“Hope Beyond Dope”

“Give me the good shit” I groan, as I come to. There’s a man in blue scrubs and rubber gloves on wearing a placid smile.

“You already got the good shit,” he told me, chuckling. “Twice in fact.”

“Third times the charm right?” I suggested.

 I suddenly realized im naked except for this front covering smock, laying in bed with a tube going into my dick. I gathered that i’m in a hospital…again. The second time within a month, and from what I can reconstruct from my hazy memories, for the same reckless behavior leading to a drug overdose. 

The doctor…or is it a nurse?…only laughed. 

“Yeah you wish. But now that you’re up, how about something to eat?  There’s a menu on the table there,” handing it to me. “You had a rough go of it, man. I dunno if your friends put you in a tub or in a cold shower, but you had a bunch of fluids in your lungs, so you nearly caught pneumonia. But if you’re wondering why you have a tube going into your neck, thats why”. My hand instinctively went up to feel my around. “Oh gawd, I’m a monster,” I said mockingly. 

“Well, you’ll be alright, nothing permanent but we’re gonna keep you for a couple days. The doctor will see you tomorrow. Just be careful, Brendan, alright? Although you’re one of my most entertaining patients, I don’t want to see you back.”  

Aparently I had a habit of making light of high-pressure situations while I’m fucking up in the ICU e.g. last time I’ll sell “I’m so emo!” whenever they put a needle in me but I can’t remember these instances later.

 He left, so I laid back. Trump was on TV talking about battling the opioid epidemic. I ordered chicken piccata and two strawberry milkshakes because I’m boujee even in the ICU, and thought “well this is too close, Brendan, this is the end.”

***

Two years prior Jake hooked me up with a dope job reworking this guys portfolio of websites on WordPress. He was a huge local craft beer distributor, but had his hands in everything. If I did a good job initially, doing the shit he wanted done, he’d likely invest in our shit, hopefully getting our zine off the ground and published. 

It was a very laid-back job in Hazel Park. I could smoke cigs inside and the boss was constantly sparking up a joint (but wouldn’t let you partake unless you had a medical card); the fridge was stocked full of craft beer and red bull. The first day consisted of menial tasks like setting up the counter and configuring all the computers to the same network, but on the following day I found myself in way over my head. 

He had a website called Snake Tits that had already been previously constructed by a professional programmer. As it turned out, WordPress was just what he was using for hosting the site, not designing it. Instead of a ready-made template easily treated by a few lines of HTML or an implementation of CSS, there were multiple pages of indecipherable codes (well to me it was). Shit it wasn’t javascript or anything else I recognized. So I stalled out the remainder of the day, hoping to teach myself this brand new computer language in the space of a weekend. 

As any successful crammer knows, adderall is the magic elixir. Luckily, I was staying at my friends Josh and Clair’s house in Berkeley, as it was only a 5 minute drive to the office in Hazel Park. I say luckily because they were both addie fiends with the max prescriptions. They weren’t liberally giving ‘em away, but they’d lend me some as long as I knew of another source (their scripts wouldn’t last them half the month so they’d spend the rest of their money to fill the other half with sufficient addies and benzos). Both had adult jobs, but they were always fucked up, especially Clair, who’d chug a box of wine surreptitiously at work everyday and she was the morning shift. 

In this insane environment, I plunged myself with the undertaking of mastering PHP by monday. What ensued was a total catastrophe. I spent most of the time chasing drugs around in a Zipcar on Josh’s coin. By Sunday night I accepted defeat, grabbed a bag of coke and swooped by The Works, their after-hours place in the city. After some tired ass dancing, I traded some coke for shrooms. I ate a fistfull of caps and sped off back to Josh’s house. 

I let myself in the back door to find the house completely dark except for Clair watching music videos in the living room. 

“No success, huh?” she asked.

I shook my head. 

“Well, do you want one of mine?” she said, pulling out two pill bottles from her purse. “I have a kpin for you, too. Just don’t tell Josh,” she winked. 

I accepted and swallowed them while simultaneously the shrooms started coming in heavy: walls started breathing, my stomach feeling weightless. She was playing The Beatles “Baby, You’re A Rich Man” with the yellow submarine cartoon accompanying it. The blue guys creeped me out of enchantment to notice Clair moaning and playing with herself. 

Oh my god Brendan it feels so good,” she whispered huskily. “Haven’t you felt something between us?” 

Actually, I hadn’t. For one, I liked Josh – I wasnt gonna try to fuck his wife while he gave me a place to stay. Secondly, I never thought of Clair that way. She was pretty, like an elfin Rose McGowan with short, tawny hair, but her feet smelled bad from drinking all day, zooted on addie.  Like really fucking bad, but maybe she washed them that night or the shrooms prevented me from picking up her odor because I was under her spell (i.e I had a boner). She sidled next to me on the couch and slid her shorts off. Her leg was rubbing against mine, as she stared at my crotch, coaxing, “do it.” 

I put my hand in my pants and grabbed my dick. She was rubbing her clit with one hand and the other on top of mine that’s holding my piece. “Lemme see that fuckin’ dick,” she pleaded throatily, and I pulled it out and started stroking in rythm to her masturbating motions. She started cumming, almost screaming and I leaned back more so as to command a better view and tugged my pants below my knees. We were literally both half-naked on the couch together, jerking off to each other when my pants fall to the floor, my belt buckle loudly clattered on the wooden floor, jolting me out of my trance. The bedroom door is literally cracked open not even 15 feet away. Either Josh’s about to wake up, catch us, and then kill me; or, he’s been up the whole time, masturbating to being made a cuckold in extremely slow motion. I dunno which scenario is worse. 

