In Virtue

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oils on canvas

I am an alcoholic. i haven’t had a drink for nine years. i am not really 29 like it says on my profile, i am 35. i only LOOK 29. less. 23 or so. i don’t know why. i haven’t aged. i still get asked for id. this little story is very dark and has BAD SWEARY WORDS. please heed the warning and don’t get upset by linguistic semantic vernacular.

(Fill the clubhouse with blood and the halls with bone.)

Smells like rotting seaweed but sweet and tart in my throat. Glad I never lived there I mean it’s hard enough to survive a conversation with someone I don’t know let alone someone who’s got my whole life history on the tip of their brain. Walk into the shop my god I know this girl I remember her face half-blurred in warm brown spirits but beautiful still. Too late to walk out now she’s seen me pretend I’m looking at something, great walk right into the porn magazines mind seething in suggestion but turn around right quick before I follow that path.
Buy my cigarettes without looking at her of course I have to can’t help it and see myself reflected in her eyes contempt so huge it’s making her head bulge.
Get out fast blood draining from my face fuck it forgot my change she calls out and I have to go back (go back! Go back!) I think she sees the broken capillaries and swell of cheek hair sticking out in tufts and then I’m through the fucking door.
Hot concrete under my feet chewing gum cigarette butts smells like gum trees and gravel. Slide down the brick wall scraping my back hard to get the cigarettes out in the morning though of course it’s nearly afternoon. Tastes like burned rubber but I need it that’s for sure hacking for a little while and feeling every poisoned nerve.
Sitting there with my head in my hands have to just now can’t hold it up. Looking through my eyelids red like the rest of the colours inside my heart booming at odd intervals and making me flinch feel the blood surge, fall, wait, surge, fall, wait wait wait surge.
You can take your hands away from your face you can you can. But it’s okay faded back into my body a dry leaf into water and I sit and actually do take my hands away from my face.
Getting up never surprises me any more I’m used to how this meat functions now and I’m off hiding deeply behind hair and sunglasses hunched and hunched into my shirt like an old man gotta get my shit together for once so hungry I can feel my ribs through my shirt, through my skin so easily trace each one outlined in tight thin flesh.
Seems so long but I know that its not hate walking fucking four letter word walk feet hurt but no more than the rest of me.
Home and walking up the driveway fast feet focused so hard have to slow down fucking heart playing up again boom and twist inside my chest like a truck backfiring but fleshy and thick. Gets me that the noise is so deep in my ears when there’s no room for resonance in me, still.
Open the door paranoid cow locked it gotta get the keys out not so hard now that my jeans are only held up by my belt feel it hard against my hips fish the keys out hot from close to my skin heated alcohol fever must be burning so much energy no idea where it’s coming from can’t be much left.
Through the door and cool darkness.
Make the few last steps relief strong and sweet that I make it home again though I know it’ll be hours before I feel connected to my limbs by more than flesh. I can smell carpet wet and old beer oh god there’s still some left I know there is think yeah pretty sure I passed out before I could get my fast little hands to the back of the carton cardboard already soggy guitar pick stuck in the top like a feather. NOT that way not yet though the sensation of want floods me to the tendons.
Craving takes over and turns my hands into claws and my head into a fucking funnel. I have to hang over the sink fingers doing that compulsive dance twitch lurches across my face like a wire hook.
Through it and upright wiping that sweet sweaty face glazed inward and I walk past the fridge like I’m not being stalked by something cold and perfect inside and out.
Upstairs as desire retreats though my mouth still waters so that I’m actually drooling.
And this is the time huh? Morning, is it? Smell something apart from breath and hitch my pants up. Push the door open and there she is, curled up and stinking just like me I always check to see that there’s still life in those lips when sleep or unconsciousness takes the pretence away for a while. Sure I know they’re cracked and she moves and wasn’t sleeping anyway.
“Hi honey I am home.”
I sit without staggering and she grimaces and pushes the hair from her face. “I have cigarettes. I have nausea. I have disquiet.”
The room is so unreal it’s got sunlight pouring in all over the clothes on the floor. There’s broken glass in the bed. It is glittering. Stuff still glitters.
“Mmm.” She pulls one from the proffered pack like it’s a small dangerous animal and I thank Christ one more time that I am not alone in this but have abject company in my abject immolation. Her face is swollen too and I can see the marks on her arms where she scratches her skin in her sleep. They match the scars, offset the sheets. “I have,” she lights it with a match that sputters sulphur (such appropriation) “no sympathy.” She retches, coughs. Her fingers turn white on the grey-yellow bed-sheets. She takes another drag.
I can hear kids playing outside. Kids. Playing.
“You passed out on the floor last night with your arm in the spilled puddle of wine. You still had your drink in your hand. But it’s ok. I rescued it.” She hacks out a cough and I realise that the shakes have started again for the day and my upper lip is twitching twitch twitch twich so fucking helpless can’t even control my own movements so what Paul so what.
She sits up and I can see the faintness wash through her and hurt her and her cigarette extrapolates the tremors that have her the delirium tremens.
“David turned up last night. He told me you had called my Mum and told her she was a cunt. Did you do that Paul?”
She looks at me for a second with her big dark once perfect eyes rimmed in red puffed and poisoned like me with me like me. Cutting arc of guilt whips through me did I did I? as the marionette Paul in blackout; the betrayer the monster the liar the drunk.
She was a nice lady she was nice she hated me now but when we moved in when it started she did the washing for us one time I think the puke on Sarah’s sleeve or maybe the cum stains she didn’t offer again nice lady perm and a four wheel drive and ironed sleeves and nice shoes. “I don’t know.”
“When was the last time we had sex? The last time you could? You don’t know that either huh? DO YOU?” She says the words in a monotone scraping, no acrimony it is everywhere for us anyway.
“I fucked David on the couch. At one point I looked down and he had his foot on you. I screamed like a banshee when I came.
“You didn’t wake up.”
She takes another drag and holds out the cigarette.
I reach and take and breathe it in and I am not here I am not.
I put it out on my cheek. Slowly.
It hurts.
“Yeah.” She says, and she is crying. “Yeah, Paul. That’s great.”
She puts her hand on mine.
“You stupid, stupid man… you stupid… you broken…”
She takes something like a breath.
“You cripple.”
She cups my chin. She is crying. She is crying.

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alcholic blood drapery figure male man oil

Artwork Comments

  • Paula Stirland
  • Paul Douglas Robertson
  • salsbells69
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