A Zillion Pieces Of Shit
At night. I am laying sideways on the backseat of a car. My shirt is soaked in vomit, sweat, mucus, blood, bourbon, semen and a green substance that I dare not to identify. Not that I could. I feel dizzy and confused. Where I am? I touch my head and I feel as if some motherfucker had smeared my hair with custard. No, wait a minute, that is not custard. With a feeling of relief I realize that I have my skull fractured and I am tapping at my brain. Last time I passed away some punks smeared my head with custard and I have to cut my hair shorter at some places.
Last thing I remember I was at Rob’s place. I was blowing some coke and Rob was looking at me as if he wanted some but I pretended not to notice him there on his knees, hands gripping the coffee table and eyes wide open staring at the quickly diminishing little mound of white powder I was relentlessly sniffing. Poor bastard.
The car stops in front of a large building with many windows and very few doors. I don’t recognize the edifice. Why should I? I am drug addict not an architect.
The driver turns around and I recognize him. He is my uncle Butt but I am not sure if he is my mother’s brother or my father’s sister. No surprise on that, after all the drugs and booze I did the last twenty two years.
Rob had thrown me out his place of course. He even insisted I left through the window although the door was fine with me. I went to my place crawling backwards most of the time.
My place is at the top floor of an abandoned building with no neighbors and no lift. I mixed thirteen gallons of my favorite cocktail I call “Spine Break” in my bath tube using an oar as spoon. One part of kerosene, one part of Mr.Clean and one part all the alcohol available at the time, mouthwash included. I got so drunk that I tried to bath the dog in the mixture until I realized that I never had a dog. Somewhat I ended up arrested for ordering a bucket of ouzo at a Greek restaurant nude and with my shorts in my head.
My uncle Butt is taking me to a rehabilitation clinic because I am an alcoholic and a drug addict and because he certainly doesn’t want me in his house under the same roof where his twin teenager daughters sleep. I was six months old when I got drunk for first time while breast-feeding. At eleven I tried my first joint, also while breast-feeding. At thirteen I sniffed nail polish for first time and ended up breast-feeding on a schoolmate’s toe. I started with heroin at fourteen and was also arrested for the first time for trying to snatch the trousers of a cop. I was sent to the reformatory and had to breast-feed between the legs of an older boy called Chip. At sixteen I was injecting bleach on my eyeballs on a daily basis although I was happy I had left behind the habit of breast-feeding.
I am at the reception counter with my uncle Butt but there is nobody there. My uncle is impatient so he files me in himself and bids me farewell not without remembering never again to get closer than five kilometers from him or any member of his family. He also mentions something about his collection of guns and what a good shooter he is, but I am too fucked up to understand what he is talking about. I know he loves me. He is a good man, he is mad at me because while staying in his house her daughters found me inside the piano trying to rape a ham believing it was one of them, I am not sure which. I was calling the ham “bitch” while my hands searched for a vagina that simply wasn’t there. No that I recall anything of this, I was told several days later and nicely framed pictures of the incident were on the walls to prove it.
A doctor and a big tall black man come towards me through the corridor that seems to lead to the living quarters. The doctor is checking some charts he is carrying and the big black man is telling him a dirty joke. Or maybe they are making fun of what is written in the chart. When they get closer I realize my mistake. They are not two men but one: a very big and fat black doctor that looks like a medical chart.
He explains me the rules of the place while showing me around. First thing he tells me is that there will be no drugs in there under any circumstance, but that if I have a relapse a good friend of him can make me a good price. The building is a maze of long corridors sided with doors with numbers and letters on it and every window has bars. The doctor explains me I can leave whenever I want but that they had to install bars in every window after a sparrow came through a window and flied away with one of the patients on its beak. That does not surprise me, my own experience has shown me that all drug addicts are vermin.
He shows me to my room and leaves after excusing himself for being so fat he couldn’t go through the door frame to show me the interior. Inside is my roommate but he is reading a book with great concentration as if a great effort was necessary to understand what is written on the pages. I tell him the book is upside down and written in greek and after rotating it he reads effortlessly.
He tries to introduce himself but fails miserably because he doesn’t remember who he is or his name. Apparently suffers from amnesia after an accident he had trying to get high by shiponing candy syrup in his cerebellum. The poor bastard is making me nervous with the chat about his problems and the only thing I can think of is getting a fix at all costs. I try forcing toothpaste up my nostrils but it won’t work, all flows out through my hears.
