I prepared myself

I prepared myself for a burial
Fabricated a coffin
Measured twice
Cut once
Picked a plot
Bought garlands
Waxed melancholy with memory
For the eulogy I was charged with delivering
Told “Until those words are spoken,  the matter will never rest”

I prepared myself for a burial
Charged with the eulogy for one
Before whom words pale
Always their master
Their wielder
And thereby, indescribable
A eulogy to clarify, summarize
Encapsulate
Preserve
A eulogy to eclipse all the moments words couldn’t keep up with in real time
All the feelings I couldn’t eloquate with all the time in the world
And reduce it to a complex metaphor to be laid at the feet of another for judgment

I prepared myself for a burial
Fabricated twin coffins
Measured four times
Cut once
Picked a plot
10x10x6
Coffins to be laid cross-wise
Exactly half of you to be placed in each
No specs on cuts
And again was charged with eulogizing what I’d already handled symbolically
And I realized that words hold more weight than you’re worth now
The final one tipped the balance
And I am left with nothing more to say
No one with whom to speak

I prepared myself for a burial
Still had the coffin from a previous scare
Cut once and forever to be reserved
Picked garlands from fields of memory
And placed them on an altar that’s always been erected
We stood before it together as children
Have placed alternate sacrifices upon it,  each other even
There is no family plot to be assigned
Resigned to
And, as ever, I’m charged with eulogy
And I know full well that dozens of the most sincere novels could never give an accurate picture
And stand shaking with the profundity of this charge
Knowing that only the truth will suffice
Only truth unendurable

I prepared for a burial
Prostrated myself to the unknown
Carelessly gathered all my words into a single mind
And I stood before an audience to be later invited
Poured all those thoughts through my teeth like a sieve to disperse and scatter
Breaking form before they make any progress
I try to catch them yet
Grasping at small cyclones that buzz around me
And preparing myself for the next burial

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An Excerpt from “The Counselor” by Cormac McCarthy

(I have no wish here to violate copyright law. I simply want to share this.)

Counselor:

You said I was that man. At that crossing.

 

Jefe:

Yes. At the understanding that life will not take you back. I have no wish to paint the world in colors more somber than those it wears, but as the world gives way to darkness it becomes more and more difficult to dismiss the understanding that the world is in fact oneself. It is a thing which you have created, no more, no less. And when you cease to be so will the world. There are other worlds.  Of course. But they are other worlds of other men and your understanding of them was never more than an illusion anyway. Your world – the one that matters – will be gone. And it will never come again. The extinction of all reality is a concept that no resignation can encompass. And all grand ideas are seen for what they are. And now I must go. I have calls to make, and then, if there is time, I will take a little nap.  Continue reading

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Schism

From the vantage of an onlooker she would seem to have a grey-blue aura, her pale skin luminous though completely shadowed. Standing on the porch of a ground level apartment and smoking, the dull glow from the television inside labored through the summer humidity to trace Curstin’s outline. Her posture spoke rigidity and anxiety as she waited for the voice of her mother to return in her phone’s earpiece. Fine spider webs like damp veil hung on the holly bushes lining the railing in front of her, and she intentionally flicked the ash of her cigarette into them. Her fiancée, Evan, sat on the couch inside, transfixed simultaneously by the TV and the book in his lap. She breathed a thick, thankful sigh for the moral inconsistency in him which deemed cigarettes acceptable.

“Honey?” her mother squawked. The sudden break of silence caused Curstin to flinch.

“Yeah, mom. I’m here.” Curstin rotated the simple engagement band round and round her finger.

“Honey, now, I know this is tough, and I will talk to your father about it, but I think you may be making a big deal out of nothing.”

“Mom,” impatience kindling in her voice, “this is anything but small. It’s, like, all he thinks about, all he talks about.”

“Then why don’t you encourage him to do something positive with it?”

