"What’s it like?”
“Bliss,” said Caleb coughing out the last of his weed.
“Like pure nothingness.”
Budding nihilist that I was, I felt more than inclined to take him up on his offer and at 5-10 US dollars per pill (mentally unstable folks with Medicaid funded access to drugs and just the right amount of desperation became my undoing), the price was right. One compulsion begets another, and somewhere lost in that TV snow haze is the exact moment in time that I sold my soul to pharmaceuticals; Dexedrine, Klonopin, Ambien, Percocet… the list goes on.
“So I was in this shoot out, you know back when I lived in Chicago. I was runnin some coke for my homie Jay.”
“Jay, the pedophile that lives on South 10th?”
“No man, Jay. Jay the GD from Chicago. When I was living there, he got popped and I helped him escape from a halfway house,” (a few moments of awkward silence later…)
“Oh yeah, Jay,” I chimed in.
“Anyway, some shady shit ended up goin down… Some spic fucker ripped us off. So Jay, snuck into dude’s house later that night and sunburned him. (A “sunburn” is a particularly lovely method of killing someone that involves breaking the aforementioned someone’s legs throwing them into a dumpster and lighting it and its contents on fire).
I’d heard this story many, many times. Caleb always had a story for everything and I being chronically bored and in need of drugs, usually had an ear to lend. Entertaining as they could be they were about as close to bullshit as humanly possible. His laundry list of stays in jail, rehab and the local hospital’s behavioral health ward, must have given him a lot of time to craft these tales, but as they say, the devil is in the details which, despite multiple (probably benzodiazepine induced) re-tellings, Caleb could never manage to keep straight.
“After he killed the little bitch, Jay ripped out two of his own teeth and tossed em in with the poor fuck’s remains… that’s how he faked his death.”
“Where’s Jay now?” I asked in one of those rare moments of silence on Caleb’s end.
“Back in Chicago.”
“Man, that’s some shit,” I said, flicking my cigarette to the ground.
“So, you still have those K-pins?”
“… You need to lay off of those man.”
Greedy motherfucker… If drugs teach you anything it’s human behavior. The whole spectrum from the lowest most animalistic forms of selfishness to the heartwarming Junkie’s Christmas acts of kind hearted humility... Mostly the former. I knew the song and dance, he was holding and needed the last dregs of what he had to kill off the withdrawal pains. I almost felt bad for him but it didn’t stop me from stealing three 1mg tabs on my way out (what else could I have done. I never said I was immune to those savage impulses I mentioned earlier. Besides, it’s not like he’d remember the events of the day anyway) Damn those filthy green bastards; my blessing, my curse and my lover. I gulped all three down with some lukewarm coffee and waited to reach my little corner of oblivion. Picking up, coming up, or crashing down…I was always waiting.
“Four years man. Four fucking years.”
Caleb was fond of dark, long-winded monologues commemorating the misadventures he’d shared with his former friends (most of which he claimed were dead or incarcerated) but Garrett’s story for whatever reason, struck a special chord with me. As he spoke, I felt like an outsider. Some sort of tormented presence, even without the warm embrace of painkillers in my system, I could feel myself dissolving into a backwash or particles. Floating through Caleb’s slurred words as I saw and heard and smelled everything.
“I was the one that found him. I was on my way home from school when I saw his truck parked a couple blocks down from his dad’s house. His face was torn to shit. It’d been about an hour sense the gun had gone off. There were bits of his head plastered to the side mirror. I could feel the heat coming off of his blood.”
Caleb paused to break up his share of the weed on the copy of Garrett’s obituary he’d saved and laminated.
“He thought that he was some cosmic being that could pull dead people inside of his body and communicate with them.”
“Yeah that was pretty fucked man. I heard that he tried raping Tucker.”
"That didn’t happen. Garret was not a fucking faggot!"
Actually it had. I’d bought some mids off Tucker, a couple days following the events described earlier. He, saint that he was had spotted Garrett wandering the streets on some cocktail of “Bath Salts” K and God knows what else. He pulled over. Left his vehicle and tried talking to him.
“Hey man what’s going…”
“Dude, it’s me… I’m your daaaaaaaaaad and I’m gonna molest you.” Garret said with manic rage in his eyes.
As he leapt forward Tucker kicked him twice, once in the shin, and once in the ribcage, ran back to his car and never looked back.
“I’m sorry man. I don’t know what the fuck was going through his head…I just miss him. It hasn’t been the same sense.”
I hadn’t known Caleb before all of that. We’d met through Tucker a good six or so months after the fact, but it almost felt like I had and if I know anything I know that misery certainly does love its company. There was something about Caleb's ghost stories that made me feel just as haunted as him. Maybe that’s why I stuck around and smoked him out from time to time. Sure, the drugs played a part in all of it, their voices calling out to me, buried somewhere in the graves that dot my psyche’s landscape but the veins of human experiences you come across while caught up in the lifestyle run far, far deeper.
I’ve been up for three days,” Caleb shouted at his computer monitor. Chain smoking and endless stream of cigarettes. He rambled on and on, talking to me (I think) while never breaking eye contact with a live stream of dark net porn that made the stuff Ricky the sadist watched look like prime-time sitcoms.
“I slammed some of the best crystal I’ve ever had in my life. And I kept on slammin it.” He started repeating that phrase slammin it briefly pausing to look over his shoulder and rapidly blink his eyes.9-21-2011
“He just isn’t right. I mean meth? And then he walks around like he’s king shit talking himself up in all those fucked up fairy tale stories of his.”
“He was gang banging on Chicago you know.” I said with a laugh.
“God, he’s such a fuck up. He always gave me such a bad vibe,” Amy said as she painted her nails, blood red with the faintest (but no less intense) streams of black.
As I recounted the details of what I’d seen at Caleb’s I took a few puffs of the lit joint dangling from the infinite ashtray. A little bit of weed to stretch out the opiate nod was pure bliss. As I talked with Amy (somewhat disingenuously) about the finer points of how horribly destructive methamphetamines are (back in the days when I had more water to tread before sinking lower), my eyes cut out to visions of the nights we spent together. The lines were blurred sometimes between love and neurotransmitters, but there was genuinely a part of me that could always compartmentalize when it came to her. It’s that lost part of me that haunts my nights. An empty vault that once held what made me human harbors nothing but my endless assortment of pet ghosts.
“He’s a junky babe… and I don’t use that term lightly. Don’t hang out with him anymore okay.”
“Oh yeah, no doubt… he’s a junky.”
“God damn it I told you to stay outside until I was done with the game. I’ve got more money than what your life is worth ridin on this shit, you fuckin waste of…”
Caleb’s father paused to take a healthy gulp of rot-gut vodka.
“I’m sorry sir. I…”
“No fuckin excuses. You’re gonna get what’s comin to ya.”