I haven't done dope in six days. I am clean.
The physical withdrawal is pure agony but I'm no stranger to pain. Pain from shattered bones. Pain from not having medical insurance. There are worse things than pain. The real struggle is in the mind. The taste of euphoria lingers forever like the memory of love. But I don't think about that. I tell myself how easy it is to kick while I make another peanut butter sandwich. Yes, I have an indomitable will. I feel pretty good about myself as I mechanically chew the food. After I eat, I get sick almost instantly. The ordeals I face in the bathroom leave me exhausted. I stumble back to bed to hibernate some more. I feel like crap again, yet I'm smiling like a madman. Each time I wake up, I am stronger. It won't be long now.
"Hello...?" she calls out politely as a wave of air conditioned cigarette smoke hits her.
Sera walks in with a gift under her arm. A painting wrapped in brown paper. She kicks off her work shoes, sets the gift by the door and dumps her handbag on the console table. She has been away for five days. Three days at Burning Man with her old college friends and a work conference in San Jose. Naturally, he did not want to meet her friends, much less go to Burning Man. And he never called back about San Jose. Sera looks around and whistles.
Empty Gatorade, water and cough medicine bottles cover the dining table. The recycling bin is full of beer bottles and Sprite. A jar of peanut butter and bag of bread are on the counter. Sera can't decide what's stranger. The empty Cheez-It boxes stacked neatly on the couch or the empty Pepto-Bismol bottles that form a pyramid on the floor. And the coffee table should just be swept into the trash. The ashtray is so full of butts, it caught on fire. Again. Since the whole thing is clumpy and wet, he doused it with either beer or soda. Sera sniffs it. Definitely beer. Work clothes are strewn all over the room like he danced wildly and stripped off his garments one by one. And oddly enough, an exercise ball and two 15 pound dumbbells sit in the only clear space on the floor. Quietly she walks towards the bedroom. The door is open. She peeks inside and sees him curled up in a fetal position in the exact center of the bed. The comforter is wound up beneath him like a discarded cocoon. The sheet kicked to the floor. He's sweating, nude and completely passed out.
Well, thinks Sera, I'll ask him later.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~I feel good as I walk down the hall to shower. Had some fucking crazy ass dreams. Talking statues, deserted malls, owls. Without opiates, I am so out of it I fail to notice my condo is clean. Fresh air, not a nicotine fog, breezes in through open windows. Hm. My bathroom door is closed. It opens. A nude Sera walks out wearing only her glasses.
"Oh!" she blushes. Sera always wears glasses because she is legally blind without them.
"I didn't know I had company" I smile. The rest of the conversation takes place in the shower, in the bed and finally on the couch.
"Oh my god, I missed that!" says Sera loading up her bong and taking a hit.
"Me too" I lie.
I actually haven't missed anything but being high. But why mess with her good mood? Plus, after six days of opiate withdrawal, my animal nature has returned.
"Oh!" coughs Sera looking at me, "I got you a present! Hold on! Here!"
She hands me the bong which has a loaded column of smoke. I inhale. She comes back with a paper wrapped square. I tear away the paper and pull out the picture. Two angels resting on their elbows. Alas, I am a philistine. I don't get it or care. But I know I've seen it before.
"Wow" I say because my penis was just inside her. "Thanks."
"It's a detail from Sistine Madonna by Raphael. Their far away eyes remind me of you."
"Yeah it's..." I struggle to think but without the pills, the false compliments come slowly, "very nice. Yeah."
"Can we hang it over the couch? It's the perfect spot and the unstained, maple frame matches the leather."
"Sure" I agree. "Yeah. That'd look good. I'll hang it up later. Court says I can't be naked and wield a hammer."
Sera squints at me confused for a second and then smiles. "Oh, ok" she laughs.
Then she leans against me. Her body sags into mine as her arms fiercely encircle me. I hope she doesn't say it. Sera is too dear to lie to. Those three words she offers up every now and then...but she she just rests there. Finally she sighs.
"I have a favor to ask you" she says.
Thinking about Sera's dinner, I discover I'm nervous. This is usually not me but these are unusual times. My guts are still purging toxins from the withdrawal. Shitting like a seagull at any given time is a curse that lingers for at least a month after you quit. Trying to quietly pass gas could lead to horrible public shame. My bowels are uncontrollable. Sera walks in wearing tight silver pants with a wide, garish belt. Her blouse is too small these days and the buttons are stretched in protest. When she turns sideways, I can see her bra and belly.
