Hallucinations, prose by David Barrett

Diego is dead. And I killed him. That was the last favor I gave to my dying friend. Healthy in all dis­cern­able aspects, but his mind intent on killing him. What must it be like to find your­self sud­den­ly bound naked in a field cov­ered in hon­ey and unable to move as crows and vul­tures fly over­head? Diego knew how every mus­cle in the body screams out and the mind wants to move but there seems to be a dis­con­nect between the ner­vous sys­tem and the rest of the body. No mat­ter how deeply you know that you have to move, your body will not obey. It is going to do what it knows. The mind will soon lapse and fol­low. Noth­ing can be done, but to be still and hope not to be seen by the birds. Hope is all there is. There can­not be a God or god or Supreme Being. There can't be. If some­thing were out there to watch over me, how could it let me get into this sit­u­a­tion? There will be no Deus ex Machi­na.

Diego want­ed free­dom. He chased it and only it, negat­ing all else that came his way. He said "No” to so much, to every­thing until even­tu­al­ly he was chained to his free­dom. We all make choic­es. Sure. But how do you see this com­ing? How can any­one see the future? It's not pos­si­ble.

Diego said, "I'm look­ing for a lifestyle change. I'm not so thirsty now. I moved out of my liv­ing sit­u­a­tion and into hell.” This is not the time for the thirst or old lifestyles or oth­er liv­ing sit­u­a­tions. That's all anoth­er sto­ry. This is only about the HELL.

Diego's lifestyle, the one that is about to explained, is not assumed, as say, the first day of school is thrust upon a child. Instead, it's eased into. He flushed him­self out of New York City and into the not quite New Eng­land, not so South­ern, not quite Mid-west­ern cross­roads of the Amer­i­cana town of Pitts­burgh. We are also begin­ning anoth­er rela­tion­ship with Crys­tal.
I. Meth

Crys­tal Metham­phet­a­mine. I had used a lot of Ecsta­sy and Mollie…MDMA, ok, methyl diox­in metham­phet­a­mine in the past, so I didn’t fig­ure this was a huge leap. What took me by sur­prise were the new sleep­ing pat­terns. My first encounter kept me awake for 3 days. I then slept 10 hours. Next encounter 4 days. I then slept 14 hours. This went on–5 days 18 hours, 3 days 15 hours, 4 days 24 hours, 7 days 30 hours, 8 days, 48 hours, 3 days 12 hours. 90% of the awake time I ingest­ed noth­ing but Meth. The final 10% was spent try­ing to come down by not doing any more and eat­ing ice cream and Gatorade. The final day or days were pret­ty much filled with des­per­a­tion.

Cle­tus and I  tried to sell. He was from West Vir­ginia; there­fore, Cle­tus. Diego and Cle­tus ran hard. We ran real hard, sell­ing, buy­ing, smok­ing it, snort­ing it and try­ing to get with women. But, we were too much in the pur­suit of the next high to do many women. I had my woman, the divorcee, so there was not much rea­son to pur­sue oth­ers. Or, so I thought. Shit was going wrong on that front too. She was mar­ried. She was one of those mar­ried peo­ple that didn’t wear a ring. She con­front­ed me sud­den­ly with her hus­band want­i­ng to meet me. A whole tirade ensued and we split, her unwill­ing­ly and me out of my mind.

I was up for 4 or 5 days this time. A lot of ecsta­sy had been float­ing around along with acid. Cle­tus and I had got­ten our hands on about 50 pills of dif­fer­ent vari­eties and a cou­ple of 10 strips of acid. I had prob­a­bly tak­en a hit of acid along with pills on top of a shit load of Meth, but the acid had lit­tle effect. I’d say it was a short trip. We had enough pills and Crys­tal to sub­due what acid does, even though it is nor­mal­ly a dom­i­nant mind alert­er. We had run into a cou­ple of groups of young peo­ple look­ing for ecsta­sy. It’s usu­al­ly real­ly pop­u­lar among the col­lege kids, and that’s where we were find­ing our­selves. I know that in the mid­dle of this mind ben­der I met an ex-hook­er turned stripper/squatter who end­ed up at my apart­ment for a week or two. After meet­ing her, about day 3, we con­tin­ued on, snort­ing, sell­ing, this being our pathet­ic excuse for par­ty­ing. I know that it was a Sun­day. It must have been the fifth day with­out sleep when we arrived at a house rent­ed by a few col­lege girls.

