by Brian Grant
Tommo pulls the mirror from the wall, gazes into it with slight sadness I think, and throws out from his pocket a fat gloss rectangular wrap. He says
Look at this shit
He unfolds the paper to reveal a white rock half the size of my baby finger. He breaks off a third and sits it on the mirror.
Three grams, he says, Pure as the driven snow Let's do some now
He chops away at the white rock, splitting every split in two, reducing it to dust. Taptap with the card, it carries his photo in digitized monochrome. The white seems to expand with cutting, covering the glass in ridges, like the result of wavemotion. Tommo taps, thinning the fragments horizontally then vertically, finer and finer still. The base softens and spreads, looking like a brief blizzard, until finally Tommo is satisfied.
Tommo divides the powder into six, three of the lines exceeding the others. He pulls a fiver from his top pocket and tubes it. He snorts his line, half in each nostril. Jimmy takes the mirror, Tommo indicating which line is his with the eye of the rolled nun. Sniff.
A bit rough, says Jimmy
Sniff. Caroline tips hers into her tea. Becky and McFlynn do theirs up the nose. The mirror stops at me. Tommo passes me his card and says
Scrape all that together
pointing at the remnants of six lines arranged on the mirror. I do as he says. It's more speed than I thought. I've only snorted once before and I hate it. I take the note and roll it again, thin and tight, then stick it to the end of the line. It is four inches in length. I sniff hard. The speed hits my nostrilflesh with a sting, and I keep sniffing, moving along the line as it disappears. My nose hurts madly, and I have to raise my head and exhale.
Christ, says Jimmy, Christ but the line has you beat
They roar. I bend my head again, do better this time, nearly finish the line until the soft pink nasal flesh is hammered with impact. The sting reaches a peak and recedes to a dull pain. But it is worth it almost immediately, as a kindly energy quickens my pulse and soothes me.
It's rough, says Becky
You could've chopped it up finer Tommo, says Caroline
Do you ever stop complaining?
This is a gorgeous sensation. I have alertness, enough to see and enjoy everything that surrounds me, enough to enjoy fully all that I consume. We chat about what we'd least like to eat. The smokes are being rolled with greater intensity, as if no amount of the drug could sate us. The drink is beautiful too, I feel every sip and mouthful, and the mood is lighter. It is as if the energy that is forever lacking in this house has suddenly been restored; a rearrangement of furniture or the clearing of seven holes. Zippiness in my thirtythree spinebones.
I think I believe in every drug, and I feel like I know them closely. There is plenty for me in what I have tried, and I reach the happy conclusion that I should only move on when the possibilities of what I have experienced have been exhausted. My next thought is that this will make me tedious and unwelcome to change. Then I am convinced of the deep sadness of drugtaking. Then I am sure that this sadness has the sweetest taste. Everything is possible. I only despair that my memory is not the equal of my dreaminess.
There is a coolness here that I greatly admire. Sometimes all is sharp and torrid, sometimes everything is quiet, but mostly I feel that this is a place where we are welcome and useful.
I can identify what is fundamental in my life and it is the abstract, awe. I lament my lost innocence, yet I can be defiled and still in awe of what amazes me. I have convinced myself that I exist only in the present, my awareness of the here-and-now is faultless, I care only for the real. I have no feeling of anticipation or of satisfaction; mere delight during the event is my sole sense. And yet it is not a delight of participation and immersion, more one of study, notation and decision: taking good care of myself.
I could grow up forever if it gets no better than this.
I will never be sure of emotions: since almost all I feel is a labelled approximation, I cannot say for sure that I have been angry or critical or depressed. There is such a varied play of demeanour and thought and effect and reaction in every emotion, and I long to simplify it all. I have been told that no feelings exist but fear and love; and that fear is love's strict opposite. I cannot argue with this, but I am sure that it will hold for desire and reluctance, anticipation and nostalgia, real and unreal... so that any emotion can be considered as a combination of two opposite emotions. We talk all the time of how confused and complicated it all is, and I feel like a charlatan for demanding simplicity. But any philosophy is the mere waste left by experience: residue of the real: and if I base my life on my recollections, then all is flawed according to the inconsistency of memory.
