A dew-covered spider web so sticky and threads gleaming with four am moonlit sparkles, was spinning soft yet deadly circles around his body. Ben was here again, soon to be stuck in a room, in a house that was begging for repair, on a road he didn't want to be on. The road located in an area that could only be called the wrong side of the tracks. The cliche screamed, but fit, so there it lay. The house itself was in disrepair yet lucky enough to still have two working windows on the second floor.
Covered in greasy fingerprints that stood out in the caked dirt upon it due to people peeking outside for strange people pacing outside the residence, suspicious cars circulating the block and cops that parked close by with steely eyes lingering on every detail of activity transpiring. The other windows had long since disappeared from their frame because of whatever irrelevant squabble enticed an irate inhabitant who momentarily forgot consequences to break it. Thereby now leaving the large porch window it covered with a piece of wood. Nothing to see here. Not anymore. Only darkness lay beyond the window of wood. The darkness he was about to enter.
The door was something to be cautious of. The frame was a jagged chaos of sharp splinters. An imprint of what could only be a crowbar sat in the middle of the splintered mess. Or he could be wrong, perhaps it was a hammer. Either way, it left a non welcoming dented door knob hanging off the body of the door. The door was covered with black dents from steel toe boots, kicking it aggressively to enter the domain as quickly as possible for two reasons. To take or to make.
The Spider Web House had many predators ready to steal the inhabitants most precious pastime and the pile of money that came with it. Of course, this sticky, sparkly thread that bound him caused him to approach this door for the latter. His objective was to make. He didn't take. All he needed was to be high, and the strength of the web filaments knew this house would make him.
Jimmying his way in, using that sad state of a door handle and a screwdriver, he crossed the threshold. Standing in the darkness of the windows new gift, he was closer than ever to his goal. As long as he was fast, perhaps he could avoid being fully engulfed in this sticky spinning of the wretched web like he so recently was. He’d spent time here at least once a day. Sometimes he’d be here for two or three days with no sleep, no food and no cares of anyone or anything except his high.
The inside of the door fared no better than the outside. Shutting the door involved a sturdy rope to pull the knob in and tie the rope to a large nail sticking out of the wall, while a piece of random flooring rested against the wall, pushing itself against the door to hold it shut. Seems like people are intent on getting in while also intent on not letting them get in.
Sometimes to keep them in if they had money to spend. Keep them in until the money was drained, and they had a foggy fading high while a thick tendril curled around their wrist, the tackiness held it there snugly.
Once inside the enclave, he looked around to see who was lurking inside. Mostly sweaty guys with their shirts off. Covered in tattoos that arrived over the years. Every single tattoo on every single body came with a story. And a couple of girls with stringy hair, black fingers and makeup covering the craters and scars they had from picking their faces. Wearing outfits that barely covered the necessities. Skin was everywhere. Some sitting, some standing, some leaning, one tall skinny man with ribs and cheekbones clearly chiselled from lack of food and drugs, taking up the doorway of the kitchen.
The kitchen doorman had a job. He was still fully interlaced in the spider silk, but it was loose enough for him to answer the door. Every knock meant more money for the leader in the room. The doorman would bring the money and the order to the room, another large muscular man would stand with whoever knocked on the door until the doorman returned with the product to hand to the door knocker and send them on their way. Another sale complete and another tendril of the tacky web wrapped around the hand that accepted the product. Another prey caught by the predator in the room with the stack of drugs on one side of him and the stack of money on the other.
Immediately there was another knock. This time was different. The large muscular man grabbed the guy who knocked and pushed him up against the fridge. He quickly picked out a knife and held it to the now afraid guy who knocked.
“You were warned not to come back here. We know you were in on the robbery last week”
“I swear I had nothing to do with it, I just need a hit”
“We have different information and you’re never getting anything else off us again. This is the last time you’ll be in this house, understand?” He pushed the knife into the guys neck until a trickle of blood made a trail fast and thick down his neck.
“I’m sorry man, please don’t hurt me”
“Get the fuck outta here, you’re not worth it” He grabbed him by the hair on his head and actually lifted him up and threw him out the backdoor.
He looked at Ben and said, “You’re lucky I seen you here so often or I’d throw you out too. You look sketchy.”
