I looked up to the sky and to myself asked it to shed some light on this darkened patch of earth, this niche that, even in the sun, pulses despair and a sullen, fleeting hope. I pass the building I frequented just years before: 1582 Dover. Anything you could imagine to take the pain away you could get, but it was never enough. Even when that face looking back at me in the mirror was a frail, sorry excuse of humanity, I still longed for that ever growing need of poison. It had become more a part of me than I was to myself.
Now that I've had time to reflect on my once predicament, I know that my friends weren't really my friends, we just had too strong a commonality in the wake of drowning out our sorrows. None of us liked who we were, but when we were together we became that one machine of smoke, swallow, snort and shoot, and we all ended up being what we wanted when we were together. We were a big happy satiated family of dysfunction.
Our fathers were dead beats and out mothers didn't care. Those maudlin lies so easily told to make our semblance of hurt more believable and sympathetic.
I lied about those whom gave me life, cradled and raised me as best they could. It's only now that I know how much I dishonoured them by alleging I was wounded. My mother would have done anything for me and I called her a whore. My father suffered severe depression on my behalf, worrying and crying for his deluded offspring. I had told that he raped me and that I wanted him dead, but it was the awkward part of me that I really wanted laying in a large oak box at the bottom of a six foot hole, but that I could not admit. Maybe if I did I could start new and wash myself of those loose but heavy chains that halted my progress of understanding and coping. I just had not been strong enough to confront those stygian emotions.
My new family lived in a squalid two bedroom that we rented at a very cheap rate in a shady part of the city. Many of the other tenants were also of the ilk to which we identified, and the proprietor made most of his money keeping us hungry, carving the fix. Problems with the facilities went mostly unattended, never really fixed. They were just band-aided like everything else at 1582 Dover. Overlooked and forgotten, 'make due with what ya got' was one of the landlords favourite sayings.
Some of us had jobs, some didn't. Some collect government checks every month, others weren't so lucky. But we always made sure to pool it all together and take care of our own. The paychecks were small, subsidies as well, but we got by. Some times by any means necessary, and no body enjoyed what that meant.
The sickness had grown in us slowly, inconspicuously. And once the the swing had followed through the wheel house for the last time, the carousel abruptly stopped, throwing us with momentum we didn't know we were with. I can't believe now, that I didn't ever think our hubris would catch up to us at some point. We had no reservation about precarious situations, we just had to be free, making our own decisions, at a cost that was most of the time too emotionally expensive to pay in full.
First, John had started. His skin became like sandpaper, and he got abscess sores that he dug into, thinking he saw the poison he had ingested earlier resurfacing and that he could get a double hit the high out of one dose. Not even his loving partner Sandra could touch his face or kiss hi lips. He spoke lowly to himself and spent a time independently alienated from us. We could tell the cut was deep. And those kinds of wounds take time to heal, even if treated properly. Which they weren't. But none of us heeded the warning. We just kept on trudging along through the thick heavy snow of dependence, hoping for the warm home and hot meal we all desired everyday.
A few weeks later Dee got sick. She couldn't leave the bathroom for what seemed like hours, and when she finally did emerge a brown and red clay like paste caked the toilet and was visible around the drains of the tub and the sink. Despite the mess in the bathroom her clothes would reek of ammonia and comet and ivory soap and cough syrup. Her smile was crooked and punished. Her eyes projected apology and embarrassment, but we will held her hands and warmed her heart as best we could. We could never turn our backs on each other. We were all we had and all we wanted.
Curtis and Janelle were next, followed by Peter and Fredric.
None of us had any sense to get help.
Our miracles came in plastic baggies or balloons. Our deliverance was also our purgatory.
All of the symptoms were different. It was the one time none of us had anything in common and it became a source of quiet hatred and deceiving looks. Trust now crumbled like unset crust, prying and conniving eyes dotted the room. The love had died.
