Here’s another antiquated story from back in the day. Looking back at old work is always bittersweet for me. I’m always judging. I see only my mistakes, but I’m also convinced my voice, technique, and drive were stronger back then. *sigh* That’s the problem with memories: they’re selective. Anyway, in 2005, I got this story published in a small Canadian literary magazine called Deliverance. Recently, I tried getting it published again, but that didn’t really work out. So here it is. Enjoy.
A look, a flash, a wad of cash. The apathy I felt just then was as dangerous as the drug she handed me. My hand shot out and in it she placed a smallish sheet, neat, perforated squares looking for all the world like little tabs of gum: tiny, innocuous.
What do I do with it?”
She fixed me with a hard stare, trying to decide if I was as stupid as the question suggested. “You eat them. But not all at once,” she said rather quickly, having decided that I was, in fact, and idiot. “You can save them, or share them.” Here her voice turned up; perhaps my stupidity would lead her to some free drugs. I stifled a sigh and shifted my gaze from her vague, eager face, once again caught by the flashing neon road sign atop the broken television. I was already bored.
“What happens if I take them all at once?”
Another stupid question. Apparently I was only allowed one per transaction.
I put away my purchase and again found myself studying her. A definite mod goth: her stockings looked new and purposely ripped; her false lashes and black lipstick smacked of pretentiousness. And her wig was on crooked. So much for showmanship.
Out in the frigid air, I felt some of my apathy recede, and I quickened my steps in anticipation. But instead of relocating myself to some dance club or art house-turned-opium den, I trudged on home, to my little apartment, as far from the area as the city could take me.
My rooms were dark and damp, redolent of champaka and weed. I gobbled the sheet almost immediately and began to prepare. Water, water, soda, pocky and bread, all dumped onto the floor, along with a thin blanket and a mottled sock monkey. More preparations: clothing picked up, tables shoved away. The television started to look rather curvy, so I left off the tidying and tried to begin. Sitting in full lotus, I decided, facing the wall, would be best for this type of thing, but my legs had grown considerably since I had walked through the door, and I couldn’t cross them properly. So I lay face-up on the floor, arms spread wide, like a child on a hillside, waiting. There was music, but I didn’t remember having put any on. My bookshelf had melted into a puddle of light.
Still on the floor, I started to spin, lazy circles describing paths of consciousness to my shifting mind. Orange melodies swirled beneath me as I felt myself stretch and lengthen. Two, ten, eleven, and the cry of grackles filled the room as I blended and merged with the carpet. Every once in a while I would snap back and ask myself questions I already knew the answers to. Commodore Washington was the first charlatan of our nation, with long flowing hair, as beautiful as the unturned sky. All was blue light and magic behind my eyes. I pressed down on the floor and let the deeper truths come to me. Black star, red sun, cold moon, and where was that music coming from? Throbbing, pulsing, syzygial beat teeming with flesh and wonder worming closer, closer still . . . a sitar made of golden glass strummed silently, and I had found God.
Several hours later, the boredom was back. The water lay undrunk, the pocky uneaten. I was cold, I realized, and greatly disappointed, for I had failed to bring back the one thing I had gone for. Sighing, I set off once again for the house on the hill with the self-made queers and closeted squares. Perhaps I would have better luck this time.