So I was thinking about how weird things were during my walk that last Sunday morning before I ate the train. It was around six or seven or so; I don't really know. I don't wear watches. But it was some time pretty early, so I was still in that half daze you hang around in for a while when you've just woken up from a crass-dreaming, pissed-off-stomach kind of sleep. If I'd been thinking right, I would have gone back to bed. I mean, I didn't have anywhere to go or anything, but I still felt kinda dependent on my regimen: go to bed early, wake up early, eat some fruit and go for a walk. Dr. Mills says a healthy sleep and exercise schedule, plus this God-awful diet he gave me, is the best way to get over my problem. To be honest, I still don't feel like I'm getting that much stronger or healthier or anything, but I guess he would know better than me since he's a doctor and all. But, like I was saying, I was just used to kicking the sheets at farmhouse hours, so I did even though I had a pretty late night. I guess at about six o'clock I ate a banana and a bowl of one of those cereals that doesn't taste good and then headed over to the tracks.
I walk the railroad tracks across the street from my apartment building every morning. Supposedly, the trains still come by on a regular schedule, but at the time I had never seen one. It's nice to be out in the air, early in the morning. For the past couple of years, before I cleaned up, I couldn't have told you what "early in the morning" was like. In fact, I don't think I ever woke up before noon while I was holding on to my horse. But it's really not bad at all. It helps me get my mind off stuff. When I talked to my brother, Chris, about it, it kinda surprised him. He said that he thought just walking and letting my mind wander would be counter-productive, but it's really not. Walking the tracks relaxes me. It's just kinda calm and blue and mellow. Like sailing a boat or something, though I've never done that. It's being in my apartment that really makes me freak the hell out. Sometimes I see stuff in there that just makes me want to kill myself, and I really don't know why. I'll look at a lamp, and I'll remember the time that the lamp and I went dancing around the kitchen together. I'll remember how I thought she was a really sweet thing, and that time she asked me to marry her. I'm pretty sure I said yes, because I also remember the time I told her all about for-better-for-worse-'til-death-do-us-part, and I just want to open my arms up and lie down on the couch and drain all that shit out of me.
Sometimes it makes me want to go turn the shower knob as far as it will go, strip naked, jump in and just hope that I'm really as clean as it makes me feel.
Sometimes, I want to go out and find a cheap young lady and share my germs with her and make her feel the shit I feel and then leave her behind somewhere.
And sometimes it makes me really wanna go out and take a sweaty fistful of cash over to Ray's place and disappoint everybody again. And any time I start thinking about any of that, I feel it a million times worse. I feel sick. I feel like shit. My heart kinda slows down and my eyes won't really look very hard at anything, even if I want them to. For a while I was in a hospital room. That was alright. I don't like hospitals that much, but this one was a special clinic for fuck-ups like me. Everybody was real nice to me there, like they thought if they said the wrong thing my heart might explode or my legs might fall off or something, so it really wasn't that bad. It wasn't until they said I could go back to my apartment that I started having a hard time.
See, I'm completely clean now, and for so many months it's just been customary to be fucked up in one way or another. While I was in the hospital, they kinda worked me down slowly or something. I don't know all the medical technicalities, but basically I got a shot every day, then every other day, then every few days, then eventually not at all. It wasn't that bad. At least they were sweet and polite as all hell. Some people aren't, now. My parents aren't. I didn't have any money when I had to go to the clinic, and they wouldn't pay for it because they thought I was a disgrace. I mean, they were mad enough when I didn't finish college and didn't marry that girl from next door they liked so much (though I can't help but wonder how my mom would've taken to the lamp). When they heard I was up north shooting heroin and shacking up with crack-addicted strippers and hanging out with Satan and whatever else was in their heads, they just decided I wasn't their son anymore. I guess they didn't really need second boy. They had a perfectly good one already, who could do math and write sentences and make money and probably marry any girl from next door he wanted. I'm glad I got a great brother like Chris. He's a rich guy, works at a law firm and has a mansion and a Mercedes and everything, and he paid for my treatment. I know he didn't have to. He could've easily pretended that he was an only child and gone on with his life while I turned up frozen to death or foaming at the mouth or whatever. My parents didn't seem to have a problem with that. Shit, I probably would have done it in his position. But somehow, Chris saw me through it, from the times I was shooting with every meal that I didn't eat to the times I wanted to bleed to death because I felt so dirty. What makes people nice like that?
But wasn't I telling a story? I guess I've really chased tangents for a while now. What I was starting off about was that Sunday morning. It was cold out for the first time this year, and so I was wearing my red jacket for the first time. I didn't think much of it at the moment, but I hadn't worn that jacket since before I went to the clinic. I was about half a mile away from the crossing where I started when I put my hand in the left pocket felt a deft, sharp prick. I wasn't expecting it at all, and with the sudden bolt of pain came all the feelings that I got when I was so disgusted with myself. It was crazy - the way things were at that moment and the way things were back when I was still hooked. While I was on the ride, I was living for the moment. But later, after I was all cured and cleaned-up and cooked alive, I was living against the moment. I was living to kill the moment. I just stood there for a minute, squeezing a drop of fresh blood out of my fingertip, thinking about how I had been such a slave that I actually carried a spare needle in my jacket pocket. That was the jacket I wore to work before I got fired, the jacket I wore to school before I flunked out, and the jacket I wore to visit my parents during the holidays, back when I was their son... all with a goddamn needle in my pocket. I was so helpless I didn't even realize it.
Just the way I still was, even after I was done with all of it.
So I'm cured, right?
Eat, sleep and exercise and I'll be fine, right?
I never realized how helpless I was.
And I never realized how little difference it made.
And I don't think I ever realized that I'm my own drug.
I never realized there was a train coming, either. I guess I might have, but if I did, I blocked it out. The brakes screamed like eagles at me while I was standing there - my face to the ground, one hand in the other - but it was too late. That part wasn't the bad part, though. Honestly, it didn't even hurt.