Sleep, the need to sleep and the lack of sleep has been the sub­ject of many stud­ies. With sleep depri­va­tion, shad­ows begin to move on the edge of vis­i­bil­i­ty. I hear that this is due to tired eye mus­cles. All I know for sure is that cou­pled with the para­noia of amphet­a­mine use, this phe­nom­e­non becomes per­son­i­fied into a spy-like net­work of spe­cial agents called "The Shad­ow Peo­ple.” They appear at the edge of nor­mal con­scious­ness, at one of the far out­posts on the road lead­ing away from real­i­ty.

Cle­tus want­ed to get with one of those col­lege girls, but that was usu­al­ly impos­si­ble with the drugs total­ly debil­i­tat­ing him. He didn’t seem like much of a play­er before get­ting high, and I thought he was much too pas­sive-aggres­sive. Regard­less, we end­ed up at this house. We were ful­ly tweaked before we entered. Our main pur­pose was to unload a bunch of pills and that we did. These kids were so hap­py with the prod­uct (I guess they had done some the night before) that they rolled a few joints. This is what col­lege kids do. I must say that in gen­er­al the duo of Cle­tus and Diego didn’t drink alco­hol or smoke Mar­i­jua­na. Both were antipa­thet­ic to our goals of speed­ing out of our minds. We were far beyond such sopho­moric activ­i­ties, which we grouped in with huff­ing butane from cig­a­rette lighters, hold­ing your breath until you pass out, and tak­ing Rital­in. We were Speed aes­thetes. We only did the finest Crys­tal and could spot cut shit with our eyes closed.

Meth is an hon­est drug. It puts you down quick and hard. It’ll keep you up for days on end, dream­ing of sex, but too obsessed with the next hit to do any­thing about it. As you con­tin­ue to snort it or smoke it, the chem­i­cal burns your mucus mem­branes, and your throat won’t let you breathe or swal­low. It swells the entire oral cav­i­ty. It tells you to go down. It forces you to get a drink of water, to quench an unde­ni­able thirst, to soothe an inter­minable ache. Yes, it rids you of all the tor­tures of the con­scious­ness cre­at­ed by it, iron­i­cal­ly enough. And it rides you into obliv­ion. The coat­ing of shit on your teeth after days of smok­ing hit after hit after hit won’t come off. It feels dis­gust­ing and reminds you con­stant­ly that you are too. So this marathon of using, danc­ing, fuck­ing, snort­ing and smok­ing turns to obsess­ing over every­thing. I would rearrange fur­ni­ture, files and books over and over. All of this ends with it drop­ping you. It dropped me time after time. I ran out and I ran out of time, sleep­ing like a man who hasn’t slept for 5 days. And I would be out of life. You are passed out beyond reck­on­ing. There is no wak­ing from that slum­ber until the grum­blings of hunger out­weigh your need for rest.

Mar­i­jua­na is a dis­hon­est drug. You can smoke it for years and it seems to do noth­ing bad. It pro­vides focus and release from cares. So, when I smoked, I found I was more capa­ble of get­ting some things accom­plished. What in fact was hap­pen­ing was that I had few­er things that I want­ed to accom­plish. It is insid­i­ous in that it is the most social­ly accept­able ille­gal drug. I think that all the real­ly smart peo­ple dole it out to their rivals so that they can get the real­ly good green stuff. That’s just con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry shit that most pot­heads are fas­ci­nat­ed by and talk about to no end. "Did you know this? Can you believe that? George Bush actu­al­ly flew one of the planes into the World Trade Cen­ter. The way pot became ille­gal was the result of fan­cy deal­ings in Con­gress to grant the patent for the chem­i­cal process to make wood pulp into paper to a cou­ple of America’s most famous so they could get rich, well. That’s just deplorable!” Crazy shit like that and most of it based in truth. They should let us smoke it! Seri­ous­ly though, it sur­rep­ti­tious­ly made me a som­nam­bu­list. I found myself an automa­ton, ready to smoke, play video games, and watch TV. It took away my dri­ve to go out and get a girl. When they were around it was okay, but try to get me off the couch to get one. That shit stays in you for­ev­er. Okay, just like a month. Did I miss that it was mak­ing me stu­pid­er? Yes, at first, I didn’t get it. Then I read and real­ized that it was mak­ing my neu­ro­trans­mit­ters fire on dif­fer­ent paths. It made me actu­al­ly work hard­er to think with less desire to do so. Ugh. I was forced to quit thanks to the great laws of the Com­mon­wealth of Penn­syl­va­nia and the ultra smooth detec­tive work of the Uni­ver­si­ty Park Police. So after two years off, I tried the shit again. Man, it was not fun. I just sat around and did noth­ing. Sneaky "f-ing” weed.