We are encouraged into machination. Our most powerful machines are those of greatest memory and greatest speed. To succeed, therefore, is to effectively collate and distribute what is learned. Treat others as you would have them treat you / memorise all about them and act quickly-kindly on the memory. I am shocked to think that this holds for love.
Becky, I say, c'mere a minute
I take her hand and lead her to Caroline's bedroom.
What is it? she says
Because my realest compulsions are rarely manifested, I feel that I must now act impulsively. Consideration rarely exceeds instinct. Ever kissed a corpse?
Joseph, she says, Is there something wrong?
No, I say as I clasp her hand
What mix of love and fear is this? I know she makes me unhappy and I think of her as a child. There is madness in this devotion - I feel like one come to aid her - everything is concerned with duty. If I ever leave her, what will befall her? I salve her life from the miseries all around it. Remove me and remove her salvation.
Are you glad you came down?, she says
We have known each other a year. When we first met we had brief liaisons. Some months later she rang me, we got on well and began to write to one another. We would write about ourselves mostly, peppering the melodramas with snippets of writings, and would have a very occasional phone call. But we hated to talk on the phone, it was so uncomfortable, and expressionless beside the exchange of letters. We wrote more and more, usually two or three letters a week, dealing with greater themes. By summertime's end I was spending maybe two hours a day writing to Becky, she the same to me, and I loved it. I thought it the turningpoint after years of dejection and nonsense. It was then that she told me how she wanted to see me, how she wanted to be with me, and how the struggles of her lovelife should end with me. It took me some time to agree, but I did. It was impossible to get to see her, though, for my schooling forbade any such excursion. It took me until now to have a suitable weekend free and a decent alibi and enough saved money to make the journey.
Last night we sat around that sitting room and did not speak. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair, wishing I had never come here. McFlynn was on a mad one but I did not care to stop him, save his face. Becky sat there, giving nervous giggles sometimes, and we'd make forced attempts to speak. But there were nothing to talk about, no experiences or even conversations to recall, just those dozens and hundreds of desperate letters tainted with a sadness almost shameful, and nothing we wanted to discuss. We sat staring, a laughable vacancy; everything I muttered I regretted. And then, when it was late, she took my hand and let me outside and said
What's wrong? What's wrong with us?
I told her I was nervous, overcome, my speech failing me. I told her I was a solitary animal and did not often speak. I said that the house distressed me, made me fidget.
It's me, she said, Isn't it? It's me
No, I said, It's both of us
Why don't you come down to my house later on?, she said, We'll be alone Spend the night with me
But your mother
She won't come back, she said, You won't be here long and we should make the most of it
Okay, I said
And then we became conspirators and made good plans. She left with a goodbye.
I had time to think in the inbetween. I berated myself for not kissing her, made myself mad with recollections of failed attempts at talk, and wondered if I had made huge mistakes. And I saw McFlynn, who had done enough to truly feel uncomfortable. I saw how he shrugged it all off and joked with the men and took Caroline to her bed.
Jimmy said nothing to me, just remarked on the silences and the mawkish assays of our coupling.
I walked out last night, down the street to her house. She opened the door for me and took me to her bedroom.
I've been thinking, she whispered, I'm glad you're here I know it's difficult
I'm sorry I'm just really nervous
It'll be alright, she said
Yeah, I said, We'll be okay
She drew her quilt over me and held me closer to her, and we slept chastely, her hand on my breast. I loved the warmth and the scent of sleep and her quiet breaths in my ear. And in the morning, when she asked me if I liked her, I knew that I did, and despite my timidity, that I would:
Ask me with your eyes to ask again Yes
Dressed in your tiny childish dress
Now, in Caroline's bedroom, she holds both my hands and says
Are you happy?
Do we lie when we speak without being sure? If so, then I should never express an emotion. If not, then lies must be more than mere untruths; intentions to deceive. But surely deception is often noble and not born of shame or self-interest.
