Falling From the Sky

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Dear Reader, This PDF contains the entire text of Falling From the Sky, an anthology that includes 37 different authors. It may be distributed freely via P2P, your website, or any other digital means. Please do not modify it in any way. If you love this book please consider contributing directly to the authors or purchasing a professionally printed bound edition at: http://www.anothersky.org/in-print/falling-from-the-sky-anthology/ 100% of profits from this book are distributed as royalties to those directly involved in making it happen. You may print this PDF for personal use. Another Sky Press Thank you, Another Sky Press www.anothersky.org read free : support what you loveFalling From the Sky An Anthology Edited by Craig Quackenbush Cover art by Chris Roberts Another Sky Press Portland, Oregonread free : support what you love www.anothersky.org Printed in the United States of America ISBN 0-9776051-2-4 First Edition, April 2007 Copyrights held by the individual authors Used with Permission Contact information for authors can be found at http://www.anothersky.org/in-print/falling-from-the-sky-anthology/ Contact Craig Quackenbush at craiganothersky.org Cover artwork copyright 2007 Chris Roberts Contact Chris Roberts at deadclownart.com Design and layout by Kristopher Young Contact Kristopher at kristopheranothersky.org Another Sky Press logo by Steven Spikoski Contact Steven at stevenspikoski.com Another Sky Press logo variant (back cover) by Ryan Scott Contact Ryan at ryanscottdesigns.com GF Halda Normal font by Lorenz Goldnagl Used with Permission Contact Lorenz at http://www.goldnagl.at Falling From the Sky brought to you by Another Sky Press P.O. Box 14241 Portland, Oregon 97293 anothersky.org All Rights Reserved 2007 Please contact individual authors to request specific permissionsDear Reader, Another Sky Press is a non-traditional publishing company located in Portland, Oregon. We operate under a progressive publishing and distribution paradigm that aims to directly benefit both audience and author. The entire text of this novel is available for free online with a contribution requested but not required. We believe you, the reader, should be able to decide the value of art. You may also purchase a trade paperback of this novel directly from our website at a sliding scale price that you set: the fixed third-party printing and shipping costs plus an optional contribution. This allows you to decide how much the authors and publishing team earn by contributing at a level that is comfortable to you both ethically and financially. Removing middlemen such as bookstores and distributors (which can account for over half the cover price) allows us to ensure that significantly more money actually goes to the authors per book sale. If you came across your copy of this book via a library, used book store or friend please consider contributing directly to the authors at our website. This promotes passing along a book when you’re finished with it (thus saving trees) while still allowing each reader to compensate the author if they choose. 100% of the profits from this book are distributed as royalties to the authors and individuals directly involved in making it happen. Embrace the future. Support that which you love. Thank you, Another Sky Press www.anothersky.org psst pass it on.Falling Upwards It was the last story. I was deep into one long weekend in March—on the couch with music in the background and blanket draped over my shoulders. I stretched. Leaned back. The editing for Falling From the Sky was done. It didn’t—it doesn’t—seem real. Over the course of several months, a great deal of time and effort went into this anthology. These stories, and this anthology, have become a part of me. I first discovered Another Sky Press back in the Spring of 2006. The concepts behind the press instantly struck a chord—it was a new kind of publishing paradigm and I wanted in. I offered my services as an editor and suggested a short story anthology. It would give us the opportunity to showcase an ensemble of writers, each with their own voice. In a burst of inspiration, the title came to me—Falling From the Sky. It summed up everything I wanted this anthology to be—a collection of prose from beyond the mainstream, tumbling into the Press and onto the printed page. The stories filtered in from across the globe, the hearts and minds of dozens of people combining into something wonderfully diverse and imaginative, worlds within worlds. In these pages you will find an eclectic assortment of short stories. You will find from-the-street realism and gritty surrealism. There are tales of heartbreak and loss, levity and whimsy, and the search for higher meaning. These authors and their stories fell directly into our lives here at Another Sky. And your occasionally humble editor couldn’t be more grateful. —Craig Quackenbush, Editor read free : support what you love www.anothersky.orgContents Reflecte d John Hines Jr. 001 I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas Tony O'Neill 009 