Some lucky souls get to remember their dreams, but I’ve never been one of those people. Never recalled any profound truths from random subconscious netherworlds. Never thought that much mattered, though, cause I’ve definitely dealt with some weird hallucinatory shit-usually caused by either controlled substances or some deliriously painful physical injury.
So yeah, an absolutely skewed frame of reference is attempting to run in response to what’s up right now, cause it sure as hell isn’t a dream when I get yanked into lucidity by two pairs of dirty hands. It’s pretty fucking real when I’m wrenched out of the Civic and dumped onto a cracked and ugly part of the Earth’s face that looks an awful lot like an Irvine office park. My flickering field of vision stretches and shrinks with impunity, but everything hurts too much to be a dream.
Soundtrack (mp3): ‘This Won’t Hurt a Bit’ by Low Tide
“We sure missed you back at the hotel, Haynes.” booms Chris Addison, from somewhere miles above me. His voice drips with feral relish. “What did you run off for, dude?”
“Ghhnerfdudghuck frmo sdghm.” My mouth is full of asphalt and the first spasm of real pain is a total goddamn surprise when it shrieks out from unexpected places-jolting up from my front teeth to join the pre-existing cacophony of frantic cerebral receptors upstairs. Coughing only spits blood into parking space 48C, and Chris laughs at my pain, echoed as usual by ecstatic yelps from his younger brother.
“That’s just gross. Like totally disgusting,” giggles the Kyle, as I expel other unknown foreign matter into the world, along with a “sta…sta…stay clas…classy, motherfuckers.” Weak comeback equals kick to spine, plus bonus repeated retching.
Third voice sneers “Oh, now that’s some rich shit,” from further away. “Since when do you ever lecture anyone on personal hygiene, man?” Fucking chickenshit Justin, hanging back to let the yuppie-thug brothers handle the heavy lifting.
“Is tha…that you, J? What, fu…fuc…fucking over p-p-poor, clingy chicks get toot…too…bo-ring?” Another kick cuts my last word in half.
“You’re not really in any position to criticize there, are you Haynes?” Justin slithers a little closer for clarity’s sake. “You did a good little number on Lisa yourself, man.”
“Yeah, left it for someone else to clean up, too,” adds Chris, with a punctuating boot to my guts. “Now that’s what I call classy.”
Endurance fails in the face of more convulsive retching. How much do they-hell, how much can they know? Kelley’s airtight battleship seems to be springing leaks at the first stray sneeze. Fucking setup. “That goddamn dickless wonder,” I spit, coughing up inner monologue at the worst possible time.
“Who? What was that?” Chris comes in closer. “The fuck you bitching about now, Haynes?”
“D…doesn’t matter. No one…you know.” Slinking Away Attempt #1 fails when an Addison foot stamps down hard on a Haynes right ankle, and pain warps existence a little more. Do sharks always snicker like this when they smell blood?
“Maybe he means his boyfriend in the car,” says Kyle. “That guy’s out fucking cold. Damn, Derek, what were you planning to do to him?” Cue more braying and snorting from various shifty surf nazis.
“I was sort of curious about that myself, dude,” says Chris. “I hope we don’t get busted for inadvertently, um, aiding and abetting delinquent, um, behavior, you know?” Additional snickers from Kyle.
“We could always wake him up and find out,” says Justin, so evenly that it must be an act. “Assuming he’s not halfway down the drain anyway, Chris. You saw him destroy that alcohol at the hotel.”
“Fucking hell, you’re right,” says Chris. “Maybe we should take some out of him too?”
“Leave…him…alone,” I wheeze, siting up despite the onrushing vertigo. “He hasn’t…done…shit.”
“Suit yourself, dude,” shrugs Chris, and Kyle smacks my jaw hard enough to force a 180 degree swivel on me before the pavement jumps up in my face again. They keep talking but it’s muffled and further away. Their voices keep talking but everything sounds muffled and far away. Scattered severe signals scream in from all over the world, but there’s too many for standard brain processing.
Momentarily percussive, chaotic pain soon melds with wrists, ankles, spine. Someone somewhere knows what’s going on, but it’s not me. Who even cares anymore oh God it hurts. Sit up strap in keep him fucking quiet. No I dunno what we’re going to do you tell me dumbass they’re both zombies now. They can’t stay here it’s serious you figure it out then I’m tired of this shit J and no way, no way, no fucking way…
…and then up again, just in time for…what? So over waking up in the dark with splitting headaches, but it happens again anyway. There’s Roy sprawled in the back seat, unconscious? Never find out-the Civic chucks me out the passenger side and cheeks reintroduced to gravel. How long was I out? Air’s cold-does that make it late? Still can’t focus cause one distant lonely streetlight isn’t really putting the effort in, you know? Not to mention the random obscuring branches with bad habits like creaking across that dim glow when the wind picks up.