Any­way, that shit slid right into our good time. It was mid morn­ing. The sun was out, and I had a date with the mar­ried one at four o’clock. The Shad­ow Peo­ple had stayed with the night where they are com­fort­able. I had been left alone with Cle­tus so that we could fin­ish this busi­ness and re-up. Out came these blunts. Blunts? I was wait­ing for 40s of Olde E to come out of the fridge. I was way too good for this, but I imbibed. I didn’t want to offend their offer­ing. I mean I was a pro­fes­sion­al drug addict. If I couldn’t con­de­scend to smoke a lit­tle pot with the ama­teurs every once in a while, I myself would look like an auteur. So I took a cou­ple hits as these things went around. I didn’t like it, but did my best. The girls and boys seat­ed cross-legged in a cir­cle seemed to get more chat­ty as they got stoned. They didn’t under­stand they were going to ruin their MDMA. But it was not my place to help these kids achieve their best high. How the hell were they get­ting chat­ty? For me, it seemed like the world stopped mov­ing. Please remem­ber I was on FF x64 and sud­den­ly got put on slow motion. Fuck. Every­thing was so slow, yet I could hear the words com­ing out of their mouths at the FF x 64 speed (go check your DVD’s fast for­ward speeds if you are con­fused by this). This was messed up. I was sud­den­ly not hav­ing a good time. I thought I caught my name here and there and became extreme­ly wor­ried that they were talk­ing about me right in front of my face, because I assumed they knew that I couldn’t actu­al­ly make out what they were say­ing.

Cle­tus caught my eye and he knew some­thing was wrong. I pulled out a cig­a­rette and looked like I was going to light it, though that rarely ever hap­pened with Speed. More often than not we’d just sit with them in our hands for hours, not light­ing them, being sat­is­fied to have some­thing in our hands. Cle­tus knew this trick of ours, but what must have con­cerned him was my inabil­i­ty to reg­is­ter that some­one was talk­ing direct­ly to me, telling me I couldn’t smoke that in here.

"What do you want, Cle­tus?"

I can’t hear his answer. I get up and go to the kitchen. I can still hear them talk­ing at this unbe­liev­able vol­ume, yet I can’t make out any of the words except for snatch­es of my name. Cle­tus fol­lows a bit behind me and asks me what’s wrong. I tell him I just didn’t hear that guy and I was a lit­tle upset that they were talk­ing about me even though I was right there. He said they weren’t. I men­tioned that I had heard my name. He looked at me strange­ly. Then I def­i­nite­ly heard my name from the oth­er room.

"There," I said, "she said it."

He was like, "Yeah well you are act­ing pret­ty fuck­ing strange."

"What­ev­er dude, I’m going out­side to smoke this. Tell them not to talk about me."

"They aren’t."

I look at him blankly. He tells me to nev­er mind and go smoke my cig­a­rette. I go out­side.

I can still hear them. I hear them at the same vol­ume now– out­side, two rooms away, with a door closed between us–as I did when I was sit­ting right next to them. Some­thing is wrong. Some­thing is real­ly wrong. I light the cig­a­rette and don’t smoke it. I just hold it in my hand. I know the feel­ing well. I am pre­pared to curl in a ball and soothe my stom­ach as the sick­ness ris­es to my throat, because I have got­ten myself in over my head.

But the feel­ing doesn’t come. I stand there. The voic­es con­tin­ue. I still can’t make out what they are say­ing. They know my name. I can hear parts of it. I lis­ten hard­er. I don’t know what I looked like at that moment. I prob­a­bly resem­bled a very still, very strange human being. Inside my head was tur­moil and in my gut was fear. I couldn’t stop this. I can’t stop it. I don’t like it and still I lis­ten intent­ly.

The wood­en and glass back door slams shut. Cle­tus is walk­ing towards me. He looks like hell in broad day­light, pale with dark cir­cles under his eyes. He is thin. He is so thin he looks like he can break walk­ing towards me. I look at myself. I can tell the clothes I wear don’t fit any­more. I am thin. I am wast­ing away and going insane. I hear voic­es. I am a col­lege grad­u­ate. I am not a drug addict. Yes, I am. I am fucked. I am a drug addict. I hear voic­es. I hear a voice. I am insane. No. It’s Cle­tus.

"Diego, they are freaked out,” he says qui­et­ly.

"I’m freaked out," I tell him, exas­per­at­ed. "I can hear them talk­ing about me and I am 100 feet away."

"Super­son­ic hear­ing?” he says know­ing­ly.

"What?”

"You got it. You can hear shit the oth­ers can’t. It’s from the Crys­tal you're tweak­ing.”

"I’m a para­noid shit. I’m fuck­ing scared.”

"It’ll stop. It must be from the blunt. How much did you smoke?”

"I don’t know. A cou­ple hits I guess. How much did you smoke?”

