June 18th 2015
It hurt. God damn it hurt. I felt like my nose was on fire and like my blood had turned to gasoline, coursing through me and setting me ablaze. I sat there on my bed, looking down at a pale, thin reflection of myself, a razor on one side of it and still having a small dusting of white powder that made the image hazy. This was my third line tonight. I held the dollar in my hand, two more lines, one for Michael, and one for Chet.
My house was dark, and empty. Mom had to go away on a business trip, and my brothers were staying with our dad to see what it’d be like. I didn’t know about Darrian, I guessed he was at work, but my current state prevented me from caring too much. Michael said he wanted to see my house, and he said Chet wanted to come with him. When he mentioned that Chet had drugs with him, I figured: “Why the hell not”.
I would soon come to regret that decision, as well as all the other ones I’d made up until that point.
“God damn that burns.” I said, handing the dollar over to Chet as he snorted the snowy powder.
“That’s what it always feels like the first couple times,” Chet said, watching Michael take it down quick and hard, “You get used to it though.”
“Thanks for bringing it,” I said, a devilish smile playing across my lips, “Mike and I were already done with the other bag you sent.”
“Shit man,” Chet said, seemingly taken aback a bit, “That’s a lot of coke to blow through that quick.”
“What can I say?” Michael said, wrapping his arm around my waist, “My baby likes the good shit.”
I nodded and he kissed me. I felt invincible now that the effects were finally taking hold of me. Michael had talked me into trying it, saying that it’d help with all the stress, and it’d help me feel better about myself. I was hesitant, but at his insistence, I agreed. Why was I trying so hard to please him? I guess it was because I didn’t want to lose him, but the fact that there was even a hint of that possibility scared me.
There was nothing more important in my life than him right now. He was my first kiss with a guy, the first one I made love with. In my warped mind that made him the most important thing in my life.
I turned from those thoughts, as they were brief, and grabbed my guitar from the foot of the bed. The now euphoric feeling rushed through me, and I felt my fingers latch onto the strings with ease. It’s like I wasn’t controlling myself, yet I was in complete control as I started playing, my version of the song was different, I changed some of the lyrics a bit, and it was more acquainted to an acoustic guitar now instead of a dance track, making it seem more vulnerable and hurt.
“He told me, "Don't worry about it"
He told me, "Don't worry no more"
We both knew we can't go without it
He told me you'll never be alone.
I can’t feel my face when I’m with you,
But I love it.”
Chet just stared at me while I sang, and Michael smiled at me, I knew he loved that song, and the fact we were snorting cocaine to it didn’t hurt by any means whatsoever. When I stopped and put the guitar down he pulled me into his lap and kissed me passionately.
“You’re going to make it Austin, I know you are.” He smiled, referring to my singing abilities.
I blushed and looked at Chet, who still seemed a bit shell shocked to hear my voice. He finally shook it off and when he did his smile was huge, he gave me a clap on the back.
“You need to start playing bars and stuff,” Chet said, “You’re good enough to perform there.”
“Thanks, I hope so.” I said timidly.
He was going to say more when we heard the front door open, and footsteps clamor up the stairs. I moved hastily and shoved the mirror into one of my dresser drawers and wiped what little dust was left under my nose. There was a knock on my door.
“Austin,” Lily’s voice reached through the wooden door, “You here? I brought Darrian home from work, figured I should at least come in for a bit.”
“Yeah, yeah I’m here.” I said, calming slightly at the realization it wasn’t my mother or my brothers.
The door swung open, revealing Lily and Darrian in the threshold of the doorway, a slight outline form the hallway light gleaming behind them and casting a slight shadow. Darrian smiled at me and then his eyes latched onto something as if he’d seen a ghost. I looked where his eyes pointed, and was surprised to see Chet’s blue eyes glaring back at him.
“Chet.” Darrian said dryly, “It’s been a long time.”
“Sure has.” Chet replied, no emotion given away in his voice.
