by Young Sung Hero
The customs guy was short and stocky like a British bulldog.
Steroids, Lee thought. Small-cock man.
An action-man haircut gave him the look of wannabe army. Cheap leather shoes confused and muddled the look further.
Lee glanced over at TT, and received a smile. Or was it a tremor of dread? The fear-shadow crept up behind Lee to pull his pants down.
I need to pull myself together or I'm fucked.
The customs guy placed Lee's bags on a metal table; the scene looked boring, but dangerous. The bloke glanced at Lee and peered inside him, like a brain surgeon figuring where first to place the scalpel. Lee felt a drip of sweat rolling down his balls.
A suspicious, monotone droll droned from the customs official. Apparently, he simply loved his job. “A lot of CDs. Isn't it?”
Lee tried to reply, “I'm a DeeJay.” But the mouthful of heroin caused it to come out: “Mmmm ah Dgzeh,” like a ventriloquist having a bad day.
The eyes of the official lit up at the sound of the word DeeJay. In the customs world, DJ is right up there with Muslim. Lee got stopped almost every time he travelled. Bastard customs wankers, he thought.
The reality, of course, was it had more to do with the fact that when Lee travelled he always looked like shit. And that he usually carried drugs with him.
Jim Morrison came to mind:
You know that it would be untrue . . .
You know that I would be a liar . . .
“I'm just going to take these to be swabbed, sir.”
Fucking hell, I'm gonna get nicked.
The official reached in and grabbed a few CDs from Lee's bag. The crack paranoia became too much for him. He was melting. Big time. Grabbing a small bottle of water from his bag, Lee put it to his mouth and swallowed the heroin packets down in one gulp. He had left two bags underneath his tongue for "emergency usage." He could easily swallow them dry, if needed. However, the water was a welcome assistant to accomplish the task.
After a few minutes, the customs wanker strolled back with the CDs in his hand, “Thank you sir. Sorry to keep you waiting," he said non-chalantly.
The official turned and walked away, leaving Lee standing and wondering what move came next. His eyes turned like a car's wiper blades in a rainstorm, first to the left, then to the right, waiting for this moment in time to be changed. Easy now, he managed to breathe.
“You okay, babe?" TT asked, looking at Lee puzzled.
Lee returned a gaze as if someone had hit him in the face with a wet cod. He muddled along and managed to get to his assigned seat. He should have been starting to ease up, but the tension seemed to be oddly building. It was like a guitarist cranking a string on his instrument with a twist of the tuning knob. Each second was a twist tighter. Higher. Pitching up. Breaking soon?
The butterflies in his stomach insistently lurched and churned each time the plane juddered. Fuck me. Did we not learn anything from Icarus?
He thought back to the previous evening while he lay in bed staring out his bedroom window. A solitary seagull glided above the railway track just 50 metres distant from his building. The bird's wing was slender, long, flirtatious even. He wondered why the bird hovered there. Was it scanning the ground seeking the truth? Lee had opened the window, stuck his head out and shouted: “Don't fly too close to the sun!”
There was no sun. It was night. He remembered the taste of the city; it had been bitter, grimy.
The playful reminiscence was interrupted by the stark reality—he was in a plane, and wired as shit. Again, the plane dropped several hundred feet, and an involuntary gasp deep from within him caused a bag of heroin to gurgle up. It got stuck in Lee's throat. He coughed like a barking dog, trying to dislodge it.
A woman opposite him glanced over briefly. Her eyebrows arched like a surprised feline sucking on a lemon. There was something unnerving about the woman—her pupils seemed endless and unmoving, like Medusa staring into a void. Oddly, it left Lee not only shuddering, but strangely turned on.
Medusa's tears could wait. Of more concern right now was whether a bag of smack was going fly out and hit TT in the head if Lee didn't begin to control his hacking. He placed a fist into his mouth, attempting to stave off the itching urge to cough.
“You okay, sugar? You look a bit pale. No puking on me, ya bugger!” TT said playfully. She giggled like a schoolgirl, but Lee could see her concern was genuine in her eyes. Also her soft hand on his shoulder was a good indication.
“Mmmmm,” was all he could manage. In that moment, he felt tiny—a single grain of sand on a mile-long stretch of abandoned beach.
It took twenty minutes until the seatbelt signs switched off. With every minute, Lee counted each desperately, like the taxman collecting his due with every turn of a new form.
Lee leapt from his seat in a shot, gluttony and lust tapping every nerve in his rattled brain, trapped in the warped beauty of a deadly sin unable to see through the mist. It's colour, red like the blood of humanity. He shot through the aisle with one goal in mind. Get. To. Fucking. Toilet. Now.
His hand gripped the flimsy toilet door handle, draining his knuckles white. He slammed the door behind him and looked in the mirror. For fuck's sake, Lee, pull yourself together, mate. Lee inhaled deeply to contain the butterflies and spat the bags of heroin into his sweaty palm. He wiped the saliva from the bags (he thought they looked like a chihuahua's little turds) and stuffed them into the small pocket of his jeans. He left one ball on the side, ready to snort. The plane toilet smelt artificial, like a kid's lemon drink his mother just mixed up.
His teeth tore at the ball of smack like a cheetah ripping flesh off a gazelle. In a flash he racked up a fat line. There we go—that's more like it, love. He rolled up a colourful Swiss banknote and snorted the thick line in one, perfect motion. Lee closed his eyes and waited to play kiss chase in a darkened room. The song Sexy Boy by Air noodled into his ears. Exiting the toilet, he began to whistle as he floated down the aisle.
