Sarah, a novel by Thom Young
Today felt like a nightmare when she left. I should have seen it coming but it never really hit home until her shit was packed. We had been together for less than a year but it seemed like a lifetime of heartaches and tranquil love affairs. Her name was Sarah. She had an angel's smile and the devil was trapped in her soul. It was as if she was just passing through life, as if on some evil ambition fueled trip to wreck my life and sap the last ounce of joy from my marrow. Sarah, the life and death of every woman that I spent time with rolled into one cohesive female creature. I heard her say that she would call, but my phone lay silent for days as if needing some attention. "Maybe I'm not the one for you." "What if I'm not the one for you?" Her words reminded me of a painful journey that always goes uphill towards Mt. Struggle. I lost a friend and a lover when my girl Sarah left me alone to deal with all the shit by myself. "I hope that you find someone new." Her dead encouragement was like a cup of sedation that was bitter to my taste. “Sarah, I have found someone new.” She is nice and a lot like you. Her name is Sarah too.
Sarah had waltzed into my life back in college, she was a southern beauty. I remember the first time I ate her out, it was true love. We spent days talking on the phone and spending the night in each other's arms. We walked together and even had a couple of classes together. Then she left, and Sarah came into my life. This Sarah was from Texas like me, and came from a broken home like me. The misguided children found comfort in each other’s misery.
Her dad use to beat her and her uncle raped her. Sarah told me this one night over ice cream. I held her and said that I was sorry, but I knew that it was not enough. She had too many issues that I could not solve but I could not leave her. That is why we are still together and sometimes it is all we have to make it through another day.
I graduated from school, the first one in my family to get a college degree. My mom came to my graduation but the bastard did not make it. I had not spoken to my dad in about three years, not since the divorce. My mom said that he had cancer, but I could have cared less. I had enough of my own problems. Sarah was six months pregnant and I was trying to make ends meet working shit jobs.
"Are you going to work?" My bitch was always checking up on me. I called Sarah a bitch, but it was a pet nickname that I said with affection. "In a minute baby, I'm going." I headed out the door and off to the job. I had been saving my money for months, in order to buy Sarah a rocking chair for when the baby arrived. The only thing was that I owed my dealer some cash, and rumor was that he was looking for my ass.
I started out smoking weed and of course drinking beer. Then I tried coke, and then smack at college. That first high was amazing, hitting me like a million orgasms at once. That was almost two years ago, but I still had a fix a couple of times a week. I had tried to quit a couple of times but had no luck going cold turkey.
Sarah was still working on her degree in education, and she had about three semesters left. Sarah use to do smack too, but she had quit. The baby was the most important thing to her now. The days had become mundane and filled with the common predictability of routine. I went to work and then bought some smack that would last for a couple days. I would sometimes stay out all night either drinking or shooting up, but always make it back to get my skinny ass in bed.
The holidays always depressed me, I guess because Christmas sucked when I was a kid. Anyways, I had the money for the rocking chair and planned on buying it after work in the morning. You should have seen the look in Sarah's eyes when she saw the cheap wooden chair. She loved me. She had to, to put up with my antics of drinking and using. They say love is blind, and I reminded myself of this on a daily basis.
Things didn't quite go according to plan, the next few weeks were filled with late nights of using and being strung out during the day. I got so desperate for money, that I took Sarah's rocking chair back to the store and got some cash for it. I was a cheap bastard and couldn't quit my habit. It wasn't too long before Sarah moved back in with her sister and I was all alone to fend for myself. This only worsened the situation and left me more desperate than ever.
That is when things got really bad. I owed my dealer some money and he was sending some of his thugs around the apartment looking for me. Sarah had moved in with her sister, leaving me alone in a roach infested apartment full of needles and cigarette butts. I tried to not think about her so much, but she often crept back in my mind after a fix or some bad Mexican smack.
I had a friend named Manny, who would watch my back from time to time. He often told me when the thugs would be around looking for me, but most of the time it was no big deal. The trouble was that I owed the dealer about one thousand dollars and this time they weren't playing any games. I just silently counted the days, wondering what they would do to me. Maybe they would beat my ass with a baseball bat, or gut me like a pig. I knew that I couldn't stick around that long.
I decided to go visit my mother and stay with her for a while. I quit my job and left town without a trace. I used what little gas money I had and went straight home. Mom looked bad. She was getting old but she welcomed me with open arms. “You can stay in your old room for a couple of days.” “You need to eat something.” “I fixed a pot roast that’s in the oven.” “It should be done in about an hour.” It was good to be home. To my surprise, my room had changed little over the years. I still had a poster of Pink Floyd that hung above my bed and to my surprise; my trophies were still on my dresser. The treasures of youth were collecting dust but the still shown their former glory.
“How’s Sarah?” Mom’s pot roast warmed my stomach but she seemed more interested in my life. “We got a baby on the way.” Mom smiled but yet I could see she knew that I wasn’t fit to raise a child. “When did this happen?” I sat thinking about a good answer that I could give Mom to tide her over. “It happened about six months ago.” That was all that came to mind and it wasn’t great. “How do you expect to be a good father?” “You can’t even hold down a job.” “Why aren’t you home with Sarah now?” It was so pleasant to be home.
The next few days were spent lying in bed in my old room. It was my room and it brought back some haunting memories. I was the youngest in the family, so Mom still treated me like a baby. My father was always too busy at the office, to have time for me. By the time I got old enough, I was out on the street. I just lay on my bed and let the thoughts drift through my mind.
