by YOUNG SUNG HERO
Lee felt a heavy vibration surrounding his heart, like bad spirits trapped in an ancient coffin, pounding to escape.
He walked towards Matilda who lying prone on the bed like a child's stuffed toy. It was like he was wading through thick, chocolate glue.
Gil Scott Heron's Home is Where The Hatred Is flashed around Lee's mind just like when Superman flew around the world trying to turn back time to save Lois Lane . . .
Stand as far away from me as you can and ask me whyHang on to your rosary beadsClose your eyes and watch me dieYou keep saying, kick it, quit it, kick it, quit itGod, but did you ever tryTo turn your sick soul inside outSo that the world, so that the worldCan watch you die.
Lee was lost in his own pit of anguish—like he'd arrived at his own funeral wake. He imagined it was similar to watching himself being sucked into a tidal surge on a river bank. Nowhere to go but under. He wished he'd been born a Nubian ibex and lived high up on a mountain, away from here, safe from himself.
The sudden taste of chalk in his mouth made him think he might vomit. Time descended into an enigma trapped in riddle, stuck in a paradox. Was it the chicken or the egg that came first?
He managed to break out of his shell and found himself standing over Matilda. He stared at her face; she looked peaceful, serene even. Only a few hours ago that same face had been contorted into expressions that defied belief. He remembered her on her knees smiling as he bellowed his lust for her. He guessed her to be no older than 22. The enormity of what lay in front of him was slowly beginning to register. If he had a giant, leather, duvet on hand he would've buried himself in it and hid from the world; transformed himself into a hibernating brown bear, and never return from his cavern.
But he wasn't a hibernating bear. And he had no leather duvet.
Lee stared outside. The Swiss snow was pure and peaceful. He exhaled slowly through his mouth. As he did, so his whole body seemed deflated.
He pictured Matilda sitting around a long, wooden dining table with her family celebrating Christmas. The scene was idyllic and warm. Her father was dressed head to toe in tweed. He stood up and made a toast, giving thanks for another happy year. He gave thanks for being blessed with such an amazing family. He looked proudly at his Matilda and remembered the day he taught her to ride push bike. Lee imagined the man's temperature falling as he sensed a tear running down his cheek.
At that moment somewhere in the small, northern Italian village of Ferrara synchronicity floated into the air and fluttered as easily as a sparrow in a park. Matilda's father Hans felt a shudder of strange emotion engulf his being, and then, out of nowhere, a single teardrop teased itself out and ran down his face. Then a smile engulfed his face as he thought about his only daughter Matilda.
Lee had his own tear, but his was one of regret. It fell silently in tandem with another Christmas past.
He remembered he was yelling. With childlike excitement. And innocent joy. He donned a stupid grin as he played with his new toy gun. Unfortunately for Lee, his mother had the hangover to end all hangovers, and to make a noise in this situation was something he should've known not to do. His mother grabbed the gun away and swung it hard. She slammed it against his face, leaving a nasty gash just beneath his left eye. Lee's brand new toy gun was broken.
And so was Christmas for him. Forever.
When Lee came out of his trance, he found himself blowing air into Matilda's mouth and pushing down on her chest. Honestly, he had no idea what he was doing, but felt a strange force urging him on.
He didn't want Christmas to be broken for Matilda, or for anyone else.
“Come on! Live, live. Fucking hell!” His voice pleaded desperation to the universe. He was swearing loudly to a god neither he nor anyone else could prove or disprove.
“Matilda . . . please! Come on. Please!” His yell echoed in the the apartment as if inside a deep cave from a Tolkien novel.
The tears on Lee's face now flowed uncontrollably from his heart. He cried for Matilda, her father, and for himself.
Lee slid an open palm across his eyes and took a deep breath, aware of every molecule of oxygen that entered his lungs. He relished every atom as if it were his first and last. We'll never remember our first or last breath, he pondered. He thought about how people are usually not with their loved ones when they die. The irony of the situation struck Lee: Did Matilda qualify as a "loved one"?, he thought.
Lee continued to blow furiously into her mouth. He knew he wasn't doing it right, but he continued, driven to make some sort of difference. His brown eyes were exactly opposite hers. Even in her death-mask, Matilda's eyes seemed to emit a white light, like two mini suns spiraled from her pupils. The heightened state of danger and heat aroused him—inappropriately so. But her lips felt sweet to the touch. He pumped her chest over and over again. He was racing the clock. To any onlooker it would've looked like a violent assault by a crazy weirdo.
After what felt like hours (but in reality was mere minutes) Lee's movements slowed. His head became droopy. His arms came to a complete standstill and hung down by his side. He mind told him it was done. Her life was over. He should go and lie down—think what to do next. But it was not over. It couldn't be.
Involuntarily, both Lee's arms shot up. The surprise of this action had not yet registered, because soon after, he realized all of his fingers intertwined to form a big fist, which he then extended behind his head. The movement made Lee think it was a bit like medieval catapult ready to go off.
He slammed down his fist onto her chest with as much power as he could muster. Matilda shot up like a plant in an Amazonian jungle desperate for light. As she did, she made exhaled a terrifying roar. It sounded like a thousand monks chanting OMMMMM.
Matilda had been brought back from the dead. She would see another Christmas.
At that life-or-death moment, a radio alarm clock simultaneously switched itself on in Lee's mind. Lou Reed's Perfect Day chimed forth from a tinny speaker:
Your going to reap just what you sow;You're going to reap just what you sow.
Lee collapsed onto his knees, burst into tears, and passed out.
