Curly

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A girl suffers from drug-abuse and a strained family life. But is that all that's bothering her?

Submitted: January 18, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 18, 2011

A A A

A A A


Chains, my baby's got me locked up in chains

And they ain't the kind that you can see

These chains of love got a hold on me

Chains, well, I can't break away from these chains

Can't run around 'cause I'm not free

These chains of love won't let me be

“Chains” ~ The Beatles

“That Fat Fuck!” started X. “He called in last night and ordered two extra large pizzas with pepperoni, bacon, and extra cheese and guess what he asked to drink?”

“Two two liters of diet Coke,” finished T.B. with a giggle. We have told stories together for the last few years and the most recent and compelling was of That Fat Fuck, a man who called in every day and ordered “his usual”. It was a tradition these days to retell the story of how the man calls in, gasping for air, and asks for the pizzas. X and T.B. sit in their usual side of the booth: X is on the inside and T.B. on the out, backs facing the door. Curly and I are on the other side. Curly sits on the inside, he has long legs with bony knees and the bus boy can’t help but accidentally hit him whenever he walks by. I agreed a few years ago that I would take the outside seat for Curly. I was just that nice. Curly protects my purse for me, our hands happily entwined and sitting on the table in front of us.

“Damn right! What the hell does he think, that ordering two two liters of diet Coke will help him watch his weight? I doubt that double fisting them will help,” X finishes with a laugh. Pulling a pack of Marlboros from his studded denim jacket, he lights the end of one and continues. “‘Gimme two extra large pizzas, extra cheese and pepperoni and bacon on them.’” He stops and inhales slowly, imitating the way TFF orders his pizza. He continues heavily and labored, “‘Wrap the pepperoni in the bacon. And don’t throw out the grease, just pour it on the pizza crust.’” We laugh as he inhales slowly. “‘If you have any scraps left over just put them in the box so I can feed them to my kids. And a liter of diet coke,’” He stops and pauses, looking and waiting for a moment before finishing with, “‘I’m trying to watch my weight. Actually, you better make that two bottles of diet Cokes.”

The laughter is loud between the four of us in the small restaurant. As we laugh the few patrons that are left turn to look at our small table, but we don’t care. It’s almost midnight. We’re tired and hungry. If you don’t like that we’re “keeping you up” then go home. It was finally my turn to speak up. I haven’t spoken much in the last hour or so. But that’s normal for me, or so I’ve been told.

“‘Can you deliver that to my apartment? Just bring it up the stairs; I’ll leave the door unlocked for you. The elevator is out of order and I don’t wanna walk down the flight of stairs to get it.’” The group laughs again as Curly says with disgust, “That Fat Fuck!”

Taking a drag from his Xs’ cigarette, T.B. begins his own story with a “Guess what?” A “Guess what?” meant that whatever that was about to come out of his mouth was meant to one-up whatever X just said. It’s like the circle of life. Someone dies and another life is born. Some story ends and another story begins. Only this story is more annoying and less amusing.

“Guess what?” T.B. says again. No one wants to hear his story. Not really. He knows it as much as we do, but he continues anyway. “I was at the gas station the other night and I was at the one where even the stop lights turn black, heh.”

“Why didn’t you go somewhere else?” X asks with as much enthusiasm as he can muster, lighting another square.

“Cause I had a gift card and how many Speedways are there around here? Well, I saw this old black homeless guy standin’ near, like, the corner of the station, right? Well I’m thinking to myself ‘Please don’t come over, please don’t come over.’ and well shit in my Cheerios he came over. Hey buddy, wanna bum me one?” T.B. says, pointing to the carton. Sighing, X hands them over.

“You know how many you owe me now?” he says, aggravated as ever.

“Friends don’t let friends smoke alone, douche. The moral of that is light my smoke bitch,” T.B. says through his lips as they hold Xs borrowed ciggy.