"Noth­ing.” the ever-wise Cle­tus remarks mat­ter-of-fact­ly. "I’ve been up for 5 days. I can’t smoke now. I’ll hear voic­es.”

He is jok­ing. I am not. I am shit scared. No one else is on this trip. Those kids inside are a bunch of inno­cent pot­heads, the most annoy­ing and bor­ing of wan­na-be bad ass­es. My judg­ment against pot may be jus­ti­fied by this strange con­flu­ence of sen­sa­tions.

"Cle­tus. It’s the Shad­ow peo­ple.”

"What?”

"They’re talk­ing to me and I can’t make out what they are say­ing.”

He mum­bles some­thing.

"I can’t make you out over them.”

Strange look.

"They are loud. I’m telling you this is crazy. It’s like white noise block­ing out every­thing. I’m fuck­ing scared.”

As wor­ried as I had ever seen him, he said, "You got to get home.”

"No shit. I got­ta get out of here.”

We leave the house. My apart­ment is not that far away. I am earnest­ly still ready to go do what we have to do, but it seems as if there are not more sales to make. I find com­fort in the banal chat­ter. Fig­ur­ing out what we are going to do now. The voic­es won’t stop. Maybe I’m going to be stuck like this. Is this what they mean by "hear­ing voic­es”? Have I per­ma­nent­ly dam­aged myself? What? I obsess over my sit­u­a­tion. Sud­den­ly we are at my apart­ment. Cle­tus is going to sleep at his place. He says I should do the same. I am too shit scared to think about sleep.

I obsess. I find a solu­tion. My woman, my mar­ried woman. She is com­ing to see me at four and she will be on time. She is des­per­ate to find love with me. This seems to be a strange phe­nom­e­non of mar­ried women in unde­sir­able sit­u­a­tions. She doesn’t care if I am out of my mind on Meth or what­ev­er chem­i­cal I am putting into my sys­tem. Per­haps I am just a tick­et out for her. I don’t real­ly care if she is using me or even just using my apart­ment. What­ev­er the sit­u­a­tion is today I will take full advan­tage of all she offers.

I call her from a pay­phone down the street, since I have dropped my last cell phone in a toi­let while reach­ing for drugs in my hood­ie pock­et. My mind is still reel­ing and I am still hear­ing voic­es. Para­noia has tak­en over the greater part of my con­scious­ness.

"Hey.”

"Hi, what's up? I'm kin­da busy but I will see you soon.” she says into her cell.

"I need you.”

"Oh, do you? Well you are going to have to wait a lit­tle while. I'm at Janice's Cheer­lead­ing com­pe­ti­tion,” she says.

This makes no dif­fer­ence to me. I need com­fort. I need to be held through this sit­u­a­tion. She is all that I can find, she is all that I have. She’s my only hope.

"Please just get here.”

"I will, baby”, she says as she hangs up the phone.

She arrives, as sched­uled, and does for me what I need. The voic­es even­tu­al­ly stop and I fall asleep. But, to my detri­ment, this sit­u­a­tion cements into the very fab­ric of our lives, the sym­bi­ot­ic need we have for each oth­er. This brings great pas­sion, hell, joy, ter­ror, bewil­der­ment, bro­ken hearts, bro­ken minds and bro­ken bod­ies.

A day or so after this episode I got a call from Susan’s hus­band. That accom­plished a small respite for me. He was putting his foot down, but his edict only gave her more deter­mi­na­tion to be with me. I decid­ed to stop using meth and went to vis­it my friend Pedro. He sup­plied me with two bags of hero­in. I sniffed them, and the habit took it from there. Sick in the morn­ing, off sick with one, high with 2–6 bags, then main­tain for the rest of the day.

II. Hero­in

 

I am in the sun­light. It is beat­ing on me, though not harsh­ly. There is no humid­i­ty, just com­fort­able heat. I sit on a tongue and groove porch paint­ed grey. It is low to the ground. There is a wood­en rail­ing around the edge and the porch sur­rounds three sides of a white house. The ground is flat around the porch, lush and green. There are large bush­es ris­ing two feet above the rail­ing. They bear many small dark green leaves. They lie most­ly in the shade of sev­er­al enor­mous Maple trees, which have spread their branch­es far, block­ing most of the sun. I can feel the rays hit my face. There must be a clear­ing in the branch­es. And it soothes me. I am sit­ting on a gray rock­ing chair, mov­ing effort­less­ly back and forth. I seem not to shift my weight, yet I am rock­ing back and forth. This speaks to me. It speaks soft­ly, nice­ly inform­ing with­out words. I am at peace. All is well.

