Thursday, May 17, 2007
“I was up above it.
Now I’m down in it.”
-Nine Inch Nails, “Down In It”
3/29/07 1:37 A.M.
“Take off your shoes.”
“Suicide. The laces. Belt has to come off, too. C’mon.”
I step into the holding room. A small table is bolted to the wall; two chairs are bolted to the floor. The plastic bucket chairs remind me of high school. The obnoxiously bright flourescent lights remind me of office jobs, the buzzing white light washing out my sweaty, drunken complexion.
I was pulled over for speeding. 63 in a 45 at 1:00 in the morning, late last March. I was honest (sort of) in admitting to imbibing, but I claimed two drinks, not the dozen or so I’d actually downed. I wasn’t drunk, (no double vision) but heavily buzzed, and I failed the field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. Point One Four.
I am a big, wet, hairy, wheezing asshole. I am the sort of shithead who selfishly does as he pleases, putting the general driving populace at risk of random death by drunk driver attack. I am deeply ashamed.
I am the lowest of the low. I’ve heard people say they’re in favor of the death penalty for drunk drivers, but not rapists and murderers. Because drunk drivers are worse. That’s extreme, but some people truly believe me to be worse than a pedophile. I disagree. I’m not excusing my behavior by questioning this wild comparison- I know my action was wrong, but I certainly didn’t leave that pub with a premeditated intention to destroy somebody. My crime was one of casual blitheness, not of bloodthirsty hatred or sexual psychosis. If I’m not a good person, I am at least decent.
I’ve been in here for an hour. I have to pee so badly. Will I be fired from my jobs for this? Will I be judged, found unworthy of friendship by my peers, and scorned? Will those who previously loved and respected me now sneer and brush me away, a leper with a contagious rotting disease?
Don’t cry. You’ll get through this, Just keep tapping the table, keep fisting your toes, keep cracking your neck. Stay busy, pass the time, do anything but think about this.
Not gonna work. I’m sweating. My feet itch. My feet… Yes. My feet can help here. I may not have access to my pocket knife, by my fingernails are long. Attack the callouses. Yes. A worthy distraction.
Off come my socks. I smell them. Not bad. (I showered, dressed, and departed home, already beer buzzed, a mere three hours ago.) My feet are clean apart from a few patches of dead skin and some old flattened blisters.
This impromptu pedicure is certainly good, mindless busy work. I’ve been clawing at my soles and toes for over an hour now, and I’m running out of dead flesh. Feeling drunker. Swaying in my chair. Still gotta pee. Bladder screaming. Must peel more.
Hey, I felt that. I’m not supposed to feel the dead parts. Not pain, anyways. And now, red. Strong red blood, welling at a breach on my right pinky toe. Pull off the flap. Whoops. I ripped off a layer too many. Sorry dermis. A shocking little squirt. Fuck it, back to the other foot.
Twenty minutes more have passed, and both my feet are bleeding now, from six different toes. I stop picking and peeling, opting instead to pace across this little white room. Back and forth over and over again, clapping, sighing, farting, humming.
My footprints are all over the holding room, some fresh, some drying, darkening to maroon.
Now I’m scabbing up. Back on go my socks. I lick my fingers clean, taking care to nibble out anything stuck under my fingernails.
“What the fuck happened in here?”
“I’m, uh… I was…”
“Nevermind, just siddown, okay? I gotta read these waivers out loud to you.”
The brash rookie cop who arrested me is eyeing the gore on the floor. He goosesteps around my messier spots, takes the second chair, and threatens me. In summary? If you don’t sign this and take another breathalyzer, you face a mandatory six month driver’s license suspension and at least $2500 in fines.
“Please sign here to indicate you understand what I’ve read you, and sign here to indicate your consent to administer the second breathalyzer.”
I sign, and after one more disgusted glance at the tile floor, the officer leads me to the basement. I exhale, I press my inky fingers, I turn my head for the camera. Booked.
“Everyone's got to face down the demons
We can put the past away
I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend
You could cut ties with all the lies
That you've been living in”
-Third Eye Blind, “Jumper”
5/14/07 5:43 P.M.
Okay, Stevie-boy, recess is over, the party’s cancelled, your grace period is ended. Your case is still unresolved, your expensive lawyer is haggling with the state, seeking loopholes, doing his best. In the meantime, you can’t drive anywhere for a while. Call in all your favors, stretch those patience ropes tight, and prepare for penance.
Yeah, not only do I talk to myself, I write to myself sometimes, too.
By the time my automatic suspension began last Monday, I was depressed. I was broke, I hadn’t hung out with friends for a while, I felt unlovable and useless to everyone, and I was miserable. I doubted my virtues and wallowed in my faults. I stared at the ceiling. I drank alone. Loneliness and loathing and despair. I spent all weekend staring in the mirror. I hated myself.
