Wednesday Afternoon

by Cavin Bryce

Ricky is high again. Heroin cut with fentanyl. The same batch that killed Daniel not twenty-four hours prior. He was right where Ricky is sitting now when he died. Went white. Then blue. And Ricky slept all the while.

Daniel had left the rest of the stash for him to finish and that’s how he got here, now, slumped on the floor of his bathroom. He didn’t want to get high off the drugs that killed Daniel, he loved Daniel, missed Daniel, but the guilt gave way to his incessant cravings that were quickly replaced with a light and radiant warmth that traced through his veins.

Everything is perfectly white and glistening. Boy oh boy. This is what you do it for, right? Ricky is drooling on himself. He’s lying in a puddle of his own piss. His flesh sings Phil Collins’ “Into The Air Tonight”.  There’s a killer drum solo in his chest. You know how it goes: ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-doo-tss. He can feel it alright, coming into the air tonight, while he stares at the caked mud left by Daniel’s work boots on his linoleum floor, struggling to retain a memory of his friend.

When he wakes up the next afternoon he first feels the absence of light. He’s suddenly heavy, gravity afflicting him with full force. Red hot skin, scratch scratch. Ricky and Daniel’s bag of magic was now empty. Every bag is eventually empty, some just go faster than others. Ricky knows this. Ricky hasn’t eaten in two days but he isn’t hungry, just itchy and angry. Where the fuck is Ricky’s emergency stash? Never, ever take your eyes off the backup bag. Never. Ricky crawls to his living room, sweaty palms stomping on letters of overdue electricity payments and court summons and his kid’s progress report card. Child support is due, fuck, and there’s Daniel’s DVD copy of “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” fuck. Through the jagged crack in the wall of his trailer he can see a jaundiced world; dirt and weeds and twisted metal litter. Everything is a gas station bathroom and Ricky wishes he was doodling on the stall door with Daniel right now: jotting, ‘call 506-YOUR-MOM for a good time!’ or ‘DILDO’ or whatever they thought was funny when they were thirteen. His carpet is mold, his shoes are wet toilet paper, and the ceiling is an “employees must wash hands” sign, crooked and hanging on by a rusted nail. Ricky’s phone rings and he knows it’s Marsha and she’ll scream into the void of his answering machine, “WHERE IS MY GODDAMN CHILD SUPPORT RICKY!” which isn’t a question but an accusation and she has the right to be accusatory because her child support payment was currently being invested by some schmuck on Second. So, in turn, Ricky screams bloody murder back at the phone and even though Marsha can’t hear him it feels better than not screaming. His veins are popping out of his neck and face and hands. Red faced bellows turn to wails to shrieks to a quiet hiss and saliva drips from his gaping mouth. When did Ricky put on his security guard uniform? Does he have work today?

Ricky walks outside and he sees his neighbor Kevin watching him through a dusty window. Ricky yells, “the fuck are you looking at!?” and in his anger he kicks over a can of gasoline which starts pouring downhill towards his neighbors trailer. This was an accident but his neighbor doesn’t know that. He just knows that Ricky is unhinged, tweaking. He knows that Daniel died because he found them both on the floor of his trailer and he knows that Ricky is high because he’s still loosely tied off a silicon tube lying slack against his arm. Kevin slams his blinds down. Ricky sees his silhouettes floundering about. Kevin’s shouting echoes down the trailer park. Ricky doesn’t let a lit match fall on the gasoline, he just points his flashlight at the trailer like some magic wand and yells again, “Fuck off Kevin!” but Kevin doesn’t fuck off he just calls the cops because Ricky isn’t a wizard and the cheap flashlight that came with his uniform wasn’t a magic wand. Ricky goes back inside because he can’t afford another felony or a misdemeanor or even a traffic citation. After a couple of minutes sirens are wailing down the road. Lights bounce off the metal interior of his trailer. Red blue. Red blue.

Ricky has to leave for work soon and his arms itch and his legs itch and Kevin is outside again acting like a complete dick and now Ricky has to explain to the cops that today just wasn’t his day, and neither was yesterday, or the day before, or decades before that.

And while the cops are banging on his trailer door, quite possibly acting to ruin what shrapnels of his life he has clung to, Ricky will wonder, “Why isn’t Daniel here?”