“John!” “John!” “Wake up!” “There’s somebody at the door for you.” Sarah nudged my sluggish body out of bed. I could see Manny peeking in the front window of our apartment. I invited him in and we sat at the kitchen table. “I’m sorry to bother you so early, but your dealer Rick just got some new smack in today.” Manny sat there looking for some sign of life from my face. “So you wake me up, to tell me this.” “That’s just fucking great.” Manny insisted that this smack was top quality. “No man, this is some high quality European shit.” “We need to go pick the smack up as soon as possible.” “Get your ass dressed, and let’s go.” The idea of some Euro-smack really excited me, but my funds were low. “Hold on, I‘ll take some cash from Sarah‘s purse.” I went back into our room and saw my angel half asleep.
I almost felt bad taking money from Sarah the first time, but then it got easier. I was sure that she knew where the money went, but she loved me. Manny led the way out the door into our hell. Manny had been right, the smack was high quality shit from Amsterdam. I didn’t know how Rick got all this shit, I never asked. This smack was too good to pass up.
“When are you going to call Sarah?” Mom wanted to know what my plans were, and how long I planned on staying at home. “I don’t know.” Mom was not interested in hearing my excuses and she wondered when I would clean up my act. “You need to go find your wife and baby.” “Your almost thirty years old now, it’s time to grow up.” Mom was notorious for her tough love. I knew deep down that she was nothing but a softie.
Manny thought it would be a good idea to start visiting Rick on a bi- weekly basis. I was too addicted to the new smack to disagree. I found myself trying to scrape up enough cash to get a fix every couple of weeks. I took part time jobs for weeks at a time. My favorite working stint was a brief stay at a car wash. I made a couple hundred dollars in about a week and stole as much free coin from customers that I could. Manny and I saved up just enough to get another high that next week. We were going to meet with Rick in the morning.
Being in my old room again was like going through a time warp. My inner child was playing tricks on my mind. I could still hear the bastard come home from work late, the smell of whiskey on his breath. He would scream at Mom and proceed to beat her senseless. I never knew how Mom put up with it, but yet she did. I started drinking about the age of fifteen; at first, it was just to impress my friends. It soon spiraled into an addictive habit that opened other gateways to weed and pills. By the time I was set to graduate from high school, I was almost a full-scale junkie. I was a professional user and a full-blown pothead. I’d try anything for that next feeling of the “high.”
We met Rick about nine that next morning. “I need the cash upfront before I hand over the smack.” Rick was a shady looking guy that somewhere resembled a drunken uncle or a pedophile pill pusher. Manny had introduced me to Rick back in college; it was not a cordial relationship. Rick provided the smack and I provided the cash, which is how it went. Manny had a nasty habit too, but he wasn’t as bad off as I was. “It’ll be two hundred for some of the Euro-shit.” It was another grand exchange of the intellectual junkies.
Mom kicked my ass out after about two weeks. I kissed her goodbye and headed back out the door into harsh reality. I headed back in the path to find Sarah. She was getting in the late stages of pregnancy now; I was going to be a daddy. Mom had given me enough money to fill up my tank and limp back to the shit-hole apartment. The drive home was serene and cold. There was hardly anyone on the road and the rain hitting the pavement was my only friend. I made it back to Austin in near record time. To my surprise, I found my apartment nearly cleaned out. Sarah must have taken all her shit and moved out for real this time.
I got another part time job at a car wash. I had a college degree, so they promoted me to manager. This just gave me the opportunity to take more cash out of the register, and since I was the manager, no one questioned me. This scam went on for about a month until the owner caught wind of my gig. I was fired and kicked back out to the ranks of unemployment. The owner didn’t know how much money I had really taken. I managed to steal about one thousand dollars total, and I bullied my high school workers into giving me some of their stash. I had enough money to buy smack for the next month. Manny and I celebrated by downing some cold ones at his place.
I got a call from my landlord that I was late on paying rent for the last two months. I had this happen before so I wasn’t worried. I tried to call Sarah at her sister’s place, but there was no answer. I hadn’t spoken to her in almost two weeks and I was getting worried something had happened to her and the baby. Sarah was due in about a month, and I just knew that I’d miss the birth of my own child. My thoughts turned to smack and Manny would be soon looking for a score too.
I met Manny in college. We both took a history class together. The first day of the class, we ended up sitting by each other. Manny was from Dallas, his family was wealthy. His dad was an asshole lawyer but very good at what he did. Manny started using in high school; it was the cool thing to do in the trendy Plano suburbs. The good thing was that Manny’s parents sent him money. Manny was supposed to be in graduate school, but instead he was enrolled in Junkie University like me. Manny and I spent countless nights drinking at the bars on the famed 6th street in college. That is how Manny met Rick, and that is how my life became even more fucked up.
I finally got in touch with Sarah, she said that she felt good but didn’t want me involved in her life. Her sister was helping her prepare for the baby. She said that she’d let me know when the baby arrived and that I could come see him when he was born. I felt bad about not having more of a role in my son’s life, but he didn’t need a junkie for a father.
We took our usual visit to see Rick that Monday. Rick was not happy. “If you guys want to keep buying this Amsterdam shit, then I need more cash.” “I’ll take two hundred today, but next time you’ll both owe me another hundred.” “Look I appreciate your business and all but it’s tough to get this European shit.” Rick looked strung out, that was the thing about being a dealer; you were most like a junk-head too. “I’ll see you boys in two weeks.” “If you don’t have my money, then you’ll owe me double each time you don’t show.” Rick was a real savvy business type. His commerce skills were about as gifted as a shoe salesman.
