Drunk Talk

drunk talk

“There is no form to this story because it is true, or at least as close to true as I have been able to make it.” – Kevin Brockmeier, The View from the Seventh Layer

 

Bookstores shouldn’t even have a memoir section, in my opinion.  Throw it all in the fiction section.  There isn’t a writer alive who doesn’t cannibalize his life, or the lives of his friends and family, to make himself look good on the page, for her characters to come across as real.  Well, this is just another one of those rapes of real life masquerading as fiction.  The fact that it happened doesn’t make it any truer.  I’m describing these events as I remember them, not necessarily how they happened.  No names have been changed because I can’t remember most of them anyway and don’t have time to come up with fake ones.

If you’re reading this and think you’re reading about yourself, maybe it bothers you that I didn’t ask for your permission.  Whatever you’ve got, bring it on.  You must be proud of yourself to own up to this, so let’s see it.  Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t see that happening.

So we have half a dozen people on a patio in Miami, the same patio we use every weekend because we can smoke and the neighbors don’t mind loud, drunken revelry.  Well, they don’t mind within reason.  There was the time Rita’s ex showed up.  He spent the evening circulating, speaking to everyone but her, then finally choked her and threw her down a set of stairs (she’s here tonight, so don’t worry for her health).  That night, the cops were called, and who can blame the neighbors for calling.

People attributed Enrique’s coke relapse to his being an addict and an asshole.  He attributed it to their breakup.  I, as a former junkie, attributed it to his drinking.  No matter what you’re addicted to, alcohol will make easier for you to find it.

Since he started drinking during his engagement party to Rita, maybe she is responsible, if you look at it just right and squint your eyes.  But in the end, no one can blame anyone else for the mistakes that they choose to make.  And you do chose, believe me.  Love may be beyond choice, but fuck ups aren’t.  Trouble is, sometimes the line between them gets blurred.  Maybe, maybe, you can’t choose who you love, but you can choose what you love.  My sponsor told me that I need to separate my likes from my wants, to keep the things that I need but to put the things I want at a safe distance.

That’s why I keep a full  gram of heroin in my freezer, and a leather bag with my works in a coffee can in the cabinet above.  It’s not what you think, but I’ll come back to it once you meet everyone else.

Rita is still single, but voluntarily so.  Her skin is dark and smooth, her hair bleached blonde.  She is short and curvy without being fat, huge tits that spill out of whatever she’s wearing, arms and thighs that curve with Kobudo muscle, a thick slab of Brazilian butt.  She is a powerhouse personality, someone you hope will show up to turn your get together into a party.         She’s our event planner.  Halloween Horror Nights, Bonaroo, Disco Roller Skating, Karaoke, 50’s Bowling Night, none of it feels like anything until Rita shows up and brings the fun.  She’s like one of those floor-walkers in Vegas casinos, those girls who walk around and make sure everyone is happy, that they’re all having fun and gambling; only it’s us she’s working for.

She found this dive bar that serves three-dollar Guinness.  In a city where you pay eight dollars for a bottle of Michelob, eleven dollars for a martini, this is something of a miracle.  We made it our hangout every Saturday for a month, a bunch of hair-dyed, tattooed, twenty-something freaks, flitting among the bar flies.  They loved us.  Well, truthfully, they hated us.  We’d walk in en masse and they’d give us looks like we were ruining their lives.  What they loved was Rita.  First night, she bumped into a guy at the bar.  Older guy, tired suit, haircut and mustache that should have been retired in the seventies.  He’s drinking like you just know he’s got no one to go home to.  And Rita bumped into him.

Actually, it was mutual.  Both reaching for a beer, an ashtray, whatever, not looking out, and slamming into each other.

“Okay, where, where are you going?” Rita says, cigarette in one hand and beer in the other, “Let me get out of your way, no wait, let me get out of your way, let me get out of your way.”  She asked me if she was being rude.  Before I could answer she looked right into the guy’s hostile stare and asked him.  Next thing you know, this guy is buying her drinks, and she’s hopping from barfly to barfly like a hostess.  The place didn’t have Karaoke, but she cranked up the jukebox and made the whole bar doing sing-alongs.  The Rita Show.

