he walks into the bathroom to run a bath, littering the bedroom floor with a pile of his clothes, inside-out, damp with sweat. i walk by the open doorway and catch a sliver of silver peeking out from beneath a soiled, sport sock. it gleams sharp and hard, like my breath. i reach down and grab the bundle of plastic tags and metal keys together with a slithery fist, holding them still against my thigh. i slip the safe key, the extra one, off his key chain with a masterful swoop. i palm it silently. i tuck the bundle of keys back under the cotton sock and breathe.
"crafty, be crafty. this - you are good at...", She entices.
She whispers hot, moistening my ear. my neck bends into Her with an infatuated blush, my body quivers at her request.
"yes. tell me what you want.", i answer, heated.
the bath water runs as loud and fast as my cardiac cantering, drum beats against a deadline.
"hurry. hurry. he might come out. for a coke. or your company. or your capture.", She warns, eyes dancing.
i fit the silver key into the safe, turn and punch in 5 loud beeps, each one singeing my eardrum to a blacker char, scorching all sound, until black puffs of cartoon smoke trumpet from my head.
"beep. beep. beep. beep. beep."
i can't hear a thing. my heart's arrested, flat lined, as i quickly yank the fat handle down and pull. i strike my gold rush. i cannot breathe. my blood churns with bubbles frothy and full, gurgling, veins now awake, surging with purpose. there it is. it lies dormant. the clear orange, no, burnt peach, colored container sleeps on its side. and it's filled. through the frosted plastic i see them resting in a pile, like a pack of maggots sleeping, but not scary, as they lie in wait. sweet vermin. they look like risotto or tic-tacs or discard from a hole puncher. they are not creepy, voracious critters ready to rise into a chattering charge. they will not chomp away at my vim and vigor, until all that remains of my insides is a vultured carcass, grizzled flesh and bone marbleizing in the burning sun; my guts strewn across a cracked, desert lake bed, spattering the bland sandscape with my scarlet blood. no. my remains, their masterpiece; feral artistry, will not make a Jackson Pollock look like a blank canvas of holy white.
no. they are not vermin. they are tiny, white promises. his tiny, white pills.
the promise that i can escape my Head.
She is relentless. Her tirades tickle me, torture me, wear me down into uncled submission.
"you are a loser. you are useless. you are a waste of space..."
you open your jaundiced fist and look. one tiny, white pill = one. hot. mess.
fuck it. and you swallow.
"hi. i'm henriette. and i'm addicted to metaphors."
oh, i could steamroll you with dozens of detailed descriptions. how i missed the feel of the tracks under me; shiny, silver rails i mount with the inherent grace of the canadian skater. i straddle to a fit, then begin to chug-chug-chug forward, building speed. the heavy metal rods grow hot, vibrating up between my legs, sparking the dark side of my moan; a bundle of dry kindle burst now into raging flame.
yes. i am gathering strength, striding, back and forth, back and forth. the tracks gleam, reflection from the spark in my eye. i am back. i am wild. i am bad. on their thick, satisfying girth, i balance, lifting one foot, then the other.
"WEEE! LOOK AT ME!!!", i scream. once more, i am the runaway train, buoyed by my rocketing recklessness.
"GET FUCK OUT OF MY WAY!!!", i tear down the tracks toward the settin' sun, desperate to reach the fading light. and i see it. the last train to Sparksville. can i catch it? i am gaining on it with every groan forward. i reach for the silver pole with an outstretched hand, hair flying, permanent grin smear. i catch it, but i am barely hanging on, my sweaty fist clutching the pole with the desperate finesse of a stripper, grinding up against her future. i curl my body in and release, flinging myself with abandon onto the back of the train, onto the caboose's sentimental stage - a wooden-slatted homage to separated families and dreams left behind in the dust of a puttering train...
on the caboose platform where Celie showered her sister with golden coins, waving her an African goodbye...
on the caboose platform where the anguished waved with jerking arms and crinkled faces, straining through a sheath of wet for one, last glimpse of the one they love, as the train station melted into the horizon...
on the caboose platform i land, hair tousled, panting...
stoned, sexy, sick.
on the fumes of one pill, for one brief minute, i'd peeled back the layers of darkness. but if anything, it's now even darker.
and i am spent. unable to pulley the ends of my mouth into a flicker of a smile. i cannot chant along to "fake it 'til you make it" or "it could be worse", vapors of vomit i'd blow out of my ass. all i hear is jackhammering. a grating rhythm, luring me over to the nearest pharmacy, where i inhale the stimulating scent of hemorrhoid cream and witch hazel and find nirvana. a gyrating rhythm, arousing me to a smooth sashay over to the counter. i lean over in flushed desperation and grab my white-coated gatekeeper by his name tag, ripping it off and stabbing this flesh bag warden until his white coat is soaked a furious red, as i shrill,
"WHERE. ARE. YOUR. DRUGS?!?!?!"
She will never go away. i know that now.
like the maggots, She will always lie in wait. it's a cosmic joke that this man, this beautiful man has to suffer any more pain. and does. but, with a broken back, he cannot shoulder anymore. and it's a cosmic joke that you've been sentenced to live in a house with drugs. why not set up camp in a bar? just pitch my tent under the siberian vodka. but You, You cannot dole out anymore or we will die empty, like carved-out pumpkins, shriveling away in the gray november light.
She is not just a waxy name tag i wear with twisted pride.
"Hi! I'm Henriette and I'm an alcoholic."
[see. i belong somewhere.]
no day will come when i can peel it off and roll it into a crumpled ball, flicking it off the tip of my finger with a satisfying pop.
She lives inside.
She lives quietly inside, tucked deep inside a layer between sinew and fat, marinating, soaking herself in my blood. And when She quivers and her bubbles froth and flirt, She is the voice that eggs me on. She lures me into spastic shows of self-loathing - punching, scratching, knife-wielding performances - because i believe Her every word. She is so convincing. She is a natural. She's a STAR...
She leads me crawling, sobbing into the bathroom, and onto a blanket of slate as i curl a fetal frame, crying out for, "Mummy!...God!...Someone. Help. Me." someone help me evict Her. this unwanted tenant. She never pays Her rent, and none of the neighbors like Her.
but She has come to squat for life.
and so, i do the only thing i can.
i open my door, smile real wide, and say,
"welcome, bitch. "