We all know that feeling when an old love comes calling.
But for most of us, that love is another human being.
But for most of us, that love is another human being.
Forgot the Trouble, That's the Trouble by T. Maxim Simmler
The last time I'd spoken to Simone was a week before she sent me a ‘Dear John’ from her phone, so I'm surprised to see her at my door, two years later, giving me a half-buckled smile and slipping in.
"You gotta do me a favour, Mickey," she says.
Girl’s never been one for dicking about.
She looks sick; ashen lank hair hanging over a puffy face and she could carry her worldly possessions in the bags under her eyes. Lost a lot of weight, too. The clothes slouch over her scrawny arms and legs. Only the cardigan’s too tight.
"You're preggers, for fuck’s sake.” The words toddle on my tongue.
"No worries. Ain't yours."
I look at her a bit longer and feel that something’s wrong, something’s off, but I can’t put a finger on it. Then it dawns on me—I still love her. Shit.
"You live with your Mum again?" Her eyes dart around, but I don't think she sees anything.
"She's dead. House’s mine now."
"Yep." Neither is she listening, she’s busy scraping her arms, neck and chest.
"Look, I've got no right to ask you anything, but, Mickey, you're the only one who can help me here."
I have a bad feeling about this. The olfactory sensation of shit starting to stir.
"I've got to kick the skag. Doc says, I carry on like this, I’m done in a couple of months. Bloody Hep C’s even the least of my problems.”
"Plus there’s the wee one?"
"Huh?" She's seriously confused. "Oh! Sure...the fucking baby."
Guess they don’t need to start engraving the Mother Of The Year Award yet.
"How exactly do you figure it's supposed to work? Going cold turkey? Here? You need to check into rehab, luv.”
"I can't. Well, I did and then legged it on the third day. They won't take me again this year. I'm dying, Mickey. Please? Help me."
She’s sweating, trembling, stuttering: "I'll stay in one room and you only need to check on me once a day. You won't even know I'm here. Lock me in, just..."
Then she starts to cry and that settles it.
"I’ve got a sofa in the cellar. There's a restroom, a TV and a fan. No windows and I keep the bloody door locked. I'll look after you every few hours, but as soon as I think it goes tits up, I call an ambulance."
"Right." She nods so enthusiastically, a tear drops on my cheek.
"Give us the phone."
"Your mobile. I won't have you call some drug dealing dickwad on me the minute you start to detox.”
She rummages through her handbag, looking lost and vulnerable. And because I’m an emotionally impaired eejit, I feel like a cunt when I pocket her Nokia.
"I'd better bring a few buckets then," I say.
My brain's spinning somewhat out of control, showing me a short film with Simone and me jumping over a bright meadow, holding hands. Uplifting music plays in the background.
"But I need a last fix." The film stutters and dies.
"Fuck that. There’s no way..."
"One last fix. I can't crash that hard now. Not with the door closed and no windows—I'm going to freak. Really, just a bit and I can get used to this.”
It's a load of bull. The same bullshit I tried to pull when I kicked the stuff years ago. I also know there's no way I can reason with her, so, God help me, I say: "I'm back in an hour. I'll call Tony, buy some and then we start. For real."
"Thank you." For being a co-dependent bollockbag.
I kiss her forehead, which seems to startle her and lock the door. I hear her walking up and down as I pinch Tony's number.
"Long time no hear, mate."
Bleeding tinker remembers me. Well, no wonder really, considering I still owe him for a
family-sized bag of coke.
"You can change hundred Euros for me, Drago?"
A long pause, crackling static and then he asks: "After all the time? Are you sure?"
"You’ve got a conscience for Christmas?"
He chuckles. "Come over."
Driving to Whitby, conducting business and heading back takes less than fifty minutes. I listen down the staircase, hear the telly blasting away and walk into the kitchen to grab a beer. My mood’s pretty great now—Tony didn’t even mention my debts. Sucker.
I toy with the white balloon. Damn bubbles got small. Still a lot for one last fix. I take a long draught from the bottle, but my mouth dries up again in an instant. I wonder about the quality. If a hit after all those years would be just as good as the first one. I keep wondering till I've opened the bubble. It's not like I’d start again. I wouldn't even shoot up, just a drag or two, I think and look for aluminium foil. Can't hurt, I reckon. I spread out a line, fetch a lighter. No one can get hooked again from one wee blow. I untwist a biro, stick one end into my mouth, heat up the shit and suck the light blue fumes into my lungs. Oddly, I smell sugar-coated plastic melting.
That’s when everything goes wrong.
My chest tightens and fireworks explode in my spine. Blood rushes into my head like a simmering geyser till my eyes bulge.
That devious motherfucking gipsy...
I see a shower of incandescent stars raining down. My muscles all jerk at once and I fall flat on my face.
I need to phone for help, but every time I move I forget how to breathe. There's no way I can get down the stairs. Don’t remember where I put the keys anyway.
The TV bellows white noise through the house.
Maybe someone will hear it. Maybe someone will come and find us.
I really need some rest now. Sleep it off.
Remember to breathe in.