The $200, or Shit on Heroin by Terence Sellers

BOMB 17 Fall 1986
017 Fall 1986

Stupid and depraved faces … those who are depraved are interesting in that they are perverse, out of the norm … but too often they are so because they are stupid, they are not deliberately evil. Eh, those dull faces with their mouths hanging open! If only I could meet an intelligent, skilled debauché, my good faith in depravity might be renewed!

I suffer under the tedium of myself my hairs my voice my hunger my shit, I can’t even hate it, it bores me, so repetitious I am trapped in it forever trapped in it.

Motivated in one direction: ESCAPE.

Sick, sick again. The dull little twit. If only for one hour she could be someone else, anyone: some little old bat in Kankakee, wearing out her rocker; some grubby child rooting in the mud of a creek; some tacky little wifey, dashing importantly around her kitchen, anyone at all but this sodden sobbing mass of abused feminine charm, this charming mess. Is there anything romantic left in her depressions? Aah, deep melancholia is quite sublime! the rake added, smacking his bilious lips. Should any of you require a fix at the moment, we need only draw a little blood out of this child. For what’s in her blood is PURE DOWN.

(I want to kill him, kill him and all his friends. But no, I can’t do that. It’s too complicated and not worth it. Going to jail for slaughtering junkies, I mean. Have to kill myself, it’s a simpler solution. They’re all fine, after all, they don’t feel a thing! For everything they don’t feel, I have to feel it double time. But then of course, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m not on it, so I cannot dig it. I am not hip man so I should just cool it. Forever.)

She banged her head on the partition in the taxicab and swayed back on the seat as though in laughter then bashed her head again on the scarred plexiglass, I can’t hack it I can’t hack it I can’t hack it. What I really want, what I really want, and her companion said, Well come on now, you know it can’t possibly be him. He’s so unworthy of you. The driver stared straight ahead, enthralled by the pain. I don’t want to go home, she whimpered, as the car pulled up. Do you want to come to my place? her companion asked, Shall I come in and console you? There’s NO CONSOLATION she yelled and tripped out of the cab. I’m just going to lie in the gutter, she yelled again, adding seriously, But the gutter here outside my own house. Okay, he replied, and slammed the car door. Take care. She snarled, TAKE CARE? TAKE CARE? What the fuck is that supposed to mean, that’s what it’s all about, right, take care of your own fucking self! The cab pulled out in terror as she based and spat at the fender.

She tore into the apartment and ravaged the bed, shrieking and carrying on. Suicide, suicide, that’s all there was to do. His connection’s number floated up into consciousness and she dialed. About 20 bags. About $200 worth. That should do it. She kept getting wrong numbers and she re-dialed several combinations without success.

The next day was spent as usual in a slough of despond from which no vestige of clarity forthcame. Veil of pain, wretched door against my eyes, tear it away, snip to shreds the tissue of it, all irritated it leaves me it it it

He won’t come he won’t come to me.

He had turned into a block of wood. He had gone dead, his sparkle snuffed by the drug. It was sickening, a sick waste. His paintings lay dead and dried, stuck face down on the floor. To the vomitorium on the double … … except she loved, how she loved, loved with every masochistic pore in her body open and screaming I NEED YOU as every cell in his body went out, turned black eyed to a dead wall, dispassion then murmurs I need you to the ugly flower.

His spark, his blue light in the eye, his perk, his flight his great smile with friendly wolf teeth, his passionate hands his langorous mouth his eyes god they were pallid flat and weird, I was with a ghoul and no light, no light was entering that tiny pinprick of black.

So what. Who gives a fuck, right? So they’re zombies, so walk away! Forget it. Who cares if they kill themselves? But that’s just the problem, sir, they don’t die. They fine on and on and on in their morbid state, gradually becoming great fat leeching parasites engorged with dust, they live on and they multiply, too, sir, no not by copulation (we report that within the male the virtue has long left the sex and the female has gone flat cod-fish cold) but by a weird sort of rubbing up, nuzzling, and nodding the head the propagate. One shoulder nibs against the other—something like that. Something too with a minor, some ritual of scraping, scraping, scraping the magic death into lines, the little flames, the sucking sounds go on for hours. Around a mirror they never look into they suck a something dull up and glazed and gone they “return” to the world.

$200 worth is what it would take.

He insulted her in front of two other girls and was so viscious she blanked out and hit him repeatedly with a bottle until it broke, the broken glass woke her up as her next act was to gouge the broken shards directly into his neck but she stopped herself, and reminded herself: he’s not worth it.

