Lying on his bed, he wondered how he ended up this way. A mess, inside out. No lover, no job, no family or relatives close by, and almost broke.

As an existentialist would say, he was his choices. The decisions that got Casey here were the ones he made. He was confident and intransigent and even risky when he made them. But now, wasting away in a dimly lit room with no sounds from within, Casey wondered what malevolent demon had possessed him at those moments to have driven him to recklessly throw his life away like he did, in the name of “choices.”

The screen of his phone flashed and vibrated twice. It must have been a text. Casey crawled up and grabbed the lit gadget to see whose message it was. The notification box in the middle of the screen read, “Are you dead yet?” The sender was a number not in his contact list. At first, Casey was surprised. “Who could be so mean? Wrong number, perhaps?” but then he guessed it must have probably been one of the guys he had hooked up with when he was on “the hunt.” Texter, whoever that was, might have meant it sincerely. Judging by the way he had been wandering around the soundless streets after midnight and doing it with whosoever asked, one would not be overreacting when worrying that Casey could fall through the crack and die before long. The text, irritating as it was, threw Casey down a spiral of reminiscence where he tried to recall when it had started.

“I have no antipathy towards drugs,” said Casey to the charming older man naked in front of him on the bed. They were facing each other, Casey’s legs resting on the man’s thighs. This man, whose name Casey could not remember now, lifted the glass tube of the pipe up to his mouth and heated the bowl with a mini blowtorch by his other hand. White smoke began to swirl inside the bowl as he inhaled. He looked at Casey with calm eyes, somewhat lustful, when he languidly exhaled the condensed fog from his mouth. “Want a puff?” the man said, carefully placed the tip of the glass tube on Casey’s mouth.

It tasted harmless, even endearing sometimes. The first few puffs only made Casey feel a less-than-tipsy sensation somewhere on his body he could not located. Then it kicked in. Along with the man’s touch, the unprotected wetness of the rubbing and pushing and withdrawing, he began to experience it. “So this is what he meant,” Casey thought of Nick, another older man whom he had clung to a few weeks earlier, and his divulging of his substance-filled past. “This feels good, but I would never become like him,” believed the naïve boy unaware of a darkness then too impossible for him to imagine. That was the first time he smoked what he had heard they called “ice.” It was not much of a big deal at the time; weed actually felt higher in his defensive opinion. But it was only the beginning of a downward spiral—towards a seemingly bottomless pit.

It was not the high of the drug he was chasing. It was the feel of bare skin touching his own, without any artificial coating separating the throbbing sexual organ of another man moving in and out of his thinning body while the moaning and saliva are caressingly exchanged between two hungry, chemically driven mouths. Perhaps it was also the deep black hole inside his heart he had been looking forward to being filled. Whatever the reasons, some voice inside his head, questionably his own, had succeeded in convincing Casey it was “normal” and “okay” to go on “the hunt”—finding other hedonists who were willing to share the financial burden of, or at least participate in, the intricate and underground art of puffing or blasting crystal meth while savoring sexual stimulation from another man. Or from other men. Upon discovering this type of subculture, Casey did not waste any moment.

In the end, though, the hole was never once filled. It had merely been carved deeper and deeper, until the space and its resonating pain were too much for Casey to bear, and he decided to break it open. Once and for all.

© 2017 Cassian Vu


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