A Trip To The Package Store (Disturbing/500+ words) First Post*

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  1. #1

    A Trip To The Package Store (Disturbing/500+ words) First Post*

    Just a small exercise. Maybe someone will enjoy this.

    A trip to the package store


    When you wake up, it's a gradual affair. You shift from deep REM sleep into the the throws of dreams becoming exponentially more vivid as the sun rises and the noise of neighbors' foot fall and bird song come more clearly into view. Its a grand and sickening play encapsulating the most mundane facets of your daily goings on, populated by familiar faces, however twisted and distorted and usurped, pantomiming the absurd- disparate conglomerations of reality like snap shots strung together by drunken hands in a false time line. And just as the sad and tragic affair reaches a climax, say with a sexual liaison of prehistoric origin or the falling out of a portion of teeth from your very jaw as you gaze into a mirror, perhaps with the shudder of an eyelid or the olfactory resonance of coffee being brewed in a distant room, you acquiesce to the defeat of night and the rise of day. And so, it begins again, your mad history becoming present reality, one more time.
    Roused into consciousness in the dark and the cold you leave the cloistered womb of your bed frame, perhaps dragging bedsheets and comforters and other varied layers that facilitated your former repose behind like sloughed off skin- toes touching cold substrate and chest heaving at the uncontrollable ambient temperature of your room in early hours of the day. You know that soon, quite soon, there will be shaking and heaving and puking and cursing the day, but it is an inevitability you say to yourself, and ambling with unsteady gait and uncomely stagger to the beside table, fumbling in the darkness for a cigarette, you rightly light one up and take it with you through the sliding door and out into the bleak January morning.
    This is going to be hell.
    You huddle in the darkness, clenching your folded arms as tightly around your chest as possible in order to prevent a loss of accumulated heat, cigarette dangling from the corner of your mouth, mucus laden and dessicated by the course of time, and unsupplemented by liquid in the night. The sensation in your head very reminiscent of a scurrying rodent gnawing on your frontal lobe and bicycle kicking at the viscous matter behind the sockets of your eyes.
    And there you have it, Ladies and Gentleman, the hangover. The seemingly innocuous, obnoxious and irresponsible hangover. That very word suggesting a temporary condition, undesired and nasty but altogether impermanent, the word- hangover. Hang. Hanged. Hung. Over. Over and Over. But that is not the whole of this truth. For if a hangover constantly remains, either by folly or by virtue of drinking or a lack of virtue in drinking constantly, is it truly a hangover? Is this a mere after effect? Or is this reality, a persistent condition, only to be pushed away by one more drink one more time. I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, the latter may perhaps hold greater merit and truth, at least for this pitiful creature.
    And about halfway through that smoke, the point when the natural consequence of combustion- sticky and impalatable tars- begin to manifest in the filter and on the palate, the real fun begins. A cough, leading to a cough and then to a hack and then to a bubble of snot or several of them, running down the throat with all the pace of a garden snail, tickling the top of the gut and initiating a sequence of convulsions therein. Twisting and wretched, the body reeling and flinging itself forward and back as if following the lead of that pink, undoubtedly scarred and desperate organ, constricting via the pressured movements of the body's natural chest cavity and diaphragm musculature. You make clear the path, first leaning in with open mouth and dripping tongue, then passing out trapped air, and finally when things have become so clamped up and pressed down like pulp in a paper mill, out comes sunshine. The hot and acrid taste of bile mixed with mucus flying past the teeth and into the pebbled ground beneath your feet. Glinting in the rising sunlight like lemonade concentrate, a burning sensation rising in your throat and within your cheeks which you imagine to be cherry red at this point. Et cetera, et cetera, until there is nothing left to expunge and you are left wilted and tired and depleted and slumped over, gathering the strength for nothing more then another puff on the cigarette to take the taste of blood and acid from out your mouth.
    And this is how I begin every single day of my life.
    If I can muster the calm, I may attempt to sleep another couple of hours, downing vast quantities of water beforehand in order to counteract the process of alcohol breaking down in my body. It seldom works. Typically, I will plop the computer on my stomach and watch ad nauseam any variety of videos on the Internet. Depending on my mood they could be loosely informational, formally educational, ecstatic or extreme, pornographic or panicked, endowed with conspiratorial underpinnings or simple and pleasurable as in a popular music video or clips for my favorite films- anything and everything to quiet the circus in my head, who's unchecked voices and noises would leave me otherwise spinning and disorganized of thought, mismanaged of emotion, and ultimately, physically drained as I half-sleep the world away.
    It is going to be a beautiful day.


