“Dextro Heaven & the Death Drug Impulse” by Bob Freville
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.)
This week, Bob Freville has a date with the feeling of escape.
The gateway drug is not the weed you smoke in a too-thin joint as a teenager. It’s not the beer you surreptitiously sip from your father’s fishing cooler while hunkered down in the garage. The gateway drug is escape. Ever since you were old enough to crawl, you’ve been playing hide-and-seek, building pillow fortresses, disappearing into closets.
The gateway itself is the thing—the tunnel down which you expect to find a warm, maternal light, something that will wrap itself around you, whisking you away. The gateway is the same as bungee jumping or parachuting. It is Thanatos, the death impulse.
Years after reaching my chemical-sensual plateau, after receiving a full-on soul implosion by the most euphoric drug on the market, I would end up a heroin user with a chippy. I’d experience the sensation of being on stilts with subwoofers for ears that the spike affords the G-Bronze user. After snorting a wax paper baggie of Afghanistan’s finest, tastefully stamped with an image of the Twin Towers smoldering, I’d know the horror of dry heaving to the point you want to deep throat a handgun and blow your mind.
As a teenager, you meet ether. You end up risking potential poisoning by following filtering instructions on Erowid. How to Yield Pure Ether from Starter Fluid. I’d already heard the steady wah-wah-wah droning in my Eustachian tubes after huffing shit that left the smell of gasoline clinging to my breath for days. I’d heard the Wah and seen the Why—that moment when your brain is crystallized, and you sink down a void toward something so sinister it triggers a fit of hysterical laughter that can’t be explained.
But before the back injury got me hooked on the rising warmth in the chest and incessant itching of Roxicodone, I felt God’s fingers massaging my brain, and I didn’t have to pay for the privilege. It came in sleeves of Red Devils or snub-nosed bottles of Delsym—orange sizzurp with a fairy nymph’s sparkle.
My hypothalamus was hot-wired by that hyper-making psychotropic known clinically as dextromethorphan. DXM is a chemical present in nearly all OTC cold meds. Before I’d succumbed to the spike or witnessed a friend in a paroxysm of paranoia brought on by the amphetamine psychosis of the peevee, prior to the emergence of the scaly skels created by Russia’s Krokodil—a dirt-cheap heroin substitute that eats away at the flesh of the junkie until they resemble a reptile—I’d gone to my dealer. ISO.
He claimed he was dry but said if I was hard up, there was always DXM. A friend and I stole boxes from CVS. Ingesting two sleeves of pills, however small, destroys the esophagus and stomach, triggering the gag reflex. Minutes after gobbling we crossed a highway, and I fell to my knees behind an abandoned Pizza Hut. There I voided my guts of everything until I choked on ropes of bile, misery in my gullet. But then . . . a paragon.
Lifting my head heavenward, I could see, through watery eyes, a sight I’d never cared about before: the sun and the sky, all of it vibrant. Perfect color.
Standing up, my body vibrated, my typically sullen demeanor replaced by nirvana. We were all right, for once. We literally skipped two miles across town to a carnival in the parking lot beside Our Lady of the Dubious Miracle, and the boy with vertigo didn’t hesitate to hop on and ride the Kamikaze. Any other time I’d have been crying with fear, but in the hands of DXM I was unbreakable. The ride took me up in the air and looked fit to send me plunging into the pavement from on high. I embraced death in that instant, imbued with a sense that everything was love. There was no doubt I’d be going somewhere great if I croaked it.
After that day I became a slave to dextromethorphan, hunting constantly for the high I’d attained. Sometimes I came close after Hoovering three bottles, feeling that familiar nasal sting. I’d crawl like a spider with palms pressed to the ground. My pupils would eclipse my egg-yolk eyes and I’d grin, pirouetting around, a dervish, hit with the only real pickup of my agonizing existence.
But no high ever came close to that first date with Thanatos, the day I found the drug that could make me fearless, that could give me over to death, the one true escape.
BOB FREVILLE is a part-time tool salesman and a full-time writer and filmmaker from Long Island, New York. His directorial debut Hemo is available on DVD from Troma Team Releasing. Freville’s flash fiction appears semi-regularly as part of Bizarro Central’s Flash Fiction Fridays. His work has been published by Creem Magazine, LongIslandPress.com, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens, and many others. A flip-flopping antinatalist, an unabashed foot fetishist, a pervy Transhumanism enthusiast—these are but a few things Freville can be accused of. But, more than anything else, he is a balls-out belletrist whose bloodshot blues stare straight into the abyss as he takes the piss. He is currently at work on a dark novel of awful ideas.
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: Dec 11, 2014
Category: Thursdaze | Tags: Drug Chronicles Series, Thursdaze, Heroin, flash fiction, short story, short fiction, DXM, Dextro Heaven & the Death Drug Impulse, Bob Freville, dextromethorphan, Roxicodone, Thanatos
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