The Implacable

It was February. I had just gotten back from Vermont. It had only been like a week, maybe. I hadn’t done much since I had been back, other than smoke cigarettes and worry about money.

It was so cold that winter that I only left my apartment to go see exhibitions of artists I didn’t know or to walk down to the corner store that sold Camel Lights for five bucks. I rarely went to the grocery store. I had started buying non-perishables in bulk, and I’d just eat some canned tuna or something when I was out of cigarettes.

All winter, my roommate would tell me I was going to die young if I kept this shit up. I would tell her this is how soldiers live in the Middle East, except it’s hot over there. Then I thought about how our situations were different—that is, mine and the soldiers’ situations. But, I mean, all of our situations are different. I often think about how judgement is counterproductive. Then I think about how much I dislike when people use the term ‘the human condition.’

One afternoon in the second week of February, I was sitting in a lawn chair, in my living room, drinking Café Bustelo and watching Cape Fear, and I went to look something up online. I think I wanted to find the name of an actor and then ended up going down an Internet rabbit hole. To get myself out, I checked my e-mail. A friend had e-mailed me while I was watching the movie, asking me if I wanted to work as a nanny…a “manny.” I said sure. I had never been a nanny (or a many) before, but I liked kids, and it seemed like the parents were rich, so I might not have to worry about money so much.

By the end of the third week of February, I had hung out with this kid for about a week. His name was Beckett, after Samuel Beckett. I felt this to be an audacious, yet ironic choice for a name, given his particular circumstance. His father was a highly medicated guy who was working on some new product to compete with some Apple product. His mother was a delusional ex-model who was fucking her delusional ex-boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend was a famous actor to some people, the way that The Cheesecake Factory is a fancy restaurant to some people. His grandmother was like Lucille Bluth, which was obviously fun, but impossible to deal with most of the time.

So my mornings were basically an awkward mix of personalities in the background, while I focused on trying to get Beckett to develop his own personality. Then I’d head home to Bed-Stuy while he was at some sort of pre-Montessori school or something. Then I’d take the J train back into the Financial District, where they lived, and would eat dinner and read with him while his parents were at couples counseling.

Soon, I realized that although Beckett was spending a good portion of his time in this cozy educational environment, his best friend was his mother’s greyhound. The weird thing though was that Beckett seemed scared of the dog and the dog seemed scared of everything. I didn’t get it.

On the last Friday of the month, I was sitting in the kitchen with them, talking to Beckett, and his mother called him over. She told him to sit on her lap and she took off her shirt and he started sucking her nipple. The grandmother watched.

I texted my friend, asking him what he thought I should do. His response: “IDK!”

I told the grandmother I didn’t feel well. She said she’d write me a check for my week’s work. She forged her daughter’s signature and I walked out the door and picked up momentum as soon as it shut behind me.

Once I got out of the elevator, I smoked a Camel Light and texted my friend back: “WTF?”

I started walking north, smoked two more cigarettes, sucking and puffing, until I got to the Whole Foods in Tribeca. I bought a tall boy of Modelo and ran to the bathroom and chugged it. I walked up to 8th Avenue and 14th Street and took the L train over to The Turkey’s Nest and drank Styrofoam Budweisers until there were no more basketball games on the television. A Polish guy told me I’d make a cute mascot. I said, “Thanks,” and started walking to Lorimer and Metropolitan.

The next night, I played a show at Death By Audio and a guy in the crowd said, “Dude, your band is totally like ‘Heroin Metal,’ bro.” I thanked him as if this was a real genre, although I thought it’d be cool if it was a real genre. In any case, I didn't know if this was a compliment or not, but he offered me a Camel Turkish Gold and I accepted, so some part of me thought we had connected. I drank shitty whiskey all night because it was February in Brooklyn, and the heroin guy was buds with the bartender. The girl who played after us was wearing overalls and sang about chicken hearts. I told her I liked her music. She said she thought it was boring.

I think most people in their early twenties are just trying to avoid boredom or death. I avoided drugs, most of the time. But shortly after I turned 21, I took too many mushrooms.

I ran into an old friend on summer break, between my junior and senior years of college. I think I saw him at a shitty bar in Coraopolis or something and he was like, “Hey bro, long time, no see. Let me get your number.” So I gave him my number. The next night, he called me up and was like, “Meet me at the same place tonight.” So I did.

We ended up at some awful party in a concrete basement close to where we went to high school. Some guy with lots of gel in his hair, wearing a matching white Puma polo shirt and white Puma tennis shoes, showed up and was like, “Hey, you guys want some shrooms?” My friend was like, “Fuck yeah. How much you got?” The Carson Daly looking motherfucker was like, “Yo, I got like a bag.” I didn’t know how much was in a bag, so I was like, “Do we need that much?” They were both like, “Yeah, bro.”

I had already drank like a six pack of Yuenglings and some girl wearing sweatpants had asked me twice if I wanted to fuck, so I asked my friend if we could leave. He told me he had just thought of the best place for us to do the shrooms: Erie, Pennsylvania. So we got into his green Ford Escort and he gave me a handful of shrooms, and I started chewing on them as we were merging onto I-79 North. He was like, “Dude, you were only supposed to take half now. The other half was for later.” I was like, “Well, why didn’t you just give me half now and half later?” He shrugged his shoulders and was like, “I’ll take the same amount so we’re even.”

By the time I had seen a sign for Moraine State Park, I was feeling limp and lethargic, and asked if we could go look at nature. He was like, “Fine, but we’ll never make it to Erie if we stop.” I said I was fine with that.