“You don’t get it. I’ll talk to dad myself. He may understand it better from my mouth than yours. I gotta go. Love you.” From the wireless ear-bud came a miniscule pop as she pressed the button on her watch to disconnect. Its digital face-plate lit up, and it trembled softly against her skin, alerting her that her heart rate had accelerated. She brushed a lock of red curls back from her face and used the dial to find a name, clicked to call.

It didn’t ring even once before a bubbly voice in her ear chimed, “Hey, Curs. What’s up?”

“Alli, please tell me you’re not busy, I really want to meet somewhere.”

“Sure, I’d love to!” The enthusiasm and its underlying optimism already grated on Curstin, but it always had. “A bar or something? Maybe at Stubbs?”

“No, I was hoping maybe a restaurant. Somewhere I don’t have to see the TVs. I can’t deal with another minute of this right now.”

“Oh, okay. I could eat. Uummm…Brown Jenkins’ in an hour?”

“Perfect. See you there.” She hung up and flicked her cigarette into the parking lot as she turned to go back inside.

Apart from a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen, the apartment was one large room intended to be divided into a living room and dining room. Theirs was outfitted more like an oversized study with an entertainment center. Bookcases lined all available wall space that wasn’t electronic, another testament to how much of a Luddite Evan had become as the idea of ink on paper had come to be considered archaic by most. She couldn’t believe she was considering marrying him only to promptly attempt to have him put into an asylum. And all because of Singularity. But as his head jerked up from the book, to her, to the TV, and back to her like a cartoon squirrel, his once-powerful build now seeming slight and hunched, black hair hanging stringy and unkempt around his face, the conviction re-emerged.

While she changed clothes in the bedroom, the political rhetoric poured thick from the TV and crowded out her thoughts. A man’s voice, confident and unfaltering, said emphatically, “The superstitious fear-mongering of Randolph Carter and this new wing of radical tyrants will do us no good. The ability to usher in a new era of prosperity for the world through Democratic Transhumanism is a gift from God, made possible by human intellect. Given the ability to overcome our physical shortcomings, our intellectual deficit, we would be fools and cowards to pursue anything else. This is America’s new Manifest Destiny, and to attack it with the same economic feudalism that this party used to stand against is hypocrisy, at best!”

Evan called excitedly from the other room, “Babe, you won’t believe this”.

“I don’t fucking care right now, Ev,” she said coming around the corner, dressed nicer than was necessary. “I love you, but I don’t care. I’m going out for dinner. Please try to chill out.”

She avoided looking back at him as she left.

 

*          *          *

The restaurant cocooned its patrons from the glow of television, its wood floors and engraved paneling producing a cozy atmosphere which was disconcertingly offset by slightly irregular angles for nearly every intersection of doorframe, ceiling or floor. Paintings of desolate mountains and cold expanses of ocean and unnamable constellations hung at odd intervals and heights. Comfort and discord played side by side here. The place had become popular for its offering of a rare escape from the ubiquitous news monitors and their simulcast, commercially-entwined parade of punditry which wracked the majority public and private spaces alike. But there was no hope in evading the ideas. Curstin felt all the more insulted for how consequently the raging debate personally affected her by way of Evan, for that invasion of personal consciousness had extended itself into her most intimate interactions. Since the Geneva Corporation had made the breakthrough public, the worldwide debate over Technological Singularity had snowballed and in so doing, swept up her fiancée more wholly than even the single-minded broadcast conglomerates. That unity roared its presence in many forms.

Alli and Curstin shared a plate of squid tentacles poached in butter and blackish ink, brought to them by a server who appeared to be a part of the re-emerging Eskimo ethnicity. They looked over their menus, each of which bore at the top the slogan: “And With Strange Aeons Even Death May Die…So, Eat Up!” Curstin thought that the dish they currently shared looked like some barren aquatic orchard.

Alli appraised her childhood friend a moment, taking in how gaunt and feeble she seemed to have become, and said, “Look, you need to, you know, talk about this. I know you hate to, but you have to.”

