Stories of drug use from the userâ€™s perspective
Edited by Chris Rapp
Contributors Kurtis Kirk – ―Rail Rider‖ (Photo) Valarie Newman – ―The Ouija Whore‖ (Creative Non-Fiction) Chris Rapp – ―All that Burns Cannot Last‖ (Fiction), ―Ascension‖ (Photo)
“Just cause you got the monkey off your back, doesn’t mean the circus has left town.” -George Carlin
Thanks to: Those who contributed here and in my life.
Copyright 2011 Pyrite publishing All rights reserved
All That Burns Cannot Last
by Chris Rapp
*** Memoria The first time you do something is always special, memorable… My first bike ride, my first sip of beer, my first lay, my first high. Even in the mad, sparkling blur of the past four years, I can still remember that first time clearly. It was so fucking intense, everything that didn’t make any sense just sort of fell into place in my head. Everything fit somewhere... I finally fit somewhere… Looking back, I can see that was all that Stacey was ever looking for, a place to fit. I can remember his first time clearly too. It was just like his last time; I didn’t even realize what I was doing to him…. *** Start ―It‘s a hard thing to explain to someone that‘s never done it. It‘s kind of like an espresso enema, but not at all. Everything speeds up yeah, but it‘s more. It‘s absolutes, life goes rushing past at light speed; past, present, and future blending into a single stream- then you suddenly cue in on something amazingly beautiful; the sharp, brilliant edge of a freshly minted quarter- and time… just stops. Absolutes. Everything‘s more vibrant, sharper, brighter, cleaner. But the cleaner something is the more the dirt shows. Like the first scuff on white shoes, you can‘t get over it once you notice. You might get a feeling of having a film under your skin, like when you sweat under a windbreaker, your skin sticking and sliding over itself. Then that gets washed over when you feel all the other people around you, swimming through the same experience. It‘s a connection like no other. I guess that‘s what I‘m really trying to say, is that it‘s not like anything else so explaining it is pointless. The only way you‘ll know is to just do it and see for yourself. So do you still want to do it?‖ Stacey looked up from the mirror reflecting the world above and stared at me with a confidence he‘d never shown before. All he said was, ―Yeah… I do.‖ *** Up It‘s always the same… I‘m swimming up through black water, stinging my eyes closed. Something slick /kelp?/ wraps around my legs, with long, greasy fingers and pulls me down. I kick and thrash with everything I‘ve got, and as soon as my lungs feel like they‘ll burstI let go… The air flows out from my body, the water holding my scream in fluid balls of fear that rise to the surface. My brain says stop but my lungs say BREATHE… before I feel the water slip its salty hand down my throat my legs go free and…
―M‘wake,‖ I mumble as Karen shakes me with a foot. The thing is a blinding white with a few blue veins leading to a thin forest of black hairs running up her leg. ―Get that fucking filth off me.‖ I push her foot away and try to sit up. As I rise, every joint moans out in grief and anger at the much needed rest that went too far. The cracked leather cushion of the couch inhales a deep breath of stagnant air, suffocated by my body for God knows how long. ―What time?‖ ―I don‘t know,‖ says Karen. ―If you guys hadn‘t taken apart all the clocks last time, I could tell you.‖ ―Shut up.‖ It seemed important to stop time while we were doing it, but that was too long ago to remember why. Right now my head aches, and though Karen hasn‘t taken on that whiny bitch sound yet, her every word still chisels away between my ears. Sitting there, my head cradled between my hands, I can see a sliver of Karen through my fingers. She‘s starting to show that familiar, desperate need. Her eyes, sunk into sockets caked with purple makeup, make their way up from the floor, stopping halfway to dart back down. One hand is twisting little red fibers of carpet between thin fingers. The other is scratching under her chin with a jagged plum smeared fingernail. That‘s not going to scratch the itch, you dumb whore. God, she looks like a sad clown in rehab. Fucking skeeze… I can‘t look at her anymore. I‘ve got to get to the bathroom before she starts begging. She won‘t be so bad once Stacey gets up. If he has anything left, he can share his shit with the skeeze. ―Hey Jessey, do you got anything stashed? Sonny already took off and I‘ve been up for awhile waiting for you guys and I could really use something. To get me started you know?‖ ―Why don‘t you wake up Stacey? Get some shit from him.‖ She‘s wearing that fucking hurt puppy look now, like I just rubbed her nose in her own shit. ―He‘s still passed out. I tried to wake him up, but he‘s out cold. Come on man, I don‘t need much. Just a little, to get up and get going. You know?‖ Stacey really is out cold, still sitting on the floor against the coffee table in the same position as when he passed out. Dead to the world. His eyes are open slightly, the whites showing through from behind lifeless lids. His chin is resting on his chest, mouth open a little. I can see dried spit sparkling from the corner of his mouth. His chest looks caved in the way he‘s sitting slumped over, breathing so shallow I can‘t even see it. Probably faking, the fucking selfish prag. Why don’t you get up and take care of your dog? I‘m already opening the bathroom door when I tell Karen, ―Go make some coffee and shut the fuck up.‖ I can hear her start to whine in the back of her throat as I shut the door behind me. The bathroom is cramped, my knees press against the wall when I take a shit, but it‘s nice at times like this. I can lean back and let the wall support me as I let my piss arc out in a golden
