White Widow

He sat in my kitchen and cried.

I couldn’t help him. I still had my buzz on and didn’t want to let go just yet. Jay and Nate sat with him instead. They tried to be supportive but this was new to them. Paul had never shown any negativity to his “hobby” and this sudden reaction was intensely shocking.

From my living room I could hear him sobbing. I wanted to help. I wanted to be the friend I used to be. But why should I give up the final moments of my own narcotic sting just because he wasn’t enjoying his own?

I had been staring out of the window for a long time. I think it was a long time. It felt like weeks had zoomed by. Maybe only a few minutes had slipped past because I was still watching an old chap in a white shirt and cloth cap amble along the cobbled street.

He was taking his time.

Was he even moving?

Time is a bitch with teeth when the White Widow pays a visit.

I glanced into the kitchen. Paul sat slumped in one of my plastic lawn chairs. Head down, shoulders heaving. His dirty work boots left beautiful brown scuff marks on my linoleum floor. Jay patted him on the back and offered words of encouragement. I chuckled and looked back at the street.

The old man was gone.

Probably home to a Sunday roast.

Lucky bastard.

The only food in the kitchen were a tin of beans and half a loaf of mouldy bread.

Nate leant against the sink like a giraffe taking five from parading in front of the crowds at the zoo. He had his hands in his pockets and a cigarette hung  from the corner of his mouth. He reminded me of a Gary Larson cartoon.

There was talk of giving it all up.

It had gotten out of hand.

Too much too fast.

Blue smoke, Monopoly, chips and dip – things of beauty to yearn for when you have a clear head.

Vomit, aching lungs and blurred vision – the reality of the morning after the night before.

Well, for Paul maybe. Not me. I had an iron will. I was incapable of knowing or believing my body had limits. Besides I wasn’t hooked. I could take it or leave it. Mostly.

My best friend sniffed and wiped a long strand of snot that hung from his nose. He flicked it on the floor. I gazed at the pattern it made. A drunken Kermit the Frog silhouette – snot based of course, but still quite artful.

The kitchen was bringing me down. Sunlight beamed through the windows but it was dark and cold. I span on my heels and waltzed into the living room. The radio churned out Everybody Hurts, the quintessential tune to accompany any melancholy mood. I smiled and danced with an invisible partner, thrilled by my hands as they drifted in the air around me.

On the carpet lay the remains of our all night Monopoly game. It had become just as addictive as the shit we filled out lungs with. With my big toe I nudged Paul’s Top Hat from Mayfair to Old Kent Road. I wasn’t prepared to bend down and give him £200 for passing Go. That felt like a lot of effort. Besides Paul was only a few moves from being made bankrupt.

Running water. My dance returned me to the kitchen.

Paul was flushing his stash down the sink.

I didn’t cheer him on. Nor did I stop him.

You gotta dance to your own song I guess.

Paul never understood moderation.

As for me, take or leave it.

He shuffled back and fell into a heap on the floor. Nate and Jay helped him up and lowered him into a chair. I wasn’t so strung out to miss the glances of disgust thrown at me. I didn’t speak. Why was I made to look like a bastard? We were all in it together. Paul was my best friend, but he was also the spark that ignited our Friday night sessions. Every Friday night to be precise.

Paul looked at me with dark haunted eyes.

In silence he pleaded with me for understanding.

My mood was crossing from electric time warped elation to sombre reflection.

I stared at the bedraggled remains of Paul’s hobby matted around the plug hole.

Shame. It was good shit.

I arranged myself in a chair next to Paul. One leg over the arm. I gestured to Nate for a smoke.

It felt weird when my throat didn’t tighten up. There was no floating sensation either.

Grey smoke poured out of my nostrils.

Paul lifted his head and stared at me with bloodshot eyes. His stubble looked so dark against his pale yellow skin.

“Probably for the best,” I said.

Paul managed a frail smile. “Thanks man.”

“Breakfast?”

Paul nodded. “Okay.”

In the clear morning air we strolled down the cobbled streets to the cafe at the bottom of the hill. I sensed the atmosphere change as we walked, as if all four of us had made it through a life changing ordeal. But only as friends. Alone and the ordeal would still raging away.

We reached the cafe. Nate and Jay headed inside but I put a hand on Paul’s shoulder.

“No charge for Mayfair,” I said. “Saved you from bankruptcy a bit longer.”

“Always another time,” said Paul.

He left me outside the cafe, the breath of his words twirling in the cool crisp air.

Time is a bitch with teeth when the White Widow pays a visit.

Maybe next time she would bite hard instead of grinning.

This short story was inspired by Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press – a challenge to write between 50 and 1500 word piece of fiction using one of 4 photos as a prompt. This weeks prompt was entitled “Holding on and letting go” and with so many of Indigo’s prompts I saw the one I wanted to write about instantly.

Incidentally Paul wasn’t able to let go. The White Widow did indeed come calling again. After that we stopped being best friends. And no, this wasn’t about heroin, White Widow is a type of marijuana. Youth, dear blog reader, is an octopus, where most of us scale the slippery years to reach a level head and normality.

Image by Maude McDonald – “Cottage Row” www.maudesart.com.

Excellent picture prompts from Indigo. If you want to join in and write a short piece of fiction clicky-click Indigo Spider’s link above and wrap your imagination around one of the pictures.

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12 thoughts on “White Widow

  1. Pingback: Sunday Picture Press: Halloween and Hiatus | Indigo Spider

  2. I finally had time to catch up on reading and always save yours for last because I want to savor them. Another great story. Very vivid, very real. I have to confess to never having an experience like Paul though, I usually just sat and stared 😉

    • I’m sure many writers delve into their own lives for snippets of adventure to write about, and for me it’s characters created from real life people. Having said that, this piece wasn’t so much fictional as 99% true. Funny how we all have strange events in our lives but on the whole turn out okay in the end. Well, sort of.

  3. Dave, I am so flattered you chose my art for your story… and what a great story! You made that piece of art come alive with your words… developing another meaning for me.
    Thank you!
    You and Indigo Spider do me great honors. If ever you wish to use another piece of my art, just let me know.

    • Thanks Maude! It’s a fabulous piece of art that has the potential for so many different stories. A big thanks to your imagination and talent, without which I wouldn’t have visited a moment from my past. 🙂

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