“Formula One Coke” by Brett Selmont
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, Brett Selmont visits Paris and partakes in some Formula One Coke (none of that NASCAR shit).
The sun faded on Paris as I headed to the 5th arrondissement on the 63 bus. I slipped in the back door, as drivers didn’t bother policing fares. My free ride took me over the Seine, to the Left Bank along Boulevard Saint Germaine and dropped me near Luxembourg Gardens. Down Rue Saint Jacques on foot, passed La Sorbonne, Le Pantheon, and finally onto the stool of a bar run by Aussies.
There I befriended an eccentric Frenchman, Emmanuel. Thick black-rimmed glasses hung on his long nose; wild hair shot out from each side of his head.
Emmanuel, like an old friend, immediately spoke of a woman who was screwing him over.
“She says she loves me. I know this.”
“How do you know?”
“Because she told me so!”
“Okay, what’s the problem?”
“She doesn’t call.” Emmanuel dragged on his Gauloises. “Why does she say that this is love when she does not call? Where is the love, Grey? Where is the love?” He yelled, slamming his beer down. “Do you want to go to another bar with me?”
“You hitting on me?”
“No, I just thought you might like to see a Parisian bar since you are in Paris. Or do you want to spend all your time with Australians?”
He had a point.
Emmanuel took me to a dive near Le Pantheon called Le Piano Vache.
“What’s vache mean?”
“The Piano Cow?” I questioned.
“It’s not gay.”
Inside was a creaky wood floor filled with punks and goths. Emmanuel told me to sit and that he would take care of the drinks. He returned with two pints and placed them on the table. I looked at mine suspiciously.
“Don’t worry. I didn’t put anything in it,” he assured.
“Why’d you say that?”
“I’m very great at knowing people quickly.” He paused. “Dissecting their brain, you know?”
“I follow you.”
“‘Follow you.’ What is this?”
“I understand what you’re saying.”
“Yes, good, so you are a writer and I believe you are a good one. I can sense these things. So you must be a bit crazy?” He gazed through his thick lenses into my eyes.
“I wouldn’t say crazy . . . idiosyncratic.”
“Crazy.” He nodded in agreement.
“No, more like neurotic.” I glanced at my yet-to-be-tasted beer.
“Yes!” He yelled, “All good writers must be insane!”
“I follow you.”
“Yes, follow.” He smiled.
Joy Division screamed through the speakers, hot French girls with silver jewelry, wrapped in black, danced by dangling cigarettes from their lips. One in a mesh shirt caught my eye. She couldn’t speak English but Emmanuel translated.
“What’d you tell her?”
“I said you’re a cool big big writer from New York City and that she must sleep with you because you’re so good in bed and cool.”
“What’d she say?”
“That you need to learn French.”
A fast-talking, bald Arab Emmanuel knew named D.B. joined us.
“Where you from?” he asked.
“New York City.”
“I lived in fucking Boston. Racist motherfuckers. People thought I was some rich Arab because I drove BMW. Bought it for four grand! You want coke?”
“This is whoooooaaa shit, man, like Formula One coke, this ain’t no NASCAR shit!”
D.B. cut a line on the table five inches long and fat as my pinky.
“After this you’ll be Michael Schumacher, Jeff.”
“Like the fucking color?”
“No shit? Got a cousin in Saudi named Maroon motherfucker, hahaha!” He roared, wiping sweat off his forehead with his shirtsleeve.
My nostril burned immediately, my palms slickened, my heart rate rose and then began missing beats, so I sucked down the suspect beer, which tasted like awful licorice.
This was cocaine on steroids and when I looked up from my glass Emmanuel had a peculiar grin. D.B. sat, perspiring, leg shaking uncontrollably, white froth forming in the corners of his mouth, and he wouldn’t shut up about Boston. I stood, headed downstairs uneasily. And it was like being transported back in time to a medieval castle, stone walls, arched ceilings, and the dungeon-like bathroom was equally as archaic. No toilet, just a hole in the floor. I stood above it, my head spinning, sweating profusely. Anxiety struck. What was in that coke? What was in that awful beer? I let loose a stream of vomit into the black hole. Rinsing my mouth out, I stumbled back upstairs and returned to the table.
“It’s only coke,” Emmanuel comforted. “Did you enjoy the absinthe?” He nodded to my empty glass. “It is a delicacy here.”
BRETT SELMONT’S debut novel I-35 (book one of his Road Series) has garnered high praise from many including New York Times best sellers Jonathan Maberry (“A nail-biter of a road novel!”); John Lutz (“Tough, evocative, incisive, gripping . . .”); and William Hjortsberg (“Charts a new direction for this classic form . . .”). Selmont studied at Pace University, Hunter College, and The American University of Paris. He currently resides in New York City and has written for the New York Press, L Magazine, Pulse of the Twin Cities, and more.
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 22, 2014
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