Archive for June, 2015

Purple Ghost

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2015 by ofherbsandaltars

Is it because my dick is not yet bolted on

With screws of flesh and hammer of bone

That I am not welcome in your presence alone?

(And do not mention the stag night)

Is it because I wore a dress on All Hallow’s Eve

And she seemed insecure, not knowing –

Is this thing a boy, is it prettier than me?

I do not trust it…

But no, it was before –

Always before,

That she knows our tangled histories

Stretch back into the infinite, unknowable,

Like the tangled webs of galaxies

For isn’t that what children are?

And how can she ever know

What is gone and lost, forever more

*

But I know what came before

I know what lies beneath

The thickening flesh of his exterior

The boy I knew was bones and hair

Insecurity, thin fingers, a drifting coil of weed smoke

Redbull cans and Prozac pills,

Angst and nihilism and Nine Inch Nails

How can memories not prevail

Against the puckered lips of a nervous present

Manipulation, mistrust inherent

And worst of all his own lethargy

To let his history drift away

Like the unmoored boat of all he used to be

So who are you now, Mr D,

With your suit-clad figure and your new degree?

*

I do not know this thing I see

The boy I knew is dead to me.

*

*

…Or does he wander, like some wraith of memory

Still sitting in a Brite-ian cemetery

As though he never saw this ugly reality

For isn’t that what memory is, intangible,

Prone to fits of doubt, or nostalgic romance?

If the past is a place and memory is its realm

Do our past selves all wander through the

Minds of one another?

Is each one of us a fleshy thing,

Surrounded by the ghosts

Of everything it used to be

The lust, youth, naivety

And with every version that emerges

From its cobwebbed black cocoon

It grows uglier, more staid, more grey and wrinkled and realistic

For isn’t that the crassest word?

As we turn into our parents, into sagging caricatures

Souls trapped in office blocks,

In briefcases, management meetings

In closed-lip kisses and casseroles

And if this is the thing you really are

Then I’ll just keep your memory

Of the imperfect thing you used to be

When you would smoke weed under a dripping starlit canal bridge

When the world was full of magic, blacklight and uncertainty

When we saw the planes plough, exploding, into the Twin Towers

In the dingy monitor of your dingy room

And it meant nothing to us at all

Because we were too young to fear the adult things, like war and loss and catastrophe

Because all we needed was you and me

And everything seemed temporary,

The whole world disposable

In its unknowable concrete tangles

Its maddening adult routines

The demands of your mother

To fill the fucking dishwasher, James,

And we always stood apart from it

In the tangle of thin limbs under sex-smelling duvets

We made a shelter from it all

And the world seemed more purple

Purple like my hair, and purple like your bedroom

There is a shade of purple that to this day belongs to you

But you do not belong to it

Now that you are something else

With your suits and your stag nights

And your…and your…

There are no words for unremarkable

We know things by their difference

*

I watch you sink into her world

Her dreary adult world

Like a screaming black amoeba

Devoured by a larger one

And you are gone forever.

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The Sticky Cat

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2015 by ofherbsandaltars

If there was one moment when you knew your life had gone to shit, Sam thought, this had to be it. Washing methadone out of an angry, sticky cat. Sam had sucked spilled methadone out of his carpet in the past, and for a few seconds he’d contemplated doing the same thing to the cat – 50ml of fucking methadone, and every drop of it was absorbed in the shaggy tabby fur of that ungrateful fucking cat. Which meant that he now faced a day of feeling unpleasantly twitchy, followed by a full night of climbing the walls, constantly yawning and nose blowing, and taking more shits than the average person managed in a week. And all because of this sticky green bastard of a cat. Sucking bitter methadone out of the cat’s fur had been deeply unappealing, and Sam’s attempt at wringing the cat out hadn’t gone down a storm either – it had merely yielded a few lumps of moist, sticky fur, and an even more furious feline.

This, he supposed, was why you weren’t supposed to get an animal while you were a junkie. Get a fucking pot plant, they said, that’s all you’re good for, even you can’t fuck up a pot plant, surely! Sam hadn’t fucked up the pot plant, well, not exactly – at least, he hadn’t meant to. It had just seemed so fucking judgemental, that pot plant, probably because it was a gift from Sam’s mum. She’d obviously read the same book about recovery, telling you that the first step was a fucking pot plant. So there it was. A great big flowery pink thing, sitting on the windowsill, and every time Sam shot up gear in the living room, happily nodding out to Depeche Mode with a cigarette burning holes in his jeans, he would suddenly notice that ghastly bloody pot plant sitting there, watching him. Judging him. One night when his dealer had been feeling generous, and gifted him with a ten-bag of crack, which Sam had duly dumped into the syringe along with the brown, he’d become deeply paranoid about that fucking pot plant. Was it more than just a pot plant? More than just a metaphor? For days he’d felt the thing watching him – what if it wasn’t just familial guilt that was prickling at him? What if his mother had actually bugged the fucking thing, and every time he shot up in front of that beastly pink plant, his mother was watching his every move, weeping into her gin and tonic and plotting to have him carted off to rehab, or even a lunatic asylum?! That was the night Sam tore the pot plant to shreds in search of a hidden camera, frantically apologising to his mother and making wild promises of sobriety as he clawed through handful after handful of mud and compost and roots.