stream, splashing down into the clean, white bowl. Everything in the bathroom is clean, white. Karen likes to go apeshit with Comet and a toothbrush while me and Sonny geek out on the electronics. I turn on both the faucets, a quick whore‘s bath is all I need –wash the elbows and asshole- and I work the leftover putty in my hair, bringing the short blonde hawk back to attention. I grab the deodorant and pop the bottom off of it with the water still flowing to hide what I‘m doing from that fiend out there. My fingers fish around inside tracing the smooth plastic. I know I left it in there. I swear to God, if that fucking skeeze found it I’llBingo. A small Ziploc bag, about the size of a silver dollar, lined with a small bit of light blue crystallized powder along the bottom- like finely crushed glass. Digging through the pockets of my jeans, I find a lighter and my I.D. I roll the lighter over the glass on the toilet lid, my license working like a sheepdog, gathering the stray crystals, guided by my trembling hand- The shepherd. The dollar tickles my nostril, always does even though I‘ve done this so many times I can‘t smell a fucking thing anymore, and the glass goes up quick. A sharp inhale in a straight line, and then I do a quick sweep over the lid to pick up the stragglers with the remaining breath. THE DRIPS, like droplets of winter water off an icicle, slip down the back of my throat. Jaw’s getting jumpy. CLENCH. Fuck yeah… just what I needed to get up and… GET GOING. *** Down ―Here comes a pretty one!‖ I call out, seeing him first. The suit and tie walks into the men‘s room, his shoes snapping out a quick rhythm. Sonny‘s taking a leak at the row of urns, pissing all over his shoes and the floor as he leers at the guy over the shoulder of his studded black leather jacket. Sonny lets out a whistle with his thin, cracked lips, and gives the guy his best blue eyed ―FEAR ME‖ stare. The guy‘s steps falter and slow down. He looks over to the corner where Stacey is quietly twisting his long, red liberty spikes and examining the checked tile floor. Stacey notices the guy looking at him and his soft green eyes look up from under red eyebrows. ―Hey man, I see you looking. He‘ll give you a blowjob for twenty.‖ The guy‘s attention snaps back up to me and then he hurries into the last stall. Good. Stacey moves to block the entrance as Sonny zips up and flushes, we wait to hear the guy‘s belt buckle clink against the grimy tile, and then we head over to the stall at the end. Our combat boots make a sharp echo in the high-ceilinged room, announcing our advance like a military drum. Sonny kicks hard, right at the latch, and I rush in on the guy, throwing a knee to
his jaw. His head snaps back, spewing a rooster tail of blood from his mouth, then slams into the wall with a sick SLAP/CRACK like an egg hitting linoleum. I grab his pants, ripping them off of him. I get his phone and wallet, Sonny grabs the bags. We‘re both laughing like crows over a carcass as we tear out of the train station. Stacey‘s ahead of us, pushing open the doors and breathing hard. We‘re still running when we get outside and Stacey looks back, saying ―That was too much. Man, you really fucked him up.‖ Sonny‘s still cackling as he shouts ―Yeah, you really scared the shit out of him!‖ Yeah… good one Sonny. *** High The atmosphere in the house is humming with an electricity I can feel in my bones. The energy surrounding each of us collides into the atoms of another- bonding, fusing, reacting, and creating entire universes in the meeting of hands, arms, legs, lips, words, eyes, hearts. The threads of conversations weaving, stopping, overlapping, and consuming each other in a whirlwind of broken thoughts, theories, ideas, and insights, all running like bullet trains till they jump the tracks, colliding in a mess of steel and bodies or showing up in new lands, dropping off travel-tired passengers and filling their seats with tramps from empty rail yards halfway between nowhere and lost. I‘m watching a thin smoker in hyper speed, his hood framing a pale face made of zits and metal studs, hold a tight flock of awestruck tweakers. ―…and that‘s just it! But you‘re sooooo far away that you don‘t SEE it, man you‘re lookin‘ at the forest and I‘m lookin‘ at a fuckin‘ leaf! Haha, I mean, it‘s, it‘s hard ‗cause I‘m an ANT talkin‘ to elephants, right? Right? You see the big picture but you can‘t see the small stuff in the picture, man I‘m talkin‘ about thefuckindabsofpaint! Okay… look, here, this. This line of crank is the perfect example! Haha! It‘s, it‘s so simple, it just came to me. Okay so this one line of crystal I can cut into smaller lines and then I can take every littlefleckandspeck and pull them apart and then I can pull each little partapart foreverandever- and you know why? ‗Cause it‘s matter! And matter is energy and so crank is energy and you can‘t destroy energy you can only resist or accept and transform your matter into energy and that‘s just it! Imean, Imean, haha, that‘s the brilliance of it, it‘s just so SIMPLE! I mean, I‘m an ANT standing on the shoulders of EINSTEIN and you‘re all ELEPHANTS!‖ ―Wait… Einstein was a tweaker?‖ And another train jumps the track…
