Stranger's Mark II: Vice

IT IS NOT HIS FIRST TIME. He has never done it with others, just that he is broke now. He traces his way through the dingy street, voices of the past, present and future screaming in his head, all protesting nothing in particular – only endless rants. He fears he’s going schizophrenic, yet he knows where the real people are. They are men of the shadows and won’t be visible like every other street person, and he also knows how to find them. That is second nature.
Then he starts seeing signs; teenage peddlers with bloodshot eyes, bodies wrapped in thick jackets – sick sons of the drug! He is nauseated by the sight.
“Isn’t that me in the black jacket?” he freezes, “God, what am I doing here, slinging in this, this forsaken slum?”
Then he sees the skyline of California, "oh, but I am not in the states, I am here, here!” It clears out again.
He sighs; he needs to get out of this mess but how to start doing that beats him. Since his return from the good US of A he’d never had it so bad. As a fact, he’d never anticipated he would be this broke this fast, but numerous friends, drinks and drugs don’t make good financial managers. But how could he have told them he was deported, or worse, that he was blowing away his last few dollars?
A few months ago he was the endlessly lavishing Yankee show boy; today he hides even from his own shadow. He makes sure the face-cap it tipped down his face proper, and because he doesn’t take chances he show-cases real dark specs. No one needs know it’s him. Besides, it is a notorious part of town.The road is home to potholes with resident slushy waters ganging up against smooth mobility, and mud splashing is a usual expectation from motorists. He doesn’t care if they become lakes he would swim to his addiction. A remote sharp sensation pierces some nerve under his armpit, and the feeling spreads across his skin, he knows what it is. He quickly edges to a corner on the narrow street, and counters it with swift deep scratch all over his body, rupturing old boils. The sweet tickling sensation it stirs begins to get sour but he wouldn’t stop till he draws blood. They call it withdrawal symptom, he calls it hell. He had never lacked the stuff for once in his eight years stay over there. Selling it meant had always assured personal supplies, and limitless hours of high. Now he is stuck in the dilemma of reality.He has to stop it anyhow, but he has to find some and take a little just for today, or he’d be dead. He hasn’t been able to eat for a full day now, the little he’d took earlier had all found its way out of his mouth moments later, as if his stomach needed to be avoided.
After a while he returns to the street, the pain from the scratch somehow countering the cause. He smiles sheepishly to the rest of the world who for good reasons remain unaware of him. He gesticulates and wonders aloud, “cause and effect, check that out mother f….. Aussh…I think I am losing it, man.” But he reprimands himself too late.
Out of the corner, his eyes catch a puzzled glance from a passerby, but he feigns a straight face.“Indeed, you are losing it, man,” the passerby retorts in thought.Suddenly he sniffs a faint smell in the air; he could tell what heroin is with all his sensory organs shut-down, he is in heroin and heroin is in him, they are two that have become one; bound in one unbreakable union.
“I’m in love with the shit, ain’t gonna give it up, man, not for anything, man!”He has had it all; ganja, amphetamine, methadone, cocaine, heroine; but nothing is, or would be like heroine. It must have been the name that set his heart for it. There is something about the name he can not resist, and the source makes it even more romantic: poppy to opium to morphine to heroine, what a sweet pedigree… man, how cool it makes him feel.
It wafts through the air again, hmmm… that is the real shit man. His body suddenly begins to shake in desperate desire, like he is going to die, and he needs it so badly now, now, now…He hates to know he is not in the states now more than ever. In that desperation he sees the source. Less than two dozen meters from him there is a narrow opening leading to a dark shack. it thunders with loud music. The first room fronts a decrepit bar, then a restaurant that he wonders what it sells, pig-food maybe.
Instinct tells him there is a third one and he pushes through the next door.Inside, men lie about in a careless circle; drugged, numb, lost in their fantasies. He is full of envy for them. The expression on their still faces range from stupid to desolate, yet in their subconscious mind there is that rather illusive sense of thrill, of freedom, of utopia. His legs hardly carry him, his hands shake like they are not his; like they would finger anything that comes their way, and he is sure they will. He needs to take care or he’d get himself killed here, he has not a dime on him. A man walks in, knocks on a wooden window on the wall, slips in some money, “I need to go to heaven,” he screams without dignity. A hand reciprocates with a half-full syringe and a new needle in a matter of seconds. Scumbag, you will be back from your heaven sooner than you expect, and I will be making more money, the hand’s mind is thinkiing
The heaven-bound man picks a corner, eases himself down, and begins to screw the needle to the syringe. He quickly sits by the man, shuddering, and the man eyes him with measured pity, as he locates an inflamed vein on his left arm and pierces it.
He watches the substance, his hope, it slowly disappear into the man’s arm. Suddenly the man stops, the substance in the syringe just a little under one-forth.
The man knows he has the stranger’s mark. But what difference does it make? We are all the same here – walking corpses waiting to be laid to rest... He looks around at the unconscious men strewn about the room. What is the difference? He thinks. This is the only help he could give a dying man. He pulls the syringe out and hands it over to him, already sensing his own thrill creeping on him.
He grabs it, and in one desperate push it is in the right vein, he feels the poison gush through his vein, it hits his brain, sending a billion ripples down his entire system. He is in his appartment in California, he is with a double syringe, and he finds a darkened vein and ….phhhhhhh.
Ahhhhhh…ahhhhh…ahhhh man, this is it man, this is heaven… this shit is pure man. His heart slows; his eyes take a glassy stare; his pupils shrink slowly and…Ahhhh, man, he is marked like that man.
…he is in.
© J.Ifeme


  1. This is both funny and real in a very disturbing way.
    good work.

  2. if he's in california, he's not gonna be in a flat...he'll be in an apartment...flat is what they call it in europe...americans call it apartment.


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