Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Witch's Heart

"Many years ago, a witch reigned over this land. For her sins she was..."

Wait! What the fuck is this. Where is this god damn voice coming from? It couldn't have been any more than 10 minutes ago since I took those... oh I see. Well... I apologize for the commercial interruption now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

The alien texture of the bed I lied in rubbed against rubber-tinged meat (in my old life, I used to call this skin but that didn't really seem like the best term for it given my present circumstances). Subdued visions flowed like polistirex to the slow, song-like tone of whatever disembodied voice narrated the tale of the witch.

"... burnt at the stake and what little remained of her corpse, buried."

I felt my heart race and felt the air grow thick as I clumsily moved my hands around taking breath after breath, batting away at the unwashed blanket that covered my naked body. The darkness of my sensory spots illuminated the clogged neuro-pathways of whatever was left of my fucked up brain.

"Though burnt, the witch's heart still beat bellow the earth. Turning the small patch of land it was entombed within to poison. Wanderers privy to the ancient lore have learned to steer clear of this spot for those who venture there never return the same... if at all."


Empty bottles of Walgreen's gel-caps, cigarette butts and a half pint of Black Velvet decorated my floor. Some had yet to fall from the nightstand. Other's (fallen soldiers) had rolled under the bed weeks ago. They were buried just like the witch. Just like me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Linguist's Puzzle Box

Betonni pokriti nevroni 20 gorya
mesni kostyumi v zloveshta7-06f krasota

бягам kostyumi वी zloveshta Krasota 0d 0a

meat suits 險惡之美 hعن شريرة
'iikhfa' alshshuquq dakhil aljidar wakashf ean sharira beauty Ñ 
hùnníngtǔ bǎohù céng shénjīng yuán raztopenid

6f 6b 72 69 74 69 20 6e  ê


raztopenidŭzhdobraninashite




Notes; (An avant-garde prose-poem of mine with a few twists… This is what happens when you mess around with a language translator on a slow day at the office).





Friday, February 24, 2017

108 (Short Prose, Fiction)

It was late. A frigid darkness filled the sky and seeped into all the surrounding embellishments of the city. As the wind blew through the forlorn streets, and as the broken glass below him shimmered in the faint moonlight, Nick realized that he was alone, completely and utterly alone. The glassy, trash littered roads, bathed in the somber radiance of night and, though the sun would be up in a few hours for the time being, it slept in quiet desolation. The sunrise had always captivated Nick, but lately its beauty had started to fade. The warm glow which had once brought hope and renewal had now become part of the same monotonous routine day in and day out. The thought of this endless cycle made Nick cringe; he hated what his life had become. The systematic perpetuation of such painfully mundane functions, the eb and flow of the cruel and absurd events which had come to define the very nature of his existence sickened him. He took one last drag from his cigarette and dropped it from the balcony. He watched it fall and as he looked down upon it he couldn’t help but think of the symbolism that it conveyed. A dying ember in a cold and darkened world, this was surely the fate of all men. Nick went back inside away from the flickering neon lights of the seedy motel across the street from his (seedy) apartment, and closed the door behind him.

Once inside, Nick made his way to the bedroom, opened his nightstand, and grabbed one of the many containers within it. He then removed his blessing, curse and savior from the tiny orange bottle and fixed his eyes on the three green circles resting in the palm of his hand. One by one, he clenched them between his thumb and index finger, then after a few moments of silent reflection, (a doomed prayer for each pill), brought them to his mouth and swallowed. It wasn’t long before a warm, numbing sensation engulfed him. As he began to drift off into nothingness, Nick couldn’t help but wonder why he kept doing this.

He looked in the mirror, stroking his greasy, black hair and 5 o’clock shadow. He didn’t really like what he saw but none of that mattered now…Nothing mattered.

“You’re watching KGIL Channel Five News for the greater Sharronsburg Area.”

News headlines flashed across his television screen; “Three more dead in Pakistan.” “The V.P. of Foster and Reynolds is awaiting arraignment on federal charges. “Forest fires continue to ravage the West Coast“. It was all trivial nonsense. Nick was sedated far beyond the point of caring about the news, or much of anything really. It was nothing new; this had been business as usual for the last few years of his life. He dozed off until 10:32pm, Eastern Standard Time, when a loud noise from across the hall jolted him from his stupor. He walked to the door with great caution and looked through the peephole (you could never be sure who was roaming around at this time of night, in this part of town.) He peered out; standing in front of the room adjacent to his in that damned-dingy hallway, was a young woman about his age (no guarantees of course. Age and by extension, time. Are awful, deceptive things…), with piercing blue eyes and an intense melancholic look on her face. Something about her caught Nick‘s attention, and made him feel peaceful. This frightened him, mostly because inner peace seemed to be something that he was not able to attain without the aid of pharmaceuticals. She picked up the box she had dropped, and walked inside what was presumably her new apartment, room 108 and just like that she was gone.