“It’s, like, all anyone talks about now. I don’t want to join.”

“Hey, you asked me here. Now talk, bitch.” Her tone stayed playful, but there was no escaping its urgency.

“Okay…Evan is losing it.” She stopped there, as though that were the sum total. Alli made a keep-going motion with her hand which held her fork. “He projects this obsession onto, like, everything. He thinks that unless someone does something that, like, the super-elite will seize the BHT breakthrough, or whatever, and make themselves immortal.”

“Is that so crazy? Seems like a possibility to me.”

“This is why I didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Just keep going. Your opinion isn’t unique, considering.”

“He won’t read anything on the web anymore, or use the headsets or anything because of how traceable they are. He’ll only read books or watch broadcast TV. And watch TV, at the same time, all the time.”

“At least he’s reading.”

“He’s donating to Randolph Carter and the Bioconservatism movement because they are the only ones who, like, oppose it all. Since the supposed assassinations after the Intelligence Explosion, or whatever, he’s been railing about it all day and all night. He won’t pay attention to anything else. Not me, not his job, not his health. As though Biomechanical Human Technology was the sickness and letting yourself die was the cure!”  She sat back, exhausted from the release. The watch on her wrist gave of a series of small vibrations in tandem with her declining pulse.

“That would be profound irony,” Alli said, though Curstin was clearly not entertained by any such forthcoming notion, “if the Swiss, in making people healthier and smarter, destroyed humanity.” She smirked, and Curstin joined despite herself.

The Eskimo reappeared, signaling about something they could not discern to have any bearing on their meals, but rather as though he were an emissary of the intent of the restaurant itself, in both its design and operation, corralling them toward some inevitability.

They placed their orders, then without another word checked their devices in tandem: a silent prayer, a glowing reprieve.

 

*          *          *

            “Daddy?”

“Hi, sweetheart. What’s going on? Your mother said you were having some problems with Evan.”

“Yeah, well—it’s more than that.”

She paced the parking lot outside of Brown Jenkins’, one of many restaurants in one of many “historical” town squares outlying the city-proper. As with most such areas, there had been some decay, some reclamation, some decay embraced, and some reclamation abandoned. Small stray pools stood randomly in depressions throughout the cracked lot. Curstin puzzled at the fact that not only had they not evaporated in the July heat but she also couldn’t remember the last time it had rained.

“Your mom said it was something political.” He sounded concerned yet mildly patronizing as though this were a wound of his own many times dressed in solitude for which he now prided himself in having the opportunity to teach her honed method.

Her frustrated sigh made static in the earpiece. “That’s why I wanted to talk to you myself. It’s not like we disagree. He’s just obsessed! This Singularity thing has put him out there on, like, a whole other level.”

Her father chuckled in a way that warmed her in its familiarity. A sign that he was arranging his thoughts. “It’s good for young men to have something to be passionate about. Too few do anymore. An obsession can be healthy. It gives purpose.”

“But it’s too much this time. I was behind him through the long GMO battle and the dark-web protests and all the others, but he’s…he seems almost gone now.”

“Your mom said he was donating to Randolph Carter.”

“Yeah,” she said with defeat heavy in her voice.

“Personally, I disagree with that, but he’s entitled to his opinions. I mean, if the public is allowed access to this medical breakthrough, it would mean a longer life for my generation and every other to come. In that light, what’s it matter to have a few microcomputers in your body? They would police it for dangers and irregularities, and probably more reliably than any doctor.”

“That’s not the point, dad. Anyway, you sound like the TV. And besides, Evan thinks that it will just, like, add years to the work force and be an easy plug to pull on non-producing seniors once it gets into the hands of the big, bad pharmaceutical villains.”

“Ha! That’s a laugh. I love that boy, but that really is absurd.”

“He barely sleeps, anymore. He doesn’t even have the same look in his eyes. There used to be, like, optimism or enthusiasm or something that made you want to believe in him, that made me think that I could follow him anywhere. Now it’s, like, inert.”

