I also enjoy drug fiction. I’m talking the work of William S. Burroughs for wild, stream–of-consciousness imagery and gritty street truths; and Hubert Selby Jr., for taking it down to the gutter and placing the needle to the literary vein. Tack on a bit of Jerry Stahl—Permanent Midnight is completely insane—and Charles Bukowski for the liquid side of addiction. All of these writers, in one way or another, transcribe truths that most of us would not admit to or even acknowledge. Well, perhaps--we writers like digging into those places, too; at least the writers of worth... Either way, they have a knack for crawling under my skin, into my brain, and becoming my addiction when I read their work. Fascinating, since I’ve only dabbled in drugs and don’t drink much at all—wine; Jack Daniels; love Bloody Marys, though.
The creative aspect of drug fiction is what really hooks me, as I enjoy dabbling as well, allowing my brain to go to those places where the junky might go, and allowing the speculative elements room to roam. Or, as with this story, slipping into their world and acclimating myself to the irresistible urges via words.
This one is the ultimate drug run gone wrong, so wrong.
Here’s a sample of the madness as it takes off, another opening sequence. We get a feel for our amped up narrator, as well as the other side of the dual meaning for the title of this story—some people got religion as their addiction, y’know?
The knock at the door could only mean one thing: Desi was here, with the drugs no less, not that I could really deal with any more right now, but why stop anything of such mind-numbing, reality altering magnitude when it’s got the pedal jammed to the floor?
I can stop tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow.
I unlatch the lock, swinging open the door with much flourish, eyes skittish, wanting to grab him and drag him in and--
“Hello! I won’t mean to take up much of your time.” A Jehovah’s Witness or some like-minded Messenger of God, fercrissakes, and his silent, strap-on buddy.
Options align as bowling pins awaiting the kiss of the rapidly spinning ball. Do I torture him for my own amusement with snippets of my thespian talents and portray a Satanic serial killer, complete with a drooling, halitosis smitten smile and a black marker upside-down cross on my forehead ala Manson’s swastika etchings? Do I resort to politeness, after all, I was voted Mr. Politeness in kindergarten, given a red ribbon, like one does for a prize pig at the county fair--“My, he sure is plump!”--in a quest to expedite his removal posthaste, without eliciting anything more than a furrowed brow or a plea caught in his throat, God’s Messenger gagging on the message?
He interrupts the squirming, beached marlin madness in my head.
“But we're visiting folks in your neighborhood”—no way, I think, if they’d made it to Harold’s they’d be in the sausage grinder by now, live cams filming it all for internet prosperity—“and were wondering if you read the bible.”
I pause, options hazy, and choose the prize pig route: I snort at him.
Yeah, this one’s nuts! But as nuts as it is, it does what I call the Joe R. Lansdale thang. What are you talking about, John Claude? Well, when I first started reading Lansdale in the 80s, I loved the way a story might just mosey along and he's just rambling on in mega-funny guy mode, or simply getting disgusting, and it would meander and dawdle and the reader would get settled in, kickin’ back to the lunacy and WHAM—all of a sudden there’s a nail through the hand, or there’s some other shocking sense of mis-logic as rule of thumb, and the whole thing now has you by the lapels and there is no letting go until the grim and usually quite messed up finale.
This one kinda does that. Totally nuts!
I tell ya, it’s all about balance and pacing when laying out the TOC to make optimum sense of themes and overlapping elements, so the next story is the other addiction story, but of a completely different tone. Serious as a sledgehammer lobotomy.
Another story with a song as the title? Yeah, well...