Her best friend asked her. So why do you stay with him? Why? I don’t know, she replied. How much more, just how much more can you take? her friend asked. Unsmiling she answered, I am afraid I must inform you that my masochism will permit ANYTHING to go on uninterrupted—as long as it causes pain.

I love you! he said. She said nothing. I love you, and I said it first after our fight! Oh, okay, I love you, too. I love you. I love you. I love you too. Please don’t go away darling until we’ve talked. No I won’t I’ll be over in an hour. Oh darling I love you, I love you too goodbye. You are coming over, aren’t you? Yes, in a couple of hours. I thought you said in an hour. Now don’t start. I’m sorry darling. Make sure you have some olives. Yes, I do. The black ones, that I like—Yes dear. Goodbye Goodbye

Needless to say he never arrived. Oh, to be needless! If only this pen wouldn’t run on so, it’s too humiliating to see it down, but blithe the pen unfurls, in twirly array all the horrible words. The ink should be blistering you, sickening you, enlivening you to the proximity of your own death, every attendant beside you!

You think it’s very funny, don’t you! You wonder why I rave on, Miss L., to you the story is just so old! The story has been told, YOU THINK! And no doubt some prig with a pen up his ass is at this very moment dashing up to correct me under the swooning banner of the Burroughsian junk ethic which has poisoned a hundred thousand in this generation—never mind the bested minds of his generation wellfed hysterical welldressed—and more to come, sweetheart. If we know it so well, how come we so dumb here in the mud? You be sending dem parasites out agin? Bad Sister-man, bad! C’mon, boy, sharpen up that pen of yours and go at it again! At least get one of the prigs to dash to the bathroom to fart me off a rebuttal!

Fuck it, I hate to amuse you. I will not entertain you any longer. Close the book, leave the theatre, throw up on me and run away laughing but act, act, do something! Stop mulling over poems, slathering them with enigma! Read right, or get the hell out of the oven! and cool it with the scratching the old goatee over the Kallipyge, you don’t fool anyone anymore, jerkoff intellectuals!

I know it was YOU who created the disgusting myth that knows its full realization today: the myth of the ARTIST AS PROFLIGATE. The great Profligate-Ikons: Nerval, Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Van Gogh, Swinburn, Dostoyevsky … and their one million and one disciples who swallowed the watered-down rot you concocted out of their great trials: THAT THE DRUGS INDUCED THE GENIUS. All these divine disorderers of the senses (and it was not just the physical sensorium they attacked, but the spiritual sensorium, whose audia, video, olfactum et cetera we rarely use) died in one of two ways: either divorced from art/literature, or insane from drugs/alcohol/absinthe. All of them dared (I snigger aside) dose themselves liberally with the favored toxins of the day, but did so IN ORDER TO … (and let us pause and consider deeply at this bridge …) … IN ORDER TO (and let us take a deep breath from the aerial realms) IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE SOME KNOWLEDGE OF A HIGHER CONSCIOUSNESS, GAIN INSIGHT INTO A GRANDER SPHERE, TO KNOW SOME MORE LUCID VISION OF THE WORLD.

Higher … grander … more lucid. Do we understand? Shit, man, like I dunno. It’s like when I take it everything is cool ya know? I mean, it’s like, you know, everything goes from color to black and white. Yeah, I mean, wow, I’m gonna taper off, I gotta cut down, it’s costing too much and …

Nerval, the divine dandy, dreamt of Impossible Women, 17th-century virgin goddesses, sealed in castles, pale, vernal, glowing, holy. Then the drug alcohol took him, and in cafes for days he would drink, till at last his Star would appear to him. Upon sighting the Star, he threw himself into the street and followed it for days. He did not sleep and his clothes became rags, but the most beauteous rag of all he kept secret in his pocket; a little string he recognized as the Queen of Sheba’s garter. A very pretty poetic story—no? A story handed to us by the slime-sucking biographers. For it was by this celestial thread that Nerval was found hanging, by gendarmes, from a post in a doorway. But his misery was not important, was it! Only his Art, correct? Get drunk!

Rimbaud, the little boy who tried to get to Heaven through Hell, what a mess you made! Come right back here and clean it up! Oh no, he’s gone to Africa to carry on the slave-trade! What are all your parasitic minions going to do without you! Create a legend of distressed, drunken genius … They hated you for your dirty linens, only to roll more luxuriously in piles of it later, all your corrupt disciples! In malice have they spawned this drunken myth that subtly kills, kills.

Need an excuse for fucking up! Try: DOSTOYEVSKY. You too can drink, gamble, womanize, disappear, not pay your bills, have mysterious fits, and turn out to be a genius! But, in spite of it all, Fyodor wrote. (I spitefully add that to distemper you, slovens!)