I go to the dispensary and a nurse that looks more like horse dressed as a nurse patches up my cracked head with a stapler pistol. It hurts like hell. Every staple is like a sharp metal wire both sides bended at the same point ninety degrees downward burying themselves in my scalp first and then in my skull bone. The nurse told she wouldn’t give me any anesthesia because my condition. I purchased the Economy Plan that doesn’t entitles to the use of anesthesia. If I want anesthesia I should upgrade to the Basic Plan or the DeLuxe Executive Plan that provides free foot massage and unlimited colonoscopy. I scream and while I scream I hear screams and I realize it is me screaming. Finally the nurse sticks a wet sponge in my mouth so I will shut up. I deserve the pain. I am just a despicable worm. I feel like I am going to die and I blackout. When I wake up the nurse is gone for breakfast and she has left my head half done. So I blackout a little more to pass the time until she is back.
I dream of my girlfriend back in my hometown. Alice was the most popular cheerleader of the school’s backgammon team until she discovered that there was no backgammon team in the school and nobody at school knew what backgammon was. There was no way such a wonderful girl would even notice a loser like me, unworthy of breathing the same air she breathed. I used to follow her after school hidding in the bushes trying to breathe myself some of the air she exhaled. To call her attention one day I stole a car and pretended running into her, I still remember the expression of bewilderment on her face when she bounced off the window shield. She didn’t expect something so daring from a good-for-nothing like me. After she left the hospital we went to the movies on a date. She was beautiful that evening in her pale pink dress matching her legs plaster cast. I felt so shy and nervous that I wetted my pants and we had to seat in opposite corners of the theatre which was a nuisance every time I fancied some popcorn. I drove her home in the trunk of my car because I wasn’t worthy to be seen around in the company of such a charming beauty. But I never saw her again after that day because I had forgotten my hamster Twiki was in the trunk and she died of rabies after a week. Everybody in town blamed me although the jury only convicted Twiki and I was acquitted on severe idiocy grounds. Twiki was electrocuted using a car battery.
I regain consciousness and I see a bright light over my head. A man with a surgical mask is talking with somebody I can’t see. I try to move but soon realize I am restrained to an operating table. The doctor is holding something in his hand. I try to focus my eyes and see what it is. It is my kidney. He is holding it in his one hand and with the other hand is using a labeler pistol to attach an adhesive tag to my kidney: 999.90$+VAT. I doze off again because I don’t like a bit what is going on around here and I’d rather dream of my dead girlfriend instead. And that is exactly what I do.
In my dream Alice is standing on the roof of an empty warehouse, her favorite hobby. It is daytime but so cloudy that seems by night. I look at my watch trying to find out what time is it until I remember my watch was stolen in last night’s dream by Harrison Ford. I scream to Alice not to jump. She can’t hear me but I keep calling at her. This time I try to persuade her that meanwhile she is up there contemplating suicide why not to undress so I can see how she looks with no clothes and the dream won’t be total loss. But she does not hear me this time either. She can’t hear me and I can’t move, suddenly I realize what a boring dream this one is turning to be. Then a man beckons me from one corner of the warehouse. I can’t hear him but I hope he can move or the situation won’t improve a bit. Luckily he can move and comes to me while waving his arms. I recognize him, he is Buggy Boy, my favorite dealer although in the dream his head is upside down and he has put some weight on. While I am bargaining with Buggy Boy over the price of some vanilla flavored amphetamines Alice jumps from the roof and impales herself on a pencil. I blackout and wake up with my arm inside an urinal trying to remove some chewing gum that is stuck deep inside the drain.
One of the disadvantages of the Economy Plan is that you have to do a lot of manual work to pay for your stay at the rehab center. I was fine with that when they told me but later on I found out that manual work is not a synonym for masturbation. They try me in the laundry team until the supervisor catches me sniffing softener powder so they put me in the worst job they have, known around here as the ‘shit shift’: barehanded toilette cleaning.
After I am done I go to the canteen. I am not hungry but the doctors are adamant I must eat properly if I want to get better so I get a tray and start nibbling one corner. I tastes like aluminium foil. I see some patients gathered around one table playing baseball with an apple and a French baguette. I walk towards them and I try to act friendly. But they act distant towards me and for some reason all of them refuse my handshake. Then I realize I forgot to wash my hands after shit shift and they are dripping with urine.
So I sit alone in one corner munching the halfway eaten tray. I drink some coffee to wash the metallic taste in my tongue and with a fork I remove the small chips that got stock between the six teeth I have left after having sold the rest long ago to buy drugs.