Low We took the loot we got at the train station over to a pawn shop outside of the city. The whole drive out there Stacey kept pissing and moaning about how we were too rough with the guy. Backseat bitching about how we should find another way to get money without hurting people. Fucking pussy. I told him that if he had such a problem with it he could stay home next time, and he could earn his own money to score. That shut him up. The pawn shop is run by this big ass redneck tweaker, covered in food stains and military tattoos. The guy doesn‘t let Sonny come in anymore, says he doesn‘t trust a kid that looks so much like a coyote with missing teeth, so I get Stacey to carry the bags in. He‘s still looking sick, like he‘s going to shit in his pants or something. His face is paler than usual and he‘s got a steady tremor building up in his arms. ―Quit being such a little bitch. I‘m tired of hearing you whine about the guys we roll over and I can‘t stand seeing you look so fucking weak, makes me sick.‖ ―Let‘s just do this. I need to get high.‖ He‘s sweating a little now, his craving seeping out from his leather vest in puffs of hot air. I like seeing him like this, Stacey shows his urge more than me or Sonny. At least when he‘s fiending I know what to expect. And I know how to control him. The pawn shop is empty, just the owner behind the counter. He tells the skinny, inbred tweaker in the back who‘s geeking out on some radios to watch the counter, and we head to the basement. It‘s like a bunker down there, barrels of food and water take up one corner, and the walls are decorated with swastikas and swords. Against the back wall is a desk, just like in those old war movies, where the general is hunched over the maps and intelligence. The place is cold, the fluorescent lighting making it feel even colder. ―So, what you boys got?‖ The burly hick is looking at us from over his sweat-smeared horn rims. I lay out all the goodies on the table and Stacey pulls the laptop out of the bag. ―We scored a Washington drivers license, three platinum cards, cell phone, his social, and a passport too.‖ ―Ooooeee! Nice work boys. Real nice work.‖ His greedy eyes are looking at the haul while he rubs at the stubble on his cheek. ―I been looking for a passport. Yes sir.‖ Those greedy eyes are getting clouded over with his usual hard, beady stare. ―Let‘s see, I‘ll give you the usual on the I.D., plus two hundred for the social and the cell, and uh, let‘s say two for the passport. Sound good?‖
―Come on, you can get a lot more than two hundred out of each one of those cards.‖ ―Yeah, I s‘pose I can. But you know anywhere else you can sell this shit where you won‘t get caught?‖ ―Fuck. Alright, just give me the money.‖ There‘s no way I‘m leaving here empty handed. ―Hehee, you know what? I‘m going to up your rate. You boys‘ve made me a good deal of money. From here on out I‘ll pay an extra fifty on the I.D.‘s. Throw in a little extra something for your trouble too.‖ He slips a small baggie into the fold of cash before handing it over to me. Crisp new bills that smell so strong even I can get a whiff of them. Stacey‘s burning a hole right through the money in my palm, trying to see the crank tucked inside. ―Yeah, okay,‖ I say. ―Cool.‖ I‘m smiling on the way out the door. Stacey just keeps scratching that itch that he can‘t reach, digging into the flesh of a red pimple on his cheek. A little roll of blood trickles down and I slap him. ―Get a hold on yourself. You look like a fucking junkie.‖ He drops his hand and hangs his head down. ―You should‘ve been paying attention back there, you might learn something. You see how I got us a higher rate now? Man, if it wasn‘t for me, you would be dead in some fucking gutter.‖ Stacey‘s looking up at me with what might be respect, or admiration, or despair, I can‘t tell. His shy smile says he appreciates what I do for him, all the trouble I go through so we can get high, but his eyes are staring right through me and filling up with water. Little pussy better not cry. ―Just get in the car and wipe the fucking blood off your face.‖ Fucking junkie… *** Day Sliding into the fifth day of this crank binge. Everyone‘s still spun off the score at the train station. I want this to last forever. Sonny agrees. I figure the best way to hold onto this moment in time is to just get rid of time altogether. Sonny agrees. So Sonny and I go through the house gathering all the time and then we sit down to get rid of it. Sonny‘s on the last one, one of those shitty radio alarms with the red light display that seems to shout out what time it is without a sound. Plastic, metal, wires, and screws from every clock and watch in the house are covering the table like an electronic jigsaw puzzle dumped out of the box. ―That‘s it man, the last one. It‘s done.‖ Sonny‘s gone into a trance, staring down into a circuit board as he traces a screwdriver along the little green pathways. Each one of those little roads seems to shimmer with some hidden energy, like there‘s still power flowing through it.