Night Time Is the Right Time Mallory Small 015 A Regular Passage to the New Fiction Scott Wayne Indiana 023 To Waltz Kristina Jung 029 Camera Shy Henry Baum 033 Pillowcase Sherry Bryan 041 Red Janis Butler Holm 045 Family Dinner Daniel Scott Buck 047 Slipping Away Lindsay Bull 053 Stirred By A Passion Greg Gerding 057 World With A View Joe Shipley 061 Plastic Meow Chris Roberts 065 Taking Back Tom Kirsty Carse 079 Untitled Anonymous 085 The 838 Santi Elijah Holley 087 God on Television Carlton Mellick III 097 Drown Gina Ranalli 107 For You Marcela Albornoz 113 Outside Bradley Sands 115 Glimmer Steve Quinlan 121 Consumerism Jeremy Robert Johnson 125 Ending Children Play Matthew Pendleton 131The Jukebox Started Playing Another The Jukebox Started Playing Thorogood Song Mark Brittenburg 137 Another Thorogood Song Dumpster Meat Tom Thompson 151 Guerrilla Sex Generation Kenji Siratori 155 Abduction, Again Janis Butler Holm 157 Death In Large Numbers Stephen J. Anderson 159 A Particle Is Born David Borthwick 173 The Photographer Kristopher Young 183 For No One (Why Did It Die?) Greg Gerding 191 Thirty-Something Blues LeRoy K. May 195 The Waiting Room Madhvi Ramani 203 Jesus In The Driveway Sherry Bryan 209 Necrowave Oven Kevin L. Donihe 217 Nightmare Dreamscape Agni Kudra 227 You Get Nothing and You Like It Daniel Scott Buck 233 She Is His Story Paul Lumsdaine 235 Fuel Reno J. Romero 249 Thornbinding Kate Holden 251 Christmas Day Brad Listi 253 This Is Me Marcela Albornoz 265 Millicent Chris Roberts 269 Rocky Mountains Henry Milton 275 We Have Waited Santi Elijah Holley 277 Wilt Gina Ranalli 2898Reflected John Hines Jr. From what I can see of the level meter, I am being recorded. That’s the best I can hope for at this point, so I won’t worry about it. It’s not like I’m going to say anything profound which needs to be entered into the historical record for the twenty-first century. I probably won’t even say anything worth repeating. Alas. I figure I’ve got about twenty minutes before things get so bad I won’t be able to continue. Not to worry, I’ve already taken care of the important things. Now I’m just waiting. To my family and friends, I love you. I know it’s probably too little, too late, but it is what it is. I could spend the next few minutes talking about the past and how much fun I had with each of you, but I’m not going to. I’d rather spend the time trying to explain how I got to this point and why I did what I did. Maybe something good can come out of this mess. I wasn’t in the dorm when Michael Scoggins first concocted morphete. I wasn’t even in the state. By the time I got back from the Thanksgiving holiday, word of the new drug had spread to the entire campus: staff, faculty, and all. That was, what, two months ago? Yeah, that’s right. Seems longer. Anyway, I wasn’t here that night. But my roommate had scored. Not a stash of the stuff, but the recipe itself. It was easy to make and Todd was on his second batch when I showed up. I didn’t know what he was doing. There were boxes of medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, and pool chemicals spread all around the room. The table was clear, except for two glass bowls, and a box of coffee filters. Todd was stirring some disgusting-looking stuff in one of the bowls. I remember the way he smiled at me when I walked into the room. Perfectly content. Just a hint of amusement. All of my frustration with the mess melted in his smile. “What is it?” I asked. “What’s going on?” read free : support what you love www.anothersky.org 1“Expansion of the mind,” Todd said. “Better living through chemistry.” Todd finished the batch and poured it through the coffee filters. He began hanging the filters up to dry. I helped him with this, seizing the opportunity to probe for more information about the nature of his experiment. He said he couldn’t explain it, but that I had to try it. Todd held a small bowl of purple powder out to me. “Take just a pinch and sprinkle it on your tongue. Just a touch.” Now, I’d tried a couple of mind-altering substances before this. Ecstasy, pot, and everybody’s friend, Mr. Beer. So, I wasn’t exactly reluctant, but something in that smile made me think of an old Twilight Zone episode. I should have known. I put my fingers into the powder and pinched a little. The grains were large, like sand or sugar. Crystalline. I tilted my head back and let it fall onto my tongue. Nothing happened. I looked at Todd. “What?” I asked. “You’ll see.” He laughed as if this was the funniest joke in the world. Looking back, I guess it was pretty funny. I still didn’t feel anything. It tasted kind of like I would expect powdered pickles to taste. Not bad, but not something I’d eat just for the flavor. I waited, but still nothing happened. “How long do I have to wait?” “Any minute now,” Todd said. That same knowing smile was on his face. I got busy cleaning up the room. I cleared a pile of empty boxes and was reaching for a box of children’s cough drops when it happened. I was looking at the familiar package and then I was seeing something else entirely. “Now?” I nodded. I looked at the