red flowers in bloom

The State of Play (needle photo trigger warning)

A recent photo sent to me from a friend…What passes for humor, huh…

I am pretty much heartbroken, as much as I like writing about how things were, how things are is a different matter. Billy has spun off into the deep end of addiction and degenerate behavior, partying with a gutter-scuzz scene of broken people, one-balled, one-legged drug dealing small town kingpins, who think they are Pablo E, but really are just a schmucks with a bag or two more than the rest of the schmucks, and who like to play it large and lord it over the ‘heads and junkies that scrabble around for whatever they can find left on floors. They play these games of finders keepers, and the losers weep, while the winners stay up and about until it is their time to lose again. And again. They smoke meth. They smoke crack. They have no concern for harm reduction, or even getting efficiently and productively high, they preload dirty rigs with fuck knows what mixtures in heaven knows what doses, and then pass out the rigs for idiots like Billy to keep until they want to use the shot. Once that powder or crystal or tar is mixed with water, it becomes an even more ideal breeding ground for fungus and bacteria. Keeping preloaded syringes is a mugs game. It is one thing to be hedonistic and take calculated risks, it is another to be plain dirty.

He isn’t just drunk and high, he is aggressively cracked out, devoid of ability to reason, with a coke and meth inflated ego, righteously religioso, screaming in the rain about my salvation while naked and covered in ulcers, unlanced infections from missing the vein trying to mainline blind drunk, collapsed veins and cans of tuna, using water from ditches to try and impress. “It ain’t nuthin” he barks. “It ain’t nothing, I’d draw up piss and shoot it.” ..and I believe him. And I am the one who is disgusting? He has mistaken grotesqueness for genius, dirt and piss and spunk and blood and bacteria for enlightenment. He has confused degenerate behavior with being fresh and new and different: “He fights like a girl! I pissed in his mouth!” he tells me half laughing half crying. I tell him that isn’t edge, it is subhuman.

It isn’t brilliantly rock and roll, it isn’t gutter rock, it is rolling in shit and calling it art. And maybe it is. Maybe it is. Who am I to say differently? Perhaps it is the greatest performance art since Samuel Beckett and a couple of bums waited for Godot. The thing is, the vital difference is that there is nothing created except suffering. There is nothing said with any value. There is nothing done except fight and shoot drugs, piss and puke and spill liquid meth down chests and chins chemically burning themselves in a druken haze. There is no art. There is nothing of permanence.

A man came on the phone to me. “If you hadn’t left him, he wouldn’t be doing this,” he tells me. “Listen woman, get yer sweet ass back here.” I do not know this man. I tell him to go fuck himself with a razorblade. Billy threw me out. He told me to get the fuck off His Floor and take my kid with me, and I did as requested when he shoved me so hard backwards he bruised me and winded me, and all this while everyone is utterly sober.

I offer to write something for him, about him. I offer to pick away at the guitar to try and calm him down. I used to play quietly for him for hours, helping him calm down from his PTSD ravings. He sends me photos of syringes and buckets of blood. I tell him I will eulogize him if he is intent on dying this way. He tells me he wants fifty percent of everything I ever earn from here on in and I am left laughing hysterically. He wants to be my literature pimp. It is delightful. It is almost cute. I promise to leave him roses on his grave. He never gets to be who he wants to be. I am playing Keith Richards to his Edie, and it amuses me. It doesn’t even hurt that much anymore, except that it does.

He has been my best friend throughout years of life, and now I look back and it is all sullied, all ruined, all dirtied up. Every excuse I ever made for him, every time I let things go when he behaved abominably, each shove and push and slap I am now cataloging under abuse instead of dumb drunk and high brutality and horse play. Where I used to give quarter now I am not giving a shit. To be honest, the worst thing about it all, the saddest thing about it, is that I am caring less and less and less. One day I will get a call and it will be someone telling me he is dead, and then I will cry and remember the tender man, the kind man, the loving man, not the egotistical righteous bum who wants me to be thankful forever, for what?

Thankful for letting me live with him and care for him? For giving me a landing place to be after I ran from Japan? For holding me and hugging me? For doing my drugs as well as his? For forcing me into a drink problem (yeah yeah self-responsibility isn’t that simple…) and then dismissing my suffering when I had the DT’s? Fuck that. For keeping me company? I am pretty emotionally self-sufficient, it is him who needed me, more than I ever needed him. For teaching me how to play the guitar? For taking my Martin off from me after decades of it being MINE, and then proceeding to wreck it, just like he said he would all those years ago when he decided it should be with me instead? I decided one day I will be able to waltz into a guitar shop and pick a Martin up off the wall and take it home with me in my own dark green velvet-lined case, and to hell with the past.