As I was smoking a cigarette and watching what I thought was a strobe light in the forest, I could hear some arguing in the background. Prior to this, I was starting to feel like I was at a Koreatown massage parlor. At this point, I felt like I was at a Chinatown massage parlor.

I tried to get away from the incessant bickering, so I took elongated steps for about twenty yards or so. I imagined Mr. Bean. Then I imagined my grandmother. Then I laughed and sank down to the ground. The grass on which I had chalk outlined myself was slightly damp, there was a waterfall in the distance, and the strobe light was still blinking. Life was mellow again.

Then my friend and this other asshole came over and told me we had to leave. I was like, “Why do we have to leave?” And the asshole took a puff of a joint and was like, “Because I’m bored.” And I was like, “Who the fuck are you?” And he was like, “Dude, I’m his friend” and pointed to my friend. And I was like, “Oh. Oh, yeah.” I had completely forgotten that he had come with us, and that he was actually the one who was driving the Escort, since my friend and I were both on shrooms. I was like, “Right. Cool. Well, thanks for driving us, man. But I don’t want to leave.” And he was like, “Well, I don’t want to leave you here either. But I’m fucking bored, man.” I said, “Well, shit, man” and walked over to the car, and they followed me.

My friend asked me, “Hey, do you still want to go to Erie?” and I was like, “I don’t know, man. What’s in Erie? I really liked that waterfall.” And his friend was like, “Let’s just go back to that party. There were some pretty hot girls at that party.” And I was like, “No way. They were all wearing sweatpants.” And he was like, “I know. Sweatpants come off easier.” And I was like, “Can you please pull over? I feel sick.” When I got out of the car, I started walking down the shoulder of I-79 South. They noticed what was happening and ran after me, picked me up, and put me in the backseat of the car.

As we kept driving, the asshole kept smoking weed. I told him it was giving me a headache. He said, “Weed doesn’t give headaches. It cures headaches. Maybe you drank too many beers,” and turned up the same AC/DC CD we had been listening to since we left the party in the first place.

After a while, I started thinking about what would happen if we got pulled over and the cops smelled the stench of weed on us all, and then saw all of my friend’s shrooms. Then I started thinking about what my parents would do if they got a call from the cops telling them I was passed out in the backseat of a car being operated by a stoned meathead. Then I passed out.

When I woke up, I thought I was pissing my pants and I freaked out. I began yelling at the two in the front to let me out. The asshole was like, “Dude, the last time we let you out, you started walking down the highway…” and I was like, “I know, but I’m pissing my pants…you’ve got to let me out!” My friend was like, “No way, man. You’re just being neurotic. That happens on shrooms sometimes. And you’re super neurotic in the first place. And you took way too many. I weigh twice as much as you. You’re going to be okay though. Don’t worry.” I yelled again, “Let me out!” They finally pulled over, let me out, and told me to stand in front of the car.

They shined the headlights on me and my friend said, “See…you didn’t piss yourself…you’re just freaking out.” I looked down and my pants were dry. I replied, “Whatever. I really need to piss now. I’m going to walk over there and take a piss.” I walked over to the guard rail, pulled out my penis, and started to piss. Well…I thought I had begun to piss. Then, all of a sudden, my friend put me into a headlock and was like, “Dude, what the fuck…?” As he dragged me toward the car, my feet dragged against the gravel, and my penis hung out, peeking through the opening in my boxer briefs. Apparently, I had been standing at the guard rail, sleeping with my dick out for about ten minutes, and they were both so high, they hadn’t noticed for that length of time, until one of them came to and were like, “Dude, what are we doing?”

At one point, as we were in the parking lot of a Sheetz, I realized I probably looked like one of those questionably homeless middle-aged men wearing brand new sneakers, usually New Balances, and talking to themselves in college towns throughout the United States. It was at this point, when I asked them if we could just go back to my friend’s house and play video games. We picked up some 64-ounce bottles of Gatorade on the way there, and played X-Box until the shrooms wore off. I fell asleep around 8 or 9 in the morning. We woke up around noon and drove to the local Kmart. We walked around the aisles until we were hungry and then we went to Eat ’n Park to get pancakes.

Later that day, I met another friend at the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill. I feel like we saw X-Men: The Last Stand, but I can’t imagine that place showing that film. Whatever film we saw was pretty good though. After the movie, we got milkshakes and went to her place to watch the World Cup championship. It was the championship game when Zidane head-butted that Italian prick. I was super conflicted about his decision, and I was still feeling pretty crummy about mine the night before.

After France lost, I felt really confused. For some reason, I started to suspect my girlfriend at the time was going to break up with me. As I was beginning to mention this to my friend, her phone started to ring. A friend asked if we wanted to go see Cat Power play at some park on the other side of the city. I said, “Sure. Why not?” I drove us over to the park and we watched old people dance to Chan Marshall and her blues band. I started to feel really depressed and I decided I never wanted to do drugs again.

A month later, I was back in Pittsburgh again, and another friend of mine drove me back to Rutgers. He was from Slippery Rock. Slippery Rock is about fifteen minutes away from Moraine State Park. A few months after that, I got jumped by a few guys who looked like “The Situation” from The Jersey Shore. They almost killed me. A week after that, I got into a car accident and almost died again. One morning, as it was getting closer to springtime, I was lying in my girlfriend’s bed, watching Drowning By Numbers. After the movie ended, we broke up. The following week, two of my best friends and I each drank a bottle of Robitussin. I was beginning to feel like an implacable character in a novel, and in a few months, I’d start to feel the effects of my middle-brow arc.