“I’m not looking for trouble, just been a while since I had a hit. If I look sketchy its because of that. I’m just here to get high”
The guy laughed and slapped him on the back.
“Just kidding Ben! I know you’re cool, I’m just fucking with you.”
“Man, you had me going. I gotta sit and wait for Spider.”
He quickly took a seat on the arm of a chair that a girl was occupying but stood up again to make his way to the living room.
He looked around the interior of the house noticing how it matched the exterior. Complete disarray. Uninviting to everyone but those most trapped, the spun human insects caught in the tangles of the web. The adhesive wisps appeared so delicate yet were almost impossible to break free of.
The same netting that brought him back here, only a week out of a three week stint at rehab. He didn’t want to be here. What was he thinking? He was four weeks clean. He hated how tight this mesh was around his wrists and ankles.
The walls of the house were equally covered in mysterious stains and dark brown handprints. (Blood, dirt, or both?) And holes the size of fists. There were tools he had to step over as though someone had attempted or will attempt to fix those holes. Or fix the spindles missing from the staircase.
He stepped over various pieces of discarded clothing and old wires and cords belonging to missing electronics. Just walking down the hall without tripping was a miraculous feat indeed. A broom lay in wait against the wall, wondering if it would ever be used again.
As he sighed in defeated resignation at having stepped foot in here again, his nose encountered such an unpleasant experience that an uncontrollable gag reflex grabbed his throat. The mix of body odor, mildew, beer, smoke and urine wafted through the air like it owned the place. And he was yet to reach the room.
The soul sucking lair of the spider who ran the Spider Web House and whose sticky strands spun around everyone inside and kept a firm grip on the insects who left, ensuring they would come back.
Ben worked so hard to turn things around. Always trying to escape the web. Wanting more to his life. Wanting better. Knowing he was worth more than the glistening thread that enveloped his body and dragged him back here once again.
“What’s up Brother?”
“Come grab a beer!”
Were the various greetings he received. Then a girl shrieked dramatically.
“It’s so good to see you again Ben!!” As she put her arms around him in a hug he didn’t want.
He had made it down the hall and was now in the living room where everyone seemed to be conjugating. There weren't enough chairs for all the bodies, so it was a very tight squeeze just to stand in one spot. The furniture had holes in it and looked like it should be in the dump rather than a home. The couch was once a high end piece of leather furniture, complete with cup holders and recliners. There was a matching oversize swivel recliner beside it.
He imagined it was a sad reminder of the day it would have been placed in that room. He imagined the proud faces of the new couch owners with the soft leather sitting upon what must have been a lovely mopped and waxed floor at the time. Until substances took over and creating the ruins that now fill the living room.
Lost in that thought for a moment, he snapped out of it when a girl spilled a mystery drink on the arm of the couch. As he watched the elixir drip to the floor, nobody seemed concerned. Besides, there were no paper towels or rags to clean it up. Just a new sticky stain for someone to wipe off with their hands and sit on to dry off with their already stained jeans.
The coffee table was huge. But there wasn't a surface that was free of some sort of garbage or illicit drug using paraphernalia. Beer bottles, some still with liquid inside, were mostly used as ashtrays, with new ashes covering the mouth of the bottle. The butt inside, floating carelessly in its new glass home. Getting slowly larger from the discarded beer that bloated it from dry to wet. There were also actual ashtrays filled to the brim. Bits of paper and tin foil from packs of cigarettes lay everywhere.
There were boxes of baking soda and spoons and knives to do the making of the priceless pastime the inhabitants were here to make. To make and then smoke and then be filled with the evil fake euphoria for a mere thirty seconds before they needed more. So many lighters were burnt out and laid on the table. One was laid on a piece of old pizza that curled up around the edges. It was so old. Why was he here when all he wanted was to be better?? To be sober. To escape the filth.
He felt the pull of the thread encircling his wrist. It was almost his turn to enter the room. The lair. Good. He was tired of feigning smiles to people he didn't want to be around. But had to be socially acceptable. In the Spider Web House, attitudes could change in a second if you didn't use the right tone of voice or body language. One false move could get you accused of being a rat or a goof. A narc or a taker. And he knew every hand in the house was packing. Look at what just happened to that tweaker who got roughed up in the kitchen.