Each time it tips over with the push of the screwdriver light flashes across the length of it, coursing through the thin streets of the silicon city. Beautiful. ―Hey, Jessey.‖ I‘m still focused in when I look up and the first thing I see is the pores on Karen‘s face, like fucking geysers in a swamp of sweat and oil. Too much… pull back. ―What?‖ I hear her saying something, but I can‘t make it out over the imagined sound of her skin spurting fluids up out of each dirty little hole. ―We‘re all out of crank, man! Everybody‘s gone, went over to Sergio‘s. You guys got anything left?‖ Karen keeps pulling her head back as she talks, like a pigeon pecking at the ground. ―Fuck off, Karen. Go to bed.‖ She jerks her body around and goes away. Probably going to go lick every mirror in the house. I look around for the first time in hours, days maybe. Sonny‘s still zoned out on the pieces of time, but I can see his eyelids getting heavy. He’s done for. The house is quiet. Stacey is still up though. He‘s sitting on the floor, leaned up against the coffee table in the living room. For such a little pussy, he sure can hang. It always ends up being me and Stacey the last ones alive at the end of the benders. I get up and leave Sonny snoring on the table, his cheek pressed hard into the face of a clock. Stacey‘s head snaps up, the bright red spikes wobbling back and forth like a line of car antennas, his green eyes locking in on me as I sit down on the couch. The intensity in his eyes seems to be directed somewhere far away. The fire in those emeralds gleams like the morning sun off blank windows, making it hard to see the empty house inside. ―I still got a little left if you want to take one last lap.‖ His eyes shift, bringing his focus back into the here and now when I mention another hit. ―Yeah… I do.‖ *** Night I dig out the little baggie I got special from the redneck at the pawn shop, a little gift for being employee of the month. He said it‘s hardcore; pure ice, clear as glass with a sky-blue tint. Stacey‘s watching with an intense concentration that‘s understood only by those who‘ve been spun out for days on end. He‘s zeroed in on the baggie as I strike the corner with a fingernail. FLICK-FLICK. FLICK-FLICK.
There‘s a pipe sitting on the table, a clear light bulb with a hole melted out of one side and another punched through the part that goes in the socket. Stacey picks it up, he‘s so gakked that I expect him to crush it in his hands, but he doesn‘t. I give him the bag and watch as he opens it up and carefully taps the crank out, into the pipe. My body is feeling the weight that the crank had been shouldering; the days spent in turbo drive are catching up. My head is slipping down the leather couch to rest on the arm. Stacey‘s face is lit up from the flame of the lighter. Shadows hug the hollows around his eyes and the sides of his face while his cheeks, mouth, and nose beam white. Clean white… like porcelain, or bone. My eyes close… then open. Stacey‘s exhaling a hit, white smoke puffing out in a cloud before him. His eyes are still wide, but they‘re far away again, not quite gone, but definitely leaving. My eyes close… then open. Stacey‘s all shadows and bone, getting the last hit, the bottom of the bulb as black as the sunken spots of his face. He exhales another ghost of smoke into the air. My eyes close… then open. Stacey‘s looking down, his chin resting against his white chest. His eyes are open slightly, but they‘re empty, not just far away anymore, fucking gone. He looks happy in a way, the corners of his mouth turned up just a bit. The bulb is shattered, little shards of curved glass poke out from between the fingers of his closed fist. Blood trickles out from the folds of his hand, flowing out onto the red carpet of the living room floor. Matches perfectly. My eyes close… ***
The Ouija Whore by Valarie Newman
“He drops a capsule in your drink and spikes your dreams with madness. He’s walking in your sleep now. He keeps your fat paranoia well fed.” -Bauhaus
Jessica has been missing in action, so to speak, for about two weeks. And although none of us has said it out loud, we‘ve all been thinking the same thing. Dead. It‘s late morning on a Sunday and, although the sun is almost at its highest in the sky, the fog has not dissipated making the sun‘s heat muted as it shines through the dense grayness casting a lavender hue down upon the streets of San Francisco. I‘m walking up 16th St. towards the chocolate factory loading dock where all of us gather daily to meet our regulars or catch dates with new men. But today, although all the girls are there, they‘re all circled up like football players in a huddle, instead of the usual formation we take: standing in line like proverbial maidens waiting in a row. We usually stand all along Folsom Street about 10 feet apart, allowing enough space between each girl for a car to pull up right next to us, leaving no doubt as to which girl the man is stopping for. I begin to pick up speed as I walk towards the girls. I‘m sure they‘re circled up because of some tragedy that‘s befallen one of us. Why else would they be wasting precious time? Sundays aren‘t the easiest days to get work, so… I cross Shotwell St. at the free clinic and enter the circle of girls a little out of breath and greet them all with, ―What happened and to who?