box. I could see it. All of it. Every single detail. The crisp detail of the logo, the depressions in the cardboard where the expiration date had been stamped. The bulge in the end of the box where the flap had been glued shut. I could see beyond that, too. There were hills and valleys in the paper surface of the box, tiny imperfections in the plane which weren’t normally visible. A vast landscape which had never been fully explored. I forced my eyes to refocus on the box as a whole. It appeared different than it had before. Now the pristine white surface was cut and sliced by lines and arcs of color. I don’t know how long it 2took me to realize what I was seeing. The patterns were reflections of the things in the room: the table’s surface, the bottles and jars on the counter, even my own face, all reflected mish-mash on the rough and uneven surface of this simple white box. I must have stared at the box for a long time. “Ray?” Todd whispered. “You okay?” “Yeah,” I said. I think I said. I may have screamed it. My ears hurt from the sound. It was as if my voice had been amplified through the world’s loudest PA. I flinched and closed my eyes. I heard a loud, wet squishing sound. It was disgusting. I opened my eyes to see what Todd had done. I heard it again. The sound was the blinking of my eyes. “Don’t worry,” Todd whispered. “This stage passes quickly.” Every stimulus for all of my senses was suddenly raised to an intensity I’d never considered. Sounds I’d never heard before were suddenly clear: a buzzing from the light bulbs, the hum of the cell phone in my pocket, the rumble of a thousand footsteps in the hallways, all layered together and served to my unprepared ears. And the sights I could see details that should have been visible only under a strong magnifying glass. I could feel little pinpricks from the imperfections in the fabric of my clothes. I could feel individual bands of elastic in the waistband of my underwear. And the smells. Oh god, the smells were awful. My cologne was overpowering, and beneath that, I could smell my own body, and beneath that, I could smell the inside of my own nose. I fell onto the couch and gripped my head. I shut my eyes, covered my ears and tried not to breathe. The sensory overload was too much. I moved as little as possible. But nothing I did could assuage my taste buds. I could taste bits of the cheese pizza I’d had for dinner. I could taste the fries I’d had with lunch. Behind that, I could taste the toothpaste from that morning and behind that there was the sulfur from the bacteria growing in my mouth. I became nauseated. And just as it had come, the sensation was gone. Suddenly I was back to normal. Normal? Not quite. But close. “What happened? What the hell?” “Sensory upgrade,” Todd said. “That’s what people are calling it. You feel normal, right?” 3I breathed in through my nose and looked around. I nodded. “Yeah, I seem to be.” “You’re not, though. Look out the window. What do you see?” “Nothing.” It was true. There was nothing to see. It was dark out, and we live at the end of the street. “Keep looking. Try looking at the edges of the glass.” I did. There was nothing there. Then there was. Little bands of color. It was beautiful. Trapped at the edge of the glass, near the bottom and the right-hand edge, was a razor-thin band of color. All the colors. Not a rainbow, not separate color sections. Just color, leaking out of the glass, coming through all at once. “What is it?” I asked. “Reflected light from down the street. It’s faint, but you can see it, right? It’s coming from the porch lights and headlights from blocks away. It’s reflecting from windows, car doors, broken bottles, all kinds of stuff.” He smiled that smile again. “How do you feel?” “Scared,” I said. “How long does this last?” “A few hours. What do you feel besides scared?” I thought about it. “I feel good. Like my breathing is a little deeper. I feel powerful.” It was a good feeling. “I feel invincible.” “Just don’t forget that you’re not,” Todd said. “How much have you taken?” “Not much. I gave away most of my first batch. This is my second. When the crystals dry, I’ll take some more.” “This is great.” The longer I waited, the better I felt. I held my hand up and concentrated on it. I could see the skin stretching with each beat of my heart. I could hear the tendons and ligaments extend as I made a fist. “I feel connected to everything.” “That, my friend, is the best description of the feeling I’ve heard yet,” Todd said. “We should write it down.” “I want some more.” That was how my first experience with morphete went. After that, I kept taking the stuff. It got better every time and each time it ended, I was left with slightly keener senses. I couldn’t stop. I was addicted to the colors, the sounds, the smells. Even things which normally smelled bad took on a new life. The smell from a garbage can isn’t a single smell. It is a symphony of odors, reflecting the transient contents, odors as discarded snapshots of our lives. 