“What do you think about Nietzsche?” Nick asked Charlie.

“Who?”

“Fredrich Nietzsche, he was a nineteenth century German philosopher. He was a nihilist… well not really. More of an existentialist, but his writing set the stage of nihilism. He was a revolutionary, really opened the doors for Derrida and the like…the post-modernists…”

Nick paused for a moment. He could sense that he was about to go on the nod and had to make a powerful effort to keep from slipping away.

“Where the hell do you come up with all this shit man?”

Nick sipped his drink and smiled.

“He had a pretty interesting theory, “

“Oh yeah, what was that?”

“He called it eternal return. It’s an idea that states that everything is destined to repeat itself. The universe will keep expanding and dying and being reborn.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“Well, the downside is that all of the evil and malice in the world will be reborn right along with it…everything repeats. Everything, and anyone unfortunate enough to ever be born, will in turn be entrapped in the cycle of eternal madness that we call life.”

“That’s fucked up,”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.  If that’s true then what about everything else in life? It’s not miserable all the time. Life is anything but consistent,”

“Misery will always be a part of life. Suffering is the human condition. Jesus knew it. Buda knew it. Tolstoy knew it.”

“Yeah but so is happiness, you can’t have one without the other,”

“Happiness is fleeting. It’s like a mirage; as soon as you have it…it’s taken away. We can never really win,”

“Nah man you can never really win, you fucking pessimist. You and your Trainspotting shit. Had it. Lost it. Da dada.” Nick and Charlie looked at each other and both busted out laughing.

“Ah, shit man I can always count on you to cheer me up,”

“It’s my job…I’m in the business of making people happy.” Charlie said.

“More or less,”

“Hey man drugs don’t sell themselves”

“Yeah,” Nick paused for a second.

“By the way Charlie here’s the money I owe…”

Nick looked up and Charlie was nowhere to be seen.  Without another word he took what was left of his pills and went to sleep.



A few days had passed since Nick’s initial encounter with his new neighbor. He didn‘t know what it was but for some reason, he couldn‘t stop thinking about her. She was also the last person he expected to run into on his lengthy commute to work but as fate (or perhaps something else) would have it, there she was at the same subway that Nick used as a means of transportation to his dead end job.

“Hello,” Nick said as he forced an awkward smile.

She smiled back politely, sweetly even but beyond the camouflaged surface, it was a strained almost tortured smile. She didn’t have to say anything, the look in her eyes was enough let Nick know that she was hiding some kind of  secret pain and needed to connect with someone, anyone. It was that longing look in her eyes that made it clear that she wanted to be rescued from whatever hell she was trapped in. and Nick wanted that too. Nick wanted that more than anything in the world. They were two of a kind, kindred spirits locked away in their own bleak worlds. Nick retrieved a cigarette from his coat pocket and promptly lit it up as he waited for his train to come through.  He smoked it a little past the halfway point, put it out, and then noticing she had left, let out a sigh and proceeded to board.

Later that night, Nick once again found himself watching the news. He had taken yet another witch’s brew of God knows what and was beginning to feel some adverse effects. The soft glow emitting from his television grew brighter and the lines surrounding the forms within it became blurred. The glass surface began to wriggle and pulsate as if it were breathing. “Alexander J. Hoffman, the senior vice president of Foster and Reynolds is currently being held in the Preston County Correctional Center on a three million dollar bond,” He watched as the newscaster melt away. Nick could feel his already shallow gasps come to a grinding halt as the world around him grew dim and fuzzy

“Maybe…this is how it all ends. I’m going to sit here and die from all these damn pills. I always joked that they‘d be the death of me but, I never really wanted it to end like this,”

With these final words to himself Nick closed his eyes and prepared for the worst.

”And this just in, Nick Palmer a resident of the Sunset Apartment complex on South Thirty- Fourth Street is most likely going to die of a drug overdose tonight. It‘s a real shame isn‘t it Tom?”

“A damn shame Jenna, and now back to sports.”

Several hours later Nick, (who had apparently survived his close call) was roused by another loud noise, this time a scream. Stoned and half asleep he decided that he should see what the source of this anguished racket was (he had hunch that the girl next door might be in some sort of trouble). He lifted himself from the couch and began walking towards her apartment.

He could barely stand. The hallway was spinning, and he wasn’t quite sure if he could restrain his powerful urge to vomit, but the sensation subsided as he pressed onward. He now stood at her front door, which to his surprise was slightly ajar. This struck him as odd. Whoever she was, she didn‘t seem like the type of person who would be careless enough to leave her door open at night, especially in this part of town. She seemed too reserved. To private but Nick reached for the knob anyway.

“Hi, I…I heard you screaming are you okay?”

At first he heard nothing but after a few seconds of listening in, he could detect the faintest murmur. It was a distinct sound that he knew intimately; it was the sound of broken hope; a cacophony of self-loathing.