I’m was tripping too hard so I freaked out and pulled my pants back up. “We shouldn’t be doing this. He’s right there,” I said, pointing to the bedroom.

“So what?” she sneered. She doesn’t cease from playing with her clit. This is the weirdest. Shit. Ever.”

I was standing over her. I rebuffed her hesitantly and she picked up on my indecisiveness. She vigorously rubbed my dick from outside of my pants. 

I was literally about to bust in my pants, but the rug was moving, the walls were churning, and I was almost convinced Josh was watching through the cracked bedroom door and there was definitely a video recording of this, some expertly acted amateur cuckold porn. 

I bailed and retreat to the basement. The combination of no sleep, strong stimulants, and psychedelic mushrooms made me lose nerve at the last zipper. 

The next morning I don’t even see Clair; Josh dropped me off at work as if nothing happened. Worse, I wasted the whole weekend, I looked absolutely frazzled, and only the pills were keeping my body in motion. My boss eyed me up warily, but allows me to (attempt to) work unhindered. However, by the end of the day, the charade was up. 

“You don’t know shit about this, do you?” he inquired accusingly. 

***

Night came to the ER and a cute nurse volunteers to transport me to a sick room. She smiles at me knowingly as she helps me get up and sit down in the wheelchair without disconnecting my catheter or the multitude of IV tubes I have going in and out every which way. 

“Back again, Brendan?” she uses her brightest voice. 

“yea”, I answered monotone, this is embarrassing. 

“You need to be more careful out there, you know.” she says as she was pushing me down the hall in a wheelchair. “You have so many people out there that care for you.” She was my nurse last time, explaining the familiarity. 

“I know,” I said flat, emotionless. 

“Besides your parents, there’s Kasey, and Michael, and Amy Winehouse” we both laugh, knowing she means Haley. “And steve and Dylan and I’m sure there’s a bunch of others who did not come visit or call, but care for you all the same. You must be pretty special.”

I can only muster a nod because I feel like I’m going to cry. Kasey! I can’t keep doing this to her. Accident or not, I go do a bunch of stupid shit, endanger my life, and scare her to death. In my head, resolutions are slowly forming and solidifying. I can’t do this to people!

We finally arrive at the room. She helps me out of the chair, but stops me before I laid down on the bed. 

“Well let’s get this catheter out first,” she muses. Fortunately, I’m half mast so I feel like I’m making a good impression on this hot nurse. “You’ll probably pee immediately after I remove it, okay?” I steady the piss jug underneath me. She yanks the catheter out and a spurt of blood issues forth. I groan. Another bloody piss stream. 

“Oh, it might be infected,” she gasps. 

***

My boss sent me home. He didn’t say to come back until Thursday. I stayed back at my parents so my Ma dropped me off. We didn’t go inside the office at all, instead he insisted that I hop in his truck for a ride. 

He drove me to a huge, sprawling cemetery out by Birmingham. He pulled up to a huge mausoleum and we hop out. “Do you know who’s grave this is?”

I shrug.

“Few do. But in his lifetime he was one of the most powerful and influential people in the city of Detroit.” He then adumbrated the man’s accomplishments. “Even after doing all that and even after erecting this huge building for his tomb, barely any remember who he was.”

We walked further down the path – it was springtime so the trees were blooming and the birds were chirping. He pointed out another headstone. I read the name and epitaph and shook my head. It turns out that that man built hospitals, established schools, was instrumental in forming a township of suburban Detroit. Few remember him.

“The point is, Brendan, these men did a world of good, leaving monuments to pasteriority, and still no one remembers. And with what you’re doing, you’re headed here” stretching his arms out, meaning the graveyard, “without accomplishing one iota of what they achieved. Do you think anyone will remember you in ten years?”

I remained silent. 

“What were you on the other day?” he asked changing tactics. And then I haphazardly explained the disastrous events of the weekend, as if that would rectify the cocktail of pills I ingested before I wasted both of our time, pretending I could code in PHP. 

“Look man, you’re brilliant. You bullshitted your way into a job you had no right having. But you’ve got to stop the drugs…or they’ll kill ya,” he replied sympathetically. Then he relayed his own struggles with booze, which I thought was odd coming from a man who was constantly smoking trees. 

Still the reality of death seemed all too real, sending a shiver up my spine, as we watched a monstrously large black eagle take off and soar above the cemetery, above thousands of graves, transcendent. 

***

I’m watching “Frazier,” drinking strawberry milkshakes, waiting for them to release me. The doctor comes in, informs me of the multiple drugs found in my system. He asks why I did all those things. I respond that I don’t have meaning in my life, I can’t find happiness in anything. He recommends that I read Jordan Peterson’s new book. I lie and say that I already did. He can tell I’m grumpy so he leaves, wishing me good luck. 

A social worker comes to see me. She asks if I’d be interested in any rehab. I scoff at her, demanding she get the fuck out. 

Then, the phone rings and I pick up. It’s Dylan, my roommate. He asks how I’m doing and lets me know how much everyone has been worried. 

“Yeah you should definitely get ahold of Kasey. I think she really likes you, man. She’s a cool chick, too. And Steve-O…Steve’s got your back, man. He’s a really good friend. I’d keep him around if I were you”

“Thanks, Dylan.”

I hang up. And then two reasons for living burst forth, blooming like the flowers and trees in a cemetery in springtime. 

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