“Well, dear. These primaries will pass soon enough, and I’d be willing to bet everyone’s furor over this will too. On to the next scandal like always.”

“I hope you’re right.”

 

*          *          *

 

In the apartment, the primary debates blared. Randolph Carter, the candidate for the schismatic faction of the GOP, looked exhausted, as though simply standing against the tidal wave of new technology had broken him down, accentuated the fragility of his position. His opponent, poised and confident in his oration, looked to be the poster of the invincibility that his platform in support of Singularity promised.

Evan’s consciousness tread water somewhere between the back-broken Ray Kurzweil volume on his lap and the honeyed tones coming from the screen upon which the candidate was made larger and more well defined than any real person. The sound and motion of a door opening a few feet away rippled somewhere in that thought-soup.

“Jesus, Ev, give it a rest. Please.” She sounded far away and helpless.

He shut the book, laid it on the coffee table and stood, scanning the room as though he could not find her. She walked toward the far wall from which the TV radiated and deliberately stepped on the power strip, plunging the room into silence. He finally looked straight at her, cognizance sputtering, then catching.

“I’m beginning to think we’re lost,” he said.

“Me too.”

“I mean, now that we’ve introduced these inorganic elements into our consciousness and physiology, the human race is forever altered.”

He looked to her for agreement. She looked at the floor.

“I mean us,” she whispered.

“Yeah, all of —” Puzzlement and sadness shadowed him, the first real emotion she had seen on his face in too long. “Wait.”

“No.”

“You can’t mean that. I mean, What? Because of this?” He motioned at the stagnant screen.

“No. Well, yes. Because of all of this.” Her gesture encompassed the whole room, physically no different than it had ever been.

“What? Can’t you see! This idea is bigger than any of this,” he angrily parodied her gesture. “This is the quintessence of the future!”

“We have no future like this.” Her voice quavered.

“That’s the first reasonable thing you’ve said in days. Everything’s gone insane. The creation of real Aryan Supermen and artificial intelligence chimera! Fucking Singularity!”

“Ev, stop.” She was crying. Strands of red hair curling limp about her face like cut wires.

“No, you stop! And good luck with that. Between the siren song of cyber-consciousness, the inescapable waves of information in the air from internet and phones and vita-watches recording and monitoring constantly, we’ve all been practically cyborgs for the last 20 years! People don’t live like this, but we do. And good luck stopping!”

“no.”

“Oh-ho-ho, yes. And now, big pharmaceutical dictating bio-political public policy! This primary, this presidential race, the bio-tech arms race, the whole fucking human race is gone!” He panted, his eyes kindling electrical fire. “So, us, define it as you will, but it…certainly…is…over.”

 

*          *          *

An Excerpt from the Concession Speech of Randolph Carter:

“…to call this a victory for any person or party is delusion. To call this ‘concession’ on my part is hyperbole in respect of the democratic process, for I could bring myself to concede, were this any normal election, but what is at stake here is the very soul of the human race. Should we proceed down this path, embraced by my opponents from all sides, who are in turn embraced by those whom this stands to profit most, then we will have offered up our most personal and most private property, our bodies and minds, to the fallibility of technology. We will have sacrificed our god-given being to the inorganic and the mechanized. Without having given a thought to our own best natures, we think to usurp nature. And once we have let slip away the ability to regulate ourselves, in body and in thought, there can be no possible future for democracy.”

 

*          *          *

 She would find herself awakened

without possession of her dreams

by the pulse of her watch

warning her

frantic

She would believe that she felt the air around her

congeal and dissipate

as clouds

silent

She would pray to a god she knew no better

than a television personality

a politician

a whim

In loss

she hoped to gain self

to grasp her aspirations again

to find a path blazed only by the altruism she had forsaken for him

But she returned over and again to that asymmetrical restaurant and the beckoning of the screens without and the trivia that she loathed

*            *          *

Not until the equinox did Evan decide that he had had enough. All that remained in his living room was the entertainment center, the books, and a sheet of plywood balanced on milk crates that he had been using for a coffee table. He hummed to himself as he disassembled the entirety of the electronic set-up, let that hum evolve into song as he took it to the pawn shop, and happily accepted the first offer made to him.