    - - - - - - -


    When I note the time, almost a quarter of 11, I snap into action. It is at this hour that the package store opens and I simultaneously recognize an acute lack of medicine in my domicile. In any case, I have but four cigarettes left- it is only a matter of time before the stranglehold of substance encroaches around my head and throttles my neck until I can hardly breath.
    I slide into a pair of jeans, wrinkled but free of stink and stains (for the benefit of any clerks I will soon encounter), but without underwear because, why not? One less thing. I don't even bother to unfurl the belt wrapped upon itself in my closet and thread it through the loops of my pants, knowing I will skin the cat as soon as I return, trading rough denim for velvety pajama bottoms, so what of it anyhow? And I do a little dance around the corners of the room, gathering the necessary provisions- the I.D. from my drawer, the wad of money from last night's shift at the god awful restaurant where I work from my black slacks, a pile of coins from the bedside table and my car keys comfortably nestled between my mattress and the adjacent couch, wherein the stupor of last night's proceedings they came to rest as I lay down to close my eyes, with overhead lights ablaze and the world around me on fire.
    Now here's the tricky part. Well, not so much the tricky part but the uncomfortable part. These people, the maybe 6 or 7 individuals that man the local package store. At least 3 of them see me every day at any given time. Depending on who was there the night before and who is there in the morning, I may or may not be able to play it cool. Either way, my ends will be sufficiently met. But I cannot stand the looks of disdain from the poor hourlies that see me two times in a row, or rather, more then once in a 24-hour period. I can feel their understanding and it is counterproductive. It is ultimately cruel.
    A liquor store upon its opening produces a stream of alcoholics- the "morning rush" of every sad sot in the area who had to wait the night through for that next drink. Man or woman; old or young, all stinking of last night, all shaking and pathetic and disheveled. Common courtesy dictates that the workers never acknowledge a drunk for what he or she is, but only smile and nod and ring and bag, and unless the individual is red in the eyes and swaying from side to side while approaching the counter, maybe looking wild and raw or being unfortunately accented with a translucent slick of vomit down their shirt front, they can never refuse the exchange of money for booze. All these things I now consider as I look within the gilded mirror at my front door before jumping into the black hatchback parked outside. I turn the key over and the blast of its air system is frigid, where once previously super heated air had flowed now passed waves of icy cold air originating from around the sub zero engine block and its environs. The radio kicks on and the no-one-in-particular voice of some public radio host emerges from the silent rumble, in the middle of a diatribe about local traffic patterns, or legislation pertaining to food safety, or the questionable ethics of a local high school administration, recently indicted for helping to facilitate the cheating of standardized exams on behalf of a largely illiterate student body- a travesty committed by learned men who should have known better and for the benefit of children who deserved better and were failed by the obscure and agent-less system, quote unquote. However, I'm too busy talking to myself to pay any attention anyway- I often do this. I pick a subject of discourse and just go, and I really get into the minutiae of the thing for shits and giggles. For one, it's better company, and it distracts a bit from my lurching and sour gut. Secondly, it sharpens me, or at the very least grants me insight into the state of my mind or of my ability to confer meaning with words. Things come and go, minds as well, and prevention or at least understanding, ounce for ounce, may just be worth a pound of cure. And with everything in motion, I flee, the body already consoled with the promise of another dose, the hair of the proverbial dog that bit me to the point of rapacious and unfixed bleeding.
    I can tell almost instantly that I am in a bad place. The limbs of my body are electric, imbued with powers within that, if harnessed could conquer all the problems of the world. However, my stomach and my head ache, and so I am relegated to a horizontal position most hours of the day, unless the basic pursuit of money or the maintenance of the one social contract to which I subscribe- my job- calls to me for an offering. I know implicitly that if I were to walk a distance, even of ten meters, my legs would buckle and my head would cave in via the unseen forces of unrelenting chemical pressure, and that I am , essentially, useless. I am the reanimated and stinking dead, soil bound and pissed and full of self hate, and reflecting a general disdain. The funny thing about it all is this- according to my contemporaries and other closely related persons I have encountered, I am "young". I have the whole world ahead of me, or so I am told. And this perhaps more then anything else scares me the most, more then the fear of torturous or untimely death, of social alienation or utter ruin. This scares me because I am being told this by people, who through no fault of there own have become the product of another kind of slavery. Via the passage of time and its cruel exploits, otherwise sober and measured men and women have become crippled, incontinent and leaky vessels barely reflective of their former lives, sexually inviable specimens outside the greater community of horny men, looking like bloated walruses and ravenous women looking like starving gray-whiskered cats with sunken eyes and gilded teeth and all above tarnished with an ironic, subtle and undisclosed zest for death, and a furious tendency to celebrate failure, lively eyes glinting, circumspect of the possibility of redemption and growth, and always with the notion- that which doesn't kill you will make you stronger.
    A life without life is just matter, and matter eventually falls to the ground, putrefies, and is carried away on a wave of ravens wings.


