“Dead at the Mirage” by Kitty Bowerman
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
Dead at the Mirage
by Kitty Bowerman
The road to Vegas is its usual Friday afternoon parking lot. We are meeting friends and plan to do mushrooms—as in those kind of mushrooms. It’ll be my first time.
6:00 p.m. The Fascist Beatles Fans are here. The Fascist wife assures me, “Don’t worry about taking ’shrooms. They’re very mellow.”
6:30 p.m. The ‘shrooms are dried and chewy. Someone advised me to eat the caps instead of the stems. Everything is uncontrollably marvelous!
There is a golden glow around this table, as if we are lit with happiness.
I have my sunglasses on. Oh, no—I feel something creeping in . . .
Nate’s eyebrows just flew out the window.
I put my sunglasses back on, but that doesn’t help. The rest of the room slowly separates from me. I’m freaking out. Must not freak out. Must hide in the bedroom.
8:00 p.m. Husband is banging on the door. Must not hear voices or see faces.
He grabs me by the arm, and we all walk down the hallway to the elevator. I read that casinos make their carpets extra ugly so people don’t look down.
People look up. See gaming machines. Lose their money.
This carpet is horrifying. I look straight ahead.
Our friends are already in the lobby bar. There’s nowhere for me to sit.
I’m so scared. I cling to husband. No one is talking to me. I must be invisible.
I’ve got to sit down. No one is talking to me, because I’m not here. I’ve never been here. I’ve been dreaming this whole life. I’ve got to get back to the room.
9:00 p.m. I’m fully dressed and hiding under the covers. Nate is banging on the door.
I whisper to husband, “Tell him I can’t talk to anyone.”
“I am right here, Veronica. Say it to my face!”
I am never leaving this room.
“We are going to Pete’s room to watch Memento,” husband says, and leaves me there. I go back under the blankets.
Time unknown. No light. I must not see anything at all. I need to get out of these jeans. They’re too tight.
2:00 a.m. Jeans are around my knees. I cannot remove them.
I wish I could close the curtains. I see Caesars Palace. It’s not moving.
I must be dead. I’ve died at the Mirage in a bedroom suite on the twenty-sixth floor.
I can’t look down because I’ll see the dolphin pool, and the dolphins will make me sad. They’re suffering in their hell, and I’m dead in mine.
I’ve lived a trite and shallow life.
3:30 a.m. I saw a fork earlier. I should stab myself in the thigh. If blood gushes out, then I’ll know I’m alive. It’s foolproof!
5:30 a.m. Still under covers.
5:45 a.m. Jeans finally off.
7:00 a.m. Husband calls on hotel phone. He cannot come to the twenty-sixth floor without the key. I must rescue him.
Two people, a mother and her adult son, are sitting on a bench in the elevator. What kind of an elevator has a bench?
I’ve been here before.
I came here with my mother for my twenty-first birthday. We saw Barry Manilow perform. He said to the cheering crowd, “Good evening, everyone. I am neither Siegfried, nor Roy,” and everyone laughed.
7:25 a.m. I laugh then, and laugh loudly. My body shakes and shudders, as if Barry Manilow’s joke had knocked me sober eight years later. I am probably not dead.
The mother and son on the bench look like criminals, and glare at me.
Husband looks tired.
“How was Memento on mushrooms?”
“I don’t recommend it.”
Later that night. Sorry for my flip out last night. The Fascists were relieved that I didn’t stab myself with a fork.
One patted me on the head and said, “John Lennon wrote a song about a near-death experience. McCartney refused to be a part of it, so bass had to be played by George Harrison!”
Strangely, her tale makes me feel better. I resolve to listen to their Revolver album on the way home—maybe Barry Manilow too. And to never, ever take ’shrooms again.
KITTY BOWERMAN is a writer and satirist. She holds a business degree from Appalachian State University and lives in California with her husband, son, and hamster. You may follow her at @kittybowerman on Twitter.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series, Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Oct 1, 2015
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