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October 2017




  

Dazed and Still Dazed


Sneak Preview of the third in the DAZED Novel Series: IN THE ABSENCE OF DAZED by Nikki Palomino

What shows on the face of every junkie is carved like slate because he’s searching for a scene worth reliving. He can’t walk wherever he chooses without asking permission from the next blast or the man he cops it from. And the something snaps a revelation. Even if he wants to leave, he has only one place to go.

Eric Peterson, Fucking Journal I don’t want to fucking write!

There was still enough of Eric Peterson, nineteen-year-old grunge rocker who could write, draw and play the fuck out of the guitar, to feel a smattering of survival instinct. I’d buried a fractured childhood, smashed a fist into the hole in my chest and fallen in love more than once. You made me need you, Dr. Smithson, the hot too-short haired psychiatrist who took the heavy weight Dr. Horowitz’s place in treating the malformed psyche of an enigma. I wanted more methadone in the futile hope it might kill the monster-fueled craving I was so ready to spike.

We sat across from each other in what had been my mom, Kristelle’s, house now in escrow although she’d been absent since my stepfather Bud’s fatal heart attack in God-forsaken Montana hauling a load of lumbar. I twirled the house key between my lightning-fast fingers, a tribute as my last good-bye. Even within the vacant walls, Kristelle’s hole in her chest swallowed mine. We were tangled together no matter how much she hated me, and I wanted her love. If only we could square things, the two defective globs of flesh, bones and blood. If only she could say she was sorry for shutting me out of her life. If only I could change into the son she grieved for instead of the one she should have aborted or had died with her when she’d attempted suicide. To anyone else, my mom looked worse for the wear. In my eyes, she was an illusion of sad, powerful beauty belonging to an angel if we as life forms were so lucky to be blessed with.

I slouched into one of the two stiff back chairs. My stomach drowned in bile. I was dead to the world, dead to Hank my real father who had come back into my life when he’d been ready to accept what made me different. He watched over me like a wrinkled sentinel seated atop the chimney just waiting for me to dump my illness of the day which hadn’t changed all these years. A heroin addict by thirteen or fourteen? A grunge rocker gripping a future with my band DAZED under the guidance of Gerald our manager and the A-hole indie label CEO Dean something, last names always escape me on purpose? While there was plenty of blame to go around, I was the central theme on everyone’s lips. But there was too much truth in that so I avoided answering Dr. Smithson’s questions, even though he was gay like me, even though I felt we had as much of a rapport as too freaks could have. Even though I wished he’d grow out his hair, slash the sweater-and-slacks routine and let me fuck him.

The crazy monster rose up inside me. I grabbed the pill bottle setting on the dinged-up coffee table and flipped off its childproof cap. I downed a couple methadone tabs much to the shock and horror of Dr. Smithson. I fucking grinned. He frowned.

That’s what I wanna believe. Maybe someday I can stop.

Without warning, after a few minutes, my cerebral ghost shut down. How fucking cool. The cracks from the blinds across Kristelle’s front window didn’t allow the lifeless hole’s filtered light through because there was no such thing as sun and brightness in this part of Oregon or any other fucking part. We lived in a dream-free blackness I’d bought as my sentence, even when I’d lived on the streets of Portland. But I knew there was more, even with my riddled drugged emaciation. I tried to open my eyes and watch Dr. Smithson leave with the bang of the front door. I knew he was pissed. I knew he’d return even if it was just to watch my veins and brain blister.

Kristelle had decided to sell the house as her stamp of freedom and independence which was a hard feat to accomplish for someone so dependent. I glanced around at the timeless ghost memories etched into the stale cold air and wished I could change all that had gone down, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t even imagine life any other way.

That’s when I heard the noise in the kitchen.

Was Hank there all ready to move the last of Kristelle’s things to the curb?

Didn’t make sense. Hank wasn’t even done with work, and knowing as little about my father as I did, he’d probably stop to see my mom hidden at fellow plant worker Sadie’s sanctuary before making his way to my life-long tomb. Perfect play on fucking words, I’d say.Too much noise, like maybe whoever had forgotten the key had picked the lock. And sounded to me like maybe more than the heavy footsteps of Hank. Sounded like more than one set of shoes. Sounded like one was especially light on her feet? Another second passed by. I could feel the stun-gun strength of a man and the low-voltage jolting of sinew and bone, fucking female for sure.

A junkie’s intuition. How many times have I regretted my decision?

I slipped off the hard back chair and quietly made my way toward the kitchen. Could be fucking Molly, the next door butch neighbor who was sweet enough to put a roof over my head while chaos shot through every nerve, every fiber of my narcissistic self or her cousin Toots, my band’s heavy handed drummer, being the klutz he could be when the one-time fat kid part surfaced.

At that exact moment when I reached the kitchen door, every single thing about my life changed. Why? Who the fuck knows, but it did, forever.

The two in the kitchen pulled back when I entered. Straightened up, glared at me with a challenge. I recognized them both right away. I blinked a couple of times because the loose cannon was not supposed to be out of jail. Bobby Lee Beck, long stringy dark hair and beady eyes, covered his girlfriend Velvet’s mouth.

Rough, buttons bursting, her eyes braced for the pain. He’s fucking rough with her. Payback.

Fear danced down to my prick and back up my spine.

