Warm smoke left Charlie’s dry mouth. He wiped sweat that formed fuzz on top of his upper lip with the hand that held his cigarette. As his thumb swiped under his nose, he could get a whiff of the irony smell of dried blood that not only stained his hands, but also clung onto his dirty, wrinkled work shirt. He sat on his bed with dark brown sheets crinkled together that blended with the wrinkled clothes that lay on top. Charlie couldn’t control his shaking so he paced back and forth his one bedroom apartment, making the dirty wooden floor boards creak. He gripped onto a large window that had a view of downtown LA from five stories high. He looked at his oven. 3:42am flashed in red. He blinked. Numbers turned green. The thumping in his chest made it hard for him to breathe. Bumps started to form on his forearm from his thin black hairs trying to escape his body. He was wide awake and he never felt more alive. He felt like he had just got off the most exhilarating roller coaster of his life. He smiled. Then he frowned. He hadn’t felt this high since his college years, sitting in his fraternity brother’s pad, tripping on acid or some other drug. He tried everything that was grown, brewed or chemically homemade and eventually he got sick and tired of it. Charlie thought about earlier that night. I couldn’t stop striking him. It was as if his arm was on autopilot rising up and thrashing down on his bloody and indistinguishable face. It was then he felt it. The unbelievable and indescribable rush. A high that he hadn’t felt in a long time.
“Well this is new,” Charlie whispered to himself as he looked at his shaking, bloody hands. Fuck. The cigarette wasn’t satisfying enough. The adrenaline still lingered in his body like a wild beast waiting to be set free. He grabbed his lap top sitting on on the cluttered kitchen counter and threw himself on top of his bed. He ripped off his pants and let the the wild animal loose, not even taking the time to wash the strange blood of his hands.
“Could I get you anything sir?” said the cashier. Her over enthusiastic voice boomed over the loud noise of coffee grinders waking Charlie up from his trance. He stood there gazing at the menu in the snake of a line of people waiting for “high end” coffee. I swear, they actually think their shit tastes good. Still his habitual trip to Starbucks of his early morning routine couldn’t be broken. It was the only coffee shop near his work, a local branch of PwC in Los Angeles. Plus he needed caffeine. Today especially.
“Uh, yeah, could I just get a hazelnut coffee. Two sugars, no cream. Venti,” Charlie replied.
“Okay! That would be four dollars and fifty four cents. I like your tie by the way!” she said with a wink. Her teeth overwhelmed her face as she smiled. Charlie raised the corner of his lip as a response as he pulled out his wallet and slipped her a five.
“Keep the change,” said Charlie moving out of the line.
“Oh sir, your name?” called out the cashier.
“Your name for the drink sir?” she looked up eagerly with the cup and sharpie in her hand.
“Charlie,” he answered without reciprocating any of the light humor.
“Alllriiigght! We’ll have that right out in a jiffy Charlie!” she chimed. Irritation gave Charlie the urge to punch her in the face.
He made his way to a small empty circle table. He sat down and people watched out the clear window onto the busy streets. He felt like shit. He was never going to get that high again. The pills he dropped the other night didn’t do shit. He looked up at the sky scrapers and buildings that surrounded the coffee shop with shining glass windows and revolving doors. His gaze then came upon a window where his office resided. He could slightly make out the cubicles that occupied the floor. There were people already working diligently in their cubicles. Charlie was about to get up when something, rather someone, caught his eye. He was sitting on the corner of a building with nothing but dirty rags for clothes. His black hoodie was faded with dust and dirt from the streets. The brown cargo pants had a rather large hole exposing a part of his hairy calf. The bottom was ripped from dragging his feet probably. The black or gray trench coat sealing everything in had a bit of white and green bird poop at the shoulder. The man, not much older than 40, had long shaggy hair and a beard that looked like it had been growing for months. The bum looked paranoid as fuck. He had nothing in his possession except for a piece of card board. “Need money for alcohol research.” Charlie snickered. Nice. At least this guy is honest. Charlie watched how people threw pitiful stares along with their change at him. Why support him when he clearly he’s not going to better himself. It says it on the fucking cardboard! Charlie sees no purpose for them unless they are cleaning the streets of recycled bottles and cans.
“Waste of fucking space,” Charlie mutters under his breath. It was like a light bulb lit up in Charlie’s head. He smiled at the bum. This was it. This was his next hit. Perfect. No one will ever go looking for them.
“Here you go sir. I’m so sorry to keep you waiting. I wanted to take the time to deliver the coffee straight to you.” said the cashier, her eyes looking down on the floor. Charlie took his cup, placed his hand on her shoulder. She looked up and their eyes locked in place.
With a quick glance at her name tag Charlie replied with genuine sincerity, “Thanks Cathy, I really appreciate it.” The corners of her mouth pulled up into a grin from ear to ear, with her gums spilling out from her lips. He then got up and walked out of the shop with his horrible tasting coffee.