We became increasingly irate with each other over absolutely nothing, lashing out and scalding one another with the burn of personal insult. Over the course of time we had all, in one way or another, told our lives stories to each other. It didn't matter if some were lies, the perjurer still knew they were falsified. And that dishonesty still hurt to someone that tried to convince them otherwise.
I was especially targeted and hissed at. I had not become noticeably illl and was envied beyond forgiveness, and was therefore commanded to see to the needs of my dusted, decrepit "friends". The only ones I knew how to love, and I loved them still, that anything they needed was followed by my strict compliance.
I cut back my shifts at work nearly to the point of not being there, to spend most of my time inside that dungeon of bludgeoned dreams at 414-1582 Dover.
As funds wore thin tempers followed suit. I became more in touch with what was happening. Gradually, I saw the true nature of our addiction to our private, fantastical heaven. I started to open my eyes to what we were doing to ourselves, and I knew it had to stop, at least for me.
It was hell. Ruled by none but those that resided there. Of our own accord we had sentenced ourselves to suffer. The others had become shadows of arbitrary enmity and I was the lamb set for the slaughter. I was the hapless child forced to serve the demands of a domineering parent. My lies were becoming true. And I did not want to love them any more. I wanted to love myself.
My mind was no longer heavily medicated. The fog had dispersed. And for the first time in a long time, I had traction. I had will to run from the trash's tenure over my perception. I knew that I had my mind and that this was the real reality. These were not my friends in my midst, but monsters clawing, thrashing, yelling and screaming for more, of which, there was none.
Their eyes got worse in those next hours as I cowered in the corner listening to the babble and caustic bureaucratic nonsense about the "new relatives", being spouted by a now mentally defunct John.
I could feel them turning on me. I was now outcast and trapped. The front door had been barricaded and no matter what I did, where I looked, there were eyes on me, keeping me accounted for.
John told the others I was a witch, that I had plagued them, sucking their life force and diminishing their happiness. If ever I had been loved by them, it now had merit akin to a lie. The circle had pushed me out. And I was scared and itching from withdrawal. I had even come to believe what John was saying. The indelible hallucinations were terrible. I wanted to cry but knew I couldn't.
At some point the heat had been turned up and I was sweating heavily and I had moved by the window to be next to the coolness of outside that formed some frost crystals in the corners of the frame. I finally figured I had no other option than try to speak, plead my case and convince them I was still one of them and to let me back into the circle. I had to try to gain some sort of trust because I knew i would die if I did not leave.
And I did not want to die.
"I know where to get help," I spoke softly.
Their attention turned to me, all eyes, studying and dissecting to see if I did indeed harbour the fugitive cure.
John hardened his gaze and returned an answer. "You know no such things, devil-woman. It's all your fault."
The silence afterward was the most frightening moment of my life. I now had all of their undivided attentions, and I judged by their leers that I had no time to let them think and make the next move. I turned to the window, and with all my strength I heaved upward and cracked the bottom just enough so that I could jam my fingers under the sill and push it up enough so that I could squeeze through quickly, before they could get their hands on me and pull me back in. I hurriedly made my way down the fire escape, bottles and slurs hurled at me were crashing and breaking all around me. I could feel the shards as rain, but I kept moving, continuing my descent away from that hermetical hell that I once loved.
As soon as i was in the street I cried, cold and misplaced I wandered. I laid down in the street of shit and pestilence, a condemned district for junkies. I could still hear faint screams from the apartment and I was glad that they were just that. It was a comfort knowing that I was away from there. Even the cold chill was comforting, my rapidly pumping heart excited further by it.
My saviour drove a Volkswagen. She took me in from the cold and consoled my sadness. I told her in the most coherent fashion I could muster, my quandary. She was very kind and knew where to take me. I thought perhaps she was scoping the streets in search of her own daughter or maybe son.
The place she took me was a place that I took my first real steps in years. A place I learned the true meaning of love. A place that taught me all over again what it meant to be human. And now, standing here in front of 1582 Dover, I still hear those faint screams and I wonder if any of my old friends had made it out alive. ©