Monday, March 7, 2011

The Ballad of Tom N’ Jim (I)

Prelude to a Fall

He hadn’t been sleeping. He didn’t even pretend to call it insomnia anymore because that wasn’t the right word. The moments of confusion between falling asleep and waking up had become so brief and fleeting that they didn’t count anymore. And he’d seen Fight Club way too many times not to wonder what sort-of havoc that might be wreaking on his mental health. But he tried not to think about it.

In general weaving in and out of the lanes of traffic was enough to keep him distracted. In a city of so many languages, technologies, forms of music and just plain noise it seemed like the only universal mode of communication left was the car horn, so he used it frequently. Not that anyone would be able to distinguish his from the mass pollution clogging everyone’s ears, but he didn’t care. He accelerated and honked, braked and honked, swerved in between the cars and trucks and cabs in a sea of traffic as if he were a swimmer in a stream of trout- brushing up against others briefly, but never lingering long enough to do any real damage.

At least, not that he knew. If any of the angry horns were meant for him he was too drugged up to notice. He’d started with No Doze and coffee, the usual tools of the trade. But the bathroom breaks were a nuisance he couldn’t abide. He’d moved up to prescription stimulants he found on the internet- ones that truck drivers used cause the FDA hadn’t discovered them yet. Eventually he settled on crack because it was easy to find and ridiculously cheap, at least in comparison to the other street drugs.

He was a good drug user. He knew it was un-PC to think that, but he did. He paid more attention, got more done and just plain lived more in a minute than most other people did. And sure, he might be a little paranoid- but all that was doing was keeping him alive and getting another delivery under his belt. And, as he like to mutter under his breath, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. It made him smile.

So he sped through the traffic of the city streets, jogged in an out of elevators to make his deliveries, took home the good cash pay of a courier and ignored the activity of his brain, the irregular heartbeat, and the other side effects. Logic would have told him it was only a matter of time, but logic was a mental capacity that’d gone out the window with a good’s night’s sleep a long, long time ago.

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