Manny soon grew tired of dealing with Rick. “I’m going to pay that loser and then be done with it.” Manny wanted to branch out in his drug possibilities and try something new. I was smitten too much with my Amsterdam lady to give up smack. “I’m going back home for awhile.” “I’ll see you in about a month.” “Congratulations about being a father.” “That kid has got one bright future.” It would be the last time I’d hear Manny’s sarcasm for a couple of months. Manny went back to Plano the next day.
I was left alone in the dumpy apartment. The cigarette butts filled almost every corner. The ashtray was full and had spilled onto the dull tan carpet. The bathroom had been invaded by used and dirty needles with the occasional small balloon here and there. The shower curtain was so grimy that the mold clung to it in desperation. Sarah and I were not much on cleaning. “I clean only when it’s necessary.” Sarah always said that when she surveyed the rat-hole that had become our apartment. I really missed that girl. I missed my Sarah.
I had all but forgotten about paying Rick the money that I owed him. It had been almost three weeks since we last bought the last batch of smack. I guess I added up quite an impressive debt over those weeks. In reality, I could have cared less how much I owed Rick. He could shove the drug money up his ass, for all that I cared. I knew that he would send his thugs around soon to hunt me down; it was just a matter of time. I tried to lay low for the next couple of months. I was hungry and low on funds. I called Mom to have her put some money in the mail. She only sent one hundred bucks. I had enough to buy some bad smack.
My diet consisted of coffee and cigarettes. I would sometimes eat frozen TV dinners that Sarah left. My favorite was the Healthy Choice chicken tenders. The gravy was so hot that it would scald the roof of you’re mouth. I had little money for smack, so I went into awful withdrawals. The tremors and cold sweats were sometimes more than I could stand. My routine became to chain smoke as much as I could and drown myself in caffeine.
Manny came back in town one Monday. He came walking to the door looking refreshed and with a smirk on his face. “You look like hell.” Manny had been in contact with some old high school friends while being back home in Plano. “I got turned on to some thrills man.” “I’m leaving smack behind if I can.” Manny had a glimmer of excitement in his eyes about his new habit.
“My friend Jason got me turned onto taking mushrooms.” “These shrooms can really open up the mind.” I thought that Manny had been converted to a Deadhead. “Why the hell would you get into that kind of shit?” Manny could see that I was a little apprehensive about taking shrooms. “I’ll give you about two weeks and you’ll love them.” Manny had gotten some money from his parents while at home. This money would soon help us start a profitable business.
At first Manny showed me how to grow the mushrooms at home. They grew on top of water and with just the right amount of light, you had mushrooms. Manny used the money that his parents gave him to buy all the equipment and set up us proper. If I was going to sell the shrooms then I would have to try them first.
Manny brought some of them over one Saturday night. I was really hurting from not using smack for about a week, but I figured the shrooms might do something for me. “These are some that Jason gave me” Manny said. “They are pretty good, they make you relax.” “The only thing is that you got to be in the right frame of mind.” I popped in the dirt-flavored mushroom in my mouth and sat back on the couch.
Rick sent his thugs around my place one day when I was out looking for another fix. Manny was at my place crashed out in the back bedroom when they showed up banging on the door. “I haven’t seen him in awhile.” Manny covered for my sorry ass, but I had a feeling that they would find me sooner or later.
In the mean time, I had found another dealer named Vince. Vince was a young guy but good at what he did. Vince was getting me some pretty good smack and he was cheaper than dealing with Rick. I used what little money I had to buy some smack from Vince a couple times a week. It was just about a month and we had quite a profitable business.
Manny showed me how to grow the mushrooms in my big bedroom closet. It took a little while to grow the first batch but once they started growing, we had quite a stash. Manny worked on getting a few customers, they were mainly a few college buddies looking for the next high.
We had some regular customers and the money slowly trickled in. I had enough money to pay my rent for a couple of months and this kept the landlord off my back. Manny and I split the money and the more shrooms we grew, the more we made.
During this time, the thought never crossed my mind to pay off Rick. I would get around to it when I felt like it. My thoughts turned to Sarah and the baby.
“When is the last time that you saw her?” Manny asked. “It’s been almost two months, and the baby is due anytime.” I had become so lost in smack and our newfound business that Sarah and the baby had been put on the back burner. “I should call her to see if the baby is here.” My ambitions of being a father were off to a glorious start.
Manny and I started to get a few new customers every week. The money started to roll in pretty steady and I could pay my rent without being hassled. Manny got some more equipment so that we could start growing more mushrooms. We now had two closets in my place that were setup for growing. The mushroom high really didn’t do that much for me. I was lost in smack, and once you get hooked, you can’t give it up.
Sarah had the baby one Wednesday night. I wouldn’t have known about it except Manny saw the message on the machine one day. The night my son was born, I was scoring some smack at Vince’s place across town. I was the proud father of a baby boy.
The next few weeks Manny and I spent our time working on growing the mushrooms and trying to establish contacts. We had about five regular customers but they were spreading the word inside the junkie circle. There were always those hardcore junkies who lived high all the time, but our customers fit in the casual user community. Most were avid drinkers and smoked pot, but that was almost a given to anybody off the street. There was one customer in particular that struck up quite a friendship with Manny and I.