“Go away!” He heard a voice scream at him. “Just…just get the fuck out of here.”

Nick was torn. She was obviously in dire straits and seemed quite adamant about being left alone. On any other day, Nick Johnson Palmer would have went back to his apartment, popped a couple more pills and called it a night, but this time things were different. Something deep within his soul was screaming at him to take a chance and go in, so even though it was quite uncharacteristic of him, just this once he decided (if people are even capable of doing such things… things like deciding), to take a leap of faith. He opened the door and stood aghast at what he saw.

It was dark. Very dark; the only source of light was the dim glow of a single lamp. Half unpacked boxes were scattered everywhere. Piles of dirty clothes, strewn about like war time casualties covered the floor. She sat in the middle of the room, makeup streaming down her face, the pain within her eyes fully iridescent furiously clenching her knees as she rocked back and forth in sea of damaged goods. She held a box cutter in one hand and cradled her head in the other. Thin rags (and one Grateful Dead bandana), were loosely wrapped around her bleeding arms and as she looked up at him Nick noticed several faded scars on her otherwise supple shoulders and neck.

“What do you want?” she asked in a quiet trembling voice.  Nick was at a loss of words; he eventually walked up to her and reached out his hand.

“Look. I don’t know who you are; I honestly don’t even know if you’re real or if I‘m just…just imagining all of this right now but you shouldn’t be here, not like this you need to go to the hospital, or…

“No, I’m not going to the fucking hospital, not again!” she screamed.

“Okay, okay at least come over and get cleaned up. I‘m right across the hall. I just …I just want to help,”

“Where in the hell are any of our other neighbors? Do people actually live in this shit hole building?” Nick thought to himself.

She fell silent and a confused look crept over her face. Eventually she dropped the blade and took Nick’s hand.

“Don’t take me to the hospital, I’m okay now. The bleeding is under control. I was so close this time… but something kept holding me back. I‘m really scared and fucked up right now, but I‘ll be alright… I’ll be alright.”

Nick was terrified yet filled with relief at the same time. He put an arm around her as they walked back to his apartment. Once inside Nick removed the blood stained wraps and examined her arms as best he could. After Nick (who really had no business doing such a thing, but did since going to the hospital was clearly out of the question), tended to her wounds, they sat together on the couch, neither one of them said a word to the other but it wasn’t long before she took his hand again, and gently rested her head on his shoulder. She was the first to break the silence.

“I’m Amy.”

Nick if only for a moment, was brought out of his foggy state by her abrupt gesture.

“Nick…Nick Palmer,” Nick, realizing that they were already holding hands, clasped hers tightly and gave it a firm shake. He then released his grip and looked up at the ceiling before turning his head to meet her gaze.

“Have you ever heard of Nietzsche?”

“No I uh, I don’t think so…Is he the guy in 112?”

“No, Nietzsche was…”

“Who asks that? Like, what the hell kind of question is that?” she said laughing confused but laughing.

“Never mind.” Nick said with a chuckle.

“This whole situation is just so… bizarre.”

“Yeah, tell me about it…Hey, would I be able to get a square? “

“How did you know I smoke?”

“I saw you earlier today at the subway remember?”

Nick paused and thought of her odd, tense smile again.

“Oh yeah. Sure,”

“I didn’t know you lived here.”

“Sometimes, I don’t either…”

Nick produced (somehow, unbeknownst to him in his half-dream state. Hands reaching down as the thin air around him materialized into a Pall Mall red… As all the wonders of quantum entanglement danced through his clouded head Nick blinked and once again resisted the nod), a cigarette and offered Amy a lighter.

“Amy, do you believe in fate? “ She shot him a puzzled look and then quietly answered

”No, I‘ve never really given it much thought but to say that everything happens for a reason just doesn‘t seem logical to me. It‘s sooooooo inconsistent with the way things actually happen. I mean, I really don’t see how AIDS and famine and war fit into the grand scheme of things you know? ”

“Yeah, I normally don‘t either, but it just seems like…oh well, it doesn’t matter. I’m just glad that you’re okay now,”

Her lips curled into an almost devious smile.

“What are you high or something?” she asked.

“Very, that makes this whole thing even weirder,” She let out a faint laugh.

Thank you Nick, You’re a good neighbor.”

They sat, locked in a warm embrace until they fell asleep together. Nick woke up the next morning to her absence. He wondered if it had all been a dream, but then discovered a blood tinged Grateful Dead bandana, the same he’d used to wrap her ravaged arms, lying on the floor below his soda. A fine bed of dust separated and soiled cigarette butts coated his dream in their ash.



“I don’t know what the hell is up with her man. I’m a nervous fucking wreck right now.” Nick said.

“I mean she tries to kill herself and then just up and leaves… That can’t be good," Nick said, thinking the worst (her wounds from last night were still fresh… gleaming blood sitting below blackened edges).

