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