Since he went to rehab, he could easily be disputed of being here as a rat or a taker. But he wasn’t here to rob, he just wanted to feel that body rush, that high, that thirty second release from the reality of the world and the feelings that came with it. But if he didn’t act right, he could easily get a knife in the gut. The guy who was at the door had raised a knife to him already as a joke. Muscular guy seemed unstable enough to actually knife him. He had to be careful.
“KATIE!” The voice from the room upstairs suddenly bellowed out, silencing every spun insect that was down here buzzing around the beer and drugs and smokes, waiting for the next generous person to throw a hit their way since their own money was long since spent. “KATIE! COME UP AND BRING BEN WITH YOU!”
Finally, thought Ben. He’d been waiting at least an hour or two to enter The Spider Web House’s most elite room known as Spiders lair. Plus, he could now escape the sketchy unpredictable buzzing insects. Epically muscle head with a knife he enjoyed to scare and bully people with. Not to mention draw blood. Ben was so ready to leave.
“I’M ON THE WAY BABE!” Katie yelled while she grabbed my hand and led me upstairs to his room. The labyrinth of cobwebs got thicker the closer I got to his room. Katie didn’t seem to notice and walked straight through the mesh of silvery sticky netting.
She turned and smiled at me, “This stuff’s great, you’re gonna love it.”
I gave her a weak smile in return and mumbled “Thanks but I just got off the stuff, I shouldn’t even be here really”
“Don’t be silly. You just had a break Ben. This stuff is the ultimate, why bother giving it up? Anyway, Spiders waiting. He’s been looking forward to seeing you. Go on in” She indicated the door for me to enter.
I tentatively opened the door wondering just how I could stay away from the stuff now that I’m here, in the room, the lair of Spider and the hub of the drug processing factory.
Sitting smack dab in the middle of an enormous silken network of threads spun so thick they resembled jungle vines, was the trap leader Spider. He was shirtless and had long greasy hair pulled back in a thin ponytail. His frame was small but muscular and the scars were competing for room with the tattoos. His body was completely covered with ink. A dragon went all the way up to his neck and ended on the right half of his face. The scars were remains of deals gone wrong. The web he sat on had so many threads leading out of the room and the window. It was hard not to get stuck and become a permanent insect entwined forever in this disgustingly dirty domain of drugs.
Ben knew what he had to do.
“Hey man! How’s it going? Long time no see!!” Spider stood up and fist pumped Ben.
“Hey Spider, how’s it going?”
“Oh, it’s going. Same ole, same ole. How was rehab?”
“Actually, it was good. I feel a lot better.”
“Yeah, it’s nice to get a break. How much are you looking for anyway?”
“Well, that’s the thing Spider. I decided not to buy anything. I’m going try to stay clean”
“Don’t tell me you’re just here to waste my time!”
“That wasn’t my plan. I just decided this downstairs a minute ago. You understand. I need to save some money. Try to be able to buy some of the cool shit you can.”
Spider laughed, “Well that’s something I get. I love my money! And I do have some pretty cool shit. To many jealous people around trying to take it though”
“I heard that! I heard there was another break in just last week. Everything ok?”
“Yeah, we got those guys. They won’t mess with us again. Not after we were finished with them” He smiled a creepy smile and flipped open his knife and pretended to slash his own neck.
Ben thought to himself, this is exactly why I don’t want to be here. To much drama comes with the drug scene. He just wanted to leave it all behind.
“Good for you Spider, don’t let them mess with you. Anyway, I’m outs now, I’ll see you around.”
“Right on man, good luck staying clean.” Spider said this in a condescending way knowing Ben would be back to buy gear anytime. Nobody gets free. Rarely.
As Ben walked down the stairs he breathed in deeply and exhaled.
Walking away took strength, but he just wants to be free of addiction. Free of the spiderwebs. He remembers that he has a knife on him too. He takes it out and cuts away all the coiled webs on his arms and legs and frees his torso. I’m really going to be free now he thinks as he exits through the front door empty handed. He may have empty hands, but his gratification was full.
Squinting into the 6 am morning sunrise he holds his head high and walks confidently away from The Spider Web House. He heads home feeling a self worth he hadn’t felt in a long time. He doesn’t notice the tiny single strand of glistening silken spun fibre that reaches out of the house and gently wraps around his ankle adhering softly to his skin and trailing behind him as he walks. The occasional sparkle looking oddly like a wink and a smile.