Tzvi's Trees: Stories About Weed
Story 13: An urgency in the night
by Tzvi Peckar the Third
There was a sense of urgency to the night. Last night. Now it was morning. The mornings were darker than the nights to Collins. The spiked hands of the timepiece on the wall spun slicing diamonds into his eyes. Collins couldn't open the door. His grip was slippery when wet—even more moist and humid after his older brother, Michael, went on a misunderstood rant spitting in Collins face about cold cuts and sour pickles. Collins was soaked to the bone. Fragile he was not. He was milk toast to his own uncertainty. A door is not like the pores of the human’s skin. If they were, Collins would have easily seeped through the wooden door to the outside world once again. He would have been part of the community.
The first sound came from the closet. A thump. Something must have fallen, but Collins had left that room empty. He always believed that if a door was attached to hinges then there was an actual room on the other side. This closet had a door. He kept that room empty. Nothing could have fallen. There was no sound. The room was empty. Ignore it. It did not happen. A ricochet of sound. That’s what it was. From outside. Maybe just his heart? It was beating particularly fast this evening, this morning. He had been tense lately. Collins ignored the thump. He put the thought of the sound aside and began his business restocking the columns of newspapers that cut narrow halls through his three bedroom apartment on the second floor of the partial high-rise. He hated heights, but hated the first floor even more. He had noticed that somehow a few of the columns had tumbled over and spread loose pages along the floor. Did that happen yesterday? The days have started to melt into one another. Mother had left the apartment to him in her passing. That’s what he remembered anyhow. He’s still a little fuzzy about all of that.
The closet was where Mother hung their school jackets when they were young. Michael would always push his way in first. He was older. Stronger. This had lead Michael to believe that the harder he was on his baby brother, the stronger Collins would become. Instead, Collins was repressing a deep harrowing vengeance in his stomach. That gut rage of knots hasn't changed since Mother's passing; in fact it has grown substantially like a cancer on the soul. But then again, all of that is still a little fuzzy.
“Mother's in the mattress,” he would joke to himself with each newspaper he restocked—School shootings, child rapists, broken borders—“Mother's in the mattress,” and then he’d giggle. THUD! Another sound. This one from the kitchen, but he hasn't cooked in weeks, probably months. Collins rarely used absolutes when thinking about time. The nights have begun to melt together as well. Didn't matter. A second sound is a sound to be alarmed about. Maybe it was his girlfriend, but he didn’t have a girlfriend, did he? Maybe it was Michael? Maybe Michael never really left? Collins had no choice. He had to go to the sound. He forced himself to creep—carefully—to his cooking quarters which had a three paneled, paint chipped swinging door—A door his sweaty palms could potentially open because there was no knob to slip up on. He stabbed the center of his palm with the needle he kept pinned to his shirt. He used this metal tool to help wake him up from the dream he thought he was constantly trapped in. He bled. He wasn’t dreaming. Fuck.
There was nothing on the other side of this kitchen door. Collins was sure of that. Was he sure of that? What he wasn't sure of was how horrifying the nothing could be. Would it be the oven silently leaking gas into his home? Maybe an electrical fire behind the busted refrigerator? Couldn’t be the rotting fingers in the cupboard tapping against the cereal boxes to be set free—They can’t move?—And the nothing scraped along the inside of Collins’ skin, and he knew fear.
CRACK! - This time below him; under the splintered hardwood planks. "To the sea with you," whispered his brother into his kindergarten ears before submerging Collins into the full bath of scalding water. He couldn't breathe. Never held his breath before. Collins hadn’t ever even swam in a pool before—let alone an ocean—he screamed and swallowed. Bath water, swirled in soap scum, bubbles, dirt, grime, and blood that had spilt from his own nostrils all vacuumed up into his small child lungs and Michael pulled his baby brother from the bath, laughing. Collins was rushed to the hospital by the neighbor. “He slipped,” said Michael. “I slipped,” Collins agreed, out of sheer fright.
