Randy left cold Chicago with flashes of red and white pulsing in his aching mind. Sadie laughed at the trunk full of party favors, like something out of a Hunter S. Thompson tale. Six days into the stash and Randy stopped understanding the world as a place with rules and laws; not just the kind enforced by police but the kind enforced by cosmic forces or deities. He floated and spoke to creatures from other dimensions, he and Sadie made some kind of love in vats of marshmallow fluff and beds of shining light.
Something told him the red and white wasn’t Christmas. The half-memory, half-hallucination made him think of Santa Claus, but the shiver in his spine and the empty passenger seat where Sadie usually sat was less festive. He was coming up on Springfield and the snow was coming down. The snow was white, and fluffy, and it reminded him of something they might have fought about. The sky was gunmetal gray, and that reminded him of something, too.
The backfire from the truck brought back the sound of the gun in his hand, and the puzzle fit together. The cold, white snow. The red blood.
I’ve misplaced my feet; somewhere in the fog of dope smoke and white lines and tight shoes and forever dancing, they wandered off. Probably I should go, the best place would be home and the next best thing would be upstairs to my room, but neither has the music and neither has the void. The worst is when you realize the music throbbing in your ears is residual, an echo left from records that have long since been packed into a van and driven off, across a bridge or to a downtown garage. It’s usually the heavy snap of the house lights coming on, the resigned, sober sigh of the bouncer saying, Come on everyone let’s go party’s over.
Then you see it’s only you and the scattered handful of remaining ghouls, sunken cheeked and numb toed, blinking at each other with rheumy eyes and self-loathing smirks. We’ll drift like seeds on a prairie wind.
I find myself in a filthy bathroom stall at some all-night diner. My companion is a greasy pair of hands attached to a blazer with a set of Porche keys in the pocket. In my compact’s mirror, there is lipstick on my teeth.
Veins of chemical-smelling smoke settled around Bud Verney’s head like a crown. The sense of wild invincibility did not particularly appeal to him, but the sacrifice was worth it. If only Lonnie had a flaw or two, something he could use as rationale beside the fact of her hovering, mediocre attentiveness. His few friends, his weary co-workers, his prickly divorce attorney, to a one they failed to understand. They actually thought he should feel lucky.
This plan was better than the last one. Thinking about it now, he could see how maybe Gordon wasn’t Lonnie’s type. He guessed handsome and wealthy weren’t high on her list, otherwise she wouldn’t have pressured Bud into marriage. Gordon had taken the $250 anyway, saying, “I did what you asked and she told me ‘no.’ Gotta tell you, bro, I think she still loves you.” Bud grimaced as he put the lighter to the pipe again.
“We’ll see if she loves me,” he said to the filthy bathroom. He hit again and wondered how long it took for addiction to set in. Maybe she would find his stash tonight, confront him, walk out. He could be sleeping alone by Saturday. He smiled.