“Dipshit” by Scott Scheible
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, Scott Scheible describes the struggles of quitting a habit.
“Hardest thing you’ll ever do in your life. Mental equivalent of hog-tying the meanest steer this side of Odessa.”
That’s how Tommy’s old baseball coach had described quitting the can. Coming from Mickey Boyd, those words meant something. The guy had two tours in Vietnam under his belt and was still running Tough Mudders at sixty-seven years old. If that hard-nosed son of a bitch struggled with quitting, Tommy didn’t have a prayer.
He’d given it a legitimate shot a few years back. No real reason—just tried quitting for the hell of it.
Fuckin’ nightmare. Headaches, fatigue, crazy mood swings. Putting together a rational thought was no bargain, either. The synapses just wouldn’t fire. He couldn’t even take a shit, for Christ’s sake. His insides were completely clogged.
Screw that. He went running back after a day.
His second crack at it came after Cassie had given him an ultimatum two years into their relationship. She’d had it. With his spitters, his discolored teeth, his bad breath. It was her or the Copenhagen, plain and simple.
He lasted forty-eight hours, if that.
Poor girl was beside herself. She just didn’t get it, couldn’t grasp why he constantly needed a dip. Tommy clarified: “Because it tastes good and puts me at ease, which is a hell of a lot more than I can say about you. On both fronts.”
She packed her bags and was out the door that same night. Oh well. Plenty of fish in the sea, right?
Then came the sore throat. Hurt like a bastard every time he swallowed.
No big deal. It’ll get better.
Next, the swollen gland. Felt like a marble was lodged under the skin on the left side of his neck.
Give it time. It’ll clear up.
Finally, the lesion. Looked harmless enough at first, a little red bump on the side of his tongue. Kept getting bigger, though. He wouldn’t let himself get spooked. Healthy thirty-three-year-olds didn’t get mouth cancer. Even the ones who’d been dipping faithfully since they were thirteen years old. Everything would go away.
WebMD’s symptom checker became his new best friend. Once it became clear that he might be a dead man walking, he called his doctor and got referred to a head and neck specialist. The guy didn’t do much, just sliced off a tiny piece of the lesion and sent Tommy on his way.
So here he was, driving around aimlessly, waiting for the call. The test results. His death sentence.
He’d been dip-free since his appointment. It’d been a horrible couple of days, but he was hanging in there. Amazing what a possible cancer diagnosis will do for a man’s willpower. Regardless of the outcome, he was done. For good this time.
His iPhone buzzed.
It’s him. Shit.
“Tom, it’s Dr. Allen.”
No words. He could hardly breathe, let alone talk.
“I have your biopsy results.”
Jesus Christ. Pull over. Pull the fuck over before you clip a telephone pole.
“Just gimme the verdict, Doc.”
“Benign. No cancerous cells were detected. As far as the sore throat and swollen gland, probably nothing to worry about—just a few lingering symptoms from a viral infection. Consider this a wake-up call, though. Smokeless tobacco is bad, Tom. It’s a killer, no other way to put it. Next time you might not be so lucky.”
“I know. I’m done with it, trust me. Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome. Rest easy.”
“I plan on it. Thanks again, Dr. Allen.”
“You bet. Bye.”
Holy fuck. He was drained. Time to celebrate with a nice meal. Hell yeah, a rib eye and some onion rings. He’d stop at the Texaco around the corner to gas up and take a piss, then head to Outback.
He felt like a douchebag for thinking about things in such spiritual terms, but he’d finally seen the light. He’d dodged a bullet and wasn’t about to take it for granted. He was viewing the world through a different set of eyes.
It was a new day.
“Forty on pump six.”
“Just the gas?”
“Need anything else besides the gas?”
Motherfucker. Don’t even think about it.
Pay for the fuckin’ gas and walk out.
“Sir? You okay?”
“I’m fine. Two cans of Copenhagen snuff, please.”
Turns out Coach Boyd had it all wrong. Hog-tying a steer?
More like a goddamn grizzly bear.
SCOTT SCHEIBLE grew up in central New York and now calls Pittsburgh home. He is hard at work finishing his first novel, an excerpt of which was recognized at the 2013 Eckerd College Writers’ Conference.
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: May 7, 2015
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967, the Peak, Death, and Rebirth of the Hippie Idea
- It’s Just a Plant
- Letters to Kurt
- Hard Art, DC 1979
- No One Told Me Not to Do This
- Drawing Autism
- Of Mule and Man
- Primus, Over the Electric Grapevine: Insight into Primus and the World of Les Claypool
- We Owe You Nothing, Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews Expanded Edition
- HNIC (limited edition signed package)
- You Have to Fucking Eat