We've seen how good I am with that.
My father is holding my hand tight. My sister can’t quite contain her excitement. She babbles, but it just sounds like a high pitched lullaby. She is in the middle of exclaiming when a mechanical squeal drowns her out completely. A huge shadow falls over us as the rollercoaster rumbles by overhead. I can just barely make out her own yip of excitement and I feel the need to contribute my own.
Now I’m standing at a podium. Capped and gowned blobs stare up at me. I’ve been speaking words of wisdom. They begin to clap and stand and hoot. I’m flushed with gratification.
I’m in the hospital. He is holding my hand, telling me it’s going to be ok. I can barely hear him. The pain is so intense. Its over. He is holding her and handing her to me. I smile at the baby. Clearly I can hear myself say “Roslin”. He smiles.
More images like these pound away behind my eyelids. Sweet moments and awful ones. I’m in the hospital again, Roslin was in a crash, we wait to hear if she is ok. Jump ahead, he’s died, I held him as his last breath left and said I love you. Finally I’m laying in bed, looking up.
This is my least favorite part. I can hear Roslin in the next room. She’s crying. I try to say her name, but my lips are too dry. What comes out sounds like a paper bag being crushed. Black.
“Christ, Trey, are you about out of it yet?” Jack’s voice burbles at first, but becomes more clear. The “it” rings especially clear, like a bell, and my eyes open lazily. The room swims into focus. Jack is spooning a bowl of cereal into his mouth and staring at me. His hair, usually spiked as high as it can go, was drooping, making him look like a tired punk wannabe.
“How long was I out?” I begin to orient myself on the leather couch and fix the world. Everything at the edges of my vision blurs like bad video. When I’m upright I fumble out a cigarette, it finds my lips, and I light it.
“Five hours. Who was it?” His voice is becoming more clear. I can feel reality reasserting itself like a child throwing a tantrum. I grab around the cushions of the couch and pull out a small ziplock bag with a name written across it in sharpie.
“Cindy Travis. Huh. Two first names.” I ball the bag up and throw it towards the trash. I miss.
“Cindy? I fucking love Cindy, man. When what's her name...” He snaps his fingers. His mouth is full of half crunched sugar shapes. “Roslin? Yeah Roslin. When she gets married. Man, I always lose my fucking shit. I think. I know Cindy does. Man. Cindy.”
“Well I hope you enjoyed her while she lasted. We’re all out.” I motion my cigarette to the slowly unwrapping ball by the trash can.
“Aw fuck man. I loved her.” Jack picked the bowl up and sucked down the colored milk at the bottom. I scrunch my face as I watch his adam’s apple bob. His skin hung a little loose there. Just a tad, nothing too visible.
Anyone looking at Jack could tell that he was using something. He had those kinds of movements, those little tics, of someone who's been away from the bottle too long. His eyes were always rimmed with circles. When we’d head out he put a little makeup on and make it all look part of his act, his persona. Alcohol wasn’t his poison. Well at least not right now.
I shook my head. Shit. I hope I don’t look like him.
“Do we have any of Fred left?” I suck off a lung of nicotine.
“Frederick Goldschmidt? Naw, I finished him off last night. Real strange one.” He dropped the bowl and the crash bounces around between my ears.
“Doctors always are.” I slowly stand. I’m not usually this fucked up after a snuff, what’s wrong with me? Getting old.
“You want some cereal? I already claimed the prize.” Jack shakes the box at me.
“Naw man, I’m good. I’ll grab something on the way.” With great effort I tug my shirt up and swap it out with something less covered in sweat. I mange to zip up my hoodie without pinching my fingers.
“Zeke?” Jack grabs at his sneakers and tugs them on.
“Well we’re out of everybody aren’t we?” I grab my hoodie and zip it up.
“I’m excited.” He stands and tosses the bowl into the sink. An atomic bomb dropped.
“Shit man, you stop throwing things? Fuck.” I grind out my cig on the table.
(Read more after the jump)
A creature, Jack and I assumed was Zeke’s mother, lived upstairs. She was just a vague shape that coughed and opened the basement door occasionally to mumble something. Jack and I saw her shadow stirring in the windows upstairs as we stood outside his basement door waiting for him to open it. After a little peephole slid open there were several bolts being undone and Zeke gave us a head bob and a quick little motion to follow him.
Zeke himself was something to behold. His real name was Carl Yoshimura, Zeke was his handle from some online game. The kid was always in name brand hoodies, expensive shoes and hats with their size number stickers still stuck to them. I once asked if that was supposed to be some sort of correlation with his dong size. He socked me.
His basement is a manboy’s wet dream. Big flat screen, sweet ass chairs, a bar, pool table and my absolute favorite, a stripper pole. I fall in one of his bean bag chairs and grab at an Xbox controller.
“Anyone polish that pole yet, Zeke?” I motion the controller towards the rod.
“Naw, nigga. Bitches too busy polishing this one!” He indicated his crotch.
“I bet. Also you can’t say the N-word.” I toss the controller on the table. Jack is touching some large diecast model of an alien laser.
“Why the fuck not? Shit. You can’t, cause you're white.” He moved behind the bar and bent over, looking for something.
“And you’re Asian.” His mother’s footsteps reverberate upstairs. Jack and I look up and I swear Jack is saying a prayer of protection against her.
“And? I’m a minority, son. Everyone who isn’t white can say nigger.” He popped back up with three beers and tossed them out. Jack nearly drops his.
“So...listen, Zeke-” I begin and Jack quickly cuts me off.
“We need more ash, bro.” He fumbles with the cap before he realizes it's a twist off.
“Man, there was a time you bought weed from me. Now you can’t stop with the snuff.” Zeke gives us a smug look and pulls down an elaborate looking urn from a shelf, obviously meant to be ironic. He opens it up and pulls out some baggies and puts a few back in. I can see the hunger in Jack’s face and I can’t help feeling disgust at my own. Zeke lays the little ziplock bags out on the bar and begins to read the names to us. “Donna Evans, Richie Feldyke, Ahmad Sirosh, Kira Higgins, Cameron Bellafo-”
I’m on my feet.
“What was that last one?” I say. Jack sets his beer down and turns his eyes to Zeke.
“Uh.” He picks up one of the bags. The ashes inside shift. “Cameron Bel-”
“No!” I meant it to come out softer than it did. I lowered my voice. “The one before that.” Now Jack was staring at me.
“Kira Higgins?” He sets Cameron down and holds her up.
Something cold crawls down my spine and finds a home in my stomach. Krystal. There she was. In a little bag.
“Whoah. Man... you don’t think.” I can hear the gears in Jack’s head turning. Zeke is looking back and forth between the two of us. I also know what he is thinking ‘Can I charge these ash fiends more for this bitch’s snuff?’.
“One seventy five.” Zeke hefts the bag a little and looks down at it. He gets this shit eating grin.
“No.” I step forward. I think I meant it to be threatening. Zeke wasn’t fazed. He probably thought I was just aching for another hit. I was, but that wasn’t it right now.
“Look man. I can’t part with her for less. I’ll throw in a quarter of Richie too.” He reached underneath the table, opened a cabinet and pulled out a small scale. The whole time never taking his eyes off me.
“Look, fuck you-” I begin. What is my deal?
“We’ll take it.” Jack makes his way to Zeke. I look over at him. When did he get that money out? Zeke lets out a little laugh. ‘Of course you will.’
I stay silent while Jack finishes the transaction. He hands me the bag marked ‘HIGGINS, KIRA”.
“Pleasure doing business with you two.” I flip him the bird. He laughs a high whiny laugh.