An Off day (fiction/short story)

Charles had been having a not very so good day at the office. Likely due to lack of sleep and a quarrel with his Fiance the night before, his head space was in a state of slightly agitated chaos.

He had been with this firm long enough that he had a little unspoken wiggle room when it came to the rules so he left for break a little early. About twenty-three minutes to be precise.

Instead of heading toward his car for a brisk hoon over to his normal lunch spot, he instead set his gaze on a bench, kitty corner to the office entrance. He sluggishly proceeded until the bench greeted him.

He took a seat and watched as the oncoming traffic whirled in both directions. Before long he was almost in a state of entrancement. It felt so soothing to watch the cars go by, it felt very dynamic unlike his current state of existence.

He thought about how the cars all moved so fast that no single vehicle stayed in his field of vision for more than a brief moment, that every given second was an entirely new display. He would focus in on one car and watch it until it left a field of vision and than picked another one.

He also thought about how life for the majority of us was the opposite. How we hold onto things because they give us some sort of comfort; the comfort of an identity, of knowing what and who one is. We wake up and put on the same act every day. With our favorite sports teams, our favorite music genres, favorite movies, political and religious affiliations, our family, our social circles our professions, our hobbies, etc.

Its as if when presented with freedom, we gravitate towards a voluntary-sort of imprisonment. But of course it’s all the difference when it’s an imprisonment that we may at least take pride in, as the chains are of our own design and all of what the chains may be bound too is likewise ours to decide.

This thought was interrupted by a squirrel that ran into his field of vision. Oddly it didn’t seem scared to be staring eye to eye with a being multitudes larger in size. Carl found this a little peculiar.

Not nearly as peculiar however as when it looked up at him and began to speak. It said  “Why are you here?”

Carl looked baffled slightly slipping on his words with a dumbfounded look plastered across his face he replied: “Well I don’t know, because of god, or because my parents reproduced or something, can I ask why and how your talking to me?”

The squirrel responded in a voice that was now a little irritated and slightly pressured.
“Did I say it was your turn to ask questions? Never mind that, no I didn’t mean like existentially, I mean why are you sitting on my bench this is where I come every day after I get done stashing my acorns and other loot.”

“Oh my apologies I didn’t mean to intrude, ill get going now.” Carl said as he stood up and began walking towards his car. He questioned weather it was a dream but it felt extremely real and lucid, furthermore he never woke up having dozed off on the bench as he expected, as far as he can surmise he was awake. Furthermore he wondered what kind of loot a squirrel might be storing besides acorns.

He went too his car and contemplated getting something to eat thinking maybe some food would level him out. He did, and went back to the office and worked straight through the break. He drew the conclusion that his mind was playing tricks on him and wrote it off as some sort of daydream and never brought it up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The roof is ablaze.

The sound of sirens come rushing through your peripherals like long extended gunshots with the tone color of a shot-clock buzzer. A quick gust of hard wind smacks your body like a tree branch as a monstrous life-saving steel death trap plows by you en route.

A quick change of gaze to the leftward bow of your visionary plain reveals a four story red-brick building, burning like a mother*#$@er. The roof is already halfway disintegrated, people are pouring out the doors and windows like syrup through a pasta strainer. The whole thing is a mess! 

You and your companion keep walking until you reach the street corner, there you park it and 180 your view for a more lengthy observation and a cigarette.  “Glad I don’t live here.” your comrade mentions half to himself; you nod in agreement.

The firefighters are giving their best frenzied effort to douse the bright blistering chaos, but it seems they are up against quite an a opponent. Meanwhile a role call was being done. We walked over and inquired about how it went, and were quite relieved to hear nobody had been hurt.

After walking away you look back with a devilish grin and exclaim with an ere of childlike excitement that sounded almost manic “Well if their all out we might as well let her burn to the ground. #*!% that building! why do we need it anyways? can’t we just send them too a commune or a gulag or something? Better yet, Let them eat cake!”

We couldn’t help but laugh at our spitefully crude humor. The way we saw it, laughter was a medicine, no matter how you procure it; as long as it isn’t intentionally at someone else’s expense, no harm done.

By the time the firefighters had finished putting out the fire, the building was little more than a foundation, a few support beams, and a couple of the first story walls. Nobody seemed to be able to pick out the cause of the fire.

That is until later that evening, when a bunch of empty cans of gasoline were discovered in the woods nearby. This baffled the inhabitants of the building and many of the town itself.

Shortly after, police arrived at the homes of you and your comrade, after a few questions you were acquainted with a stylish pair of matching silver bracelets.

You see your comrade at the station who’s already ratted you out, you try to duke it out in the station, but when handcuffed and interrupted by four officers trying to get you to chill the $#!@ out; not much progress is made.

