The First Page of the Tales of the Broken
By Adam West
Original Fiction by @writerofage
Brandon Wicker stood in his room. Clothes were strewn everywhere, wrappers and other forms of trash found nooks and crannies that shouldn’t exist. “What a night!” he groaned aloud to himself, looking around he continued, “I’m a mess!”
He laughed, the truth can be funny.
On the end table beside his bed was an unfinished beer. Even though it surely wasn’t going to quench the disastrous thirst that enrichened itself on his tongue, and there being a high chance of it tasting terrible, he drank it. Brandon didn’t care one wit. He got it down, then looked around the room for another. He had done a good job finishing them the night before. It had been a slaughtering of inebriating beverages and weed. He couldn’t quite remember the night, but from the horrid taste in the back of his throat, he could guess where else it led.
He had a sudden urge to run to the bathroom, though in truth it was a hurried stumble. The bathroom looked a lot like the bedroom. Trash bin was overflowing and spilling its coffers to the ground. Hairs, uncleaned bits of toothpaste and soap -and god knows what else- had dried to the sink. He found himself leaning on the grimy thing and looking in the mirror, it too had a thin film upon it. “What the hell happened last night?” He knew though, even if he couldn’t remember.
After leaving work he had called a few of his friends, like every night, and they met at the Thirsty Club, a local pub and bar. They didn’t cut you off there. Which, of course was the very reason they met there, quite the place! Those kind of places, always attracted the best folks, he thought so. They knew how to live. They’d stay up all night, they could sleep when they were dead. Or through the morning. Besides none had reasons to wake early, tomorrow they would find their way back anyhow. Brandon pulled his gaze from the mirror. He hadn’t shaved for a few days, but considering, he was quite happy with how he looked. Not many could pull it together after a night such as his. He was sure, even though he couldn’t recall the last bits.
He turned the faucet on, with cupped hands he took a drink and rinsed the remainder of the night from his mouth.
“Oh God.” He groaned, again.
His head pounded, but that would fade shortly, as it did every morning, same with the empty roiling feeling that sat in the pit of his stomach.
“What time is it!” he asked the empty bathroom.
Funny thing, empty rooms don’t answer shit, he didn’t wait for an answer. Brandon stumbled back to his room and searched for his phone. It took a few minutes -the last couple had grown frantic. Until he found it wedged between pillow and blanket. Three percent left, shit. Luckily, it was only two in the afternoon, he still had a few hours before work.
He threw himself onto his mess of a bed, laying there he knew he could fall asleep again easily. It took another few moments, but he pushed himself up. There were a few things he could get done before work. He stood, rifled through random bits of clothes around and settled on a shirt that smelled fine, even if it was a little wrinkled, and a pair of jeans he had worn the day before. Once dressed, he walked to the living room, which was a fucking mess as well, from last night or ones before, who cares. On the table, he found what he was going to look for. The last bits of his bag.
He had just bought this eighth last night, and sure enough it was mostly gone. Brandon dumped what remained on the table, some of the bits stuck to the table, which was sticking in more than a few spots. He cursed, he wanted to smoke it, and had to secede the pieces that fell. Even as he tried to pick up the scraps they were crushed further and embedded into whatever had spilled. With the pipe on the table, packed and ready to go, he stood from the brown couch. He was sure it had been brown to start, but not positive it could have been tan. Still terribly thirsty, he went to the kitchen. It was a nice kitchen too. Though dishes piled themselves high in the sink, and the trash resembled that of the bathroom. There was a free-range gas stove with four burners, gas was the way to cook!
He was fairly sure that was what sold him on the place. He was a cook after all. Brandon the cook, opened the fridge, a yellow relic that somehow chilled on. Inside was pretty much what he hoped for. Two beers, other than that, a few near empty bottles of condiments lined the door. He’d even thought ahead, having filled a jug of water from the tap, chilling it overnight. He took a long drink straight from the gallon jug and grabbed both beers and returned to the living room.
