Photo credit: mconnors from morguefile.com
It wasn’t like I told her I’d love her forever. Or any at all. The posts she wrote about me on the public band forums were unforgiving, at the very least. I carried on with my life, hoping she’d give up, find someone else to obsess over but after fourteen months, I couldn’t take it anymore.
She’d taken the very thing I held most dear and destroyed my faith in it. The music in me was dead. My guitar sulked under a thin coating of dust. My curtains remained drawn to the day, as if I was some kind of nocturnal inhuman creature. I shied away from cameras while out and about, when before I’d embraced them.
She’d broken my trust in her. The things I’d told her that I’d never admitted to anyone. She’d poured my secret thoughts into the ear of anyone with more than five minutes to listen. My private fears, dripped out of her non-stop mouth. My voice died. The stage stood empty in my mind. There was no melody to draw life out of my slumped and lanky form.
My wrist bones stood pronounced, my cheekbones so sharp they could cut paper. Sunken hollows lay in half-circles under my eyes. I was frozen; an effigy of what was once great and powerful. The women had once ran their fingers through my blond hair. Now it flooded down my back like a road of static. I knew I was bad. I was fully aware of what the shit I was on would do. I just didn’t care. I didn’t want to want anything anymore, and I had plenty of money to get it.
I lay prone on the ratty couch, with the old dust cover haphazard, fingers brushing the raised rubbery buttons of the remote. I watched TV with one eye open, the other buried in a pillow of tears of regret. I had to pee. My stomach rumbled, pissed off that it’d been three days without solid food. A half-glass of water and a bottle of pills beckoned from the low coffee table.
It’d be so easy.
The thought hit me like a fully-loaded semi hauler. I didn’t have to go through day after day. I could give myself over to the great beyond. Past the tunnel and the blinding light. I knew there wasn’t a light. I’d nearly died twice while on the road in Europe because of a deadly booze and drugs one-two punch. Not the same booze. Not the same drugs. I was desensitized to danger but I wasn’t completely stupid. Just ignorant of the fact I was still mortal, just like every single one of my fans. The people out on the street. The callers, pushers, hookers, and kids that came up to my knee.
I don’t think I did it because of her. I did it because of her. That she’d happened, and that I’d let it. The case with her shit magnified my self-loathing to high definition. Bile rose in my throat, looking at those pills in that cautionary orange bottle. They were in arm’s reach. Mistake? Or solution?
I was irrational. I growled into the faded fabric and bit the cushion. My heart pounded in my chest like a fist on an oak door. The urge to pee became more insistent. I pushed up off the couch and swung my lowered head in the bathroom’s direction. I let forward momentum carry me there, slamming against the jutted ceramic sink. One of the twin faucets never stopped dripping. I’d taken pliers to it once; I could see the rings of effort still around the narrow chrome.
Pee. Right. I positioned myself in front of the toilet, unzipped my fly and braced myself against the wall with one hand as I held my dick with the other. Her pink-handled razor was still on the shelf at eye-level. I glared at it until my eyes swam out of focus then swatted it into the bathtub. The clatter was loud in that small room. After I zipped up, I turned on the cold water and let it flow over my fingers.
I was a waste.
I dried my hands on a towel, avoiding my reflection in the mirror. I was afraid of seeing myself worse than I already pictured in my mind. My body had nearly atrophied in my year of seclusion and self-abuse. I resembled Jesus on the cross, just give me a cloth diaper and a crown of thorns.
I didn’t believe in God. If there was one, he was an asshole. Or a bitch. Yeah, that was probably it. A vengeful bitch that took particular pleasure in tormenting those guys that would try to rise to the top. I just liked singing.
Another woman had called me songbird once. I think I was fifteen. I gave her the finger. Literally. I was lucky. I always looked older than my real age. She thought I was eighteen. I may as well been. I never finished school. I didn’t need to. I’d been taken under Precocious’ wing by that time. He was the first gay man I’d ever encountered. Offers were made and declined. I was only interested in pussy. Including when I was obliterated.
I put my hands on the doorsill and rested my head on them. My knees trembled. Why was I thinking of my benefactor when he was gone eight years already? Sweat beaded on my brow. Great, I was probably getting sick. It didn’t matter. None of it did.
I’d eat, but only to make my stomach shut up. The growling was reverb in my ears and I whimpered against my skin. It was over. All of it was gone. I couldn’t reach out for my star any more than I could reach for that bottle of pills. But they would be there.
I staggered back into the den and glared at the telephone blinking stupidly with unanswered messages. My manager, my friends, wrong number. I knew what they would be already. We have a contract, we miss you, can I speak to Fernando?
I didn’t have a cellphone. I didn’t text or Tweet, or Facebook like everybody else on the planet. I was old-fashioned in that way even though I wasn’t old, despite the deep objection in my bones. It was just a setback, I’d told my manager Mindy. She’d said she was waiting on new material. I told her I was working on it.
I was a fucking liar. My name was Ren.
Awesome! I'm intrigued. More, more, more!!
WHOA, that's some powerful writing there, Carrie. No one draws characters with as much finely thrown grit as you do. You build and build and build and then, thwap, whack us with that simple last name.
A treat, as always.
Synde Korman popped that name on me when I'd been boiling a mid 90s grunge-style musician for some time. All it took was to hear that name and there he was.
I love this...and Ren! MOAR PLEASE
dude...thanks for the shout out...lol...
A nice tense piece of writing allowing us inside the thoughts of the main character.
What a pit of despair he's sunk himself into!
Self-loathing, writers block, angst, depression...but he didn't take the easy way out, and neither did you. Thank you for not killing your character.
Rich, lush writing. I'm glad I read this.
Some reasonable pathos, if in the middle of a nosedive into despair. My favorite bit was, "Just ignorant of the fact I was still mortal, just like every single one of my fans," which has a nice repetition about its discomfort.
Love this. I think I know where you're going with it, and I want to read it!
Brilliantly presented, Carrie. The pain and despair of the self-loathing, the thoughts of suicide, the abject depression... note perfect.
Rock and roll is where I hide. Great to be reading your stories again, Carrie. Better catch up the ones I've missed.
Adam B @revhappiness
And this song would be the perfect soundtrack to this story: Rock and Roll is Where I Hide by Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes. Good ol' Aussie pub rock.
Adam B @revhappiness
Nothing better than wallowing in the pit of creative despair. Like this Ren dude--he doesn't give up. Peace...
And the darkness surrounds us. Nice one.
At first I thought the "she" in the opening paragraphs was his muse that had abandoned him. I still think she might be.
A great piece of writing Carrie. You truly have a gift. Definitely want to know more!
Nicely drawn character here, in more ways than one! ;-)
The title 27 made me think this was going in a specific direction but I'm glad I was wrong, I'd love to read more about Ren.
Superb characterization, as usual Carrie. I love how deeply into [their] psyche you go - you don't edit your character's thoughts, you just spit them right out, and that's what I so admire about your work.
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