“Killing Time” by Kirsten Rae Simonsen
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, Kirsten Rae Simonsen spends a night in Amsterdam.
We arrived around three a.m. and banged on the door, which swung open. The tiny white apartment was filled with pasty-faced, sweating people, hopping and hollering to a harrowing type of Dutch hardcore techno that thumped angrily through the speakers. Above an unused, dusty fireplace hung an aggressive oil painting of a snarling, ravenous wolf chewing between the legs of a naked woman spread-eagled on a bed. Trams jangled by constantly and noisily. A few people gathered around a low table, palming their hash and tobacco and laying out rolling papers. Fiona and I made ourselves at home on the dirty carpet with some unopened beer cans that had ended up there. I got out my stash and prepared to cut up a line on a CD case.
Pascal appeared from the tiny kitchen and nodded at us. A curled smile played on his lips, and his eyes were huge and gleaming. He seemed in a rush even though there was nowhere to go. He sat down and hunched seriously over the low table, intently rolling the tobacco and dope between his fingers.
“You know Patrick?” he said, gesturing toward a figure that sped around the room. Patrick had short-cropped hair and cruel, hunting eyes. He darted around the place making strawberry tea and uncovering sugar cubes. Every movement seemed to be loaded with incredible significance. He’d pour the tea and then watch, unmoving, as it brewed in the teapot. Then, out of nowhere, he’d yank the teabags out and begin stirring the tea furiously.
A squeaky-clean blond Dutch boy smirked at us from the couch as he pulled out a bindle of something from his pocket and peered at it. His red-haired girlfriend had fallen back onto the old white couch, her tiny wrists splayed extravagantly. Her thin frame was packed into expensive leather trousers and a tight, nipple-hugging white top. She had that amphetamine smile: everything was right with the world, it said. She looked at me triumphantly.
As we were leaving, Pascal jumped up from the floor as if he’d just had a revelation. He grabbed my arm. “Wait, wait,” he said. Then he stumbled around in place for a while, greasy and out of sorts, his forehead gleaming with junkie sweat.
After a minute, he seemed to right himself, crossing his arms militantly over his tight white T-shirt. He licked his lips. “Let me get your phone number,” he said, as if the idea had just occurred to him. He gave me one of those proud speed smiles.
As we stumbled down the rickety stairs, I thought I heard Patrick retching or maybe just coughing or yelling in the background. I knew it was disgusting, their flat, with the morning light pouring in without warning and all the speed freaks drinking beer and trying to come down or go back up. The morning light shouldn’t have been allowed into the apartment; the place didn’t deserve it. The scene seemed pretty bad with the birds clicking and clucking outside in the sunshine, and the people drinking and snorting and spewing inside. But I didn’t feel anything, as if I’d just watched a film of my evening rather than lived it.
Fiona shoved the door at the bottom of the stairs. It burst open and we fell out into the morning. We wandered around and eventually sat by a canal. A woman with a long blond braid rode by on an old-fashioned bicycle. The basket on the front of her bike held fresh flowers and a small brown dog. Then a guy who looked as if he’d been up for days came careening around the corner on a beaten-up, rusty bicycle; blood was pouring down one side of his face. There were a lot of men in suits boarding the trams. Fiona and I tried to identify various things submerged in the canal . . . cars? machinery? bikes? Dirty Claudio, a street performer we knew, came by and lisped at us in Italian and broken English. Then he drooled on us for awhile.
Later we wandered into a porn theatre. There were just some movies playing. A guy with his dick out was jacking off furiously on one of the stairwells. We passed him and he seemed to stop moving. He stared at us, bathed in this weird red light, as if someone had put him there, suddenly but with purpose, like a decoration.
KIRSTEN RAE SIMONSEN is a visual artist, writer, and avid world traveler. Her artwork, which is strongly influenced by narrative, has been exhibited in London, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and Honolulu, to name a few places, and her short fiction has been published by Crowbar Press in Madison, Wisconsin. Employment experience includes: working as a cleaner at a Christian youth hostel in the Red Light District of Amsterdam; as a street performer making gigantic soap bubbles in Europe; as a “coffee shop girl” and bartender in Amsterdam; as a secretary for an ecstasy-addicted, debt-ridden film producer in London’s Primrose Hill; as a seller of velvet Cat in the Hat hats; as a wench at a Renaissance Faire; and as a face painter at Grateful Dead concerts. She is currently teaching studio art at a university and finishing a novel loosely based on her experiences hitchhiking through Europe and doing street performance in Amsterdam. She lives in Honolulu with her husband and bird. Her work can be viewed at kirstenraesimonsen.com.
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: Apr 23, 2015
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