Back in my room my roommate is gone and I try to pass the time with his book but after six hours of reading I begin to feel an excruciating headache and remember that the only greek word I know is feta cheese. I try to sleep but I only manage to do so with one eye. The open eye remains relentlessly spotting around like the eye of Sauron and I can’t stop thinking about drugs. I imagine a mountain the size of a big mountain made of amphetamines and myself as a mole burrowing its way from the bottom by eating off a maze of tunnels on the belly of the massive heap. Then I imagine a river of booze and I am trout swimming upstream without closing my trout mouth for an instant. Then I imagine myself as centipede trying to get a bank loan and I wonder what such a weird thing means. The dream reminds me of my father who was also centipede but who wore a suit and paid taxes. He was a quiet and gentle being that worked at the same firm for thirty six years before anybody realized he was there. I understand how disappointed he must be with his only son, he is fortunate to find some consolation on my two older brothers that lead a normal life in Salt Lake City where they run a very prosperous shop of Mormon sex toys. Thinking of dad makes me so ashamed of myself that I try to drown myself in the sink but I hit my head in the faucet and I blackout yet again. One blackout more and I get one for free.
Next morning at breakfast I am eating some sausages and scrambled eggs that turn out to be quite more tasty than the tray I had for lunch yesterday. Maybe I am getting better. I haven’t had solid food for seventeen months so I hardly remember how eating is done. A health care worker had to help me eating when he saw me trying to force a sausage into my nostril. He was very kind and told me I had it almost right and showed me how it is just a matter of pointing the fork a few inches lower.
When I am done I check the activities board to see what they have in stock for us today. Every morning before lunch we have to sit on a circle for an inspirational chat given by some sort of guest specialist on drug addiction or, if none is available at the moment, the director of the center will perform some magic tricks with the help of his dog. Today was scheduled a community service lecture by Paris Hilton to expose her views on drugs, abortion and the question of God on a three minutes speech and do some singing and dancing for the remaining four hours but some sort vaginal infection had prevented her to attend and instead we will have to endure again the goddamn magic show. I can’t stand it any more. I have to leave this place.
I go to my room and grab my clothes after realizing I forgot to get dress this morning and that I have been walking around the place naked. I go outside and pretending I am taking a stroll I wander into the thick forest that encircles the building.
After five minutes I am already lost and a squirrel has bitten me on the nose when I mistook him for a bottle of French wine and tried to uncork his head. I lean forward to take some water from a puddle that rain has formed inside a hole and then I see my reflection on the muddy black water. I am twenty six years old and I look like an old man, at least I look twenty nine. My skin is pale and peeling off in several places, my eyes sunk in its sockets and I have death leaves floating all over my face. They don’t have mirrors at the institution because a very ugly patient with a problem of sawdust addiction goes mad every time he sees his reflection so the director removed them and painted every spoon black.
Mesmerized by the vision of my own corruption I am still there five hours latter and I begin to feel hungry. I grab some mud and I swallow it. It is wet and tastes like earth, hardly surprising. Then I hear the lunch bell ringing and I head back following the subtle aromatic trail of mashed potatoes. It is feeding time.
I am eating my lunch when a fat man that reminds me of another fat man I saw once walks toward me holding his lunch tray with both hands. He raises one hand to greet me and the contents of the tray precipitate on the floor with great clattering startling everybody in the empty canteen.
He says his name is Bob but everybody around here calls him Matt nobody knows why. He offers me a cigarette but I give it back to him when he tells me I have to listen him sing a song if I want to smoke it. We settle in that I will smoke the cigarette if I listen the story of his life. Suddenly the song proposition doesn’t looks so bad.
– I know who you are boy! I was just like you at your age! I though I know everything. I was a tough smart ass just like you boy. I grow up in the toughest neighborhood of Chicago. It was so tough in there that some guys have to eat standing up because their spines wouldn’t bend unless you crack them with a sledgehammer. There was little money. So little you needed a microscope to find it and who could afford such a fancy optical instrument? I’ll tell you: nobody! Because people couldn’t find any money without a microscope. But nobody could afford one of those extravagant apparatus…
I can see where this is going. I start to regret having accepted the smoke specially when I light it and realize is a suppository.
– I got my firs job when I was only three years old – he continues – They put me to work on a round table with dozens of other children my same age and forced us to insert brightly colored wooden blocks into boxes all day long. And it wasn’t easy. The holes on those damn boxes were all different in shape. And we didn’t get paid any money either. If you got it wrong they would punish you ruthlessly. I saw with my own eyes many of my little friends being forced to spend hours at a time in a corner of the room staring at the wall and crying like babies. I will never forget those desperate cries. ‘Mommy, mommy!’ They would scream restlessly but their mothers wouldn’t show up for hours. And when they finally came they would slap them in the head. I still can hear their cries in my dreams. But that sort experience is what toughens you up, you become a man by learning what suffering means. When you realize that it means the same that pain you try your best to stay away from both. But you wonder the rest of your life why they made two words to describe the same thing…
The man stops talking when he realizes how much easier for him would be to free his neck from my grip if he tries to do so in silence. Then I feel as if a demolition ball had hit my balls, I look down and there it is: Bob or Matt’s kneecap buried between legs in what you could call a perfect hit. Time freezes. I scream like a madman and then, of course, blackout. Free blackout added.
