A Morning Circling The Drain
by Bradford Middleton
It had been another long night lost in the heart of addiction but the fresh hell that Jack Leonard was to awaken too was going to be a whole new level of hell, a new circle into Dante's inferno. Climbing from his bed he opened his fridge and for the first time in a long time there was nothing for him to drink. His mind recoiled to the night before, his need, his urgent desire to drown the demons that were eating away at his very soul. He remembered finishing that bottle of whiskey, all those beers but he knew there was always some grass to ease him into the morning and so he poured the little milk he had into his tea mug and prepared his mild caffeine blast before taking up his usual station. He moved from his kitchenette towards the only chair in his room and, after reaching for his tobacco and papers, began his search. The weed would inevitably be close-by but after a few minutes of rummaging down the sides of his chair, underneath, anywhere he thought it could be, it had not turned up. He stood from his chair and dug down the back of his chair and there it was, what he needed he thought as he finally found a baggy but upon pulling it out what he saw caused a mild panic to grip him. The bag was empty, 'how had that happened?' he thought as he examined the ashtray containing the roaches built up the night before. They had all been smoked, all of them all the way down. It was all gone and Jack grew slack-jawed at the enormity of the situation. He couldn't believe he'd let this situation arise but knew it needed his urgent attention. He needed something as he could feel the voices returning to his mind, chatting nonsense and making him feel madder than ever before. Now, with nothing to shut them up, how was he going to cope. He looked at his clock, it suggested it was 09:52 and Jack could just about work out it was a Wednesday morning. It was not the kind of time to phone any of the dealers he knew, they were all night creatures and would rarely return a call before mid-afternoon and the off-licence, he just knew, would be a hard experience with nothing to calm him between this horrible moment and the time he walks out its exit. Nothing but horror, pure and simple addiction that was now gripping him hard.
He knows what he needs and so pulls on some clothes and after moving down the corridor to the front-door of the house of multiple-occupants he leaves and immediately realises that he had caught the more loathesome end of the commuter walking traffic. Those with nice jobs in nice offices that paid more than nice money, all manicured beards and obvious tattoos and, as is the fashion, a dandyesque attitude to clothing. They walked from their nice homes to their nice jobs everyday whilst people like Jack hoped to just stay inside but today was already shaping up to be different but what kind of difference Jack had yet to work out. Moving down the street he finally reaches the thoroughfare of shops and moves on into the first place he knows he can buy some booze. Any kind of booze will do he thinks as a plan begins to formulate in his struggling mind. He could go to the beach or he could go sit in a cheap beer garden or he could go sit with the others of his kind, the randoms, the skeetchy, the lost on the strip in town.
Walking into the shop, a small convenience sized branch of a big supermarket, he heads straight over to the booze aisle and after pulling his wallet from his jeans pocket begins to patch together an idea. Joining a queue he waits, he hates to wait, he grows bored quickly and as the line shuffles slowly forward his idea to get just a couple of cans of beer grows to include a small bottle of whiskey, a 35cl, and hit the strip. At least there he knows he will get some kind of phone signal meaning he can start calling his numbers in a couple of hours, hoping somebody out there is holding enough to shut off those damn voices in his head. Finally he makes it to a sales assistant and without any comment he is done and out the door. He pulls the whiskey from its bag and uncaps it and begins to drink. It tastes good, in fact it tastes great, better than any whiskey he's drank in years and he becomes aware that the voices are growing quiet and slowly he starts to feel better. He takes another hit as he walks down the street dominated by sex shops, bars and restaurants and, under the circumstances, life don't feel that bad. It feels pretty good in fact as the warm summer sun begins to work its magic. Coupled with the whiskey he begins to feel good. Screwing the cap back on the bottle he places it back in the bag and pulls out a can, the strongest beer the shop sold, and sparks it open. Taking that first great taste he feels better than he has in days but that is rudely interrupted when a snowball hits him square in the face. He looks up, disbelieving, as a deluge of snow pours down from above and he is drenched almost instantly. He hears a couple of what sound like young kids laughing and then the taunts begin.
"Look we got the old boozer, look at him all covered in snow! Snowing in July hey old timer?"
Jack merely stops in his tracks and the world turned dark as a red mist descends.
"Why you little shits, what the fuck??" he screams wiping the already thawing snow off his face. The kids just carry on laughing but after a while they grow bored and Jack finally thaws out as the temperature hits a giddy 20 degrees. He can't understand what's just happened, how had those kids got hold of snow in July? It didn't make any sense, Jack thought, as he begins walking off again, further into town until he reaches the strip. Turning the corner he pulls his phone from his pocket and it tells him it is now 10:23, a reasonable hour for this crowd many of who take up residence here from as early as that first local off-licence opens at 7am.
Jack sits away from the crowd and begins in on his days' work. He drinks his beer and types out a message to a few people he's bought off in the past and after sending it off he begins contemplating his morning. It had been a manic time, ups and downs, highs and lows, and those dam kinds and a sudden realisation, the only explanation. They must have stored some snow from the previous winter in their flat in an icebox or freezer and that's where it had come from and suddenly it all made sense. For about an hour Jack sits alone, nipping occasionally at his whiskey whilst gulping down his beers, until suddenly an unexpected moment of pleasure arrives in the shape of a message from his favourite dealer who tells him he is in town, feeling rich and willing to meet Jack within the hour in a bar and the drinks are on him. It represents the most wonderful moment of kismet that Jack can ever possibly believe as he drains the contents of his second can and moves off knowing for the first time that morning that everything will finally be OK. Within a couple of hours he will be home again and in bed, snuggling with his ashtray and a joint.
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