I drop the boiling hot tin can as my mouth begins to salivate. The smell of fried chicken from inside the house wafts throughout the kitchen and escapes through an air vent. I pick up the can with makeshift tongs—two sticks bound by a thin rope—I had made. A cool Washington breeze carries the delicious smell with it and hurls it straight into my face. I stick a fork in what is still left of the Chef Boyardee ravioli after it splattered everywhere. I shove a fat piece of pasta into my gob. What was supposed to feel like a hot summer in my mouth, instead is a surprising early winter of frozen pasta. I spit it out. The can is piping hot on the outside, but icy cold in the middle, again.
To let out a long fuck-my-life sigh, I take in a deep breath that makes me lose my mind. I felt my pupils dilate when that smell of juicy, tender chicken takes up a residency in my lungs. I sit stock-still and feel something is different. I’m not my normal myself, like a strange force has taken control of me.
Barefoot, wearing only a pair of tattered shorts, I close my eyes and follow the savory scent. I step on rocks and broken sticks, but my hardened feet don’t notice it anymore. The narrow path back to the house I knew by heart since I had walked it a hundred times a day. When I open my eyes, I’m at the door, but I’m not allowed inside. The panther erupts inside me. I leap through the darkness around the house and snarl while peering through the window. Mouth-watering pieces made of gold are being passed around to each of the horridly clean humans. I watch them scarf down meaninglessly. If I had one, I’d savor each bite without chewing. Let it sit in my mouth while it absorbed each flavor.
The young female rises and walks with her unfinished meat. There’s so much meat stuck to the bone, but she smashes it into a dark bag. What a waste.
After they’re finished eating, they all come out to my forest to smoke. Conversing with them makes me human again. Until, they leave, one by one. Any thought of them coming out because they wanted to see me vanishes. I laugh out loud at the thought of my feelings being hurt. I sprint over to the high bar and leap to catch it. As I grab it, I’m already pulling my body up then down, up and down. The last time I had done a pull-up was back in grade-school when I could barely do two. Now, I go up and down nonstop until I lose feeling in my arms, making me let go.
I am a different person that’s for sure. Both mentally and physically capable of handling anything. I can’t figure out, why all of this is happening?
With my particular human design, or personality, I’m in a constant journey to discover the answers to life’s universal questions. Why are we here? What is the point of all of this? There are too many patterns and coincidences for everything to be random… right?
What is my purpose? Why am I here?
Why the hell am I still here?!
Me!, the asshole who not only deserves to die, but wants to die!
Why did I survive the insane number of shots while my loved ones are dead from one?!
“It should’ve been me!
“It should’ve been me!!”
• • • •
Right when I believe I have it made, that my life can’t get any better, right when I figure out how to live a sober life and am ready to live it… I become detained by some of Nature’s finest officers of karma.
I know myself better than ever now and I am more than aware of my behaviors and about impermanence—how fast things can change. While thinking this, I pack a backpack’s worth of clothes and things I can use to pass the time. The bag is almost full when I freeze. I stare at the wall in deep thought, then turn the bag over and dump everything out.
What am I thinking? A backpack? I laugh.
Everything I had put in the bag, I now throw into what a coroner could use as my body bag. In case I don’t make it. There’s no telling how long I will be out there.
I stuff the giant black duffel bag underneath my bed with the rest of my luggage. It had already been full with the winter clothes I wore in the first few months of being here. Back when I was only a frightened child with a horrible drug problem. On that first day when Vick had mentioned the rules and the consequence of being “Homeless.” I swore to myself I’d do nothing that held the consequence of being homeless. But here I am, in my room throwing together whatever I think I need to survive the outdoors for not one, but two weeks. It didn’t seem all that bad, until it became extended two more weeks. I can thank a few people for that…
It was my fault; I knew, but the way it happened was utter bullshit. The two new kids, one of them being Heath, had given Sandy and I permission to hook-up in their miniature one-room cabin. In the group, someone brought this up, and the two younger kids insisted they had never given us permission. A bold move considering what I could do to them. It was an outright lie, clear as the service bell I’ll be ringing when I make both of them my bitches. I drilled this image deep into their thick skulls. Later in Group, Heath also thought it wise to bring up how he’d seen us having sex on one of the couches in our smoking area.
“Seen us or watched us? You perv…” I asked.
He sat there silent, face flushed, never looking up to meet my hateful gaze. I balled my shaking hand into a tight fist. The thought of launching up from the couch and laying one across his tanned jaw was burning a hole in my head. I imagined everyone frozen in shock. I could hear Luanne screaming at me to stop. Through red eyes, I could see how I gripped his head with a fist full of his hair while my other hand, hardened into a rock, collected blood from repeatedly pounding into his mangled face.
As my imagination ran crazy with this violent attack of rage,
I leapt off the couch and headed for the door. I took deep drags from a much-needed cigarette. Images of his face growing deeper shades of crimson flashed in my mind. I could feel the dark cloud around me Begin to dissipate. Like a rain cloud covering any rational way of thinking, it eventually passed. Rays of light poured over the burning rage allowing me to see clearly.
Where the fuck did that come from? This isn’t me.
Heath didn’t smoke as often as I did. I assumed this because every week he’d have enough cigarettes to last until the next town day. Where mine were all smoked by day five. This obligated me to have to buy individual cigarettes from him. He’d charge fifty-cents per cig, and would bring the price up towards the last days before I could buy my own. This was where all the rage had come from and had sat simmering inside me. I’d get him back, I thought. I just had to wait for the right time. And like a prayer being answered, that day finally came…
One day, I walked in on Heath masturbating in his room, while he was “sick.” The Ranch prohibited this which called for homeless time, but I told no one. That’s not what real men do. Snitches gets stitches, but they were asking for something more than stitches. We don’t rat on each other.
Heath was not a real man, however. He proved this repeatedly, especially when he brought up how he couldn’t find Sandy and I during chore time. This forced us to come clean and admit where we had been—hooking up in her closet. I wanted to kill him. Or, at least get him in trouble for whacking-it while we supposed him to be sick, with an unauthorized Playboy™️ that he had smuggled into the house with his little PCP hands.
Instead, I sat there silent in Group, glaring at him; waiting for his head to explode. In reality, I thought about how I could hurt him. Not physically, though. Being in the best shape I had ever been in my life, I’d destroy him, and have them kick me out. I’d have to end him either mentally or emotionally. I figured I’d have plenty of time to think about it while I was outside for what now became a damn month.
• • • •
“It should’ve been me!!”
My violent tears stream down my face and form salty globs on my eyes, keeping me from being able to see the flame as I attempt to light a cigarette. I don’t need a mirror to see my eyes are bloodshot. I can feel the blood burning against them as it coagulates into these warm clumps of viscidness. I lean back on my weathered couch and smoke until my lungs become a Fourth of July barbecue.
After a few pulls of my third cigarette, I’m calm. I stare at the orange glow of the tip of the cig then glance down at the couch. It looks like a war zone with its burn holes, rips, and puddles from the array of shooting tears. The faded cushion looks identical to several pairs of pants of mine; torn, frayed, and riddled with burn holes from nodding off with a cigarette in my hand. “Holy shit.”
I look up as if it fell from the sky and clocked me in the head. The realization that has me frozen with eyes wide open. While I was being scolded by these shaming thoughts, I didn’t once crave or even think about heroin or using—anything. Sure, I inhaled three cigs in record timing, but that’s a hell of a lot better than having to suffer the excruciating shame from not finding a working vein. Not to mention the physical pain from piercing bruised areas with a dull needle.
One drug at a time.