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I.

            Despite the clouds and the rain, if you look straight up you can see the sun reaching down at the earth like a hand clutching a hazy piece of fire. Sitting on a gunmetal bench, head rolled back, Friend stares up through the silver, wiry sheets falling from the thick gray-dappled clouds weaving and coursing through each other like ghosts, and spits.

            He leans forward and unscrews the top of the orange bottle of Celexa and throws a few more into his mouth, tilts his head back and spits them into the sky like the shells of poisonous sunflower seeds. The pills taste like hammers and nails, like the inside of brick walls, like hospitals and disease. He spits hard so they don’t fall back down onto his face. He aims at the flickering sun and imagines hitting it. There is a small tapping sound as they fall back to earth, tiny obscene pink chunks melting into the asphalt around him.

            Friend’s decided to stop taking his antidepressants today. He grips the open bottle like a baseball and throws it hard away at the gutter, its minuscule contents scattering in the street. A gleaming black crow swoops down from the phone line and pecks at the ground before lurching angrily back into the sky in what Friend presumes is disgust.

            He stands and hawks a big, pink clot of bitter chemistry out of his mouth and watches as the collection of tiny pink tablets grudgingly make their way down the street and are washed away, their pink tails disappearing after them. The rain picks up and in a few moments, everything save the orange translucent bottle is gone, wiped from the street and erased from sight.

            Friend walks over and nudges the bottle into the drain with his boot. The sun emerges from behind its veil of clouds, casting an elongated shadow of Friend down the street. The sluice of rain trembles on Friend’s head as he stands there, staring into the gutter.

 

Alex Reading “Relapse”

This is Alexander Ziperovich reading a heartrending piece at Wordplay 2014 in Seattle and is a written piece that was excerpted from his upcoming memoir, The Beautifullest, for the occasion.

Xanax Calculus

Alexander Michael Ziperovich

“Who the fuck took my bars?!”
We all just watched him devour a handful a few moments ago. “You popped em all, man.” Static, head lolling about like an untethered balloon. “Fuck, how’d they just disappear, did I set em down somewhere…” Eyes dewy, wet and perplexed, wandering, he’s lost his pills somewhere inside himself; the operative phrase being “he’s lost.” His entire being appears as a blur. “Who took em!?” Words from the frothing mouth of the angry benzo-orphan/gorilla that has replaced our friend.

He’s lurching about like an injured bird, trying to make sense of nonsense, ostensibly searching for the pills he just ate, for they might fall from the sky – sadly, horribly, he truly believes, no, he knows, that the xanax is not inside his stomach inside his abdomen, for that is an impossible conclusion.

Enough anterograde amnesia and fact is throttled hard by the frictional fictions of the sinister, too sick to puke, slipping into the fissures of the missives of addiction issues stemming from short-acting benzodiazepines that try to trick you as they switch you into believing they didn’t get you.

Dogs chasing tails, I suppose, foggy travails of a bellowing firehose extinguishing floods in the snow not knowing damn well the floods aren’t fires and that these kind of fires aren’t diminished by a broken pharmaceutical firehose in a denial pose.

“I swear on (insert his most precious) I just fuckin’ had em’, where’d they go?”

Like arguing with a schizophrenic in her visions, like screaming at Mt. Everest for being too tall, like water asking a river to indemnify it for forcing it go down a waterfall, like a raindrop falling, angry that it fell hard, creating a dangerously cruel pathology in the plant that grows from that drop of water, leaving cellular scars, created in hell’s heart, kept in bell jars crystalline-metallic wells that eat cars.

“Dude, will you just please shut up if I give you another fucking xanax?”

Sure.

FALLING APART ON JEFF’S FLOOR

YUM! Vomit. YUM! Vomit.

Alexander Michael Ziperovich

I’ve been awake for seven days. No, six probably. Yeah, six or seven days I think. Jeff’s eyes are red whirling tops in the twilight of his bedroom. Everyone’s asleep again but I can’t sleep anymore. The same screaming fun-fun done-done thing keeps repeating: a day happens and then when it gets so dark that it’s almost light everyone stops talking and the fun stops and the done starts but I don’t know how to turn it off, turn off my fun button inside the pulsating, psychopharmacological experiment that is my brain. I’ve been stumbling around in circles trying to find someone to listen to me ramble for hours. Now I’m sitting on Jeff’s floor crying, playing with my pill bottles and panting.