"Does this look ok?"
My guts twinge. I need to get to the bathroom. But before I can stop myself, I blurt out, "Only if you want them to laugh at you."
I rub my face. What the fuck is wrong with me? I look up and smile.
"Sorry Sera. Still grouchy from my uh, stomach flu" I say quickly while wincing from intestinal pain. "But this is not a friendly dinner. You guys are on display so they can study you. Wear something more grown up...Uhm, more formal."
"Ok" she shrugs as I lunge around towards the bathroom.
On the toilet, I shit out my soul again. Mostly Cheez-Its and cookies. My soul is a piece of processed crap. I crawl back into the shower to remove the filth. Jesus. I can't do this. My tongue is black from Pepto-Bismol, I keep breaking out in a stinking, oily sweat and I'm so sleepy, I might pass out. But I said I'd go. Plus on paper, I'm a decent date. I have a business suit disguise and since I work in sales, I am an accomplished liar. But how? I select the one clean suit still in the garment bag from the cleaners and stare at my shaking hand. Jesus, I can't do this. Or can I?
And it happens so fast. Just like that. No second thoughts, no regrets. I leer at the twisted face in the mirror.
"How's this?" asks Sera. Now she's wearing some sort of two-piece purple office suit. If I recall, this is about as formal as her wardrobe gets. I fake smile.
"Good. Hey can I use your car? I gotta make a quick stop before we head out."
"Don't worry" I assure her. "Just get ready. I'll be back in time."
"Well, ok" shrugs Sera handing me her keys.
"Oh and can I borrow like $200?"
It was a complete disaster. Sera felt humiliated. The other job candidates were dressed to kill. They either flaunted athletically sculpted bodies in tiny dresses or strutted around confidently in expensive name brand suits. Most were blond and all were better at the game than poor Sera. There are three openings for Marketing Directors at the magazine. It was obvious Sera was not going to be one of them. At the condo, I pour her a coffee cup of whiskey. She holds it in her hands and stares glumly into the amber liquid.
"To you, Sera" I smile toasting her, "the only 100% human who applied."
It was a pathetic joke about the other applicants. They were fake. Fake hair, fake tits, fake smiles. In short, they were much better suited for a fashion magazine job than Sera. So I rub her back while she sulks because I am in a GREAT mood. The Gargoyle hooked me up with my old friend Roxicodone. One 30mg pill completely erased all the pride I harbored for kicking my habit. For the poppy spoke to me. It planted this seed in my soul and said, 'Yes, you can quit anytime but what do you want to do right NOW? I wanna get high. Higher and higher. So I took another on the car ride over. To push myself to the edge of the dream, I snorted a half pill in the restroom. As my head whipped up from the lines of powder on the toilet tank, I gasped with greedy, orgasmic pleasure. My meat is so weak but my soul soars with the sky. As I checked my nose in the mirror, a tiny, insignificant voice in the back of my skull buzzed in anger. Outrage at all the pain and work down the drain. Or up the nose. But fuck that guy. Fuck the world. Fuck you. I'm high...
Back in my element, I worked the room. Not sure how Sera felt about that one. She didn't get introduced to the executive team that hires. But I did. I shook Ed 'The Guru' Dalton's manicured hand. I schmoozed behind my mask that glowed with that euphoric energy unique to oxycodone. The prime rib was good, the drinks complimentary and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. I had to tear myself away from the fake conversations so as not to abandon my frumpy date in her ill fitting clothes. She never moved from our table. Her mouth was a thin line. When I saw tears edged around her purple eyes, I knew it was time to go.
Sera left my condo when I showed her all the business cards I collected from the bimbos and executive jerks. I don't think I was showing off, but maybe I was. When you're in sales, this sort of behavior becomes second nature. But it was rude. Especially the phone numbers from the women I met under vague business pretenses. I know how awkward Sera is around people. She misses social cues in conversations and can't read faces at all. She's just Sera. While she majored in marketing, I don't think the plastic life is for her. She's far too innocent.
Ahh, poor Sera, I think popping half a pill into my mouth and chewing thoughtfully.
Poor you, laments the voice in my skull.