I am look­ing at a pic­turesque scene. I can almost match it with the artist. I remem­ber him from the Sat­ur­day Evening Post. I don’t remem­ber the actu­al pub­li­ca­tion. I remem­ber cal­en­dars. What was his name? He paint­ed idyl­lic Amer­i­ca. He paint­ed a fan­ta­sy. He paint­ed my child­hood. I lived a fan­ta­sy. I relive it now. I live it well. I lived it well. Nor­man Rock­well. This looks like some­thing out of one of those cal­en­dars. An elder­ly man, thin, with healthy eyes that speak of hard work and sat­is­fac­tion, sits on a porch at peace with him­self and the world around him. I can see a gen­er­al store, the dusty win­dow with a hand scrawled sign mark­ing the day’s best buy. But I am leav­ing it, will­ing­ly. I don’t mind. I can’t go to some­place bad, not from here. Not from these begin­nings. But some­how grow­ing up in one of the "per­fect” places to raise a fam­i­ly in Amer­i­ca became a tor­ture as ado­les­cence waned to young adult­hood. I grew up in the Poconos, where every loca­tion, wood­ed with streams, offered bound­less oppor­tu­ni­ty for imag­i­na­tive play, where I play-act­ed many dif­fer­ent Daniel Boone/Davy Crock­ett char­ac­ters, where one sum­mer was spent col­lect­ing young trees that had fall­en, using them to con­struct a fort, deep in the woods, though the area was sur­round­ed by coun­try roads on all sides. On the days of extreme heat and humid­i­ty, in late July and August, we would ride our moun­tain bikes to the reser­voir where an old bridge, long ago burned out, still spanned the body of water. It was a steel skele­ton, pro­vid­ing a launch­ing pad for our young bod­ies to fly to the cool water. In late Feb­ru­ary and March, my two friends and I, along with our fathers, would tap local Maple trees. We col­lect­ed hun­dreds of gal­lons of sap and spent hours and hours cook­ing it down. This was made into 40 gal­lons of Maple syrup annu­al­ly, spoil­ing our three fam­i­lies ter­ri­bly. We used it as a sug­ar sub­sti­tute, on ice cream, pan­cakes, waf­fles, peanut but­ter sand­wich­es, in baked beans, cakes, rice pud­ding, any­where brown or white sug­ar was called for in a recipe.

It’s no sur­prise that I am hal­lu­ci­nat­ing Maple trees. As I sep­a­rate from the scene, I still do not feel fear. I am ris­ing upward. The trunks dis­ap­pear beneath a canopy of leaves, their 5 points so famil­iar to me. I see the gray-shin­gled roof and green lawn sur­round­ing the house where I just rocked on the porch. I roll over and the sun blinds me. I open my eyes.

Seem­ing­ly awake, bathed in the not-so-late after­noon sun, I am naked. The heat through the win­dow and closed blinds feels good on my shoul­ders. I hold myself up with my hands and some­one is beneath me. It’s Susan. My god, I am inside her. Real­i­ty flies back in my face. I am doing this act because there is noth­ing left to do. We just fin­ished the last bag. I have no hope of fin­ish­ing what I’ve start­ed with her. No hope, dope does that to you. It did it to me. I had got­ten the respite that this bag, this last bag would give me. It was time to get up off the dirty car­pet of my apart­ment, put clothes on and fig­ure out how to scam mon­ey to get what we need­ed to make it through the night. Hero­in demands that it be tak­en reg­u­lar­ly. Its main threats are intol­er­a­ble total body pain of the most hor­ren­dous nature, some­thing along the lines of pass­ing a kid­ney stone; his­t­a­mine action that caus­es inces­sant water­ing of the eyes, run­ning of the nose and ear canal block­age; and your insides com­ing out, either through your mouth, anus or both usu­al­ly result­ing in hem­or­rhoids and ulcers. So there was no ques­tion. Get more stuff.

III. Crack

 

Detox from dope accom­plished.

"Babe, we still owe EL NINO for the last bun­dle.” Susan says.

"But I know from rehab that if we are quit­ting drugs we don't have to pay the drug deal­ers we owe.”

"I real­ly feel like we owe him, he's been very good to us.” she rea­sons.

"Okay, whatever…what do you say we get an eight-ball to take the edge off.”

"Sure that sounds like fun,” she says. Like any­thing was fun at that point.

We get hooked on coke short­ly after that, the kind of coke you smoke, ‘cause that’s all EL NINO has that day.

We change up scenery, get out of my apart­ment. Then, when Susan and I have just entered her bedroom–a safe place because her hus­band has tak­en the kids to the cab­in for the week­end, sup­pos­ed­ly– he’s all of a sud­den pulling up the dri­ve­way.

"Shit!” she says.