The cushion caught him as he dropped to the couch, immediately opening one of the cans and lighting a cigarette he had pulled from a pack out of instinct. Something about a beer and a cig and a pipe was the best! Most especially before he had anything to do. Between puffs of his cigarette he finished the pipe-smoked it straight to ash. The damned cable was off again, he always had more time at the end of the month than money, that was fine. He turned the dvd player on and replayed whatever was still in it.
Brandon tipped his beer back and drained a good swallow, three quarters of it. He had smoked the cig down to the filter and put it out, then sat back. He closed his eyes and could feel his high coming on, and the beer sitting in his stomach.
“Ah, fuck that’s better!’
The pains from the night before began to ebb, he packed another pipe. It was the last he had. He smoked that, like the other, and lit another cig. The first was a gimme. He got up and retrieved his phone from his room to plug it in. There was a charger in the living room, he sat letting it charge and thumbed through it.
He had made a few late-night calls he shouldn’t have. “Ah well.”
He was sure that Carol, and Madeline, and Beth didn’t answer, they never did anymore. He swore again, finished the beer he had open, tossed the can and opened the other. It went like that more often, than not, he’d get drunk and couldn’t stop himself. Really, he didn’t think he wanted to. Well, he could see them at the bar anyway.
Brandon realized how hungry he was, his grumbling stomach was a good reminder. He responded with guzzling more beer. It was something to put in there, and it got him closer to a foggy feeling. A little, he took another sip. Funny how something that tasted so bland could satisfy. He thought so, and took another sip, all the good beer was gone. Actually, all the beer was gone.
He pulled out his wallet and grimaced. Twelve bucks, shit.
Brandon’s stomach rumbled again, he finished the last beer and put it on the table and took the biggest resin hit he could from his pipe. Not much, frustrated he tossed it aside. What was he going to do? Paychecks would be in tomorrow, not today, and ten backs was already needed for another pack of smokes. He lit one.
He seemed to never have enough. Pacing around the room for a bit, he smoked another cigs. Fuck it.
For twelve bucks, he could get another pack and a beer. He donned his shoes, grabbed his phone, which flashed a solid ten percent when he unplugged it, and was out the door. He was a man of action. Fucking eh. Having only been up for a half hour or so, he was feeling pretty good.
“Thank god for beer and weed.” He hadn’t meant to say it out loud and received an odd look from his neighbor Glen, who was passing in the hallway. Glen said something, but Brandon didn’t care, or hear it. He was down the stairs and out the front door in a few seconds anyway. It was bright out, too fucking bright. He shielded his eyes for a moment, at least it was finally warm out, summer was almost here. He hated being cold.
Halifax Road always had a steady stream of cars coming and going. None of them lived here, no one here had cars. Well Glenn did, asshole. He flicked his cigarette butt into the street and lit another. The liquor store was only a block away, easy enough walk. He was there quickly, it didn’t really take long to walk a block. The bell attached to the door clanged, more than rang, as he entered. Tom was behind the counter, as always.
“Brandon! I was wondering where you were!” Tom always made him feel welcome, he liked it here.
“Ha! Hell-of-a-night Tom! Hell, of a night. I need a pack of the reds there,” Brandon grabbed a tallboy from the cooler beside the counter, “and one of these.”
Tom rang him up to just under twelve dollars, perfect. Brandon said his thanks and the door gave another clang as he left. Before he knew it, he was back up the stairs to his apartment. The door was unlocked, as always. He didn’t give a shit anyway, he had nothing worth stealing. Well, nothing he’d lose any sleep over.
Back to the couch and still two hours before work. The movie still played on his T.V. Brandon plugged his phone back in, cracked open his beer and sat back. What the hell was he going to do with his time? He bounced the idea around between sips, not really getting anywhere with it. He was out of money anyway. He watched the movie while his beer lasted, which was not very long, maybe fifteen minutes. Brandon found himself quite incredibly bored.
