Painting Hearts Instead of Scoring Coke

heart

My blood is hot scotch desirous, animalistic unpredictability coursing and I can feel my pupils pounding, black holes swallowing the whites of my eyes. I’m right between euphoria and murder, the golden moment right before you rise into heaven or fall into hell.

I want need some cocaine. 

It’s always the same thing, the sweet burn of the luminous golden scotch mingling with my tongue, tickling the very depths of me with every swallow, the tinkling crystal tumbler raised and tilted at a glib angle as the scotch ripples through me like a stone thrown into a pond. I’m one smiling, laughing witticism after another two or three doubles deep. This is civilized, radiance pushing the dread from my center, a glowing amber ocean in a glass literally scorching the earth of my anxiety, every gulp like a whispering friend encouraging me to live, to be alive, giving me life, new life and new needs, new ways to fulfill those new needs for my new life writing these words, hell, I need a drink. 

I love that phrase, it’s the only honest protest we have left, “I need a drink,” implies isolation and frustration and a reprieve from it all into sexy danger and abundant power, the righteous murder of the maiming our minds do unto us, something everyone can understand. S/he needs a drink. X happened and now Y is Z. S/he deserves a drink.

Tara’s driving my car flying above the purring German engine, the power of it intoxicating, her eyes burning embers ready to catch flame and I see myself inside her eyes, little ellipses containing my deepest reflections. She says we’re siblings. I see it.  

I have her take me south to the lake near the place I got evicted from and I just missed my girl. I walk across the street to this shitty bar PIZZA, the other letters sizzling and popping on and off until the shuddering, crackling A finally explodes popping into the darkness shooting slivers of sparkles that shower down from it like a sparkler, leaving a single blinking Z. Everyone briefly looks outside at the little explosion and I look through the faces for someone familiar. Nothing. I light a Parliament with my head buried in my phone texting the people you text on nights like these nights. I look around like I’m lost, that’s how I feel, and my eyes lay upon a kid with a mad shine in his eyes sitting on a stump of green gun metal, the Seattle Weekly box, his legs dangling over the side. He starts talking to me in rapid fire and I notice his face has meth all over it, and he’s speeding through something about how it’s his first night in Seattle, “My fuckin’ girl got pregnant, maaan, so I hopped on this greyhound with no ticket dude and without saying shit and just got the fuck outta there but she has this uncle and—” Lovely. I think he thought we were friends because we both witnessed the A explode. I nod and return to Tara, letting him tell his stories to the wind. She’s sitting parked in my car waiting me out and anyone else would have infuriated me just for existing; I’m flustered and frustrated and hating drugs, hating the lack of drugs, hating that I hate the lack of drugs but Tara is like valium with a heartbeat and no matter what and no matter how badly I want coke I want Tara to be okay more. This is the first friendship I’ve ever had, I think. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a friend my whole life.

My wise voice, as Tara might say, is murmuring maybe screaming something about how this is actually serendipity, not loss and that’s true, cocaine turns me inside out into a hungry carnivorous violence I never even let myself believe could exist in me and without fail I end up at some ugly hour of the morning in my shower sobbing, blowing burning chunks of ammonia and ephedrine out of my scorched face hating everything most especially myself trying to wash the fury and hopelessness off of me, shoveling sedatives and beta blockers down my throat knowing they won’t fucking work because nothing fucking works because I’m on coke and coke doesn’t work.

Now we’re in the middle of Capitol Hill, 12th and Pike, one block from the succubus-girl and the condo we lived in where she almost murdered me and everyone is screaming and everything is drugs and pounding bass and kids in middle school and college running around like insane insects in a hive; the people are all game tonight the air electrified with cheap cologne and perfume, hormones and pheromones and the shit-coke I know is down in the grottos along the avenue waiting for me like that evil girl used to, sitting so gently on her bed looking bashful even timid when I would finally crawl back right until she leaped off my cock into the bathroom to vomit and scream, yes, the things I came here for are here. I watch some kid piss on a garbage can. I watch another kid piss on a street corner. This is a carnival of piss, colorfully terrifying, everything pressing into me from all sides like walls of skin crushing me from all directions and this place is a shining blood-red apple staring at me daring my teeth to sink into it like a vampire staring into a throbbing jugular, sticky blood and apple juice flowing down from my jaws onto my chin dribbling down impossible to stop until my hands are sticky and my fingers snap when I pull my hands apart from themselves because I am going to eat this city.

