Tag Archives: anxiety

Are You My Angel?

It was late.
It was just me and this dark-haired girl
on the platform at the subway station
and she was crying.

She kept looking over,
and I kind of felt bad
despite everything.

“Hey….hi! Are you okay? Listen, it can’t be that bad.”
She laughed without humour. “This coming from you.”
“What?” I asked, taken aback.
“I’m not crying for me.” She lifted her head up. “I’m crying for you.”
“Wait…” I said, “what do you mean?”
She handed me a slip of paper. I, almost unconsciously, slipped it into my pocket.

“Hold up,” I said. “I don’t get this. What’s…”
The train came roaring into the station. I backed away confused and instinctively moved through its doors as they opened. I didn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t like that at all. The small-statured beauty was still crying on the platform as the train left. I should have felt nothing because that’s what I was used to. But I did.

How strange life was.

At home, I pulled the gun out of the bag and placed it gently on the coffee table, threw the Ziploc bag stuffed with sleeping pills I got from Eddie beside it, then did a fat rail of cocaine that he also got me with the rest of my money.

I sat down on the torn couch and looked around my shitty apartment. I broke tonight down into three stages. Let’s start with stage two: Dose myself with the sleeping pills. All of them. Down it with vodka seven. This way it was a guaranteed back up to stage three: blow my fucking brains out. And if I chickened out then stage two was there to take care of me anyway. It all sounded like a great plan but maybe it wasn’t. I mean, I wasn’t a trained professional in these matters but really…who was?

Let’s back up to stage one, the fun stage: get fucked on blow and enjoy the last hours a worthless piece of shit like me had on this earth. Yes, I was going to go all the way up before I came all the way down, permanently. This wasn’t sad. It wasn’t. Life was sad.

I was once a wealthy businessman. I had a wife and three kids (once). A house with a nice garden that the afternoon sun struck with a luminous intensity that reminded me of my childhood. Life seemed to just give and all I did was gain. And that is what it was for a time. But in the end, we all know that it eventually becomes a process of losing –regardless of how slow or how fast– everything that we had once accomplished, everything that we once held dear.

It may be good for you now. Yes, it just might be. In fact, it may be all golden roses on a silver platter –but you just give it time because that’s all you need. That’s all. See, we all fall. We all fail. We’re all fucked. And that’s when you start to miss things that aren’t there anymore. You miss them so much that you become a ghost yourself.

I am a ghost. That coke hit me faster than usual.

I would like to say that my habits were built from heartbreak but that was only partly true. Now they were all that I had left. I was a loser junkie with a bad heart and nothing was going to get better for me. Nothing. I guess I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was or maybe it was just age. Didn’t matter. It was time to get off the train.

But the girl…why? Why care? I didn’t get it, and it rapidly started to gnaw at me. I took the slip of paper out and looked at the several digits and dashes. A phone number. What the shit? Okay…

I was so unnerved by the situation at the time –knocked out of my determination for my own death and the timetable that I had constructed around it– that it completely took me off guard. I was always like that though to some extent: lost, wandering in thought and not really paying any attention to what was going on around me, like every time I went the grocery store.

“Fuck,” I said and took the gun and the pills and tossed them under the sink. Took my phone out and called the number half-expecting a hotline. But it was the girl, tears in her voice.

“Hello?”
“You don’t have to cry anymore,” I said.
The girl laughed in a really sad, relieved way. “I’m Mary.”
“Alex.” I returned, wondering who the, what the, how the fuck.

I guess some things were worth finding out. Really, what the Hell was I doing anyway? I guess that life can surprise you, even when you think that it was already over.

“Are you my angel?” I asked as I eyed the bag of coke.

How strange life was.

I Take You Everywhere

“Hey Thomas,
haven’t seen you in a while
and when I have
you’ve been really distant.”

Thomas gazed across the park
at an empty playground.
“Yeah…” He said.

“I know it’s been hard for you
since Michelle left,
but it’s been awhile now.”

Thomas envisioned Michelle on the swings,
long legs white in the sunlight,
soaring through the air.
A stubborn angel with her
hair back, laughing.
“I’m over it,” he said.

“Great, so come out and see your friends.”

Thomas watched as Michelle
lay back on blanket,
those ridiculously over-sized sunglasses
he always hated
gracing her Elvin face.
“I will,” he said.

