Greg managed to park his souped up car just outside the entrance to the packed club, in full view of for the snaking line of drugged up high schoolers. The car ride had been long enough for the alcohol to proliferate through Rosa's bloodstream, enough to impair her motor functioning to the point of complete numbness on the lower half of her body. Just after fumbling the door handle open, Rosa spilled out face first into the icy side walk, going unnoticed by almost everyone in line, and laughed at by the ones who did witness her collapse.
The kids in line, many of whom being fellow members at her highschool were mostly preoccupied with consuming the remainder of their conspicuously disguised liquor and their tic tac containers of ecstacy and painkillers.
“Where’s the afterparty?”
“One at Sid’s. His parents went to cancun”
“Where is Cancun?”
“Why the Fuck is my mouth so dry?”
“Hey guys, any of you got coke?”
“Parties at Sids are fucking great man. Last time I fucked a chick in the garage on top of his dads Benz.”
“Hey guys, my left ear is ringing. Is anyone else’s left ringing?”
“I think this time I’m gonna take a chick up to his attic”
“He’s got an attic?”
“Oh Fuck, now it’s my right ear, too! Guys? Guys?”
“Yeah, it’s cool man! It’s a little loft with a sofa and a vinyl player. I think his dad goes there to smoke pot when everyone is sleeping.”
“Oh fuck. What’s happening? I’m freaking out. I’m totally freaking out”
“I’d love to smoke pot with SID'S dad.”
“I’d prefer his mom, actually...”
“Yo, is that Stacey lying on the floor?”
Rosa surveyed the snaking line and noticed the glances from puffy eyed teenagers, trying to conceal themselves as they saw Val step out in her high platformed boots, with fishnet stockings extending out from her her mini leather skirt. Her face was powdered to a snowy white, with heavy blackish purple mascara around her eyes, and crimson painted lips and a studded leather collar around her neck, making her look like a vampire prostitute from Dracula’s castle. Despite the freezing winds, and the blowing sleet, Val left her leather coat in Greg’s car, letting her long thin arms dangle pale and veiny and swinging as her hips rocked overzealously with every step.
“I just can’t help but feel like they don’t even fucking care? You know?”
Sarah said, taking a puff from a joint. She handed it to Phoebe who passed a cigarette back in return and the two watched Val on her way to the back of the endless line.
“Like I come home. Yeah, it’s the same 'Hi, How are you?' bullshit. But what am I really gonna say anyway? And if I said it, what difference would it make? I’m already in therapy.”
Phoebe’s eyes were covered by a puff of marijuana smoke allowing her the cover to roll them in her immediate annoyance with Sarah. Sarah's eyes travelled outside her body as she talked. They looked at everyone, but no one in particular. She felt a burning wave of humiliation and probing from the faces she met, and even more so, from the ones she didn’t. Even as she spoke she addressed herself to no one in particular. She simply hoped for the words to find their place eventually, even if it took minutes or hours or entire histories spent floating through the ether. She couldn’t wait for the night to be over and the streets to be empty once again. She couldn’t bare to be the only one who was empty. She relished in the image of all those gleeful drunken pubescent teens lying in the grey dusk of their bedrooms with pulsing headaches and gurgling nausea and the gnawing fires of melancholy slurry that she had been swallowing and swelling up each moment she could remember.
As she spoke she could remember car rides with her brother crammed beside her in the cramped backseat of the Oldsmobile after a baseball game and how her father gloated for little Jeff. Jr as he called him, and how mom sat in the front focused on her nails, and how Jeff always got to decide for the flavour of ice cream they’d pick up for Sunday night Sunday's, Cherry bomb, which Sarah had outspokenly been against, and only if little Jeff’s team had won. And home they went and it was as though she hadn’t made a peep, because she hadn’t, and she remembered looking outside to see if she could find something worthy of everyone’s attention, or someone unworthy enough of hers, and no matter how many times she’d mention a goofy looking bird at the bus stop, or the pretty sunset in the distance or the new blockbuster billboard, or even something worth mentioning like some dopey kid on the losing team crying in his moms shoulder, her words trailed off into nothing to be remembered by no one except for herself. And remember them she did.