My face is a razor blade on a cokeless mirror, chopping at the clear glass, cutting at the sides— “Alex, you want to see the one that really fucked me up?” I’m in the car sweating venom and Tara will show more of her demons to me, she knows this shit so well. “This is Angela.” She shows me a video of Angela on my phone reading poetry written for Tara. I see a face made of old bone holding two small smoldering eye sockets and as Tara tells me about the Christmas they spent together where Angela pulled a knife on her in a fit of paranoid rage after smashing her boot through Tara’s fragile gifts I start to forget the coke. I don’t forget the coke. The craving becomes polluted with the better nature of my soul as I see Tara clutching at her face in pain as she watches this video and I see why Tara would love this girl made from bone metal— her face is devoid of love and Tara likes to let her heart get strangled. “I know!” I scream. We’ve watched two videos of this horrendous skeletal woman on a stage reading poetry about Tara and I’ve just come up with the best fucking idea.

“Let’s paint!” 

Now, some would say that doing graffiti in the middle of crowded streets full of people and cops is not the smartest thing, especially after having already pressed my luck and beaten a big graffiti charge a few years back. 

I disagree with those people. 

My trunk is stocked. For a moment I freak out, did all the caps go into the duffel bag that’s at the house? Nope, a big lime-green cap sits on top of a red can like a cherry on a sundae. I light it up and sure enough the cap is good (caps often jam with congealed paint and become unusable) tonight we’re having good fortune. Incidentally, we’re parked right in front of the place where I did one of my first pieces, a little monster guy that was up for some five years and has now disappeared. It’s this big sunken parking lot with this huge, huge wall covered entirely with graffiti and I am taking Tara for a ride. We stroll away, a red can and a black can clinking in her blue purse. We casually walk down some steps to a gangplank that leads down further to the lot and I survey it for cops and other undesirables. Nobody except a couple in the middle of either a break up or a make up, I can’t decide. We get down to the bottom and I look at the wall where my beautiful piece used to be. It’s covered in all new graffiti, much of it very, very good. This may sound fucked up, but I love to tag over good blaster-pieces. My rationale is two-fold: 1. Graffiti is all about fucking up other people’s walls and nobody owns shit no matter how pretty or how long they spent on it and 2. Painting over good art will force more good art onto the streets. 

I’m pretty certain there are a few people who disagree, would put a baseball bat to my head if they saw what I did. I don’t care. I ask Tara for the red can with the cap and she hands it to me and I see her in my periphery with her head on a swivel looking for oncoming cops as I just mangle these walls, red hearts everywhere in about two minutes the entire parking lot looks like Valentines day. We walk up the slanted drive past the couple who look and smile. Making up. Good. When we reach the street I notice that my trigger fingers are covered in red paint. Fuck. Oncoming sirens.

Go.

I start down the avenue the way it would make sense to go but quickly reverse course, Tara trailing a few yards and we go right back through the lot I just smothered with hearts because everything graffiti is counterintuitive, including getting busted— the cops rarely think to look at the spot that just got hit, why would the idiot taggers still be there, right? Right. We’re back on safety in my car. “Painting hearts with the cops after you is better than smack,” I tell her, my eyes virtually rolling back in my head. Both of us are huffing and puffing and grinning like idiots as we drive the fuck out of there. The craving for coke has not left me but the need for it has. Tara drives me back to her place and I bid her farewell before I drive myself home, by now sobered up from the scotch, where I sleep a most restful sleep, the clinking and spraying of paint cans and the tinkling of crystal tumblers an amalgamate of hissing and chiming softly in time like a strange lullaby keeping time with my cooling blood and my slowing heart all the way deep into my dreams.

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