4And ice cubes. Ice cubes have a smell. Not just the minerals in the water, but ice itself has a distinct smell. It’s different than water. Water smells ancient, while ice smells organized. Not words normally used for odors, true, but they are the only ones that fit. After a week, I realized I had to take increasingly frequent doses of morphete to put me in the intense zone. But, I also noticed that even after a long period without it, I remained able to sense things well beyond my normal senses. And the feeling I felt great. The feeling of invincibility faded, but the feeling of connectedness stayed strong. It is a powerful feeling. Todd has stopped taking morphete but he still hears and sees and smells things as if he were taking it daily. He still has that connected feeling. He retains the benefits of the stuff, but doesn’t have to take it. I hate him. I’m running out of time here, but I still have more to tell. I guess I’ll skip ahead to the first sign of trouble. It was my own fault. I took a large dose. I wasn’t the first person to do so. Carry Fulbright has that honor. He took a double dose. He said it was the best ride of his life, but that he didn’t want to do it again because he saw things he couldn’t comprehend. We sat around and listened to his story, nodding and telling him we understood. But when he left, we made fun of him and called him a pussy. And that’s when I took the large dose. I meant to take a double dose, to match what Carry had done. I grabbed the first pinch and dropped it on my tongue. I put the second one in as well. I put in a third. With each hit, the light caught the purple of the crystals, sending sprays of violet light deep into my head. I kept seeing the crystals falling, tumbling, shining, reflecting and refracting. I would have watched them forever, but Todd knocked my hand away at some point. How many doses? I don’t know. Todd says at least six. To me, it seemed an endless cascade of crystals falling onto my waiting tongue. And I swallowed them greedily. I remember that much. After the big dose, things became difficult to understand. Sounds didn’t make sense anymore. Everything came through as little pops and clicks, peaks and troughs, as if I was hearing the individual compression waves that made up the sound. I couldn’t associate one wave with the next, so aural processing was out of the question. 5The only thing I could taste was my own saliva. The only smell getting to my nose was the blood in the capillaries inside my nasal passages. I smelled the blood through my own tissue. My sense of touch was equally off. I could feel the points where my nerve endings erupted from my skin and the air that rubbed against them. That sensation was overpowering all others. Sight was the only thing left to me. I could see everything. The bands of color at the edge of the windows? That was nothing. I could see images of the individual reflected objects coming around the edge of the glass. I could see around corners. The side-images were confusing, like watching a scrambled cable television channel. I’d catch bits of something I could recognize, but nothing whole. Looking directly at an object was mentally painful. Each surface was no longer solid, but only a strung-together arrangement of imperfections and accidents. Nothing was true, nothing straight, nothing flat. I could see the whole of a car, but at the same time, I could see mountains and valleys in the paint, huge impurities in the glass of the window, and gaping holes in the tiny edges of the trim. Everything seemed to be held together by a promise. I kept expecting things to fall apart. I stayed awake for three days. Closing my eyes didn’t shut off the flow of information to my mind. I could see the veins in my eyelids and watched the individual blood cells float across my field of vision, bumping into each other gracefully in the eddies, running headlong in the currents in the tight vessels. And, behind the blood, I could see the shapes and outlines of the room around me. Sleep was unattainable. If it had lasted much longer, I think I might have cracked. I was probably close to it when it ended. Once it started to let off, it went pretty quickly. I realized I could hear things again and that I could feel my clothes and the towels I had wrapped around my head. After three days of living in a darkened closet, I unwrapped my eyes. Everything seemed normal. And by normal, I mean pre-morphete normal. Flat. Dead. Three-dimensional. Colorless. Lifeless. It was like I’d burned out my senses. After a couple of days, I convinced Todd to let me have a little morphete. I was getting depressed by the ordinariness of my sight and hearing. I took it, but it didn’t do anything. No effect whatsoever. I took a second dose, which also did nothing. I tried to take a third, but Todd 6wouldn’t let me. He didn’t want me drooling in the closet for another three days. I don’t blame him for that. The real problems began a few weeks later. I noticed that I had to turn the TV up a past a normal level to hear it clearly. Light bulbs seemed dimmer. Food was bland; I ate whole jalapeño peppers, but tasted nothing. I couldn’t masturbate because I could barely feel the presence of my hand on my