“OK, so…when?”

Michelle was calling Thomas over.
There was an empty space
on the blanket
beside her.
“Soon,” Thomas said.

She had on his favorite
summer dress. The one that still
hung in the closet like a ghost.
The only thing she left
as though on purpose.

“Soon.”

Can You See Them Yet?

Sometimes I hear people
right behind me,
and I don’t know who they are.
All that I know is that
they’re not really there.

It all started with Alice.
That wasn’t her name.
It was what she was after…or who.
She wouldn’t shut up about it.

I take long walks, you see.
One day her voice caught up to me
and out of thin air came:
“Alice wasn’t home today.
I want to show you where she lives but
I follow you. You don’t follow me.
You can’t. That’s not the way it works.”

“What? Hello?” I turned around and saw no one.
“Is anybody there?”

“Don’t be a lunkhead. I was fucking telling you about Alice.”

From there it didn’t stop.
Next came James,
“Alice always wears green, but don’t tell her I told you that.”
Then Marcy,
“Alice isn’t as nice as she comes across. Her kindness is a charade.”
And Sean,
“Alice pretends that she doesn’t want me. But that’s all it is, pretend.”

I don’t know what they look like
because I can’t see them
but they are right there
and nowhere at the same time.

I started walking faster, but it didn’t help
because the voices were always
just behind me:

“Alice is being a real bitch.”
“Oooh, I just love your skin.”

It wasn’t just one place, one walk, one road.
It was at the mall, at the bank, the bakery,
on the street or in my shitty apartment
as I sat on the recliner watching TV.

“What’s he doing?”
“He’s just sitting there staring at that talking screen.”
“Does Alice know?”

I don’t know who they are
(who the fuck is Alice?)
or what they are or where or
how they can see me or if they only see me
or a million other things.

The only thing scarier than this being all in my head and that
I was going batshit crazy
was the possibility that this wasn’t
-that this was real and
what that implied.

Two weeks later I got my answer
from once again, the unlikeliest of places
because our expectations of life
and all that it entails
are meant to be smashed, obliterated,
run over and then set on fire
every single step of the way.

So, there I was on a Monday
at the shop when
Marcus (the mechanic)
nodded me over, wrench in hand.

He wasn’t working on my vehicle just yet
and I didn’t really know him so
I approached with caution
because humans were dangerous.

As Marcus went back to changing a tire he said,
“Alice’s friends have been telling me about you…”
in a happy, sing-song voice.

“Alice?” That sounded so familiar that it was painful.
It still took me a second to process because,
“you mean the voices in my head?”

I wanted to grab Marcus and shake him
and scream and cackle madly
but I just stood there staring at him…stunned,
because none of this seemed real.
I could smell the oil, the exhaust, the lubricants, the cold air outside.
The lighting was harsh and glaring as usual. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
But yet, everything had changed forever
in one casual conversation.

Marcus shook his head and laughed.
He slowly turned to me,
set his wrench down on the cart
and with excited eyes said,

“Can you see them yet?”

THE MARVEL SUPERHERO ON PARK STREET

I was walking by a large Victorian house on Park Street when from up on the top floor balcony I heard someone calling out. I turned to see a girl –maybe ten years old– leaning over the railing so that her long hair hung straight down.

“Hey Mister, do you want to see a trick?”
I shrugged. “Sure, why not?”

“Okay!” She shouted and clapped her hands excitedly. Smiling, she turned and went back into the house only to appear at the front door three floors down not even a second later. She opened it, came out onto the porch, spun around with her arms held out and went back in. Next thing I know there is a knock on the top floor window where she waves and turns away. Again, before I could formulate a thought she reappears out the front door and this time she walks down to where I stood on the sidewalk.

“What do you think?” She asked and folded her arms across her chest. I didn’t even have the do the math; there was just no way was she faster than my eyes could travel from the ground floor to three stories up and back down.

“You have a twin. Throw the same clothes on and have fun with unsuspecting strangers.”

“Nuh-uh! NUH-UH!” She whipped her head back and forth viciously enough that the ends of her hair threatened to blind me and then shot me a glare like I was the biggest dipshit ever.

“Okay, then you’re a Marvel superhero.” I returned.

Behind her, a lady opened the door. “Who are you talking to, Cadence?”