His name was Alan Griffin. Alan was not a casual user but fell into the junkie demographic like me. Alan also used Vince as his dealer, so he was familiar with smack. The difference was that Alan had quit using smack and was now trying some so called safer alternatives. Alan was good about coming by twice a week to pick up a bag of mushrooms, and also he would catch us up on the word on the street.
Manny started to make most of the money but I had enough to get by. I didn’t have to worry about paying rent much anymore. It had been three weeks since my son was born, and I still had not seen him. We had been so busy with the mushrooms that I hardly ever thought about Sarah or the baby.
I met Alan one day downtown. It was one of those dreadful gray winter mornings that caused me to sink into a dark depression. I wasn’t fit to be a father. I could have cared less if I died at that moment. Sweet Heroin. Alan had told me that Vince had got some good smack and he was selling it cheap. I had a little cash in my pocket and I needed a fix.
I got a hold of Sarah’s sister one afternoon and it was arranged that I could meet my son. Sarah was doing fine and the baby was healthy, at least that was the news from Sarah’s sister. I would meet my son that next Tuesday. I wondered if he had Sarah’s eyes.
Vince had gotten the real shit. I bought a few grams for myself and Alan. “Word around the street is that you owe somebody some money,” Vince said. “I didn’t know you use to have Rick as a dealer” Vince said. “I use to know him.” Those words were all that I could muster back to Vince. Alan and I left with our smack back onto the street. It had started to rain and the sidewalks dripped of water. It was Tuesday.
Alan shot me up first in the bathroom of an Exxon. It was some strong shit and I entered that blissful feeling that I so missed. I was too high, so Alan took the next hit on his own. We both laughed and became oblivious to the world. I passed out in the stall at the Exxon.
I woke up on Wednesday. I was face down on the floor, the smell of piss and cigarettes lifted my spirits. I had forgotten all about seeing Sarah and my son. I knew that I would never live it down. My shirt was soaking wet with sweat and piss. I saw my reflection in the mirror. The white skeleton stared back at me. I was a junkie.
Manny was smoking a joint when I walked in the door. “Where the hell have you been?” Manny asked. “How are Sarah and your son?” Manny kept asking questions until I would give a response. I just moaned and grunted while blankly staring at the wall. “I heard that Rick is looking for your ass.” “You should get out of town for awhile.” Manny was full of suggestions that would better my life. I was tired but looking for the next high.
Alan stopped by the apartment one afternoon. Alan was a streetwise kid who had hustled and run drug deals in his day. I had been laying low for the last couple of days, keeping my eye out for Rick and fighting my demons. “I wondered about you the other day at Exxon,” Alan laughed. “I guess you’re alright now.” Alan had a peculiar look in his demeanor that hinted that some action was around the corner. “Is Manny around?” Alan asked. His voice was quiet and his eyes held a secret. “No, Manny isn’t here right now.” “Why?” I was up for something new.
Sarah never did call back after I missed meeting with her and my son. It was a wonder that the kid wasn’t born a junkie addicted to smack and other junk. It was amazing that he was healthy, not that it mattered anymore. I would have no significant role in his life and Sarah wouldn’t dare let me see him again. It didn’t matter much anyway; my life had no purpose besides getting high.
Trouble finally caught up with me one dark night. I was walking back from Vince’s place when I spotted the thugs. They were onto my trail and were waiting for me in the alley behind Vince’s place. It’s funny how things seem to be in slow motion when you get the shit beat out of you. “I believe that you owe us some money.” The voice was deep and intent on making me bleed. There were two of them and quickly I was being hit with a hard metallic object. That is about all that I remember. I was hit in the head a couple of times. I think my last memory was seeing Lack’s furniture sign glow in the night. I had bought Sarah’s rocking chair there. I drifted into a comatose state. Sleep. Black.
Alan raised his eyebrows with a proposition. “I heard what Rick’s thugs did to you.” “Vince told me the whole story about how they left your ass for dead in the alley outside his place.” “I want to get even.” Alan smirked like the devil with murder on his mind. I listened but was afraid that Alan was serious about his plan. “You know they are going to come get you again,” Alan said. “Let’s get Rick before he can get you.” The walls in my apartment started to crowd around me. I was a junkie and didn’t know the first thing about planning a murder.
I was a little hesitant about Alan’s idea at first but the plan gradually grew on me with time. Alan thought it would be a good idea to get Vince involved since he knew Rick. I had not told Manny about the plan since I felt it didn’t involve him. I knew that he would love to see Rick bleed but I kept it quiet. Alan would come over every few days to discuss the plan. It took us about a month to plan out every detail of the murder.
I was sitting at home one gray morning when the phone rang. The voice on the other end of the line was from an angel. Sarah called to see how I was doing and tell me about my son. She said that they were doing well, and that perhaps I could come over and see the baby if I got my act together. I was pretty shocked that Sarah would call in the first place but I didn’t complain. I was going to meet with Vince in the morning to not only buy some smack but also discuss the plan.
Vince knew Rick from back in their days of dealing on 6th street in Austin. Vince was interested in the murder plot, but he didn’t really want to participate. I guess he figured it was too risky and he had the pigs breathing down his back enough. I bought the smack and went back to the apartment. It was Monday, and we had a few customers that were going to stop by the house.
