San Diego, 2010. I’m waking up. I feel like someone poured the leftover milk from a bowl of Count Chocula over my brain and then it hardened. And maybe the guy who was eating it didn’t really like Count Chocula that much, because there is still a lot of cereal floating in the milk. And now the cereal’s in my brain. But who? Was it the DEA? The Tijuana cartel? The third grade teacher who said I’d never amount to nuthin unless I stopped coming to school drunk and high?
And who am I? I check the byline. Robert Pritchard. Am I the famous Robert Pritchard who is universally hailed as a genius for writing a tough gritty memoir about addiction that is all true and not at all fake? I hope so. But with drugs nothing is certain. Not even tough gritty sentences like these ones. Sentences with few punctuation marks. Sentence fragments.
I am thirty years old. I spent the last twenty nine years deep in a narcotic stupor or opioid-induced trance or, on alternate Tuesdays, a hallucinogen-addled dreamworld. I might as well have been in a coma. Except people in comas don’t steal their father’s collection of rare early G.I. Joe’s and pawn them. And their wives don’t leave them until a decent interval has passed and it’s clear you’re not coming out of the coma soon, because they can’t just sit around a hospital forever, right? They’ve got their own lives to lead, y’know?
And I’m only waking up now.
Drugs are not fun and games.
Heroin is for a while. Man that first rush is something else. And acid is pretty good too.
But that’s not the point. The point is there are consequences. And while I personally enjoy waking up amnesiac and spattered with vomit in the filthy gutter of some squalid equatorial slum, some may not. And there are worse things that can happen.
Like hitting the Return key all the time.
Tragically, my heroic consumption of drugs rendered me unable to use quote marks. I walk through the park, gazing enviously at the happy couples speaking in proper dialogue. When I try to copy them it comes out like this.
Mommy Mommy can I have a Cadbury Creme Egg.
Because that’s another thing drugs took from me. Question marks.
No Mommy no sweets for you until you explain how you used question marks in the first three paragraphs but then you’re all like I can’t use question marks.
That’s the way drugs are. Nothing makes sense. So get off my back.
And also for some reason both members of this happy couple call each other Mommy, even though they are adults and both the same age and one of them is a man. That’s messed up.
I lost everything. My house. It was sucked into an artificial black hole that I created in my basement laboratory when I was—you guessed it—totally stoned. My wife. She was a life-size cardboard cut-out of Christina Hendricks. Yowza! She dissolved in the bathtub when we were making bathtub gin.
The drugs have even taken my past tense away from me. Sometimes they let me use the pluperfect, like in the previous sentence about the drugs taking my past tense away from me.
All I have left is the Return key. How poignant, because that’s the one thing I can’t do.
Drugs took everything from me, and all they gave me in return is a multi-million dollar publishing deal for this memoir and several appearances on Oprah. And possibly soon a lucrative gig as the host of an MTV talk show in the style of Dr. Drew or maybe Howard Stern.
I’d give it all up in a second if I could just have even more money and fame.
The camera scans the ruins of the house. The body of the artificial black hole is not seen. It’s probably still out there, biding its time. I think I see it sitting in an old Chevy Nova parked across the street right now, but it keeps the event horizon down and I can’t see past it.
It’s come back to finish the job.
It’s lowering the long barrel of a cosmological constant. It’s adjusting the Schwarzchild radius.