So the pot plant wasn’t a success. It clearly wasn’t time to move onto anything bigger, like a hamster, or a relationship. But then, along came that fucking cat.

It was a great big shaggy bastard of a cat, hairy and tabby with a ripped up ear, and Sam had absolutely no idea how it got into the house, the first time, but when he came home it was sitting on the sofa like it owned the place. Since he had three newly-purchased bags of gear in his pocket, which would do significantly more than his three sweaters to warm up a shitty winter’s day, he ignored the cat completely, and got on with the task at hand. Before he knew it, he was sprawled out on the floor in the blissful embrace of the best batch since October, and the cat was curled up on his chest, purring. It was so fucking furry, so fucking soft and furry, and its deep rumbling purr-vibrations ebbed and flowed like the sea, as if the cat was sharing his high and loving every second of it, and at that moment, Sam became quite attached to the cat. The next day, he went to buy it some tins of fishy cat food, and the cat became a permanent resident.

That had been three months ago, and Sam and the cat had been getting along just fine, until today. He’d put the opened bottle of methadone down on the coffee table for five seconds, while he went to grab a cup of tea to chase it down with, and when he came back, that fucking cat was drenched in the stuff, blinking its big yellow eyes at him with an expression of smug amusement. The cat wasn’t quite so amused now though, since Sam had taken it upstairs and dumped it in the sink for a rudimentary washing. He might be a dysfunctional smackhead with an irrational phobia of pot-plants, but he was still aware that the Cat Situation needed to be rectified – if he ignored it, the stupid bloody thing would lick itself clean and get high off its furry little tits, and then probably drop dead.

Unfortunately, there was no explaining this to the cat. Maybe because the cat had wanted it all along, had wanted to be slurping up Sam’s methadone and getting fucked off its furry little face. Maybe the cat had planned the whole thing! That fucking cat was always watching, when Sam shot up gear, perhaps growing curious, growing envious, but cats didn’t have thumbs – there was sod all a cat could do with a needle. The methadone though, that was fair game, for a scheming, plotting, deviant feline…

By the time the cat was more or less cleaned of sticky green methadone, Sam’s wrists resembled those of a disenfranchised emo teenager, hashed with shallow, stinging scratches, and he got the strong feeling that his pleasant relationship with the cat might well be over for good. Finally, he gave it a bit of a rub with a towel, and the cat dealt him one final hissing, snarling gouge across the back of the hand, before it shot out of the room and vanished completely. Sam muttered a rude word, rinsing his torn-up arms under the tap, and plodding down the stairs to survey the remaining chaos. The carpet wasn’t too bad, so he ignored it, but the cat had done a thorough job – not a drop of methadone remained in the brown plastic pharmacy bottle. Sam frowned at it for several seconds, then he checked his watch. It was barely past one in the afternoon – that left a very, very long night ahead of him…

Well… said the insidious little voice in the back of his head, it doesn’t HAVE to be that way…

He felt the beginnings of a tantalising nervous-excitement tingle in his stomach, urging him into junkie autopilot – grab your phone, grab your wallet and your keys, dial the golden number and get down to business – what the fuck are you waiting for?! But then, with a heavy sense of crushing defeat, he remembered the precise reason that this Methadone Cat debacle had happened in the first place. The Dreaded Piss Test. Usually, his consumption of methadone was lazy at best – he generally just chucked it in the cupboard for a rainy day, and shot some smack instead. But not today. Not this week. He’d already fucked up the last one, and if his piss wasn’t as pure as the Virgin Mary this time around, his worker had informed him in no uncertain terms that There Would Be Consequences. Which meant that he’d spent the last four days so sober, so bored out of his skull, that he’d resorted to drinking every last drop of stashed methadone. It had been better than he’d expected, actually, but now he was double fucked – no stash, and still handcuffed to tomorrow’s piss test.

Well… said the voice, there are always options…

Frowning, Sam picked up the empty methadone bottle, screwed on the lid, and experimentally shoved it into the pocket of his jeans. It fit well enough. Bit of a bulge, but nothing that wouldn’t be fixed by a baggy sweater. He stood motionless for several seconds, staring at the empty bottle, frozen in an agony of indecision. If they caught him, he would be absolutely, completely fucked…

Microwave, said the voice. Put it in the microwave, make it nice and hot…

Three seconds later, Sam lost the battle with temptation, and launched into frantic movement. In the kitchen, he yanked the top off the methadone bottle, gave it a perfunctory rinse-out, whipped out his dick, and filled the whole thing with Grade A dope-free piss. After screwing on the lid, he held it up to the light, feeling proud of his creation, as though he had personally brewed an exceptionally fine batch of vintage champagne. Four and a half hard-fought days of boring sobriety, distilled into this priceless golden solution. It seemed such an achievement, in fact, that he went delving in the cupboard, and when he found a small Tupperware box, he pissed into that too, and when he could piss no more, he put all of it away in the fridge. Hiding his precious fluids behind a jar of pickles, he suppressed a snigger, feeling like a deviant genius. This fridge-full of piss was more precious than gold – Sam didn’t see a bottle of lukewarm urine, he saw absolute freedom. Grinning, he shut the fridge, and went over to the sink to chug down three large glasses of water, before he shot into action, snatching up his wallet and keys, and dialling That Number as he hurried out of the door.