“I got it,” I say, piping up again. “I light all my bitches cigarettes.” I hold the flame out far enough for T.B. to reach for it yet close enough for him to light up. The flame looks powerful compared to some tobacco rolled in paper with a cellulose filter. All flammable. Oh the danger that one can do with a little flame. Curly pinches my side and I drop the lighter. I feel my face and ears redden as everyone looks at me.

“You’re thinking again. I thought we all agreed you wouldn’t do that anymore,” he chuckles. “You want to go home? Lookin’ like you might pass out there.”

“Just get me my coffee. I’ll be fine for a while.” Getting up, I hold my head with a hand and move towards the back of the dive. The embarrassment following me could kill a small child in a matter of minutes.

The bathroom is small; toilet paper and water litter the floor. Mold creeps around the edges of the room. I look at the reflection of this girl in the mirror. An alien. I might as well put feelers on her head and a leech-like tongue in her mouth. Squirting soap in my hand, I dip a boney finger in the foam and draw imaginary feelers sticking out of my hair on the glossy canvas. Next comes a thick, grotesque tongue. I open my mouth and claw the air, screeching. An alien indeed. I look at the soap, so white and fluffy, almost like snow but with the distinct taste of anti bacterial. So alike yet so very different. Just like the mirror girl and me. I smudge the soap into the mirror before entering the nearest stall. I don’t sit and don’t ever plan to. Not in this dump. Instead, I remove a small glass pipe from my jacket pocket, wiping the bowl absently with one hand as I search my jeans for Mary Jane with the other. I find her in the left back pocket, hidden in an envelope with papers of this and that. I never read them really, just something about divorce and custody battle over my sister and blah blah blah.

I put enough sticky in the bowl to smoke by myself. I decided to spring for chronic this time. I was tired of that same old feeling of just light as a feather. I just wanted to be gone. A few tokes later I’m already flying. My body is not my own anymore. Limbs feel heavy, head is dizzy, this body doesn’t feel like mine. I can do anything now. Anything. Anything…the word sounds funny … ehn-knee-theen. I stumble as I inhale one last time and hold my breath as long as I can. One, two, three, foour, fiiive, siiiiiix, sssehvvvuuunn, dooon’t laauugh, hoooold it, tehhhhn. The marijuana fills my head and I swagger a bit in the small space. I manage to tap out the remains of the hash into the toilet. And flush.

Just as I put the pipe back in my pocket, someone’s knees go weak and as I try to catch them I feel a head bounce against the lock on the stall. Stars, everywhere there are stars. The pain that follows shocks me into a spurt of sobriety. I look around myself and see on the wall that if you want to have a good time just call Denise. And apparently Chris + Haylie = Luv 4evr. The “4evr” glares at me, growing bigger the more I stare at it. Unlocking the stall as best I can, I stumble to the mirror and look at mirror girl through the snowy soap.

Red drips down my face as I carefully try to wipe the blood with a finger. My eyes cross as the momentary sobriety wears off and this unknown finger pokes the wound. I let out a small hiss of pain and look for a clean piece of napkin. The only piece that can be seen is already on the floor, and the stalls are fruitless as well.

“Shit. What’re the guys gonna say? What about Curly?” This last thought makes me worry even more. Wetting the end of my shirt, I carefully place it to the wound. I become dizzy from the change in elevation and the weed doesn’t help. Removing the cloth from my head, I’m slightly happy that it isn’t bleeding as much as before. Thankful to be wearing a black shirt, I check my appearance one last time before slowly staggering out the door and to my seat.

Sitting in the booth I try not to look up at my friends. They continue their previous conversation as I look into my lap. My head is stuffed with cotton. Something I never understood was why people said they got cottonmouth after smoking weed. I never experienced a dry mouth, just a dry head, my ears filled with cotton. Cottonears. I can’t help but try to claw the cotton out to somehow amplify my friend’s sounds. My actions make me more noticeable to them and quick glances at me are enough to say I’m acting peculiar. At least I’m peculiar to them.