The woman who owns this condo is a complete contrast.  Elaine is petite, Jewish, and quiet.  The only thing that hints at a wild side are the three-quarter sleeves and the strange spirals on the back of her neck that her sexy-librarian style tops don’t cover.  If you’re wondering, sleeves are solid tattoos that cover every inch of flesh between your shoulders and wherever.  Quarters sleeves to the biceps, half sleeves to the elbow, three-quarter sleeves like Elaine’s to the forearm, and full sleeves to the wrist.  The sexy-librarian thing isn’t just the way she dresses.  She’s book smart, and she’s got a wit that could slice apples.  It could slice you, too, if you make the mistake of trying to score points off of her.

None of us lived in the sixties.  But when I think of the sixties, I think of hippies, of people who are easy-going and who can get along with anyone.  Elaine would have fit right in.

Shawn, on the other hand, would not.  At least not in the peace-loving sense.  But he would have been a great Black Panther, a great activist, a great conscientious objector.  Or, with that heavy beard he’s been wearing lately, maybe he should direct films where people who don’t make eye contact speak about the human condition and the voice over is in several different foreign languages.

Shawn can’t quite be called Elaine’s ex.  They fucked three times in college while taking Sexuality in the Post-Modern Moment together.  Shawn is flat-out brilliant, always spouting something you’re sure he bit off Chomsky or Heidegger and it turns out it’s all his own.  Elaine’s enthusiasm for the subject and her wit combined for a worthy opponent.  Classes turned into Shawn and cronies versus Elaine and friends, with the professor as a moderator.  They were so into debating that they’d work themselves into a frenzy; it was fuck or kill each other.  I’m glad they chose fucking, or I would never have met them.  Plus, love is always better than violence.  Trust me.

Shawn and Rita fucked once, too, but that really can’t be called an ex anything.  They were both single for a long time.  A dry spell, drinking, a good talk, and there you go.  One thing leads to another, as they say.  Bob’s your uncle, as the British say (or Bob’s your mother’s brother, as they say when they’re trying to be cool.  When I’m trying to be cool, I write Bob’s your uncle).  What it led to was Rita, panties off, dress still on, but with the top pulled down so those fabulous tits could breathe, riding him on the sofa in his mom’s house.  He had his pants puddled around his ankles and his hand over her mouth so they wouldn’t wake his mother.  They fell asleep and woke up horrified.  To their credit, it’s become a running joke instead of a friendship breaker.

It’s helped the rest of us, too.  It’s always nice to have things to rag on your friends about, like the time I got drunk and made out with David.  He’s not here tonight, but if he was I’m sure it would come up again.  In fact, it might anyway.  It’s like herpes, just when you think you’ve seen the last of it . . .

Growing up in Idaho, David’s only gay role models came from the media.  David is one of those gay men who struggles valiantly to be a fabulous, life-of-the-party queen, like the ones he saw in Madonna videos.  The trouble is, he can’t pull it off.  Beneath this excess of dance hall gesticulation and lame one-liners beats the heart of a true accountant.  I think he’d do better trying to be himself than trying to be fabulous, which is sad to say about someone approaching forty.

And I made out with him.  Maybe I’m not one to judge.

Let’s see, he’s not here tonight, so who is.  It changes week-to-week but the same faces keep cropping up.  I said six, right?

What, so Shawn.  I’m sorry.  I’m clean now but sometimes my thought process is like I’m fucked up.  I think it comes from trying to make sense while fucked up for so long.  Either that or from trying to obliterate thought all together.  I apologize.  My favorite Shawn fact is his wardrobe.  I’ve never seen him wear anything except black dress pants and white button down shirts.  Miami is hot, so it’s unusual on one level.  Miami also cares what you wear, so the no-name, plain slacks, plain shirt, black boot ensemble is unusual on that level as well.  I asked him once if he was pulling an Einstein (Einstein had seven sets of exactly the same outfit so he wouldn’t waste time picking out clothes).