He sat with his cheeks squishing against his hand as his elbow heavily leaned on top of his desk. It’s not bad. I’d be doing this country a favor. He wiped off the turkey sub crumbs of his plywood desk that was cluttered with a myriad of incomplete forms, crumpled paper and scattered office supplies. He blankly stared at the half finished AF-3 form sitting in front of him, next to it, stacks and stacks of unfinished paperwork. He was caged in by a 10’ x 10’ cubicle that lacked any pictures of family friends or lovers with an inflorescent lamp that served as pressuring spot light for nights he had to stay late at his desk after the office lights turned off to finish up paperwork. His dark brown hair started to escape from his Redken hair gel that held every strand together in the perfect place earlier that morning. His sleeves of his white button up Ben Sherman dress shirt was now rolled up to his elbows, a coffee stain painted right underneath the left side of his collar. He didn’t care. He found it hard to care about anything nowadays. In fact, the only thing he did care about was the fact that he didn’t care about anything. He needed his fix. He found what. But how and where? His deep thoughts were interrupted by a familiar blonde haired coworker.
“Dude, wanna go to Tiger tonight?”
“Can’t man, I’m busy tonight”
“Doing what? Picking fucking fights at local bars? Comon’ go hard tonight”
“I fucking told you, Sam, that wasn’t my fault. He was the one that fucking charged at me!”
“Alright, alright, whatever Charlie. Whatever happened to that guy anyway? All you got was a busted lip and fucked up knuckles. Did he get what he deserved?”
“Hell of a lot more than that..”
“Nothing. Shit man, get off of it. It was last week, Jesus.”
“Someone needs a drink”
“Roll out with me tonight, Stacy from HR is coming. Fellas from the department say she just broke up with her boyfriend and she’s super thirsty tonight if you know what I mean.”
“Eh. Sure. Whatever.”
“Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you? It’s like a fucking chupacabra sucked the living soul outta you man. Are you depressed or something? Are you not hittin it man? Because if you need to, I got LuLu’s number from when I went to Jet Strip with the guys the other night. I mean if those pussies on the internet aren’t working for you…”
“What? Nah man, I’m fine.”
“You sure? Those bitches downtown are down to do anything and everything. I’m sure one of them will change your life.”
“Wait, Jet Strip is downtown?”
“Yeah, dude, not the nicest strip club, the joint is kinda run down with bums everywhere, but it’s poppin inside.”
“You know what, let’s go there. You’re right man, I do need to hit this.”
“Alright! That’s what I’m talking about Charlie! What time do you wanna roll out?”
“Let’s catch the midnight train, I want to get some drinks in first.”
Charlie sat on the velvety cushion front and center of the stage. The drumming beat of the base vibrated the whole place, which was small and shabby. There were only two small stages with polls to the left and right of him. The bar could even fit in his one bedroom apartment. The whole place was dark and only thing that illuminated the place were the pink and baby blue stage lights. The red head in front of Charlie made her way down the pole and crawled toward him. He felt loose and calm, but failed to have an erection. He blankly stared at her bare ass bouncing up and down his face. He looked over to Sam who was having his fun with a skinny brunette. It’s now or never. Charlie quickly grabbed a handful of ones and fastened them to the glittery purple thong in front him. Once he saw his buddy’s face burred in the fake breasts of the brunette he made his way out the door. On his way, he bumped into a familiar face. Starbucks girl? Her black slacks were now tight black panties that hugged her cheeks and revealed her long toned legs. She no longer wore a white button up, but instead a light blue sequence bra that shimmered as she walked in six inch stilettos. The tray of coffee mugs were substituted with a tray full of shot glasses. As their eyes locked she pulled away with embarrassment. Fuck it. He had no time. He was on the hunt.
He walked about a block away from the strip club until he approached the scrubby old man he saw sleeping at a bus bench when they were in the cab. The bum looked like a breathing pile of rags and smelt of piss. Charlie accidentally kicked an empty bottle of rum that lay below the bench, which failed to wake his next victim. He’s knocked out cold. Charlie rubbed his cold hands together as felt the excitement rise within him. He quickly looked around. The streets were empty and not a single pair of headlights were seen. Finally.
Charlie wakes to pounding on his door and a familiar voice yelling. He lets out a huge sigh as he lifts himself up from the edge of his bed and grabs his fruit of the loom boxers that found its way hanging on his bedroom lamp. That was wild. A soft moan escaped from his shifting bed sheets as the person at the door continued to pound and shout. Charlie opened the door and there stood Sam.
“Where the fuck did you go last night man, you ditched me! Anyway, we’ve got bigger problems. Maggie sent me here to fetch your ass. Did you forget we had paperwork due this morning?”
“Maggie? Paperwork?” Charlie mumbled as he rubbed his half opened eyes with his fists.
“Uh yeah, Maggie, our boss remember? Damn dude you must have went hard last night, I thought I was more gone than you…”
“Fuck!” Sam was interrupted by a sudden noise behind Charlie. Sam’s worried face turned into a grin. Charlie responded with a quick shrug. Within seconds, a girl with Charlie’s sweats and a baggy hoody emerged at the door. Her hair was tangled and she carried something glittery along with black stilettos. She gave Sam a quick toothy smile. “I’ll give them back to you!” she yelled as she flew down the stair case.
“Keep em’!” Charlie hollered back. Same shook his head but couldn’t resist smiling.
“Seems like you got your fix dude. Do you even know her name?”
“Cathy, her name is Cathy…” Charlie said as he smiled and wrapped his arm around his companions’s broad shoulders. “…and I definitely got my fix. You have no idea.”