The pain is still there.
Has it always been there? I can’t remember a time without it.
Like roaches, gnawing away at my stomach… or are they in my stomach?
This is where I exist.
I want to shed what I am. I want to run away naked, stripped of all existence.
Alone… but not free.
I could never be free.
Her scent is all over me.
I can’t hide from it.
I haven’t touched her since forever, yet she still covers me.
Love has gone sour…
Smiles and kisses come at me, yet they hide the truth.
They hide the lies.
How long can I exist like this? How long can I wait for the sunlight to find its way through the storm clouds and wash over me; warm me with love and acceptance and make me feel invincible?Give me the strength to stand against everything shot at me like a bullet?
It’s like calluses that cover my heart; scabs that you peel away so the wounds cannot heal.
Why can I not see? Why does there need to be an addiction?
You can’t have me. Not anymore.
I think I’m talking about her, about her love.
But I’m fooling myself. I know what’s coming. I can feel it touch the peripheral of my senses. Hiding in the bushes.
Waiting for the right time to slip in and bring me back into the fold like a drug.
I remember The Darkness…
I remember it so well. I can feel it calling me; consoling me when I feel I have nothing else.
It’s always there. Always waiting below the surface.
Patience, in the guise of a best friend or a lover.
Waiting for my strength to falter.
Waiting for me to give up.
Waiting for me to embrace it once more.
So I lay here in bed. I watch her sleeping next to me. So close, yet a lifetime away. Memories of when we use to touch each other; hold each other, flood every part of me.
I remember her smile…her real smile. The genuine smile that made my life matter. And I get that feeling in my heart. That warmth that I feel I lost.
It’s still there. But it’s not from her.
It used to make me whole. It used to give me strength, to empower me.
I’d bathe in it. I’d lost myself in it more times than i can imagine.
But now, it’s soured me.
It tastes like bile in my throat.
I can’t stand it.
Kryptonite to my soul.
Without even knowing it, I have my clothes on and I’m grabbing my keys.
I quietly open the front door; the early morning frost slaps me in the face. The last thing I hear is her snoring from the bedroom. It was a sound that used to comfort me; reassuring me she was next to me. She was mine. She was all mine and she loved me no matter what.
But now it mocked me. It reminded me how alone I really was, maybe all along.
I feel the cold’s chill surround me, but I don’t zip up my coat. I want to feel that cold, because it’s real. It hurts, it’s very uncomfortable, but it’s real. And I need that real right now.
I pick a direction and start to walk.
My watch says 2:28 am, yet the streets of San Francisco are alive with movement.
I hate it.
I hate people.
I need to go somewhere else. So I find a series of alleyways and make my way through them. This is my path. I’ll find what I’m looking for somewhere in there.
I don’t know what I’m looking for. But The Darkness does. It knows what I need. It’s been waiting to show me since the day I decided to step away.
Along the way, it talks to me. We’re getting reacquainted. It doesn’t scold me for leaving. It doesn’t make me feel belittled for thinking I was better than I really am. It pats me on the back. It lets me know that all is forgiven; that it never gave up on me.
It makes me feel good again.
Loved. A sick love, but love, nonetheless…
It makes me realize things. Makes me accept the fact that the road to Hell isn’t paved with good intentions, but with the promise of rewards from those intentions. The road to hell is paved with a red carpet that’s pulled from under you when you let your guard down. When you fall flat on your face and discover that the few things you think will hold you up when The Darkness comes for you, is in actuality, the very Darkness to plan to leave behind.
So what do you do when you realize you are The Darkness? What do you do when you realize that there are no good or bad people? Those people… literally, the people you love are just like everyone else? What do you do when you realize your life… the life you’ve been trying to build is nothing but a joke?
Quite simply you return to what you know.
You embrace that old friend. That Darkness, that you’ve been trying so very hard not to listen to, yet has never left your side. That darkness that’s always promised you, you’d come back to it once you realized your life was meaningless.
The darkness that always seems to be right.
And so I stand in the early morning cold.
And I let go. I let it all go.
The emotional pain…
And finally, the love.
I let it all go… for a split second.
And that’s all The Darkness needs. It grabs you… wraps around you like a warm blanket.
I make my way through the downtown area. The place the privileged drive by and don’t notice.
In the streets, expensive cars filled with people trying to find the next party or club fly by. On the sidewalks, the forgotten… the drugged… the have-nots stand and watch with a look of hopelessness.
The look of defeat.
The look of giving up.
Is this what The Darkness wanted to show me? Did it want me to remember where I came from? What is life really about?
Before I can ponder those thoughts, the answer comes to me.
There are three of them on the edge of the alleyway.
I see them before they see me.
I keep my head down but use my peripheral vision.
A Black guy, and two Latino’s.
I wait for them to see me. They need to notice me.
I know how this works.
I slow my walk. I’m getting too close to the entrance of the alley and they still haven’t got my scent.