So when the photos from the dull side of the tracks, where creativity has been stunted, where a used rig in a pot of stew passes for art, and then eating the mess passes for sustenance, come my way, what am I meant to do? Anyone who lives wholly on corruption becomes corrupt themselves, that is the inalienable truth. Terror, filth, physical degradation, pain, suffering, there are beauty in these things, at least some of the time, but only when the participants have a knot of beauty within themselves. Anything beautiful in Billy died long ago.

The fact remains he acted as if I was worthless and he was a superstar, rather than equals or friends. He behaved as if what he had to offer was everything, and I was nothing. That his attention was valuable and my devotion was simply what he was owed, and when I was told for the last time I was worthless, and to get out of his trailer, I looked around and something in me got very angry indeed. Angry enough to get out of there without begging to be allowed to stay.

And I am glad I am gone.

You see sometimes people who drink and use drugs to open doors in their psyche use it as fuel for their art, and sometimes it is just a dirty double used rig in a pot of playing chicken with fentanyl cream stew.


  1. rebecca s revels

    From time to time, not often, just one of those thoughts passing on a wayward breeze, how my ex is doing. The one who tried and nearly did me in several times. I heard once he was in prison, no proof and I didn’t look for any. He was mean then, a drunk then, I don’t know that any of that has changed and I don’t seek information. I see the thought coming and let it slide on by on that same wayward breeze. Your thoughts, are different, your thoughts are of one that held a very important time in your life. Your thoughts, are of what was, what could have been, what you see now. Retrospect, hindsight, understanding, acceptance, all shared very eloquently though with obvious pain. You have shared your heart, showing how real it was…and is.

    1. The Paltry Sum

      Thank you, Rebecca. My heart is breaking for him. He used to be intelligent and funny, but it is like all his bad traits are amplified.
      I hope the mean drunk that hurts you is still sitting in jail where he belongs. xx All my love xx

      1. rebecca s revels

        Shruggs.. it really doesn’t matter now. He was always terrified of my family- which was one reason for the move so far away- so here I’m safe.
        My late husband rarely drank. Alcohol always, even just two beers, would bring out his bad side. He would get verbally mean and insulting. No matter how I tried to tell him, he thought I was exaggerating. I don’t know what finally got him to realize, but he quit drinking completely and there were no more issues. It is sad and disheartening when you are seeing what is happening to someone who means so much and you know there is nothing you can do.

      2. rebecca s revels

        I think, looking back, it took my son telling him that it really did make a change in him that he decided to quit drinking all together. But yes, you are totally correct.

      3. rebecca s revels

        No, not really, but he tried. His issues were ingrained and difficult to overcome but he did try. Even with all his faults, my son loved his dad dearly and it really did a number on his soul. I think that is one reason he has made no effort to move out on his own. He thinks he needs to be here taking care of me.

      4. rebecca s revels

        Oh yes, that bond is strong, I know you understand that. I know most of what caused him to be the way he was and figured out ways to not let it bother as much. Knowing that, actually had him turning around. We just ran out of time.

  2. Ariana

    First, let me just say if I could give you some sort of repellent shield to where every time somebody tries to manipulate you and tell you that he would be better if you went back to him that s*** would just slide right off, I would. When somebody is abusive and addicted, they always try to blame somebody else but it is always about that person… None of this it’s your responsibility, and going back wouldn’t save him but it would hurt you.
    And in my experience, and this is just my opinion, I think often drugs and alcohol bring out what is buried (and sometimes not even that deep) within the person. Sometimes an addiction can change a person’s personality, and sometimes it just reveals it two others what is really underneath. My stepdad in particular could be super nasty when he was drunk, I spent much of a night locked in a bathroom as a teenager because he thought it would be funny to grab one of my purple lipsticks when he was drunk, mockingly put it on and try to kiss me. When he was sober he could keep on a veneer that would satisfy his bosses, but I think the alcohol showed what was inside more easily, what we who lived with him could see even when he was sober at home to some degree. We each have our own problems and our own challenges. Don’t ever let anybody pin his crap on you!!!

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