By Seizures R. Fake
“I’ll spell it out for you quick. If you’re a man and you pass up on pussy for a drink, you’re an alcoholic. It’s that simple . . . where’d you put my bowl?”
Kofi, non-A.A. member
A couple months ago the world ended. Over night literally everyone and their mother woke up broke. New York City has become ground zero all over again. When it started to unravel back in October the signs were so startling all I could do was stand back and watch. For the Stanton Social crowd it must have been like waking up in some stranger’s closet after a thirteen day meth binge. Second Avenue looked like a sinking booze cruise set on fire in the middle of the East River. I remember walking downtown from 59th a few days after the market collapsed and all I saw were these wounded puddle-divers drowning for blocks and blocks and blocks.
The young broker in a $400 shirt drunkenly rolling under a parked car while crying to be left there. His over-the-shoulder Versace bag totting cunt of a girlfriend flirting with his buddy in advertising not six feet away. A tall, well-to-do redhead in his thirties sitting at a bus stop sharing a brown bagged bottle with a homeless guy. A couple of Pakistani analysts throwing fists in front of the Pig & Whistle.
These were all flashing, hot pink neon streets signs pointing towards the end of days I had heard about in confirmation classes. I also knew that the search for meaning in life comes fast on the heels of a blank earnings statement. If God Inc. was a publicly traded company I would have plunked all my loot down on it that very night ... but alas I was too fucked up to purchase a Wall Street Journal and find out.
A couple months later I was also in tears, but these were tears of frustration. Attempting to sign up for unemployment benefits over the phone while drunk and tripping will do that to a man. Once it was all over I felt it was time for something drastic. I got online and began searching for AA meetings. Not because I thought I was an alcoholic – that would be too easy. I started looking because all I could think about after pressing the wrong keys over and over again was how much easier all of that would have been if I had someone there to do it for me. Since I was a mess it is only fair that I look for a woman who’s a mess too, right?
My first meeting was surreal. I made the mistake of volunteering my newly anointed status and half the room got up and applauded while the other half introduced their selves to me. It was awful. Here I was ready to flirt and all I could do was share things about myself no one should know. I began reading the 12 Steps to avoid any more contact and went cold.
“Be entirely prepared to have God remove all of your defects of character.”
“Humbly ask him to remove our short comings.”
“Seek through prayer and meditation to improve contact with God, as we understand him.”
Most of what I read was about the personal struggle each person must put themselves through, but the emphasis on God kept getting in my way: Lot of fucking good he’s done. What? All you jerkoffs are doing is swapping out one addiction for another. What’s the matter? Too weak to handle life when she kicks you in the teeth. You need to hide under God’s skirt? Fuck you.
Looking around the room I saw New York veterans of all hues. These people should fucking know better. We broke up into groups and started telling stories. Stories that sounded too familiar. Stories I have written.
I got the fuck out of there. Not the first bad idea you’ve had and it certainly wouldn’t be your last. So far as getting laid goes, there is a much easier solution: drugs.
As I leapt up the stairs two at a time I was suddenly blocked by someone asking me for a light. It wasn’t long before I recognized him as the sobbing stock broker from 2nd Ave. a few months back and felt ill all over again. I remembered him because of how he deliberately kicked his shoe off into the street then yelled at me to go get it. This asshole was there for the same reason I was, the only difference was he could handle the sharing. He had no problem with it, because he was lying. I could not.
Listening to him laugh about how he had been coming for weeks with varying results made my stomach wretch. He offered me a sip of Dewars from his jacket pocket and I bolted.
I got uptown as fast as I could. I had to get high. It wasn’t a question of want. I no longer cared to justify the impulse to undo myself every few days. I just wanted to get high. All I could taste on the ride up was that coke bleach smell which creeps into your nostrils once you close the stall door. Usually I’d call people and make a big production out of it but, for the first time in years, all I wanted was to be alone. Get cash first . . . call your guy . ... $120 should do it.
The bar was closed. It was just me and my guy. We had been talking for hours in between bumps. The euphoria was long gone. The chaos of what waited for me outside was too much to bear. A little corner of the blackout curtains was folded over revealing how much punishment waited for me beyond the walls of the dark shelter we’d set up for ourselves. Like a sixth grade bully waiting for you on your walk home, waiting to kick your ass for something his father did to him.
“Let me out. I can’t be in here anymore. He’s going to be waiting for me no matter what.”
He let me out. I found a pair of sunglasses at the bottom of my coat pocket. They were the shitty ones with the scratched mirror lenses. It was too dangerous to go home. Too many avenues to cross. So I started walking south along Riverside Park. Nice quiet blocks. Normal people with dogs and kids live on them. Maybe home will find you.
I noticed that both of my shoe laces were undone. As I knelt down to tie them I fell forward and rolled onto my ass, bashed my head against a wall and stayed there. It was where I needed to be. It was where I belonged.
I reached into my pocket for my wallet hoping I hadn’t left my Metro Card when I pulled out something I had forgotten was there. It was a beat up prayer card. . . St. Jude.
My mother’s saint.
When her life bottomed out and we had nothing she told me that she prayed to Jude and he made it bearable. She fixed everything herself but thinking that he was looking out for her made it sting less. It made her feel as though she wasn’t alone. I shook my head.
“OK, I get it. Fuck.”
I got up and turned around. Facing me was a big black statue of a monk holding a walking stick looking just as confused as I was. In all the years of living uptown I never knew there was a Buddhist temple on 105th and Riverside. I tried the front door. It was locked. I pressed my ear against the cold morning steel and heard chanting, deep and ballsy chanting. Then a bright, beautiful bell tone announcing sweet divinity on the other side of the cold door. Pressing my body against the sound I let my eyes close. Tomorrow could be different . . . Tomorrow will be different. . . if you let it.