M.J. James © 2020
All Rights Reserved
Waking up in your own vomit sucked. For Ian Fisher, sleeping facedown in the previous night’s dinner was more the norm than not. He had lost count months ago how many times he’d been jackknifed over a toilet as the sun came up, regurgitating the pain of the day before. Every single time, he remembered exactly how shitty his life had become and how bad he had fucked everything up. As last night’s brew rumbled in his gut and he started to come around, things sure as hell smelled like any other day.
The rancid stench of stale beer that had stewed in stomach acid all night; the sour smell of piss-soaked pants, still warm against his crotch; the chalky taste of God knows how many different drugs clinging to the walls of his mouth. The all too familiar odors crept up his nose and down his throat, and Ian pulled himself off the floor. He stepped over people he didn’t even know as he hugged the wall to the bathroom, ignoring the merry-go-round he could never get off. He had to piss. And puke. No time to choose so he did them both at once. Warmth snaking down his leg and the putrid stink slapping him in the face only made him heave harder into the toilet. Chunks of—shit, what had he eaten?—something plopped in the grungy bowl, the rot and funk watering his eyes. He shut off his brain like always, letting his body fend for itself until the torture ended. After emptying his gut, he slid to the floor and curled into the fetal position; the tiles cool against his skin.
What the fuck am I doing?
He had asked himself the same question before, hundreds of times over the past year or so. Each time, no answer. Just silence. This time, if he closed his eyes tight and blocked out the nausea and the pain and listened close, he could hear a faint voice, a whisper, repeating over and over in his head:
Stop, stop, stop.
He opened his eyes. The carnival ride that had become his life had begun its last revolution, the spinning slowing to a manageable speed. He gripped the bowl he’d just poured his guts into and pulled himself up. He rested against the rim, the chill of the porcelain blanketing his back in goose bumps. He wasted a quick second wondering where his shirt had disappeared to before shaking the thought from his head. No doubt the shirt was trashed, sopping wet with his own sick.
Though he took longer than last time, Ian somehow managed to stand. His newborn-like legs threatened to give him one last fuck you as they shook and wobbled. He braced against the vanity, eyes focused on a half-squeezed toothpaste tube, an old Tampax box, a couple of empty condom wrappers, anything to stop the urge to say “fuck this” and dunk his head in the toilet again. Once he had his center of gravity back on track, he raised his head.
His reflection in the scum-streaked mirror hanging over the sink scared the hell out of him. He had aged well beyond his 24 years. Like something straight out of The Walking Dead. Like he had been rotting for, well, a year. Because he had. A slow, painful one. A deliberate one. A rot from the inside out. The decay had started deep, quiet and stealthy and hidden, but had begun to show around the edges, reaching the surface so others could see what he had known all along. He couldn’t ignore this anymore. Time to choose: stop the rot, or let death consume him.
He slid achy hands over the faucet and gave the chrome fingers a slow turn before scooping up the cool water and drenching his face. Over. And over. And over. More water. Deluges of water. His eyes burned like a son of a bitch, but he kept up the onslaught. He scrubbed and scrubbed as he splashed, more desperate than ever to be clean. He needed a shower.
Nope. A shit idea if ever he had one. The room still spun like a top, and his legs were itching to give out on him. He kept drowning his face at the sink instead until his brain worked again. Well, as good as possible since he still floated in a cloud of crap left over by whatever the fuck he had ingested last night. A couple more handfuls of water before he picked up a towel and pressed the cotton against his face. He lingered over his eyes, scared to see his haggard reflection again. Every cell in his body wanted to turn around, walk out, and get drunk again. High again. Mind-numbingly wasted again.
No. Fuck that. Do it.
He dropped the towel and stared at himself. Stared hard at his reflection. The deep-set, blackened eye sockets. The sunken, pocked cheeks. Chapped lips. Greasy hair.
“Fuckin’ loser,” he eked out, his voice a jagged rasp, wedged between a whisper and early morning smoker’s growl. He punched the mirror. Again. Again. Over and over until glass crawled deep under his skin and pushed blood from his veins.
He couldn’t do this anymore.
Shit. He couldn’t remember the last time he had thought those words. Not in the past year, for sure. He hadn’t wanted to think dick in the past year. Just get drunk. Stay drunk. Get high. Stay high.
Ian shook his head. Crammed his hand in his pocket and pulled out salvation.
“Fuck it.” One last glance at himself as the drug-of-the-moment skated over his mind and wiped out thoughts of fixing anything.
He woke up to the sound of bohemian music. A low melody thrumming in the background. The rhythm soothed him, kept him tripping on whatever he had fished out of his pocket. And 100 percent warped out of his mind was how he wanted to stay, numb and too fucked up to care or even think about anything. Ride the wave, let euphoria take him away from the shitty life he lived. The life he had created.
“Wanna go again?” Hands accompanied the deep, raspy voice vibrating in his ear. They massaged his pecs. Tickled his abs. Gripped his hard cock. He moaned and smiled, opened his eyes as a random guy went down on him. Ian grabbed a handful of black hair as the mouth worked magic on him, bringing him to the brink of orgasm. “Fuck, don’t stop.” Between the drugs and the blowjob, he experienced heaven. He started bucking his hips, ready to explode.
The mouth left his cock and traveled up his body, dipping into his abs and circling his nipples, sending him further over the edge than the drugs had already taken him, before crushing into his lips like a freight train. Ian shoved his tongue into the guy’s mouth, tasting him. Cigarettes and whiskey, a flavor combination he had gotten used to over the past year, enveloped him. The odors were repulsive and magnetic at the same time, drawing him in deeper and deeper. He kissed with a fury he had never possessed before, like this would be his last. The guy kissed back with the same desperate want and need. They were in sync as much as two people high out of their minds could be, each knowing just what the other craved.
