“Knock Yourself Out” by Montague Kobbé
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, The Night of the Rambler author Montague Kobbé brings us a tale of one roommate’s knockout new concoction.
Knock Yourself Out
by Montague Kobbé
Paracetamol with codeine
On Monday morning I woke up to the beat of electronic music drumming in the living room like it were Saturday. Or at least Thursday. I slipped into my jeans, half angered, half asleep, and walked outside looking more for an explanation than a fight. Except for my flatmate, the room was deserted, the subwoofer booming. His head bobbled from side to side like a serpent making its way up a tree, his left hand twitched not so much nervously as involuntarily, and he shuffled from one foot to the other as if he had been standing for a long time. You’re alright? He looked through me, didn’t even see me, let alone reply. He held a large mug in his right hand—a soup bowl, really, with a handle—filled with about half the contents of a large jar of instant coffee. The kettle boiled and he poured as much water into it as he could—less than a small glass worth—before walking past me, plastic kettle in one hand, steaming mug of mud in the other. Whatever.
I didn’t come back until Tuesday evening. The first thing I saw when I walked in the front door was my flatmate sitting on the sofa, facing two tall mountains—a whole kilo—of long rice. There wasn’t even much left in the pot where he’d cooked it. It was all out there, in those two massive ant nests on the coffee table. I tried to engage in some sort of conversation, but he was too busy eating. I remember thinking he had probably not eaten since I’d last seen him—I know I hadn’t. I could tell he certainly hadn’t slept. But at least the twitching had passed. I grabbed my beer and went into my room without even saying good night.
Just a few hours later I got woken up again by the familiar sound of drum and bass. Wednesday morning, 5 a.m. Didn’t even bother with the jeans this time. I went outside ready to brawl. To my surprise I found my flatmate shaved, showered, and ready to leave. I was just in my black briefs. You’re alright? I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t say anything. The kettle boiled. Then I saw him cram twenty-five tea bags into his bowl/mug—I swear he hadn’t even rinsed it!—and pour the stingiest of dribbles until the cup overflowed. Don’t worry, there’s still cacao in the pantry, if you want. I went back into my room and slammed the door behind me.
I was having dinner on Thursday when my flatmate walked into our living room. Steak, potatoes, salad. No rice. He held the thickest badass joint between his lips. Or so I thought, until he lit it. The room filled immediately with the nastiest smell of chemicals. What the fuck are you smoking, man? He sat on the couch, pulled a pack of pills out from the inside pocket of his coat and with both hands pushed the capsules out of the sealed package. He proceeded to open them one by one, placing their contents on a rolling paper. No filter. It’s an experiment. Paracetamol with codeine—wanna try? He held the pseudo-spliff in his mouth while he spoke, heaving as he pulled a drag, lighting the tip of the cigarette. Knock yourself out.
I woke up early on Friday morning fearing I might find my flatmate face up on the couch ODed on OTC drugs. No sound came from the living room—where was the fucking drum and bass when you needed it?—and the thought became an obsession. I nipped outside wearing nothing but my underpants. I was greeted by my steak, intact from the night before, and, sure enough, my flatmate, on the couch, not face up but sitting upright, butt naked. You alright? No answer, just blinking. I went to make us both a cup of tea. There was just hot cocoa. When I returned, my flatmate was no longer there. I caught the back of him as he walked outside the house wearing just a patterned cotton robe, not even done up. I wondered what in the world he’d taken to trigger this trip. I followed.
MONTAGUE KOBBÉ is a German citizen with a Shakespearean name, born in Caracas, in a country that no longer exists, in a millennium that is long gone. His debut novel (The Night of the Rambler, Akashic 2013) earned the first runner-up mention at the Premio Casa de las Américas 2014. He keeps a literary column in Sint Maarten’s The Daily Herald and posts castles of English smoke and Spanish mirrors on his blog, MEMO FROM LA LA LAND. He once offered to carve a partridge on behalf of a beautiful girl sitting to his left. Her parents were instantly captivated; she never spoke to him again. This is the rod by which he measures success. His first collection of flash fiction, Tales of Bed Sheets and Departure Lounges / Historias de camas y aeropuertos (DogHorn 2014), features 50 bilingual short stories, not dissimilar to this one.
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: Feb 20, 2014
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