There was nothing wrong with the show, in fact it was his favorite movie. Still. He’d seen it a hundred times, probably significantly more. He could clean the house. Looking around, he found it could certainly use it. No way to argue against that.
“Fuuuck that.” He’d do it on his day off.
Instead he smoked some cigarettes and decided to walk around a bit. That was productive he thought. Besides, he had to do something, anything. It was boring as shit to sit and do nothing. Maybe he would go heckle Glen a bit, asshole. Brandon knew he wouldn’t though. Brandon grabbed his bag that had his work clothes in it and headed out the door. Maybe he would call Jeremy. Sometimes he would give Brandon a bag offthe-cuff, if he didn’t have to wait too long. He was getting paid tomorrow.
Back into the damned blinding light of midday, it was really afternoon, though his eyes had adjusted a bit more to being awake now. He looked up and down Halifax Road. HE wasn’t sure why he did, there wasn’t anything he looked for anyway, it was a motion of habit. Walk outside, look around. He laughed.
It was funny the way things work sometimes. He walked right, Jeremy lived that way, and he worked downtown, which happened to be in the same direction. Brandon pulled out his phone, his fingers flew from practice.
Their conversation was boring, and short, and to the point. No one liked giving something for nothing. But, Jeremy conceded, Brandon was good for it, and would need some more tomorrow anyway. Which he assured Jeremy.
“Well, there we go!” He exclaimed to himself.
Things were looking up. He was feeling a little buzz off his beers, maybe he could sell a little of this bag and get some more after work. He knew he was going to need them. Either way he’d have something to get him through work. Fucking, eh, not bad for a few minutes. He felt good, like he was getting shit done.
Jeremy was only a few blocks passed the liquor store and a street over. Brandon lit another cig for the walk, which he nearly finished before even walking by the store. Man, he could suck those things down after a couple drinks. He took another drag and held it for an extra breath, whew.
It was a nice day. Warm and sunny, he could feel that now too. After another cigarette and a few more minutes of his time, he knocked on Jeremy’s door. This guy was pretty much the spitting image of your post college dealer, you know, longish hair, bearded, glazed look, you know. He answered the door nice enough, not that Brandon cared how he answered, as long as he did.
His high was wearing off, Jeremy brought him into the living room. He kept it organized, even had a nice wooden display case for all his various smoking apparatus. Brandon always found himself looking over them.
“You’ve got a good set up here Jeremy.” Brandon offered, bastard.
“Yeah man, just keep on, ya know?”
Brandon knew alright, that was the whole reason he was here. To get the shit to help him keep on. Brandon laughed, Jeremy didn’t know how easy he had it. “I hear ya.”
Jeremy weighed out his bag and tossed it to him.
Thank god, resin sucks, he thought. Though he said, “Thanks Jeremy, I needed this!”
“Yeah man, no problem. So tomorrow?”
They went about a farewell, pretty standard, although it did include a quickly shared pipe, for Brandon’s walk. He decided to head home instead of about town. By the time he was back in his apartment and looked at his phone, nearly an hour and a half had passed by. He packed another bowl and smoked.
“Aahhhh.” That was the shit right there, it felt good to be able to relax.
Shit! He had work soon, and he was out of beer, and money. All he had to do was make it until tomorrow. Then, payday, and bam! Fucking everything! It always went too quickly, before he was halfway through the week he was usually searching for quarters. One day it would change. He didn’t know how, nor did he really feel like thinking about it. One day.
He smoked another bowl.
It took about forty-five minutes for him to walk to work, the whole no car thing. He had been sitting and staring off for a little bit, and had an hour left to get there. He got ready, which involved finding his work shirt, and left. It was funny, he could walk the three quarters of an hour to work, and there would be great spans he wouldn’t remember. Lost in thought or something, he’d go blocks and not remember walking them. That included crossing streets and all.
Brandon liked to think it showed his walking prowess, or something, it definitely showed something.