‖ Carol, who is one of the only girls out here that I truly consider a friend, which really means she is the one person I know that would give up her last shot of dope to get me well, is standing on the far side of the circle straight across from me. She says, ―It‘s Jessica.‖ ―What about her?‖ I ask my heart pounding, already knowing the answer will be something along the lines of: ―They found her in a dumpster, under a freeway overpass, or any other multitude of places a fucker who would do something like that would use to dispose of something he thought was garbage.‖ ―Right there,‖ Carol says, pointing over my shoulder. ―Jessica.‖ I look over my shoulder to where she is pointing toward the free clinic. I see no one except for a few people within the gates of the clinic parking lot, a few people gathered at the mobile taco truck, and this very ragged looking homeless man standing on the corner of Shotwell Street, who I had walked past on my way over to the girls. The man is swaying back and forth,
face down so only a large matted piece of his dreadlocked hair is visible from under a rather too large Greek fisherman‘s cap. ―Carol, what the fuck are you talking about? Will you just tell me what happened to her? Jesus, like I don‘t already know! Will you just fucking say it?‖ I hold my breath waiting to hear the answer. ―I am saying it! You need to look.‖ And now Carol bends at the waist, leans to the left, and points past me again. I lean down to the same height as Carol and look again to where she is pointing. This time from the level I‘m at I‘m able to see the face of the homeless man as he stands still swaying back and forth. The instant I see the face, in all its tattooed glory, I know it can be no one else but Jessica. There can be no mistaking that face, which is covered in its entirety in a fresco of black tattoos. Not just a little teardrop under the eye, but tattooed as if she were some tribal aborigine. Her face is an aberration. An indecipherable puzzle cut into jigsaw pieces. It consists, in part, of a large mummy wrapped figure perched in large relief from forehead to in-between her eyes. There is more tattooing on her face than there is face. Despite its helter-skelter appearance, when I had first met her at least, you could see a kind of unconvereged beauty that peeked out between the disorder of lines and graphics that make up her face. As I‘m staring at her now as she stands across the street, broken and dirty and nearly unrecognizable, we hold eye contact for just a moment. Her smoke colored blue eyes glance out at me from inside the Egyptian-like hieroglyphics covering her face. Their intensity is not lost among the yin yang of black ink and white alabaster skin. Her eyes seem to shine with dark ancient secrets of the Rosicrucian‘s. ―Jesus fucking Christ in heaven! How long has she been standing there like that? Has anyone talked to her?‖ I look around the circle at all the girls. ―She was standing there, like, you know, when I got here about an hour ago. Pretty creepy, riiight? I mean, seriously, it‘s even creepy for her. I mean, you know, she‘s always given me the heebie jeebies, but you know, this is just like, seriously, too much. Riiight?‖ This comes from Virginia, the girl Carol and I have nick-named The Horse-Faced Girl. We‘d given most of the girls some kind of moniker before we knew their real names and we still used these when we‘d talk to each other about them. I completely ignore The Horse and I don‘t look to any of the other girls in the circle for an answer because I know none of them has really ever tried to talk to Jessica. Or if they did it wasn‘t talking to her it was talking at her. Jessica was a money maker when she first showed up on the track. The freakier or more taboo a girl looks out here the better they do. So with a face like hers‘ Jessica was able to reel the men in without much effort. And that pissed a lot of the girls off, especially the ones who had been out here awhile. Most of the girls only talked to her to