From there he drove north beyond all of his geographical bearing. He went without the accustomed din of music or talk-radio, and when the urge struck him to look at his cell phone, he instead threw it out of the window to shatter on the asphalt.

Once sufficiently unfamiliar with his surroundings, he picked an arbitrary point to pull over onto the shoulder of the highway and proceeded away from the road on foot. Though the day was bright and warm, the sun was not visible as he crossed fields long-forsaken by those who would tend them, burrs attaching themselves to his clothes, tall grass making his hands itch as it brushed against them. Eventually he crested a hill, at the bottom of which ran a brook with a single enormous elm on its banks, its roots playing in the barely moving current. He descended and lay on his back beneath the elm’s bows, opposite the water. The soil was soft to his touch everywhere but the pale patch of skin encircling a finger on his left hand, upon which it felt raw and granulated. In the depression the air was tangibly cooler, and he took that feeling to be the first tickle of autumn’s tendrils breaching the sweltering terror of summer.

As he lay, he felt his consciousness hovering slightly above his physical body. In a period devoid of time, he felt that consciousness begin to congeal, then undulate, and finally blossom, descending through his person and melding with the packed soil beneath. Birds sang and insects hummed far away in his awareness, and under their voice came the thought: this is matrimony; this is unity; this is Singularity. 

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Postscript to “Throne of Blood”

As uncertain as the black

Behind the curtain drawing back

Oh, God, what have I authored now?

 

Still trembling from the last

Dissembling ending of an act

None of us left so intact as to take a bow

 

Still scrawling petty incantations

As though black-alchemic incarnation

Might raise something that I would not disavow

 

I seldom curse my patience

But right now it seems complacent

As insensate, I sit this station unendowed

 

 

Sitting in a cold parking lot next to my ticking car

Chain smoking and praying that the words keep coming

I know that even this is escape

Escape from a home where I no longer welcome myself

Escape from the books which are all that greet me there

Escape from my reflection in your anxious eyes

That say, “Bear, you promised to fight harder”

That say, “Bear, I warned you”

And the memory of your words during that 4am confessional

You said, “Don’t you dare fall in love with me, Bradley”

“I’m sorry,” is all I could reply

 

The hundreds of kisses you refused me because of the alcohol on your breath

For my fucking sake

For all I had forsaken

The million times I couldn’t bring myself to disagree with you

Out of the thousands that I should have

 

So, I dispossessed you

Bequeathed you to real life

After I had insisted upon spoiling you

Bequeathed my mind to smoke

When I couldn’t bear our reality

Bare

Barely even detoxed

I dusted you off and spit shined you and brought you home like a trophy

For all the hundreds I couldn’t save

For all those who we both saw die

Overdoses and gunshot wounds

And cold, welcoming embrace

Neither of us have ever escaped

 

And now

I can’t wait to fictionalize you

To paint you up again and turn you out in cold text

And victimize myself

And spend my days editing and re-editing you until

I’ve finally forgotten the truth

I can’t

Bear

The truth

The truth is that we picked each other apart

Until, apart, we held those fragments

And, apart, and each fragmented

We couldn’t reconstruct ourselves

 

We loaded the gun

You clicked the safety off

I pulled the trigger

There was not enough of us left, together, to kill

 

We promised each other the 5th dimension

And now wander the vastness of time and space

The last time we touched our foreheads together

Colors exploded

And we marveled that it still worked like that

But we both know that zero

Is the only quantum thread

 

Together, we made this house haunted

A little girl’s giggling

A dog’s whimpering

And now, on opposite sides of it, we plead for the noise to stop

Swinging at shadows

As though we were not

 