He walked, and smoked cigs, and a couple traveling pips. Some days he had a beer for the walk. When his wallet allowed it. Being the day before payday and all he was glad to have a pack of smokes. He lit another thinking of them.
Work was work. He smoked a couple pipes with Kevin and Brit. Mostly he thought about getting out of work and to the bar. He fucking hated work. Kevin and Brit didn’t seem to mind, he didn’t get it. They worked the same hours as him, wasted the same amount of their lives, at the same fucking job, yet it seemed like they were okay with it. Maybe they worked the way he walked. Who cares, they were alright to work with, and after smoking with them, Kevin said he’d get Brandon a couple beers.
The hours passed, he tried to stay high. Mostly it sucked, but, like walking when he closed up he was suddenly done and punching out.
“Fucking awesome!” He cried when the three of them walked out of the building.
Brandon was excited, they were free! It had been busy and the time, especially now that it had passed, had gone by quickly. Man, he needed a beer.
“Hey, Kevin! Brit! You guys wanna smoke another bowl before we go?”
“To the Thristy Pub again?” It was possible Brit said this a little sarcastically, Brandon ignored it.
“You know it!” He packed the pipe as he said this.
They walked into the alley behind The Hot Pan, the restaurant they worked at. Their stay was short, cough filled and motivational. He liked to attribute motivate to smoking. The first syllable sounded like weed in Spanish. Brandon packed another, but Kevin and Brit said they were alright.
“More for me.” Brandon said, none too upset about it.
He finished it quickly, and they were on their way to the pub. There were a few folks that walked about on the sidewalks and avenues around the city. That was normal for a weekday, most people came out on the weekends, didn’t know their limit, got sloppy, or didn’t drink enough. Brandon was a pro, and stoned. He laughed aloud.
They shot the shit walking to the bar. It wasn’t far, so a few moments later they opened the door to the pub. It was always rather empty during the week. A few of the other restaurant workers would gather, griping and sharing their misfortunes, their frustrations. Other than that, not many wandered in. Brandon liked it that way, large crowds could be fun, but mostly he hated them. This was what he preferred, a small crowd of familiarity.
Kevin ordered the first round, Brit responded with thanks, and that she would get the next one. Brandon said thanks too and raised his glass to cheers. They talked and laughed, and it was fun. Although, Brandon seemed to always be waiting on the next round, having finished his drink way before his friends.
He was patient as fuck.
He thought so. It was hard to tell sometimes, he tuned out Kevin a lot. Brit less, she said less. He was in and out smoking cigs, and a pipe here and there. He managed to convince them to get him a couple shots too. Though it was on promise of him getting a couple rounds tomorrow. Which he was more than glad to trade. What good was his money of tomorrow today anyway?
He loved the feeling that spread down his throat to his stomach from the fire-touched liquid. Ah man, that was the shit. He relished in it, and as quickly as it took to drink it, it faded. Although a residue seemed to be left there. Like a reminder of what had passed. Shit, he wanted another. The burning warm feel dissipated, and back to being patient as fuck he went. It always seemed to grow longer between drinks, though he certainly didn’t check the time between.
Nah, he was patient, a god damned epitome of waiting. Fuck, he hated waiting. He was drunk, it had seemed like it took all day to get there. Well, he admitted to himself, he may have been drunk for a little bit, and just noticed it now. What did it matter anyway? He felt good, he’d even go as far as to say he was able to relax, for the first time today. He bartered for another shot and beer, knowing if he didn’t keep it going his drunk would quickly fade.
That short warm feel spread again as he knocked the shot of whiskey back. Damn, did he enjoy how it felt, and then it passed. It always freaking passed. Probably why they called it a shot. BAM! Then, gone. When it faded, a small emptiness replaced the burn, really, more of a dull ache. He was really getting drunk.