Michael and I stared at the two and Lily sighed, pulling off her jacket and throwing it to the floor without a care. The stare-down continued until Michael tapped Chet’s arm and signaled towards the door.
“Babe we need to go,” Michael said hastily, “I have PT tomorrow and Chet’s gotta work in the morning.”
He planted a quick kiss on my cheek and then half led/ half dragged Chet out of the room. Lily took a step out of the way and stared at them as they passed, her eyes seeming dark and irritable. Darrian moved out of the threshold and I saw Chet’s lips moved as they passed. I couldn’t make out the words, but they clearly weren’t good, seeing as Darrian turned bright red and turned around, ready to move towards them before Lily grabbed his shoulder.
“He isn’t worth it.” She said, her hands tightly woven against the fabric of Darrian’s polo shirt he had on from work.
“I know.” Darrian submitted, “But it would feel a hell of a lot better if I made him shut up.”
He pulled away from Lily without another word, and didn’t bother looking at me when he left for Zach’s empty room. The door slammed shut behind him and the loud sound of another down the hall booming shut could be heard seconds afterwards. Lily turned to me with a knowing look, I tried to scoot from her gaze but found myself unable to move out of some unfounded guilt over what had just happened.
“What in the hell do you think you’re doing Austin?” Lily asked sharply.
“What do you mean by that?” I asked, trying to play dumb. It didn’t work.
“Austin,” She said, the anger rising in her voice, “I’m not fucking stupid, I know Chet does drugs. I also happen to know he’s one of Michael’s best friends, and Michael has the ability to seemingly talk you into anything.”
“Lily I didn’t do-” I tried to lie.
“Do you really think I’m going to buy one of your lines of bullshit right now?” She snarled, “I know that you want to please Michael because he’s the only ‘man’ in your life that seems to matter anymore.”
“You’re being an idiot though,” She continued, throwing her hands up at me, “Drugs, Austin? Do you realize how much that can fuck up your life? It doesn’t matter if it makes Michael happy because it’ll kill you, if he actually gave a rat’s ass about you he wouldn’t be getting you to try this type of shit?”
“What the hell do you know about any of this?” I snapped back, “Quit preaching at me Lily, I’ll do what I want, and it’s MY decision.”
“Yeah it is your decision,” Lily threw her hands up as she spoke, “But I would think you wouldn’t act so much like your dad seeing as you seem to hate him so much. You whine about how he left you for drugs and you’re following right in his god-forsaken steps Austin!”
I felt like she had just slapped me. Hell, I wish she just would’ve slapped me at this point. The sting of her words knocked the feeling of invulnerability out of my body and made my mind come crashing down from my chemical fueled bliss.
“I am absolutely nothing like him,” I yelled, but my voice lacked any strength or confidence, “I can control this, I can stop any-”
“Austin, you sound like an addict,” Lily interrupted, “Hell, you even look like one right now. I love you, you know I do. That’s why I’m yelling at you, I don’t want my best friend to turn into- into THIS.”
I stopped and stared at her, and she glared back at me. That’s when it truly hit me that she was right. For the past few weeks I had complained and cried about my father and his decisions, yet here I was. Going down the same path he had been on when he left me. There was something else in Lily’s eyes, something she wasn’t telling me that was causing this anger. Then the obvious hit me.
“How does Darrian know Chet?” I asked
“Long story,” Lily said, picking her coat up off of the ground, “Go ask him yourself. He deserves an apology for having to see that snake anyways.”
She walked out of my room and out the door without another word, leaving me alone except for Darrian in the other room. I got up, feeling guilty for some reason about making Darrian hurt, he already had enough of that. The door to Zach’s room was closed, I knocked on the door gently and when there was no answer I turned the knob sheepishly and entered.
Darrian was on his knees at the edge of the bed, his forehead resting against the mattress and his hands folded and close to his heart. He was whispering something and as I got closer I was able to make out the words he was saying.
