Jan. 15th, 2015 05:10 pm
talonkarrde: (color)
The phone rings, and rings again, and again, and finally goes to voicemail. This is Jared, a familiar voice tells him. I can't get to you right now, but let me know I can do and I'll be there to help. Leave a message!

"Hey," he says, after the beep, "I wouldn't be calling you right now if I didn't need it really badly, but I've just been... it's been bad, you know? I just don't know if I can handle it all, and I'm starting to- it's starting to get to me. I can't handle it anymore, and I've been thinking...bad thoughts. You know?"

He pauses, for a moment, wondering if he should add more, and takes a deep breath.

"I was wondering if you could help," he finishes, and then hangs up.

Marin County Police Blotter

In the first few months of 2015, violent crimes are have skyrocketed to at an all time high — reports indicate that there's been a twenty percent rise in violent crimes over the last year. Officials don't seem to have any explanation for it, though, when asked for comment, police chief James Ronaldson said that the city was "looking into all possible causes to get to the root of the matter".


He looks at the plastic baggie carefully, at each individual oblong pill that's inside. He counts them, one-two-three-four-five-six-seven-eight-nine, and then again, and again. And then he looks at the small slip of paper that came with the baggy: this'll help. it offers hope. it says, written in an old, familiar scrawl, but use carefully, they say there's some side effects. It should calm you for a long time. After six hours, though, make sure you get enough sleep. so don't take it before two pm.

"This isn't me," he says, hearing his own voice waver just a bit. "I don't need this." It's weak, but it's enough: he sets the bag down on the bed and turns back to his desk. There are two stacks of envelopes on it, and he decides to go for the bad news first.

By the third bill, he's realized that there's not enough money in his account to cover everything. He slowly opens the rest, one at a time, each one finding it harder to look at the red number that screams at him how much he owes someone out there. It gets bad enough that he starts feeling the pounding in his heart as he opens the last few, as he tries to remember how much he owes in total, as he wonders how he'll do it. Eventually, all the letters are out of their envelopes and he lays them down, side by side, looking at each in turn. He orders them by necessity: he can't pay the electricity bill this month, but they'll probably let him go for at least another month before they shut things off. He needs to pay the water bill: that goes on top. The credit cards, the debt collectors from the emergency room trip, the insurance bills, all of those can wait.

He tries to ignore how much more waiting will cost him, tries to ignore the knowledge that more bills will be coming.

He turns to the second, much smaller stack — everything not bills — and sorts through it. A bit of spam, a few coupons he eagerly saves, some offers for debt consolidation that he's long since realized are bullshit, and one actual piece of mail from a local grocery store co-op that had a job opening. He tears it open eagerly, and reads the first line:

I'm sorry, but we're unable to offer you employment, it starts, and he doesn't need to read the rest of it. He's so frustrated he starts crying, sobbing, and he wants to shred the letter, wants to flip the table, wants to punch the wall, but he sees the existing hole in the wall, from a month ago, and it reminds him that he can't pay for repairing anything right now, so he shouldn't break anything.

He angrily wipes away his tears, fingers trembling, and balls up the letter, throwing it against the wall, where it bounces back and lands behind him on the bed, next to the pills.

He stares at the bag.

American Medical Association Statement on the Rise of 'masti'

Recently, a rash of emergency department visits have led the American Medical Association to report that a new drug — one popularly referred to as 'masti' — appears to be spreading on the streets. As a synthetic mixture of drugs that seems to have a phenethylamine compound at its core, the American Medical Association tells us that the drug is highly dangerous and its use should be avoided. While the general use of the drug may be difficult to ascertain due to a relatively low-key initial relaxed period, it is followed by a short refractory period where a user's aggression is highly amplified. The American Medical Association recommends that you immediately call 911 if you observe someone that exihibts these symptoms.


He's never felt better. He's been following the instructions religiously and hasn't had any side effects, are far as he can tell. He's simply felt more at ease than he's ever been, taking one of these pills every day — some days, he doesn't even need them. He's even read up on the pills a bit, just to soothe his conscience, though if he's honest he admits that he didn't follow after it started talking about methyl groups and neurotransmitter agonists. What it comes down to, he figures, is that it's not illegal yet and it's helping stabilize his life. He's started working part time at a liquor store and the pile of bills has shrunk from fifteen to five — though he has a few maxed credit cards to get through, still, he doesn't feel as hopeless anymore. Or, at least, he doesn't feel as hopeless as long as he's taken his masti for the day. He's gotten a few refills on from his friend, who seems happy to help him out.