“‘See how they fly like Lucy in the Sky, see how they run’,” Curly laughs and looks at the others. “She’s high.” I can’t help but snicker at his Beatles reference. I answer him with a simple “‘Goo goo g’joob!’” at the top of my lungs. I start to laugh but it turns into a hacking cough. The cough is slow in my mind, lasting forever and a day. Clearing my throat, I settle myself down and look at X and T.B. with a smile. The smile turns into a giggle, transforming itself into another laugh. Soon I’m singing again. “‘Expert texpert, choking smokers don’t you think the joker laughs at you? I am the eggman. You are the eggman. I am the walrus, GOO GOO G’JOOB!’ Hey, did you know that John Lennon’s last live song he played for an audience was ‘I Saw Her Standing There’? Or that the song ‘Dear Prudence’ was written for Mia Farrow’s little sister Prudence? I think that’s really sweet. ‘Flying’ is the only song written by all four Beatles. Did you know that there’s a-”

“Shut up,” T.B.’s voice is quiet but strong. “Just shut the fuck up. Did you honestly light up in there? And what happened to your head, you’re bleeding like a fucking bitch.” My hand moves to my temple, the blood staining my hand as I take it away. I didn’t think the cut was deep, but objects in the mirror are not always as they appear. “Either stop the bleeding and act cool or get the fuck out of here. I’m not getting involved with any of your shit.”

I scramble to look for something to stop the bleeding, but the table is bare. T.B. and X don’t look at me, embarrassed, not wanting to get too close in case something happens. For once they don’t talk, just look around discretely. Reaching over Curly, I grab for my purse and open it up. I look inside for something, anything, to save myself and my friends from possible trouble. Wallet, memo pad, makeup case, pencil case, pills, pills, pills, voice recorder, phone charger, tampons, a wad of cash, and a special plastic baggie from my uncle. A tampon would have to work. The wrapping smells fresh as I discretely take it out of my purse. The flowers imprinted on the packaging dance across the thin synthetic paper and around me, enticing me not to open it. Red drips from my face and onto the center of a flower, compelling me to continue dressing my wound. Holding the tampon between my thumb and middle finger, I push the plunger to release the cotton inside the plastic tube.

The cotton is hard at first but after molding it, shaping it, it turns into a lumpy snow. Not anti-bacterial like my first snow but still sterile. I wipe my face with my man-made snow and hold it carefully to the cut. The string hangs down my face and I giggle as it tickles my nose. T.B. looks at me in disgust. “A tampon? Cause that doesn’t scream high at all.”

“People use them all the time for nose bleeds and cuts. There was an army mother who sent her son tampons as a joke to lift the spirits of him and his troop. Well guess what, smart ass? They actually saw battle and he had a tampon with him and his best fucking friend was shot and the only thing that they had to stop the bleeding was a tampon. And he lived because of that tampon. So shut your goddamn mouth. I may be high but I know my shit.” The glare I shoot at T.B. would make Death beg for mercy. He just stares back, like a fish out of water. Holding in one hand my bloodstained snow, I reach with my other for the pack of cigarettes and flip it open with my thumb, pulling one out with my lips. No one speaks. A pure, innocent, dead silence. I don’t expect anyone to light my square for me nor do I want anyone to. I motion towards the blue mini lighter between us. X flicks it my way, avoiding my gaze. I can barely catch it. The bastard was nice enough to hit it on the end so it would spin and confuse the hell out of me.

I light up slowly, savoring the the fire shooting up through the ciggy. The silence is starting to irk, to infuriate, to kill me. I look at the cherry, burning bright at the end of the cancer stick. The smoke rises into little rings, dancing in the light before hitting the fan and disappearing. Curly looks at me, then to X and T.B. before sighing.

“I think it’s about time to go. Right?”