“She probably just needs some time to get her head straight.” Charlie responded.  “I know I would if I was in her situation.”

“Yeah, I know but I don’t want to wait on her. I just feel like I should talk to her first before anything else happens, before she slips away….I really like her Charlie, and that honestly scares the shit out of me. I’ve never had feelings like this about anyone. I’ve never actually cared about anyone you know? My family, my friends, any pilled out woman that I’ve ever been with. Everything before her has been so meaningless. She’s changed my life and I‘ve only known her a week. It’s just all so…confusing.’’

“Well, I guess that’s a good thing right?”

“I don’t know.”

“Nick, if she makes you feel that way, if she makes you feel anything at all then she’s worth fighting for.”

“I guess so…Hey Charlie,”

“Yeah,”

“Where do you live?”

Charlie looked at Nick intently but said nothing.

“Charlie?”

“You know where I live man.”

“Yeah… West Thirtieth right?”

“Sure Nick, whatever you say. I uh…I need to go now.”

”All right man, you coming back later? I might need to get a refill on my meds,” Nick chuckled softly.

“Yeah, I’ll be around.” Charlie flashed a quick smile. “You’re right Nick. You should definitely talk to her first…before anything else happens,” and with that Charlie was gone.

Time seemed to stretch on forever. Nick couldn’t tell hours from days by the time he heard that faint knock on his door.

“Hi…Would you like some coffee? I just made a fresh pot and…it would be nice to talk to someone.”



“I’m glad you came over today.” Amy said to Nick as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “I could really use the company.” Her eyes lit up as she smiled at him.

“I’m glad to be here. How are you holding up?”

“I’m good. Spent today looking for work and going to meetings. I met with my new sponsor…She seems really nice.”

“That’s great.”

After some hesitation Nick looked her in the eyes and finally decided to ask.

“So, why did you leave the other night?”

“I just wanted to be alone for a while after…that whole ordeal. Everything was happening so fast and I needed some time to wrap my head around it all.”

Nick pulled yet another cigarette from his nearly empty pack; brought it to his mouth with expert precision, lit it, and then took that first deep, savory breath.

“I hope you weren’t too worried.”

Nick laughed (so awkwardly it bordered on being physically painful)

“No, (he said, lying) but I have been meaning to ask you…”

Amy said nothing.

“This is really hard Amy…I guess I’m wondering how we met. I mean I know how we met. I wana know more about why…”

“Why does anyone do anything?”

“It’s not like that… it’s not some weird esoteric thing. It’s not like that…I’m sorry it isn‘t really any of my business but…”

“It‘s okay. I suppose I do owe you a proper introduction.” She said, nearly whispering, breaking the silence with her words and a jarringly loud sip of her coffee. She sat down beside Nick and looked him in the eyes. His, full of pain and wonder and relief. Hers, blue and somehow strong, flickering in the wake of Nietzsche’s damnation nexus...

“I guess it all started when I was a kid. I lived in this really small, rich, close-knit town where everybody knew everybody...  Well, everybody and no one.  I’m sure you know the type,”

Nick didn’t but decided to smile and nod anyway.

“There was always this pressure to conform, to join the herd.”

She sighed and set her cup down on the table.

“Suffice to say, I had no interest in following the beaten path...My family wasn’t much help either. They were of the materialistic; emotionally closed off variety. You know the typical white collar American Dream bullshit; a big house, a white picket fence, two point three kids and a dog. Everything a person could want right? ”

She paused, glanced out the window for a moment and continued talking.

”As much as I felt closed off by it by that type of thing, life, disease…whatever you wana call it, there were times when it was nice, at least back when I was young and everything was simple but as I got older I became more and more estranged from that…privilege and what not. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be, and I started to kind of hate it… kind of. I’ll never know what it was, I just didn‘t belong.”

“I know that type. “

Amy looked at Nick and smiled again.

“Anyway, I moved here last year to go to school, and after living in this place for a while I got into a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have. It started out innocently enough and I didn’t think it would spiral out of control the way it did, but it’s just one of those things that sucks you in.”

Nick looked at the faded track marks on her arms. He definitely “knew that type” and at that moment he realized he knew it all too well.

“I was an all-day every day up dope fiend until a few months ago when I finished rehab courtesy of Daddy’s blood money, and ever since then… it’s been hard. Fuck it, it’s been unbearable. My mom sitting there with her country club friends popping Valium and downing wine like water. And she tells me she’s worried about me? And my sister and her jackass fiancé and their perfect wedding and their fucking yippee dog that pisses all over their Oriental rug in the middle of the night, but they never mention that. Every day, she wakes up two hours early to clean it and says absolutely nothing about it...I just wanted out Nick. I just wanted out…” Amy’s voice suddenly fell giving way to tears. Even the strongest eyes break from time to time. Nick clutched her hand.