I know what The Darkness wants me to do now, and I have to time it perfectly.
Then… they see me!
I look up to make eye contact briefly and then turn into the alleyway. I quickly find a large store window to look at. I catch the reflection behind me and see that the three of them are crossing the street to follow me.
My heart’s racing. It feels like it’s going to blow out of my chest.
Better than sex.
Better than anything.
I’d forgotten it. The pounding. The thump, thump inside my chest.
I speed up my pace. They were pretty close and I needed to get someplace with some light and some room to work if this was going to go according to plan.
As I reached the next lighted backstreet, I go on instinct. it’s time to bait the hook.
I pull out my RAZR phone, making sure it’s bright and pretty and noticeable to the guys following me.
I stop in the middle of the street, quickly surveying the area… looking for any other signs of life.
There are none.
I slowly bend down to fake tying my shoes.
“Hey!” I hear from behind me. “Yo nigga! Hold up.”
I fight the urge to smile. It’s so hard…
I act shocked. I stand up and turn around.
And there they are…
…three of them.
You can tell a lot by observing body language.
The two Latino kids were kind of small. They tried to appear menacing, but it was the Black guy that was in control. He was a larger guy, maybe my height and weight. He did all the talking. The others looked like they were backup.
“Hey,” I said. I have to play the role. I backed up a few steps. I made sure my eyes darted between them.
A sign of fear.
“I think that’s my phone.” the Black guy said. “I lost my phone yesterday and it looked just like that.”
“No,” I replied. “I’ve had this phone for a while.”
“How much money you got?” The Black dude said.
I knew I had them, so I just shook my head frantically.
They all started to advance toward me.
Here we go. This was it.
This is what The Darkness wanted to show me.
This was the gift it was given to me.
A chance to let it all go…
No holding back.
I shifted the RAZR phone in my left hand so that one of the pointed edges was sticking out of my palm. This was gonna be my weapon of choice.
Appearing scared, I crouched down slightly and covered my face with my arms. I left a slight amount of viewable space between my arms so I could see when he got close enough.
I waited for him to get within 3 feet. It was the optimal distance for what I needed to do.
“I’ma kill you muthaf….”
I was glad he decided to open his mouth. It’s a sign of becoming comfortable.
A sign of letting your guard down.
That’s all I needed.
In an instant (with speed I didn’t know I had)., I was standing straight up and in full swing with the RAZR’s edge firmly in my grip. The point of the phone caught the Black guy on the side of his head. I was aiming for his temple but overshot my swing. Nonetheless, the phone caught him in the left ear (which was just as effective). He squealed when he felt the ‘thud’ of the phone crack his skull.
He went down like a bitch. A pitiful excuse for a bitch. The bitch I knew he was.
He went headfirst into the asphalt.
As this was happening, I brought my swing back toward the Latino kid standing to his right. My elbow smashed him in his left eye. I felt a splash of liquid cover my arm as the kid cried like an infant and stumbled falling backward until his head slammed into the rear wheel of a parked SUV.
From there I stopped.
I quickly turned toward the third kid, who was standing less than 5 feet away from me.
He was frozen.
He was stuck staring at the Black dude who was still in the street clutching his ear.
And then when the last guy standing looked up at me, he raised his hands and started to back away. The look on his face was priceless.
I was smiling. I think I was drooling too.
I turned around and started heading back into the alley. I kept my ears open, hoping someone else would make a move on me.
But it never came.
I never looked back. I kept walking, taking deep breaths to stop my rapidly beating heart.
I was tired now. The Adrenaline was wearing off, the excitement breaking down to fear.
What the hell did I just do? Why did I do that?
And then I thought of her.
And it all came back to me.
The Darkness reclaimed me.
The next thing I know, it’s 4:11 am. I’m out of my clothes and slipping back into bed before she even realizes I had left. But I’m not paying attention because I realize the pain is gone. The absence of love… from affection… has left me.
The Darkness had filled those empty spaces. It’s filled the addictions. I no longer craved her touch. Her attention. It doesn’t matter anymore. The Darkness had numbed everything about her like Novocain. The roaches in my stomach are gone, filled with a pleasurable feeling of… nothing.
I’m smiling. I didn’t notice it, but I am. The world around me is different. It’s been turned slightly off its axis, revealing what I had long forgotten. The world that showed me it was better to ‘give’ than ‘receive’.
And it was time for me to give back everything that had been given to me.
The Darkness had always been there for me, even when I had forsaken it. And it had forgiven me and embraced me again.
I will never leave it again.
No one would hurt me ever again.
I will show them all.
And as I closed my eyes; content with my revelation… content with what I was becoming… I heard the rustle of covers as she slid up to me from behind.
She wrapped her arms around me, pressing for body… her beautiful breast… thighs… her addictive body against my back.
She shivers at the contact.
“Oh baby, you’re so cold…” she whispers to me.
I had to smile.
“I know,” I replied.