My room hadn’t changed much over the years. I always found refuge in my bed underneath my Pink Floyd poster. Dad had been out of town on a business trip and wouldn’t be back until the end of the week. I was about to start my senior year in high school that coming fall and all the parties were going to be awesome. It would be my first year to try smack.
I was awaken by a loud knock on the door. It was one of our regular customers named Neil. Neil was a student at the University of Texas and really into growing his own stash. Manny liked him because he bought a lot of mushrooms and always came every Monday like clockwork. “How’s it going man?” Neil still had a fresh student look to him that was full of life and not hardened by years of junkie abuse. “I’m doing good man, and yourself?” This casual conversation was about the extent of my welcoming committee. I had other things on my mind like the plan and how we were going to pull it off.
The next few weeks I did my best to keep things quiet between Manny and I. I did not mention anything about killing Rick or the steps by which Alan and I were taking. Manny and I had a solid relationship and I knew deep down he would agree to it all.
Dad returned from his business trip with a nice buzz. I heard him slam the door as he entered the kitchen. Mom tried to greet him at the door but he would have none of it. “Where’s my dinner at bitch?” Mom was silent for what seemed like an eternity but then I heard a slap. The bastard was hitting her again. I had to put a stop to it and I was old enough to hold my own. I quietly opened the door to my bedroom and strolled into the kitchen.
The following Monday was when Alan and I were going to make Vince a proposition. Alan suggested that we front up some cash and have Vince carry out the deed. It wasn’t going to be easy, but with the right amount of cash, anyone could be convinced. The small corridor that led to Vince’s small garage apartment was as dark as sin. I thought that Vince would keep a nicer place but he was just living a step above my roach palace. “Good to see you boys.” Vince said. He was leaning back in his velvet recliner and puffing a cigarette, but his focus was solely on Alan. “I heard you guys want to talk some business.” Vince remained calm and opened his ears. “Indeed we do.” “Indeed we do.” Alan and I sat down and laid the cash on the table.
It would be the last time Dad would hit Mom. I tackled the bastard and punched the shit out of his face. The old man’s face turned into a bloody pulp as I delivered vicious hit after hit. Mom pulled me off of him, but the damage was done. Dad would move out a few weeks after that and it would be for the best. I never spoke to him for almost two years after that night. I spent a lot of time under my Pink Floyd poster in bed. The future was pointless and my habit was my new father.
“We are giving you twenty five hundred tonight and then another twenty five the next time we meet,” Alan said. Vince did not seem interested in the offer, but he took the money. “All you guys want is Rick dead?” Vince asked. “I can see to that.” Vince eased back into chair and took a drag on his clove cigarette. The idea was for Vince and Alan to surprise Rick some evening with a proposition of a drug deal. Vince would do all the necessary communication to secure the deal and scout out a location that would suffice. We would talk again in two weeks to sort out any details and bring the rest of the cash.
I got to see Sarah on a Wednesday night. She was as beautiful as I remembered, and I shed a tear when my eyes met my son’s. Sarah had a healthy new mom look to her and my son resembled her in almost everyway. The visit was brief and Sarah and her sister didn’t warm up to the junkie. I said my goodbyes and tried to kiss my son, but Sarah held onto him for dear life. I was back out on the streets in no time.
The first time that I tried smack was in college. I had a date with a chick named Nicole and I shot up to break the nerves. Nicole was a fine piece of ass and the smack helped to deflate the tension. It was one of the best dates that I had, but she soon left me too. That was about a year and a half before I met Sarah. I’ll never forget the first time I shot up in that dirty dorm bathroom. It was a little taste of heaven on the gateway of hell.
My high school years were kind of a blur from my sophomore year on. I spent most of my time drinking and being the life of the party. I got good grades because I knew how to cheat like an expert. I was voted most likely to succeed my senior year, and boy if my peers could see me now. Mom planned for weeks for my graduation and even the bastard showed up. I didn’t look him in the eyes once during the entire ceremony. I hated him and he knew it.
It had almost been a week since I had a fix. Alan bought a few grams and shared them one Thursday night. Manny kept himself busy selling shrooms and the money steadily trickled in. I didn’t speak a word of the murder plot the closer the date got. I had enough money to pay off Rick but I still wanted him dead. I never knew that I had so much hate in my bones but it was there. The next day Alan and I were going to give Vince the rest of the money and things were going to start rolling. It would just be a matter of time before Rick met his end. The thugs were also going to die also if they got in the way.
My college years were filled with smoking dope and branching out in my substance abuse. Manny’s family owned a vineyard in Okalahoma. It wasn’t exactly the grape capital of the heartland but they made some excellent wine. Manny got all the bottles that he could carry back to Austin and we drank like champions. We got fucked up almost every night and we always got some bitch to take notes for us in class. We only went to a few football games but we had fun. I was good at sneaking in flasks filled with whiskey which provided plenty of entertainment. On Sundays, Manny would buy some smack from a dealer that he knew on the south-side of town. We spent our days drinking and smoking in a mindless pursuit of mayhem.
The clock was ticking for Rick and his thugs. Alan and I gave Vince the last twenty five hundred to seal the deal. The plan was for Vince to meet with Rick next week. Vince had done a good job of convincing Rick that he wanted to make a major heroin deal. This interested Rick and the deal was arranged. Vince was going to meet Rick at his place to show the goods. What Rick didn’t know is that Vince was packing some major heat and that he would soon be pushing up daisies.
