Morphine Angel

{APRIL 21, 2013}

Kerosene and makeshift tableware corroded and misted against the night skies endless current. Her muddied boots kicked at the door cautiously as she tentatively stole her way outside, not to mention the stale and dusty air that had her lungs aching for a new one.

Her shaky hands crested against the panels of her household, the chipped edges of her blackened nails fell flat against her harsh, scrutinizing gaze. It was late, tiredly late, wildly yet animalistically late. And here she was, trudging through dirt and shit to an outside life that was swarming in it.

“God… keys Chloe keys.” She felt herself down, throwing out the used ashy residue of cigarettes that stained her body and clothing. “No.” Chewed gum rolled haphazardly back into it’s wrapper. “No.” Thread and buttons from well warned flannels. “Gotcha,” she breathed a sigh of relief as the cool metallic jangle of life reached her ears once more.

Throwing her legs into the warm interior of her screwed down vehicle, she was once again perpetually pooled into motion. Arcadia Bay was comparable to any other ghost town really. Broken street-lamps, run-down diners and not to mention the impending, insufferable deniability of hopelessness the entire town seemed to share.

Nearing her destination, her phone began to buzz against the leather of the passenger-side seat. Looking down swiftly, her eyes scanned the caller I.D hazily.

Rachel.

She hadn’t heard from her in weeks. ‘Three and a half,’ she told herself. She wasn’t counting. Out of all the time they’ve spent with one another it had been the longest they’d been apart. Paranoia and worry had sunk so low that she scrambled for the device without further hesitation.

“Where have you been,” she stated icely, keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel.

“Chloe, is this you?”

Rain tentatively began to patter against her windshield, what had been gentle at first soon turned into harsh and rugged. Reaching forwards, she set her wipers on and glanced across the slush and debris outside.

“Look, the weathers gone to shit. I can’t stay on for long.”

She waited a few seconds, listening to the static and crack before a faintly audible voice registered.

“I need to talk to you.”

“Shoot.”

She swerved violently, tires spinning then viciously regaining confidence against the slippery roads. Her heart beat frantically in her chest, causing her to nearly drop the device.

“Look,” she breathed, nerves on edge. “I-I gotta hang up. Whatever reason you went totally AWOL obviously doesn’t concern me.”

I know you’re pissed with me but I need to meet up with you. I can’t do it here… call me crazy or whatever the hell you want, but it’s not safe.”

The static resumed once more, and she cursed the poor weather.

She pulled tightly against her hair in agitation, “what do you mean it’s not safe?”

“I just… I just can’t,” came the exasperated cry on the other end. “Chloe please…”

The ice around her chipped ever so slightly. “Jesus RachI… I’m already out anyways. I’ll be at our spot in a few minutes, see you then?” It wasn’t a question, she knew without even asking.

“Yeah yeah yeah, sure.”

‘Click.’

Chloe scowled in frustration, gritting her teeth. She eyed the onlooking road once more, the strain of her tires scraping along in tune with her aching heart. ‘Rachel, Rachel, Rachel.’


 

She knew Rachel’s world was shattering as each broken shard crashed below the surface. Knew it in the presumptuous way she would teeter on the ledge, diving in and out like the tiny drinking bird edged beneath stacks of paperwork on her father’s old work desk.

“What’s that?” She had asked him once, the heels of her feet never quite meeting the ground as she stuck her chin up under the wooden furnishing.

Chloe would always remember the way his hands would pause upon hearing her voice, startled as her small frame brought him back to the inescapable earth.

“A special friend,” his eyes would smile, voice dripping like honey. He picked her up and sat her upon his knee gently, pushing back his work as they admired the object before them.

“But won’t it drown?” She questioned, wiping away the crusted jam on her left cheek that lay evidence of that morning’s breakfast.

The man before her let out a startled laugh, “of course it won’t drown silly. You see-” he reached down and stroked its chipped-red feathers. “It was designed to do this.”

“To drown?”

“No, of course not. Let me um, ah!” He exclaimed as the right idea sprung to mind. “Even if I take away its water,” he demonstrated, “it’ll still move about just the same.”

“So why do you need it there then?” She inquired, chewing on her hair absentmindedly.

