An Angry Fix
by Beth C.

I. "downtown Manhattan, clear winter noon"

It all comes back to being back in high school, and living a life that they would never understand.

They were popular, they were handsome, they were everything you weren't.

They were shining stars of a conformity they want to abolish, and you were the kid they laughed at from across the cafeteria. Jack played football, Neal slept with everyone who said yes, and you cried as your mom begged you to take her to the doctors.

Now they walk down the streets with a cowboy swagger, fucking everything that moves and tearing apart their insides for the fun of it.

They sleep with cheap whores strutting through Harlem, and doped up pickpockets they meet in Time Square. Then they stumble back to your little apartment to fall asleep in your bed.

They'd fuck each other if it wouldn't become an argument over who should be on top.

They don't sleep with you though, because you are still a kid, and they are so perfect in worn Levi's and tussled hair. Neal will talk to you for hours about any topic, Jack will curl up beside you in the bed, but they won't touch you.

But now things are changing, Neal is slipping his hand down the front of your pants, and Jack is grinning at you from across the room.

"Go for it," he mouths to you, lifting his glass in a mock-toast.

It always comes back to high school.

You shut your eyes as his hand begins to move.

This means nothing to them, and everything to you.

In the back of your mind, you can remember waving goodbye to Naomi as the orderlies led her deep into the institution. You wonder if this what her brain was like at that moment, jumbled, alive, yet so utterly dead.

"You're the only talented one here," he whispers in your ear, gripping you harder, "you have what they all want."

He's not asking for your heart, but you'll give it to him anyway.


II. "the rhythm the rhythm--and your memory in my head"

He's hopped on on bennie when he shows up on your stoop without Jack.

"Allen," he sings up in his perfect drawl, "Come out and play with me."

"I thought you and Jack were going to the bar," you yell back, "I want to finish this poem before I lose my inspiration."

You can see the sweat breaking on his forehead glistening in the street lights, and you desperately want to try whatever is making him smile so wide even though you know just being around him will make you smile even wider.

He's shining through all of that grime that you moved to Harlem to be with

"We were at the bar, but Jack only wants to write, and I wanted to dance," he waves a bag at you, "I have some inspiration right here for you if you want to play a little."

You buzz him up, and he barges into your little apartment, laughing at something only he finds funny.

He pushes you hard against the wall, and stares hard into your eyes as if he's trying to find something and take it from deep inside.

"Show me that beauty Allen," he moans softly, flipping the lights off, "give me something to write about."

You can't give him what he wants, but you can try.


III. "like a poem in the dark--escaped back to Oblivion"

"What the fuck are you grinning about?" Jack says bitterly, pointing his finger at you.

You smile back, "I'm just happy."

"Fucking Neal," he spats, "I hate him so much sometimes."

"Why?" you ask quietly, knowing the answer that will come.

Jack leans in close, breath smelling of all the cheap booze he could find, "Because he just takes everything from everyone, and he thinks fucking them is payment for what he steals."

You want to tell him but it hurts too much. Neal never had to steal anything, you would've given him everything in a heartbeat.


IV "And how Death is that remedy all singers dream of"

He has run across the country with Jack, and you still want to follow.

You've forgotten what life is like without him.

Or maybe you remember, and it hurts too much to go back.


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