Ironically, It was only the comrade who had participated, you were actually clueless until now, however he had somehow woven a way too include you into the story for only god knows what reason.

Despite your innocence you both spend 5 years in prison for arson and destruction of public property. Maybe you shouldn’t have burnt that building down scumbag, you ever think of that one?

The morals of the story are

  1. Don’t burn down buildings, there are much better ways too change the world!
  2. Always have an alibi, even when your doing nothing wrong.
  3. If you are gonna do something stupid, make sure you destroy the evidence unlike this fool.
  4. Don’t hang around crime scenes; even if your innocent, because you never know who isn’t.

 

This is it.

Take careful notice of the fifth diamond.

Ignore the rampant bustle which beats like a drum.

Should you leave, forget where you came from.

Rise, proceed.

Where thence were we off to?

To supply an answer would only serve to dull the fun.

Still they’d tread ever so slightly behind.

Our ironically innocent anti-hero. Whom many would fail to mark as evil in the public eye.

Was indeed anti-heroic. Their acts of heroism and selflessness were not uncommon.

Yet perpetually plagued by flaws of character. The type Only a misfit or a nihilist would idealize. For now.

His thought process, especially in terms of ethical evaluations was quite unique.

He had an almost backwards ability of self justification. He always had for every positive moral decision he made, a selfish backup reason.

Almost as if lacking desire to admit he was doing the right thing just too do it.

If everyone believes their own effort to do the right thing, who really is?

How is the right thing any better than the left thing?

Pause.

I felt that.

Felt what?

That.

How?

No clue. Semi-clue. Artifact.

Noises continually find their way to my perception.

The vision of one is anothers radar.

Pause.

Don’t auto pilot your poisons.

Perhaps I ought not dictate after being so hostile toward the bottle.

I don’t even..

You wake up only to realize you are still asleep.

Dreaming still, you rise. Sleep walking within a dream, you get up but eventually only go back to sleep, only to wake up. At this point unsure if you are awake or if you have woken up in another dream.

You could have swore you were awake; until the room the around you dissipates into nothing. It fades slowly leaving a defined geometric wire grid over an empty silhouette which is neither black nor white nor gray.  You look down to realize you have also vanished. Unsure of how you are able to see any of this, you wait patiently, unable to feel any sense of amazement or overwhelm.

The wire grid now dissipates and you forget you are looking at anything. You forget that you are anything, because you aren’t and you slowly stop existing. You would think that you died if you could comprehend what that meant at this point.

A sound can be heard, emanating from seemingly no direction nor source. The nature of which is impossible to describe. Your not even sure whether you heard it or merely thought it. Your not sure if your able to think. You feel a sense of understanding but no words arise from anywhere.

In a flash of neon colored light which cannot be described as being any distinct color or combination of which, you find yourself back in bed. Still asleep, unable to move. Looking over yourself like the camera in a third person video game. You watch yourself begin to wake, as you do the world begins dissolving and your perspective is reoriented to the first person.

You puke, drink some water, brush your teeth and crawl back into bed. Your almost entirely convinced your about to die, when you wake up on your friends couch. The room you were in previously you now realize was a place you have no memory of ever being in real life. Not bothering to explain anything you get up and leave without saying a word.

Das Ende.

 

 

The most Lit phone call that probably never happened.

It was about 4 in the morning. Nothing was out of the ordinary besides myself. After smoking my 7th off brand cigarette in a row, I made the critical decision to light an eighth one. I would probably be worried about cancer if I were a real person.

By now it was about 4:05 and I heard a phone ringing. Now normally this wouldn’t be too weird, except that I did not own a phone. I looked around for the source of the ringing only to discover a payphone had sprouted out of my basement floor. It was at that same moment I recognized the phones ringtone: It had been set too the tune of Rappers Delight by the Sugar hill gang.

“Well that’s nifty” I thought. Doing my best not to get caught up in the songs rhythm, yet very clearly struggling; I walked over and picked up the phone,. I was presented with a dial tone that informed me I was being called collect.  I was than prompted to insert two quarters, a cigarette, and half a quart of motor oil, In order to receive this call.

Having just spent every last cent I had on bottom shelf whiskey, I knew exactly what must be done. Sprinting full force to the gas station across the street I quickly acquired two quarters from the take a penny thing (without buying anything of course.)

Many nasty looks were given. No cares however could be found. I ran back into my abode to insert the two quarters before the phone stopped ringing. After that I inserted the motor oil followed by the cigerette, which was spit back out at me with a note: I only smoke Menthol’s.

I contemplated returning to the store but I really didn’t want to waste $10 on a pack of Newport Greens. I ran to my bathroom, and soaked a cigarette in mint flavored mouth wash before drying it with a hair dryer. I was quite confident this would fool the machine. I returned and reinserted, hoping for the results like a hopeless gambler watching the contents of his welfare check being eaten up by a shiny red slot machine at some shady casino.