“Yeah,” I say slowly, looking at the smoke before getting up just as slowly. I wait for Curly to exit the booth before walking off. I’m nearly across the diner and to the cashier before X calls after me.

“You forgettin’ something? Or do I have a new purse for the winter fashion season?” He doesn’t look at me, just talks loudly enough to be heard. I saunter back to the booth, place a knee on the seat and grab my purse. Slinging it over my shoulder, I flip them off and throw the bloody snow on X’s lap. I don’t wait long enough to look at his expression. I already know it’s one of revulsion. X can barely blow his nose and look at the contents let alone look at or touch someone else’s blood. I pay for my bill before we walk outside with me in silence to my car in the cold winter air.

I can feel my high fading the more I drive down the highway. My Daewoo, though I can honestly call it a rusted piece of shit, can handle the rough winter. There’s only room for two with the cello taking up the back seat. Clothes and old food wrappers cover the floor and most of the seat. The smell of stale cigarette and marijuana fills the car. Unfortunately the car is old enough to not have a CD player, but I doubt that if it had one it wouldn’t work anyway. Luckily the tape deck is in good condition. It was almost brand new when I first bought the car four years ago. It wasn’t long after buying the piece of crap that I bought one of those nifty cassette adapters that plugs into a MP3 player.

With Curly beside me as I drive down the lonely road I feel safer. I’m always safer with Curly. As I drive we talk about life. And music. Movies, TV, Internet, books, everything that comes to mind. If there was anything that kept Curly and I together besides love was our knowledge.

“Amenhotep III was the dad to Akhenaten who was the dad to King Tut. Then he had two children and one was a girl. She was two months premature though. The other was super premature.” I look over at my companion, waiting to see if he can come up with anything. It doesn’t take long for him to say something.

“Super glue was a complete accident. The researcher was actually trying to make some sort of optical coating material and what he would do to test what he came up with would be put it between two pieces of glass and shine light through it. But then he tried the super glue and the glass wouldn’t come apart. Your move.”

“Starfish don’t have brains. You?”

“Toilets flush in E flat, well, generally. Depends on the toilet.”

“‘60 Minutes’ is the only show on CBS without a theme song.”

“Stage bows were actually used to thank the audience. But if, and only if, the audience liked the performance they would recognize the actors.” The knowledge swap could go on for days. We share everything from the fact that callithump is a loud parade to every queen named Jane met a terrible end. Soon the conversation dies, not because we have run out of things to say but because it’s become boring. Picking up my MP3 player, I decide the Beatles are a sufficient band on such a lonely road. The music plays softly in the background, but the words drum into my head. I left you far behind, the ruins of the life that you have in mind. And though you still can't see I know your mind's made up. You're gonna cause more misery. I look at Curly for a second before looking back to the road. Tears begin to fill my eyes, blocking my vision.

“Hey Curly?” I nearly choke on the escaping sob. He looks at me, shifting in his seat to face me. Such a move is difficult considering his size in such limited space. Worry crosses his face.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Tired? Do we need to stop?” He tries to look at my face but I manage to hide.

“Was I too hard on T.B. and X?” I blurt out, sobbing. The lakes of tears I’ve been holding back force themselves through the dam I tried to build. I can’t tell if it’s just emotion that makes me feel bad or if the growing sobriety is also playing a hand. “They were right to be mad at me after all. I shouldn’t have got so fucked up in the bathroom. Then I wouldn’t have hurt myself and embarrassed them and you and-”

“Seriously, don’t talk like that,” he interrupted. “You’re being an ass. You were standing up for yourself. Maybe a public bathroom wasn’t the greatest but whatever. They’ll get over it. Now calm down and get driving. We’re almost home.” He turns back to the front, staring out the windshield. I’m too shocked to speak. Taking the next off ramp I steal a glance at Curly. He just stares straight. I wish I knew what he was thinking or if I should say anything. All too soon, though, we’re turning into the driveway of the shack I now call home.