She (still crying, thinking about the breaking of strong eyes and how that made her human) let him.

“I‘m so sorry,” she said tearfully. “I don’t know what came over me…I didn’t think it would be this hard to talk about.”

Nick (feeling human), looked deep into her eyes and after some thought asked her.

“Amy, do you believe in fate?”

Nick woke up early the next morning .He looked to his left and saw that Amy was still asleep by his side. He kissed her lightly on the forehead and then after gathering up of all of his pills, walked to the bathroom, flushed them down the toilet and didn’t look back. Things were going to be different from now on. Nick grabbed his coat and walked out the door.

“In local news, a man who has now been identified as Nick Johnson Palmer was struck by a drunk driver at seven thirty eight this morning. He died instantly. Police are urging anyone who may know him to come forward as they have not been able to contact any immediate family.”

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rest(less)

“Once, there was a king. He was more powerful than any ordinary man. In his short reign, he’d built a kingdom that resembled a heaven on earth. He was kind and just but as his kingdom flourished, he became arrogant. He even challenged God himself. One day God, hearing of the King’s great triumphs, came to him in a dream. God, reaching down to lift the king off of the ground and into the palm of his hand said to him; If you can leave my hand, the hand that holds your world on place, I shall bow down to you, and all my power shall be your power. The king eagerly ran from one end to the other then boastfully leapt from his hand and flying at inhuman speeds traveled across the universe. He saw everything. He saw worlds unlike his own and watched more civilizations than he could count rise and fall, after reaching the end of the universe. The king saw five great pillars. He planted his nation’s flag at the base of the tallest pillar and, traveling backward through time and space, set out to find God. He eventually returned and told God of his travels. God said nothing for a moment then smiled and opened his hand, the king stood in silence, staring at the flag, his flag resting in God’ palm.”

I woke up from my nod and (vigorously) itched my nose for a bit before lighting a smoke. It wasn't too long before I heard a pounding (really more of light tapping but the mild hangover and opiated haze took small sounds to new levels) on my door.

"What?" I managed to bark out.


"It's Jake."

"C'mon in man,"

My baseline paranoia washed out in a flood of chemicals. Did I even lock my door? Shit... well anyway.

"You okay man?"

"Yeah, I'm good. I just had a fucked up dream."

"What about?"

"I don't really know. God, Nietzsche, eternal return, Chinese mythology  or some shit," Rambling., trying to save face

"... but I think it was about Amy."

"Oh..."

"It's cool. I'm used to it," I said, lying.

"You want some speed?"

"Fuck yeah," (no hesitation there).

I cut a line before reaching into my pocket for the last crumpled up 20 I'd managed to hold on to. My jeans were filthy; lived in reeking of cigarettes and covered in (what looked like) blood... or spaghettio sauce. Pretty sure that's what I was eating before I drifted off into Opi-Land but who knows. Lately, it had become harder and harder to keep track of the day to day stuff.

 I handed Jake the bill and in a matter of seconds, tasted the battery acid drip in the back of my throat.

"I could use a chaser for that shit. You wana do a shot?"

"Yeah, sure."

Not being the type to pass up liquor I poured out the last dregs of my hallowed pint of Captain Morgan and took a healthy pull out of the unwashed cup I kept by my computer before passing the bottle to Jake.

"So, you said you dreamt about God?"

"Yeah, I think so," my mind now unshackled from the aftermath of an Oxy bender began flowing with ideas. Flying to arrange Platonian forms into concrete syntax.

"It was weird. Like I said fucked up but there was something calming about it. It was more than just me dreaming. Random images and sounds... There was another layer to it all and I can't explain it. That's the fucked up part. The only thing I can think of is that maybe she was there... She was that other presence. The lost part hiding somewhere in the shadows."

I scraped my desk for whatever traces of amphetamines remained and did a quick gummie before Jake responded.

"Yeah, I've been there. Three tabs will do it."

"I wish I had acid. Maybe that would help me make sense of it all."

"Eh, I've given up on that. Making sense of anything isn't a high priority. We're just... here. Ya know?"

"Yeah, I guess so."

"Mike's got more Oxy."

"Yeah, I heard... I don't know man. I need to lay off of that for a bit."

"You won't be saying that when you crash."

"Yeah," I chuckled.

"Probably not."

Later that day, I found myself in White Mike's dorm strung out and in need of some pharma-nihilism. Maybe Jake was on to something after all.

"Can I get a front man."

"Shit, I would but... I can't. I'm gona be sick soon. My dude is dry I'm gonna have to catch a train back home to cold cop."

"I gotcha... Does it ever end?"

"What?"

"This, all of this. The cycle sick, high, higher, sick again?"

"Not really, we're all born dope-sick it's just a matter of finding out. Everybody's got somethin."

"Interesting way of looking at it... Well, I've got some speed? You down for a trade."