Collins let the kitchen door close back into place. Gently. Don’t startle the sounds. Gently Collins. Close it slow. He was not going in there. He wasn't going anywhere. He was going to wait for another sound before he let his guard down. Something, someone, was in here with him—Somewhere. Maybe he left the window open last night? Michael had him in such a stir after flushing his medication down the toilet, that he may have opened the window to cool down? He wouldn’t. That would be insane. Collins had been suicidal before, but an open window, he would have had to be fully out of his skull to do that. He wasn’t crazy. He had gone crazy before—In 7th grade—Michael put Acid in his sandwich. Collins never forgot those twisted 72 hours. It was a Wednesday. Collins was already a recluse by junior high school. He sat alone at the far end of the cafeteria beside the trashcan. At the least he got a little human contact when the kids would come by to scrape their leftovers into the dumpster. Mom made salami on white. He felt something odd in his mouth. Something from the sandwich was not breaking up. He bit and ground with his molars, but to no end. He remembered salivating on his new button up Mom bought him at the department store. Collins used his tongue to find the sticky pieces against his gums and used his grubby fingers to peal them off. Paper? Two small squares and twenty minutes later all hell broke loose burning fires of dismembering youth into his pupils. He saw into everyone and everything. He saw the blood, and felt the inside of all of their flesh. Flesh that smothered him into a cocoon of fluid that ate its way through his own skin like the acid he had ingested. The counselor’s never blamed Collins’ oddness on the bad trip. They contributed his delusions on a predisposition from his father's side—His fatherhanged himself in the coat closet when the boys were barely in preschool. Collin's found his father’s blue, bloated, naked body hung and swaying over the feces that had dropped upon the death. Michael pushed Collins inside with Dad. Michael locked the door to the room.
RIP! Another sound. A different sound—Rip, rip, Snap, snap, Crank—He batted his head left—look—then right, listen. There is a lunatic tearing fabric in here, in this apartment, Mother’s apartment. Scratch. It’s an uneven scratch that gets caught up on its self. Collins buried his face into his palms. Pressed his eyes deeper into his skull. Must focus on where it’s coming from. Listen Collins—For G-d's sake listen for once. Crank. Crank. Something metal revolved on itself. Metal scrapping and tangled against rusted springs. The sounds of fucking from the bedroom. This is too much. Is Dad having sex with Mother? Why do they leave the door open? Michael’s got another girl in there doesn’t he? No,Michael’s gone…but the fucking…it’s too loud…sounds so violent—Collins closed himself in the closet to get away.
He thought it had been long enough. It had been two, possibly three hours since he heard a sound from outside this room, this closet. He felt close to his father’s absence. Protected. But it was time to be a man again. You have to go out there. Not all the way, but you can’t stay here. Remember what happens to people when they stay in in this room. They turn blue. They fill with air and water. They shit themselves. Then they take you. They zip you up in a black plastic bag. They take you to the morgue. Your family will have to identify you. Then they burn you Collins. They burn your flesh off and set your ashes on the TV because that's where dead people go. That's where dead people go Collins, dead people. On TV. Broken TVs that never play shows.
That’s where dead people go. That’s where dead people go to die. That’s for dead people. Big blue bloated dead people Collins. Dead. People.
Collins burst from the closet door. He tripped over his own feet. The tumble sent his malnourished skeleton of a figure into a tower of newspapers. They spilt everywhere. He scrambled to his feet. Used the stack of papers to keep his balance. This column fell as well. His socked feet scattered the loose pages. He turned back towards the closet. The door was wide open. The inside of the closet—dark, empty. Empty. A void. Empty. Father had been taken away. Father was on the TV, dead. He could only imagine what it felt like to suffocate to death. He could only fathom a knife in his back from his own brother—That fucking brother of his—That brother that locked him the closet with Dad—That fucking brother that took him to a hooker with warts and gonorrhea when he was eighteen.
“You’re a retard. This is the only way you’ll get laid,” Michael had said pushing Collins through the graffiti covered door of the back alley prostitute shop.
Collins had to take a month’s dose of antibiotics. Puss. Puke. Sickness. Fear. Puke and Vomit. All the same. It’s all just the same. Everyone is a disease.
That fucking brother that…SNAP! Something’s snapped. Snap. Again. Came from the bedroom. That’s where that one came from; this Collins knew for sure. One foot at a time like the therapists taught him. Slowly sliding his socks along the hardwood floor. Wouldn’t want to make a sound. Wears socks to prevent splinters. If the bedroom hears his footsteps it’s all over; he’ll never catch the culprit.
Sweat poured from his hair. He could taste the salt on his lips. One foot at a time. Slide. Slide. The bedroom door was firmly closed. When had he closed it? Remember Collins—Did you or didn’t you close the door? “I can’t remember,” he said aloud then shushed his self, whispering, “Shut up you numbskull. You’re going to get us both punished.”
