The leaves billowed from the heavens, a roasted brown or Sunkist yellow. Mixed into the mess is the liter of the ages; a pattern, a rhythm, a song of color against dismal grey concrete. I pass the man with the tenderized face, jeans with holes and a twisted limp. But he smiles, teeth like termites. And though he smiles, later he won’t. And though he greets me with a kind face now, later he won’t. We know this, we know the binary of the demons and the angels. It remains unacknowledged, but the distance is respected.
There are holes in the Ziploc bag.
Breaks in the lines,
Sparking electrical wires
Melting alpine peaks
And itchy noses
Cut with methamphetamine
And the surgeon’s
The poets are scratching,
And grinding needles
In mildew corners
“Shit stings brother”
In that lavender pink
The sweet thick stink
And an oasis of empties
Christ on the cross faded nausea
The only thing that passes
Through crippling depression
Is cocaine anger
And methamphetamine gangrene
They cycled through their small plethora.
Prescriptions to Oxycontin, Xanax, Ritalin.
Smoking pills, swallowing pills.
Burning the finish off potential that some claim to be “God given.”
He stumbled, gathering pieces of himself.
It was twelve blocks to Samantha’s flat.
He could endure.
With his hand in his pocket, he pinched himself.
“Sober up dammit”
the taste of wine becoming sour in his dry mouth.
Cars passed on the left,
but he climbed the hill, looking forward.
They were all looking for an excuse.
They’d sell you down the river if it meant validation of an invalid existence.
They stared. Faces change.
couldn’t be trusted.
Sometimes soft faces shroud hard interiors.
He thought of Samantha’s refined curves.
The lace leaving just enough to the imagination.
The smooth familiarity,
and the taut skin of a conscious body.
Eight more blocks.
The people passing looked at him like he wasn’t so much of a man,
but the dangerous biproduct of man
stuck to the bottom of their shoes.
They peered down at him,
scraping him off with a twig, dropping him to the street to decompose.
Demeanors expressed a conflicted mixture of cautionary disgust.
Samantha was the escape he could depend on.
No tolerance, no nausea, no overdose.
The ideal heroin high
The euphoria without the pain.
Torbin found, like most of the best things in his life,
the dependency could kill.
The way she touched him.
The way she could love him when, in comparison,
everything else was brittle Styrofoam ready to crumble the moment any pressure was applied.
Five more blocks.
A car horn blared.
Torbin shifted to the street side.
Maybe he’d serve society better as a pancake.
Torbin thought of just how good he would be as a pancake.
He saw her as the last green blade of grass on a yellow lawn.
He no longer sat as an island in a sea of flammable turpentine.
In his mind,
and solely in his mind,
he thought of Samantha and him as one.
Forever he would walk as “we.”
But she walked alone
The chase excited him, destroyed him
He loved her AND the idea of her
She represented the pursuit
Because he knew she would be
Three more to go.
He hid the rejection under used blunt wraps, the ashes from meth ad any number of other drugs
Under it all he intended to bury himself
He would be regretful to have Samantha coiled around him
In his grave, set aside
He was succeeding
So the paranoia set in.
He imagined her sleeping with man after man, the sweat tainting her supple skin,
and most of the time he was right.
He had trouble determining the difference in profiting for survival and love.
Was he just another customer paying with whatever he could?
In a way,
he was certain he was,
though he paid the tab with a breaking heart.
In memory, sandpaper didn’t seem so coarse.
His image of her was galvanized in a thick layer of gold.
He arrived outside her apartment.
He hesitated, swaying,
in a current.
The stairs were long,
each a different spectrum of color.
Some called it street art, but graffiti,
vandalism was more appropriate.
nothing but slurs and hate speech.
Walking into the room the air was thick.
The bare walls
The long mourning windows
The crumbs even the rats wouldn’t eat
The interior was like it’s residents
Void of colors
Ghosts of where once was
A feeling being
He heard the rhythm.
a cinderblock dropping repetitiously on the wood floor.
Torbin approached slowly as the clashing grew louder.
The desk lamp dimly lighting the flat had been stripped of its shade and flipped to its side.
A murmuring feminine sob, followed by short bursts of screaming psychosis.
Her shadow, contorted and massive against the brick wall.
He could tell by the silhouette, her hair had a mind of its own, sporadic mood ring,
Highlighting her failing state of mind and the paranoia pulsing through her body,
Her terminal disease.
She sat legs crossed, slouching over,
the metallic head of the ball peen hammer facing her.
and the blood dripping down her jaw.