I kept things quiet in the week leading up to the plan. In fact, I was beginning to have my doubts about the whole thing. When these doubts crept in my mind, I just thought about that fatal night when the thugs beat the shit out of me. I knew that Rick would do the same to me if he got the chance. I was going to get to him first, and Vince was going to do my dirty work.
I often thought why Alan would want Rick dead, but I guess he had reasons too. I just didn’t like Rick and the fact that I owed him money only fueled my fire. The next few days were actually some of the best that I had in awhile. Sarah and I started talking again and things seemed to be headed in the right direction. She arranged for me to see my son again soon, but I wanted to wait until everything was finished with Rick.
The day came and went without much excitement. I had a feeling that everything went as planned, because Vince was focused and knew what to do. Alan called about noon the day after to see how I was holding up. “Have you heard from Vince yet?” I asked. “Not yet, but I’ll call you when I do.” Alan seemed confident that everything went smoothly and that we had nothing to worry about.
Manny and I use to get real high on Sundays. We would usually be drunk by noon and then either smoke weed all afternoon or shoot some smack until we ran out. When I first started dating Sarah she would come over and sometimes shoot up with us. She always did just enough and never pushed the limits like us. I guess I always liked living life on the edge. The uncertainty of tomorrow kept me living and everyday was its own adventure. Manny slowed down his smack intake about his junior year at college but I always made up for everybody’s slack. When you’re a junkie you don’t worry about whether your going to live or die, you just hope you make it until the next fix. I had made it so far but the devil was sure to win the battle.
It had been three days since our plan had passed over. I had not heard from Alan or Vince about anything. I became a prisoner in my own apartment waiting by the phone. Manny knew something was eating away at my soul, because he could see it in my eyes.
When I was young I always thought my life would end up better than it is now. I use to admire the hardworking ethic of everyday people. The middleclass cookie cutter lifestyle was something that I once strived for. I thought the American dream was something that could be attained through hard work and education. My mother use to take us to church on Sundays and I’d get a warm fuzzy feeling from the pastor’s sermon. This was followed by a fried chicken dinner and a pleasant slice of Americana. This was before the old man really started hitting the bottle and before my own experimentation. I longed for those innocent days now but they were all memories of a utopian dream. They say that dreamers are lazy but junkies are just junkies.
Sarah and I use to watch the sunset from our front porch in college. I would hold her auburn hair close to my breath and take in the scent of pure heaven. When I first got hooked on smack, and this was usually after the first time you tried it, things got complicated. It’s true what they say about smack; you should never try it. The gateway drugs like booze and weed can open up other unwanted paths of destruction. While this may be true, the individual still has to make the choice to try new shit. This is what separates us from the animals, the fact that we can choose. My professor in college use to call it freewill. I chose the wrong path and now all things were bearing down on me.
The sweat dripped off my forehead like a river. Manny became even more suspicious of my behavior. “What the hell is wrong with you?” Manny asked. “You look like you just saw a ghost.” “Do you need a fix?” “Why don’t you see about calling Rick?” Manny’s questions only made my mind race like a madman. Why hadn’t I heard from Vince? Did something go wrong? Why hadn’t Alan called? Did Rick figure out what was going on? Were they going to start looking for me? The waiting was starting to kill me. I was killing myself and guilt was rearing it’s ugly head. I also needed some smack to stop the cold sweats and tremors. I couldn’t take it anymore. The window was closing on my master plan.
One night Sarah and I snuck into her house. I had gone home with her to Abilene to visit her folks. The only thing was that her folks were gone for the weekend. Sarah had lied and said that her and a girlfriend were coming home for the weekend. Sarah’s folks had gone to their lake house and wouldn’t be back until Monday. This left Sarah and I all alone in the empty house. We robbed their liquor cabinet and drank our fill. I made love to her on her parent’s bed. I introduced Sarah to smack that weekend. I shot her up in the master bathroom. She loved it.
The paranoia can creep up on you. It had been almost a week and I still had heard nothing from Alan or Vince. I couldn’t sleep at all and my sweats were unbearable. Manny suggested that I take some mushrooms to expand my mind. I figured that it couldn’t hurt to try a few. This was a bad idea, because it made me even more paranoid. My frame of mind wasn’t right; it was full of anxiety and delusions. I had nightmares that Rick found out about our plan. Maybe he had killed Vince and Alan? He would be looking for me next and his thugs wouldn’t let me live this time.
“You need some help man?” Manny asked one night over a TV dinner. “You’ve been acting weird for about the last two weeks.” “What’s the problem?” Manny tried his best to pick apart my brain but it was useless. I knew that at the right time I would tell him. I was too strung out to think clearly right now. I began to think about Sarah and my son.
When Sarah first told me that she was pregnant, I was pretty angry. She didn’t take the pill one week and sure enough she got knocked up. My anger soon turned to concern when the reality of being a father sunk in. I was a full blown drug addict not a father. My days of sex and mayhem were going to slow down. Sarah had always been my security and she needed me now more than ever. I guess that’s why it all fell apart. I was never man enough to step up and face my responsibilities. I could blame my drug habit all I wanted but I never lived up to my duty. We can all blame others for our problems but we never blame ourselves.
The phone rang one night when I was just about to nod off on the couch. “You need to get out of town.” Alan’s voice sent a shockwave through my entire body. “Rick knew something was up, and from what I hear they killed Vince.” Alan had a hint of panic in his voice but remained calm. “I can’t talk long, they are looking for us.” I hung up the phone and felt like I died.