Both? Who was he talking too? Wait. Who’s talking to me? So much sound, but he’s alone. He is always alone. Not even a dog or a rat. Probably just roaches. Yeah, roaches. Bedbugs and roaches. That’s what spoke to him…scratch that…that’s what sounds like snapping popcorn behind that bedroom door. He had to open it. No time to hesitate. They might escape. They might just scatter and come back tomorrow. If they come back tomorrow then they’ll be back in week, then a month— Won’t leave him alone for years. He couldn’t handle that much company. One’s enough. He, himself, and I. The arm had begun to itch. The sweat had created a heat rash. Last time he broke out in a rash Michael taught him how to use an iron. “Here. This will make you forget about the itches,” Michael said as he had placed the scalding hot iron on Collins teenage old shoulder.
After the bedroom door—After the door he’ll tend to the iron and itches. After the bedroom door—Life will get back to normal. Peace will prevail. After this door…and the knob turned in his sweaty palm and he opened it, slowly. Opened to the dimly lit room; light that crept in from aged holes in the window shade. Two twin beds pressed up against each other. Covered in dirt-sweat sheets pulled tight like the military. The white pillowcases are stained with grease and the windows are consistently fogged from the trapped moisture in the room. The mold has blotched and spotted the inside of the glass. Even the wallpaper has begun to peal from the humidity. Collins saw no bugs. He had a sudden sense of calm—A calm that rushed upon him like that of a lightning storm from the eye of a hurricane. A calm so bombastic it was completely silent. The nerves under his mind sparked out of control. His neck was irritatingly numb from the pain. The tearing tightness along his spine pulled open his rib cage. His heartbeat was not thumping. He could not feel his heart. Who could care about any of that when things were so loud they were quiet. When things are were—CRACK! STAB! FUMBLE AND TUMBLE! BEAT! BEAT! BEAT! CHOKE HIM! CHOKE THAT MUTHER FUCKER! CHOKE AND GAG! GAG ON THAT SHIT YOU FUCK FACE PILE OF DOG FUCK! SQUEEZE THAT NECK! TIGHTER! HE’S STILL PANTING! SHUT UP! SHUT UP MIKE! RIP! TEAR! FLESH! FLESH RIGHT OFF THE BONE! FUCK YOU! YOU DON’T OWN ME! CUT HIS FINGERS OFF! SCRAMBLE! TRAMBLE! KICK! GOT ONE! THE INDEX! SUCKER! KICK HIM! IN THE BALLS! STEP ON HIS BALLS! STEP! USE YOUR HEEL! YES! YES! BREAK THOSE BALLS! BREAK EM! STOP MOVING! DIE ALREADY YOU FUCK! DIE!—and then there was a real knock at the door. Collins whipped his head around to look out the doorway of the bedroom. His mind said no more. He stared at the front door in utter fear. That sound was real.
“Who is it?” Collins asked.
He should have cut his own vocal chords out last night. Yeah, that was the biggest mistake. Talking to the walls was useless and going out in public was disgusting. Germs everywhere. Antibiotics. Puss. Gag. Vomit. It was all the same. Everyone is a disease. That would have kept him quiet. No more vocal chords. Maybe tomorrow. Then another knock at the door. Two knocks to be exact. He counted them. Knock, “One.” Knock, “Two.” They must not have heard his request. He had asked nicely enough. They wouldn’t ignore him now would they, but then again—Tomorrow he’ll use Father’s old pliers and rip out his larynx. Collins had been ignored before. Father didn’t say shit when he was hanging in the closet by his neck. Father wouldn’t even help him open the door. Dad just hung there like a bloated whale with his dick shriveled up into his abdomen.
“Who is it?” Collins asked with more conviction.
“Susan. Your neighbor,” said the voice behind the door.
Collin’s took another moment to consider this real sound. A woman’s voice from the hallway. The long room on the outside of the apartment door. The hallway that has even more doors. More rooms. Rooms within rooms. The same hallway that leads to the stairs and the elevator. The same stairs and elevator that lead to the first floor—The first floor that leads through the lobby to the glass doors that lead to the street. The street where people ooze with disease.
