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