And my tears pour tepid and septic as Auburn Avenue gutters in August

But my words come crumbling crisp and dead as Autumn

To say in great self-aggrandizement

We are as the mighty Chattahoochee in drought

Filth exposed and strength bled out

 

And no amount of rhyme

Or melancholy Tom Waits vagabond reverie

Can change the fact

That I can’t listen to “Gentle on My Mind” 

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Throne of Blood

The same game by any other name

Does not constrain the disdain that collapses the veins

That reign of shame that i blame for my change

From astro-plane to hydroplane

So i hit rock bottom running

Gunning for something resembling function

Looking for logical transition without conjunction

Has got me hunching my shoulders

Hunting, no holster

At that luncheon where i told her

All my slipping through these kitchens

Bolsters nothing

Stitches ripping

Dripping poison from my eyes as i warn her

That i know how it ends with Lady Macbeth in my corner

 

Stackin these agonies

Askin please for the

Tragedy of this pageantry

That embattles me to unsaddle me

And that’ll be me

Skiing sobriety’s slippery slope

Merely being in society is enough to cause hope to elope

Leaving me choking and smoking on copious amounts of dope just to cope with the yoke

Of the fact that there’s no unseeing the atrocity of my dreams

And no soap strong enough to get me clean

“Out, damned spot! Out!”

 

He thrusts his fists against the posts

And still insists he sees the ghosts

And that hiss enlists us to raise our toasts

For all our trysts over jagged coasts

Though the heart resists

It, ragged, boasts

So we must desist

Before all’s engrossed

For the lips i kissed

It twists the most

Out, damned spot, out…

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Imagination for Dreaming

Both

Either

None

Matter

 

I see tattoos in the mirror that I don’t have

And barely any reflection of myself in the ink that I do

 

So I bleed out

All over these pages

And her mattress

And my father’s carpets

And my sister’s jail cell

That’s all I have to offer

This poison

The years of reading

This spiritually repressed regress

The haunted look in my eyes

And the sorrow

The eternal apologies

Sleeping sound in the embrace

Of indifference to sickness and beauty alike

 

And I still can’t dream

Tell me it’s ok

I really need to believe someone

Something

I value the inane

And despise others for my worst qualities

Let me sell you what I’m not

And hope you love me for what I am

This infection I won’t treat

 

Attention feeds this pleading desperation’s urge to isolate and reject

 

I don’t want to sleep again

Or remember my lack of recall

 

It’s all placebo

And always has been

A cheap temporal substitute for fulfillment

That gratification is all I’ve ever sought

From you

From everything

Absolute egocentricity

 

So, bleed me at your pace

That’s what I’d do

Pretend I’m in control because illusions matter most

Pretend I’m better

Because I can’t stand the truth

And I will destroy everything around me if you’re unwilling to call me out

I will dismantle my foundations and lay them at your feet, laughing

Just because you’re uninterested

I will feign indifference when I’m destroyed

And I will run head-long into any situation simply because I’m outmatched

All to make myself believe that reckless disregard is an adequate substitute for bravery

Manipulation for willingness

Pleasure for happiness

Imagination for dreaming

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a friend

Sometimes I see phantoms of people I knew long ago. They enter a room and catch my eye, and just when that knot-in-stomach recognition makes my pulse start to race, as the part of rarely visited memory in which they reside starts to swing its gates wide, they shift into someone I’ve never seen before. And I’m left gasping and uncomfortable, looking to the people around me to see if I’ve drawn someone’s attention by outward expression of my internal false-start.

I once knew a girl named Mary. A few days ago, seeing her apparition on a face in a crowd made her real again. Time makes people become characters from hazy movies or books; so many stories to remember. But, she was once the dearest female to me.

We met in the middle of my 8th grade school year. I had been expelled from one school for what one could call aggressive hooliganism (if one wanted to use vague and euphemistic terms) and she awaited me at the next forced learning center. Whether I stepped into a circle of friends to which she already belonged or she gravitated to me or it was a coincidence, I’m not sure.