The truth, as he was kind enough to explain, is that Shawn works a lot of retail.  This outfit suits every place he’s ever worked and he’s too poor and too lazy to shop for new clothes.  Shawn is the type of guy who you hope doesn’t show up at your party because he’ll sit in the corner sulking, wondering why we aren’t all emailing our congressman about class sizes or something.  But he’s the guy you pray will show up while you’re hanging out, because he’ll fill a silence with something interesting.

On a side note, three to eight people are hanging out (as in, “I don’t want to go to Little Hoolee’s; let’s hang out at your place”) and nine to fifteen people are a get together (as in, “I’m having little getty at my place after the movie; don’t tell anyone else”).  Maybe even twenty, if it’s the right crowd, can be a get together, but any more than that and you’re at a party.

Elaine’s boyfriend lives here, too.  A second generation Cuban-American, Charley’s father fucked him up good.  He’s seventy five (the father, not Charley) and deeply Catholic, with six children, all sons.  He was violent.  He tried to convert Elaine the first time they met.  She didn’t know it at the time, because she doesn’t speak Spanish, but she had her suspicions when he gave her a bible for Christmas, with the word Navidad in Feliz Navidad underlined three times.

The old man threatened to disown Charley if he moved into Elaine’s place.  Charley expressed a deep regret over this to his mother and his family, then tap-danced all the way here.  As far as I know, he’s never looked back.  But it’s stayed with him, like family tends to do.

Most Cubans in Miami are tiny (or tiny to me, at six foot one) but Charley is six foot four.  A bear of a man.  Like most big guys, he’s gentle to the point of being a wuss.  When Enrique got rough with Rita, for example, Charley and I stood there with our mouths hanging open.  Shawn, all white, skinny, five-foot-eight-inches of him, jumped on Enrique and held him  until his punches and screaming dissolved into tears.  Charley and I then proceeded to get piss drunk (which means what, exactly?  So drunk we couldn’t tell if we were pissing ourselves?) and lament the fact that we are ineffectual, passive little nothings.

The violence inside Charley manifests itself around children.  He has no way of dealing with children other than hitting them.  It’s primal, hardwired into his system, inherited from his father like black hair and dark eyes.  He’s had years of therapy but it’s still there, imprinted on his mind, in his fists.  Now, the choice.  Does he belt his nieces and nephews around, or Gessenia’s kid when she brings him to visit (more on Gessenia later)?  No.  When the urge strikes (no pun intended, but what else can an urge do?  An urge hits you, it strikes you, it’s all so aggressive), he separates himself.  Grows quiet, looks at the room from beneath a brow grown heavy with self-loathing.  He has also decided he will never have children.

I find this noble.  To know his limitations and to make decisions that respect those limitations, what more can you ask from a man?  Growth, sure, and open-mindedness, most definitely.  But to keep yourself from situations that aggravate your weaknesses into regrettable behavior, that’s a talent.

The trouble is Elaine.  Hippy freak that she is, she wants kids, gaggles of them.  Every group of friends has that couple, the one you look at to show you there’s hope in the world of finding someone special, someone who truly understands and means something to you.  Charley and Elaine are that couple.  Yet, beneath the surface, this kids thing.  A deal-breaker no matter how you look at it.  Watching them is like watching a time bomb, only the face has no numbers and no hands.

I promised more on Gessenia but I’ll save the best for last.

First, the roommate.  Rocky.  Elaine put down her own deposit on the place but Charley and Rocky’s rent is helping her pay it off.  Rocky is a scientist, and brilliant, and a world beater.  I’ve know her longer than anyone else here, six years or more, and I can’t look at her too long without tearing up.  It’s tough to pity someone and be their friend, but I do my best.