Mike paused, mind spinning, eyes sizing me up, the room expanding into entropy until all I was faced were Mike's pinned eyes against a black-as-night backdrop... I really do need to lay off the drugs.

"Yeah, fuck. Why not? Maybe I can get something for it. I hate that shit though and there's no damn way I could tweak when I'm sick."

"I hear ya man."

"Alright, three percs."

"7.5's?"

"Yeah and there's a a football in there too. You're gonna need it."

After cranking out a short paper on Derrida, I popped my pills and  dug through my old photographs. My near-nightly ritual.

"I wish you were here," I whispered heavily.

"The liquor store isn't cutting it anymore. I thought that maybe... I saw you. At the tail end of my dream. After whatever it was that was talking to me stopped. We were in the park and it was raining and you whispered something and then I woke up... I just thought I should tell you."

 Later, I lied in bed thinking about how there has to be something more than this. How I feel that nagging thought pulsate out of my severely fucked liver after each mornings hangover. There has to be some way to leap out of God's palm and break the veil between what we think we know and what actually happens but those thoughts are left to better minds than mine. I clutched Amy's photo closed my eyes, whispered something inaudible and fell asleep.  I didn't dream anything memorable that night. I didn't have it in me anymore.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Killer (Part 1: Reflections on the Epidemic)

"C'mon man wake up. Wake the fuck up!" White Mike yelled, reeling after his knuckles cracked from the aggressive slap he'd laid on Justin's face.

"We need to get him to the... to the hospital."

Tracey sobbed in between words, words which Mike's ears were deaf to. A thin TV static and slow motion cut scenes of whatever the hell this trauma was were the only sensory inputs he had now. Tracey continued sobbing as she prepped another shot. The necrotic pools of jet black makeup collecting under eyes and overflowing dripped down into her spoon. Fated to be melted away into an ocean of dope tinged with broken toys that once had dreams and lives.

That was the quickest that White Mike had ever come out of a nod. Blissful, closed-eye revelations of psychedelic wildflowers plummeted to the ground leaving a mixture of blood and squashed organ meat on the surface of "the real world."

"This is happening. This is actually fucking happening," Mike mouthed under his breath to no one in-particular. He scurried into the driver's seat, violently tore down the foil sun-shield (a guard against the elements and on-lookers alike) and took off.

Weaving in and out of traffic, he looked straight ahead as Tracey started chest compressions on Justin.

"So what's this shit called?" Mike asked Justin.

"Killer Klown... With a K."

"Well that's retarded,"

Mike paused to take the last hit off of the joint he'd shared with Justin.

"Who'd you cop that shit from? A Juggalo? "

"Hey man, the only word in there that I care about is Killer and this is certainly that."

Justin smiled revealing crooked, broken teeth then brushed his matted hair out of the way before lighting a cigarette.

The streets weren't always kind to people but they had their appeal. Privilege and any vestiges of the thin liberalism praised by most educated 20-somethings, comes here to die. The gutters breed a new era of nihilists not so much, repulsed by the absurd but fatally attracted to it. Mike may not have been one of them, but he understood.

"Yeah, well I guess we'll see about that."

"Fuck yeah we will. Hey, can you swing by Tracey's? I owe her a bag and well... I don't know things have kind of been picking up in that department?"

"What, you fuck her or something?"

"Well yeah. Shit yeah man but... I don't know. I'm not getting much younger and I'd rather hang around with someone who gets it. The whole fuck the world thing... What good is it to destroy things if you can't share it with anyone?"

"Huh, never considered that... Well congrats man. Just, you know, be careful."

"Hah, that shit's adorable... Be careful he says."

Mike chuckled and kept driving.

Justin's limp body hit the pavement as White Mike's beat-to-shit car came to a grinding halt.

"Fuck, fuck, fuck." Tracey panted. No amount of Xanax and powder could keep this sort of anxiety at bay.

Mike was reacting differently (probably because he'd already witnessed one too many overdoses). Tracey was still holding on to something but a cold numbness (the kind of blank state of nirvana that every dope addict aspires to be one with) consumed Mike's emotions. All of the human emotions were gone. The only thing pumping through his meat-suit now, was survival.

"We've gotta go," He quietly whispered to Tracey.

When she refused to leave, White Mike sped off. Two years later, he found himself drunk in a dive bar in some hipster infected town a couple hours south of his old haunting grounds (yes there were plenty of people who drank at this bar ironically). He'd gotten a message earlier that day. Tracey was dead. After two years of sobriety she just...cracked. Mike could hear her fiancé’s voice and feel the numbness he'd felt when Justin’s bruised up arm got stuck for the last time and that numbness helped, the shots of Crown helped but the realization that Mike was also running on borrowed time made it all a little worse.

"This one's for Tracey," Mike whispered knocking back a drink as kids in glasses took selfies.


"I hope it was Killer."

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Life Train

Jake prepped his rig, and tied off. A thin vortex of blood danced in the sea of liquid glass before disappearing. His eyes widened, his brow twitched...

