Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

His footsteps were muffled by the red, moth-eaten carpet ... his shallow breathing lost in the music ... his dark pupils masked by the reflection of the screen in his eyes ... the light played across his face, contorting it, turning it into masks of pain, masks of anguish, masks of despair ... masks of sadness. Chaplin tumbled onto the ground in his usual tramp style. The million times he's done it before and it's funny every time. The black and white poster was put up at the end of the row of chairs -

Charlie Chaplin Film Festival
Final shows of the Plaza

'The Kid' - the movie they'd opened with all those years ago. A fitting tribute. And what a way to go out ... with a bang!
The music picked up tempo, a pivotal scene. He didn't laugh though ... the cramps were getting worse, pain seared his brain, his vision ... but he had made a promise, one that he was going to keep. The consequences of not keeping it were bad, but he was beginning to feel that the effects of keeping it were worse.
He doubled over, keeping his head low .... the sounds of laughter from the audience mingled with the music. He tried to concentrate on the irregular screeching sounds coming from the speakers. The place really had gotten too old.
Sweat soaked the surface of his palms as beads of sweat meandered down his face through the day old stubble. He started to scratch his arms ... it seemed like the flesh beneath his skin was itching ... like the blood coursing through his veins was burning, growing worse with each beat of his heart. Mind over matter, he tried to keep his thoughts focussed on the movie. He'd loved Chaplin when he was a kid ...
He bent over as a wave of nausea washed over him. He picked up his backpack and headed for the exit to the restrooms. The padded door creaked as he pushed against it using all of the strength he had remaining. The narrow crack that opened was enough for his slight frame to get through.
He felt the cracks in the walls against his palm as he stumbled to the rest room at the end of the darkening corridor, the tube light flickering on and off. Faltering, irregular steps closed the distance to the outline of the door. He fell to his knees ... unable to hold himself up, his legs felt like they were made of water. The journey continued in a crawl, toward a goal ... mind over matter. The carpet on the floor felt coarse under his hands.
The wave of nausea finally reached the tipping point as he reached the door. He lifted himself up using the sink as support. The foul odour of his vomit blended with the comparable essence of the old restroom. The nausea had passed leaving emptiness in its place ... emptiness that he'd felt before ... all too many times. Emptiness that craved to be filled ... filling it meant everything. No more ....
He walked into the closest stall and sat on the floor ... the moldy smell overpowering his senses ... threatening to bring the nausea back .... no more! He pulled open the zipper on his back pack with one hand while scratching his neck with the other. Emptying the contents on the floor he leaned back against the wall of the booth ... he was going to break his promise ... the promise he'd made just that morning, standing at the train station. He closed his eyes ... her face ... he saw it light up as he said 'I promise' ... he remembered her lingering touch as she boarded the train ... he remembered the whispered, almost hallowed 'thank you'. The tears mingled with the sweat flowing down his cheeks. He opened his eyes to stare at graffiti scrawled on the booth wall in permanent marker ... a heart with an arrow through it, "R+N" written inside it, the entire work of modern art scratched across as though with someone's fingernails.
He picked out two small brown paper packets, one marked 'H' and the other 'C' and a bottle of Sprite from the stuff on the floor. The bottle fizzed as he opened he opened it and dumped half its content down the toilet. He opened the first packet and stared into it. Stared at the one thing that could provide relief ... stared at his health and his sickness ... stared at the object of his addiction.
Slowly, he poured some of the brown powder into the waiting bottle ... a little of the powder at a time. He'd spent ... lost way too much getting it. He had nothing left to sell except his soul ... and maybe that was already damned. He opened the other packet and poured some of the white powder into the bottle, a little more than the brown stuff.
Taking a lighter out of his pocket he held it under the bottle holding it at the neck. The turbid liquid began to clear as the smell of burning plastic filled the booth. He stared at the bottle, at the tepid liquid inside it ... and after a while through it. Sorting through the stuff on the floor he started to put things back in his bag ... until he found what he was looking for. He tore open the sterilised paper packing exposing the syringe to the elements.
Tilting the bottle to one side he put the syringe in and filled it. Licking the tip of the syringe he tore open the plastic wrapping on the needle ... He had to try twice before he could steady his hands enough to push it onto the syringe.
Holding the syringe in his left hand, he tapped his arm to find a vein. His heart was pumping a mile a minute ... his vein stood out, bluish against the colour of flesh. He winced as he injected himself.
Almost immediately his heart slowed, sounds became distant, the horrible odour of the rest room went away. The face from his memory smiled and faded away. He felt ... lighter, like he was about to float away. His vision swayed with each beat of his heart ... with each movement of the seconds hand of his watch. He could hear his heart ... the soft ticking of his watch ... the drip of a leaky faucet ... the wind blowing his problems away. The graffiti on the wall began to move, began to flow, began to fade.
Pushing himself up against the ground his palm stuck on the floor on the booth ... he stared at it in bewilderment. Stumbling out of the booth, he headed back to his seat ... past the crumbling corridor, through the padded door ... into darkness. Suddenly the screen lit up in blacks and grays startling him into movement.
He got to his seat and stared at the screen ... the tinniness from the speakers was gone, but he didn't notice. He watched the myriad of images formed by the shades of gray on the screen without registering any of them. All he saw were vague shapes that played across his eyes. Sounds that he could see, colours that he could hear ... none of it made sense, but then none of it mattered. The tramp was crying on screen. The music slowed to just over the pace of a dirge. The audience was quiet and tense at the same time. They'd seen Chaplin way too often. This was the calm before the storm. The Sprite bottle found its way to his lips.
All of a sudden he gasped for breath ... the grays turned to white as the cocaine kicked in. He kicked against the seat in front of him, holding his throat. The music reached a crescendo ... the trumpets and violins timed to the movements on the screen, out of sync with the arms that reached out to grab hold of some support, to get the attention of someone ... anyone.
The screen went black.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

here the consequence is surely destructive...self destruction...

Ps said...

Thanks for dropping by.
Cocaine and Chaplin---Unusual connection.

'Smee! said...

Am waiting for something happier from you.

Rize said...

hmmm.. interesting..