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He overdosed. 

Sick and addicted, he vomits into a bag. Disappearing down alleys stamped with dark rings of black water and long shadows like needles infecting the rotten souls of an ancient city.

Loved ones pouring out every drop of sympathy for his intrepid and meaningless life. Shooting junk and hunting for more until every penny goes into his veins. He seeks salvation from every relic of his past.

Hovering over a bucket. Struggling to keep his stomach. He’s ripe and unwashed and he sobers in the pacific predawn frost.

The jagged blue mountains, his cold little pillow. 

He ventures east to spokane like some whiskeysoaked wanderer crossing the vast purple plains sipping and sleeping beneath the constellations on crumbled black soil.

He follows torn maps to encampments and raids the tents like some drunken beast of the night. He washes himself in gutterwater under a pale gibbous moon and the starspangled sky. 

He sobers in a toiletstall feverdreaming of memories that never existed, promises he’ll never keep. A philosophical drunk barcrawling for treasure up the rainblown minefield toward his next hangover. 

*  *  *

Few months he is in portland, san francisco.

He returns to the emerald city on a tattooed train that awakens at dawn across a grim blue skyline.

He steals vodka and drinks it all and slurs songs of triumph while wandering the fractured traintracks.

He sleeps in a shared room with the other lost souls of belltown and comes alive at night like some inebriated nightmare.

He is skinny and his joints ache from travel and his dark eyes avoid everything. 

Shooting up with men and women of all colors, all creeds, young and old and rich and poor but mostly he is shooting up by himself.

Women with voices barbed with a native twang and trailerpark nasalness. Travelers from lands so far and unique that robbing them at the hostel while they’re passed out drunk makes he himself feel anointed.

And on a brutal winter night he is stabbed with a broken bottle and falls against the dead plants and crawls to safety.

Nobody helps. 

By the time he’s sober he’s broke and he departs in the dark of dawn and stays unrested on a bed of slanted floorboards until he finds something better to sleep on. 

*  *  *

Family tree rotted with addiction. 

Never again in all their infighting will there be resentment as hateful as this.

He sobers on the street, a bully among beggars.

Watching the emerald river thrash. Crows croaking from the sidewalk, black as nails against the concrete. Rafts of dabbling ducks surfing the graywhite swells. 

He wanders through the veins of a vacant city where the air smells of shit and perfume. 

At night the dealers hiss at him like demonic soothsayers and within a month he’s using.

Needles in the sharps container.

Walking down dirt roads with his trembling fist clenched in the pockets of his pair of stolen jeans.

He hitchhikes north through towns and time zones, taking bottles and wallets with him. He avoids the lightrail for fear of arrest.

The winos grunt in the fog and misfortune finds him in a derelict cathedral where he retreats to hide from the law. An amputated pastor prays beside him and together they wait for salvation. 

The sun that rises is a red pinhole burning though the ashen sky. 


His sickness leads him for days. 

He wears soiled trousers that have holes in the pockets and scribbles in the linings and he feels like one of the drunks he’d roll at the hostel while soulsearching the north pacific.

His pain worsens beneath a severed white birch and a scarred red maple and the rotten seeds inside him stay planted like a burning curse and a harsh wind rustles the leaves.

He works as a dishwasher and asks as payment for food and a cot, and on that cot during the fall of twenty-twentythree he rises for chasing highs in the city of Seattle.


Night finds him alone slurping down sour mash amongst the hollowedout pipes and rusted structures watching faceless silhouettes twirling ropes tasseled with growling flames wheeling and whooshing in the captivated silence.

He lifted the bottle again to his lips and let the warm bitter filth trickle into his gut.

With eyes watering he studied the last looks of daylight lingering over the olympics and over the dark bristled trees scrubbing softly against that long faded horizon. 

Darkness fell upon him like a heavy blanket spattered with stars and he placed a cigarette between his lips and stared up at the nightsky frisking himself for a lighter. 

A tall shadow not ten feet away with a shiny black ponytail on an otherwise bald scalp turned and offered a fire before Felix could locate his own.

The towering figure sparked the lighter, a cheap one, and offered it to Felix who leaned in and allowed the flame to kiss his cigarette. Pale smoke poured from his mouth and his nose and his eyes were closed.

He sucked on the filter and opened his eyes to find the behemoth smiling down on him asking if there was any bourbon left and Felix shook his head and chuckled showing the empty hipflask and flipping it upside down shaking out not a drop for his disappointed audience.  


He was still drunk with a young headache swelling between his temples by the time he stumbled into the brightlylit convenience store somewhere in fremont.

The man behind the counter halted his conversation leaving the bluetooth in his ear blinking and Felix looked around and turned away from the man and the man watched him and went back to his conversation, a series of foreign clucks whispered into the phone.

Felix admired his own passing reflection in the convex mirror all bulbous and silver and he paused for a moment and tousled his dusty wig.