“Absolutely nobody, Mother.” The girl stuck her tongue out at me and crossed her eyes before running back inside. “Noooboooodddyyyyy!!!”

“Hey!” I called to the mother as she was closing the door. “She has a sister, right?” I asked, curious.

“What sister?” The lady looked at me like I was a meth-fueled derelict and when the door was half closed she held it there and scowled at me as though I were the world’s most active pedophile.

“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have asked that.” I said to myself as I continued on down the sidewalk. “This is why I try not to go outside anymore.”

And this was the second house I couldn’t walk by in this neighbourhood. The first one? Now, that’s a strange story…

THE INCUBUS OF IRVING ST.

Tina was pulling grocery bags from her trunk when she spotted Bono walking across the street. That’s right, U2’s very own Bono looking like he had just stepped out of the ZooTV tour with the shiny black suit, chest-open shirt, and fly sunglasses. There was no mistaking it because nobody else looked like him. Tina immediately dropped what she was doing and began to follow the singer with complete abandon.

Ireland was a long way away; what was he doing here? Who cared? She wanted to ravage that rock god sex beast right there on the curb. Tina may have been pushing fifty, but she still hit the treadmill and had some bang to her buck –never mind the late afternoon Chianti’s.

Tina kept calling his name, but other than slightly turning her way and showcasing a broad, cocksure smile, Bono kept on walking like he owned the planet. What a tease! Tina became so distracted in watching that hot ass rattle and hum down the sidewalk that she must not have been paying very much attention to anything else as it seemed so sudden that they were all the way down Irving Street to where it met the railway beside the overpass.

Tina never ventured into this area as she had always thought it to be a haven for vicious hobos and violent meth addicts, but now there was no one in sight. At the dead end right before the sidewalk ended into a wall heavily laden with graffiti, Bono finally turned around. Tina only then noticed that there was something different about Bono’s face.

He wasn’t smiling anymore.

Beth was in the process of unlocking her niece’s front door when she heard a knocking sound on the trunk of her car. She turned to see Jim Morrison smile as he patted the taillight and wink as he walked away. There was no mistaking it. No way that wasn’t Jim Morrison. He didn’t look like anybody else.

Wait, wasn’t he supposed to be long dead? He was so hot. Who cared? Beth was freshly divorced from Asshole after twenty-seven long-suffering years of dull and dry nothing, had only a stuffed bank account to show for it, and was dying for something that didn’t sag all the way down. She dropped everything that she was doing and began to follow him.

The Lizard King strutted down the sidewalk without a care in the world. Beth could tell by the fit of his tight leather pants that it wasn’t just his face that looked like it was sculpted by Michelangelo. Where was this iconic piece of deliciousness taking her? What was he going to do to her when they got there? She shivered thinking about the possibilities. Beth must have been thinking about them so hard that they had walked all the way down to the end of Irving Street and she didn’t even notice.

As they came to the abrupt end of the walkway, Beth stopped and realized that she had never been this close to the bridge before, mostly because it was an isolated area that she didn’t consider safe, even when walking Poochie.

There, she found a huge wall covered with painted eyes of all different colours and sizes staring down at her with strange words streaked across them that looked far from English. It all seemed so…Far East, Hindu maybe.

Something shiny on the ground caught Beth’s eye. She leaned down to inspect what was the silver buckle on a black purse. She looked around and quickly discovered that there were other purses of all colours and styles – some modern, but mostly outdated– scattered haphazardly across the lot.

And shoes too, some new but others looked old, very old –as in falling apart and completely colourless, old. Noticing how strange these items were, Beth leaned in closer to examine the pebbles that crunched under her feet and to her growing horror she realized that those weren’t pebbles at all, but teeth –along with piles of jackets, fabric, clumps of hair, and other things that sprang into clarity that her mind almost would not accept, almost. The whole area was covered with this…people residue in every direction.

Beth looked up with a sinking heart, arms and legs frozen in fear, as the singer turned around.

And Jim wasn’t smiling anymore.

The Window

“Did you take your medication, Hon?
The neighbours complained again.
The walls are thin and
they can hear you laughing and
talking to the window.

And now you won’t talk to me
or look at me; you just continue to stare
at the damn television.

I’ve tried yelling and even shaking you and
I’ve never touched a woman like that in my life.

I’m not comfortable with it, but at the same time
I am tired, I am frustrated, and
I am angry
-but above all I’m scared, okay?

