Take Another Look











{February 23, 2010}   no bail out

Jason’s hair curls down past his chin. If you were overly ambitious, you might describe the color as soupy dark. In reality the colors belong to an old dog with grey, white, and cobweb-like black patches covering the skin. He shoots his friend an anxious look when she tells him how many benzos she erratically consumes. She tells him she stopped cold turkey and how her nightmares mostly involve people stuck in their own excrement being beaten, the sound of hysterical screams coming out of an attic, and the calm clerk coming out to explain that she had only two, no six minutes to get ready for her appointment and that her mother had left them a deliriously frantic message about how she could not, under any circumstances, be late.

The people had been talking about how Jason had “let himself go” and such.He was the perfect candidate for one of those before and after shots- he’d just have to switch the before to after abd the after to before. He’d gained about a hundred pounds- an effect of the Seraquil the doctor insisted he take to sleep. The doc didn’t tell him about this effect until the weight had been sitting there uselessly for about a year, despite the fact that Jason was an avid walker.

Jason also had several kids from different women. Now that they were approaching teenage status they all wanted to be cool the way he was.He wasn’t like the tightass grownups most kids had for fathers. They felt they could tell him anything. Jason lived in the moment.

“Jason,” the girl across from him asks, her smile fading. He’d been showing her jewelery and she bought two earring sets for ten bucks, with one more thrown in for free.

“I just want to do this cold turkey.”

Jasons eyes fill with hard fear and panic.

“You can’t do that love. It took me four months to go from four milligrams a day and look at me now! I only need one a day but I can get by on five a week.”

“I am tired of it messing with me. I used to have a photographic memory.”

She lowers her voice and leans in, tapping on her coffee cup. “Now I get forgetful.”
She pronounces the word forgetful the way a housewife with children would pronounce the word pedophile. The contempt is visible and Jason is shaken.

She sighs. She purses her lips thoughtfully.

“Jason, how come you always look so burdened by talkin’ to me? What’s the matter?”

A look of relief fills his eyes but the rest of his face still registers alarm.

“Cuz I just don’t know what to say! It’s erratic but you can’t go cold turkey you just can’t. Don’t you know how dangerous that is?”

“But it’s the only way that works for me. I wouldn’t know how to go down- I just know extremes. I take twenty milligrams at once and I still can’t sleep. So I take ten more milligrams two hours later-it doesn’t seem so much at the time. They are number two’s so it’s only fifteen pills.”

“Your body can’t process that much at once. It treats it like a poison, flushing most of it out so you can’t feel it.”

“I feel it. Just not until the next day..and maybe that is the methadone. I just don’t know.”

Jason looks around wildly to make sure nobody is listening. The girl, she don’t care.

“Just cuz you can hold your drink- or in this case pins- doesn’t make it advisable. Don’t model yourself on the man in the book any longer, girl. Aim higher.”

He hugs her and kisses her on the head.

“I love you,” he says.
“Thanks,” she responds, feeling slightly grateful for this open display but sorry she can’t return it.She has gotten so careful with her love these days. She used to dole it out to all her friends, freely hugging them and sitting on their laps. Then a truck came rolling, snatched her from her friends, and raided her of that feeling of carefree abandonment. When she returned she shook off their hugs and couldn’t stand their open displays anymore.

She kept her arms folded into herself, her smile turned downwards, her laughter locked away. Nobody knew how to reach the sonofabitch who was holding the key.

when she discussed a certain guy with Parker, Parker made the mistake of saying she had been held hostage. She never mentioned his name again to anybody. And since it was so unlike her to refrain from mentioning something that occupied her thoughts, nobody pursued the point.

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