Your typical Boy meets Girl. Early MCR.
It was bucketing down under a thunderous, black sky outside, and I woke in an empty bed, I guess Maddy didn't come home... I thought to myself, wondering what that could possibly mean. I burrowed into my quilt, wrapping it around myself like a cocoon and analyzing the shadows stretched across my ceiling. The grey silhouettes of a tangle of trees refracted through the glass of my window as a warped image projected into my room, darkening my already dim walls and providing a canvass of black for the glowing red numbers projected upon my wall, 4:17. I squeezed my eyes shut and wished for sleep to take me, a hopeless effort.
I rolled out of bed, crossing my room quickly, stepping slowly out into the corridor and creeping down the staircase, releasing the weight upon each foot gently, wishing not to make a sound, though I could not disturb anyone within the silence of the house. At first it was comforting, no noise, still as death in the rooms cushioned by thick walls; but as I slunk around the house I began to feel suffocated. Caged by the concrete and sound-less air surrounding me.
I longed for music, voices and familiar lights. I longed for life. I knew where I could find it too, teeming in the backstreets of New Jersey. But the one face I really needed to see wouldn’t be there so a visit really couldn’t improve my mood. And this time there would be nothing to save me, I could no longer retreat into disillusionment, prodded along by illicit substances.
The one person I needed, Charlie. Her face has already begun slipping away from me, her voice fading, blurring and blending, poisoned by my failing memory. I was terrified of losing her forever, her body having already been stolen from me, initially unnoticeably, slipping away silently, the result of years of narcotics abuse, that’s what it said on her death certificate at least. Because death had been the final thief of her flesh.
Although I knew the trip could not satisfy me I found myself pulling on a jumper and climbing into my car, tracing the familiar path back to anti-suburbia. As soon as I arrived I began wandering the streets, greeting familiar faces that I hadn’t seen in months, but I had a direction and was heading for an apartment that had been my home from ages ten through to twenty.
When I arrived I rang the bell repeatedly, and when my brother Johnny finally answered with a “What the fuck? It’s 4:30, business hours are over” I yelled back into the speaker “I thought visits from your sister weren’t restricted to business hours” and he buzzed me in quickly.
I had begun up the stairs to his room on the second floor when a pair of quickly moving footsteps alerted me to his approach, he moved towards me holding out his arms and I jumped into them, feeling practically a stranger after three months without even hearing his voice. When he spoke I had to move out of his arms to hear him, the sound of his heartbeat had practically deafened me while my ear was against his chest, and when he repeated his words I regretted coming for a moment, “Kayleigh is upstairs, I’m sure she wants to see you.”
Kayleigh, the girl who had worked the streets side by side with Charlie until me and Johnny found them and felt the compulsion to remove them from their jobs. Being a drug runner was like redemption for Kayleigh, and the work that I did meant that Charlie could get a normal job and still get by.
Kayleigh was the only other person who really knew what it felt like when Charlie died, looking into her eyes had become so much like looking into a mirror that it had scared me. I ended up running, finding a house in a neighbour-hood that wouldn’t remind me of Charlie and shutting out everything that used to be my life.
Kayleigh had been the reason I had disappeared for three months, now I was terrified to even see her. I walked into the apartment, tried to breathe as little as possible, I knew her smell would still be there if I went searching. Along the mantle was set a row of pictures, Johnny, Kayleigh, Charlie and I set out in a timeline of images, right down to her last birthday, her last day.
Then Kayleigh walked out of the bedroom and I swallowed heavily, my throat feeling terribly constricted. Kayleigh practically collapsed into my arms, and as I held her I realized it wasn’t just grief that was making her this weak. I turned to my brother, “Johnny, what’s going on?”,
he grimaced muttering “Just help me get her back to bed and I’ll explain”.
I carried Kayleigh into their bedroom, laying her down on the mattress and ordering Johnny to get her some water when she began whimpering in pain.
We closed the door and left Kayleigh in darkness, and I turned to Johnny accusingly “What has she gotten into now?” he frowned, “She’s not on anything. After you left the nightmares, the delusions got so bad for both of us that we decided to kick it. Cold Turkey. She’s going first so I can keep things in order and take care of her, and once she’s well it’s my turn.”
I slunk down into an armchair, “Shit Johnny, and you think you guys can make it last surrounded by drugs everyday? How long is it before she starts skimming a bit off her packages, and you start getting high while she’s working and no-ones here to see?” I rubbed my forehead, trying to process what they were attempting to do, if only they could make it work…
“We’re serious about it this time, I couldn’t stand to see her go the same way as Ch-“
“…please don’t Johnny, I understand, I’m just worried about you two, if something goes wrong while your trying to kick it… you’ve heard the stories, you know stopping can be just as dangerous as staying hooked.”
“We’ve got it covered, there’s a hospital around the corner, and if anything out of control happens…”
“You’ve basically got a drug lab in the basement and a never-ending supply of narcotics, you can handle it better than most, I get it.”
We both turned our heads as we heard Kayleigh moaning out in pain from the bedroom, I turned back to face Johnny “Look, I have to go home now, but I’ll come back tomorrow, bring you food, I’ll help out, I want to take care of you guys.”
He kissed my cheek before turning to go check on Kayleigh, being occupied he didn’t see the two packages I took off the dining room table, but he would find the fifty dollar note I left in their place.
I stopped and sat beneath the stairwell on the bottom floor, far enough in the shadows that no-one would notice me unless they tried, which in this neighbourhood no-one does. I unwrapped the two packages, one containing a special mix of heroin and LSD that me and Johnny have been shooting up as far back as I can remember, and that Johnny sells exclusively, and the other package containing a fine syringe. Using my belt as a makeshift tourniquet I got high for the first time in months, crouched under the stairwell of my old apartment, I had just realized I had hit a new low before the drugs kicked in and I couldn’t process anything.
I walked out into the street, my gait slowed by the heroin, my brain trying to slow the overworked electrodes as well as figure out where my car was. I had decided it was right and had just started walking that way when I heard a familiar voice calling out to me “Do you often walk the streets this tripped out?” Gerard’s voice which usually had such a nice tone was being translated into a sugary nightmare by the LSD. I turned slightly in his direction and yelled back at him
“And do you often stalk young women in the street?”
I heard him laugh before he got out of the car and approached me, “Zephyr let me get you home” he pleaded
“Do you even know where I live?”
“She has a point.” Bert yelled out from the driver’s seat of the car.
“Fine, can I just get you back to our place?”
“No, I don’t want to see Maddy and Frank, take me home, Berham Street, striped house…” was the last comprehendible thing that left my mouth before Gerard picked me up and carried me to the car.
Zephyr stayed unconscious all the way home, but struggled against me as I tried to carry her upstairs, practically screaming at me. I put her down but she only tripped up a couple of steps and began to drift into sleep again, so supporting her by the waist I got her upstairs and eventually found the bedroom. After getting her safe inside the bed I went downstairs and told Bert that he should go home while I looked after her. Bert was fine with that, not even finding Zephyr looking wild and tripped could ruin his high.
I filled a glass of water for her and went back up to check on her, but when I made it to the top of the stairs I could hear her crying out, when I entered the room she was thrashing around on the bed and screaming out “Charlie” repeatedly, I tried to calm her down but all I could do was get her to cry quietly, I had to hold her to lull her to sleep. I only hoped I could keep her asleep for the rest of the night.