different narcotics

They met four cigarettes ago outside the Emergency Room at the Hollywood hospital where they both worked. Saddled with debt from his last motorcycle accident, he took a weekend job chauffeuring the dead and dying. A car accident left her with a crooked spine and an addicted to Vicodin.

She had cigarettes; he was thirsty. She had 500mg Vicodin; he had 50-dollars. The air was cool enough to see your breath on their walk to an opium den-themed bar down the street. Making their way past a parking lot where homeless surf wifi, they walk indoors. In the ill-lit, black and red bar he read the word 'Mike' tattooed on her right forearm and 'The Cure' tattooed to her left wrist.

"I've got fleas," she explains between sips a brown ale while scratching her back. "My dog got them and now they're everywhere." He was less taken aback by her contagious statement as he was her honesty; a rarity in Los Angeles. A relationship buoyed by convenience and a penchant for narcotics. She thought his shoes were too yellow. He thought her fishnets too tattered.

In the flickering candlelight she reaches for her purse, exposing the handle of a knife tucked into her Doc Martin boots. How fast she changed from work attire to El Vira's stepsister. He orders another Bass and her another Newcastle and they exaggerate things the way people do when dissimilar strangers spend time together. The service is slow so they walk to Barnsdale Park overlooking the hospital.

They share cigarettes and steal glimpses of one another during breaks of cloud cover. "I am a black belt in karate," she says. "So why the knife?" he asks. She laughs, reaching for the blade, "I never know about creeps like you." Don't pull a knife on me if you don't have the balls to use it," he responds, lifting his shirt to expose skin.

She traces shapes against his stomach with the business end of a knife; fraying pubic hairs and scratching his skin. "Break the skin," he taunts. Pushing the knife against his skin, she leaves a bee sting-sized hole before flipping the blade and putting the knife away. 'It's all a defense,' he thinks, 'look tough-act tough-imply tough.'

She recoils, hiding behind her black bangs. "Do you always so that? Hide behind your hair?" he asks. "My mom made me play baseball," she starts. "I hated it so I used to stand in the outfield with my glove over my face...habit." They make their way to the Fox and Hound for another round. She orders a Kamikaze and uses the drink to chase down 500 more milligrams of Vicodin before offering him some. "It's too late to take anything that isn't a stimulant," he responds. "I need it for my back," she responds.

A pretext to justify addiction; he knew them well and had a few of his own. Traffic was bad, speed ticket or work didn't do well but at the end of the day it comes down to habit and choosing paddle rather then drift through life. His was the same story just the narcotics were different. "What's the story with Mike?" he asks. "He is the only man I'll ever love," she snaps. "So where is he tonight?" he retorts. "He's dead," she barks. He overdosed on depressants at the wheel while driving her to the airport so she tattooed his name on her forearm as if the crooked spine wasn't enough.

Halfway through her drink she was noticeably intoxicated and could barely stand. He helps her walk back to her car where she says she's ok to drive. "Let me drive you home," he says. "Fuck you," she cracks. "We just met. You don't get to know where I live." Exhaling of cigarette smoke she says, "Don't crash," before she getting in her car. "Don't choke on a pill," he retorts to a noisy shadow trailing off towards North Hollywood.

A week later he awoke in an emergency room bed across town dealing with the same sort of woman. The past nine hours are a blurry collection of disjointed photographs and cannot be ciphered into a coherent narrative. His contorted motorcycle bleeding on the road, having his clothes cut off and being loaded into an ambulance and finally his present location. A nurse walking by in a black sweater triggers an image of a black Chrysler 300, that pulled out in front of him and then his mind goes blank.

He remembers then wants to forget about the woman making the illegal left turn in front of him. The accident fills him with rage, so he trashes about the bed, tugging fresh stitches and sore muscles to the soundtrack of a crying burn victim one bay over until falling back into a Demerol induced sleep. He never saw her again but whenever he takes Vicodin under false pretenses he knows he's not the only one.