“Fuck me,” the guy said, breathy and slurred when he pulled away from Ian’s mouth. Ian stared into his eyes, deep pools of green so brilliant they were hypnotizing. Ian kissed him again, tugged on his plumped lips, and sucked his tongue into his mouth. The more the stranger moaned under his assault, the more Ian forged ahead.
He flipped the guy onto his stomach, trailing his back with his tongue. Gripped his muscular ass and buried his face there until the guy bucked beneath him, begging to be taken. And Ian did. He fucked him right there in the middle of whatever seedy motel he and his “friends” had the money for. Other people, Ian didn’t know how many, littered the room but he didn’t care. His could only focus on getting off. Something primal had taken over his senses, an animal instinct he couldn’t control. He thrust into the stranger under him over and over as the guy moaned and cried out for more. Ian gave his all, getting lost in the drugged haze and sexual euphoria until he came and collapsed. Hands crawled up his chest and lips pressed against his as the drugs took over again, and he blacked out.
One second Ian rode the mother of all waves, fucking his brains out. The next he lay face down on puke-soaked carpet, hands twisted behind his back before being dragged out to the street like garbage. He could feel everything happening to him. Hear voices screaming out words his brain was too far gone to make out. Pain snuck into his high. Shattered the drug-induced reality. Left him alone in the dark.
He woke up who the hell knows how many hours later, his head throbbing so hard his stomach turned. He tried to move, sit up. Clearly the biggest mother fucker on the block had used him for target practice. He tried lifting his head instead. Nope, wasn’t happening. He settled for opening his eyes. Well, one eye.
“What the fuck?” His throat ripped with every syllable like razor blades lined his esophagus. Jesus, he felt worse than death.
“Holy shit, man, we thought you were dead.” Ian could hear the voice. Could half ass make out a shadow standing over him. “You okay, dude?”
He blinked over and over until the face came into focus. Long dark hair pulled into a tight pony. Tan skin muddled with scars from years of bad acne. Toothy grin. Ian thought he recognized the guy staring down at him. Andy? Archer? Who the fuck cared. Ian just wanted him to back the fuck up.
“Where are we?” he asked. Blood seeped into his mouth when he spoke. Shit.
“Jail, man. Fuckers got us, Fisher. They finally fucking got us.” Andy/Archer/Whatever slumped to the floor next to Ian’s head, and Ian couldn’t tell if the sickening BO came from him or his own filth.
“Damn.” He found the energy to sit up and leaned against the wall. Fucking merry-go-round ran top speed again.
“Yeah, man. Sucks big dick.”
“I gotta get outta here.” Ian closed his eyes and rubbed them. Kaleidoscopes of psychedelic colors and patterns spun in the darkness, and he had to stop before he puked all over the place.
“We all do, dude. None of us belong here.”
“No, I mean out of this…shit.” The word wasn’t strong enough to encompass just how much Ian’s life sucked. But it perfectly explained what he had left. Jack shit.
He had drunk and smoked and swallowed away everything. Apartment? Evicted. Job? Fired. Friends? Good ones were gone. Sam?
His head flooded with images and memories and feelings so fast his stomach flipped. Things he hadn’t thought of or felt in two lifetimes took over his mind, his senses. Sam came rushing back in like a fucking freight train, ripping through the heart Ian had worked so hard to bury under too much drugs and alcohol.
Sam, Sam, Sam.
“No. No, no, no, no,” Ian repeated, smacking his head against the wall behind him, hoping the pain of impact would crush the pain of remembering.
“Dude, you’re gonna get locked up with the crazies, you keep this shit up.” Andy/Archer/Whatever’s voice barely registered.
“What?” Sam still lived there in his mind, his bright blue eyes Ian never wanted to stop seeing. The smile that always hit him hard right in the chest. Mother fucking smile. Sam’s smile was Ian’s Achilles’ heel.
“They’re gonna psych your ass for seventy-two, you keep on, man.”
He thought about those words, what they meant. Hell, maybe getting three days of suicide watch would be a good thing. Free room and board. Good sleep. Crazy good drugs to help him not think of Sam.
He had to get the hell out of there. Get drunk. Get high. Wash away Sam the old-fashioned way. But…God, he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to forget about Sam.
Had someone asked him yesterday, he would’ve said, “Sam who?” Now, all he could think about was Sam’s perfect fucking smile, and how he’d give a nut to see him again.
Yeah, he 100 percent had to get out of there.
Had to get to Sam.
“Hey!” Ian mustered enough strength to pull himself off the floor and stagger wobble-legged over to the bars keeping him and the world he hated so much apart. “Yo, guard!” A lanky man who had seen better days cut eyes at Ian from the waist-high counter he busily held up and raised a brow. Prick. “I want my phone call.”
The room the guard dragged Ian to appeared twice as big as the holding cell he and about fifteen other guys were crammed into like stoned sardines, and if he tried, he bet he could reach out and touch two walls at the same time. A small table with a black box-style phone covered in buttons sat against the far wall, a round, backless rolling stool shoved underneath. The rest of the room sat sad and empty.
“Dial nine,” Lanky Cop spouted. “You got three minutes.” He stood in the doorway and stared at Ian. Ian wanted to walk over and knock his horse teeth down his fucking throat. He ignored the urge and shuffled over to the table. He used a foot to pull the stool from underneath and eased down onto the cushioned top. His head spun on the carousel; his body far past ready to throw in the fucking towel but… Sam. He’s what kept Ian going, made him pick up the phone. He gave him the courage to call the one person he said he’d never ask for help from again the day he left town.
Well, the second person.
Three rings, then she answered. Ian swallowed. “Rach?” he said, trying his best to sound sober. “Rach, it’s me. I fucked up.”