“I don’t know what’s going on.”
He turns away from me to face the wall, “Go to sleep, fuck, Alex. You need to sleep.”
“I know but I can’t.”
He twists his body back and cranes his neck to see what I’m doing and turns back away, “Stop playing with those fucking pills.”
My brain is buzzing fuzzy, I am not feeling lovely and in fact my brain is fucking me, “I know but I can’t. Christ.”
He’s tired and lost, “Dude, c’mon. Let’s just sleep.”
“I am losing it, Jeff.”

I’m pouring various pills out of the bottle into and through my hands letting them slide through my cold fingers into my throat.

I convinced my fraudulent junkie doctor that I have ADHD. He gave me three or four different stimulants to try. I’ve been trying them with gusto. Once, his eyes wide and scorched bloodshot, he said, “I try everything I prescribe.” He’s my psychiatrist. We get along great.

I remove my shirt and look in the mirror and I see patches stuck to me, transdermal patches all over my body. Daytrana patches. Selegeline patches. Uppers. Downers. Mono-amine Oxidase Inhibitors.

Attached like leeches to my skin.

I feel like all I’ve been doing is eating handfuls of pills of all kinds.

That is all I’ve been doing.

I’m looking at the bottle of Atenolol I have clutched hard in my hand. A beta blocker. A blood pressure medication. If I take more than three it would probably stop my heart. Yes, I have enough to take me away, to take me somewhere to finally get some rest. A place to give the day away.

Suicide is seeming like a seriously viable option. I remind myself that I’m having a psychotic break from lack of sleep. I’ve been heavily abusing amphetamines among every other fucking drug for weeks. How long can this go on? I crawl into Jeff’s bed and I’m crying and I’m laughing and then I’m silent, my heart thudding in the darkness.

“I hate this. I can’t fall asleep, no matter what I do.”
“I know, me too.”
“I’ve taken like 20 bars tonight, man.”

We’re both laying there with Ritalin and Adderall and Desoxyn and Ketamine and Psylicobin and Xanax and alcohol and weed coursing through our blood streams in the glowglobe of his room trying to listen to the snow falling outside.

“You know it snowed like six inches tonight.”
“Yeah it keeps snowing.”
“We need to sleep.”
“I know.”
I say plainly, “I think I’m gonna kill myself.”
“Dude, what the fuck? Just sleeeep.”

I’m back on the floor in my pile of pills picking up bottles and reading labels and looking for new ones. I feel like one of these pills will do it, one of these pills will fix me. One of these will make me feel right. I wont ever have to take another fucking pill again. I just have to find the right one in this pit black box everything might be okay.

I know everything about pharmaceuticals. Benzodiazepines are the only drug, excepting barbiturates and alcohol, you have a real chance of dying from when you discontinue their use or in other words, go through a Dante’s Detox, you think not? Xanax is faster-acting than Klonopin but lasts half as long. Valium is good for relaxing your muscles and works well sublingually. Tylenol is the most dangerous thing about Vicodin and Percocet. You can smoke, snort, and shoot Oxycontin if you know what you’re doing. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing you can. Ask me anything about a psychoactive pharmaceutical and I can probably tell you about whatever aspect of its psychopharmacology you’re interested in, everything except how to stop or how to feel happy on them or off of them. I have everything but the answers I need.

“I’m calling your mom dude.”
I nod as I put another klonopin on the tip of my tongue. God, it’s like strawberries flavored with laughter…

I hear my moms alarmed, high-pitched voice on the other end as Jeff explains that he needs help with me, that I’m breaking down, that yes I’ve been taking “those damn pills” and no he doesn’t know how many. She knows the junkie shrink gave me stimulants. They warned me.

How strange that it’s snowing and I’m on my friend’s floor seriously contemplating pharmacide now.

My parents drive through the snow to rescue me. They feed me a seroquel and I feel waves of calm, a warm serenity washing through me and my body begins to relax and my mind finally surrenders and I sleep, dreamless.

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