It spit the cigarette out. “Well shit it must be one smart payphone.” I began to think too myself. My assumption was wrong, however because the note this time read “Break the filter off and light it you fool!” I did as instructed and proceeded to pick up the phone.

Apparently it was god. Which sorry to tell all you Christians out there, but the voice on the phone was a female. Apparently I was elected to become our generations Devil. I asked why? I was not particularly evil. This was when she explained to me that the devil wasn’t actually evil. But more like the actor who plays the villain in a movie. Except that unlike most movies the true distinction of who’s right and who’s wrong isn’t so clear.

He explained to me that the counter culture needs prophets too, and that I was in line for the lineage. Unconvinced I wanted to see some proof that I was talking too god and not an Imposter. The voice informed me it could be verified. When I asked how: the phone booth dissipated, sinking into the ground. I suppose that was all the proof I needed.

If there is anything I took from this meta-fictional experience it’s

  1. God smokes menthols.
    and
  2. I need to lay off the drugs.

When Drugs Stole my World (And How I Got it Back)

Quick disclaimer that this isn’t the main writer on TGN; I hope to share more insights in the future.

It’s been a long time, almost a year and a half. I forget a lot of things that happened, a lot about how I felt at the time, a lot of the wisdom I was giving to others at the outpatient. But I still have a story to tell. To show that what I did is possible; to show that with enough struggle, hard work, and trial and error, sobriety is achievable.

Without going into too much detail about how I got there, like most I started with pills and never thought I’d end up using heroin. They’re safer, right? You know what’s in them and how much, and doctors give them to people on prescription. (At least back then, this was somewhat true; I’ve heard most “oxys” going around nowadays have random amounts of fentanyl.)

This is not to mention that at the same time, I had serious problems with cocaine, and to a lesser extent Xanax. The combination produced a level of sheer pleasure that’s impossible to describe. But all of these habits needed to be tended to and paid for, consistently and without delay. That’s always the biggest problem isn’t it?

Unlike many others, I fully understood what kind of fire I was playing with — I had prior experience with all sorts of drugs, and had known both addicts and recovered addicts who told me their stories, but it never got quite so out of control. This time was different. I had just tried to kill myself and figured that going off into the “land of nod” might be an easier, more fruitful alternative.

But of course, pills are expensive, and they’re meant to be taken in small amounts for pain management. Me, I would do a month’s prescription in as little as two days. And, obviously, the dependency set in soon enough, and I needed bigger and bigger doses, more and more frequently. So once I had bought every last pill the dealers in my neighborhood could find, and all the other sources had me waiting for the next month’s prescription, it was a no-brainer what would come next: heroin. I needed something, anything.

Once you try heroin, in my opinion at least, there’s no going back to pills. Why would you spend ten times as much money for basically the same thing? Heroin is cheap and it’s available everywhere. I’d be scrambling all around the city looking for oxys, but dope was just a five minute walk. And if that dope man wasn’t around, the next one was only five minutes from there.

I never got as bad into it as some others. I was limited by what I could afford, so a decent bundle would have to last two days. And, as I mentioned before, every two days I was also going through an 8-ball of coke and 16-32mg of Xanax. I never really got into stealing to support the habit, with the exception of ripping people off on drug deals and disappearing with the cash. I did spend every dime I could find on it, though, and went deep into debt.

By the time I overdosed, I was sure I would put an end to it. I weened myself off a bit, going down to a bag or two a day, then got a ton of Xanax and hunkered down for the withdrawal. It was awful, but I hadn’t been in the game for too long, so it wasn’t as bad as it was when I quit for real. But this wasn’t lasting.

Instead of seeing the risk and avoiding opiates, I was emboldened by this whole situation: I felt as if I’d demonstrated that I can handle opiates, that I was able to cut it out when I decided it was time. So when I was offered oxys, I’d buy them. I had no intention of staying sober. I just wasn’t actively seeking dope.

Then one day, I got offered dope. It was pretty funny, actually. I ran into my man walking down the block, he said “yo, I got that food,” and that was that. Quickly I went back to the same old habit — bundle and 8-ball every two days or so, though with less Xanax involved. The debt I had paid up started to rack up again, and at this point all my bridges started to burn.

Eventually, it got to the point where the drugs weren’t working anymore. The whole point was to stop me from killing myself, but I had fucked up so bad that I realized I now actually wanted to kill myself more as a result of what the drugs did to me. On top of that, I was isolated, and felt everyone looked down on me. I was doing poorly at work and constantly in debt, doing crackhead shit and asking people for money to pay for the necessities that came after dope on my list of priorities.