subject her to ridicule. She was an easy person to be mean to, and the girls who had been out here for years felt the need to release their anger on someone. They couldn‘t release it on the men so Jessica filled that need for them. The only reason Carol and I had gotten to know her better than most was because she had lived in the same filthy S.R.O. sleaze bag hotel on Mission as we had before we ended up living outside. So we‘d had more time to get to know her than the girls who just saw her when she was on the track. Which is why I direct my question straight to Carol now. ―Did you try to talk to her?‖ ―Yeah, but she‘s not talking. She‘s just been standing there like she is now and when I asked her where she‘d been she wouldn‘t even look at me. Just kept doing the rocking thing like she‘s doing now. I don‘t know, man, she‘s fucked up. I mean look at her, dude. What the hell?‖ I turn all the way around now and look straight at Jessica. She‘s got on some sort of Sergeant Pepper‘s uniform jacket with dingy yellow epaulets that are beginning to unravel. She‘s wearing men‘s pants and shoes that are many sizes too big. Everything about her, even from the distance I‘m standing, looks filthy and thickly coated with dirt. Her hair has been tucked up under the Greek fisherman‘s cap and the only part visible, a large chunk of what used to be bangs, has turned into a thick matted dreadlock that sticks out in one solid piece looking like a choked up hairball from a cat. I turn back to Carol and just look at her for a minute, then back to Jessica, back to Carol, gather my resolve and turn around to cross the street towards Jessica. When I‘ve reached the other side and begin to approach her I call to her softly, ―Hey Jess, what‘s up?‖ She doesn‘t acknowledge me in anyway, just keeps staring down at the sidewalk in front of her. I try again when I‘m right up next to her. I stand quietly by her side and ask, ―So where‘ve you been? You alright?‖ Again no answer, no sign she even knows I‘m there. ―Want to go sit down on the dock for a minute?‖ Nothing. ―Hey, Jess, look it‘s me.‖ I stop myself from waving a hand in front if her face because I don‘t want to startle her. ―Let‘s go sit for a minute.‖ Then I raise my voice just a little. ―Jess? Hey.‖ She turns her face quickly up towards me. Her eyes look like a spooked horse‘s. All whites and trying to look in every direction at the same time. The hairs on her right eyebrow have all been pulled out and there are little pinpoint scabs where each hair used to be. ―Hey, Jessica,‖ I say again now that she‘s finally looked at me. She turns away from me and quickly starts walking up Shotwell. I watch her until she‘s turned the corner a block up then return to the gaggle of girls all still standing there watching me. ―So?‖ Says the girl we‘ve named Turtle because of her weak chin and slumped posture. ―What‘s her issue?‖
―Yeah, like really, what‘s her deal, riiight? I mean, you know, did she, like, talk to you or what?‖ This from The Horse. ―I mean, like seriously, did she, like, talk to you or just fucking take off down the street. Seriously, what a freak, riiight?‖ I give The Horse the stink eye and turn my attention towards Carol and give her a head nod to let her know I want her to follow me. We walk together down 16th and turn the corner on Folsom. ―So?‖ Carol says to me when we know for sure none of the other girls can hear us ―I have no fucking idea,‖ I say to Carol as we‘re walking. ―She wouldn‘t answer me and when she finally looked up at me she was scared to death. Something happened obviously. She doesn‘t have to say anything for us to figure that out. Just look at her for fuck‘s sake.‖ We stop when we reach the middle of the block on Folsom, which is the prime spot to stand because there‘s plenty of room for the men to pull over. ―So what do you want do about it?‖ Carol asks. ―Nothing. I mean, seriously, what is there to do? I mean, you know, what the hell can we do, right?‖ ―You sound like The Horse.‖ ―Shut up Carol! You can be such a bitch, you know, I mean seriously, you can be, like, such a bitch, riiight?‖ I say this trying to sound like The Horse on purpose now. Which sort of lightens the load that Jessica‘s left behind. ―You sound just like her! That was perfect!‖ ―Let‘s just try and work. First one to catch a date buys the first bag. We‘ll meet up at 16th and Mission.‖ I walk away from Carol leaving plenty of room between us both so the men can feel comfortable with stopping for the girl they want without any confusion. ―No duh! Like, where else would we meet? I mean, you know, like, where else would we meet? Like, you know, where else can you buy dope around here, right?‖ Carol tries to do her rendition of The Horse. ―That was terrible. Don‘t give up your day job.‖ ―Day job?‖ Carol shoots back at me. ―Honey, this job is a day job, night job, and I try to pick up some overtime working graveyard!‖ She laughs in my direction. ―Fun-ny. Yeah, you‘re a riot Carol. A real card.‖ A car pulls over in front of Carol and as she opens the door I yell to her, ―You‘re it. See ya in the funny papers.‖ ―Bitch!‖ Carol shouts over her shoulder getting into the car.
