My name is Chaz Whitley, and I’m a musician. Used to be one. Am one. Hard to say now. In the six days since a woman in torn jeans and a sexy v-neck picked me up outside this fleabitten club and took my joie de vivre, I haven’t much cared to play. I haven’t much cared about anything, actually, except draining the gusto out of somebody else. In the giant don’t-give-a-fuck that my life’s become, that two minutes of bliss is all that drives me forward.
I still pick up the guitar every day. I’ve played for the better part of three decades, and apparently six days isn’t long enough to kill off the habit. It shrivels a little each day, though, and soon enough it’ll be part of who I used to be but no longer am.
Who I am now is an addiction, pure and simple.
I no longer wonder why she picked me. Not that I’d asked myself that at the time; I took her home and was on her before I’d even closed my apartment door, horny and hungry and more than happy to take what she was offering. She pushed me to the couch, pinned my arms, and leaned in to kiss me. A second later I woke up alone and pathologically apathetic.
If I’d still been me, this is when I’d have started wondering why she’d looked straight past both Jack and Freddy to wink at me. Why I couldn’t remember anything after that kiss. But I wasn’t me, and she wasn’t a habit my body was used to. I didn’t think about her at all, until after I attacked Cap that night.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Around 3 PM I hauled my indifferent ass out of bed and showered, then cooked myself some eggs and toast. I put it on a plate and poured a glass of juice and sat down and looked at it. I never was much of an eater. Three hours later, I got up and put on my coat and left for the club. That’s the power of a fifteen-year habit.
The plate’s still on the table, by the way, untouched. Untouched by me, that is: some kind of mold that still gives a fuck is having a field day with the eggs and juice.
That night habit walked me into the empty club and onto the stage and started tuning my guitar. Then Cap the bartender walked in, and he was bright fucking crazy golden beautiful and I sat there staring and quite possibly drooling until Jack said, "Yo, Chaz, you okay?" and I realized Jack had been there the whole time. I looked around, and there were Freddy and the rest of the guys, colorless as cellophane and exactly as interesting to me.
Looking at Cap, I felt the first thing I’d felt all day, and realized it was the first thing I’d felt all day, and didn’t give a fuck that that was deeply weird. I was lost in the throes of desire: I wanted to drink Cap dry, to suck up that shiny golden essence flowing through him.
I took him after the show, in the storeroom. For two minutes, Cap’s gusto coursed through me like heroin, and no high I’ve ever had was finer. Over the next few hours it drifted from ecstasy to contentment, then to shock that I’d assaulted a friend, then to some kind of detached place with just enough interest to wonder what the hell that woman did to me, until I was back to feeling nothing at all.
That last hour is the hardest, when the remaining zest is going fast and you know the only way to get more is to take somebody new. It horrifies you while it makes your mouth water. You plan to kill yourself, then to lock yourself up until you starve out whatever fucked-up addiction this is, and you know it’s bullshit because soon you won’t care, and soon after that you’ll be out there, sucking another golden essence through someone’s lips, and just the thought of it makes you hard.
Tonight I drank my fill before the show. Right now my playing’s a thing of fucking beauty. Imagine that. Bob, I think we have a winner.
Cap died, by the way. I don’t know what that woman did to keep me vertical, but all mine have died. I’ll ask her after the show, while I’ve still got zest enough to care: I see her in the crowd, cruising for another golden flow.
This story originally appeared in Curious Fictions.