The most recent batch is better than ever. It came with a note that said it was 'pure', and he'd agree — he's been feeling incredibly at ease, super patient, and honestly just okay with everything. All of his friends say that he seems to have really calmed down. The only weirdness has been that sometimes he wakes up in the morning and his arms and legs are sore, occasionally with fresh bruises on them, and he's woken up once or twice with everything that was on his nightstand a mess on the floor. Small side effects, he figures, but they're a tiny price to pay for getting his life back in order.


Hey, David — we're going to need you to come in early tomorrow, around 6am, to prep stock for Black Friday. Would you mind? It'd be double-overtime and a half, his voicemail tells him at 6pm. Once upon a time he would've been irritated, but now he simply thinks of the upsides. He calls back, telling them that it'd be perfectly fine, and thinks that this will be just the thing to pay off the last card. He's been doing everything responsibly, and this is no different — he even goes to sleep early, making sure that he's well rested for the next day.

In the middle of the night, though, he also wakes up, and just feels angry, for some reason. He looks around: his lamp doesn't look quite right. Why the hell did he even have that thing? He takes a swipe at it, knocking it to the ground, and nods in satisfaction. Screw that thing, he thinks. Shitty piece of decoration. He's good enough to buy another one. He looks around, but nothing else quite irritates him as much, and eventually, he falls back asleep.

When he wakes up, though, he's confused — he remembers something about the lamp, but why would he break it? It was a perfectly good lamp, he thinks. He spends some time picking up the pieces, and then just feels drained, and doesn't really want to go to work, but he promised he would be, after all. While he usually doesn't take a pill until later in the day, he figures that doing it just this once should be fine — it'll mean having a much better morning, anyway, and he'll probably be able to take off early, anyway.


"Hey David — would you mind staying for another couple of hours? The other stocker didn't show up, and we'd hate to lean on you like this, but we just need you for another hour or two."

"Honestly, I should get home..."

"Just another hour, then? It'll make a huge difference, and we'll give you a bonus for it?"

"Just an hour? I guess, yeah."

The Marin County Independent Journal

Local Florida man David Johnston was shot and killed today after an incredibly violent outburst at the liquor store that he's worked at for two months now. Witnesses reported that shortly after 1pm, Johnston started becoming incredibly belligerent, smashing bottles and yelling at everyone to get out of the store, that he was going to burn it down. When an individual attempted to calm him down, Johnston lunged at the individual and started viciously beating him — using not only his hands and feet but also his teeth. The individual suffered a few broken ribs and a broken collarbone, as well as multiple bites, and described Johnston as "a demon possessed". An off-duty cop was on the scene and attempted to intervene, but instead of stopping, Johnston's response was to attack the officer, who unfortunately was forced to defend himself. Another witness said that the officer had to shoot Johnston multiple times before he even showed signs of slowing, and that Johnston looked like "an animal, snarling and biting and rabid."

This attack appeared to be completely unprovoked and police are currently investigating Johnston's history. Surprisingly, friends said that he was a really good guy, someone who wouldn't wish anyone harm, and exhibited surprise that 'the most patient person they knew' would've done something like this. "He had really turned his life around, recently," said Jared Temple, a longtime friend. "I don't know why he'd do such a thing."
talonkarrde: (color)
The Mercedes waits outside, idling quietly as the man enters the apartment complex.

He heads for the stairs, taking them two at a time. The apartment he's looking for is three flights up, and by the time he gets to the top, his suit jacket is slightly dirty from an errant encounter with the dusty bannister, but he doesn't seem to care, singlemindedly focused on his goal.

When he gets to the doorway, though, he hesitates for the first time since leaving his car. Dull letters tell him that this is apartment 305. He looks around and takes a deep breath, remmebering when the paint wasn't faded and cracked, when there used to be a fisher-price trike in the corner over there, when the door was almost always open and visitors always welcome.

He closes his eyes for a moment and almost smells the scent of dinner cooking, almost hears loud voices calling the kids in, almost sees his mama poking her head out the doorway, beckoning towards him.

A dull clang comes from downstairs, breaking his reverie, and his eyes snap open, hand automatically going into his suit for the bulge that rests comfortably under his arm.

