de la cruz STUDIO

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Notes from the Splatter Zone

By Alejandro Zepeda

Give me a cup to piss in and I'll test positive for meth.  Not the Jesse’s-girl-swallows-his-load-and-looks-up-with-dilated-pupils-telling-him-she-feels-a-rush-from-the-junk-in-his-jizz kind of meth, No, that's another story.  I'm on the pharmaceutical junk, intended to poison my body so I act like a normal functioning member of society.

Sensitive teeth, enamel wearing thin, bones and joints and muscles ache, and my brain feels like it's about to explode.  I now feel this, the result of missing my dosage.  They’ve accomplished their goal and made a prescription junky out of me.

            I tell the nurse lying next to me in bed.  She says she felt my joints grinding when I moved.  I'm losing potassium, calcium, magnesium and any other “ium” necessary in my body.  She suggests supplements.  I suggest a cigarette from my jeans on the floor.

            She comes closer in a show of affection.  We share the cigarette.

            I remember breaking up her marriage when I first slept with her.  She thanked me for it, explaining I gave her courage to leave him.

            I still feel guilty about it at times.  She expected more from me.  After years of being in an abusive relationship, she deserved better, but I couldn't be that person for her.  It would have been a lot of work, and I was never one for inconvenience.

            I believe she realized this was all she would get from me, the occasional tussle in bed, and maybe she’s better off this way.

            She lays her head on my chest and listens to my heartbeat.  "Lub-dub, lub-dub," she describes the sound, a healthy rhythm according to her.

            “It stopped once,” I tell her, forgetting she already knows the story. I guess I’ve committed myself to it, so I might as well continue.

            It started with a miss calculation of sleeping pill, not my proudest moment.  I lost track of how much was in my system.  The first pill knocked me out for two hours, and then I woke up in a state of drowsy consciousness.  I assumed enough time had passed, so I had another.

It hadn't been enough time.

            I noticed something was wrong with my reality altered.  I felt a presence, someone staring at me, sitting at the foot of my bed.  He was a grey child, a boy, maybe ten years old, maybe dead.  He was definitely dead.

            I couldn't turn to look at him, his ashen skin and heavy gaze inundated me with fear. I wanted to turn it off, all of it, consciousness and reality. The burden of existence was too much.

            I laid my head on the pillow and turned away.

            Close your eyes and it won't be real.

            Was he real.  At least to me, he was real.  Had I created him?  Some distorted part of my psyche was now running amuck.  I closed my eyes and I focused on the nausea within me, a welcomed discomfort and distraction.  It was tangible reality, grounded in the physical form.

            Sleep it off.  Sleep it all away.

            My stomach had other plans.

            I tried to stand, but I realized walking would be an ordeal.  The illusion of distance increased in the room.  I leaned against the wall, my touch sensitive to its texture.  I felt every imperfection as I braced myself.

            I found myself face down on the piss splatter zone next to the toilet.  I sat up, but the slightest movement caused a rush of nausea. It was the lack of oxygen and slow blood circulation. My body shivered, but at least the dead boy wasn’t around anymore.  I kept making zombie jokes, at the expense of my own mortality. I felt like a walking corpse, not much more to do than laugh at death.

            “You were ready,” she tells me, looking at me with concern.

            She’s familiar with death, familiar with people and how they deal in their last moments. How does she know I’m ready? I don’t even know if I’m ready. It never crossed my mind until this moment. 

I built up the story as some heroic man versus nature, but I know she can see through my bullshit. And I need my bullshit. I can’t let her take that from me. If this is intimacy, I want nothing to do with it. 

I take this as my queue and grab my jeans from the floor.