You never liked me. I don’t know why. You always discouraged and demeaned me at every opportunity, and because of that I’ve never been open to improving the situation. We never confronted the problem, just put it on the back burner to simmer away for years.
Hunt & Peck Publishing
101 Avenue of Avenues
New York, NY 10001
September 8, 2015
2 Common Place
Crimea River, NJ 08080
Dear Ms. Turner,
Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, it does not meet our present requirements. We wish you luck with other publishers.
It’s noon, and Amelia and Herb are standing outside their favorite coffee shop on Cherry Street. A few months ago, they would have been inside, peering with excitement across a cloisonné tablecloth through a clear, glass vase at the refracted other—two more urban youth taking a quick break from achieving their wild, hybrid goals. Amelia would return to the office to find her co-worker, Tiffany, standing next to her desk chewing ice from a large tumbler and admiring her motivational posters.
But things have changed.
The longer I stay away from people
The less human I become
Wondering if there’s something
Wrong with me
Because I don’t miss
the frenetic motion of my old life.
Coming back from work that day, I had the obscure idea of playing with a thousand-sided dice.
“O-Oh, sorry, I’m busy over the weekends, kids are a handful. Maybe another time?”
“No, It’s fine. Another time then. Take care.”
A prolonged beep bounced around in my ear. After the call ended, I realized how small my contact list was. Falling back into the white sheets, I started at the ceiling. Rain trickled down the windows of the apartment, clicking with each touch. A dull ache ran through my arms and shoulders. Two tickets to a local amusement park sat slotted between my fingers. Using both seemed out of the question. A timid man stood inside the mall, advertising his tickets. It seemed that he wasn’t going to put them to use. Tangling with ticket reselling was never my thing, so the entire situation was more than dreamlike. I bought the tickets, of course, at less than market price. I was too delirious after work.
“Have you seen my wife?” says Mr. Blakeney, his hand coming down on the slate tile counter with a thump.
“Ah, hello, sir. We’ve been expecting you,” replies the neatly dressed concierge, his dark red uniform smartly pressed, metallic buttons glinting in the light from the old-fashioned brass desk lamp.
“My wife isn’t here?” says Mr. Blakeney.
Savannah went missing on Thursday, or at least that’s when Ida noticed she was gone. Ida had missed work a couple days in a row due to a violent case of the stomach flu that had her puking in a trash can every few hours. When Ida returned to work on Thursday and planted herself in the swivel chair at her desk, she realized Savannah’s cubicle had been completely cleared out. Her telenet screen and in-desk keyboard had been removed and replaced with an outdated monitor and detached keyboard. A disconnect? They really hired a disconnect? Ida sighed and wondered why in the hell their HR manager would let this slide.
The disconnect, Ida soon discovered, was a man named Parker Kavanaugh. He replaced Savannah at the very beginning of the following week and soon enough she was a fragment of Ida’s imagination. She forgot about her quickly.
I forget where we got it from. I forget where we got any of our drugs from. Adrian would make a call. He would sometimes be hesitant to make a call, like maybe he had burned that bridge a few times before. Eventually it was 4 a.m. and we got a few hits of acid. We sat on a bench at the 23rd Street subway station waiting for it to kick in. If you know anything about drugs, you know that after an hour, or what seems like an hour, you confidently decide that this shit is weak or fake because it hasn’t hit you yet. So you take more and then, immediately, the first drugs take over and you have a much longer night than you planned.
Starting an acid trip at 4 a.m. is not smart. And taking a second dose at 4 a.m. is what you do when you are with Adrian.
I’m emaciated, wearing blue corduroy’s—sitting on the splintered wooden floor.
I look at the man, Kevin, who injects himself—the needle permanent as it pierces the skin. When I watch him, all I think of is when it’s going to be my turn. He’s used heroin intermittently for fourteen years and fights to find a vein.