The Next Fix

The Next Fix

by Matt Wallace

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780981639017
Publisher: Apex Publications
Publication date: 04/30/2008
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 0.53(w) x 9.00(h) x 6.00(d)

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ABSOLUTION, INSURED

I went three-fifths into a bottle of Grey Goose before bed, and my dreams were as liquored up as the rest of me. Fuck it, I had the next day off, right? My tie, the red one with the little gold frogs on the little gold lily pads, stiffening in my freezer was proof of that. I tossed it in there around 7:30 when I got home. Don't ask me why; I hadn't even taken my first drink of the evening yet. I just liked seeing it laying there over a frozen pizza box, half masking the Red Baron and his handlebar mustache so that he kind of looked like Powers Boothe in an Amelia Earhart cap. I liked slamming the freezer door on it even more. If my cubicle at the ad agency had a door, maybe none of this would be necessary.

So I was dreaming crazy dreams about falling, or fucking, or being chased by maniac circus clowns making pornographic balloon animals. Who knows? Then the knocking--scratch that--pounding. Diesel pistons on my brain and what felt like a few blown rods. While my eyelids were trying to remember how to open, I realized it was the front door, which, owing to my walk-in apartment, is all of five feet from where I sleep. I got out of bed, slipped once, rubbed crusty, primordial-feeling things from my eyes, slipped again, then wrestled with the deadbolt and chain the way troglodytes and idiots wrestle with airplane seat belts.

Carey stood in my hallway. Or rather, a big blur that looked sort of like Carey. I ground my knuckles into my eyes some more. Yeah, it was him. And several dozen bright spots dancing around him.

"Hey, McBride," he said. "It's late, I know. Sorry. You were sleepin'. Were yousleeping? Yeah, 'course you were sleeping."

He sounded kind of like Christopher Walken from his last scene in The Deer Hunter. The only reason I didn't say something like, "Do you know what time it is?" was how cliché it rang in my head. I think I just nodded.

"Lemme come in, okay?" Carey said.

Now he sounded nervous, anxious. I looked at him, really looked at him, for the first time. His right hand was wrapped in a towel. A bloody towel, I realized, every inch completely soaked through. It was a dish towel with pink and yellow flowers on it. His mom's, I figured. He would've stopped by his mother's place first. Probably lied to her. There was blood matted in his emo-frontman haircut, too, and his clothes were rumpled.

I stepped aside and let him in. Carey looked around my place like there was something to see. Maybe he was dazed, or maybe what was going on hadn't really hit him yet. This is all stuff I reflected on later. At that moment I was just annoyed. Carey was a peripheral friend, the kind you sort of inherit, or acquire secondhand because you're friends with someone else. Still, he was a friend. We hung out. We called each other when we had an extra ticket to something, although Carey usually charged me for his.

But we didn't do late night confessions, and I wasn't his emergency contact person.

"You got like some milk, man?" Carey asked me. "I'm thirsty. Feelin' a little calcium deficient, you know? My bones. They feel brittle."

"Yeah, I've got some milk. In the fridge." When I saw he wasn't going to--or couldn't find--his way to my kitchen, I said, "I'll get it. On second thought, I'll get you a High Life. It's your brain that sounds brittle. It'll soften it up."

"Yeah, right. Good idea."

I found myself keeping an eye on him all the way to the kitchen, peering at him over the door of my refrigerator as I groped for the longneck.

"You want a bandage, too?" I asked.

"Huh?"

"Your hand, dickhead."

"Oh." Carey looked at it like some foreign thing. "I, uh, maybe. I don't know."

"What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Fucking ... it's crazy, dude. It's just ... I ... fucking lo-gi."

I nearly sliced my fingers on the ridges of the bottle cap. "What?"

"I gotta ... I got a lo-gi. I mean," he took the Miller from me with his good hand and sat down, "it's ... there's one after me."

"You're telling me there's a lo-gi chasing you?"

Carey chugged the brew. And I mean chugged. I could actually see his throat muscles opening up. He looked like one of those drinking dolls with the baby bottles. "Yeah," he finally answered me. "Fucking crazy, right?"

"You got a lo-gi and you came here? What's wrong with you?"

"I didn't know where else to go, man! I mean, Christ, it ... the thing ... look at my hand! Look at my fucking hand! It did that! I'm a righty, man! I eat with this hand! I write with it! It's fucked now!"

"What did you expect it to do, Carey? And what did you do, anyway?"

"You remember I was going out with that girl from Scranton? Barda?"

"How could I forget a fucking name like Barda?"

"Yeah, I know, right?" Carey stared into the now empty bottle in his hand for a while, then he went on. "Anyway, I borrowed some money from her before we broke up. For my Super Bee."

"Okay," I said.

"And I fucked her cousin. Ramona."

"Of course," I said, dryly.

"So I guess she finally found out. She called me yesterday, all pissed off. Things were said. I got pissed off, too. And I kinda told her what she could do with the loan, I wasn't paying her back, and so on."

"But you meant it when you said it, didn't you?"

"I guess."

Malice. Promises, threats, they're just words, like abracadabra. Who you fuck, just frailty, most of the time. It's your intentions that bring a lo-gi when you boil it down. And malicious intentions are the worst. Callous only slightly less so. And betrayal is like icing.

"So now you've officially stolen her money under the pretense of caring about her," I said. "And you used it to fuck with her."

"I guess so."

Carey was screwed. I didn't have any doubts about that.

"So go give her the fucking money and beg forgiveness," I advised him. "You really need me to council you on this?"

"Barda got a new job. She moved to Birmingham."

Shit. Correction, Carey was royally, imperially screwed.

"England or Alabama?" I asked.

"Alabama."

"Well thank God for small favors. I'd get on the road if I were you."

Carey didn't say anything for a minute. Then he looked up at me, glassy-eyed as he asked, "Can you drive me, dude?"

"You got a car," I said, as flat a statement as I could make.

"Had. Had a car." He laughed. An absurd, scared laugh.

"The lo-gi?" I asked, even though it wasn't really a question.

"Tore it to shit, man. It was like that monkey in that Clint Eastwood movie. Who stripped the cars. Only a lot faster and instead of being funny I was fuckin' terrified for my life."

"So really nothing like the monkey in the Clint Eastwood movie," I said.

"Guess not."

"You seriously expect me to jump in the car with you and drive a thousand miles. Tonight."

"Ole's car is in the shop. I couldn't get ahold of Jimmy. Woodhouse told me to eat shit and die because of the thing at the place with the people that time. I can't tell my folks. I just can't. And there's something else."

"What?"

"I need a loan."

"Eat shit and die, Carey."

"C'mon, Mac, I got nobody else. I need your fucking help here. It's a lo-gi."

"So go see a karmic healer."

"You know that's all bullshit, man. I gotta go see this chick. She's gotta absolve me. I need you to drive me. I need cash to pay her back. Please. I'll be your fucking slave for life."

I'm staunchly against slavery. I've campaigned on this issue. But like I said, I knew how screwed Carey was.

"I guess I can TiVo 'House,'" I said, as bland as the taste in my mouth.

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The Next Fix 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Every once in a while I come across a new author that captures my attention with a Bang! 'The Next Fix' Matt Wallace did just that and I could not put down!