Waves crash somewhere against my skull. Brain can’t decide where it hurts most, but doesn’t seem to give a shit at this point. Token kicks check in before running amok somewhere else, so by the time I can roll over to face them they’re gone. Uncurl some? Is that even safe? Deep soggy breaths still taste like bloody snot. It flows freely and dribbles out wherever it wants to.
The ringing drowns out everything else-keeps the aural dementia to an ominous hum. Maybe someone’s talking, but who knows? All I want to do is purge-purge the pain, the shame, the whole stinking year. Dump the scrap before even thinking about treatment options. Gimme gimme castor oil, Addison. I can fucking take it, bitches. Bring on the blackest charcoal you got. And they do, in the worst way. Worse than anything that’s happened so far, because it’s not happening to me anymore.
Yeah, because Roy is up and out of the car, about ten feet away, and walking simply-almost childishly-over this way. Faraway dead eyes, that wouldn’t see his own nose, glint in the weak light. Totally oblivious to any Addisons who may or may not be circling like vultures at this very moment, getting closer and closer with every pass, screaming right up in his impassive face.
Fucking faggot lush welcome to the party bitch, they say. Where’s your boyfriend Roy they say. We found this roadkill back there that looks like him, they say. What’s wrong now huh why so glum dude? Hold still this won’t hurt a bit. Why not now no hell no not that way what the fuck? Watch him damn it watch it fuck no fucking way!
Kyle’s trajectory is near-perfect when he dives in to get Roy by the shoulders get him back in the fucking car! His body gives a little Chris help me, help m-holy shit watch insane, it’s insane!
Roy comes to life right then his eyes roll up a little his body tenses up with reaction and then resistance and then presto-instant rage detonation motherfuckers! Duck and cover now, you assholes! His limbs thrash like a cornered animal, and the others aren’t fast enough to keep out of the way of his arms legs head. Dodge a fist Chris but take a knee in the gut and stumble. Kyle catches the fist that missed Chris but can’t handle the other one and welcome to the left ear, fist! Justin rushes forward and Chris ain’t done yet either and then, and then…oh shit, oh hell-will they take care of him before coming back to me?
No, no they can’t do that. Fuck the pain and I’m up to my knees now. They can’t do that just because he was in the wrong place wrong time and he’s gotta deal with my shit? With their shit on me? They can’t do that. Not fair never fair. Never in hell you bastards and things get clearer to me suddenly, right-and-wrong-wise, you know? Right foot first-plant it wrong in the pavement even though it’s screaming that it can’t deal with that right now. Too bad, dude-all three are on him now, all at once, but the swelling under my eyes keeps me from name-face hand-eye coordination even at this distance.
What? What does that even mean? It means he’s howling like a goddamn maniac and flailing faster, okay? It means it’ll be on you if they maul his ass, dude. They try to stop him separately, then together, and I push off to try and get closer. Stand up straight as you can. It’s not that far. Show some willpower, Derek. Exert some energy-it’s in there somewhere, right? Take a half-step. Then another. Then a full step-he’s screaming again, the notes ringing flat in the night air-oh God the headache is fucking nuts…Roy’s still hollering something I can’t understand, and they’re not stopping him at all, not getting anywhere with him-no thanks to me…but I’m feet away now. Two more hops and I’m there, dude…
…and then charge! Charge! There’s Justin’s nose-aim for it, go get…ah, he moved-but you’ll settle for breaking his jaw, right? Hell yes you will-pivot quick, piv-agh fistintheribs…something cracks…no feeling? Limbs tangling closing in around so improvise, improvise, damn it! Throw everything where gravity takes you-it’s not up to you anymore, haha ha. Maybe take a few wild ones before swerving the right way, and never mind the dissolving sound or frantic heart or the stink of iron pervading everything…
…and then the night clouds all motion and you can’t feel much anymore but keep going, keep going-they can’t do this to him, not on your account, not for nothing-landing elbows here knees there, fists forehead teeth nails anything and everything you have until some superseding sledgehammer swoops in from where the fuck with a high white shock of light and the universe begins to spin way too far out of my control and it all rushes past and then gravity takes over again and except and no and wait, wait nono no-