I'm ush­ered into one of the oth­er bed­rooms and the thought of being caught brings on an extreme case of geek­ing out. I am left to hide among stuffed ani­mals in a young girl’s bed­room. I'm so scared. The only solace I can find is smok­ing hit after hit of the ready rock. I can only imag­ine how pissed Susan is going to be after she finds out how much I have smoked. But that doesn't mat­ter as I hit the pipe again and again.

She meets him down­stairs, and he does some mov­ing around the house. Then they set­tle on the front porch. I can only hear these actions and that’s tough to do. I get up from my posi­tion amongst the Care Bears and edge toward the door. I peek out and can hear muf­fled voiced out­side. I am appre­hen­sive but can no longer wait to be released from my plush prison. I stealth­ily creep out­side of the room and can see the front porch from my posi­tion on the top floor of a loft-like house. I move as silent­ly as pos­si­ble down the stairs and around to the back door. It’s a slid­ing glass door. You have to under­stand that I’m a sit­ting duck the entire time I’m mov­ing. All Susan's hus­band has to do is turn his head, which I can see clear­ly through the large front win­dows, and he would see me. The house is open from the first floor to the roof for most of the struc­ture and that’s what I have to nav­i­gate with­out being seen to make my escape.

I felt almost like James Bond in my move­ments. I assure you I was not. My skin was hang­ing off me because my mus­cles had atro­phied so much. My clothes didn’t fit prop­er­ly and most like­ly hadn’t been washed in months. But I made it out­side, around the pool and into the woods that bor­dered their prop­er­ty. I believed I had made it to safe­ty. I leaned against a tree and breathed a sigh of relief know­ing that the road was only a few hun­dred yards beyond.

I didn’t real­ize the hell that was to ensue. It was all encap­su­lat­ed in my mind. I know that now. Yet at the time…

At this point Diego falls silent. Seat­ed with his elbows on his knees his face falls to his hands. He weeps.

Fuck it dude. I was in the woods and start­ed to make my way to the road. This was espe­cial­ly hard going. I thought Susan’s hus­band was going to be able to hear every twig crack­ing and every step I took into the dried and crunchy leaves. I was cer­tain that he had fol­lowed me into the woods, though I had no evi­dence of this. It was what my mind told me. I took some solace in anoth­er hit here and there. And this only com­pli­cat­ed the prob­lem. The more coke I got into my body, the faster my brain went. My imag­i­na­tion took off. I had hid­den the coke in the band around the inside of my base­ball cap. I had tak­en it off to get anoth­er large hit and packed it into the pipe. I left the bag in the hat and lit up.

Just as I am get­ting ready to exhale, a heli­copter comes over the hori­zon. The noise is deaf­en­ing. It is fly­ing so low. I am scared. I know they can see me through the canopy of leaves, because I am sure the hus­band has informed the police and they have read­ied the most sophis­ti­cat­ed obser­va­tion tech­niques in the world, though I am in rur­al Penn­syl­va­nia. I cov­er the glass pipe with my hand and burn myself. I drop it in the leaves and drop to find it. I can’t, I am pan­ick­ing and I know they’ve seen the hat. Then the heli­copter leaves. I stop. I look around and it seems as if I am alone. I don’t feel alone. I feel like I am being watched. I pick up the hat. I must have kicked it and lost some of the coke. I find the pipe. What shit!

I put every­thing away, light a cig­a­rette, and start on my way again, when the heli­copter comes back. I hit the deck. I try to cov­er myself in leaves. It’s not work­ing. I know they can see me. It hov­ers over me. It hov­ers. Not over me, but I am con­vinced it is look­ing for me. It hov­ers for what seems like an eter­ni­ty. I make the deci­sion that I should leave the pipes by the tree. I can come back and get them when the coast is clear, but for now my mind tells me it is bet­ter to be caught with­out para­pher­na­lia. I imag­ine it won’t make much of a dif­fer­ence real­ly, as I also assume there are dog teams out look­ing for me, tak­ing my scent from a stuffed plush ani­mal. I run through the bar­ren branch­es of ear­ly spring trees. I scrape my face, my arms. I run hold­ing my hat onto my head. What is inside is more impor­tant to me than the FBI chas­ing me.

Now I can see the road. It is ahead of me. Like most Amer­i­can coun­try roads, it has lit­tle traf­fic. There is a steep hill lead­ing down to it and a more tight­ly grow­ing clus­ter of shrubs bor­der­ing it. I low­er my shoul­der and rip through it. I pay no atten­tion to what is actu­al­ly in there. I do not think of the steep hill on the oth­er side. I must get away from the dogs and heli­copters. Some­how my mind assumes that the road is a safe place. If I can make it there, I will be safe. I put all my effort into get­ting there.