I wake up and I am in a dark room, arms and legs tied to a metal chair. The room is dimly lighted and smells like mold and rat’s piss. I realize there is other people in the room, there are twelve chairs forming a circle and men with hideous faces are tied up to them. First I can’t recognize them but their faces are strangely familiar. Then I realize that they are all patients at the sanatorium. To my relief I comprehend that I am being subject to the usual morning inspirational chat.
Today’s the guest is a rehabilitated alcoholic and celebrated writer. And a good one at that. His essay about death “Depressing Toughs From Under A Bucket” is considered the bible of post-modern existentialism and topped the best-sellers ratings in Ukraine for fifteen years. His name is Killer Grass and for some mysterious reason its sonority ignites in me the need of getting high. I try to bite off my ropes with my eyelids. Useless
The guy tells us of how he used to stuff empty earl grey tea bags soaked in benzedrine up his ass just to get high. He tells us how his marriage broke up when her wife caught him practicing this nasty habit in their bed at the precise moment she was having sex with the plumber in the same bed. He lost everything in the ensuing divorce, the house, his car, his toupee. He was only granted his wife’s discarded undergarments and 300$ a year for child support although they have none. He started wandering the city streets like a homeless person, first in the metaphorical sense and later for real. He would get high with anything. Glue, kerosene, oil, paint or sniffing around people’s feet. But then he found God. Just like that. One day he turned around a corner looking for some feet to sniff and there It was. God’s own almighty foot. He says it was like forty of fifty stories high and smelled like expensive cheese. It was clad in a leather sandal that spanned an entire block. After such an ominous event he decided to stop using drugs and write, although he still takes an occasional sniff to any discarded sock he finds.
The questions and answers time is uneventful because we are all tied to the chairs and nobody can raise their hands. The man besides me try to call the the orator’s attention by pissing himself but fails and starts crying.
After inspirational session everybody requires medical attention for severe headache and we all get aspirines. One man who seems particularly mollified even gets a blow job performed by the nurse that looks like a horse.
It is visiting day. Visits are allowed every Sunday and today my parents are coming. Talking is allowed but physical contact strictly forbidden so my parents are introduced inside transparent industrial size plastic bags and sealed. The visit can lasts as much as four hours depending on how long visitors can hold their breath. With the Basic Plan you get a needle inside the sack and with the DeLuxe Executive Plan the bag comes with six holes and you pay hundred bucks for every extra hole.
My father is very pale even for centipede’s standards and I can see he is embarrassed for the way he nervously fidgets with his four hundred hands. My mother doesn’t look happy either. Her face looks flat an shapeless even for a person who is a photo of Uma Thurman pinned on a cardboard clumsily cut out to resemble a female body. Let me tell you about my mother.
My father met her during a business trip to Cincinatti. He went to a bar after a day trying to sell a carpet to a man that wasn’t at home. Those were other times and the centipede community suffered different degrees of racial segregation. In this case the bartender was a racist fanatic that chased him for six block with a can of Raid in his hand. My father found a safe hiding place under a trash can and there was where he met my mother. She was the finest piece of cardboard he ever had laid his six eyes on and he fell in love with her instantly. True, he had dated some kleenex tissue before, but those were just affairs and most kleenex were dirty sluts. They moved together that same day and married the next. When me and my brothers were born my mother lost her figure a little but dad kept her in good shape by trimming off her borders. Unfortunately in spite of so many hands dad is quite clumsy with scissors and many times our mother showed at breakfast in a dreadfully asymmetrical state, a fact she always reproached him. It wasn’t until later that my father pinned Uma Thurman’s photo in my mother’s head so he could get sexually aroused when they copulated.
I try to tell my parents how sorry I feel for all the times I lied to them or stole their money to buy drugs. For the times I stole their stuff to pawn it and buy drugs. For the times I sold drugs to make money and buy more or better drugs. For the time I stole my father slacks to build a giant slingshot and propel myself inside a chimney in the believe that the chimney belonged to a drug factory. Everything floods into my soul like a tsunami-size wave of remorse that engulfs me. I can’t stop it. I am sobbing but it is useless, father is too busy trying to breath to listen to me, he is shaking is multiple hands spasmodically and turning violet and mother can’t hear me. She is deaf as a cardboard box. She doesn’t even have three dimensions. I am alone.