I walk off my problems. Miles in the heat, clad in thin stringy socks, dirty old sneakers, and a blanket of masochism. This might work again, just like the old days.
On Monday evening, I got dropped off at the intersection of Barrington and Palatine Roads. I walked east, five miles against traffic, sweating and chewing on pine needles. (they taste like floor cleanser, which is wonderful, but like the chemicals, they irritate the throat, necessitating frequent water gulps) There are no sidewalks around there, just dense foliage, so I walked on the street, cars screaming by me at a foot’s distance going 50mph. Let me take you back there.
As I tire out and burn in the sun, I usually slough off any mental baggage and emerge scoured of all my troubles. Today I’ve been going for two miles and I’m still as depressed as I was at the outset. I’m also out of shape, doughy and lethargic from a winter of indulgence. This isn't working right. Fuck! It's all I have left!
I give in to temptation, snake my hand into a cargo pocket low on my pants, and fish out a card full of ephedrine pills. 1, 2,3. Hmm… not enough. 4, 5, 6. That’s more like it. Down the hatch. An hour passes, heel to toe to heel to toe.
Almost home. The trucker speed is jolting me. (six times the recommended dosage, my darlings) Ears ringing. Heavy sweating. Hyperventilating. Heart like a hummingbird. Every breeze feels like a silk loofah. My nerve endings are jumping and buzzing as waves of serotonin euphoria wash up and down them. I can feel every hair shift in its follicle when each lovely breeze strokes me. I’m pounded with orgasmic tide after tide until I reach the corner liquor store. I giggle and pant my way to the beer cooler.
Finally, home. Nice and cool, which actually feels cold to my hyper-sensitive skin. Off come the shoes and socks. My pocket knife is right there on the kitchen table. I haven’t damaged my feet since the arrest. I could slice them up beautifully right now, make a magnificent mess on the carpet, Rorschact fractals leaking from knife carved foot fissures.
I do it. The skin is soft and pliable by way of sweat and toil. The dull dirty blade meets no fight, and reaches right into my foot, opening any holes I desire. Soon I have streams, then puddles, later to be stains. I neglect patching and bandaging, electing instead to let the crimson trickles tickle my tender soles. I get horny. I sigh through the delicious mixture of pleasure and pain.
It dries. Mostly. I rise and trudge to the fridge, careful not to slip.
I crack an Old Style, crank up some acoustic guitar songs, and lay half on the bed, half on the floor, discombobulated, eyes studying the ceiling, like Dad would.
I’m smiling and I feel great, but it’s hard to drink beer while lying on my back. I don’t mind the sudsy splashes that miss my mouth and land at the nape of my neck, mingling with my salty sweat, staining my shirt.
I am flying so high right now. I’m in the clouds. I’m okay now. Everything will be fine. I’m okay.
“I'm a wheel
Turn on you
I'm gonna turn on you, turn on you
Turn on turn on you, turn on you”
-Wilco, “I’m A Wheel” 3:09 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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Cold Fuzz Getaway
“Are you coming or not, Steve? I’m not gonna fuck this girl for you! I already got Sky.”
”Billy, listen. I appreciate this and all, I just don’t think-"
I’ve been hanging out with Billy for a couple weeks. He’s my new local drinking buddy. He complains about his girlfriend, I complain about my lack of one, and we both direct snide comments at drunk rich kids, trying to get a rise out of ‘em. Sharing mutual hatred is always a good basis for friendship.
On this early April night, the clock has struck three. I’ve just escaped my night job at the bar and grill. I smell like buffalo sauce, my forehead is shiny with grease, and my asscrack feels moist with sweat. What better time to make a first impression?
I arrive and try to beeline for the bathroom, desperate to scrub my face and wipe dry my nethers. Before I can reach the commode, Billy sees me, launches from his table, violently snags my collar, and drags me to his table.
“Sit. Steve, this is Kareen. Kareen, Steve. Go ahead and make out.”
I stare across the table. “Hi. Um. Nice to meet you?”
Billy and his girlfriend, Skylar, are giggling and making gestures suggestive of sucking and fucking. I try to block these out. My dignity is hanging by a frayed thread.
Kareen is eyeing me from across the table. I try to determine if she’s attracted to me. After a few moments, I realize she’s so drunk she can’t focus. Her eyes are clouded over, her mouth is hanging open, and drool is welling at the corners of her mouth. She’s swaying left and right. Yikes. So that’s what Billy meant by green.
“So… Kareen? Was there a mistake on your birth certificate, or were your parents creative free spirit types aiming for originality?”
One minute into our meeting and I’ve already insulted her and her parents. Very suave. Billy slaps me.
“Outside. Cigarette. Now.”