cock. Within a couple of days, I couldn’t hear much at all. I could only see in brightly lit rooms. Taste, smell, and touch completely abandoned me. I panicked. I broke into Todd’s room and took all of his morphete. I regained a little vision for a single day, but that was all. I was terrified. I am terrified. The worst part isn’t the loss of any particular sense, but rather the loss of all of them at once. That, and the fact that I lost the feeling of connectedness and power. I do not feel connected to anything anymore. I feel isolated, cut off. Powerless. I can’t face a life like that. Not after having seen what it could be. Could have been, if I hadn’t gotten greedy and tried to take it all. The wax in my wings has melted and I have fallen to the earth. Overly dramatic? Probably. Care? No. I took the pills. They’ve taken longer to work than I imagined, but I made sure it was enough to do the job. I can feel them working now. Slowing things down. I’m sure you’ve noticed my slowing, slurred speech. Breathing is a little more difficult. That’s a good sign. I’m lying down now. Sitting up was too much work. I’m feeling better about things. I can’t form thoughts much now. I’m going to take a nap soon. Just rest my eyes. 78I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas Tony O'Neill I was living in a shack in Ghost Town, Venice, CA at the time. How I got there is a long story. I often wondered about it myself. I’d wake from an uneasy sleep and look around the place; the collapsing little fold out bed, the discarded needles, the piles of my papers covering every available surface and I’d think, “What the fuck happened?” I was living with Susan, poor crazy Susan. She was ten years older than me, clinging to her sanity with slipping fingers. Every day she dosed herself with Xanax, heroin, cocaine, a pile of anti-anxiety tablets, panic-attack tablets, anti-depressants and sucked down a pack of Marlboro lights, but it didn’t help: she just got worse and worse and worse. She was stinking up the place with the stench of the living dead and I started to look upon her with a kind of awful wonderment… usually when people change it is in tiny, unnoticeable steps. It’s after you get some time away from them and then see them again that you realize just how brutally life has treated them. With Susan I felt that kind of shock recognition every morning when I looked at that death mask face as she nervously probed for a vein, a shaking cigarette dangling from her lips. This woman had once been the CFO of a profitable company. Now she was no use to anyone, except the drunken Johns who didn’t care what she looked like, and maybe the worms. We had gotten married in a moment of drug-fueled madness. An old Dominican lady did the ceremony out of her house in East L.A. She dragged one of her daughters downstairs to act as a witness. After my divorce from Nadine I had a whole host of I.N.S. troubles, and although I missed London, returning there was out of the question. It wasn’t that I wanted to be in Los Angeles anymore—just that my habit was such that I could not travel too far away from my sources of heroin without being completely incapacitated by dope sickness. The marriage was hastily arranged. Up until that point, Susan was just some crazy girl I was getting high with. She still had a job then, and was lucid enough to ensure that the flow 9 read free : support what you love www.anothersky.orgof money and drugs remained uninterrupted. So we decided to get married to keep me in the country. The marriage was as sad a spectacle as one could imagine. We stopped at the needle exchange in East Hollywood first to pick up a box of two hundred insulin needles for the week. Susan was wearing a white dress, and I was in a crumpled red sharkskin suit. “Wow,” Todd, the dreadlocked ex-junkie who worked there on Tuesdays grimaced, “you two getting married or something?” “Yup” we replied, dropping off the shopping bag full of used needles and picking up the box of fresh ones. “We’re on our way there now.” As bizarre as this was it didn’t merit any kind of response. Needle exchanges are like porno bookstores or public bathrooms. Nobody wants to talk or even make eye contact if they can possibly avoid it. The whole getting married so I could stay in the country business didn’t work out. We were too high, and—as our habits increased and Susan’s ability to hold down a job decreased—too broke to file any of the necessary paperwork. Instead, I ended up married to this crazy junkie for no good reason, and somehow over time I started feeling a terrible sense of responsibility towards her. The first reason I stayed was pity. She’d had a horrible time of it before I came along. Her grandfather had plied her with booze and raped her when she was a teenager. The way Susan related the story, when she returned home sobbing and hysterical, Mommy didn’t seemed too bothered about the whole thing. “Well, I did warn you about this” she told her. “You know he’s into that kind of shit. I told you what he did to me when I was your age.” “What?” Susan sobbed. “Told me WHAT? YOU DIDN’T TELL ME ANYTHING” “Oh,” her mother replied with a faraway look in her eyes, “maybe it was your sister I talked to. Anyway… you’ll get over it. I did.” After that trauma there was a host of others. Rapes. Beatings. It all sounded too outrageous, too Gothic, to be made up. Who makes that kind of shit up? At the time, I was shocked and began to feel very protective towards her. Only later did I realize that, among female junkies, Susan was no exception. All of the females I have come into contact with on the scene had similar stories. 