"Hey, you good man?"

And that was it. The few glorious seconds of the bell ringer (that harbinger of euphoria) had passed.

"Yeah, shit man you've gotta try this."

"Nah, I don't do needles."

I'd said those words a lot. One of the few oaths I had yet to shatter all of my (extremely) morbid curiosity aside.

"Eh, whatever. I guess you're totally comfortable with the great unknown huh? If only I was so lucky."

Jake was a lot chattier when he shot crank.

"We've all got our breaking points."

"Yeah, that's called death."

"Touché... but uh, could I get a bump? You know, in the spirit of not pissing on your parade and whatnot?"

"Sure."

Chatty and generous.

"I've got a hook for some more and this stuff is ridiculous. Pure glass."

"Oh yeah, who's that?"

"Jason. We used to be roommates. The guy is... well really weird and a straight up junky but his merch is always top-shelf. He goes through some trans-gendered, Taiwanese  guy on the Deep Web."

"That's still a thing? Didn't Silk Road go down?"

"Yeah, but there are a million more of em."

After cutting up a line, licking the back of my ID (courtesy of the great state of Illinois) and taking a deep breath; the drip hit the back of my throat and life became way more exciting.

"You should come with me. Dude only lives a couple of hours away. It'd be an easy train ride."

"Shit, yeah I 've got nothin goin on. When were you gonna head out."

"Oh like now, right now."

"Uh, okay. Why the rush? I mean you're pretty flush right now ya know?"

"Yeah but Jason's got girls."

(Okay now I get it).

"Ah shit man, you don't wana do that. You do not want to go to some random far away city to bang a bunch of dope whores... trust me."

My attempt to talk him down was in vain. Jake had made up his mind the second he pumped his arm full of hard drugs.

About an hour later, I found myself on an Amtrak to a dope orgy which according to Jake "will make Caligula roll over in his grave."

"Jake sweetie. How are we this evening?"

James... wasn't what I expected. Well groomed, pushing 60 and as gay as they come.

"Hey man," Jake said looking slightly downward.

"So uh, you're good right?"

"Oh my, straight to business. You're not even going to introduce me to your friend?"

"Oh this is..."

"Tim, Tim Leary," Blurting out my go to alias because extreme paranoia.

"Oh my, a fellow traveler. Welcome... I think I've got exactly what you boys are looking for."

En route to James' "office"  pass a fully nude Puerto rican man (I think) man laying on James' couch in a full nod... Here we go.

"Jake my dear, you've lost weight. Have you been eating?"

"Yeah, more or less."

"Oh no hun it's not a criticism. Just the musings of horny old queen," James said with a wink.

After some awkward silence and $200, James tossed Jake a ball of the cleanest glass I've ever laid eyes on.

"Well friends. Shall we?"

The next several hours were a blur of sex, drugs and more drugs. After a half a bottle of Jame's finest wine, a handful of Xanax and a few rails of product, I entered a hellish speedball-esque state where reality bent and twisted to match my euphoria ten-fold. Under a veil of black-light drenched hard-house aesthetic goodness, I walked into the kitchen to find Jake bare-backing an escort and James (staring intensely at Jake) getting his dick sucked by the aforementioned   Puerto rican.

"We ride The Life Train to the depot of regret and broken aspirations. Crashed on sandy shores..."

(Wait what the fuck is this? Where is that voice coming from?)

"Lost are the virtues of our progress. Onward. Onward to nowhere too important. Railroads, de-railed wash up on the beach. Dead and bloated are the transcontinental desires of the youth who ride The Life Train."

(Fuck this, I can't...)

I woke up about an hour later with my hand down my pants. One of James' "girls" (the one with the weird nipple... Did I forget to mention that? God damn her nipple was strange... eh, small nit-picky shit... Getting distracted... back to the matter at hand).

"Hey, you awake?" asked a very strung out Jake.

"Yeah, what uh... What happened?"

"A lot."

"Yeah, looks like a lot. Where'd James go?"

"Yeah, about that..."

"Fuck, please tell me he isn't dead."

"Oh no, he still has a pulse it's just... fucked up. Like some bullshit psotmodern art. You can't look away."

A slumped over James adorned with a butt-plug and choker chain sat in front of us.

"I think we should go."

"Yeah... yeah, let's bounce."

I had no clue what day it was but I knew with near certainty that I'd missed class. Oh well future anonymous narrator's problem.

I ran into a sleep depr(a)ived Jake a couple days later.

"Hey what's up man?"

"Nothing much, James got arrested."

"Shit really?"

"Yeah, one of those girls was only 15."

"Fuck..."

"Have you ever thought that maybe..." Jake paused to light a cigarette.

"Eh, never mind."

"No, what's up man?"

"I don't know like about, getting clean and shit?"

I was stunned.