“Dude, I know it’s been a while since you’ve seen any action. I’m trying to do something nice for you. I’m trying to help a brotha out. Play nice, kay?”
“Billy. She’s very cute. Hot in fact. But she left her brain in the bottom of a martini glass. She’s fuckin wasted, she’s not home, out to lunch, completely shitfaced. Do you think she can stand up? I don’t. Gravity is her enemy right now. Even if I wanted a piece of her, and was predatory enough to try, which I’m not, she’s likely to puke in my mouth. Or on my dick. No way, man. I appreciate the gesture and all…”
“You’re weak. Fine. You can’t say I didn’t try. Fuck it, let’s drink.”
One hour, three whiskeys, two carbombs, and one pitcher of cheap beer later, last call is announced. Time to go home. It’s four in the morning and I must rise at eight. Time to pack it in.
Billy, Skylar, and I walk out the front door.
Skylar goes to find her, and three minutes later, leads her out front. Kareen falls over, taking Sky down to the concrete with her. Kareen starts crying.
Two guys rush over and try to help the girls up, knocking Billy and I out of the way. One of them, a pale blond asshole, tells us he knew Kareen in high school. Now he’s trying to pick up Kareen in more ways than one.
When he coos “Kareen, baby, it’s okay, I got you, come with me, I’ll take care of you” Billy looks over at me, his eyes hardening. I guess it’s okay if one of his friends takes advantage of this girl, but not okay if a stranger tries it. Billy is drunk and becoming angry with the scene before him. Meanwhile, Kareen is clutching the ground, refusing to get up for anyone.
“Sky, get her out of here.”
Sky manages to peel Kareen up and drags her off down the sidewalk towards her nearby condo.
Blondie boy is pissed.
“What’s your fucking problem? Cockblocking assfuck.”
Blondie shoves Billy. His squat, hairy friend stands beside him, scowling, clenching and reclenching his fists, obviously spoiling for violence. Billy, unprepared for the push, falls backwards to the cold hard ground.
The pussy vultures pounce upon Billy. Upon tearing them off and standing Billy up, I engage my voice of sensible reason, complete with gentle velvet soothing action. The seething fury wilts before the calming hypnotic power of my diplomacy.
(This was a month ago, but I recall using a two-pronged attack- 1. Hey, we’re in this together, let’s not fight! Total nonsense, but fine for using on drunkards. 2. She’s not worth this man, trust me, one word: teeth. You don’t wants scrapes and divots, do you? Hell, in her state tonight she might bite you clean off.)
Billy and I saunter away, leaving the two shitheads confused and unsure where to direct their simmering testosterone. I would later learn they found a new target.
We're halfway to Sky’s condo before we decide acquiring more beer is paramount.
My house keys are in my car, back at the bar. There's more beer at my house. So we run back to the bar. I grab my keys from the car and we begin our sprint back whence we came, desperate to scoop the beer from my home then zip back and slam Sky's doorbell before she conks out and leaves us abandoned outdoors.
A bright light blinds me and a voice rings out:
“Halt! Stop! Hands in the air!”
“I was just getting my keys, I’m not driving anywhere!”
(I got a DUI the week before, my first and last. Until then, I’d suffered no police action in ten years. Now I was about to be arrested for the second time in a week.)
I reach for my keys. I wish to dangle them before the officer. He pulls his gun, trains it upon me, and screams.
“I SAID HANDS IN THE AIR ASSHOLE DON’T MOVE!”
Holy shit. What is this? My hands give the gospel truth and reach for the heavens.
“WHY WERE YOU RUNNING? WHERE’S THE KNIFE?”
At this point, I brace myself for a nasty tackle. That cop is coming up fast, and he’s not slowing down, nor is that raging pitbull expression distorting his features softening up.
From the periphery, a voice:
“Officer! Over here! I’m the one who called! That’s not him, that’s not the guy who attacked us. That guy actually got attacked by the same guys who attacked me, just a minute before!”
Finally, the cop slows down, holsters his cannon, and sternly commands me.
“You stay fucking put. I got questions for you.”
I watch a scene straight from the COPS TV show. The frantic cop caller is pointing at a black car pulling out of the bar lot. The cursing cop mutters into his walkie and three nearby squad cars block the bar lot exit, surround the black muscle car, and haul guys out through the open windows, ignoring the civilized option of the opening the doors first. The mob of cops grabass the suspects, trying to find their grail, the evidence, that knife.A knife that stayed pocketed during my brief encounter with the fuckheads. Lucky Billy, lucky me. Blondie stabbed someone else instead. After we left. Hah hah.
The cops are busy. None are paying me any mind. I’m thirsty. Billy says “let’s go.” We turn around and walk. We get our beer from my joint, head for Sky’s condo, and finally, relax on a luxurious couch sipping Bud Select while Sky and Kareen take turns puking into the toilet.4:22 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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