Shrub­bery does not have a mind of its own. I assume most clear- mind­ed peo­ple would go around the shrub­bery I went through. I’d like to think I would have were I not being chased by a team of snarling Ger­man Shepherd’s leashed by unsa­vory law enforce­ment agents and heli­copters issu­ing numer­ous swat team mem­bers rap­pelling from ropes to pur­sue me. I am sure I would have gone around the shrub­bery if it wasn’t so imper­a­tive that I get to the safe­ty of the open air.

I didn’t go around, I went through. I went through ridicu­lous­ly! I wasn’t able to burst through as I thought I could. Imme­di­ate­ly I ran into a tan­gle of branch­es that held me back. It felt as if I’d hit a rub­ber band wall. I forged ahead only to be shot back again, but this time I had made more progress. Again! Final­ly I could see clear to the road for a split sec­ond. As the tan­gle of branch­es closed behind me, my fears sub­sided, but the ground gave way. Actu­al­ly, there was no ground, just a steep incline cov­ered by grass. My feet went first and my ass hit the ground. Grav­i­ty pulled me straight to the rain gut­ter on the side of the road. With my hands on my hat, cov­ered in bram­bles, bri­ars, brush and branch scratch­es, suave­ly, or so I thought, I emerged safe­ly. I had just turned onto the road back towards the house to find a phone, when I saw the com­pact white car with Susan’s hus­band dri­ving it com­ing direct­ly towards me.

I stood there par­a­lyzed with fear. He saw me. We made eye con­tact. My pupils dilat­ed, he passed me. He must have been laugh­ing to him­self. I ran as fast as I could to the near­est house that had a Gaze­bo in the crushed stone dri­ve­way. I felt a bit safer. It seemed as if the sud­den jolt of ter­ror, the white com­pact car, had stripped away the delu­sion­al fan­tasies of being chased by high­ly armed author­i­ties.

The front door of the house opened, and an elder­ly gen­tle­man came out. I made my way over to him, asked to use the phone and called Susan’s cell.

"Hel­lo,” she answered.

She was way too calm for me, Mr. Para­noia.

"Hey, did you notice I was gone?” I asked.

"Yes, where are you?” she asked.

"I'm at the nurs­ery down the street; I will be wait­ing in the gaze­bo.” I whis­pered.

"The Gaze­bo?” she asked.

"Yes, please just get here fast.”

It seemed like I wait­ed there all after­noon. But it was only a half hour in which I man­aged to unpack cig­a­rettes to use them to smoke crack, which was wild­ly unsuc­cess­ful, so I gave up on it and wait­ed. She arrived and we head­ed back to my apart­ment, mak­ing stops to get more pipes and more coke.

Sev­er­al hours lat­er, safe­ly ensconced in my piti­ful apart­ment, night fell. What once was a sim­ply dec­o­rat­ed bachelor’s home had devolved into a stop­ping post for drug addicts and a haven for my mar­ried woman. We re-entered and I looked at an unfa­mil­iar sight. It was the apart­ment I had rent­ed, but it had turned it into a crack house. Dirty dish­es had tak­en over the mod­est counter space. My desk and kitchen table were cov­ered with papers and shit to no end. She and I rarely used that room. So we made our way to liv­ing room, to our place in front of the sleep­er sofa, behind which was locat­ed a large alcove that I used as a clos­et. Back there dirty clothes cov­ered the floor, two feet deep. I had none that were clean. Most of my oth­er pos­ses­sions had been sold.

We were in my wretched apart­ment. My stink­ing fes­ter­ing abode. Home. Night had fall­en and the col­lege stu­dents up the block were hav­ing a par­ty. The win­dows were opened behind closed blinds, let­ting in what lit­tle breeze exist­ed, along with the heat, noise and coal dust. The dust came from north and south, east and west. Wretched, like I said. Oth­er col­lege stu­dents were arriv­ing and walk­ing up the street. I could hear their con­ver­sa­tions, their yelling and gen­er­al mer­ri­ment. But it seemed as if they were call­ing for Susan.

Here it comes again. I can see it now. It was as if a tsuna­mi forty feet high, seen a mile out from the beach, was head­ing inex­orably, descend­ing to reek hav­oc on the nor­mal exis­tence of defense­less crea­tures. I could see it com­ing, so I did what any addict would do. I took the largest hit I could, try­ing my best cow­ard­ly defense against what my twist­ed lit­tle mind could fore­see. How­ev­er, instead of doing what I want­ed, instead of wip­ing the slate clean, instead of bring­ing me the nescience I desired, it only ampli­fied what was going on in my brain.