I asked Ma once what the point to having a house key was if you never locked up. I never received an answer. Curly and I walk through the white wash side door and screen to a kitchen that would make Emeril cry. Next to no counter space and a yellowed kitchenette set is all that can fit in the open floor plan. The carpeting is faded and has holes in some places. I’m certain that if you listen hard enough you could hear the mice scratching in the walls. In the living room, Ma is sprawled on the dirty couch, fallen asleep to some old black and white movie marathon. The old afghan blanket covering her has fallen to the floor and drifting precariously near a bowl of cold spaghetti and a nearly empty bottle of Jack. Ma gave me the only room in our small one bedroom, one bath rental. She didn’t worry about belongings or privacy or anything for that matter. Her minimal things went into storage and the few things she needed was kept in the living room in boxes and hampers. I fix the blanket and pat her on the head before continuing to my room at the end of the short hallway.

I flip the switch of the bare bulb in my small room. I decided a few years ago to go green and buy the eco-friendly bulbs. The U-shape looks inviting and earth-loving, just like the sun. I close my eyes and imagine summer, the beach, rays of pure and beautiful light hitting my skin as I lay in the warm sand.

“Gonna come in or are you just going to stand in the doorway? You look tired, lay down or something.” Curly is already sitting on top of the pile of beanbags in the corner of my bedroom. The mountain makes the room look even smaller, with piles upon piles of books making hills and valleys around the mountain. In the corner next to the beanbags is the old recliner, one of my favorite possessions I found while dumpster diving, and it currently seats my viola with its bow, flute, clarinet, and guitar. On the floor are various CDs and DVDs, some illegally burned and some legally bought. Piles of clothing, my closet being too small to fit it all, take up what space isn’t taken up by entertainment. Curly calls it “a thrifter’s dream”, every era properly represented in some way or another.

I find my Janis Joplin deco flag lying on a mixed pile of assorted Doris Day dresses and Jimi Hendrix bellbottom pants and hang the heavy drape on the nails the doorway. Inside doors were outlawed when we moved in. The only allowable “door” was a piece of rippled shower curtain plastic to cover the bathroom doorway. She thought that it would keep me out of trouble, allow the momma eagle in her to keep an eye on her chick. Wrong. I still smoke pot. I still smoke cigarettes. I still drink and party and have sex. But for her own peace of mind I let her think it’s working, that the therapist she makes me go to is helping and the pills he prescribed are helping too. I don’t take them anymore; I just sell them when I need the cash.

“Come here, chickadee. Sit down and relax.” I could hear him lightly pat the beanbags and I turn to look at him. The fluorescent bulb makes his blonde hair look glittery, his skin pale enough to see some of the veins in his forehead. His green eyes seem extra green tonight. Tiptoeing around the various piles of things, I head to the mountain and set my purse down before beginning to climb. Reaching the top the air feels thinner and cleaner just because Curly is there. I rest my head against the plain white wall and sigh, myself a queen looking down at my kingdom with my king. I don’t know what to say. I don’t think there’s anything to say. Curly holds my hand gently.

“What’s fly, Clyde?” he asks.

“Whatever’s scene, Gene,” I return.

“What do you want to talk about?” he asks, knowing such a blunt question can’t be answered by a smart-ass comment.

“I don’t know. Not much to talk about.” I don’t look at him when I speak. He knows me far too well to know that there’s never nothing to talk about. Knowing this, I decide to fess up. “Well me and Ma got in a fight. Go figure.”

“Over what?” he asks.

“Everything. You name it and it’s my fault: Dad deciding to kick us out and take Zuzanna away from us, moving into this shitty ass house, not to mention her drinking problems and forcing me to go to therapy. I may not be the best daughter but I keep to myself. I don’t want her to worry about me. It’s not like I’m saying ‘Hey, I have these problems so you should keep track of them and not take care of yourself.’ And the thing that bothered me most was she doesn’t like us.”