She’s getting her doctorate in molecular biology.  She’s trying to find the exact ratio of dye to use for certain cells to make their research easier.  That’s probably way off the mark, but she’s studying molecular biology, not me, so give me a break.  Anyway, she’s hoping she’ll find the right formula so she can patent it, make a mint, and spend the rest of her life as a professional student.  She rarely talks about any of it, because we tend to get fidgety when she does.  It makes us uncomfortable for two reasons.  First, we don’t get ninety-five percent of what she’s saying.  Second, it makes us realize that we’re pissing our lives away, one day at a time.  But when she does talk about it, she lights up.  Her smile is contagious, her eyes are wide and child-like, and her words come fast and sure.  She’s the woman I first met, who used to talk about music the same way.

She had a band many years back.  Three guys and her, drums, keyboard, lead and bass guitar, Luscious Jackson meets Cake, alt-pop stuff.  Pretty, haunting, hard to remember.  She was the lead singer, bass guitarist, and co-wrote the songs with the keyboard player, Eric.  They moved to San Francisco, played bars and clubs, cut an album with an indy label.  Nothing really came of it and no one had the drive to push it any further, so Rocky moved back to Miami.  She still gets royalty checks from time to time.

So, what, I made an album and it was fun but it didn’t explode or anything, so now I’m getting my doctorate and I’m doing research that will help cure cancer one day.  See?  World beater.

You’re thinking, then why the pity?  The guy.  There’s always a shitty guy, not good enough for the fabulous girl who should be with you.  But in this case, Eric, the keyboard player, really is a shitty guy.  Apart from cheating and belittling and mocking and mooching, I can’t see what good he is.  Okay, so he’s good looking, but he’s not great looking.  Is he talented?  If you like old-sad-bastard-wrist-slitting music, this guy is Paul fucking McCartney.  So maybe that’s why he has so many opportunities to cheat.  Little emo Miami punk princesses who think that singing about how much you hate the human race makes you deep line up to get in his pants.

But why would you cheat on someone so brilliant, with those cute bow lips and those baby doll eyes and that soft Colombian accent?  This guy isn’t deep; he’s a retard.

Anyway, forget all that, I’m talking about Rocky.  Not knowing Eric from Adam, look at the damage.  When we first met, she was outgoing, vivacious, with a powerful laugh that shook her tiny frame down to the bones.  She wore short skirts with combat boots and leather vests with wife beaters.  She had thick, black, Buddy Holly glasses and spiked, blue hair.  Now she wears contacts but her face is more closed off because her hair is long, hanging in her face.  You can only see one shy, broken eye at a time, and it won’t meet your gaze for long.  A small animal, peeking from it’s hole.  Maybe the plain, dark, long-sleeved t-shirts and long skirts are just a sign of growing up.  That would be fine.  But Rocky is growing in, making less of herself so she doesn’t get in Eric’s way.  And that’s a fucking crime.  On again, off again, on again, off again, and every time she goes back to this low life punk worm, she wraps another layer of self-doubt around herself and dies a little bit more inside.  The rest of us have stopped trying to talk to her about it.

The only time her self-esteem comes out is when she’s drunk.  She laughs again, smiles again, pushes her hair out her face, pulls up her skirt to flash us for fun.  The old Rocky.

Oh, and Shawn fucked her, too.  That’s a long story.

Which brings me to Gessenia.  Shawn didn’t fuck her but I did.  No, the kid’s not mine.  I always knew I didn’t want kids.  I also knew that sooner or later I’d get fucked up enough not to worry about it when I was after sex.  So when I turned eighteen, I had my nuts snipped.  That’s legal, once you’re eighteen.  You see a couple shrinks, you fill out some paperwork, and boom, you’re shooting blanks the rest of your life.  If I’m too wasted to used a condom, all I have to worry about are guilt and genital warts.