A thought from the past intruded in Lee's consciousness. His friend "Scottish Billy" from primary school had told him his theory about whistling: You know what it means if a girl's whistling? It means they're horny. And if they hum? It means they're on, you know, their period. Lee didn't have much time to mull it over though, because he was soon back in his airplane seat, feeling fine.
“Hey girl” Lee's gently poked TT's arm with his finger. Smiles all around. “Gin o'clock, then?” TT clapped her hands, her former concern transformed into childish delight.
“Oh my god, we're gonna have so much fun. Do you remember last year with Jamie the Sax? You both tried skiing down that mountain on his saxophone case. And snorting vodka with those guys from NASA. You snogged that old lady then dragged her onto the floor when you passed out.”
TT continued to reminisce and Lee listened in a content, dopey haze, happy to let the world fly by.
The journey from Zurich airport to the small Swiss mountain top village was beautiful and epic. Lee half-expected atmospheric music to be piped down from the clouds, God himself to appear and high-five him in satisfaction over a job well done. The contours on the mountains reminded him of love.
The long, winding road was surrounded by snow covered treetops. Through kaleidoscopic vision, a lush frozen blanket covered every surface. The air, crisp. New. Clean. A frozen blanket covered every surface and the air was crisp. If you were to draw Christmas this is what it would've looked like.
The driver took them to a beautiful alpine apartment in the middle of the town. Birch floors, an expensive coffee machine, and Bose speakers in each room gave it all the stamp of Swiss authenticity. The expansive lounge windows display the white slice-of-heaven below.
To Lee's relief, TT said she was tired, and conveniently disappears into her room. As soon as she's gone he dove into the kitchen, frantically searching for tinfoil. After having gone through every drawer twice, he concluded he was out of luck. But . . . I could always go buy some. The idea wandered effortlessly into his head.
However, with no language skills to speak of, communicating his needs at the local supermarket was difficult, at best. The shop assistant became confused by his exaggerated hand gestures. Is she trying to mug me off? he thought.
But the Swiss shopkeeper only stared, perplexed by Lee's attempts. Lee resorted to speaking slowly, then loudly. "Alu-mi-num foil. Y'know. Like you cook a chicken in!" He tucked in his arms and flapped like a chicken whilst clucking. His outfit of large, blue puffer jacket, fake fur hat and black winter gloves must have only added to the absurd scene.
I must look like a right cunt! he thought.
Sweat ran down his brow. A small crowd gathered, abandoning their own shopping to witness the ridiculous exhibition. Lee was about to give up, when suddenly, an elderly Swiss man stepped forward to intervene.
“You want for the cooking the foil, ummm..." the man struggled to find the correct vocabulary from whatever little English he had learned from his schooldays. "The silver . . . foil?"
“Yes, yes!” Lee shouted, a bit too eagerly. Triumphantly, he nodded and grinned, more with anticipation than any gratitude for the locals' desire to assist him.
“Errr . . . I cook a chicken.” Lee quickly added, trying to sound authentic.
Back in the apartment, he ripped open the foil to chase the unattainable dream. There was no dancing, best-man's speech or bouquet of flowers, but after inhaling one line, a strange movement twerked inside his gut. He'd completely forgotten about the gear still inside him!
He grabbed the plastic supermarket bag and sprinted to the toilet, desperately holding in the explosion brewing below. He torn down his pants, then squatted, carefully. The concentration upon his face must have made him look like he was figuring out the meaning of life. Lee pondered the thought: he realized that if his hands were in the right position he would have resembled Auguste Rodin's The Thinker.
Within seconds he was shitting into the plastic bag. It was a strange sensation, like wearing a g-string backwards. It stunk like a rotting siamese-twin abortion.
He'd just about completed his little task when he heard the clamor of a key wiggling the lock open to the main door. He wiped his arse and pulled up his jeans, then tied a hurried knot in the shit-bag and placed it in the metallic bathroom bin.
“Hi.” A feminine French accent echoed through the corridor.
He glanced at his watch, 6pm. Fuck! He had forgotten about the meeting with the company that booked him to travel to Switzerland in the first place. He prayed that his bedroom door was closed, since he'd left drug paraphernalia strewn in plain sight.
Lee heard several footsteps. The haphazard click, clack of their shoes striking the wood floor dug into his nerves. The people had entered the apartment and evidently were approaching closer.
He stuck his head out of the bathroom door, and first thing he noticed about her is her large, gold earrings, as gleaming as King-Fucking-Tut's own sarcophagus. Then . . . the smell hit him—even though it had been derived from his own arse, it was as pungent as anything he's ever known—like decomposing cheese left out too long in the sun.
“Hi! I was just having a wash—I'll be out in a second.”
Lee tried not to sound stoned, but he thought his voice punched out squeaky, like David Beckham's.
And then he looked at his visitor's faces. Distorted visages was more like it—all pinched together with gloomy frowns. It was obvious that they can smell the filth. Lee's filth. One of the women looked familiar to Lee; she reminded him of Medusa. And then it hit him—it's the woman from the plane, the feline-looking one.
The entourage proceeded into the front room, and as they do Lee covered his tracks by spraying half a can of deodorant into the hallway in hissing bursts.
He ducked back into the bathroom, the scene of his odoriferous crime, and sat for a minute. After gathering himself, he proceeded to the sink and splashed cold water onto his face. Lee looked into the mirror, took a deep breath, then opened the door and prepared himself to face the music.
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