Sunday, November 15, 2009
Golgotha: Chapter 1
The city of Quadesport was no stranger to dead bodies. The nightly news always lead with tales of violence and lives lost, and those stories were hand picked from too many like it to see which would get the best ratings. The death of Javier Santiago would not be reported. No one cared about another junkie drug dealer who had enough of his own product in himself to kill him twice over. With that much heroin oozing through his veins, Javier did not care either as he took his last rasping breath. It did not matter to him that it was not him that plunged the needle into his arm that last time. Darkness enveloped Javier, and even though something deep down inside him screamed at him to be afraid, to try to struggle against it, it was already too late. He did not feel the dirty ice and slush that he lay in. He did not hear the people in the street that could not see his motionless body prone in the alley. He did not care enough to fight. He did not care enough to breath. His last heartbeat was an apathetic one.
He expected nothing. Part of him hoped for it. Part of him railed against it.
The darkness was short lived. He saw the alley again through a dream-like haze that made it seem like a distant memory. He saw the icy slush on the pavement and the shape of what had been a very then body laying in it. There was something whipping around the edges of the blurred vision. Long, black, curly hair, which Javier knew was his, but he did not feel the wind that moved it.
His vision blurred. He thought he was moving. He thought his spirit was going to wherever it was going to go. He could not comprehend what he was seeing, as if his eyes were not working properly. It was hard enough to see when he was not moving. Now it was near impossible to make out anything but blurry, dreary colors. There were occasional flashes of light. Most of them were white; some of them were colored brightly. He heard things that he could not comprehend. Sometimes it sounded like voices. All the sounds were horribly distorted. He still felt nothing. He could not smell anything or taste anything.
Javier thought he was descending into Hell. The part of him that still cared cursed himself for not going to church more, and not being a better person. It waited for the pain of eternal suffering to start. The part of him that did not care simply continued to be led on not knowing nor wanting to know what was happening to him.
The motion seemed to change direction often. The blurs were racing in front of his vision, only to suddenly change directions. The distorted sounds he heard would fade and them become louder again. For a moment Javier descended into darkness again. He returned to see the blurs still moving, and then suddenly stop.
There was someone in front of him. Javier did not know where he was. All he could make out was that someone was there. He tried to speak, but nothing came out. He thought the person in front of him was a man. He looked big. Much bigger than Javier, which was not difficult feat. Years of drug abuse had left him skinny and frail. He heard the man speak. He could not understand a word that was said. Some part of him knew the man was speaking English, but Javier try as he might did not understand a word.
The man moved. It looked like there was something being offered to Javier. No, it was being pointed at him. Despite the distortion of every sound Javier heard, the sound of the gunshots was unmistakable. There was a flash of light that had to have been from the barrel of the gun. Javier heard the gun bark twice before darkness claimed him again.
When Javier next perceived anything it was the sight of a man lying in murky gray. There were blotches of red around him and on him. The man was big, like the one that had the gun. Javier could not tell if it was the same man. He wanted to look around, but could not.
Then he heard a high-pitched distorted sound. It seemed like a few seconds passed and then everything visual was a series of blurs again. The high-pitched sound faded. The part of Javier that cared was scared and confused. The part that did not care was starting to get unnerved as well. This wasn’t Hell. This was something else. This is not what is supposed to happen when you die was the only thought Javier could form.
The blurs slowed again. Javier did not know how long it had been. His concept of time was completely gone. He saw an alleyway. Then he felt the cold.
His vision cleared rapidly. He blinked repeatedly; clearing up the last bit of his sight as if he had just woke up. He heard traffic not too far away. He smelled the heavy air from the river. He felt the cold. Then he felt a gnawing relentless pain wrack his body. He convulsed, dropping to his knees. He vomited a watery mess onto the slush-covered pavement. He felt faint.
Javier managed to stand. He wrapped his arms around himself, clutching his body tightly. Slowly, he began to walk. He stumbled more than once, nearly falling, but managed to keep his feet. He wanted a hit. He wanted one badly, just to get away from the pain and cold. He had no more heroin. They had injected it into him. He had wasted their product on himself, and when he did not have their money, they decided to let him enjoy what he had left of their product.
He stumbled for several blocks, catching gazes from the people still out in the cold in the dead of night. A drunken guy who looked college aged, just slightly younger than Javier, threw a beer bottle at him for the amusement of his friends. Still, Javier kept going. He knew the apartment building was close.
His legs were shaking uncontrollably by the time he made it to the apartment building. He was dressed warm enough. His body wanted to collapse again, and Javier drove it onward not from willpower, but from desperation. He still had a key to the building.
The heat when he entered the lobby nearly caused him to pass out. He stumbled to the wall and used it to support himself once he got through the door. Anyone else would have found the temperature in the building a pleasant change from the outside’s February cold. Javier was not equipped to enjoy anything at that moment. This made climbing the stairs to the third floor nearly unbearable. He stopped at the second floor to collect himself before continuing. There was nobody around and the only sound he heard was a television from one of the apartments.
He shuffled down the third floor hallway until he arrived at his destination. He clutched his fist weakly and hit the door barely making an audible sound. He coughed and sputtered, then renewed his effort. He was fully leaning against the doorjamb as his loose fist collided with the word door over and over again in a steady percussion that even Javier could barely hear.
He was on the verge of giving up when he heard the chain rattle. He heard the deadbolt turn and then the doorknob. The door swung open. There was a beautiful Latino girl in her nightclothes standing on the other side of the door with her hair falling just past her shoulders. Even though she was obviously enraged at the disturbance, her anger did not distort her face. Her feelings were clear in her deep brown eyes. The anger seemed to fade a little when Javier finally spoke.
“Pilar,” He said, and despite him using all of his effort to speak it came out a whisper. “Help me.” Javier immediately fell forward into Pilar’s apartment.
This month's artist: Is the one and only Mark Osborne.