Dawning of the Blackest Day
“There it is, just up ahead. Can you see it, Eddie?”
He could. It looked like something out of a horror movie — flaking paint, tattered fence; but he trusted that Sam wouldn’t take him anywhere too bad for him.
In retrospect, it just looked like a crack-house.
“They got the best stuff, little bro. You’ll see.”
They picked up the pace. Eddie’s hands were shaking. He was scared, but he wanted his first taste; and he wanted it bad.
Are those trees? I can’t tell. Mommy, I’m sorry. Is that you, through the mist?
Eddie started hustling not long afterward.
It started out simple enough, the occasional panhandle or “hey mister” sob story. It was easy for people to believe that the ratty looking street kid was just a victim of circumstance. Who would believe that, in this small town, a thirteen year old was already addicted to crank?
No, it was easier for them to just give him a little extra, believing that his dad left and his mom had lost her job. And Eddie could turn on the waterworks like nobody’s business. When he would start to tear up and say, through sobs, that he and his mom had just lost their dog yesterday, when it slipped off its leash and got hit by a Greyhound? Forget about it, the money practically jumped out of the suckers’ purses and wallets. Of course, his mom (and dad, and older brother Sam, for that matter) were still living in their nice suburban home not two miles from where Eddie ran his scams to pay for his habit.
And believe me, he made enough not only to fund his habit; but to elevate it into an expensive one.
It couldn’t last forever, though. When Eddie was only fifteen, he looked in his mid-twenties; and people just don’t donate to adults. That’s when the fake crying ended and the real kind began. It hurt, it physically hurt, to go without the drugs.
It wasn’t long before he gave his first hand-job for a fiver. But snorting turned to smoking, and a fiver wasn’t enough anymore. So the handies gave way to blowjobs for a ‘twomp. When smoking turned to shooting, BJs turned into whatever would buy a fix.
But by nineteen he looked in his late thirties, and no one wants to fuck a washed-out junkie. The purses and wallets closed to him altogether. That’s when he started taking them.
Meth doesn’t pay for itself, after all.
I can see the way out; but it looks so far away…
“C’mon, gimme just a taste. You know I’m good for it.” Eddie’s pants were pooled around his ankles. D-Rock, his dealer for the last five years, just shook his head.
“You’re lucky I don’t kick your junkie ass. Put them fuckin’ pants back on, you tweaker piece of shit.” D-Rock’s grill glinted, and Eddie wondered how much he could pawn it for.
The fight was not fair.
D-Rock wasn’t getting high on his own supply, and Eddie’s attempt to rob a real criminal was just one in a long line of stupid decisions.
How did the nights get so black, and when did the days get just as dark?
Eddie couldn’t remember the last time he saw daylight. He lived in a world of shadow and streetlights.
When he could no longer avoid seeing them, despite the darkness, Eddie tried telling himself that the bruises on his legs and chest were from sleeping on hard ground and the occasional beating he’d taken living on the streets. But in the back of his mind, a little voice told him those were KS Lesions, and he knew what that meant. The voice sounded like Sam’s.
“Sam, is that you?”
Eddie couldn’t believe his eyes. Walking right across the street, in a button-up shirt and khakis, was his big brother Sam. How many years had it been since they’d seen each other? The guy across the street didn’t seem to notice, though, so Eddie called out again, louder.
“Sam! Hey! Over here,” but the man just kept walking.
These days, pretty much every guy walking by looked like Sam. And they all looked like the dad who had never actually walked out on anyone, despite the stories Eddie used to tell for a quick buck.
Sam? Dad? Mommy? Anybody? Please, help me. Help me to be free. I just need you to lead me…
Eddie’s family never even knew it when he died. Sam kept his mouth shut about getting his kid brother into drugs, and he never told his parents that he’d seen Eddie on that street corner, looking like Hell had already claimed him as one of its denizens.
Sam often wondered if he should have said something when Eddie called out to him that day.
But it was already too late for Eddie. His life had become a nightmare-painted broken dream, and he just couldn’t wake himself up from it.
I see you. I know you. You’re me — and I’m coming home.
One morning Eddie just failed to wake up. AIDS had eaten away all his defenses and the pneumonia finished what the drugs had started long ago.
In his dream the night before, as he lie freezing in the hoarfrost of a moonless November night, Eddie had seen himself standing on a pedestal over his prone body. Below him, a heavy mist crept through the wintry thicket where he lay, blanketing what he knew to be his own corpse lying there at his feet. At the edge of a copse of trees he made out a callow, peaked face. It lifted its nose and sniffed like a predator that had caught wind of a scent.
It smells me, Eddie thought, it smells the rot in my veins.
Finally free, Eddie thrust his hand into the air and it stretched impossibly upwards, penetrating some invisible skin as Eddie saw, for the first time in years, the light of a never-ending day just at the tips of his fingers
Marc Nocerino is a writer, musician, poet, armchair philosopher, libertine, mystic, and most recently; father. Marc was born and raised under the foggy canopy that blankets San Francisco, where he was first exposed to the exotic and profane elements that became a seminal influence on his creativity. He currently lives amid the tall pines of California’s Sierra-Nevada Foothills with his amazing wife and daughter.
When not writing for pleasure, Marc spends his time doing a ridiculous amount of homework as well as working as Assistant Editor for She Never Slept, an online horror magazine where he also writes the occasional review. His work has previously been published at Penumbra Magazine and The Horror ‘Zine.