Gessenia doesn’t have genital warts, which is a damn miracle.  That stereotype about hot, Latin blood?  Living in Miami, I’ve come to realize that there’s a reason for it.  Gessenia was set a few degrees too high.  Her mother is Brazilian and Venezuelan, her father is black Cuban, and she is proof that mutts are the prettiest.  She came out of that mix with café au lait skin and greenish-brown eyes, the greenest eyes I’ve ever seen outside of a movie.  She’s tall and lean, possessed of a grace and comfort in her body that women twice her age don’t have.  She teaches math at Florida City Elementary, a neighborhood populated by children of abuse and neglect.  Gessenia is another one who makes us shift uncomfortably in our seats when she talks about her job, but not just because we’re pissing our lives away; it’s no fun hearing about some nine-year-old’s thuggish older brother meeting her in the parking lot so they can discuss the nine-year-old’s detention at knife point.

I’m exaggerating, I’m sorry.  There was no knife, just a thuggish teenager and three of his friends.  Of course, given those two options, which would you choose?  Before you pick, remember you’re a drop dead beautiful woman that goes a hundred and thirty pounds carrying groceries.

Gessenia has crazy hair.  It was like her hair didn’t know which ethnicity to take so it just went wild, a mane of crazed tangles sprouting in all directions, frizzy in the Miami heat.  She has the bone structure to shave her head bald, but that would be a cop out.  She lets it do it’s own thing.  In places, it’s started to dread.  In other places, she’s tied braids.  It’s a nest, and not for the faint of heart.  Imagine you see a girl in a long peasant skirt and a t-shirt with some silly saying on it.  Can you tell she has nice legs just by her ankles and feet?  Can you make out lovely figure beneath her baggy shirt?  If you can’t, you might just see a cloud of madness that looks like it should be on an album cover and move on.  But past those dreaded locks is the miracle of her face.

How we got together was this.  She asked if I wanted to meet her kid.  The few times she brought him to various get-togethers, we missed each other.  So I said sure.  While the kid was asleep, we did many fun things to each other’s bodies that you will hear nothing about.  I’m sorry, a build up with no pay off.  But fuck you, it’s really none of your business who did what to who.  This isn’t junior high.  I will say that I’ve jerked off to her dozens of times since.  It seemed like we might get together again, but so far she hasn’t called.  She’s dropped a few hints but she’s made it clear that she’ll be setting the pace.  I haven’t pushed her.  Maybe it just didn’t mean to her what it did to me, but I can live with that.  What if the next time, I discover that it wasn’t all I remember?  So I’m torn between dying for her to call and kind of hoping it stays a cherished memory.

So, your humble narrator.  You know I’m six foot one and an ex junky.  I’m black America, as our Haitian friend Pharah calls me.  I don’t want to give you the impression that whites aren’t allowed in our circle, that you have to qualify or something.  Shawn’s white.  Elaine’s Jewish but that’s relatively white.  It’s just Miami, and eight out of ten “white” people you see happen to be some kind of Spanish.  I love white people.  I love “Friends.”  Hot dogs.  And we have other white friends on different nights, so don’t make a thing out of it.  It’s just people, okay?  Relax.

So I suppose the heroin deserves an explanation.  I’ve been addicted for the last ten years of my life, but actively using maybe five years of the ten.  This is my longest stretch clean, three years and change.  I’ve tried cold turkey, which is just brutal on me and everyone around me.  I’ve tried doing so much that I get sick of it, which is the stupidest thing ever, to do extra of something that makes you sick in the first place, hoping it gets you sick enough that you don’t want it ever again.  The thing is, it doesn’t work.  You just run out of money and friends.  I’ve tried scaling back and back until I’m taking one baby hit a day just to keep from getting sick, but not enough to really get off.  The problem there is that you’re doing it already.  When you get together with people, fuck it, why not do a little more?  When you’re feeling stressed, why not spike?  Everyone has their coping mechanisms, this is just yours.  The trouble with this method is, every skin prick is a drop on a scale.  It makes that part of you, the weak part, grow.  Every time.  It’s a deposit in a bank of misery.  It waits.  It bides.  It feeds.  And it gets stronger.  When it’s strong enough, all that iron will and bargaining power and everything, every weapon and tool you thought you had, it becomes a joke.  That want, that need, is a beast breaking out of its cage.  You’ve been semi-starving it for months but now it’s strong enough to get out and get itself some big meals.

