It’s a weird feeling, being completely numb all over. I roll out the bed and stand up. I can walk all right when I’m concentrating, but my legs feel all wobbly and ungainly, like they’re made out of rubber.
I stumble along the hallway, trying to be as quiet as possible. There’s a mirror on the wall near the kitchen and I catch sight of a gaunt, pale stranger with black, spiky hair, greying cheeks and pin-pupils in his eyes.
I look like I’ve been electrocuted, I think, and then shiver a little.
It’s like somebody left the heroin bottle out for me. It’s on the table, in the spotlight of the moon which filters through the window. I’d run to it with arms wide open if I wasn’t about to fall over anyway.
I know how easy it is to overdose, so I think I’ll take precautions. As I rifle through Michelle’s drawers looking for a teaspoon, a feeling in the back of my mind begins to nag me, telling me I’ve had enough already, I should just leave it alone. These vanish as soon as I find a teaspoon and hold it up, watching it glint in the moonlight.
I think I’ll take the heroin and the spoon to the bedroom, if I’m that worried about overdosing.
There’s another part of me that isn’t too bothered whether I do or not, the same part of me that was disappointed when I woke up. I struggle to the bedroom and lie down on the bed, and, with the bottle and the teaspoon next to me, I lie down, on the bed, my mind separate from my body.
Yes, I think sullenly, as I begin to drift from my numb body. This will be a typical death: the famous young band member dying from a drug overdose. I think I’ve always known I’d end like this, but then again, I used to also think that I’d never amount to much, and, well, I kind of have. At least, when I die, I won’t be forgotten in a hurry, and I kind of like it like that.
On the other hand, I haven’t contributed something great to humanity, I haven’t saved anyone’s life (but I’ve ended it), and I’ve spent most of my life either high or suicidal. Michelle’s right, I am an ungrateful and disappointing good-for-nothing. A very handsome good-for-nothing, if I may say so myself, but all the same, a good-for-nothing, and worse than useless.
I begin to think about Nancy again. It’s true we had a pact – we both hated life because it hated us. She’d said that if she committed suicide I should too, and vice versa. I don’t know if that pact – if it’s still relevant, I mean, I killed her – didn’t I?
It’s useless. I don’t know who did it. I know we fought that evening, and then we went off to do our own thing (mine was getting high). But then I fell asleep.
Can you stab someone in your sleep?
I think about it. If I’m going to die, all I have to do is take one more teaspoon of the stuff. I hoist myself up and look around the room. There’s a biro on the side and, in the drawer of one of Michelle’s cabinets, a bit of paper, which I hastily take. Shakily, and unclearly, I begin to write, a short note about the suicide pact, and how I have to keep my half of the bargain. I think I want to be buried – in my jacket and jeans and motorcycle boots.
Next to my baby, of course.
I scrunch up the little note and stuff it in my pocket. Then I shakily pour the heroin into the teaspoon and – take it.
For a little while nothing happens. After a long time – twenty minutes, I think – it becomes a bit harder to breathe.
I wonder what will happen when I die? I’ve never really believed in a God or an afterlife. Well, if there’s a God waiting for me, I can imagine I’ll be given a one-way ticket to Hell, for all the times I’ve lied and stole and fought my friends over this damned addiction. Yeah – the band’s all broken up now, McLaren isn’t happy because we were so famous – but it was Johnny who couldn’t take it any more. He couldn’t take me and my stupid heroin or McLaren and his stupid ideas for what we could do on stage. Despite not regretting anything on my part, it seems a shame that our friendship had to end with him throwing me out. But he was the lead singer, I guess he thought he could do whatever.
As for me, I’m left with nothing, not even anger. I’m not musically talented – I teach myself bass because I have to. I killed my own girlfriend and used all my share of band profits on drugs and groupies and I don’t hold my cutlery properly. And my name’s not even Sid – it’s John. John Ritchie. That’s what an ungrateful good-for-nothing sounds like, I suppose.
I can’t actually breathe any more. I’m actually choking, and even though I feel panic inside me, well, I’m beyond it. My mind’s somewhere else. The world is fading fast, too fast for twenty-one years.
I keep expecting to see angels or glowing lights at the end of tunnels or maybe even a glowing Nancy appearing by the bed and calling my name. But I don’t. I only feel my faint, slowing heartbeat and the rattling of each breath which feels like a fight in itself. And even those are fading.
The last thing I sense in this world is the sound of the front door opening, and footsteps coming down the hallway. My breathing’s stopped. The footsteps quickly fade too.
Not a single movement remains.
Not a sound.