She dressed like a goth: skirt or baggy jeans; mesh or heavy-metal t-shirts; spikes; eye makeup; Doc Martin boots. That’s more or less what a lot of my friends looked like though. Mary was medium-tall and sleight of frame with wavy strawberry-blonde hair and freckles. A small and tightly drawn mouth made her seem meeker than she was.

Years and substances have intervened and blurred details; specific events are an amalgam of shared classes, cafeteria meals, skipped classes, myriad movies and meals near malls, and a friendship that was as eternally meaningful as all things are when you’re fourteen years old. She wanted a further relationship and I recall not sharing that desire. My mind may have manufactured the memory of wiping her smearing eyeliner tears with my thumb as we sat against a wall on a cold tile floor of a vast hallway at school and I said I didn’t want to ruin our friendship.

Whether any of that is true or not, we remained friends. Her mother, with whom she lived, treated me welcomingly and her younger sister had such an enormous crush on me that she would hide when I came to pick Mary up. We went to different high schools but met on the weekends to cut up and learn about drugs together. We were confidants to one another’s relationships, consolers, menders. We told each other that if we reached 25years old and were still unmarried that we would wed. Throughout following years, we would remind each other of this regularly, and over time, it started to seem more comforting.

She was furious with me over the girl to whom I lost my virginity. I know she thought I owed myself more, but I’m not sure in what sense. Everyone’s defloration is awkward and limitedly pleasurable. Best to not deal with the person who shares yours for much more than a few meetings.

I get older in the blur. She comes to see my metal band play in shit-hole venues. I have dropped out of school and she comes to my apartment to party with us, still the hooligans, the riff-raff. One night, she got stung by a scorpion while a group of us were nearing our peak on an acid trip, and everyone thought she was dying. Mary dated one of my roommates from there for quite some time. They moved out and got a place together as my band kicked me out and my lease defaulted and I lost jobs and caught charges and moved back in with my dad.

I became counsel for her for a time, but her domesticity and our varied habits wedged us apart. She left him, eventually. The last I knew of him, he was still drinking over her a year later.

She found me again in the dead embrace of a trailer-park whore named methamphetamine. She joined me there. For fear of what a real friend will say to another in such circumstances, we kept each other at arm’s length. We partied together a little, but we did not see the nitty-gritty of the tweakers’ Kingdom together. I was under the impression that she was beginning to barter her shame for substance.

There was a clean patch of space-time here. A swathe of bright coloring in the perpetual drab of carpet-sketching. I must have had a few weeks or months clean in the lead up to a relapse. It was the only intimate encounter that she and I ever had. We were boozy and joyous for something. We kissed each other with open mouths and embraced each other as lovers would in swoon, and each time it occurred, I was moved from within as though my mid chakras poured out into the void. It is all the more beautiful in memory because it never repeated. Afterward, we smirked at each other in knowledge that it could not happen again unless we kept our playful adolescent betrothal.

Then the color goes away again. Back to shades of brown and grit and stain and she’s been living with a guy for a while and he’s over a decade older than her. He makes enough money to be able to rescue her. He has a legit job. He’s only kind of a tweaker. In my mind, he is abusive, but I have no proof. I am destitute and without resources or recourse. And she is taken away.

I spoke with her much later, though now very long ago. She was still with him. She said she was doing well, but I didn’t believe her. I had just barely started toward doing well, myself. We were both just shy of 25 then, and though I did not mention it, I thought of our promise. It felt like she gave unenthusiastic lip-service to the idea of seeing each other. That number was changed and I never spoke to her again.

All that vitality and energy stored in the memory of her spasms restlessly as her shade passes over me almost hourly now. I could be crazy or I could be sensitive to something that I only know intuitively. I don’t know which I hope to be true.

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June 13, 2013 · 11:39 pm