Well, I’ve quit dozens of times so I’m an expert.  I’ll tell you, none of that works.

What works for me is group therapy and methadone.  It’s weird.  Divorced of the sickness that usually accompanies quitting, it feels like a cheat.  I miss that, an experience so wrenching you have no control over it, then waking up and taking things slow, rediscovering yourself sober.  It’s a rebirth of the soul.  Methadone is more like waking up from a deep afternoon nap, tearing away the shreds of sleep one layer at a time.  But without the methadone, I fall back in weeks or days.  With methadone, and sitting around in a room talking about the shitty things I did while I was doing heroin, I can string months and years together.

But sooner or later, I’m seeking it out.

The first time I ever did it, I was in college with a long-time friend.  He wasn’t my best friend or anything, but I’d known him since middle school and chance landed us in the same college.  So we had that connection, the ghost of home.  Shawn thinks intellectuals are pretentious so he doesn’t have the balls to become one, even though he’s already pretentious in his self-conscious lack of pretension, but my old friend Patrick had no such qualms.  He dove into every philosophy and sociology class he could.  To him, heroin was just the only thing powerful enough to stop him from thinking.  He hooked me up.  It was an impulse, it was there one night so I did it.  It was college.  Experimentation.  Just wanted to see what that pill would do, what smoking that feels like (nice), how many drinks it would take to pass out (ten), how that cock would taste (salty), whether I could satisfy two pussies at once (not quite, but it worked in succession).

Patrick was an expert.  Even though it hits everyone a little differently, his estimates were perfect.  Not enough to put me out, not too little to disappoint, but just enough to fly.  It’s a common misconception that it makes you sick, like it makes you nauseous.  It’s more like, when Oedipus found out he killed his father and married his mother, he tore his eyes out, stumbled through the streets of Thebes shouting, “See me!  Pity me!”  But before he did either of those things, I’m sure he vomited.  Some things are just too powerful to stomach, literally.

But I don’t remember puking, or I remember that as incidental.  The feeling was so much stronger, so sweeping, that I had to get that part over with.  If it wasn’t death, what the hell was it, it was so . . . much.  I had never felt anything like that before, and I felt cheated.  Why had I never felt like that?  Why was it such a secret?  Why couldn’t I feel that way all the time?  I resolved to feel that way as much as I could for as long as I could.

I know I haven’t really defined “it,” but some things you just have to be for yourself.

God, this is dangerous. Expressing these thoughts.  My works, as they say, the leather bag with the syringe, the spoon, the Zippo, are calling.  Quietly, but yeah.  The film canister in my freezer.  Just a pinch of powder.  Yeah.

After my latest relapse I was sick of it all, see.  Methadone.  Group.  I needed to try something different.  So I went in search of.  That perfect high, that perfect place, that perfect score that is almost like the first time.  It’s not the first time, but it’s the futile pursuit that’s the point, and the near misses that keep us looking.  I had five thousand dollars in my bank account.  Accumulated through judicious use of friend’s couches, prudent lack of spending, and the more-than-occasional sale of weed.

First, I needed the perfect score.  It’s hard to find.  People who’ve seen you at your worst, they want to sell you trash cut with baby powder, or thick, brown tar that gives you a headache and stops you from shitting for a week.  People who don’t know you, who have the real good shit, they don’t want to deal with you.  So a lot of false starts, a lot of dashed hopes, and a lot of sub-par product.  Some of it was decent, really.  And some of it was good.  But none if it was, as Eric Stoltz tells Vinny Barbarino in Pulp Fiction, “a fuckin’ madman.”  So if it wasn’t up to snuff, I sold it.  I was in pursuit of something bigger.  The gram of pure Panda White in my freezer.  Well, a gram, less a baby hit to tell me it was the real deal.  So, I found that perfect score, sterilized all my equipment, and stored them both.

