The Damage Done

Al Billings


A leathery looking woman walks past my door early each morning. I’d guess she’s around forty years old, maybe a few more, and always walking a dog on a short leash. There’s a stiffness to her gait, and she radiates all the symptoms of Methedrine addiction, the rigidity, the angular direction of her pacing, and the hunched and freeze-dried profile of a woman surrendering her life to a few CC’s of cheap white liquid.

The men usually survive their compulsions and manage to reintegrate themselves back into some form of sobriety, but the women, oh, the women, hunched, drawn tight on torture racks, babbling angels forever twisted into human pretzels.

This morning she was sporting a raw red bruise under her left eye, a common souvenir left over from a night filled with synaptic jitters, orgiastic sex, and chain smoked discount cigarettes.

“The Needle and the Damage Done,” sang Neil Young, and I thought about all the empty syringes I’d seen tossed over into the weeds near our complex, waiting for the next overdose to pop up in one of the apartments. Let it flow, and let the party take its own jagged course, and count the bruises on the tortued woman who shades my life with tragedy each and every morning.

August 20, 2014 7:42 pm

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