He could see her fattened face through the peephole. Susan’s a pasty faced, black haired, blood red lipstick vampire that has been kind to him in the past. She has never bothered him during the day before. Susan usually checks on Collins after dark. What time is it? It is dark outside. The day is over. Maybe the sounds will finally stop. Maybe Collins won’t have to kill her after all. Collins couldn’t kill Susan. Collins couldn’t hurt a fly. “Eat it!” Michael pressed the jar of insects into Collins teeth, “EAT IT!”
“Happy Halloween,” Susan called from behind the door. She held up a single cupcake with orange frosting, a pumpkin decorated toothpick lodged in its head, and cherry blood syrup that curled out from the puncture, “I brought you something. Open up.”
Susan was patient. It always took Collins three to five minutes to gather the nerve to open his front door. “What is it?” he asked, sweat dribbling from his matted hair onto his floor mat; the remaining hair that he hadn’t pulled out yet. “It will keep things quieter for you tonight Collins,” she said gently placing the cupcake into his palm, “It’s Halloween. You know how loud it gets on Halloween.”
“I just eat it?”
“Yes. Just eat it.”
“Relax. Watch TV or something.”
But that’s where you go when you die. Collins was nervous again. The TV? Maybe Collins would do something else.
“Is it poisonous?”
“No baby. It’s marijuana. Trust me, you’ll feel better.”
“I’m okay. Thank you?” he said looking down at the dessert in his palm. He thought about stabbing his other palm with the needle, but then she wouldn’t leave. Wait until she leaves. Then you can decide if you want out of the dream or not.
“You get some rest. I’m going out. I won’t be around until the morning—I can’t check up on you tonight. Eat it. You’ll feel better.”
“Tomorrow night I’ll see how you liked the cupcake. Say hello to Michael and Mother for me.”
“Happy Halloween, sweetie,” she said giving him a simple peck on the cheek and leaving as soon as Collins closed the door, locked all three deadbolts, and strung the chain.
Maybe I should make some soup? Collins looked at the cupcake in his hand. You better do what she said. Yes Collins, that’s the best idea. Eat the cupcake. Marijuana? What is it? I thought you smoke marijuana. Try a bite. She said it is good for you. Collins took a small bite, a nibble. It’s good. Chocolate and vanilla. A strange bitter taste too it. Herbal. He licked the icing from his upper lip. Sugar. No real taste to the sugary dyed orange cream. He took another bite. Bigger than the first. Then another. And another. Two more until he completed the trick or treat and went to the window that he was sure he had mistakenly cracked open, but no it was safely locked tight. Outside on the streets he followed the ghosts and goblins with his twitchy eyes. Creeps and Killers scattered around cars and approached doorsteps. He heard nothing. The cupcake had already begun to work. Collins took a deep breath. That felt good. The breath stayed inside this time. No more panting. Take another breath Collins. Ah, relief in his chest. The ribs have slide back into place. His eyes are heavy. Maybe it’s time for bed. You’re plenty tired Collins. Go to sleep. Lie down and drift away. No more lies tonight. No one is in here. You are safe. No more lies tonight. Just go to the bedroom and relax.
He grabbed the lump of a comforter from the blood stained, brown carpet of the bedroom and draped it along the two twin beds. Collins crawled in. Covered his head. Cried. Felt better. Laughed. Cried about laughing. Heard nothing. The cupcake is doing the trick. He really did feel calm and relaxed. The lumpy mattresses were barely moving under him tonight. The tearing of the two sets of human fingernails from inside the beds were highly muted. The scrapping of the rusted springs pressed against the open skull bone of Mother and Michael fighting to get free from inside the mattresses are almost soothing—and the gurgling of their lungs filled with fluid and phlegm sound less like death rattle now that he’s stoned. I believe Collins will get a good nights rest tonight. And tomorrow? Well tomorrow if it gets too bad, he’ll just move the mattresses to the closet already. Six months is long enough. Time to learn how to sleep alone. Then they’ll come and take Michael and Mother away. They’ll burn their flesh and put them on the TV with Dad. Tomorrow. “Goodnight Mom,” Collins said, “Fuck you Michael.” And Collins fell fast asleep into a real dream.
Happy Halloween from SmokingCannabis.com & Tzvi Peckar the Third.
This Story is brought to you in part by BLDNG the movie. Watch BLDNG super high and for free on youtube
all October and into November. DVD available on Amazon.com