Now looking around her became her only consolation, it was a defence mechanism as much as it was a twisted sense of misaligned hoping , a hoping for something she knew wasn’t there. And in the line, or later at the after party in some dingy closet or in a parked car with a joint or a bottle or some E she could at least momentarily accept that she wasn’t there and there was nothing else for her to latch onto. Still it took a certain level of booze for her to forget that was the case and so she continued looking around and around like a clock watching itself, hungry for the hour to strike, like a Skinner box rat. She could say just about anything and she could make it up entirely and she could lie and cheat and finnegal her way into someone’s mind and heart but she still knew it wasn’t believable anyway and so did they. She only came to the Christ Incarnate's concert because she knew what it said about her, but not what it meant in and of itself. Something about crucifixion and how it was cool to appear dead. She wished she could even do just that. Despite being dead all her life she was still clinging for her semblance of life. She felt vomit come up in her throat and and watched carefully to see if anyone could notice. She was glad to find no one did, aside from the eyes inside her own head, but also mortified, and figured she could slice her own head off then and there and all she would get was a single news headline. She thought about her puppy Daisy at home with cancer and how even while knowing it was daisy’s last days she had come to this awful show of lip pierced tar smoking druggie, wino weirdos. She felt a sickening warmth near her chest cavity with the soft hush of Daisy’s feined attempts at deep breaths and the dry licks of her paper tongue across her forearm and could feel a cold spot on her bed sheets where daisy was most certainly dying then and there and she wanted to scream for her to stay alive but inhaled Phoebe's joint instead.
To make things worse she had seen her old friend and now nemesis Taryn, skip the line, after rolling in with Robyn and Vic and a couple of senior students. The blackness was rolling in, swelling in her eyes and belly, taking over her, killing her with every passing glance, every laugh and side conversation. Robyn and Vic, both platinum blondes with platinumcredit cards, and developed breasts were far beyond Taryn, or anyone else’s standards of beauty, leaving Taryn to look both out of place, but also, more attractive by association. Sarah's eyes protruded conspicuously out in their direction and then raced back at Phoebe who looked cool in her plaid lumberjack jacket and washed out denim pants , but still plain and kind of boyish and immediately Sarah wanted to leave and go to Daisy, also wishing for some guy to approach her so she could maybe get a drink from him and then reject him. Phoebe was too busy rolling another joint to notice the look in Sarah eyes. Phoebe never bothered to wonder why they suddenly became friends immediately after Sarah got outcasted after her outburst at Taryn over some group homework assignment. Unlike Sarah, Phoebe paid no attention to the social ladder scenario and where her place was on it. She simply rolled good joints, and enjoyed having someone to smoke them with.
“Sometimes I think about when I was a kid and how i could stare out at the tree in our yard, and how the sky would change colours, and how the seasons would change all in a matter of hours, and how my mom could just sit across me at the table cutting coupons, and how my brother could casually tell me how fat I was and how he could pull my head back from my chair by my ponytail, giving me whiplash. And then how dad would come home fuming because mom was cutting coupons and there was still no dinner and how I kept my eyes wide open as possible just to see the last sliver of sunlight poking through. I remember all that because it’s still going on today. Except, my brother hurts me a lot worse, my mother is a lot drunker, my father is home much later, and my eyes are closed.”
“What does your dad do again?”
Said Phoebe .
“Nevermind. This joint is finished.”
Said Sarah sucking at the roach before trying to flick it as ladylike as she knew how.
Rosa and Val, trailed by Greg, ventured to the back of the former shipping warehouse converted into music stage, where the loading dock was, to be met by the Christ Incarnates who were smoking cigarettes and doing blow, by the sewage infested shoreline. Rosa and Greg watched their eyes one by one as they flocked towards Val.
“Ahh, almost thought you were gonna bail.”
Said Jay, offering Val a line.
“I wouldn’t ruin your show like that. I know I’m your good luck charm.”
She squeezed Jay's arm at the same time as Greg swallowed the piping hot screech of a tea kettle fuming up inside his throat.
Backstage was a mutilated sofa and concrete wallls splattered with graffiti and band stickers. The opening act, CLAM, were taking crystal meth and going over their set list. Greg went to get a drink for Val who promptly disappeared to the bathroom with Jay. Rosa was immediately hot with envy, but soon enough she was saved by one of the CLAM members who took an interest in her.
“Haven’t seen you before.”
He said walking over to the dark corner of the room where she stood.
His teeth were big and crooked, and his voice sounded cancerous and harsh.
He said, his big teeth and eyes, locked upon her.
He pulled out a pipe and loaded it up with meth and handed it to her.
Rosa stuck it in her mouth as he lit it.
“More later. “ he said, leaving her as she coughed violently, and grabbing his bass.
The cough was smooth to the point of ticklish and warm. She felt a breeze inside her lungs and heat inside her eyeballs, scorching hot flaming termites nibbling the insides of her cornea. Her skin disintegrated into a puddle of acid and she watched it bubble up, before corroding down deep into her bones, while spiders and maggots crawled in and around her bony remains. She felt as if she had ingested rocket fuel, and no matter how she wished to go back a minute earlier she felt herself being grabbed and strapped onto the blade of a whirring chainsaw being chopped into pieces at the velocity of lightwaves.
