This is how it starts

Prologue

Sartre says that I have nothing to live up to. It would be different, he says, if we were hammers or spoons. But we’re not. We’re merely men. At the moment I wish he would just shut the fuck up and let me get down to business. Business is, right now, my own self destruction. My own journey to hell on a road paved with scotch and pussy and the cold blade drawn out across my flesh. Business is blood.

Chapter 1

Will you please just shut the fuck up please. Really, just be quiet and go to sleep. I know you wanna talk, but I’m tired and I need to sleep, okay? If I don’t get to sleep I’m not gonna get to work in the morning and I’m about to be fired anyway, right? So please just go to sleep.

Does that sound like desperation in my voice? Maybe it does. I can’t seem to make myself care if she thinks that it is. Maybe it’s pleading or maybe it’s anger she hears. Whatever it is I just want her to shut the fuck up and let me sleep. Five minutes ago she was on top of me; grinding her crotch into me and grinding me into her crotch. She was making yelping noises like you’d expect to hear from one of those ugly little dogs that rich bitches pack in their purses and breathing like she was on the verge of a minor stroke or something and it couldn’t have been better. She was wet and hot and tight and fucking like this was her last fuck. Now she wants to talk; to ask about if we’re going to go on dates and where is this going and do I have a girlfriend and all I want is to collapse into coma. I’ve known this girl for all of six hours (I think her name is Julie or something) and I’m tired of her already. To tell the truth, I was tired of her as soon as I came. I guess that’s always the problem. I meet some girl at a bar or a party or the zoo; I want to come inside her; she wants happiness and love and adoration or some such horse shit bred into her brain by TV and Barbie dolls. The whole thing drives me nuts. You see, I’ll make sure she gets off; I’ll sleep in the wet spot on the sheets; Jesus, I’ll even call her in a couple of days to see if she wants to get laid again; but I will not have these stupid fucking middle of the night conversations with some one who is, really, just an orifice to me. I don’t love and I don’t want to.
So I’m just about to finally drift when she says Will you go to the craft show with me? and I almost explode. I’m thinking that maybe If I do myself an injury it’ll give her a hint. Maybe I could do my cigarette trick. I haven’t done that one in a long time. You haven’t heard of the cigarette trick? Oh, it’s a good one. I learned it a few years ago when I was in one of those phases. You know. See, the thing with punching yourself is, you always hold back. Even if you don’t want to. When your fist comes at your own face you hesitate and tense up. No matter how badly you want it, your fists just will not inflict the destruction on your face that they reserve for the faces of others.
I toyed around with cutting myself. I really considered it. It’s become quite the fad among teenage girls these days and I figured if it’s good enough for little Judy the cheerleader that blows all her daddy’s golf buddies and Suzy the class whore then it must be good enough for me. The problem is the mess. Blood gets everywhere. It soaks in to fabrics and upholstery. I’m no Heloise, but here’s a household hint: protein stains are a bitch to get out. Blood and semen are the worst. If it weren’t for Oxy-Clean every cheerleader on the planet would be shit out of luck.
So I gave up on the cutting. I kind of fell into the other, the better thing, really. Late one night, having stumbled in from the narcotic streets and forced to explain myself to Susan (I had been living with Susan for almost three months and if I had had any sense I never would have let myself get that far) I collapsed on the floor next to the bed and lit a cigarette.
Where the hell have you been was what she asked. ‘Who have you been fucking’ was what she meant. I couldn’t take it. Since I had agreed to move into her apartment we had fallen into more of these conversations than I could stand and this one was just too much. Since this is, as much as anything, a confession, I suppose that I should admit that I had fucked another girl that night. I had banged this big titted blonde in the bathroom of a club. She was kind of heavy and smelled like vanilla and wild flowers. I had led her into the men’s room by the hand and she had started sucking my cock almost instantly; then I fucked her from behind while she pressed her palms against the sink. It wasn’t that I found her all that attractive. She was just available.
Whatever. I really didn’t want to get into all of that with Susan and the cigarette was already in my hand. I could hear the whine in her voice and I wanted it to stop. She was looking right at me. I touched the tip of the cigarette to the flesh of my forearm. White hot agony shot like sweet heroin through my flesh and I felt the instant blister bubble beneath the surface. Cockfuckershitgodkillerfuckassmotherjesusfuckfuckcuntfuckingcunt was what I thought. If I had a dirty mind it would have been worse. I heard her gasp the way bad actors on soap operas do. That gave me the cajones to go on. What I’ve learned since then is this: you have to do it quickly. You have to jab the red hot cherry tip of the Lucky Strike into your skin without hesitation. It sears. It burns like hell must burn, but it feels good too. When my skin is on fire I feel something that I almost never feel: alive. Most days I’m a straw stuffed headpiece; an empty dead skin sack; an empty space where a man used to stand. With a lit cigarette ripping a hole in me that will take weeks to heal and will leave a permanent scar I’m a man again.
So I’m thinking about playing that game again. I’ve done it a few times now and it always feels extraordinary. The weird part is this: every time I burn myself, I get really hard. My arm or my leg will be on fire, but my cock will be swollen in my pants to the point of exploding. You ever try to jerk off with a wounded arm? It aint easy. You don’t want to even consider what it’s like to accidentally get come in an open burn wound. Remember what I said about protein stains?
I’m still wondering if I should light a cigarette when I realize that she’s asleep. She’s lying there flat on her stomach, naked and slick with a sheen of sweat coating her skin. Her ass is round and firm and for a minute I start to think about fucking her again but sleep is the more imperative concern so I roll on my side and drift off.
When I wake she’s gone. That’s for the best, really. If she was still here I’d have to deal with getting rid of her and that can become lugubrious at best. I lay in bed for a few minutes wondering if I should get up and go to work or not. Finally I decide that I better. So I roll out of bed and head across the apartment. In the kitchen I flip the switch on the coffee maker so it can start brewing. My tongue feels thick and seems to be coated with something viscous and very unpleasant. On the way to the bathroom I open the door to the spare bedroom so that Quetzalcoatl can roam the place while I’m gone. I only lock him up when I have company. A snake-bird-demon-god-south-American-pet-thing is hard to explain.
While I’m brushing my teeth Quetzal beats his cold wings against the stale air and coils his small snake body around my ankle. I shake him off and try to concentrate on not gagging myself with the tooth brush.
The stubble on my face isn’t thick enough to force me to shave, so I take a piss, wash my hands and stumble zombie like to the bedroom to look for something that can pass for clean in the laundry pile next to my bed.