I thank Brian with an extra $10 and jog back to my Mercedes – his neighborhood always makes me feel dirty. I never like seeing how the other half lives. Better to pretend that they simply don’t exist. Once back in the leather tomb of my car, I use the flat remains of a Fanta to wash down one of the sculpted ecstasy pills. I make it halfway home before I use the last of the Fanta to wash down another pill. I’m not used to waiting for the effects of a pill taken on a full stomach. Bentley greets me at the door with his happy dance, and I step over a fresh pile of dog shit as I make my way to the sectional. No sooner had I laid down when I feel the familiar euphoria of the MDMA. I feel fucking delicious. I try to text my mom to make sure she got home all right, but my eyes won’t focus. I settle on rubbing my entire body against the fabric of the couch. I was afraid the psych meds from my detox were going to detract from the high but I was wrong. After groaning in pleasure and telling Bentley he is beautiful for 3 hours I start to come down. I grab the bottle of leftover Valium and chew up four of my new little friends.
The next morning I realize that my sex drive is back and I can’t stop thinking about Shaun. I text Pete and tell him that the stitches still hurt before I call Shaun in Winchester and ask him to come down for the night. He is happy to hear from me since our last conversation had consisted of me drunkenly asking him who the fuck he thought he was to be telling people in Winchester that we were hooking up. I didn’t want people knowing I was gay. I take two more of the blue stars of ecstasy on an empty stomach and try to eat some of the reduced-fat Cheez-Its my mom had left in the pantry. Shaun always complains that there is no food in my apartment. I am never hungry though, and Pete is always taking me out to eat at restaurants. At home I subsist almost solely on Campbell’s Soup, Ramen, and Double Stuffed Oreos. I never learned how to cook and have no desire to be taught. The stars start to kick in, and I decide to go for a drive and maybe buy some cigarettes, which Pete usually buys and delivers. I end up returning hours later with an overpriced bookshelf supported by a central X and three red paper lanterns to hang from the ceiling. I busy myself with rearranging the apartment while I wait for Shaun to get there.
He tells me I look much better being off of the methadone – my eyes aren’t sunken in and my speech isn’t slurred. We hook up and put It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia in my laptop to watch in bed. I secretly take a handful of Valium in the second bedroom I use to hold bags of clothes that still have the tags on. Bentley crawls under the bed and begins to snore softly. For the first time ever, as in my entire 21 years, I am not annoyed to have someone else sharing my bed, and I drift off to sleep.
I wake up staring at the large Citgo sign on the wall. Shaun is still sleeping but my phone alarm won’t stop ringing. I struggle to remember why I had bothered to set alarms for such a disgusting hour. I watch Bentley army crawl out from under the bed and remember that I have to go to The Coleman Institute to get my final script of Valium. Getting another bottle billed to my insurance had taken some convincing, so I am determined not to be late. I also have an appointment with a client in Lake Anna at 11 a.m. so I can get money for more pills. Busy day, best to get moving. I struggle to not get my stitches wet in the shower since I broke the shower head by hanging on it and can now only take baths. I cover the bulging incision with the large Band-Aid before dressing in a collared shirt and red Gap sweater. Shaun wants to sleep more and I tell him to lock the door when he leaves. I’ve grown suspicious that Pete is spying on who comes in and out of my apartment but it is hard for me to even care anymore. What he sees, what he knows, how he feels. It has all become irrelevant. I grab an extended release Adderall out of my lock box and swallow it with tap water before kissing Bentley goodbye.
The nurse practitioner helps me figure out a schedule to gradually wean off the Valium over the next two weeks. I only pretend to pay attention since I have no intention of following the plan, and I go to the pharmacy to fill the script directly after leaving. The full bottle of pills gives me peace. No more calling Brian endlessly at 2 a.m. for at least a week. I put the address for my client’s house in my GPS and find Sammi’s number in my Blackberry. She had contacted me on Facebook several days ago. It has been years since we spoke, and I feel awkward when she answers. We are soon deep in conversation though, and before I know it I’m choking back tears. God, I am lonely. I end the phone call before actual tears can form and she promises to try and drive down for a visit in the summer. I meet Warren at the gas station and follow him to his gated estate as usual.
For three weeks, I take ecstasy every night and go out into the city, and I inevitably hit a wall.
One morning, my friend Forest is supposed to drive my car to Winchester so I can get my restricted license switched to Richmond, but I can’t get out of bed. I take 60 mg of Adderall and my body still screams for more sleep. Elizabeth has been living with me for almost two weeks, and I know she is using heroin with Forest. My rehab has failed her, but I’m not mad, mostly just jealous that she doesn’t have an opiate blocking implant underneath her skin.
I cancel the trip to Winchester, and when I finally get out of bed that afternoon, I order Forest to find me more Xanax before I have a nervous breakdown. I’ve been trying to take my laundry to the laundromat for three days and my back seat is full of garbage bags. We move them to the trunk and drive to the scary part of town where we end up sitting at a strip mall for two hours waiting for the dealer. I am over it. I need a break. Two days prior standing on the back porch hungover and depressed I’d said to Elizabeth
“Maybe we should stop doing so many drugs”.
We had both shrugged it off, but maybe I’d been on to something.
I lock myself in the bedroom when we get home and call my parents who have become increasingly concerned about not being able to reach me. I tell my mom that I am depressed, probably from the Naltrexone (or more likely the ecstasy, benzos, alcohol, and amphetamines), and that I want to come home for a little while. She sounds relieved and tells me my dad will drive down the next day. I take five Xanax and tell Forrest and Elizabeth this is the last night they can stay. I feel weak from not eating and soon pass out with Bentley in my room.
My father arrives the next evening, and I meet him outside to help him find a parking spot on Monument Avenue. I want to put my bags of dirty clothes in his car, so we walk around back to the alley after he parks. Recently, someone had been monopolizing the three allotted spots in the back of my building so I’d taken to parking in the doctor’s office lot a couple of buildings down and locking my wheels to the right so I couldn’t be towed. This is a trick I’d learned from Pete.
The only problem is that my car isn’t there. Fuck, did Elizabeth take it? No I have the only key. That’s when I remember the note I’d found on my car the week before.
“Stop parking here or we will have you towed”.
I didn’t think they were serious. I tell my dad I can’t remember where I parked and that we can grab the clothes later. Once inside, I sneak into the bathroom and call Pete.
He answers with “hey shithead I have your Mercedes”.
Thank God. Apparently they had used his towing company.
“Just hang on to it. I’ll come by the shop tomorrow to grab some things out of it”.
I emerge from the bathroom and tell my dad I am tired and want to rest. I take the last of my benzos and lay down. Everything is going to be alright, and all I want to do is sleep.
I wake up to shouting and see that it is almost 1 a.m. I open the bedroom door as Bentley crawls out from under the bed and see two dark figures in the office near the French doors I never keep locked. As my eyes adjust, I realize it is Elizabeth and my dad. “Fuck let him handle it” I think as I slowly close the bedroom door. My father opens it several minutes later and informs me that he told Elizabeth he was going to shoot her if she tried coming back.
“Probably for the best” I say, “Goodnight”.