Nothing else sounds, though, and he dismisses it after a moment, stepping forward into the apartment itself.

It's seen better days, clearly, and the disrepair that was evident outside is also present here. The main difference is that there's more inside, furniture and pictures and evidence that people once lived here and called it their home — and then, of course, left.

His eyes sweep over the living room, looking over the overstuffed couch that is now missing several cushions and has a thick layer of dust on it. He sees the cut in the fabric on one of the arms, and remembers the argument it came from, the knife that was flicked out and slammed down.

There used to be a TV, too, but it's long gone, stolen by looters probably as soon as they moved out, he figures. The old VCR is still there, apparently worthless even to the thieves, and he squats down in front of the TV stand, hand reaching out past the VCR. Were there still the tapes, he wonders, and indeed finds them, shoved against the wall. He takes them out one at a time, flipping them over and reading the names again, half by memory and half by sight.

First Bike Ride

Twelfth Birthday

High School Graduation

His thumb rubs over the labels slowly, clearing the dust from them, and then he sets them back down, rising to his feet and hearing his knees crack. He steps through the living room, and glances into the kitchen where cabinets gape, most missing their doors, and a shattered glass pipe lies on the counter. Someone tried to piece it back together, it seems, and even managed to find most of the pieces.

He remembers the fight, the words and blows and most of all, momma throwing that pipe across the room, a clean arc as it spins and glitters in the light and then smashes against the kitchen wall.

He remembers the first puff he ever took from it, his girlfriend presenting it to him with a flourish and a smile. His fingers brush over the glass shards one more time before he shakes his head and moves on, towards the bedroom.

This is the reason that he's come, and his body tenses even though he knows that there's no one there. There can't be. But the memories are strong, and even before he rounds the corner, he already smells the smoke, hears the voices of his friends, feels the euphoria.

And then he steps through the doorway.

The spray of blood against the wall is still present, now a very dull brown, but unmistakably still a product of violence. The window has been broken and the floor in front of it is mouldy, but the room has been otherwise untouched, the blood acting as a ward against any vagrants or pickpockets.

He hears the floorboards creak as he takes a step into the room, as he flashes back to that night, Jackson backing up, the wild look in his eyes, the muzzle flare, the shock, the puppet with its strings cut.

And the spray of blood, a splash of crimson against a white canvas.

He takes another step, to the dresser, and slowly slides it open, finding the picture of the four of them at their graduation, jaunty caps and hi-tops and the poses that they imitated from the movies. Fake gang signs, like they owned the world. And they did, for a while, until it all crashed down around them.

Until he gave them up for the world.

He rubs the picture off with his sleeve, looking at the four of them and wondering what the fuck happened.

And then he hears a footstep, and his gun is out and pointed at the doorway, his finger on the trigger, ready to fire — only to falter as he sees who it is, as he sees another barrel pointed squarely at him.

"Hi, Christian," the other man calls out, without smiling. "Wond'rin when you were gonna come back and visit, now you're so high and mighty."

"John," he whispers, looking back down at the photo, and then back up. The resemblance is obvious, even with ten years of jail weathering the face in front of him.

"Come back to gloat? To celebrate stabbing us in the back, turning us in?" John asks, shifting slightly.

"No," he says. "I came back to find a picture of us, to see how it all went through. I'm through with it, everything, and I just wanted to come back to where it started."

"This aint where it started, Christian. This is where it ended. Where you ended it." John says angrily.

"I'm sorry," Christian says, and he means every word, though he knows it won't make a difference. "I'm sorry, but I had no choice, and I—"

Christian pauses, and then he lowers his gun, slowly. "I'm here to make it right."

"Only one way to do that." John smiles, finally, and slides the hammer back with a click.

A/N: Despite being a neutral word, Paraphernalia is in my experience almost always associated with drugs. Mix in some memories, and that's essentially the soul of this piece. I thought about doing it in first person, but it ended up feeling like third-person was more appropriate for this: it's meant to be a tv-series like finale episode of sorts, where the protagonist heads back to his roots and reflects on what has changed. I wanted to not expose his internal monologue/thoughts and instead only rely on what he does and what he sees to convey the atmosphere. Strongest influence is probably from the Wire (which I sadly haven't seen, yet, and so really it's more like what I know of the Wire), and L&O:SVU: the protagonist, in my mind, is in Ice-T's image.


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