I’m downtown sitting on the edge of a bed in a hotel room facing a wall. The needle filled with dark, frothing heroin aims up at the ceiling caught between my sooty fingers and the belt is wrapped tight around my right arm, my pinched bicep protruding through the iron buckle in a little square button of red skin. Angie is just sitting there on the bed trying to be near me. I feel like a mass of garbage shaped like a man. Rehab didn’t work. Again. I’m about to shoot up. Again. I’m about to go on a rampage all self-loathing but I have my protective lies and self-awareness; I am a thick-skinned junkie and I can devour any sort of bitter horror this disgusting life can give me. She keeps begging me not to use the needle, to smoke the shit on the foil we have bunched up and charred black strewn all over the room the way I’ve been doing it. The tips of my fingers are covered in burns and for a second I look over and see my face in a piece of wrinkled foil sitting on the bed next to me and my reflection is nothing but a dark formless mass indistinguishable from the burnt heroin. One and the same.
But the smoke isn’t strong enough. It’s not killing the pain the way I need it to. Nothing but the needle is cruel enough to destroy the pain and I knew this before I started smoking the shit, but she does not, will not accept that it is not enough in terms of raw palliative power, she won’t see that I need it as rapidly and powerfully as it comes until nothing is left but the pleasure giving way to a dark unconscious where I can rest.
She refuses to let me be alone to finish this final, ghastly ritual so I cook my shot here on the edge of this bed facing this horrible wall burning my hands on the aluminum cap as it bubbles up, tiny wisps of smoke rising out of the tiny swamp of heroin like spirits, disappearing up and into the ether.
I am on the precipice of consummating my sick love affair with a perfect embrace from the long possessive, silky pale white arms of the carnivore-succubus-lover-god, the great ghost of all desire, heroin. I imagine holding onto a last shard of dignity by shooting up with me between a door and her so she won’t see but she refuses to let me because she says she’s scared I’ll overdose and she won’t be able to help me so by design this will be as brutal as possible for both of us and inside I grimace, disgusted and amused and horrified. I am burning as napalm might consume villagers in a jungle in Vietnam. Maybe I am Agent Orange. Yes, it’s Agent Orange, so toxic and the remnants broken apart, my poison spread everywhere unto everything.
We’ve been walking around the city in slashing rain for a week from hotel to hotel, from dealer to dope-spot and finally to a needle exchange and I’ve done maybe everything I can to get her away from the disease that I am while trying to keep her close to me simultaneously and this is what we’ve come to. This is where I’ve brought us, to this moment here.
But she won’t leave me and I love her for not going away. She refuses to let me die alone. I love her. Why won’t she see what I show her? I’m in love. Run, girl! Run as fast as you can!
This beautiful little girl and I’m watching my fire engulf her and I can’t take it but I can’t stop the flames from licking up at her and ruining her porcelain face and I know they will. Somehow I condemned her to love me in this demented perversion of love. I perpetuate our sick romance in the protection I offer her in the streets with the carnival of junkies, dealers, hookers, pimps and murderers that stare at her like she is a thick wad of cash wrapped in diamonds, a rare delicacy, and in my twisted version of chivalry I offer my most bloodthirsty rage to anyone that dares look at her too long with the wrong intentions.
I’m in love with this girl who is in love with my disease who is in love with my death.
My addiction is a living thing and it wants my soul and then my death and it wants to show other people how powerful it is, how pure and efficient a killer it is. It’s winning now.
Can’t she see what I am? Aren’t I beyond salvation?
It’s beyond me why she cares. I will live or I will die but no matter what it will be horrifying; why would anyone care regardless? I don’t want her to join me in the places I’ve been in my memories, the places I’ll be going that have yet to consume me and yet I adore her, I love her and I feel evil and sick for doing this and yet I find solace in her presence and it reminds me even more of the foul monster I have become, that which I am. My head is screaming and the sky is crying gray death and outside the window you can see the sky and it is sobbing and weeping, the sky is in pain, the sky needs to pour itself out onto this city like a biblical flood of tears.
My voice is quivering and I’m trembling as I tell her it’s going to be okay, and not to look. But we both know I’m crossing a threshold from where I might not be able to return and she seems like she has been acknowledging this and plans on staying anyway despite the damning implications.
– Don’t. Alex. I love you. Look at me, Alex. Please, look at me.
– Don’t go away.
That’s not fair. Fuck. Our little song in her little voice. That’s the name and the chorus: don’t go away. She said she knew I loved her when I played that song for her. This scheming bitch trying to take me away from my needle and my heroin and my only hope of rest, what the fuck does she know about myanguish? Everything is wrong everything is broken I broke it I am broken and I can’t fix anything because broken shit can’t fix broken shit.
