I lie on my stomach in the basement of a home built by a famous man, now dead, who once made music. Everything smells of moss and mushrooms and dark, damp cleanliness. I am pretending to read The Sirens of Titan and watching the tendons in M's forearms. He sits at the keyboard, temporarily transported to the place he goes when the muse perches on his shoulder. M does not know he is brilliant because music comes out of him the way my breath comes out of me. This is one of my favorite things about him: He believes that everyone is capable of extraordinary things, the things he does without thinking. He sees genius everywhere.

I blow fog onto glass and draw a heart, never lowering my book and never taking my eyes off of him. I want to move, but I've been stiffly coiled for too long, my fingers wrapped carefully around the book, and it hurts to move. M continues to play, unaware of me and the rain, so full of song I think he will burst if he does not release it all. Music is a bird that hatches inside of him, a brightly-plumed bird with big eyes and glorious wings. If there is anything inside of me, it is a snake. I am a tight, ropy legless thing with shiny eyes.

On and on he plays, his eyes closed and his mouth pursed into a little red bud. My heart, cold and temporary, is fading on the glass. I do not redraw it. I drop the book and breathe until there is nothing but song. I lie there, all eyes and skin, as the song rumbles through the floor and into me and the bird swallows the serpent.


The urge is insatiable.

I began young. I started by stealing from my parents' stash, black vinyl records full of juicy guitar riffs and frenetic drumming, the seductive tones of a clarinet. I got hooked and it wasn't long before I'd gotten the beginnings of my habit: a little plastic tape-deck in bright primary colors and dozens of battered tapes of the good stuff.

I've been addicted for almost 13 years, and I usually go for the stronger stuff now, without the impurities of the low hiss of the cassette. I wander the aisles of the shops, looking for my next hit--will it be the low-fi amphetamines-and-adrenaline album of punk, short and fast, or will it be a long opium-like trip of jazz or swing, heady and intoxicating? I grab an armful, six or eight albums, a variety of everything, because I'm never sure when I'll get to grab that next dose.

I'm sitting in the car, waiting. My stereo's quiet, for once, anticipating the release of today's goods. I try, but I can't wait until I get home for my fix. I desperately rip open the cellophane at the red light. I tell myself I'm in control, that I can stop this anytime, but I know I'm a liar.

My room's full of used paraphernalia, like any junkie's. A massive stereo sits on the crowded table with speakers of various sizes perched all around. The changer's already full, and open cases overflow over the top, filled with an incestuous mismatched mix of rock, classical, techno--anything I can get my hands on. A pair of big headphones sits on a box of albums next to my bed, leftover from my last fix. I rip the albums open, my heart already speeding up in anticipation.

I lay back on my bed and let the sound wash over my body. I am alone, drunk on pulsing basslines and writhing harmonies.

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