Brandon looked around, whiskey still flavored his tongue. Kevin and Brit were talking, they were always in some damned conversation at the bar. Though he would admit a lot of the time it was pretty good shit. Kevin was talking about a snowflake he had seen that had fallen on his jacket in the perfect shape of the star of David. Brandon had that conversation with him before. Kevin was no religious guy, he thought it had been a perfect combination of two water molecules. It actually made sense to Brandon, which was probably why he remembered it.
He didn’t feel like joining in, he wanted another smoke. He took a sip of his beer, nearly halfway gone. He set the glass down, and put the coaster over the top, fucking missed the first time. That way no one would think he’d abandoned a half-finished drink. That shit happened. When he stood, he knew he was drunk, firstly by the slow numbing way his legs worked, that was followed by a crash of his chair to floor.
Which, of course, was followed by a clamoring of turned heads. He picked it up, probably a bit more awkward than needed. Branded didn’t care. He was drunk after all, that shit happened too. Most turned back to what they were doing, when they saw no one was on the ground. Assholes. He laughed. Kevin and Brit, however, looked at him. Brit asked, “Hey Brandon, you good?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m great! Gonna smoke a cig. You guys wanna smoke a bowl?”
They were unanimous in being fine. One of them said something else but he was getting out his pack of cigarettes and didn’t really hear. He mumbled that he would be right back, nearly knocked the god-damned chair over again, and managed his way outside. The fresh air felt good, and it helped clear his head. He hated knocking anything over. Brandon pulled out his phone. It wasn’t too late, nearly one. They still had another hour before close.
He did some quick math, he was pretty sure he worked his forty hours this week. Should have checked that, he thought. He owed Jeremy, and Kevin, and Brit. Not bad, that still left him most of his check, probably. Some smokes for tomorrow too, more beer. Well, he’d get to that tomorrow, probably some whiskey too. That last drink was catching up to him, he felt that dull ache in his stomach again, was he hungry? He didn’t really eat at work, a few bites here and there, some fries.
The damned restaurant wanted their employees to pay for their food too. They’d give free food to customers who complained over whatever. But to the people who made the food? No.
Brandon snuck down the sidewalk, or stumbled, and smoked another pipe. Quick, because he didn’t bother to hide. He felt better, still hungry, but at least he was stoned, and drunk, he was sure as shit drunk.
Was he even hungry? He wanted another shot, another cig -which he lit-, another beer. Yeah, he was hungry, some food too. The worst part was, he was broke, down to pennies, nothin’ in his pocket. Empty stomach and an empty wallet. He could not wait until tomorrow! He’d cash his check, get a big lunch somewhere, put some money in his pocket.
He felt like shit, his stomach seemed to recoil at his hunger. Well, it fucking churned over something. Still down the street a bit, he found a dark corner and emptied a good bit of his stomach onto the sidewalk. He felt a lot better now, there was still his beer to finish anyway. He stood, the sweat that formed on his face cooled him down a bit and felt refreshing compared to throwing up all over the fucking place.
He had meant to call Carol, or Madeline. Both probably wouldn’t answer, but he knew better than to call after throwing up. That was just bad form. Although, he was feeling much better now. His thoughts seemed cleared, good thing he had come out here. Once Brandon felt steady on his feet, and in his stomach more importantly, he made his way back to the bar. He lit another cig from his nearly empty pack.
He almost threw up again immediately, but thankfully didn’t, and that faded too. With his phone back out, he stood in front of the Thirsty Pub, it had been fifteen minutes since he came out. Not terribly late.
He called Carol.
She was not fucking happy. Ah well, can’t shame a man for trying, right? He hoped not. Her loss, he thought. Brandon thought about calling Madeline, but quickly decided against it. He had thrown up after all, maybe Carol was able to tell. He would see how he felt in a few minutes, maybe the beer would help. Something needed to get in his stomach. That ache had found its way back, it always did. Most of the time he barely noticed it. Not now.
Right now, was one of those moments where it seemed like he couldn’t satisfy it. He tried to ignore it, and pushed the door open, knowing he needed something.