“Because without water, this little guy will stop working like it’s supposed to,” he flicked the end of the mechanism. “Sometimes, even though you think it’s scary. You need the water to survive. You never know…” he raised his hands to her sides playfully and zeroed in. “It could be how you’re built after all!” And the next thing she knew, screams of laughter reverberated out of her chest as endless tickles evaded her body.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

And the little bird dunked on.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

Fingers thrumming against her steering wheel.

Crash!

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

“Agh! That sonofabitch, I don’t care. I don’t.”

Crash!

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

It was raining.

Drip.

Drip.

Drip.

“Huh?” She squinted her eyes and slunk further into her seat. Her warm, soft…

HOOOONKKK.

“Jesus fuck me!” She belched, head snapping into an uncomfortable position as she knocked herself against the truck’s interior achingly. Her brain went from zero to hell painfully swift and it took her a moment to come to the conclusion that she was in fact, not blind.

Suddenly everything came crashing back to her. “Rachel,” she breathed, and turned her headlights on in attempt to identify her current location.

Last years booze, rubble, rats munching on human-like bones. “Home sweet home,” she muttered, relieved that she managed to make it to the location at hand before untimely passing out in the front seat.

Slamming the door behind her, she hadn’t made it two paces before a bottle came whizzing past her head, crashing dead center on an old rust patch in the back of her trunk.

“What the he-”

She was interrupted by a loud scream not far off from where she was currently standing.

“You stupid rich bastard,” Rachel slurred as Chloe raced heavily to reach her. Doubling over in exhaustion, she was met with her friend – joint in hand and reaching halfway for another bottle – slumped against the ground in agile defeat. She felt numb when she drew near.

“I know that smell,” she quipped bitterly, throat clenching. “Smells like Frank. Looks like you’ve been pissing everything away down there, who -” she raised her arms, “who knows what shit you’ve got on you. Or what diseases crawl throughout his wormhole of a bed.” She coughed, masking a sob. “You would know, wouldn’t you.”

“Well hello to you too,” Rachel dozily smiled, holding out what she presumed to be a full bottle this time. “Want some? I only have a couple left – you took a while to get here.”

The imprint of her steering wheel burned against her face. She tasted something vaguely acidic. “I’ve been hella worried about you Rach, you know that? I thought you left without me or some shit, and I swore the next time I saw you I would,” she looked at her friends flushed cheeks, hair blowing breezily in the wind. The rhythm of her tires came back to her at once. “I swore that I-” she slumped against an old freezer. “I’m gonna need some of that,” she grabbed the outstretched bottle and took a swig. “Ah, at least something I’m not disappointed about. Tastes like Frank, cheap.”

“Let’s not do this,” Rachel sighed, wrapping her arms around herself defensively.

“Do what?”

“Fight.”

The pale moonlight cast a cool shadow over the both of them, the chirp of insects awakening from winter’s cavernous slumber echoed as they shambled their way out of their sludgy hidings.

“You ran away,” she started quietly, breaking the silence. “You ran away from me Rachel, and what was I supposed to think? T-that you died or – or joined a fucking Mexican marching escapade?”

“You know I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“Which one?” She bit back, causing her friend to flinch. “Because at this point I’m not really sure.”

There it was again, those clenching tires. She didn’t know what she felt, if she would rather run and feel guilt or stay and have it even worse. Her eyes were set vague and imploring, you could still read them even if they were closed.

She breathed out evenly, glancing shamefully at Rachel’s hurt demeanor. She was stupid high, and was most of the time. But given the circumstances, now was not the time to spew out pent-up aggression. Not now, and not with her.

Her apology raced across her lips at the very moment the woman before her spewed out a hardly coherent message, that once registered, sent ice running thick throughout her veins.

“I think… I think something bad’s gonna happen Chloe.”

Silence.

She counted her breaths. First in a rhythm of three, then two. They puffed out against the dry air until she felt ready enough to speak. She licked her cracked lips.

“I know Rach. I know.”

“No you don’t under-”

“Life does that to you. It kicks you in the ass and leaves you bent down to pick up the pieces.” She took another sip. “I get it, okay.”

Rachel’s hands shook as she took a long puff of her joint, lips curling delicately around it as if it’s the one thing that made sense in a while. And maybe it did, for a second. She didn’t know.

“I… I think someone’s following me,” Rachel whispered quietly. So quiet that every necessary thing diminished, and all that was left were those few words.

“I don’t understand, who’s following you?”

