Things had been crazy for the last two, three weeks. I had seen these nights for twenty years and they never got any better, never got anywhere at all. No sleep, no deals, no women, woman; just another run of no luck, bad luck, nothing happening. Went to Portland, just because, tossed around in a bed I didn’t like, in a house that was filled with the residue of the daily discomfort of the people who were trying to put their life back together. Too many drugs when I got home, too many hookers, then briefly, a new woman, no hooker, someone I wanted to care about and lost in the storm of drugs that followed. The flat gray streaks of dawn were outside the window; me, I was on the couch alone with everything going on inside, panic, pain, my cocaine nerves working at supersonic speed. It was time to move, to get out.
I looked in the bathroom mirror to see if I was okay, and saw my death head looking back at me. The drum beat of nerves was louder, more demanding then ever before. I was face to face with my nightmare jungle. Slimy with cold sweat and fear, I knew I was in trouble, serious like a heart attack trouble. There was a pain in my chest that wasn’t just bad coke; it was too much of nothing for way too long. The Reaper was finally playing his hand, I could feel him right there, right now. I needed to get going to get some help. An ambulance would take too long and the hospital was just up the road. I could drive there.
So, I do. I have a heart attack running and I’m overjoyed, about being able to make right turns on the red lights like you can here in Canada. I found the ER, as I went through the doors a nurse standing behind the reception desk saw me and started to moving toward me, definite, competent and sure. My time for lies was over.
“I’ve done something really stupid. Please help me. “
She took my arm, led me to a gurney, asked questions as she hit my arm with an IV of some wonder drug that in the end probably made the whole thing a good scare with very little damage. Painkillers and blood thinners and as the darkness finally came in I thought of the kids and prayed for sunrise, for release.
In the morning window, sunlight in the world and me, unbelievably, here to witness it.
I met Paula a couple of months later at a local island bar where she was working. Between sets of a legendary, local rock band, I asked her to go to the after party with me. She took me home to her house, we slept together with no sex. She seemed sweet, gentle and steamy. I was sure we would work, that she would help me save my sorry ass life. Every sunrise was a gift. There was everything to live for, no more dying every night on some far off lonesome hill. No more lost romantic hero in my own fairy-tale. We felt like forever in every morning. We got married, six months later: a small island wedding, friends, family and Van Morrison’s “Perfect Fit” playing in the background.
After all that, it didn’t work out. Not only did it not work, it ended like stepping on a land mine, noise, fury and the end of things as if in a heartbeat.
There are moments when I remember that I loved her. It makes me smile. But the drum is beating again, the drugs are running and the nights, oh those nights, are never really over anymore, interrupted sometimes by the gray light of a rainy, “uncertain dawn” and the sounds of a stranger tossing and turning in my bed.
Photo by Michael Lebowitz – All rights reserved.