Yes, I say, Everything is good
Becky has told me of her reluctance to trust, and I must be careful not to lie to her. In the turmoil of my thoughts of her, in this morass of pure love and real hate, there is one constant. I know I want to be with her forever. We are frivolous and childlike, unworldly and lacking in sense, but we cling to each other. I trust her with everything, but she trusts no-one at all. I am determined to have her trust. I cough my phlegm and blurt out
I love you
She visibly recoils at the utterance. A murmur: disbelief: craze of battling thoughtforms. Let me out. Her eyes, a Spaniard's eyes, shot with blood and dilated with drug: these are all I see. And the silence, tranquil symbol, symbol of fury, tends to infinity as I wait and wait. I smile a pleading smile. Her grip loosens on my hands, she moves closer, and she wraps her body in my body, kissing my neck and face. I am awed, tighten the embrace.
I love you, she says, I love you
I am sure of my place in time and space
We share a single cell
In my diaries, I sometimes have entries which describe in reverse order all my actions of the day. I love to recollect, when I am tired, everything that has fatigued me. Sarcolactic acid makes slow flow, seeps into muscles, softly bringing sleep. I am often obsessed with achievement.
Only the real will ever matter to me. Those who care little for the past are condemned to care only for instinct. I cannot decide if it is lies that make me hate the past, or if it is my past that causes me to lie. I tell so many stories, and the lies I add and the truth I remove are bound to become the reality. For though we all are liars, we would hate to be known as such. There are many who prize honesty greatest.
Pissing, I am shocked by the diminution of my cock. I piss for minutes, colourless. The sluice of foul saltwater flows in constant parabola with constant force, accelerated by gravity. Some splashysounds and porcelain pings, some drips and I am ready.
I wash hands. Some intangible quality, exceeding coolness and cleanliness, is apparent in the water. I calm my hot eyes, splash forehead, am cooled in rivulets and icy swashes. Compulsively I clean, obsessively washing, cleansing with gluttony. Hands soak in the full sink.
The sitting room, hub, is empty, but there is a fire. Turfsmells and clinging cigarette smoke. Hot coals and smoulderwood tumble, soft crashing and sparking. I could gaze at it for hours, marvelling at the gradual combustion and comforted by the convection.
My demeanour is good. I try to isolate the set of events that made this happen. Lightcones and possible histories. With knowledge enough the future can be predicted. A determined fate.
I sit on the seat next the fire and start to build a smoke. This will calm my fidgeting. I notice for the first time the yellow of my fingers, jaundiced by cheap rollups. My hand is calloused too: there are thick pads of hard skin between the fingers: result of nervous habit. Now I examine my arms, I have good arms, though the veins protrude. Blue tubes. A junky'd kill for this wiring.
There is sure calm in an empty room. I light my smoke, practice the gentle art. Whorls of creamy fume rotate. Suckling on dozens of mingling chemicals, nicotine and THC and their complements; thinking smoker thoughts; thrilling my lungs with poisons. Mere joy is mine in the simple act of smoking: all I contemplate is fondness.
We are in love. It begins for real with the declarations.
Three, my lucky number
And fortune comes in three
It is right that I should be left alone. I feel slightly awkward, almost as if I have gone too far, said too much, and need time before I can again be taken seriously. There are no further words which I can utter: any addition would only sully my memory and hers. It is strange that we instinctively know when to take no further action, when a situation has reached its zenith. The buzz is the all-important, and it will not be threatened. Perhaps the defining feature of a mature relationship is the communion of instincts.
There are no emotions but satisfaction and its strict opposite, regret. We contemplate the future only in terms of the past, and every experience is tainted or enhanced by what comes before. This effect is defined by satisfaction and regret. I am elated, yes, enjoying achievement, but only because I have achieved the unimaginable, only because I have done away with the many regrets of my flawed and desperate love.
This love is a necessary measure. This love is deep and real. We are lost, clinging madly to fool's hopes, achievers of irrelevancies. We cannot matter to anyone but us.
If we had met in years time so much would be easier. We can each be manoeuvred and we can each manipulate, and I will change her life and she mine. Whatever scars or embellishments we leave will be perpetual.
It may be that she is in love with love.
A test for the analyzer.