The loose cannon looked strong against his waif of a girlfriend as he ripped her shirt viciously to expose a set of round mounds I’d seen more than I ever should have. She screamed into the dirty flesh of his thick hand.

“What’s this shit about you fuckin’ Velvet?” The loose cannon spit his words through a split upper lip and bruised lower one.

I noticed the snub-nosed .38.

Fuck me.

He shoved it beneath her chin. Her knees buckled, but the loose cannon gripped her against him. He squeezed her so tightly I heard the weak gasps struggling to escape.

I’d read where sociopaths are as dangerous as rattlesnakes. Prey never had a chance in hell.

“You’re mistaken,” I said as clearly as if I had always been level-headed and sane.

I glanced at Velvet once. We never made eye contact. Time had slowed down as if waiting for something to do. Like wasn’t it enough to control an irrational fear of growing old and dying? Had each year not siphoned off the newness of what made life worth the struggle?

“Velvet told me everything. How you fucked her in the ass had her suck you off, the two ‘o you spiking what should have been my shit? Yeah, Eric, hot-shot guitarist, primo junkie…”

Velvet struggled to break free, like she knew the end of the story before it could happen, before anyone could even conceive of the possibility. He clipped her chin with the gun. I could tell he was eager to waste someone. I’d seen that look before on the Portland streets where I’d managed to survive with another runaway red-headed, green-eyed Wink. The loose cannon was the rattler narrowing his eyes on the prey. She cried, tears kicking off her mascara-streaked cheeks.

“Velvet was just trying to make you jealous. You know I’m a fuckin’ fag.”

Velvet shot a quick once-over my face, like she couldn’t believe I’d let what she’d done slide. Payback from a poor junkie chick with a loose cannon boyfriend somehow out of jail with no bond had wilted before the sting.

Bobby Lee Beck had accumulated a new reserve of energy, side-stepped in place, hitting Velvet’s tiny feet beneath the faded leather of her boots. She wriggled in his vice grip but never uttered a word while the fleeting tears pooled in the strands of her blonde hair.

“Faggot or not, you took my ol’ lady by the ass. You took the steroids I asked you to hold. Like it or not, you and that fuckin’ Jack Wallace fucked my ass good.” I didn’t like thinking about Jack Wallace and what he had done to Brian my blonde artist with the bold blue eyes after a gig at Rave and then in Portland. Jack Wallace had been All Varsity, probably already chosen for Notre Dame.

“What’s the deal with bail? Thought you couldn’t get out.”

“You are a naïve mutha for livin’ on the streets. You ever hear of escape, faggot?”

My drugged memory was flooded with the last time I’d seen Velvet.

Just as I felt the sting, my throat closed and I couldn’t breathe. Velvet jumped off the bed screaming like a mad woman and crying, her hands flailing in the empty space of Kristelle’s decaying palace. I grabbed my throat, the rig slipping from my battered vein.

Bobby Lee broke my train of thought. “The fuckers were moving me to Portland. I fuckin’ slipped past Big D, the four-hundred-and-fifty ton guard not steady on his feet.”

I said nothing, just watched Velvet’s pain and remembered.

“Eric, you okay? Please tell me you’re okay! Eric! Eric! Please!”

“Ran up Sunset Highway, thumbed a ride back here. Aced it when I found out I’d hitched a ride with a parolee and this.” The loose cannon waved the .38 around Velvet’s neck much like an imitation of a noose.

Then hit again with my insistent memory. “Velvet, I don’t love you because I’ll never be attainable. It’s your dope I love.”

As I came too, I saw Velvet gather her purse and her shattered dream to head back to the loose cannon’s place. I wore shame within the hollow of my chest. I had ruined her. I hated the fuck being born liking cock! In time she’d understand why I had to hurt her. In time, she would want to hurt me back, and it was now.

“So I came back here to find out you and Velvet’s got a thang goin’,” said the loose cannon.

“Nothing, man, no thang at all.” But it fucking didn’t matter because I heard the front door open and heavy footsteps headed toward the kitchen.

“Eric?”

Hank.

The shot fired so quick I almost missed the timing. I jumped Hank as he entered the kitchen, the bullet nicking my arm. Even with every fucked-up pieced together past, I wanted my father more than anything in this stinking world except my mom, still shunning me, and my son who had by now been preserved in formaldehyde or flushed down the toilet by the Physician of Emergency Medicine in Portland. I had been allowed no privileges as a junkie, like clean needles and real rehab that made you stop the monster in his tracks.

The bullet nick had me bleeding through my thermal sleeve, but I played the rattlesnake, tackled the loose cannon at the knees so quickly I shocked myself. He lost his footing as did Velvet, falling sideways into the ancient refrigerator. She slid to the floor in a not-so-lady-like fashion, heaving an eruption of sobs as I watched the .38 skid past her.

“Get the fucking gun,” I yelled at Velvet.

She stared at me through her swollen eyes a long extended moment that had Bobby Lee Beck squirming from my twig arms. She was deciding, cutting a choice from her memory. My violent streak would only last for so long. The loose cannon could do me in without the gun.

“Velvet!”

She rolled over, stretching her arms across the cracked linoleum floor. She grabbed the gun and stood as delicately as an orchid. Her arms outstretched, she pointed the snub-nosed .38 straight at me.

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