I look over at her perfect, angelic little fucking face and the tears are flowing steadily down from her eyes but her gaze remains, unfaltering, wide-open at me without blinking giving her face the appearance of having two small rivulets coming out of two windows of white and red sky and I can’t really look at that sky, it is so fucking hard to look at her, looking at her is more and more painful as the velocity of the conflict and the self-loathing and the hate and the hope for love and the reality of the pain roaring in my head becomes too complicated, too unbearable and the desire to kill it impossible to resist.
I feel my soul inside my body rushing around looking for somewhere to go trying to find a place to escape but there is no way to get out and there is no where to go.
I need to figure this out. Everything. Now. Not later. Now. My mind is crying the needle in my hand is screaming at me and begging and I need to figure this all out. I could stop this insanity that’s in my head right now, these collisions, this confusion and I’m shaking and everything hurts.
A walking, talking bomb. A walking, broken bomb that arbitrarily irradiates its targets, killing and maiming everyone, I am inflicting torment and sadness and loss and horror upon the one person dumb or sick enough to attempt to love me. I growl from the bottom of my torso through steel-clenched jaw with a howling wailing behind my eyes where the tears should flow out of and I am ready to detonate. I look over my shoulder at her working hard to look at me through the tears streaming down her besieged little face.
I’m rocking back and forth and my hands aren’t steady enough but the shot is ready and I see a vein but something isn’t right nothing is right my hands won’t stop shaking and I can’t do this – what the fuck am I doing? Then she says this, begging and pleading at me with those sad helpless eyes made of sky:
– I love you, Alexander. Goodbye.
She said goodbye. I’m in love. Why is this happening? Why am I doing this? What’s happening to me?
And she reaches out her small hand towards me with her big wide eyes and her love for me and it is like something inside me crumbles and collapses into a smoking husk on the floor in front of me, like there was a structure holding my torso and my heart and my soul together and its foundation has been razed and its carnage has fallen out of me until there is nothing left but acute pain inside of me and I look at her hand and I kiss her and I let her touch me because I know she is right, this will change everything and I turn back around and I slam the glinting needle into my soft skin clumsily aiming at a vein with my trembling hand. Oh my god, I’m sobbing, destroying, missing. I’m destroying, destroyed. I missed. Again. Again. And again. Again. Again. I am a weaving tornado weaving the needle in and out and around.
He told me that was my purpose on earth, to bring chaos and calamity to the people that love me, to everyone. He told me that was my essence. I flex my bicep and work the needle in and out and back in and of course I miss and as I sit there with her eyes on my back I can barely breathe and all I want to do is hit a vein and get this dope in my body and get tired and warm and forget but I can’t because the goddamn motherfucking blood won’t register in the syringe because I can’t hit a vein so I take it out of my arm and hot blood is dripping onto the floor from my arm now creating a small dark puddle beneath me and I move the needle to my bare foot and I tie my ankle off furiously, raspy little cries of pain wailing out of me from deep inside where the source of all this agony lives and it sounds like my soul is shattering and falling out of my mouth and I go to war with the veins in my foot just stabbing and stabbing franticly and I can’t hit there either but I keep trying and there’s a little bit of blood but I miss the vein again and now I either hit in the next second or I waste this shot and I can’t waste this shot because then I wouldn’t even be worthy of being a fucking junkie and the blood in the syringe is starting to coagulate so I pull it out of my foot and stick it into my thigh and push but it’s jammed with hot sticky blood and heroin and I waited way too long and it wont happen and I feel her there and I think she’s trying to touch me and I scream like a horrified animal caught in some trap. I plunge the syringe into my thigh and I squeeze the plunger with all my hatred and strength and with a repulsive snapping sound the heroin fires like a shotgun into my leg and it burns me good and long and deep and cauterizing. All pain remains, if diminished by the other.
– Oh my god, baby. Oh my god. Are you okay, baby. Oh my god. Alex, Answer me!
– What happened? Did you get it? Oh my god, are you okay? Please. Please. Alex. What’s happening? Alex. Oh my god. Answer me Alex.
– I fucking missed, Angie. Cause of that fucking Goodbye shit you did you fucking made me miss my shot and now my fucking leg is gonna fall off.
– Oh my god. Oh my god. Are you going to be okay?
– Yeah, let me just sit here.
Now the heroin is slowly, slowly, slowly starting to flow from my muscle tissue into my bloodstream and I massage the large hard lump in my thigh. I didn’t get any rush but I’m fixed up. Now I’m beginning to start the agonizingly beautiful descent into the stupor of the kingdom of the poppy. I feel drowsy and warm and I tell her I need to lay down and that my leg hurts and I don’t give a fuck about anything and I close my eyes and Angie is above me and on me and around me, her blurry face hovering above me and she is shaking me and crying and I feel her hot tears dropping on me and they feel warm on my cold face.