...With fire I chase the Dragon across the silvery plain.
As I hold in the smoke I can hear my neighbors. They exercise after work, eat at meal times and rear two small children. They have goals and dreams and go places on the weekends.
I am alone. Peanut butter toast is dinner and I'm counting pills for my evening taper. I put them in a bag and lock the bottle in a safe. TV bores me. Too twitchy to read as the Dragon leaves the room. He is winding through the furniture and slips through the window. He takes my message to the Flower God.
I miss you.
Jason has his arm around that girl Autumn. Kym is messing with the stereo. Dev materializes in front of me. She is so tiny. Without a word she suddenly hugs me fiercely. I freeze as I am not a hugger. But I melt into her small embrace. I can feel her energy and it feels good. She releases me and smiles.
"For your next life" Dev says as loud jangly guitar sounds fill the room.
Everyone here knows this song. My roommates play it over and over and it fills them with energy to get crazier and crazier. With his arm still around Autumn Jason spits beer into the air and drags her into the room while yelling along with the song, "That's the way it GOES! This city is so COLD!"
And people start howling along and jumping up and down while screaming the chorus, "Baby I'm born to loooose!"
I can feel the old house shaking under the dreadful stomp of hundreds of boots. It feels like they could bring it down as they howl and scream along to the song. And fuck, it's good be alive.
I wake up at my dining room table. Seven empty beer bottles and half empty pint of Jack Daniels greet me. I look at the clock. Only 9:20pm. Shit. So many more hours until my alarm. I feel like I'm gonna be sick so I check what's left in my taper bag. Empty.
Gone. Like me. I don't feel high. I just feel like I can puke. The doctor said I'd die if I keep this up.
I wonder when?