“What you mean?” he asks, shifting his position as best as he could. He doesn’t seem as worried as I had imagined he would be this morning. His face was like a placid lake, calm and clear.

“She doesn’t think that you’re healthy for me or some shit like that. She says I need to find someone good for me, someone who’ll take care of me and love me. She says you’re not there and shit, but she doesn’t know anything. You’re always here for me when I need you most and you take care of me.” I could feel tears welling up in my eyes again. Ma’s hateful words stung for the second time, her voice filling my head. A tear rolls down my cheek and I wipe it away as fast as I can. Crying is a weakness. I don’t do “weak”.

“She’s just being a mom. She wants what’s best for you. I can see why she’s concerned.” Curly is calm and doesn’t look at me, just stares at the ceiling.

“God! Cut the after school special,” I snap. I don’t think I could ever feel more betrayed. I descend from the mountain and grab my purse. I can hear Curly call my name, but I don’t look at him as I maneuver around hills and valleys of my possessions and out the makeshift door. The T.V. in the living room displays commercials for the newest nudie boobie movies. Ma has shifted on the couch, still passed out. I walk through the kitchen and out the door, tears damming themselves up as I harden myself for the weather and the long walk ahead of me.

I walk down the broken sidewalk trying to manuever around patches of ice and snow. The air is cold against my skin but the anger I feel makes it pleasant. I light a cigarette as I walk, thinking about how everything has changed. First my parents make me go to therapy because I’m “unhappy”. Then the quack puts me on some loony pills. Then Dad takes away my only sibling and makes me and Ma move out because nothing seems to be helping, I’m putting “too much strain on the family”. I had to go from a three-bedroom house in the suburbs to a shack near the highway. “Fuck dad,” I say to myself, breathing out smoke. My feet keep to a steady pace as I keep moving straight down the one-way.

The streetlight makes dim circles in the small street, providing little light as I walk. Most people would be afraid to walk here so late and alone. I don’t care anymore. My ciggy reaches the filter and as I throw it into a nearby pile of snow, I have the urge to smoke another. I take my pack out of my jacket pocket. My last smoke. Debating on whether to save it or not, I toss the lighter up and catch it on its way down. One toss, one catch. Another toss, another catch. On the third toss I miss the catch and the lighter skids across the pavement. With a sigh, I place the square behind my ear for safekeeping as I catch up to the lighter and reach for it with my left hand. I can’t help but look at my now naked finger. To emphasize that she meant business, Ma had taken the engagement ring Curly had given to me a year ago. It was a small, solitaire diamond that he had to save every paycheck for three months to buy. He had given it to me on our five-year anniversary celebration at the local steakhouse. I couldn’t stop glowing after receiving it. In its place was a purple bruise where she had ripped it off and dislocated the joint.

“Fucking bitch,” I say while kicking a loose piece of ice down the sidewalk.

“I know,” says a voice behind me. I wheel around and get ready to take out the small knife I keep hidden in my boot before I feel a cold hand holding mine gently. “It’s me, chickadee.”

“Go away. I can’t believe that you would just agree with her. She even took away the ring, you know? You didn’t even fucking notice. God, you’re such an asshole. Just go away.” I walk past Curly but soon his long legs catch up to me. I stop long enough to punch him hard in the arm before continuing on my walk. Curly continues by my side as if nothing happened, still holding my hand.

“I’m not agreeing with her. I just see where she’s coming from. Parents want their children to be happy and sometimes they get out of control with their feelings. They can act childish just as much as we can when they don’t get their way. All I meant was you shouldn’t be so hard on her. She’s trying to be the adult and it’s not working, so you be the adult.” He squeezes my hand and I know that he’s right. I take the cigarette from behind my ear and light it. We don’t say anything for a while as we walk hand in hand down the long, cold and lonely street. I give his hand a squeeze to let him know that things are better and from the corner of my eye I can see him smile.

