Tag Archives: heroin

Belt

I have taken off my pants before, drunk,
less than advisable circumstances,
parties, people’s house, but never in
public, arguing to myself, screaming
“hypocrite” and “fucking liar” to the
boardwalk breeze. I’ve never used heroin
or cocaine, or anything that would make
me look like I crawled out of a burning
train compartment, very clearly derailed,
ready to put out the flames with any
part of my body, temporarily,
and believe I can put the whole thing back
on track, because in this moment I’m God,
and these are not burns, they are evidence.

Ghosting

It was just like getting drunk, at least the way he’d told his wife. Maybe more like getting high. Either way, not the strongest leading argument for an alcoholic, but when the woman you’ve spent 20 years with finds you in bed with another man, with no memory of how you got there, you’ll try anything to get yourself off the hook.

Not that any of that mattered to Juliet. She was gone, and the only thing left to work out was the divorce settlement. How was Sam ever going to explain his side of the story to their kids? No doubt Juliet had turned them both against him by now, filled their little minds with propaganda of all the horrible things he’d done.

But Sam was a man possessed. That’s what they called it in the Dark Ages, anyway. The new name on the streets was ‘ghosting.’ It was the latest thing — like a drug, but with greater thrills and half the risk, not to mention plenty of willing souls. The trick, of course, was in finding the right one.

There are plenty of spirits out there, searching or waiting for some kind of closure. Purest energy; ethereal ectoplasm. Sublimated lifeforce. The trade was fair and simple — you give your body up to the ghost for the night, and he or she takes it on a test ride. The ghost feels alive again. Better than alive, corporeal, with the freedom to indulge in all the pleasures of the flesh. In turn, you get to get loose and go along for the ride, right in your very own body, with all the joy of losing control.

You know that feeling you get at the apex of a roller coaster? The thrill of near death. Imagine that sensation, but prolonged. For an hour, maybe two. Maybe even a full day. Adrenal glands pumping through your desperate, terrified body as you literally straddle the line between life and death. Like heroin, but without the risk of overdose. Maybe even higher — ghosting has the potential to bring you right up to the very gates of Heaven, before it brings you down again.

But Sam had no idea how it felt for the ghosts. How could he? Even undercover, all he could know was the quiver and kick of being at once both dead and alive. Was it an upper or a downer for them? No one had successfully figured out the cartography of the afterlife. Not yet, anyway — but it was certainly an up and coming field. The whole craze was built on two things: symbioses and trust. But like any good rush, someone always finds a way to monetize it. But how do you regulate an industry where the product and the profit are both warm beating hearts?

Sam was determined to find out. After Juliet, he’d become little more than a living ghost, so there was nothing left for him to lose.

Sticky Fingers – The Rolling Stones

Growing up I remember running through my father’s records looking for anything your average classic rock loving 5th grader would recognize. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin, Eric Clapton, anything the local rock radio station was playing. Although it took me time to truly understand the greatness of The Rolling Stones, I still stopped to look at the Sticky Fingers album during every perusal. The album-art was a close up shot of a tight-jeaned man covered from all angles, when you removed the liner notes from within the record the man was in cotton briefs, as if he had just removed his pants. Andy Warhol conceived the cover design and conducted the photo sessions. Many speculate that the cover model was the eccentric artist’s boyfriend at the time, others claim Warhol used a variety of models during the session and secretly chose the shots without crediting any of the men. The reason I stopped at this record was not the album art or the music, it was the fact that the album itself featured a working zipper on the front, something that set it apart from everything else in the mass of musty cardboard and dirty plastic sleeves. Little did I know that more than a decade after first recognition I would drunkenly battle Beatles fans in dark bars stating that The Rolling Stones are a better band. My weapon? Sticky Fingers

This record is dark, written with drug addiction, alcoholism, money and fame washing over Mick and Keith like a Pacific tsunami. The meter of the music was the only thing keeping an even keel. From rock, to blues and country, they weren’t afraid to test the limits. I equate Brown Sugar to a one night stand. Drunk, steady and dangerous, this is still an 8pm barroom staple. Wild Horses is a country song through and through right down to the crawl of the rhythm and cry of the pedal steel. Many artists would write about heroin, alcohol, sex and money, but The Stones didn’t have time to dress up their songs in pretty words disguising drugs as women, women as nature, nature as religion. They were raw. Sister Morphine (drugs), Brown Sugar (sex), Dead Flowers (social seclusion and heroin use) all told stories of pain and pleasure that could be understood blatantly and unmistakably across the board.

“Well, when you’re sitting back
In your rose pink Cadillac
Making bets on Kentucky derby day
Ill be in my basement room
With a needle and a spoon
And another girl to take my pain away”

I love the Beatles, but when it comes to experimenting with sound or lyrics, The Stones will always win.

Dig Yourself a Hole

I found him in the backyard, shovel in hand. He’s all tattooed arms and spitfire poetry. Razorblade scars and heroin-soaked lyricism. Perfectly unhinged; unchained dog mad with rabies. He burned patterns in my lawn. Bleached stained jeans. Tattered shirt and tie. Shattered glass bottles, thrown at trees; pockmarked cherry bomb testing grounds. Dirt stained everything.

He’s digging a hole.

He tells me, “One day, years from now, Africa with collide with Europe and close the Straights of Gibraltar. The Mediterranean will become a vast desert of salt.”

I stare blank. Unsure of what to say, I drink long slow sips. Burns like a lemondrop, hard swallowed.

“Don’t you get it? The Atlantic is spreading at a rate equivalent to that of human finger nail growth. The Atlantic is fucking spreading! Every second that passes we’re getting farther away from England. How do you handle that?”

I have nothing. I barely understand.

He puts it another way. “Right now the universe is expanding. Everything is moving away from everything else. We’re all drifting alone in the dark.”

His hole is getting deeper. I would really like to pull him up, but I don’t have the knowledge or the tools. He came out here with a mission. Hellbent and headstrong, he’s burning adrenaline like a grease fire. He’s a loaded gun. He’s loaded for sure, has been for days.

“She was mine once,” he said, “Not anymore though. I bled her out. Bled her dry. One too many leaches. Maybe one too few.”

I still don’t get it. Another long slow sip.

“She killed it for me. Knew I couldn’t deal. But that wasn’t it. That’s what she never got.”

A picture’s starting to form. Bleak and bloody, I think I’m getting it now. Rain falls silent on shirt collars. He’s all mud-splattered dress clothes. Real life American wasteland. The shit under your shoes.

“How I could bring it into a world that’s doomed. Birth is a death sentence. I see that now.”

And there it is.

He’s knee deep in slop, waist deep in a trench. He’s digging with a purpose now. His grip tight on the handle, a bear trap vice. Blood trickles from cracked knuckles. He’s broken bones healed crooked. He locks eyes with mine, searching for answers I can’t possibly give him.

Another long slow sip. I tell him it’s not all bad. We’ve got cable and high speed internet access. I am completely meaningless. He’s waterlogged and mechanical motion. Locked in; he’s on autopilot and coasting towards the end. I don’t think I could stop him if I wanted to. I don’t know that I want to.

He’s all rage and fear. Blood, piss, and tears. Mud splashed in fresh new wounds. He’s puncture marks and bleeding open heart. He wants me to be something I’m not. He wants me to be answers. He needs me to be strong comfort. I have to be everything’s alright. But I’m nothing like anything. I never have been.

He’s been digging all night. He’s been digging a hole.

“This one’s mine,” he says, “You have to dig your own.”