Sunday, April 8, 2018


The barge passed, the draw bridge bending to the will of its gears, swung into place and I jolted back to reality by the grinding of the train and the scratchy sound of the intercom suddenly and without warning woke up... well as woke as anyone fresh out of detox could be...  

Week old sweat had stitched itself into the fabric of my DNA, I reeked of chemicals that reeked of piss. The junk had waged a costly war on my body. A good nights rest being one of the many casualties. The fact that I'd been able to doze off (somewhere around Iowa I think?) without the help of Big Pharma was shocking. This... was recovery.

"Folks we will now be resuming our route to Kansas City. 15 miles til our next scheduled stop in Acres Square. This will be our last stop until we reach our destination. If ya need to smoke or stretch your legs... this'll have to do.

"Fuck," I muttered under my breath. 

"Six hours between cigarettes."

Addict thinking is what the professionals call it. Always scheming, planning ahead. Trying (and failing) to save a few crumbs for the next morning. Passing your time making your way through an endless list of a dope-men (or women, hell even transwomen if we're getting all PC about it. I once did a stint in my local behavioral health unit with a lovely transwoman who used to shoot meth and talk to aliens... getting off topic. Moving on); who refuse to operate by the laws of conventional time and punctuality. The types who will always "be there in 20 minuets man. 30 tops.

"All aboard," the stern female attendant yelled.

I stomped out what was lift of my cigarette and left Acres Square behind.

I hadn't planned on going to Kansas. I hadn't really planned on traveling anywhere without my usual crutch, but plans like most other things often find themselves subject to change.

"So what now?" M asked. Putting on a strong face as she clutched my capped needle in her hand. Her still-lit cigarette dwindling away in the ashtray with each passing second.

"I don't know... A change of scenery might be in order."

"What? Like... rehab again?"


"You know what that means then... You promised it wouldn't get this bad again. You promised you could control it."

"I know. Bit off more than I could chew with that one..."

M's hand grasped mine... Dim lights were almost as good at subduing the colors of emotions as dope. Subtle twitches in the face, tears welling in the eyes become less real when half lights in your apartment complex are burnt out.

"Just... just get better."

"Is this seat taken?"

I turned and faced a short black woman who looked to be well into her 70's wearing more layers of clothes than I'd thought possible.

"Uh, no go for it."

"You may call me Ms. Pearson." She said before tossing her bags on the floor and taking a sip of overpriced bottled water.

"Okay Ms. Pearson. Where ya headed?" I asked trying to be polite.


"What's the occasion."

"My son's wake... Only 34 when the Lord took him."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Thank you... You know, when you get to be my age. Death becomes more... familiar. It don't get any easier mind you but it does become more familiar. I just never thought I'd see the day... No mama should ever have to bury her child.

"What was his name?" I (despite feeling like utter shit) asked. Genuinely intrigued.

"Trey. I take some solace in that he grew up to be a good man. Kind... He was always kind. Hard working... He gave me 2 grand-babies. I... made this for his youngest."

Ms. Pearson dug through her overstuffed purse for what seemed like far too long before she found what she was looking for. A plastic baby doll. Missing an eye and draped in the ugliest crocheted wardrobe I'd ever laid eyes on. At that moment, a reflex something long forgotten possessed me. I grabbed the stupid thing and started sobbing. Ms. Pearson put her arm on my shoulder and hung her head. Here I was having a real human moment after countless years of trying to rid myself of them. Fuck me... I guess this is recovery.

“Sometimes we have the absolute certainty there's something inside us that's so hideous and monstrous that if we ever search it out we won't be able to stand looking at it. But it's when we're willing to come face to face with that demon that we face the angel.”  - Hubert Selby Jr.

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