Susan made a move­ment towards the win­dow. I thought she was mak­ing a sig­nal to the men wait­ing for her. I heard a noise down below. Sud­den­ly I was con­vinced that her pimp had tak­en up res­i­dence in the aban­doned first floor apart­ment. I was delu­sion­al. I was cow­er­ing in fright. Susan closed the win­dow. In doing so she had to lift the blind. I believe I see a gath­er­ing of young men on the hill wait­ing patient­ly for me to fall out. Lit­tle do they know how high I am. I know what I have to do. I tell Susan to take a hit. She glad­ly does so. We fuck. I get her in front of the win­dow and open the blind. We are stand­ing in the small alcove in front of the win­dow. Her back it to me, her hands stretched high onto the wall, her waist and knees bent slight­ly. I am behind her, grip­ping her waist hard with my hands.

"What are you doing?” she says with such ease.

"Giv­ing them a look at what they want,” I reply know­ing what she is plan­ning to do.

"What are you talk­ing about?” she asks, becom­ing con­cerned.

"The guys who are wait­ing out there for you.”

"There’s no one out there wait­ing for me. I’m here with you.” she ways with that drip­ping san­guine liar’s tone.

"Susan, I know about Jer­ry down­stairs.” I dropped the bomb.

"Jer­ry? What the hell are you talk­ing about?”

"You know.”

"I don’t talk to him unless you are with me.

"Isn’t he sell­ing you for more rock?”

"What’s wrong with you?”

"Noth­ing.” I try to cov­er. "I’m sor­ry. Can we just do this?”

So we begin. And after months and months of superb per­for­mance, where I was nev­er left with a wilt­ing phal­lus, it final­ly hap­pened to me. It often does so with addicts. We often get so high that most bod­i­ly func­tions are ren­dered moot. I have always prid­ed myself on my viril­i­ty. But now, when it mat­tered most, when I need­ed to show the goods to the buy­er to up the price, I was left limp.

Susan sees me look­ing out the win­dow from her knees in front of me. I am caught. I can’t help myself. I am con­vinced that she is the cen­ter of a large pros­ti­tu­tion ring and that some­how between ful­fill­ing my needs, her husband’s, and her five children’s’, she has time to enter­tain thir­ty to forty men simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. We dis­en­gage. She screams.

I can’t remem­ber the fight. I only know that she left to go home and came back. This was the begin­ning of a short but ruth­less breakup.

And that is a sto­ry for anoth­er time. That was 5 years ago. Diego is dead. I excised him from me. I lift­ed his weight off of my brain, removed his spindly fin­gers from my throat, washed the clam­mi­ness he left on my skin, and I wept. In poet­ic ter­mi­nol­o­gy not suit­able for Hall­mark cards, I was dri­ven to mad­ness by his inces­sant need for more. It was like tak­ing the wrong turn into a des­o­late land over and over again. It was a des­o­late land where chem­i­cal­ly induced para­noid schiz­o­phre­nia exist­ed side by side with real­i­ty. Diego was fright­ened of it. I've nev­er seen him scared of any­thing else.

I've mourned the loss of Diego. I miss his swag­ger, rapi­er wit, and sug­ary tongue. I don't miss his head­long pur­suit of death. He loved with no thought of being hurt. He wept with­out fear of repeat­ing it. And he laughed with impuni­ty. But, as I said, Diego is dead.

 

David Bar­rett is cur­rent­ly a writer liv­ing in Philadel­phia. He grad­u­at­ed from Penn State Uni­ver­si­ty a cou­ple weeks before Sep­tem­ber 11 2001. He went on a self destruc­tive ben­der for a few years but has since returned to tell many sto­ries in many for­mats. He has had "Sin­gle Cell" and "Menage a Trois", two one act plays per­formed in a staged read­ing in New York City. Most recent­ly his one man show "More Bet­ter Life" had a suc­cess­ful run in the Philadel­phia Fringe Fes­ti­val. At the urg­ing of a the­atri­cal pro­duc­er he has endeav­ored to tell the sto­ry of his recov­ery from addic­tion. "Hal­lu­ci­na­tions" is the first attempt and sub­se­quent chap­ter in that sto­ry.

"Hal­lu­ci­na­tions" is a short mem­oir in which I deal with my past addic­tions through the eyes of my alter ego Diego. It takes us through my twen­ty-fifth year of my life which I spent in Pitts­burgh Penn­syl­va­nia. The three hal­lu­ci­na­tions serve as mark­ers for both my self-destruc­tive spi­ral and grow­ing co-depen­den­cy. I've writ­ten this sto­ry four years after I stopped using to purge my demons, and share my sto­ry with friends.

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One Response to Hallucinations, prose by David Barrett

  1. Glad you're back. Hope you can stay.

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