“I just can’t believe she took the ring,” I tell him.

“I know. Don’t worry about it. Everything will work out.” He gives my hand a squeeze as a sign for comfort.

“I just always dreamed of living a fairytale lifestyle. You know, have a big wedding and buy a big house. Have a great job with a bunch of kids. I wouldn’t have to worry about anything or anyone but you and anyone directly related to me. For once I just want to have good dreams, no more nightmares you know?”

“I know. We’re almost home and then you can have a good dream, chickadee.” Curly kisses my hair as we near my house for the second time.

Curly climbs back up the mountain of beanbags as I sit near the bottom with my purse in my lap. I take out the small bag of white powder and open it up slowly. I’ve never tried cocaine before and the thought of attempting it scared me a little at first. Then the fight with Ma really pushed me to call Uncle John to see if he could hook me up. People joke that having a personal relationship with your drug dealer is awkward, but they have no idea how awkward it is when he’s your father’s brother. Family gatherings will never be the same again. Picking up a nearby hardcover book, I take the jacket off and toss it away from me. I take out my wallet and open it up, searching for my school ID among the various receipts I’ve kept. I find it at the back of the wallet and I take it out and place it on my knee.

“Don’t do it, please. Just stick with the marijuana if anything. Come on, I’ll even roll you one,” he says as he starts to get down from the mountain. He sits down next to me and holds his hand out, motioning for the bag. I push his hand away gently and pour some of the powder out onto the book. I make little lines out of the powder like you see druggies in the movies do: chopping the lumps into a fine talcum-like powder and making two lines, each nearly three inches long.

“Do you have a dollar or something?” I ask Curly.

“No,” he says without looking at me.

“Don’t be upset. I just want to be happy, okay?” He doesn’t say anything as I try to be reasonable with him. I carefully place the book on top of a small hill of novels as I look for something to snort with. There’s an old Slurpee cup nearby with a straw left inside, but because I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve had one I decide to disregard it and keep looking. Ripping a page out of one of my books would be blasphemy and Ma hasn’t bought any plastic straws since I was very young. Moving to my wallet again I take out a receipt that had been for school books months before. I roll it up and look at Curly, waiting for him to say anything to me. All he does is look back at me blankly before lying back on the mountain and sighing.

“‘Although your mind’s opaque try thinking more if just for your own sake,’” he says while looking up at the ceiling. “Please don’t do it. Let’s just fall asleep together like how it used to be before the drugs.”

“After this,” I remind him. I look at the rolled receipt in my hand and the two powdered lines on the book. I balance the book in my lap while holding the rolled paper to my nose. I lower myself down to get closer to the fine drug before breathing out carbon dioxide, holding my other nostril with a finger, and chasing the first line with my nose. The pain I feel in my nose is intense, like someone had shoved a pencil up there and they keep pushing and pushing. I can barely hear Curly in the background as my throat feels as if it’s closing up. I scratch at my throat and try to take the pencil out of my nose, my hand coming away bloody. My eyes start to go fuzzy before darkness slowly closes in on me.

…………

The police cars and ambulance light’s flash outside the old house. Officers and paramedics enter and exit the building, some are talking on the telephones or taping off the area or talking with neighbors. A middle-aged woman in a worn out robe is talking with a pair of officers, tears streaming down her face as she speaks. One officer takes notes of what the woman is saying. The other listens. While they talk a black sedan pulls up to the house and a man gets out of the drivers seat. Neglecting to turn off the engine, the man makes his way past the police cruisers and under the yellow tape. He stops in front of the woman and the officers. The woman turns her tear stained face to him.

“They say it was an overdose of heroin and ketamine. They think she had no idea what it really was and her heart just stopped.” The woman embraces the man as he falls to his knees, sobbing and holding the woman’s legs tight.

