No Cream No Sugar
By D.E. Horne
Louis was the image of the "morning after" that morning, like the shining Virgin Mary of a hangover, the idealistic representation for stoners and drunkards alike to die-cast in plastic and hang from their rear-views. He smelled, too.
"You're stupid Louis," I said. He grinned.
At that point, Louis and I had been friends since the world began, the universe was formed, since the first orgasmic screams of our parents were the only premonitions of our very existence. Louis and I had been friends since September of the previous year. It was February.
We walked down Ashland's alleys, barely speaking. The bus drivers in the busses that passed all had sour faces. It was a very Monday day that day, not that Monday was the day.
The Beanery is the local coffee shop, where we stared at each other for a while. We had some coffee too, accompanied by another round of more staring. A pastime at this point, so much had already been said between us, the dialogue sometimes merely a parody of itself, there was no great need for repetition. I started feeling kind of lame though, compelled by some societally-induced urge to make conversation or listen to the sound of my own voice, so I gave it a shot. It was the image of failure.
"You know..." I'd say.
"I know..." He'd say.
"You shouldn't," I'd pause, searching for the right words.
"Do that?" He'd find them.
It was just dumb. I had had much to say on the subject of Louis idiotically risking his mind and body. I had had very much to say about that. Then I had said it all, and it had changed nothing. Except that afterwards, we could drink coffee.
I heard my mouth open. "You're going to kill yourself." I noticed my mouth had decided to speak, as well as open. "You need to back off on the drugs, Louis." My mouth paused. "It really is a lovely day," Obviously, I'd begun adlibbing. Louis ignored the weather. "Drugs won't kill me," he said suddenly. "I won't die like that."
I took out my pen. I sat looking at the back of the receipt, waiting for words. I wrote a storm. I wrote a great storm. I wrote an awesome storm. My storm kicked ass. I wrote a car accident in a storm, right there before my eyes. I wrote it in every intimate detail, hoping for only the vaguest imitation of my work to materialize before me. I hoped very hard.
But I hoped through irreverently blue skies as Louis sat with me while I stared at the intersection. I even hoped through another cup of coffee, which I insisted upon ordering, and insisted upon not explaining my desire for. I would have fabricated another reason to remain fixated upon the passing yuppies and the passing clouds, but the hopelessness of it all struck me as the clouds suddenly cleared out, the sky became the bluest blue, and Louis, of all people, suddenly felt compelled to remark, entirely unprovoked, that it didn't look like the weatherman's storm was blowing in after all.
I took my cup up to the counter and got a refill of strong black coffee for the walk back home. Louis stepped outside and lit a cigarette. There was barely any traffic, all old Volvos and Subarus, cars with kids in them, cars with real people in them, cars with people singing to the music in them. I stepped outside and froze.
It wasn't rainy. The wind was not howling. There was no distant thunder, no dark clouds, no vague and foggy ghosts drifting from the pavement. The night was not dark and black, it did not smell of piss and sweat and acid rain glazed on blacktop roads with trucks and snorting, swerving vehicles like pigs with pearls before them. There was no dark mustang with racing stripes that swerved in the darkness from the next world, coming into view and making its grave exit in an instant, its tires screeching, its one headlight left rolling in the foggy, rainy, heartless night. There was none of that. It wasn't even rainy.
It was broad daylight. And a blue Honda with one red door in the intersection. The driver was a nice middle-aged woman with light brown hair. Her name was something like Ruth or Jane or Wilma. Nothing special. It was nothing special.
But Louis was smeared across the pavement like a great red poppy, bits of him spreading out and flowing down the road. Half of his fine white teeth lay littered on the concrete, studs on sidewalk, pinkened bits of Louis glistening in the dust in the gutter. Little of Louis seemed left when I held him in my arms, him fading fast. Little of Louis was there anyway, his glazed eyes searching through his own private fog, reaching out towards me with his last few breaths, telling me to write something that's already been written.
"Write a story."
I want to toke a bowl. I want to get drunk. I want to drown myself in my misery till the next world, bathed in a warm gray light from some drugged, foreign fairy-tale. I want to be affixed at the vein to ecstasy, drifting downstream to the ocean of evermore, where I can blissfully sink into the sea and forget the here and now, and be forgotten by it.
Some days are too long to live through.
Some days can only be coped with in print.