By the time he got back, forty minutes later, he had a pocketful of heroin, and a bladder ready to rupture, but he was armed and ready, a two-litre bottle of cheap lemonade purchased from the corner shop. He poured the fizzy contents down the sink, and gave it a thorough wash, before he grabbed an old jug, and stood proudly in the centre of his kitchen, unleashing the piss. Soon enough, he had enough piss in his fridge to sail through piss tests for months to come. The latest batch he was particularly proud of – it was so pale in colour that it barely resembled piss at all, and from previous urinary experiments, he knew that this was best. Watery piss would never begin to stink, no matter how long you kept it. If you presented your drug worker with a cupful of stale old piss that was orange as marmalade, thick with sediment and reeking like a blocked up sewer, your game was up. Sam gave his creation a proud nod, and continued into the living room with a smile on his face.

Sitting down on the rug, he started cooking up, but as soon as he dumped the gear into the spoon, he felt the unpleasant creepings of his conscience. Scoring was one thing – the chase, the mission, the uncertainty – it was so tense and all-consuming that there was no room for doubt. But now that he was here, in the safety of his living room, teetering on the brink of a Stupid Decision, the doubts flooded back. Though he was reasonably confident that he could get through the Dreaded Piss Test without being convicted of illicit piss-smuggling, there was the morality of the thing. Though it baffled Sam, some people were proud of their piss tests. You could even get a fucking print-out to take home and hang on the fridge – an official certification of your pristine, saint-like bladder. And although Sam had no desire to give his mum a Piss Certificate to hang on her wall, as a matter of personal pride, wasn’t it a bit shit? A bit of a wankerish cop-out, to find yourself incapable of surviving five miserable days without smack? It was the sort of thing that was supposed to kick you into recovery, that – looking around yourself at the feebleness of your willpower, and going Well Shit, I Guess I Have A Problem…

Despite his doubts, Sam’s fingers had been deftly running through the familiar and beloved ritual, and he found himself staring at a fresh syringe half filled with warm amber liquid. As always, it was the most beautiful sight on Earth. Fuck the Grand Canyon. Fuck California sunsets and lunar eclipses and Kim Kardashian’s juicy great greased-up ass – this was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen in his life.  The doubts continued their grumbling unabated – you useless, wankerish, pathetic little junkie – but as Sam surveyed his loaded syringe, he remembered the cat. That fucking cat, drenched in his methadone. None of this was Sam’s fault! His morality and will-power remained proud and unblemished, for he had had no choice. The fucking cat made him do it!

Spurred into action by this cast-iron excuse, and the glowing feeling of utter vindication it gave him, he snapped the belt around his bicep, and drove the needle into his favourite vein. When he’d forced the drugs into his bloodstream and dropped the syringe on the carpet, he stared into space, swaying slightly as the rush enveloped him, savouring every second of this lover’s reunion, after four long days of lonesome separation. The warmth, the golden tinge it gave the sunlight, the way his sense of smell seemed to cloud over with a subtle dusty scent as everything was turned down like a volume slider on the radio of existence, smoothly gliding from the too-bright, too-sharp ugliness of sober life, into the honeyed treacle bliss of his heroin reality.  The air in the room, the blood in his veins, it all became as thick and golden as warm molasses, the ticking clock of life slowing into stillness until all that remained was the languorous dance of dust in the afternoon sun, spilling through the gap in the curtains.

As he gazed across the room, he saw a movement in the doorway, and the cat came melting out of the shadows. Its pupils were the narrowest of slits, turning its eyes into vast, glassy golden lamps – he’d never seen a cat look so smug, or so wasted. Whatever methadone he’d left in its fur, that fucking cat had gladly devoured. Sam smiled at the cat. The cat smiled smugly back, beginning to vibrate with a low, rumbling purr. Drowsily, Sam wondered whether, just maybe, the cat wasn’t such an intolerably fiendish bastard after all – maybe it had had his best interests at heart all along. A cast-iron excuse to get high, with no guilt at all, and then a furry little friend to curl up and cuddle with afterwards. What an awesome cat. Those recovery books, he decided, sprawling out on the rug, were total bollocks. Fuck the pot plants – what every junkie needed was a plotting, scheming, dope-fiend of a cat…