"Well... Yeah, I guess so but shit man, we're millennials in the prime of our lives why bother? Sure there's the future; a wife, kids a "career" but we've got time to figure all of that shit out."

"Yeah, I supposed you're right. To life," Jake said pulling a flask filled to the brim with cheap rum out of his backpack, taking a swig and passing it to me.

"To The Life Train."



Sunday, December 18, 2016

Six

Jake, with all the grace of a frenzied animal rummaged through his dresser drawer in hopes of finding the dope he'd scored last night. These days the hangovers never really went away without H. You kick (for the moment), you're miserable, you pour yourself a drink because it's better than being a "junkie" and then an alien presence is born. Something that sticks around even after 2 back to back stints in detox. These demons never really leave they just back off long enough to trick you into thinking you miss them and then... Junk-sickness and alcohol coalescing into a malignant tumor of a habit. "Pain killers" yeah...sure. They'll kill all of your pain as the the metal phallice pierces the vein. It's the ultimate form of sex after the full weight of the load is shot. But there's a price to pay with every ill gotten orgasm. Just as Jake (who was quite the William Burroughs fan) was thinking about how junk-sickness had infected his mind like a virus from outer space (William Burroughs had some interesting thoughts on this subject but I digress). His phone rang right after he pocketed his lost treasure; a green stamp-bag marked #6.

"Hey what's up man?" T's disembodied voice boomed from the other end.

"Not much...Shitty. Dopesick."


"Fuck man, so uh... I guess your dry huh?"


"Yeah," Jake lied, clinching his ticket to escapism tightly.


"Fuck, fuck fuck. Please man you've gotta have something. I've been tryna kick but shit's not going so well ya know what I mean."


An uncomfortable silence persisted.


"I've got some M-Cat if you're down for any of that," 


"M-Cat?"


"Yeah, 4-methylcathinone."


"The hell is that? More of that fake coke?"


"Well... it's not really like that but you know."


Jake could hear the frantic pacing, He could smell the smoke lingering from T's pack a day habit. He felt the tremors and the reverberations of his voice drifting off into an infinite dispersion of long forgotten sound and light... Jake understood desperation.


"Shit, I guess I'll take some man. Come on over. Just got some fresh rigs if you need any"


"Okay!"


Within 10 minuets, Jake was on a bus to East Hill. Time to start the day off right.


After some passage of time, Jake took the final pull off of whatever cheap rum he'd been carrying around in his Misfits flask, got off the bus and found himself on T's front porch.


"Hey," A strung out T half whispered after peering out the window, unlocking and (finally) answering the door.


T's place was a monument to squalor. The entire room smelled like a lit cigarette tinged with a whiff of mildew. A stench that no amount of gas-station incense could mask. Dishes and used needles, strange bedfellows under normal circumstances were piled up in the sink. Light faded into hushed shades of grey beneath a tapestry of blankets covering the windows and faintly illuminating free-falling particles of dust  all soaked in the sound of TV static.The stage set for a perfect Greek Tragedy or some sort of pretentious post-modern installation art project (who's to say really?)


"What's good?"


"Eh, I've got nothin."

Jake chuckled a bit not an easy task given his circumstances

"So how much you tryna get for that? I mean I'm good for it. I'm definitely fuckin good for it and all. Shit's just been... slow I guess."

Six month's ago, Jake had been double majoring in music and computer science. He was doing everything right. Perpetually lonely, sure but by all socially acceptable standards. He was doing everything the right way... All it took was one line a ethylphenidate to fuck that up. The Dark Net was fresh off of the launchpad and now getting high quality recreational compounds was as simple as ordering a Christmas present for a relative.

"It's alright man. Pay me in spikes."

"Uh... yeah. Fuck yeah man. I've got ya."

Lines were cut and fiendishly inhaled. Boundless energy and conversational nonsense about conspiracy theories filled the air. Jake wondered what his sister was doing. He honestly didn't know how long it had been sense he'd spoken to anyone in his family.

"Hey, I've gotta piss. Where's your bathroom?" Jake asked.

"Oh yeah, it's a uh, the last door on the right down the hall,"

Jake locked the door, let the water run, checked the medicine cabinets (nothing but empty Delsym bottles. Fuck), cooked up and fired away.

...

"We're on in 30 Allison."

"Yeah, yeah fucking Christ Charlie, can you  dim those lights?"

"Uh yeah, sorry. Here how's that?"

"Okay... better. It'll do."

"And we're on in 6,5,4,3,2..."

"Good evening. This is Allison Fields of channel 5 news coming to you live from the epicenter of the opioid crisis. First respondents have just confirmed another overdose in the East Hill district.  Another casualty of a war that many are all too familiar with. The channel 5 team, myself included extend our deepest sympathies and through our continued investigation promsit this community that will shed light on this in an attempt to answer the question that is on the minds of everyone in the greater Sharronsburg area; what can be done to end this?"