    - - - - - - -


    Today it's George, a black man with a bald head and kind eyes. I like George- he plays it cool. Every time I walk in, and it is every day, he plays it off like Iv'e never been there before. Ultimately, I could care less- the task at hand will be accomplished come hell or high water, puke and shivers and sweats and some day maybe even convulsions and sweaty skin like a thick, moistened banana peel, or no.
    Typically, he pulls a pint of vodka off the shelf and places it on the counter for me. However, in recent days, the very structure of the employee-customer relations within the DLC have been changed by some unknown consideration or person, and now even the small bottles behind the counter are to be procured on a self-serve basis. He smiles and half raises his hand, how ya doin, and I say fine how are you, and I swiftly cross the threshold of the counter and grab a pint of vodka and couple airplane bottles to get me started on the drive home. I place them gingerly on the counter and decline the offer of a bag, fishing for paper in my pocket and grabbing a ten spot to cover the total and reassuring him that yes, I have 35 cents in my pocket to cover the extraneous charge, thereby acquiring the extra dollar tendered. When finished he says, alright, have a good day, and for a moment I reconsider because perhaps that alright was a little too labored, a little too suggestive of a sort of here-we-go-again attitude. But I am more interested in getting to the gas station for a chaser and a fresh pack of smokes, and paying it no mind, I leave as silently as I came. I could have sworn I heard him utter something like hmmph, as I left.
    I got in my car, cracked the little red top of the airplane bottle to guzzled the contents right there, and lit my last smoke.
    God it is going to be a beautiful day today.

  2. #2
    Hi Hum. Well. The sheer energy in this piece is remarkable. I have often been charged with over-long sentences in my writing, and I think you best me by a long shot. I did enjoy this. There was just one part somewhere close to the end, where I - or you - sort of fell off the rails and I had no idea what you were talking about.

    Via the passage of time and its cruel exploits, otherwise sober and measured men and women have become crippled, incontinent and leaky vessels barely reflective of their former lives, sexually inviable specimens outside the greater community of horny men, looking like bloated walruses and ravenous women looking like starving gray-whiskered cats with sunken eyes and gilded teeth and all above tarnished with an ironic, subtle and undisclosed zest for death, and a furious tendency to celebrate failure, lively eyes glinting, circumspect of the possibility of redemption and growth, and always with the notion- that which doesn't kill you will make you stronger.
    For the most part I understood it all. This reminded me sort of stream-of-consciousness writing, where you just put down any and all you can think of to get the descriptions across. A cadence develops as you read it.