“I’m not sure who yet. I’ve got a few leads.”

“Then what makes you think-”

“I just know it, okay?” Her friend snapped, drunken slobber spewing out of her mouth as she relinquished to a wild state. Chloe eyed her torn clothes, mud caked knees and bleeding cut on the corner of her lip due to endlessly crushed bottles.

“Hey Rach,” she said tentatively, worry overcoming her. “Let’s get you inside and find something to clean you up, alright?”

The drunken girl nodded, looking childlike and afraid. Not like the person she was used to. Not the fearless adventurer ready to avenge the lady from nine swordsman, and definitely not the friend she had last encountered three weeks prior. This was a shell, a broken and bruised shell.

Leaning down, she gripped her friend’s hand tightly – pulling her up. “It’s okay,” she soothed softly as twisted cries burrowed its way into her shoulder. Reaching their safe haven, she navigated the other through twisted junk and plopped her down on what she presumed was the nearest chair.

“Hold on a second,” she whispered, it feeling slightly uncanny being as they were in utter darkness. Reaching into her pockets once more, she fished out her lighter and slowly made her way around and lit various candles kept around the room for such instances as these. “And let there be light,” she spread her arms dramatically.

“Thank you,” Rachel sniffed.

“Alright, now,” Chloe wrapped herself around a seat opposite Rachel’s. “Let’s get down to bidness,” she joked. Her inner pride racing at the smile that broke through the others demeanor. She inched her hand across the table, fingertips slightly grazing the others when – “Oh shit, hold on, let’s get you fixed up first.” She hopped out of her seat, chucking various artifacts across the room in frustration, “I know I put it somewhere, hold on do you think – wallah!” She held up the object with pride. “Who needs band-aids when you have some nice old-fashion masking tape! Dudes dig this hardcore bullshit, and might I say, women too,” she winked.

“You do the honors,” her friend laughed, tilting up her cheek.

Searching around quickly, she grabbed an old article of clothing neither of them bothered to wear any longer, and glanced back and forth between it and Rachel’s wound.

“What’s wrong?” Her friend inquired, eyes glassy and tired.

“Do you… do you think that this will like, infect it?” She held up her appliances.

“Not if you use this,” the bottle of alcohol was chucked at her lamely. She stifled a laugh.

“Right,” and without further hesitation doused the material with the staining fluid. Nearing closer, she decided to bring up earlier conversation. “Now what’s the deal with this whole stalking shit? Whose ass is gonna pay?”

“Well I’ve been noticing someone – ah fuck!” At that point in time, Chloe had deliberately swiped the shirt across her open flesh. “Chloe you could have fucking warned me, shit.” She seethed.

“Just doing a little spring cleaning, there appears to be a little leak beneath the floorboards, nothing major,” she continued while smirking, “Don’t be such a baby, here -” she slapped a piece of tape across the wound. “All done,” she took back her seat, hands folded, admiring her work.

Rachel touched her cheek stormily. “Alright,” she glared. Suddenly, her expression grew serious, alarming her senses. “The Prescotts.”

“The Prescotts?”

“You know them right?”

She snorted, “who doesn’t.”

“Well that son of theirs, Nathan, is totally starting to freak me the fuck out.”

“What are you talking about? I thought he was a total junkie.”

Rachel leaned forward, the candlelight illuminating her features, casting shadows throughout their enclosure. “That’s what I thought too.”

Chloe gulped, “w-what do you mean?”

“I don’t know enough yet. I mean, I’ve gotten closer with him then I’d like to, sure. And let me tell you, he’s got some deep shit going on with his father. Told me more then what I needed honestly.”

“So,” she drummed her fingers on the table, doing her best to distract herself momentarily. “What’s that got to do with you?”

“That’s the thing, I don’t know yet. I’ve just got that feeling. So, that’s why…” her eyes grew downcast, “that’s why I’ve been… gone.”

Chloe breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t her. Rachel didn’t leave because of her. Reaching her hand across the table, she gripped the other as a choked sob escaped both their lips.

“I’m scared Chloe. I’m so scared.”

Chloe raised her eyes and was met with a swinging pendulum, her father’s words racing throughout her ears. ‘It’s okay Rachel,’ she wanted to say. ‘It’s okay to drown and live at the same time.’

But she couldn’t say them.  All she could do was hold on tighter.

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