My old man was a real bastard. One time at Christmas, he got drunk and punched my brother in the face. I never forgave him for it and things were never the same after that. That is when I knew that my mother was my only real parent. She was the one that I could talk to about things. I never had a good view of women. I saw them as sex objects and projected my fantasies on them. I used them to get what I wanted and didn’t care about their feelings. That all changed when I met Sarah. I felt that she was my cosmic soul partner. Her life was my destiny. I somehow managed to fuck that up too.
I followed Alan’s advice and left town. Mom was waiting for me in the driveway. “It’s good to have you have home again.” “I made some coffee and we can sit and chat a bit.” Mom looked good but she was aging. Her once auburn hair was turning gray and her eyes no longer sparkled. The years of abuse had finally caught up with her. The kitchen looked smaller than I remembered, but I guess everything looks bigger when you’re a kid. Mom made a pot of black coffee that was strong and a plate of fried eggs. “So how are Sarah and the baby?” Mom asked. “They are doing good.” “I got to see them both about a month ago” I said. What about your job situation?” Mom asked. “Manny and I got a little delivery business that’s going pretty good” I said. I knew deep down that Mom knew we were selling drugs, but she didn’t press the issue. “Well it sounds like you might be getting things in order in your life.” Mom’s fake encouragement only masked the reality of my situation. I spent the next few days in my room alone. I didn’t want to believe my current situation. It was better to get lost in the past instead of face reality.
Vince took the five thousand dollars and assured us that Rick would die. The plan was for Vince to lure Rick to his apartment. The deal was to only go down between him and Rick. Vince had a silencer on his gun and after some business talk, he would casually shoot Rick. Rick caught wind of something before the meeting. Vince was the one who ended up dead.
Mom got sick one night. I heard her coughing in her sleep. I knew my stay at home wouldn’t be long. I was ready to head back and I had revenge on my mind. I gave Mom some cough syrup and then packed my bags. I left the next morning just when the sun was blood red. They say the Texas sun can burn you alive but I was just glad to be living.
My apartment was trashed. Rick’s thugs had turned every thing upside down in search of me. “They came here looking for you.” “What the hell did you do?” Manny said. Manny had a perplexed look on his face when I walked in the door. “I guess they want the money” I said. I had tried to keep things quiet about the plan around Manny. I figured that I now had nothing to lose. I decided to tell Manny everything.
“You did what?” Manny said. “Oh great, so now they are going to kill us.” “I paid Rick his fucking money.” “They are coming after you” Manny said. Manny was not happy about what I had told him and suggested that I move out. “I’m going to take care of it myself” I said. “I’m going to buy a gun in the morning.” I said. “Fuck that!” “You need to buy one right now.” Manny was not as confident as me when it came to taking revenge.
I tried to stay away from the apartment for a few days. I crashed at a shack on the other side of town with another dealer named Donnie. Donnie use to sell me smack for awhile in college. I was surprised that he lived in the same place but he did. Donnie was a little skeptical about letting me crash at his place at first. I promised to not stay long and buy some smack, which set his mind at ease.
Sarah and the baby did not cross my mind at all much anymore. There were some nights that she would creep into my dreams but they were short-lived. I was lucky enough to not have to buy a gun. Donnie said that I could use one of his extra handguns. It didn’t strike Donnie as strange that I would need a gun and he didn’t ask. I spent the next few days walking the streets and packing my gun. I kept it inside the pocket of my old army jacket. It was just a nine millimeter but it would do the job. I often walked by Rick’s place and looked around to see any sign of life.
“Did you ever know a guy named Alan Griffin?” Donnie asked. I tried not to act surprised by Donnie’s question but listened intently. “Well, they found his body in Lake Travis” Donnie said. “He was a good kid” Donnie continued. “I use to know him back when he bought some smack from me”. This sent an alarm to every nerve of my body. “I didn’t know the guy” I said. “Well apparently he fucked with the wrong people” Donnie said. “The police still haven’t got a suspect yet.” Donnie continued telling me about how Alan’s body was near purple when the pigs found him. I had to really think about the mess that I had gotten myself into. It was a nightmare that appeared to have no way out.
I stayed in Donnie’s apartment most of the time during the day. The good thing was that Donnie had a nice pile of smack that was handy around the place. I gave Donnie some cash and he kept me well supplied. I was living my life in fear, not knowing when it would be my time to leave this forsaken planet.
Heroin. Smack. The life-blood to those who dare to try her. The sweet injection in the veins and dilation of pupils. It was a losing battle to resist her. She took no prisoners and wasted little time. I need a shot in the arm to feel complete. I couldn’t live my life without her. She was my girl and lover. She was my Sarah. The needle was a sedated friend that searched for your soul. I was committed to her and she was mine. I had to wait for my man to bring her to me. It was well worth the brief minutes to get her and slip into that eternal bliss. There is nothing else but her. She is my god. She is my god. Heroin. Smack.
Sarah’s wedding dress was white with antique lace. She never looked so beautiful. I stood at the altar and waited for her. She had been waiting for this day ever she since she was little girl. Most girls dream of the day that they will get married and Sarah was no different. Our family and friends were all gathered around to celebrate our love together. Manny was my best man and Sarah’s sister her bridesmaid. The reception was full of dancing and laughter. The plates overflowed with choice cuts of beef and glasses of wine stayed full. Dad smiled as we were announced Mr. and Mrs. John Tweedy. Mom had a tear in her eyes as we exited the church.