10Rape. Child abuse. Incest. Female addicts predominantly are a certain type, and that type—unfortunately—is the used and the abused. Also, my perception of myself started to change. I faced it every morning in the filthy mirror: I was an intravenous heroin user, out of necessity a thief and a scam artist. My looks were shot to hell, my arms were open sores, and my teeth were falling out of my head. I was turning into some horrible mirror image of Susan. I felt as if I had taken so many steps into a maze that I could no longer retrace them and find my way back to the start. I had no option but to keep going and pray that I chanced upon a chink of sunlight. I was lost, lost, lost and could only find sustenance in drugs and our encroaching despair. It was Christmas Eve. We had twenty dollars left. We had started up on crack early that evening, and now the money was gone, and we were in trouble. Twenty dollars worth of crack is nothing once you’ve taken your first hit. It won’t even sustain you. It will maybe avert the crash for ten minutes. Try and split a twenty dollar rock in two and you may as well light the bill itself and try to get high off the fumes. It was 11 p.m. Susan was on my last fucking nerve, begging and wheedling and pushing me to go out and score more crack. “I’m not going out there,” I told her. “That’s it. At least we have twenty bucks for tomorrow. The place is crawling with pigs. Everyone is drunk and high and crazy. Anyway, it’s Christmas Eve for chrissakes. All of the dealers are gonna be back home. The only people out there are gonna be scam artists looking to rip off stupid white kids out trying to score.” She was cleaning out the pipe, trying to find a grain of residue that she had missed on the previous five rounds of cleaning the pipe. The pipe was clean as it could be. It was gleaming. I knew it was futile. She knew it was futile. But she persisted, heating up the stem and, using a piece of wire to drag the Brillo through the glass repeatedly, tried to pick up some melted cocaine. “Then I’ll go.” “You’re not going.” “I’m gonna go. I’m a girl. They’ll cut me a break.” “They’ll cut your fucking throat after they’re done gang- banging you. Now don’t be so fucking stupid. We’re gonna need smack tomorrow. We ain’t spending our last twenty bucks on a rock. It’s over. Take some pills and go to sleep.” 11She continued to clean the pipe, held it up to her lips for a futile attempt at smoking the residue, cursed, got back to work. “You are a motherfucker,” she told me matter-of-factly. “And you’re a fucking crack head. You’re out of your fucking mind. Now give it up.” She carried on scraping the pipe and tried to take another hit. Of course there was nothing. She started to cry, big heaving sobs like hot needles inserted into my nerve endings. Then she picked up one of my books, one of the big ones. Celine maybe, or a dictionary or a medical book. I don’t remember. She held it in both of her hands, gripping it tightly until her knuckles turned white, before she started to smash herself in the face with it, her sobs becoming more and more frenzied and grating. After the fourth or fifth thump I yelled at her to knock it off. I grabbed my keys. “I’m going, you stupid cunt,” I hissed. “I won’t be long.” The streets of Ghost Town were alive with junkies, dealers, and all kinds of human flotsam. Most of them were rip-off artists. On more than one occasion I had been sold soap or some other unpleasant tasting shit instead of the crack I wanted. I retraced the steps I had taken earlier, hoping to find the last guy I had bought off of. I turned the corner and tried to locate the kid’s spot. I coughed to draw attention to myself. The bastard popped up, right on cue: “Psst” We did the deal and I split back for our place. Sirens provided constant background noise, as well as the throbbing of helicopters circling overhead. It was like living in some grotesque, drugged- out Blade Runner hell. I was thinking this as I stepped off the curb and into the path of a LAPD patrol car, lights blazing, sirens roaring, and speeding towards me. I had no time to react. I was momentarily bathed in light. My feet left the ground and my whole being shook… I flipped back weightless and graceful, a moment that seemed to stretch to infinity. Crunch I couldn’t even process the information until after I had bounced off the car’s hood and back onto the tarmac with a yell of surprise. I looked up and saw two cops looking down on me, like angels of doom. “You okay?” one of the cops asked. 12

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