To truly experience the perfect high, you see, I needed to be completely clear and clean.  So I waited.  When the pipe was passed, I passed it on without taking a hit.  When pills were piled in a sweaty palm, I waved them off.  When the bump was piled on the end of a key, I laughed it away.  When the spoon was passed, I left altogether.  Why would I want any of that awful shit, when I had the real deal waiting at home?

I’m not stupid.  I still went to meetings.  I didn’t seek these risky situations out.  It’s just that Miami is a party town and I had party friends who didn’t realized I’d turned in my tickets.  Something I learned is that no one is as into your shit as you are.  You can pass months sober before anyone notices.  Most people never did, especially as the faces of my friends gradually shifted.  They became more diverse in their interests and ages.  They like dinner parties instead of clubs, and sitting around drinking and smoking cigarettes instead of partying.  If we decided to take a trip somewhere, we didn’t pop pills or shoot up, we didn’t or eat mushrooms or drop acid, we piled sleeping bags and tents into a pick up truck and went camping.

Three years, man.

It was two years before I had my first cautious drink.  Soon I saw why I’d held back so long.  The tenth time I drank after starting again, which was about two weeks later, I got wildly drunk.  I meant it, too.  It was a pool party.  Drinking and barbecue at this fabulous Coral Gables house someone was watching while the rich owners were away.  I reached the point where I could scale back and mellow out, or I could push it.  Well.

The scars were faded but it didn’t matter.  They were there, and I was going to plunge my needle into one of them, the darkest one over the fat vein in the crook of my right elbow, the one that slants off like half an X, marking the spot.  Thinking about it, I realized I was cheating myself.  I’d spent three thousand dollars on this hit.  It was sure to be the second-best night of my life, right up there with the first time.  Getting home wouldn’t be enough time to sober up.  Fucked up on vodka and beer, I’d barely enjoy it.  It wasn’t right.

The idea ran around in my head like a monkey the rest of the night.  It was torture, and drinking only made it spin faster.  Once you go all the way with a thought like that, every part of you screaming yes at the top of your being, it’s hard to come back.  I told myself spiking would have been a wasted high, pissing on everything I’d sacrificed the last two years to make the next time perfect.  I promised myself I’d take the shot when I sobered up, if I still wanted.

But the monkey screamed and clawed at the insides of my skull, leaving bloody, senseless furrows in my thoughts.

My friend Anna helped me out.  She’s a little goth-death-metal-Mexican chick who also digs country music, perhaps the only one of her kind in existence.  We sat in the bathroom talking, my arm clenched between her knees.  She put her cigarettes out on my faded scars, bringing them back to raging, blistered life.  Somehow, this put me at ease.

The next morning – or rather the next day, when I could face the sun – my arms looked it had a weird tropical disease.  The fact of what I’d done, and what I’d almost done.  I drank orange juice.  I binge-watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on Netflix.  I didn’t shoot.

So for the last year, I’m on a strict two-drink-maximum policy.  And it’s worked out just fine.  Maybe I’ve found the key to lifelong sobriety.  Maybe I’m just laying a sacrifice of days at the altar of my addiction, knowing that when I finally choose to give in, those sacrifices will make it hit me that much harder.  Either way, people smile at me and pat me on the back.  I wonder if they would still do that if I told them the truth, that when Enrique choked Rita and threw her down the stairs, it was him I felt sorry for and not her.

So that’s me and that’s us, the six players who’ve gathered on our favorite porch at the end of another long week for cigarettes and beer.  We’ve come to discuss our lives, our beliefs, our dreams, our fears.  We’ve come to heal our problems and in turn solve nothing less the problems of the entire world.  Ideas will be born, bandied about, and debated to death.

I’d tell you about it but it doesn’t matter.  It’s all drunk talk anyway.

 

 

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