Inside the small house, an officer interrogates to two teenage boys outside of a small bedroom. One boy is smoking a cigarette while the other sits on the floor staring at his raised knees.

“We’ve known each other for years. Ever since third grade,” says the boy with the cigarette. Flicking his ash on the floor, he looks into the bedroom crime scene. “I just didn’t think she was this bad, ya know? I mean, yeah she had problems but I didn’t think she was this bad.”

“We fuckin knew, T.B. Everybody knew but nobody said shit about it,” says the boy on the floor, still staring at his knees.

“What’s that?” asks the officer. Moments pass. Neither boy says anything. Finally, the boy nicknamed T.B. speaks.

“Ever since the accident last year she wasn’t the same. Like, that really shook her. It shook all of us. It was bad enough that her mom started to send her to therapy and they diagnosed her with post-traumatic stress disorder. They gave her a bunch of medication to help her but she didn’t take it after awhile.”

“What exactly was this accident?” asks the officer, taking out a small pad of paper and a pen.

“Her and her boyfriend was in a really bad car crash. The roads were really slippery when they were driving home from some concert. Well, the Mustang slid out of control and flipped over and kept sliding until it hit another car. He was sent flying across the freeway until another car ran him over. She barely made it out alive.”

“I remember that. Terrible accident. What was the boy’s name again?”

“His real name was Joe Bess, but we always called him Curly,” says the boy on the floor solemnly.

The middle-aged couple walks down the hallway to the small bedroom. The boys and the officer move out of the way as they enter the room. Books and clothes are scattered across the floor, a path had been made to get to the body. She was lying there on a pile of beanbags, a silent look on her face when they found her that late morning. The man rushes to her side, kneeling as sobs escape uncontrollably. The woman stands over him with one hand holding his shoulder. The other clutches a ring. Looking at her hand and back to the lifeless body, she slowly kneels next to her husband to place the ring on the victim’s finger. The cold hand doesn’t stir at her touch. They stand, holding each other. The woman takes a nearby sheet and covers the body before walking back outside to the living room.

“What exactly was wrong with her? Besides the accident,” continues the officer.

“After her recovery, she just couldn’t accept the fact that Curly was gone. She really thought he was still here, like nothing happened. She had conversations with him and even kept planning their wedding. That’s why she was in therapy. The pills were supposed to take care of the depression and hallucinations and shit but she quit cause she couldn’t see him or something. Then the drugs came along and well…”

“It was her fucking uncle too. That asswipe was the one that gave her everything even though he knew what she went through,” finishes the boy on the floor.

“X, we don’t know if that for sure. It coulda been any-”

“No, she told me once it was him. I know it’s him.” X doesn’t look up as he talks. He looks only in the bedroom at the body. Getting up, he walks down the hallway and out the door. His friend follows him after being excused by the officer.

Inside the bedroom, a sheet has covered the body. Only one hand is left uncovered. Next to the pile of beanbags, a picture of the girl and a boy sits in a silver picture frame. The girl is hanging over the boys shoulders, as if being carried. A happy smile floats across each face. In the chair across from the body, a somber looking boy looks at the body. His blonde hair shines in the sunlight. His pale skin seems paler in the light.

“I asked you not to do it, chickadee,” he says as paramedics enter the room with a stretcher behind them. He looks at them, but they don’t notice his presence. They lift the body of the girl on the stretcher, keeping her identity covered. The boy stands near the body, holding the small, uncovered hand. He looks back at the picture on the floor, smiling lightly.

“That was the best day ever. You and me at the fair, remember? Those were the good days.” The paramedics prepare the body for transport, strapping the lifeless body down and moving more piles of belongings away from the stretcher. They begin to wheel her out of the small room as the boy speaks after them. “Don’t worry. They’ll take good care of you. I hope you’ll have good dreams, chickadee. Just don’t forget that I’ll always love you. Forever and a day.”


© Copyright 2020 Monagene. All rights reserved.

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