by Jesse Orr
My name is Len, and I’m an addict. If you don’t know that by now, you’ve not been paying attention lo these many weeks.
If you have been paying attention, you know I’ve been busy for much of my early life, but I’m taking a break from regular activity. A hiatus, if you will. There’s no point in sticking your nose out farther than necessary, my dad always said. It wasn’t very pithy, but there you go.
My friend Dennis from Wichita, Kansas made that mistake. He had completely dropped from everyone’s radar and could have died in peace and comfort with his secrets never being known. But Dennis was never the type to let his hard work go to waste. I told him he was deluded if he thought it was a waste just because people forgot about it over time, but he was never the listening type either. He had to start running his mouth again, and within a year he was done, over, checkmate. What a fool. Me, when I start feeling antsy I’ll go scratch that itch in some dirty back alley on someone who doesn’t matter as much as others. What’s one vagrant more or less?
That’s kind of what I want to talk about. Lately, it’s been harder and harder to control that urge or to indulge it at a reasonable interval. Used to be I could go several months before the itch got that bad. Now sometimes I have to scratch once or twice a week, and that’s just asking for trouble. Last night, in fact, I was walking home from the corner market with some eggs and milk for a lovely mushroom and leek quiche when I saw some filthy skinny creature of indeterminate gender with matted blonde-pink hair rooting around in a garbage can. Before I even knew I had moved, I was in the back of the alley behind a dumpster with its hair wadded in my hand trying to stifle its screams as it bled all over me.
You don’t have to say it; what a fucking idiot. Believe me, I know. As soon as I realized what I had done I was disgusted in myself. There I was, out in public, for god and anyone else to stroll down the alley for a drug deal, and spot. Anybody could have seen me go into that alley. Anybody could see me come out. Not to mention all the fucking blood all over me, and don’t even get me started on how disgusting that was. There could have been anything circulating amongst those blood cells and I had been out earlier in the week feeding the mosquitos so it’s not like I didn’t have openings in my skin. More pressingly, however, was my need to get home without attracting attention to my bloodstained person. Nothing causes a row quite like someone covered in what is obviously not his own blood.
These are all thoughts which ran through my head as the indeterminate creature lay in my arms expiring; its spasmodic jerkings were now more like twitches, its screaming down to a steady drone of “muhhhh” which was easily muffled by traffic and sirens. I took my spit-slimy hand away from its mouth and opened the dumpster shielding us. The creature was so scrawny I didn’t even need both arms to hoist it up and into the dumpster with its fellow trash. I pulled some of the trash over it as a token effort at burial and looked around. Nobody was watching from the mouth of the alleyway with a shocked look or a cell phone recording busily in their hand. I looked down at myself and grimaced. My white undershirt was now red while my black sport coat just looked wet, so I shucked it off and added my bloody white shirt to the burial in the dumpster. Now it just looked like a lumpy bunch of red garbage was lying in there, and no one would be the wiser when this creature never showed up for free soup and methadones.
Slamming the dumpster, I pulled my coat over my shoulders and buttoned it as much as I could, which still left a deep triangle of my red-stained chest to decry what I had been doing, but I would just have to chance it. Besides, these days everybody walking is just paying attention to their phones. My eggs and milk were pooled at the mouth of the alley where I had clearly dropped them before chasing the creature to the corner behind the dumpster. That was all right though; my appetite for quiche had evaporated.
It was a terrifying but uneventful walk back home. I kept expecting someone to yell “Whose blood? Murder!” but I crossed my threshold unmolested. The incinerator was conveniently located on the way to the shower and before the water was even hot, my incriminating clothing was turning to ashes. By the time my hair was dry, I had ordered, paid for and was eating my Chinese food. I was lucky, again. But I know it won’t last if I keep being an idiot.
Thanks for letting me share that, everyone. I feel a lot better having gotten that off my chest.
Now, about Terrance. Last week, he killed his wife and everybody knew it was coming, but the pool goes to him since his money was on the holidays. He called me last night from a blocked number and said not to spend it ourselves or he’d be after us next. We had a good chuckle and he rang off, before he did though I heard some shouting on his end of the line and I think he’d been spotted. I tell you guys, I don’t miss being a fugitive. Once he’s arrested we can put it in his commissary fund and he can buy all the pork rinds and BBQ chips he can stuff down his gob. If he’s killed before they take him in, we can split it evenly or put it towards another wager, whatever you guys want.
Looks like we’re about out of time. If no one else has anything they need to say, let’s pentagon up.