Saturday, June 14, 2008

Turning Addicts Into Experts

I could see the tears welling up and the lips trembled as he spoke.

"I'm dying..."

I turned my head away for a moment, then met his eyes again. I completed the thought for him, "...of boredom."

My reflection vanished along with the melodrama as I opened the medicine cabinet. I grabbed fistfuls of everything and dumped them on the counter. Band-aids, a thermometer, antacid, breath strips, a bent comb, contacts, peroxide, condoms, niacin, antacid, multivitamins, aspirin...ugh. I had a lot of antacid, but nothing to get me sharp and full of pep.

...unless rails of niacin would do the trick...I tried to remember what niacin was for...normally, I mean. Part of the B-vitamin group, one that dehydrates while increasing blood flow, supposed to help with cholesterol. Something like that. Same stuff that's in pasta. I needed something I knew would do the trick. No guesswork, this time. I made a mental note to snort some angel hair on my next trip to Olive Garden.

I marched into the kitchen. Vinegar by the spices and bleach under the sink. I could make ammonia, but it would just make me dizzy and I'd probably fall asleep. Ginger was supposed to do something, but I couldn't remember what. Nutmeg was a hallucinogen in the right amounts. Or was it poisonous? Was I thinking of hemlock? Why had I not been a more attentive student in school?

That question would keep. Maybe indefinitely.

I wiggled the mouse, but everything was still spinning in circles. Nothing would connect. My ISP had sent something in the mail about switching over to fiber optic lines and some areas having temporary outages. It was a hell of a time for the internet to be down. Anyone could be a genius with Google at their fingertips. Turning addicts into experts is what the internet was built for--after porn, of course. I fired up the laptop to see if I could locate an unprotected wireless network. Maybe one of my neighbors had a different provider...


...but no dice.

I'd seen something on t.v. about getting high from cooking dog urine and snorting what was left after evaporation. Was it on "Mythbusters"? Maybe it was "Jackass." I probably didn't have enough dog piss in the freezer, anyway.

Mentos, Pop Rocks, and Mountain Dew? I could get plenty of crap for blowing up my stomach at the corner store. Maybe they'd have caffeine pills...but they wouldn't have anything industrial strength. Not the kind of shit that helps Nick Nolte get upright in the morning. In another hour, I'd be groggy again, sitting like a zombie in front of the computer, trying to will myself back into "productive mode."

I opened the fridge, wondering what mold and spores I might find lurking. Without Google to guide me, it would be a crap shoot. My stomach growled it's discontent.

I'd not eaten all day.

I dug out a carrot and crunched into it's sweet deliciousness. My stomach thanked me in it's own quiet way as I finished the carrot and bit into another. I poured myself a tall glass of water and stretched myself out on the couch.

My mind drifted and imagined all kinds of possibilities. The t.v. was off, but I could see the reflection staring back at me. He smiled. "I'll bet if you lay there another ten hours, you'll wake up sharp and full of pep."

I smiled back. "I'll bet you're right."

Then, I slept.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Who's there?

It's worse in a small house. If it was a big house like in the movies, I don't think it would bother me so much, but it's hard feeling the vibrations through my mattress from hollow footsteps in the next room.

I stare at the black wall and hear a book being pulled from my shelf. Someone sits in my chair, opening to the first page. The quiet breathing comes from a few feet away.

When I can't take it any longer, I switch on the desk lamp, get up, and turn on all the other lights. I look through my books, but can't tell if anything is out of place. I pass my hand over the chair. Is it my imagination? Does it feel cooler than the rest of the room? Sometimes, in the morning, things on my desk are not quite the way I remember them. My mind is playing tricks on me.

After a while, I turn off the lights and try to sleep again. Cold air touches my back. I close my eyes, frozen. A moth flutters against my skin and I can't brush it away. A sound comes from the kitchen.

A mouse? The thought of something real gives me courage. I roll over quickly to face the empty darkness.

"Who's there?" I call out as loud as I can.

What would I do if someone answered?

I fill a cup with water and go outside. The darkness has its own sounds. I lean against my car, taking comfort in the stars and the lights on the horizon.

I can't remember the last time I had a good night's sleep. The things I fear the most are the things I haven't heard, the voices of the dead. I can handle them sitting in the darkness, but I'm afraid of their words. It can't be real. I know I'm not crazy. It doesn't make sense, but still...

The dead have been accumulating almost as long as the living. If they're here, they're all around us, passing through us, passing through each other. Do souls end? Where do they go?

I finish my water and go back inside. The emptiness should be a relief, but I keep thinking of all the things filling the space. Something's got to be there--things I can't see. I choke on the air. It's hard to breathe, when your mind multiplies worms filling up the darkness.

I walk through the dead, putting my cup beside the sink. I turn off the lights one by one. The sheets are damp from my sweat. I push everything away except the pillows. I take deep breaths, trying to drown out the sounds from the darkness. I think about girls who used to put their arms around me. For a moment, it feels nice. Then, my thoughts drift back to the dead.

I stare at the ceiling until I'm swallowed by the darkness. I'm glad I don't remember my dreams. I don't think I'd want to.