When he came to, he felt the vibrations of an alien species towering above him. Or maybe it was more like a hungry vulture circling over a dying lion cub on an African savanna. The cramps in his stomach gurgled. He wanted out of his own skin. Then it hit him: he was going through withdrawals. Dope sick. He glanced up and his eyes widened. Bella, the woman he had organised the gig with, towered above him like the gatekeeper of sin.
“Get up, We need to talk. Now!” she said, imperiously. Her wide, glaring eyes and facial scowl made her look like an angry headmistress.
“Okay. I just need to go to the toilet,” Lee lied softly. He'd spotted her red high heels and for the briefest of moments considered having a quick wank whilst her back was turned. The thought flicked a tinge of guilt, but not enough to suppress it.
He put his trousers on and ran to the toilet. Once inside, he rummaged through his pocket until he found what he was looking for: in less than a minute a small token of militant Afghani jihad was inside his bloodstream slowing down the growth of all his cells, numbing his brain.
He exited the loo and strolled back to Bella—that lovely Medusa. She was still standing, waiting for him like the naughty schoolboy he was.
“Sit down,” she said. Bella pointed at a retro-looking, moulded-plastic white chair. Lee thought: Probably Danish. 1950s. He'd seen a similar chair on a daytime TV program about antiques. It looked inviting, but spiky. Lee imagined some short-haired Danish twat in a red brick factory taking pleasure in knowing that one day in the future, an English guy would be sitting on his chair after almost killing a girl. This chair was made for this exact moment, thought Lee.
Magic moments. When two hearts are carin'.
Magic moments, mem'ries we've been sharing.
He half-expected Bella to start whistling.
Instead, she stared.
“You're a drug addict aren't you,” she said matter-of-factly.
Lee felt laser beams coming out of her eyes. Her words hit him and he just . . . sat there.
He looked around and made a mental inventory of the room: a tasteful Miro print, wide screen TV, shiny coffee machine. Maybe if he pretended she wasn't there, she would disappear.
“You. Are. A. Drug. Addict!” The way Bella was looking at him made him feel like he was going to turn into stone. Perhaps she actually was Medusa.
Lee said, “Where's Matilda?” He had the sudden recollection of everything that had just happened before he had passed out.
A devilish imp crept up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder before disappearing. He felt juvenile, scared — like the time when he was locked in a school boiler room toying with a Ouija board and afterwards his mate tried to jump off the ferry on the way to France, because he thought he was possessed.
“Matilda's fine. You're extremely lucky; she could've died. You're fortunate not to be in a Swiss prison cell right now. If she pressed charges of assault and attempted murder you'd be in the shit. I'm not even going to mention your . . . weird sex games.”
For no apparent reason Lee heard the word murder said in a strong Liverpudlian accent, the type that makes the sound of the word go up in pitch. Think: John Lennon on helium gas.
“Answer my question, Lee. You are a drug addict, aren't you? Aren't you?!"
He had never been called a drug addict before—he certainly didn't think of himself in that way. Of course he did too many drugs. And perhaps had a "problem" with them . . . but an addict? Fuck that! In his mind, an addict was someone who robbed old ladies. Who sold their bodies for crack. Who lived on the street and looked for cigarette butts in the bottom of rubbish bins. Could a drug addict fly around the world, deejay for the world's rich and famous, and have great sex with different girls every weekend?
Bella continued to stare into Lee's soul, asked “Lee! Tell me! Are you a—”
“Yes! I fucking am. Okay?”
Lee couldn't believe what he was saying; he just wanted to get the bitch off his case.
I ain't no drug addict, I ain't afraid of no ghost. I'd love to be a Ghostbuster, thought Lee. Always lyrics. Always music. Never the here and now. I'm not here, now, he thought.
Lee glanced out the window. The sun reached earth from outer space hitting the snow with all its power, but not so strong as to melt it. Families, weighed down in ski gear, waddled along like arctic penguins acting as if nothing was happening.
There was always something happening.
Bella continued, “I have a daughter like you. She's lost in London. The drugs that she injects into her bloodstream have taken her soul." Bella paused and approached closer. She said, "Look . . . Lee . . . I can see that you've got potential. I want to help you. You just need to wake up and see what is in front of you. Do you not see?”
Lee was lost in her chat—all he wanted to do was smoke more gear. The crown of thorns on his head made him feel like the liar he knew he was. He could see everyone from his past, present, and future mocking him—sneering at him. He was a fool. A jester in his own damn circus of confusion. Lee desperately wanted to kill this feeling, but he was stuck in the moment, remembering every instant in all its painful detail.
Lee could hear Bella's voice mumble on . . . as if in the distance. His own words droned in his head DRUG ADDICT, DRUG ADDICT, DRUG ADDICT. The mantra kept any semblance of clarity at bay. Was he really a drug addict? For a moment he became lost in his daydream of deceit. When he snapped out of it, it dawned that he'd been doing drugs—everyday—in one form or another—since he was eleven years old. It was the only way he knew how to live.
Bella's voice slowly came back into Lee's awareness. She ceased sounding like one of Charlie Brown's teachers. She still sounded odd, like the notes were wrong but now . . .
The melody was clear.
“I can get you into rehab," she said. Her previous visage as a sexual object morphed into the mother Lee should have had. Someone who cared.
He chewed at his jaw. The drugs were still coursing through his veins, damaging his brain, squeezing out any semblance of hope from each of his neurons. Desperation.
He remembered how he had carried his Batman trike to the top of the stairs one day. He must've been maybe about six. He had looked down at what seemed like a great height and felt like he was about to vomit out of fear. The danger, the unknown, the fear. He loved it as a kid. It made him feel alive. He launched his trike down the stairs. He broke his leg. He knew that it was going to happen, but did it anyway.
He didn't want to feel like this anymore. He was sick of breaking his leg.
Lee placed both palms in his face, and sighed. Drug addict.
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