December 15, 2014 nschroader@gmail.com no responses

Youth

He knew it stunk but he didn’t care. Nothing mattered except the warmth and pleasure he felt running through his body. He smelled the week old shit coming from the broken toilet and the soured food that lay around on the broken concrete floor. He heard the cockroaches scurrying around the yellowed mattress to the same rhythm as the lice running through his hair. It felt good, like a million little fingers tickling and massaging his head. Protruding beneath the rubber coil of his old stethoscope on his arm, a needle boldly penetrated the vein it had corrupted. With each lazy pump of his heart, gravity pulled the needle down, ripping through the repeatedly broken vein. His pupils were the size of a pinprick. His ribs jutted out of his skin, the thin skin of his chest rising shallowly; his emaciation so far along you could see his hip bones protruding above his cheap black leather pants that hung loose and low. The setting sun cast an eerie shadow over his body, shining through the thick iron bars that lined the one window of the condemned apartment locking him inside.

Flies attracted by the garbage buzzed around the room. He was too relaxed to close his eyes enough to blink away the fly that had landed on his eye. Its small body was enlarged so he saw every beautiful detail of the fly. Six wiry legs that had a million little fibers on it, and thousands of eyes that glittered as the small rays of sun hit them. Beautiful metallic green wings with black threads embroidered in a flowery pattern like the silk robe Elise wore when she brazenly walked into the drawing class, posing and letting the robe drop to the floor. The fly flew away freeing his eye to the mold on the ceiling. His brain made beautiful patterns from the mold on the ceiling that if only he wanted to move, he would paint the next Mona Lisa or Starry Night.

Shifting and moving like a cartoon, the mold mocked him as he saw his parents jumping in joy as he excitedly read the acceptance letter from Stanford. He saw his old dorm room. He saw his art class and the joy he felt painting. The first time he saw Elise. Beautiful. Dark. Elise. He’d drawn her perfectly curved breasts, not knowing that later that night he would touch them as she expertly guided his inexperienced flesh with her hips and hands. The mold shifted again. Moving into the rundown apartment with Elise and finding her on the yellow mattress, blue and cold. Soon he’d be with her again.

The vision in his eyes blurred as the cold came up from his core spreading through his body chilling him from inside out. The door slammed open with a bang, bringing him back. Footsteps grew louder and clearer, pounding out their beat as they came closer. The pressure on his arm lessened as fingers quickly slid out the needle and undid the rubber strap. A bearded face appeared over his as cold rubber fingers touched his eyelid, spreading his them further apart as a bright light pierced its way. He was close now. Just a few more minutes and he would see Elise again. The cold hands were now on his chest along with another pair. Pushing and pushing. His rib cracked with a loud popping sound like Drake’s knuckles before he picks up the little Ziploc bag of happiness. He heard the crackle of the radio followed by metallic clinking. His limp body was floating up and away. His head tilted to the side and he saw the white sheets of a small new bed.

He was moving again. Through the dark hallway and bouncing down the stairs past Drake the Snake’s door. Best deal in the city. Bursting into the low sunlight the top of his skin warmed a little as he drew closer to the artificial shriek of the big red box. Roughly raised up and forced into the box, and his head jerk around violently as bounces through the city. The shriek of the siren grew quieter as he faded slowly drifting to sleep. He was so tired. He couldn’t wait to see her again. Beautiful. Dark. Elise.

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