Adjunct to the myth THE DISORDERED MIND BEARS CELESTIAL FRUIT is the myth CREATIVE GENIUS IS A PANTY-WAIST LITTLE DELICATE POSY, some frail construction that cannot, no just cannot darling BEAR the bleak intrusion of the real (shudder) world. So let us drink, drink, drink, and forget the dead-lines! Snort, shoot, sniff, and lose track of plot-lines! Let us throw up in unison and sniff each other’s cracks, affirm that we are artists, and call the dealer back! And don’t tell anyone the secret sin, that all we are are foppish poseur junkies on a binge!

Sorry, boys, but genius is a tank, it comes gleaming, oiled, aimed, armed with every weapon known to … work. It uses everything for its end, it senses everything without shrieking, yet the shriek is in there, one sound … it tastes of everything without dying, yet death is in there, but not embraced in heroin lust.

So we see she is still lying there, lying to herself. Pretending to be dead, in her one spot. She’s such a bore. If only she would just take herself in hand and do it. She’s waiting for the drug … the telephone rings.

The drug is calling from Los Angeles. The drug is saying I love you again. I love you, you’re the only one for me. She falls asleep, fixed. Two hours later, the telephone rings again. It’s the drug, saying, I want you to go to so-and-so and get some stuff and mail it to me express. She screams, You’re so fucked up I can’t stand it.

But we see she is going out of the house with her hair uncombed and her coat open. It’s raining and maybe she’ll catch pneumonia and die. Under his will she walks into the dealers. The little girl is staring at her from a corner and she knows she is guilty.

She can’t manage to go to the post office. She goes home and sits and sits, and sits and sits, and this is what she sees:

In a bag, $200 worth of heroin. $200. Exactly what she asked for. He gave it to her. He wants her to die. He doesn’t care if she dies. All the same, she is going to do it.

Hmm, his not getting the stuff out in LA was going to make him terribly unpopular! Oh well, friends can always be replaced. Unlike brain cells.

(I can’t see. Something is wrong with my brain. I have lost the muscle of it. All is slack as aged skin. If only the artery of just one heart could revive … one heart, my own, revive under his eye …)

(Why have I surrounded myself with all that is sick, feeble, startled, peppered, feverish, coughing, and very sarcastic! I despise them, and I fight. This I call … being alive.)

(No one knows me. No one loves me. Will I be able to emerge? How can I escape, and be safe too?)

(She emerged as I am now trying to emerge, and she died. She was killed by one who knew her well who loved her.)

If a brain cell fizzles out, does it know it when it does? Does it try to live? When it leaves its cell body, do its neighbors notice? Does it hurt to disintegrate? Or do they just nicely, slowly, fade away, like the tubes in the old TV sets, do they buzz a little, and the reception gets poorer, and the picture dimmer, and no one watches the TV anymore and the TV just buzzes, buzzes on, between stations, the unfocused parts are as clear as the major channels, all grey blue and glowing faintly, very faintly, like his eyes now, like those blue eyes oh they once shone so …

(I’m not sending it. I’m going to take it all myself because as far as I’m concerned sending it to him is the same as taking it myself, for I am so close to him, so strongly attached, as he is dying I die, and I want to die faster.)

Wake up you idealistic twit and smell the putrefaction.

Hello, this is a conference call from Los Angeles. I’m out here with Johnny, Joseph, Joe, Jeanne, Jean, Jan, Jimmy, and Jeremiah, not to mention Maria, Mary, Marie, Moira, and Magda, and we’re having a party and I’m fucking Jeses Christ and who the fuck are you to interfere with my will, my will is that you send this to me and you are not doing it, who gives you the right to do what you want over and above my will which is realizing things you could never even imagine now except you are such a fucking twit

(What are they learning, what are the addicts learning?)

So all of us out here want you to know that we think you are a fucking jerkoff asshole for not mailing us that envelope. You think you are such hot shit, that you’re so smart, so much smarter than any of us. Well baby, you are right, maybe, yes in fact, you’re correct. Let’s put it this way—you’re right, but you’re wrong, and furthermore you’ll have my wrath to contend with when I get home.

What is the logic behind contradicting oneself in order to feel alive?

Thus ends another episode of The Work of Moving Through the Context of Depravity and Vice.

Terence Sellers is a writer who lives and works in New York. Her book, The Correct Sadist, was published by Grove Press. She holds a BA in Forensic Psychology. She is not a heroin addict.

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BOMB 17, Fall 1986

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017 Fall 1986