The man watched carefully as Felix counted out carefully a loud fistful of change and stacked the coins in stout columns caging them with filthy fingers and sliding them across the gleaming countertop with a lopsided grin. 

The man looked down and shook his head and sighed and rolled his eyes and opened his mouth to say something. But said nothing.

He eyed Felix once more and swiped the loose change over the edge of the counter and into an awaiting cupped hand and shoveled the coins into the metal till of the register and shoved the drawer shut. 

By the time he turned back Felix was gone. 


He emerged from the concrete steps of the lightrail station like some gross pioneer venturing into a terrible new world and as if programmed by radar he wandered up pine and down third past the closed mcdonalds and outside the moneytree where slurred voices cloaked in dark hoodies crooned to him in a harsh whispers.

The man who led him down the alley was shoeless and wore a greasy hawaiian shirt in the rain and stopped near a row of garbage bins and turned his head and looked about wildly and asked how much and Felix said forty and brandished a carefully folded twenty and the man nodded strangely and peered both ways.

Hole out yer hand, he said and Felix did just that and stretched open his palm. Rain falling on his fingers. Heartbeat pulsing in his wrist. 

The barefoot dealer reached into his pants and revealed not a narcotic but a small rubber mallet choked up high on the handle and he brought down the strong black barrel like a highstriker crashing the palm of the open hand before him. 

The folded bill fluttered to the ground and landed in sewer water.

Falling away and howling Felix clutching his fingers and the man was already squatting as the money drifted from the sky and with a rehearsed precision he lunged into the slimy water plucking away the soggy bill.

Highstepping away and cackling and coughing and yanking up his beltless denims and his figure diminished and disappeared entirely from sight. 

Felix cursed loudly.

Struggling to catch his breath. He looked down into his lap, his fingers flattened and twisted.

Still sitting on the soiled pavement he heeled across the gravel and pushed himself up against the scaly brick wall.

Everything stank of piss, shit.

He clutched his wrist writhing in pain and screamed or atleast tried to and above him a tiny white plane crossed the hard blue sky.


He hated his face and his eyes hated him back rebuking his reflection in every mirror he passed, ignoring his visage in the scarred glass upon which he carved hateful words and crude sketches of genitalia. 

Huddling in the frigid rain steaming in the mist waiting for a rapid ride that never arrived wearing a borrowed wool coat he’d never return feeling the lure of heroin in his soul and in his blood and in the storm where the dark amber moon curved against the vacant nightsky and someone in pioneer square blew him drooling kisses and the vomit reeked and reeked. 

There was a dealer in the dark in the rain on the back steps of the hillclimb whistling a tune on the staircase and when Felix passed him the man stopped whistling and lifted his head and smiled and nodded from inside his black hoodie and only the sound of rain surrounded them and once Felix climbed past stomping away in his soggy boots the whistling resumed and continued and diminished until the sound was barely audible and carried off by the wind seething in the downpour. 


Walking through the empty city. His clothes were cold and damp and heavy and his boots hiccupped with every step.

The remaining traces of rain left only a thin armor of droplets offering an inverted view of the city. He lit a wet cigarette and soldiered on. 

There was a structure fire growling from the top floor of an orangebrick building above the boardedup 7-11 off cherry and the fire department still hadn’t shown and a group of wide-eyed witnesses were gathering around the heat and taking photos and jeering and a drunk black man with no front teeth cackled hideously and heaved a glass bottle into the inferno. 

Felix watched without comment. His face masked by black smoke and he stared into the flames thrashing against the frame of the building, yawing in the hollow windows, cooking and devastating the structure. 


He heard the deep whoop of sirens and turned to catch a spiral of bright lights alternating red blue red blue red against the smoldering building and some of the people ran and others did not and some just backed away and watched until they lost interest.

The pigs were mostly polite and they calmly corralled the remaining spectators further back along the adjacent sidewalk. 

Then someone yelled out the name of a murdered teenager and someone else shouted out the name of a black woman killed by police and the pigs grew agitated and whispered to each other touching items on their tactical belts and looking over and nodding but doing nothing. 

A small group of mexicans stood nearby and either by design or by accident one of them smashed a bottle on the curb and the noise startled the pigs and shards of shattered glass scattered across the concrete like jagged little crystals and the air was then polluted with the hard stench of chemical gasses and the violent sounds of coughing and gagging and the harsh odor roasted his eyeballs and the entire block stunk of woodfire and toxic fumes. 

And just as quickly as the pigs attacked they retreated leaving behind only a cloud of hot smoke and choking onlookers doubled over in the darkness and the fire department still hadn’t shown. Felix wiped his burning eyes and found a pair of eyes staring back. 

It was the dealer from the hillclimb.

He was gently patting the wet blonde hair of someone sobbing and vomiting into the sewer. 

The man watched closely and when their eyes met he nodded and smiled politely.

Felix looked away and into the flames then lifted his head to see the firetruck trundling down the hill.