And CLAM's set went on to nobody’s attention. The band was there, but the music fell upon deaf ears. It was a circus of drugs and name dropping and bathroom fucking and after-party plotting. Every song blended into the next one, and the only moment that even seemed to matter to anyone was when the lead singer in the opening act, Trent, took a broken shard of a beer bottle and tore himself a flesh wound through his white shirt. There was a tepid applause for that, and then the set continued, an inaudible cacophony of feedback and howling. The dissonance and destruction of the sound made for the perfect soundtrack to the pseudo-tragic state of everyone in the room, in their drugged up, amphetamine delirious self annihilation. By the time the headliners, The Christ Incarnate's made their appearance on stage, the energy of the room had shifted to a fury, and the opening song came on to a tune of broken glass throughout the crowd. Somewhere in the middle of the crowd, Rosa found herself on her knees, upon a heap of glass, performing oral sex while having her skin sliced open. It wasn’t long before she got knocked over by the flailing, mosh pit of bodies surrounding her. Not long after falling over, Rosa had been escorted outside by the unknown male she had been pleasuring.
The ice rain was still falling and it burned like acid on her face and the gaping flesh wounds around her knees. The thundering of the music could still be heard, and felt outside in the back alley near the loading dock where she, and the male who turned out to be Jack were. She felt a warmth as soon as he entered inside her mouth that she hadn’t known in a long time. She kept her eyes open and stared all around as he thrusted into her skull that was propped up against a dumpster. The world around her burned in a celestial inferno, and time blurred into a hyperspace vacuum and her mind went dark and then she opened her eyes again to feel the smoke entering her lungs once more. There they were, both propped up against the dumpster. Jack told her about how he was 32. If it hadn’t been for all the jealous bands who had blacklisted them to promoters, Jack swore they wouldve made it onto the tour with the Kings of Ink. Jack swore he would find Reggie Helman, the guy who he suspected had blabbed about Jack’s assault incident, which Jack adamantly swore was all a complete hoax.
“It was a play fight” Jack said,
‘We were imitating that knife fight from the Haber movie”
Rosa was hardly listening, but she got the gist of everything he said and then lost it with the rush of black polluted waves along the jagged rocked, crumpled beer can shoreline. There was a half of a rotting wooden dock and Rosa could hear it moaning as it slowly rotted inside with algae.
“Obviously Im sad she lost the eye, but hell, I shouldn’t have to pay for it the rest of my life.”
Rosa was shaking and she could taste the familiar, sour taste of semen in her mouth, mixing with the chemical after taste of the meth, and the wretched slightly, conjuring up an acid reflux of the vodka she had been drinking all day long .
Jack offered to take Rosa back to his basement flat. They made it out towards the front of the venue and there was Sarah, sucking back on the roach of a joint Phoebe had given her. She stood alone, looking around anxiously, and the scent of desperation came into Jack’s nostrils.
“Looks pretty done to me”
He said, watching with a smirk as Sarah struggled to reignite the roach, burning up her fingertips in the process.
Sarah shrugged and flicked it away, as Jack came nearer, bringing the pipe out of his coat pocket. He packed the tiny purple crystal piece full to the brim and motioned it towards Phoebe.
“What is it?”
“Never done it.”
Jack smiled his big toothy grin, and Sarah suddenly felt the warmth of trust flooding through her body. It wasn’t his dirty hands, or his manly odour, or the glimmer in his frosted eyes. It wasn’t Jack she trusted at that moment, but the universe. Jack lit the pipe as she leaned in close, too close actually, and burnt some of her long eyelashes in the process. But the black burn of the smoke in her throat took her on a rush past any pain, or sight or sound.
It was still raining as they sped along the empty streets, past the many factory buildings stretching along the lakeshore. And despite how fast Jack was driving, and how fast her head was spinning, Sarah could still feel northing but trust for everything, and everyone around her. She felt an excitement and giddiness that she had forgotten, a sense of freedom and possibility stored inside her rapturous bosom. The night was endless, and she floated in her seat, and her head spun and her heart lifted and every breath was a whiff of euphoria and freedom. She finally just let it happen, she finally allowed the darkness she had been fighting to subsume her. And in the darkness, she finally knew freedom.
It was on the bridge to the highway where the speed was finally too fast and the ice was too slippery, causing the car to skid into the guard rail. Jack went straight through the windshield. Sarah's skull collapsed into the dashboard like a potato. Rosa managed only a dislocated shoulder, but luckily there was a half downed bottle of rum that she noticed had slid between her feet.