―Another day, another dollar!‖ I shout back. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
“And she showed up all errors and mistakes and said I’ve lost control again. But she expressed herself in many different ways until she lost control again. And walked upon the ledge of no escape and laughed I’ve lost control again.” -Joy Division
There‘s a doorway on Florida St. that has been singularly used to urinate in. It is in an alcove that is sunken in about three feet so a person can be hidden from the street unless you walk right by it. I always draw in a long deep breath and hold it before walking past because the rank muggy smell of ammonia wafts out in a thick cumulous cloud filled with a stench that can only be likened to that of a monkey cage at the zoo. The smell is purely animalistic and it hits you right in the throat and burns your eyes with a chemical vapor. Tonight as I walk past it, breath held, I see a large lump of something tucked deep into the doorway‘s furthermost corner. The lump moves and my stomach does that thing like when you‘re on an elevator and my heart jumps up into my throat. The lump looks up and it‘s Jessica huddled there, all her belongings tucked into a circle around her. Her body is drawn into a tight little ball like one of those bugs that curl up when you touch them. ―Hey, Jess. What‘s up?‖ Jessica finally started talking again about two days ago but everything she says is so ridiculously over the top in its sugary sweetness it‘s creepy even to me. And juxtaposed to the tattered men‘s clothes she is still wearing it‘s just, well, too weird. ―Oh hi! How are you?‖ Jessica answers in an unmercifully cheerful voice of the bipolar when cycling on the manic side of their disorder. ―You look totally awesome!‖ ―Uh, yeah. Thanks. Why are sitting here?‖ I notice that the scabs on the hairless eyebrow have become thicker. So instead of there just being little pinpoint scabs it has turned into one solid scab. ―Well, you know.‖ She says conspiratorial with this huge smile on her face. She leaves it at that and moves some of her bags around, which causes a noxious fog of stench to float my way. She reaches up and touches the scabby brow with hands that have been touching the pavement in the doorway.
―Not really Jess. You want to come hang out at my camp? It‘s pretty close. You can crash for the night.‖ Jessica stands up sending out another cloud of urine my way. ―Well, I would but I‘m having a really hard time walking because I went to the Doctor yesterday and they had to cut off my leg.‖ She says this so seriously I‘m afraid to laugh. ―Well, Jess…If they cut off your leg how come you‘re standing up okay?‖ I ask back as seriously as I can not wanting to discount her. ―Well, you know, I‘m a very special girl and it grew back. But before it grew back the Doctor jacked off in it, which is why I have all this cum coming out.‖ Here she pulls up her pants leg to expose a huge weeping apparition of an abscess. She gives it a squeeze expelling a large chunk of thick flowing goo. It is brown and speckled with green and yellow. It looks like Miso soup. ―Oo-kay then,‖ I say backing away from her. ―If you change your mind we‘re down 16th by the railroad tracks. We have an extra tarp. We‘ll fix you up a spot of your own right next to us.‖ I turn and walk away hoping, really, she‘ll just stay where she is, because this is all too much. “Okay then,‖ she says, the maniacal bipolar voice back in place. ―I‘ll see you around!‖ ―Sure, Jess. See you around.‖ I shout this over my shoulder not wanting to see what she‘s doing now. “Have a great day!‖ Her voice sing- songs in its bliss. She sounds like a cartoon valley girl.
“There’s a devil crawling along your floor. With a trembling heart he’s coming through the door, with his straining sex in his jumping paw. There’s a devil crawling along your floor. How much longer, how much longer?” -Nick Cave
No one‘s figured out exactly what happened to Jessica. There are various stories that have circulated around, but Jessica herself has offered no explanation. When asked she answers in non-sequiters that are so far away from the question it‘s slightly amusing. So I‘ve stopped asking and try to talk to her like she hasn‘t lost her mind.
I‘d noticed her limping with both feet lately and had wondered if it wasn‘t from dragging around the giant sized men‘s shoes she‘s still wearing. She looks even more like an empty old man as she limps along carrying the weight of insanity squarely on her shoulders. Then yesterday I came across her in the parking lot that runs behind the chocolate factory connecting Folsom St. to Shotwell. She was barefoot kneeling down on the ground with her shoes placed directly in front of her. She was picking something up from the ground and depositing it carefully into the shoes. I decided to cut across the parking lot and check it out. ―Hey, Jessica. What are doing?‖ I said as I was still a few feet away. ―Oh, you know,‖ she said, like I really should know, and kept picking the something up. When I was close enough to see what it was I realized she was collecting bits of gravel and broken pieces of glass and putting them into her shoes. ―Jessica? Really what are you doing?‖ I started to raise my voice, but that never worked with her. Anymore, you needed to talk to her like she was a kid with special needs. ―Well, you know, I‘m The Ouija Whore.‖ She looked at me like I had obviously forgotten this important piece of information. The eyebrow scab had become a protrusion that stuck out over the eyelid. Neanderthal Man like. Wanting to make sure I had heard her right I asked, ―What?‖ ―The Ouija Whore,‖ she answered me back so matter-of-factly I thought for a minute this was some new thing the men were asking for and I should know exactly what she meant. ―When the men want me they just summon the Ouija Board and I pop out! You know my boyfriend is Lucifer! Remember? I call him fer for short.‖ She said this last bit as she put on her shoes and limped away. ―Have a great day!‖ She shouted to me from across the lot, her voice Do Ra Me‘ing in an up and down scale.