I am really scared because I don’t know what’s happening to you,
or what happened to us.

Why won’t you speak to me?
I don’t remember doing anything but my best for you.
I’m sorry that I have to work most of the time at the factory
and that I lost my job in the city and that
we had to move to this town
in the middle of nowhere and into
this destitute ground floor one-bedroom apartment
with just a torn couch and a cheap TV set.

Remember our wedding day?
You were so nervous standing with me at the front waiting for the priest;
so beautiful, vibrant and free.
If only we could go back
to that day –that moment,
and just start over somehow,
somewhere else.

Now you never leave the couch anymore.
You won’t eat.
You won’t change your clothes.
I don’t even know if you go to the bathroom.

And when I hear you talking in the middle of the night,
it scares the Hell out of me.

Who are you talking to?
There is nothing in the window.
Nothing around it.
I’ve checked.

It’s just your voice.
Nobody else’s.
That’s right, there is nobody
ever there at all
…or is there?

Who comes to you?
Why do you only talk to them?

What the Hell is going on? I’m falling apart and you have to talk to me…”

Depleted, Gary left the room and his unresponsive wife, went back into the bedroom where he had once lain with her, and pulled out a bottle of whiskey from the bedside drawer. It was the only way to sleep these days. He had nobody to go to –no family, no money for a doctor and no friends in this town. He had run out of options, so until Gary could think of something –Good Ol’ Jack was there to help numb the pain until sweet beddy-bye.

But sure enough in the middle of the night Gary was awakened by her voice talking loudly and laughing like everything was some sort of insane inside joke. Gary threw off the covers and stormed into the living room only to find his wife lying on the couch with her eyes wide open staring vacantly at a television that was turned off. Gary shouted in frustration and punched the wall until faceless neighbours shouted for him to stop with threats of calling the police. That wasn’t him a year ago; that wasn’t Gary at all. Things have spiraled out of control into a deep, dark pit.

Gary returned to the bedroom, looked at the clock and began to get dressed for work. It was going to be another hard day on the floor. Best start early.

That evening Gary returned to an empty apartment. There was no dormant wife lying on the couch anymore. He stood there staring at the empty space where she had once been as the last of the overcast sky fell into the room like a dead weight.

She didn’t take anything, not even any of her clothes. There was no note. There was nothing. Gary went through the motions of filing a police report. He had canvased the neighbourhood and reached out to any old friends or associates that he could locate with nothing to show for it. But all along he had known that there was nothing to find because deep down inside Gary knew that she had never really left the apartment at all.

Even during that time Gary would some nights be woken up by his wife’s voice on the other side of the wall talking to nobody –her laughter laughing at nothing– and would dash into the living room only to find it empty.

Also during that time, Gary had attempted to logically reconstruct what could have happened to her and arrived only at further frustration. So, it was time for some crazy thinking because crazy was the only thing left.

Gary was forced to come up with a different approach altogether because no matter how far he could get away from this terrible place, if Gary couldn’t find out where his wife went, he would never truly leave here, and Gary could not bear the thought of living the rest of his life like that.

The next night Gary laid on the couch, turned on the television set, and started flipping through channels. Perhaps he wasn’t even aware of what he was doing at first. It wasn’t until he turned the volume down a little lower just like his wife had as not to disturb Gary after he went to bed. That’s when he began to hear it; to feel it. It was so faint at first, but soon it became clear to Gary that whatever the window was, this was its first handshake.

Gary reasoned in the end that if it came for her then it might come for him too. Maybe it couldn’t help itself.

“That’s right, here I am, so come on. Time for me to join the party.” Gary looked up at the insidious window. He could hear voices now along with awfully strange laughter and began to see colours and slight silhouettes dancing around the window frame. It was all gradually becoming louder and more real.

“Alright,” Gary whispered to the darkening room, “let’s do this.”

THE DEALER

“I’m going to tell you what’s going to happen if you go to the hospital in order to save you some time. First, they’ll take some tests, stick needles into you, give you some saline and sedatives, pump your stomach and slide a catheter into your dick. None of which will be pleasant under your current condition of duress. None of which will work.”