The rain didn’t stop hitting the roof for four days straight. I know this because I stayed in Donnie’s apartment and listened to it. I decided that I couldn’t keep living in fear but rather confront Rick head on. I spent my time learning when Rick would leave his place. I had overstayed my welcome at Donnie’s, but he didn’t mind as long as he got his drug money. I hadn’t seen Manny in about two weeks, but I figured that he didn’t want to have anything to do with me.
With each passing day I became more familiar with Rick’s routine. I would lay low at a coffee shop that was across the street from his place and watch. He always came out about eleven in the morning to make a sell. I noticed that his thugs weren’t around so it seemed like the precise time to take action. I was going to wait until the time was just right to make my move. In the mean time, I was busy doing some serious smack thanks to Donnie.
I went out of my way to try and get in touch with Sarah. Sarah was a strong woman but she had a weakness in her heart for me. It seemed that no matter how many wrongs I did, she loved me unconditionally. It was with great excitement that I got a hold of her one Wednesday night.
“How you been babe?” I held the phone close to my ear, waiting for her magic voice. “I’m doing fine and your son is well” she said. Her voice brought such a peace to my heart. “When can I come see you and the baby?” I asked. Sarah seemed hesitant a bit but spoke softly. “You can come visit this Saturday afternoon.” It was arranged that I would see both of them. For just a brief moment, I felt joy return to my life. It would just be a passing emotion that got mixed in with all the other shit.
I went to go see Manny one afternoon. He was sitting on the couch strumming along on his six string when I walked in the door. “It’s good to know that you’re still alive” Manny said. “I was worried that you might have a bullet in your head by now.” Manny smiled and gave me a hug just like old times. “What is your plan now?” Manny asked. “I guess you heard about Alan and Vince” Manny said. “I heard that they found Alan’s body in Lake Travis, but I didn’t hear anything about Vince” I said. “They killed Alan but had a little trouble with Vince.” Manny said. “What kind of trouble?” I asked.
I had made up my mind to try and kill Rick in a week. I knew his routine and it was worth the risk to shoot him in broad daylight. In a way I felt good about what I was doing. For once in my life, I had a goal that was going to get accomplished. I never wanted to bring it to murder but sometimes you just have to play the devil’s game. I would avenge Alan’s murder and save my own skin. I knew that I took a chance of going to prison but I felt that I had nothing left to lose.
Sarah looked good and younger than I remembered. My boy was almost half a year now and looked nothing like his father. He had my facial features but the rest belonged to Sarah. We had some small talk and this time I kissed my son before walking out the door. It’s those little things in life that keep us going like a kiss or a wave goodbye. I told Sarah that I would see her soon and went about my way. It was time to step back into my world.
The morning of the murder was like just about every other day that I have been alive. There were people rushing to their jobs in the morning commute. The students were loading onto yellow buses to start another school day. The sun was peeking around the gray clouds and babies were being born in the hospital. There was also old people dying and some younger meeting their end too early. I had the power to send a human to the depths of hell inside my coat pocket. The gun was loaded and the bullets were cold. I knew what I had to do, but first I needed just a little smack to calm the jitters.
They found Sarah’s body first. She was face down on the sofa naked. Her auburn hair was scattered about the room like confetti. Her blood ran warm onto the dull tan carpet. She had been raped brutally and then shot in the back of the head execution style. My son was found face down in his crib. He died by suffocation. He went without crying or making a sound.
Sometimes on those cold winter days my thoughts go back to that time. I think about what might have been if Sarah lived. She was such a beautiful mother to my son. She was my downfall and salvation in one woman. My hope and life had been in her. They say that love can drive you mad but really it just makes you lonely.
Vince had been paid his blood money. I could sleep in peace knowing that everything was over. Rick had died and the world was better because of it. I went about my life of using and selling like always. The weeks passed and I no longer really thought about everything that happened much anymore. Manny and I would stay up late laughing about everything while watching movies. Things returned to normal in our abnormal life. It only lasted for a little while but I was satisfied with all that had happened.
I often wonder what my son would have looked like had he been born. Most likely he would taken after his mother but his father had good genes too. Manny had written me several letters over the last few weeks. They were all about the same; everybody wanted to know why I did it. Was it the money? Was I just crazy? Did I have any hidden motive? I guess they were all things that Vince and I would take to our graves. The reasons would decay just like our bodies some day. I would have to stand before God and give an account for my actions. The angels would sing their death judgment song of condemnation. The fiery gates of hell would be open to receive her bastard son. It’s about this time that I start to lose all hope all looks dark.
It’s out of the corner of my eye that I see my messiah. She comes to me with her wings open to give forgiveness. I pray that in her heart she will forgive me and save my soul. My messiah leans towards me to give me a kiss. She whispers something in my ear that tells me the secret of life. Sarah. Sarah.
My cell is pretty cramped but we get three meals a day and an hour of recreation. This winter it snowed and the frost covered the yard with a thin coat of ice. I spend most of my time just staring at my Pink Floyd poster and reflecting on my life. I sometimes get the urge to shoot up real bad. My cellmate is named Donnie, he knows a guy that might be able score us some smack.
I saw Rick out of the corner of my eye. I had my finger on the trigger just waiting until he was in range. When his eyes met mine, their was no hesitation. I shot him in cold murder in the Texas sun. His body dropped on the shiny asphalt and I saw his spirit leave Austin.