And when I looked in her eyes they were blue but nobody home. She could have been a killer if she didn’t walk the way she do. She opened strange doors that we’d never closed again. Scary Monsters Supercreeps keep me running scared. David Bowie
She is standing in the bus shelter in front of the chocolate factory and doesn‘t see me approaching, so I‘m able to view her from a passerby‘s perspective. Her shoulders are slumped
and rounded—she seems to be rolling in on herself. I stop at the corner of Van Ness where I can view her without her noticing me. I stand there watching until I notice one of my regulars drive by. He points me towards my usual spot. I‘m snapped out of my voyeuristic reveries and follow his finger as he points me to a more discreet pick up point, which will lead me directly past where Jessica is standing. When I‘m close enough to Jessica that I can hear her, she is making a low alto kind of humming noise from deep in her stomach. I stop dead in my tracks, one foot still held in the air. She continues to emit this low rumbling sounding noise and it reminds me of Linda Blair in The Exorcist. I take a few steps forward and try to pass her. The poisonous rasping continues, and although I know she is the one making the noise, it seems to be coming from somewhere else in a creepy ventriloquist way. The sound ricochets off the bus shelter walls in which she is standing. Its echo makes it sound like it‘s in stereo as it shifts from left to right to left again. ―Fuck!‖ I say to myself in utter agitation because I know the trick is pulled over, engine running, waiting. I don‘t want to leave him waiting too long. He might decide to circle the block so as to not look too obvious, and while circling stop for another girl. I tell myself I‘ll check on her later, but as I try to speed walk past her the possessed look in her eyes scares the shit out of me. I jump to a stop. ―What the fuck, Jessica?‖ ―Hiss!‖ She says. She literally hisses the word ‗hiss‘ at me. ―Jessica! Goddamn it!‖ I‘m mad and in a hurry, but more than a little terrified to try to walk past her because I don‘t think she sees me. ―Oh, hi!‖ Her usual thick syrupy self is back when she speaks, but her eyes are still spewing a bitter elixir. ―Are you okay?‖ My body is leaning toward the corner where the man is waiting. My feet are leaning towards her. ―I‘m fabulous! How are you? You look totally awesome!‖ Her sweet voice drips in sinuous sounds. ―Yeah right!‖ I look down to see if I look ‗totally awesome.‘ I actually do look pretty put together. My trademark ankle length skirt hangs nicely at my feet. The skirt is being blown by the wind in the direction the man is waiting. It‘s trying to pull me towards him. ―Well if you‘re alright I have someone waiting.‖ I point to the corner.
―Okay then. I‘ll see you later!‖ I walk toward the corner where my customer is waiting. When I look back at Jessica her shoulders slump forward again and she rolls herself into a question mark shape. ―What the hell?‖ I shake my head in disbelief as I continue to walk towards the car. When I get the car door open the trick asks me what took so long. I don‘t answer right away because I‘m still looking at Jessica. I pull the door closed and see him still staring at me waiting for an answer so I say, ―Huh?‖ I‘m still not really listening to him, but I know it‘s probably the standard ‗hurry up and put your seatbelt on‘ shit. While I‘m putting it on I turn to him and use my usual opener, ―Let‘s get the heck out of Dodge!‖ I smile my warmest most supplicating hooker smile, which if I‘d had any teeth left would be worthy of a Colgate commercial, and we roll off down the street. As we drive past Jessica I see her slumped question marked figure unfold into that of an exclamation mark. Her body asks a question then answers it in the vernacular I turn my attention back to the trick. I smile again, my eleven teeth sparkling in the moonlight, and try to look seductive while I ask, ―So, what‘ll it be?‖ After a minute he answers, ―Oh, just the usual.‖ Jessica questions and exclaims, folds and unfolds. Back to the man of the hour I smile my snaggletoothed best and say, ―Yeah the usual, right on, the usual.‖ I look at Jessica as we pass her retreating figure. I think to myself as I look at her, ―Yeah right, just the usual.‖