“Father help me through this time that I’m going through,” Darrian whispered, “I know there must be something you have planned that I can’t see, but this hurts so bad, and I don’t want to deal with all of this pain.”
“I’ve tried so hard to be faithful to you, and be a good friend, brother, and son, but everything is out of my control now.” His voice broke slightly as he spoke, “I know you’re in control though, and that’s the only thing that gives me any sense or feeling of hope. Please, don’t let Chet ruin my life anymore than he has. Help my family, and please, help Austin. I know he doesn’t believe in you, but he needs you. He needs to know someone loves him, because he won’t believe anyone down here. Amen.”
He stopped and sat up, still unaware of my presence. He wiped a small tear from his face and turned around, facing me and seeming a bit startled.
“I didn’t hear you come in.” He said.
“I came to say sorry.” I said, taking a place on the bed, “For you having to see me like that, and having to see Chet.”
“Thanks.” He said, sitting down next to me.
“How…” I began to ask, “How do you know Chet?”
There was a long pause before he began to speak. When he did, it seemed he had to draw strength to let the words slip from his mouth and be heard.
“We used to date,” He said, his voice edging on breaking, “That is until he cheated on me, and…”
He hesitated, and looked at me for reassurance. I nodded and put my hand on his shoulder.
“I found out he was the one that was selling my parents their drugs.” He finally managed to spit it out.
“He sold your parents their drugs?” I asked, hellishly alarmed, “How do you know? He’s only a teenager, how could he even get all that shit and not get caught?”
“He’s rich, Austin.” Darrian said flatly, “Money talks, he knows where to get it because his father knows where to get it. They both love cocaine, and if you know where to find cocaine then you can find heroin, and the fact that he’s a kid doesn’t mean anything. Youth doesn’t make you innocent, it just makes you look that way.”
“Holy shit…” I said, “Darrian, I swear, I didn’t know…”
“I know you didn’t,” He said, then added bluntly, “You just thought that the cocaine would be and innocent and so would he.”
I didn’t fight his accusation, I just sat there though. I didn’t look at him, hell, I couldn’t look at myself right now.
“It’s not though Austin.” He said, “It’ll kill you just as well as anything else will. So will all those pills and everything else. I hoped you wouldn’t fall into temptation like that, but I can’t say I wasn’t driven to the same at one point.”
I nodded wordlessly. Still looking down at my feet, when something else he said caught my attention, something I hadn’t addressed.
“You’re gay?” I asked.
“Yeah,” He said, cheeks flushing a little, “I tried to hide it, I didn’t need anything worse to come between me and my parents.”
“You still believe in God though?” I asked, curiously.
“There’s no reason not to,” He responded with a small smile, “God is no respecter of person. If he didn’t want me this way, he wouldn’t have made me this way. That’s all there is to it.”
I smiled at him, the tension seeming to have disappeared. A final detail though, stuck out in my mind.
“Who did Chet cheat on you with?” I asked.
Darrian turned pale at this question.
“You don’t want to know Austin,” He said, turning to where he didn’t have to face me, “You don’t want to know.”
I nodded, deciding that this private matter was something he probably didn’t wish to discuss, so I didn’t push the issue. We just sat there for a little bit. His hand on my shoulder and our secrets bared out.
“Whatever you decide to do Austin,” Darrian said, turning back to me, “I’ll always love you, and I know Lily feels the same. We just don’t want to see you go down this road.”
“I know Darrian.” I said, suddenly feeling tired and guilty, deciding to curl up under Zach’s blankets, “I just hope I don’t let you down, at least not again.”
“Austin,” Darrian said, crawling in next to me, “The people we love the most are always the ones that hurt us the worst. That doesn’t mean you stop loving them though. It just means you have to love them through whatever it is they’re dealing with.”
I nodded, and he pulled me into a hug. Wiping away tears I hadn’t realized were even there.