Most people at this point just treated me like shit. People were always trying to mess with me, trick me, rip me off. Always being subtlety disrespectful and condescending. My family was constantly upset and treated me with great suspicion. A couple close friends begged me, crying, telling me to stop, talking about how much they worried about me, including one of the authors from TGN (before TGN existed). This had an effect, but it also made me sad, and sadness led to suicidal thoughts, and suicidal thoughts lead to escapism, and escapism lead to more dope.

Eventually, though, I realized I had to cut it out. I couldn’t afford my habits anymore and my family had learned all about them. I struggled for a couple weeks, arguing with myself and trying to use less without plunging into the hell of dope sickness. But at this point, it didn’t feel like much of a choice — I had to change. I was thousands of dollars in debt and on the verge of suicide again.

So, I started by cutting out the coke. After doing coke every waking hour of the day for weeks, if not months without a break, the crash can be pretty fucking brutal. In the past I had even experienced very serious signs of cardiovascular issues during these crashes. But I still had my dope, so it was actually manageable.

Then the dope came next. The promise of the sickness was terrifying. After a day, it was obvious that I couldn’t handle it. So I borrowed some money and got some kratom, knowing it would help. I started taking absolutely massive doses, but they took the withdrawal away about 90%. It was a lifesaver. But it also became another habit, albeit not a destructive or fiendish one, which I’m still ever-so-slowly tapering myself off of. In some ways, I attribute my being alive today to kratom. At the same time, part of me wishes I had been able to stop using it right after I was over the withdrawal, instead of using it as a long-term maintenance therapy. But that seemed like it would lead to me killing myself, and it might have, so I’ll take whatever works. I got clean, and I’m not dependent on conventional maintenance treatments like Suboxone or methadone (actual opioids which are far stronger and harder to quit than kratom).

That’s not to say there weren’t setbacks. A day or two after I stopped using dope, I lost my job as a result of the poor work I had been doing the last few months I was on it. I still had to pay my living expenses and pay off the colossal debt, so on top of that I had to turn to my parents for financial assistance. At this point I was completely destroyed and felt like I couldn’t get any lower. All pride, ego, narcissism, even basic dignity to an extent, destroyed and gone with the wind, never to recover.

A week later I finally got off the Xanax. That was more of an intermittent thing, though, and I hadn’t done too bad with the last round of it, so a quick self-taper was all I needed. I had been through far worse Xanax withdrawal before, so this wasn’t a big deal. I don’t even remember what it felt like coming off of them that time (well, in fact, I don’t remember much about my Xanax usage at all) but it was nothing compared to the dope sickness. Nothing could ever compare to that. (That’s not to say Xanax isn’t fucking nasty!)

Almost a month into sobriety, I was still experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms. Lethargy, low appetite, muscle pain. I couldn’t walk even 10 minutes down the street without simultaneously feeling like my leg muscles were tearing and like I was going to faint. The cravings for both coke and dope were absurd, causing muscle spasms and making me writhe in pain and scream at the top of my lungs for no apparent reason. On top of that, mentally, I hadn’t really gotten anywhere. The addict mind state is hard to break out of. This all combined with encouragement from friends and family led me into an outpatient.

Outpatient was a useful experience. Find a good place where you’re not going to find many junkies who are just in there because of a court order, and where the counselors are decent and actually care to understand you. Pay attention to what they teach and engage the others there who have some sober time and can give you good insight. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share. It’s my belief that this is what truly leads to recovery — you can stop doing drugs without it, but a good support program will get you out of the mental state of addiction, and that’s the most important thing. That’s what will prevent you from relapsing and enable you to move on with your life.

It took about a year of sobriety for my life to actually get better. And frankly, if you’d ask me most days, it still fucking sucks. But if I think about how much it sucked two years ago, I shudder. It feels like it’s behind me now, and I no longer have the same frame of reference. At this point, I couldn’t see myself ever relapsing, so long as I stay vigilant. Staying vigilant is key; you just have to keep yourself far removed from drugs and drug users and be aware of the fact that addiction is a lifelong disease that, in the wrong circumstances, you can fall back into again.

I used to use all those drugs to stop thinking about suicide. Now I’d rather just think about suicide than go through all the bullshit the drugs put me through. Most of the time, honestly, I would rather just kill myself if I was going to relapse, ironic since it used to be the other way around.

So, what’s the point at the end of this long-winded, rambling story? That if you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction, sobriety is absolutely within reach. All it takes is a radical shift in perspective. An understanding of the reasons why you use drugs, which then leads to the understanding that drugs actually make all of these problems worse. Most (some would say all) of us have to learn this the hard way. But if this story can be of any sort of assistance to even one person, that’s enough of God’s blessing for today.