When she noticed him she smiled,
A flap of gum and strands of socket hanging out of the craters in her gum line
where her two front teeth were before.
“I have to get them out. They’re not mine. I didn’t put them there. I just needed–.”
brushing the knotted shrub of hair from her face with a soft,
Her knuckles white from squeezing the wooden shaft of the hammer.
She spread her lips like a wolf, growling, intimidating.
He imagined her teeth rolling across the floor,
Torbin dove, knocking the hammer out of her hands.
Under the thick coat of blood, he barely recognized her once defined features.
“It’s in my head.” Her eyes large, searching vacantly.
“They’re coming for me Torbin. They’re on their way. I know they are. They can find me.
and Samantha tapped a brown sticky index finger on what remained of her broken canines.
“What the fuck Samantha!
There is no “they.”
They is another figment.”
Torbin paced from one wall to the next
before he threw the hammer into some unknown puddle in the corner.
Samantha drooled into her lap.
Torbin sat, curled
with his face in his forearms.
“We can’t do this anymore.
How can you do this shit?
How can you do this to me?”
Torbin’s tone was unconvincing broken legged puppy.
He used his sleeve to wipe the bloody spittle from her chin.
“No. No, they’re coming for us. You’ll see.
but it’ll be too late.”
“Samantha. It’s you.
It’s always been you.
It may already be
He crawled away to the mattress in the corner.
She wrapped herself around him like a velvet robe.
She sobbed into his back,
smelling him on the shirt he’d worn for the last three days.
Her voice reminded him of rodents squeaking in the crawlspace.
“I can be a whore, an addict, a roach,
but I can’t stand the idea of being your lost cause.”
An excerpt from a novel in progress about two homeless teenagers struggling with addiction and the destruction of loving an addict. More to come!
Another cigarette, a bottle of wine, and another cigarette. Walking through the boulevard, the neon lights casts my shadow upon the pavement. The letters spell out death. “Nude girls” another way to numb another sense. Budweiser on tap, another sense dulled, “rocket donuts” eating away reality, eating away suffering. Each sidewalk is a pattern, repeating, but differentiated. Cigarette buds, gum steamrolled to the pavement. An hour until the next class, another arbitrary declaration of my “knowledge.”
The vices vary from person to person. Drug, drink, caffeine, food, sex. I think, you think, they think, I think, we have a freedom of choice, but if the only choices given to us are A, B, or C, how much free will is there?
We walk, bus, ride, run, to the same classes, the same grocer, our routines are cemented like the walls of the catacomb. Sealing in a predestined fate, we walk down the same halls, purchase the same goods, read the same text. It’s like we’re all pieces to a puzzle we’ve finished dozens of time before.
The repetition is enough to make you nauseated.
Even vagabonds, unrestrained from day to day routine escape to the same locations, eat out of the same dumpster, always eating a similar morsel, the unwanted can goods that once again, weren’t eaten.
To rebel from the conventional is to follow a path that’s been treaded a thousand times before. We rebel to join the other rebels conforming to black clothing and angry music. We rebel in bright vibrant colors from all the other rebels sick of hypocritical rebellion.
Variety is as limited from switching from A to C to B, but at the end of it all, we’ll always have to return to one of these options. In the end variety is deception. In the end there are only so many paths to walk down, only so few words to choose.
As members of this redundancy, we must fool ourselves into believing that the next wall of this cage is different from the wall we stared at before.
But every bit of ash flicked from the cigarette tip is indecipherable from the next. In the end even colors, even art returns to the primary colors.
We’re born, we live, we die. In a way it’s beautiful, in a way it’s confining, but more appropriately,
The landscape to repeats on a reel. Life is limited to the categories we give it, and in the end if Torbin walks into a bar, a strip club, a book store, or a restaurant, he’ll always return to Samantha’s side.
She is as much his as the hair fused within the fibers of his scalp. Even in her final monologue she’ll fit into the warm python palm of his hand.
“Do you have to do that?”
Torbin stares at a dark cloud, in an otherwise blue sky.
“Stop cracking your fingers.”
Torbin holds his hand in the other slowly popping each knuckle out of place.
She clenches her jaw, slapping his hands out from in front of him.
Even in anguish, he likes to watch the contours of her face contort. He’s in love with her soft balled fist. Samantha hears a “POP” from Torbin’s side.
“God dammit Torbin, again?”
Another of Torbin’s smirks and he nudges her off the sidewalk.