Situation Normal. Atmosphere Breathable. Brainstem Injected. Dialogue Engaged.
Thursday, May 17, 2007


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“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.

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“Everyone's got to face down the demons
Maybe today
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
I will
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


May 17, 2007 5:27 PM, Blogger Bobby said...

One time when I was younger I sat there and shot myself a bunch of times with a BB gun. In the calf. I gave it more and more pumps with each shot. So now I have these BB shot scars - one successively darker than the other and so on.

May 17, 2007 9:21 PM, Anonymous Trelvix said...

I feel like I made that walk with you - very nicely done.

I loved the focus on the foot. My thoughts today - considerably less therapeutic I should add - were on my own feet and problematic toes. Our feet may have been separated at birth but I hope not for your sake.

Good quote to start it all rolling - Trent Reznor's birthday today so very timely.

You've got a good thing going with the words and such. Keep that tree falling the way it leans.

May 18, 2007 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A big mixture of concern and worry and the willies about that foot stuff. What's going on???

May 22, 2007 8:40 AM, Anonymous daniel said...

powerful writing steve! i can never tell what is fact, or what is fiction, or indeed both on the site - but I appreciate your craft! ;)

May 22, 2007 12:49 PM, Blogger Josh said...

I have just in the past month began to read various blogs. I have read some very good stories, and some very interesting things. I stumbled upon yours earlier today at work, listening to some nostalgic music that took me back some time, and read a few of your posts. I really enjoyed it. I was reading one from a little earlier, and I began to choke-up - like when I listen to earlier Modest Mouse and it takes me back several years. I like that you mention substance abuse also, I'm mostly clean now, however, it gets me choked up and nostalgic just about as much as any of my old records. You have a gift, I think.

May 23, 2007 3:58 AM, Blogger if_i_had_a_hammer said...

Damn, man. I know what you mean about the walking. I go back and forth to work every day and sometimes more. Now that the weather's nice, I might even hit the park again. Even though I'm getting that car, I'm not going to let it stop me from walking. Batting cages always work too.

May 30, 2007 10:07 PM, Blogger Stinkbait Boucher said...

No pressure but am hurting for your next post. Seriously - no pressure but, well, need.

May 31, 2007 9:50 AM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

I've been horribly sick for a week now. I want to write about the psych evaluation forced upon me by the court, but it may become surreal, non-linear nonsense. I need to wait for my brain to stop boiling first. Soon. I promise. By Wednesday.

June 07, 2007 11:19 AM, Blogger Chicken said...

You never gave us an update. I hope that everything is okay.

June 07, 2007 11:59 AM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

Still very sick. Incapacitated.

June 08, 2007 1:37 AM, Blogger Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm said...

I just got home from the hospital. I have infectuous mononucleosis.

June 08, 2007 10:51 AM, Blogger Chicken said...

Oh no! I hope you feel better. Be sure to take care of yourself.


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