I got high with a couple friends eight days ago. Ecstasy and a little bit of coke, nothing crazy. But we haven’t been able to come down since. None of us. Drinking wouldn’t do anything. Sleeping pills? Forget it. Wasn’t able to sleep at all, barely could eat. Called into work. Couldn’t drive. And it was getting worse. Had to go back to the source, the source that was this voice over the phone.

“And when they don’t find anything physically wrong with you they’ll bring you to the next step: psychological evaluation. Welcome to the psyche ward. By this time you’ll be so aggravated that they might consider you a danger to yourself and others and that’s ninety days right off the hop. Either way, you keep up this ‘I’m high and I can’t come down’ story and they’ll keep you in for 72 hours at first for observation, then two weeks, then a month. Jesus, a month in the loony bin is enough to drive anyone insane, especially one who is already fucked up on what nobody else can see or detect and God knows what else they’ll make you swallow and how that’s going to react with what you’ve already ingested. The drug is a ghost. One that only you see. I made it that way.”

Went to Derek’s. He was way worse than I was. Kept shouting that he needed Christ. Yeah, got it. Sarah couldn’t even look at me; she was in some catatonic state. Kept pulling at her hair and clawing at her own face. Something had to be done. None of us wanted to go to the hospital and admit what we were on. Our episode would go on public record. Future employers would see it. Cops, family –it was a no go. But when it got to the point where that didn’t matter anymore that’s when the fucking phone rang. Guess who it was?

“Am I painting a somber picture here of how things are going to go? Because I can give you names of people just like you that are still there, wasting away in some hospital basement without the ability to even construct a sentence. Or what about the ones that saw it coming and decided to take things into their own hands not bearing the thought of eventually becoming a vegetable that nobody gives a fuck about. Nah, not them. Smart ones, you see?”

The dealer. Like he was reading my mind. Just like that. And things got worse the more he talked until it made the trip I was on the least of my fucking problems. But why? Derek and Sarah were already falling apart and would probably never recover. What was it worth to ruin people’s lives like this? The answer I got made me realize that my problems were just starting because if I was looking for empathy I was in the belly of the wrong beast.

“Why you guys? Motherfucker, why not? You got high off my shit and now I control you and that is the way it goes. I’ve built this. I’ve got designs. Nobody asks where it comes from anymore so this gets easier all the time and I’m aiming even higher. Ha, get it? Remember that I control you because I control how you feel now. I can make it good just like the very first time you ever dropped, or I can make it so bad that you’ll want to die. Just die. That’s all. We all know how lonely and final it can all be. Just one little tweak and your whole narrative will change.”

What do you want?

“Now we come to the point. What do I want? Well, that all depends on what you want, my new friend. You want out of this? You want to be able to go back to your job, your family, your girl or guy or whatever the fuck you’re into? I need you to do something for me and I’ll make it stop. Are you ready to listen? Do I have your full attention?”

Yes. I’m listening.

“Good, cause there’s this party coming up and you’re bringing the treats.”

 

Part 1 of 2. Catch Part 2 Here: The Party Drug

Her Flower is the Rain

She absently plays
with the stitches across
her lips.

Her eyes
have more sky
than sky.

Laughter like wind chimes
she holds out her hands
to collect the rain

hides all her light
where nobody is allowed

and I’ve walked past her a million times

a million times.

Waiting For The Sun

I don’t know
where the light is
anymore
in all of this running around.

Grace
has left me
and I’m still young
bent from callous, careless hands
left
a beaten graffitied trashcan
turned over and
motionless at the mouth of an alley.

There is always a child
screaming into my ear
from somewhere deep inside.

It’s not what it used to be

and the pain-killers
are killing me.

I wish that I could
close the door
shut the windows
keep you out
all of you
not let you in
-this feeling this feeling
rises
like the angry voice
of the night city.

I’ve carved my words
through heart
and from wounds
my endless rage
and my way
through endless everything.

Eyes darkened,
child,
I can finally see through the night.

Breathless,
I wait for the sun.

TUESDAY 4AM

As dreams leave me
like waves receding from a beach
I am left with the worry
that I have inherited from my mother
and since there is no one tool
that would fix all of my problems
I dart between them
like a hummingbird amongst flowers
not coming up with anything
but madness
I am left to fixate on a
corner of the ceiling
lit by the pale light of
an alarm clock
that’s dripping minutes
all over my tired face.

Sometimes when life is
kicking your ass
it just wants to grab you
by the balls too.