    There is not much constructive criticism that I can give, except to say that readers would not be able to turn away for a second. The demand for attention is so strong, once you start reading, that if you even skip a beat you might loose all sense of what you - the writer - is trying to say. And what is that exactly? That drinking and smoking to excess sucks? That while your MC believes that the prices he pays are well worth it, for many it is not. For many, it is way too high a cost in a life that won't last all that long, and could be cut short by what you describe as daily activities for your character.

    Both of my parents were alcoholic, and while I did not witness the type of behavior you describe (only crankiness and inconsistency), without my brother and my existence, that might have been the case, might have been their lives if they didn't hold some kind of a sense of responsibility for the children they had brought into the world. Your character is isolated; a solo artist at destruction. I get the sense of him trying to make a joke of it all; trying to say "Yeah, this is what I do. Me being me, doing what I want while others are under someone else's thumb. It's gross, disgusting and all that, but genuine. You know?"

    I could really see no SPaG issues, save this one.

    This scares me because I am being told this by people, who through no fault of there own have become the product of another kind of slavery.
    In truth there could be others, but I was caught in the dialogue. You were not redundant that I could tell - you have an awesome use of vocabulary. Good job on your first posting, Hum and keep them coming.
    When the night has come
    And the land is dark
    And the moon is the only light we'll see
    No, I won't be afraid, no I won't be afraid
    Just as long as you stand by me.


  3. #3
    Member Guard Dog's Avatar
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    Now all we need is for this person to turn out to be a private investigator.

    If it were female, it could be Jessica Jones.

    ( Alcoholic, private investigator, don't-wanna-be superhero, for those that don't know. )

    And yeah, I liked it, but I think it'll take a couple-a readings to fully absorb it. ( Kind'a under the weather here at the moment, due to... well, the weather.


    G.D.
    Leave it be and it won't bother you.
    Screw with it, and it'll eat you alive.

    Soon enough, nations will play second fiddle to corporations.

    "The world is not what we wish it to be; it is what it is."
    "Freedom is the value, not protection."

  4. #4
    Thank you for your kind insight. This was literally the first fictional thing that I have written in about 12 years. I was, and still am, kind of lukewarm on it. There are several redundancies here but it was written kind of feverishly. I just don't know if I want to spend any more time with this character, honestly- he's kind of terrible.

    And on that passage you cited; yes I agree it is incoherent. I think I was trying to suggest a discrepancy between older people and younger people- older people telling younger people who have made poor life choices that they still have time left, that they are still so young. Chalk it up to naiveté, I am 31. But I can't unsee the cynicism in even the best intentioned people of this kind, and there are some such specimens that seem to harbor counter intention and/or covert hostility, predicated on a kind of self hate. Not all but some.

    Back to the drawing board. Thanks also for not haranguing me for my run on sentences. If you can meld with the cadence it works, laws of grammar outstanding.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Guard Dog View Post
    Now all we need is for this person to turn out to be a private investigator.

    If it were female, it could be Jessica Jones.

    ( Alcoholic, private investigator, don't-wanna-be superhero, for those that don't know. )

    I can't invent a enough contrivances to write a pulpy narrative about another alcoholic gumshoe, male or female.

    And yeah, I liked it, but I think it'll take a couple-a readings to fully absorb it. ( Kind'a under the weather here at the moment, due to... well, the weather.


    G.D.

  6. #6
    I can't come up with enough contrivances to write a pulpy story about another gumshoe alcoholic, man or woman.

    This was more a character introduction for a player in something else, more based in boring everyday life.

  7. #7
    Wɾˇʇˇ∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed this. I would love to see this person's journey - redemptive or otherwise. Format could use work, but I like the voice, what with its tendency to drift into the really gooey aspects of life. The philosophy of the hangover - now there's something I've never pondered too much, to my shame.


    Hidden Content Monthly Fiction Challenge


    Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to endure, and are awed,
    because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
    - Rainer Maria Rilke, "Elegy I"

    *

    Is this fire, or is this mask?
    It's the Mantasy!
    - Anonymous

    *

    C'mon everybody, don't need this crap.
    - Wham!





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