20 May 2010

"Pale Horse" #Fridayflash

This was what came to mind tonight as I prepped to write something incredibly insightful. A heroin addict sometimes doesn't measure just right, then again it's a vicious drug and will change potency in your body at any given time. I've never done heroin but have lost people I cared about...if reading about that disturbs you, look away. Else, welcome to my improv thought process. 

"I have made the big decision
I'm gonna try to nullify my life

'Cause when the blood begins to flow

When it shoots up the dropper's neck

When I'm closing in on death

And you can't help me now, you guys…"

  Heroin – Lou Reed

I’m breathing and shutting the door behind me. Neighbor downstairs is shouting at his girl again and somewhere there’s a bird chirruping and

—I gotta find it. The bathroom sink is a fucking mess and I should’ve started the wash.

There it is. Oh sweet heaven you. I hid you and nobody found you, not even that girl, what the hell was her name

—oh yeah. Shelia. Shelia is some girl, man but I gotta think straight. Think straight.

There’s pain where there shouldn’t be and I’m digging, digging because I need. Need. Alcohol wipes above the kitchen sink over the pile of dirty dishes. Goddamnit she should've at least done those. I think I said I would.

—Found it.

I gotta make sure I hit the vein, you know. Gotta pull the needle out just a little and look for those blisters, Man those blisters take fucking forever to go away and burn. A little blood baby. Yeah. Just a little.

Just a little.

There’s roses on the walls; I don’t know why man. Stupid tv and and aww man. Yeah.

This shit is gonna rock me so hard. Gonna go back to that Circle K in a little bit and score some smokes before…what was her name...gets home. Yeah. I gotta girl. I gotta girl and she loves me. Wait a minute, just a little more. Heaven ain’t like this. Maybe that Either place, wow man…

I feel like I’m gonna just float away and hey baby. Hey baby. She looks at me and screams. Groceries on the floor by my head. How did I get here? I was taking a piss and…

Oh baby. Don’t cry. I don’t know your name but I’m alright, just let me get up and

—Shit. Man I’m messed up. So messed up.

I love you too baby. Can’t you hear me? I’m talking

—aww damn.

I think I fucked up.


Unknown said...

Interesting read, but somewhat expected interpretation. I might have to let this one soak in some more. I like the breaks; set the feeling of the character's state.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Yeah, it's not the best I've done, but it's been nagging me. Some poor schmuck takes too much. I hope you'll return for the next one. Take care.

litrock said...

This one totally would be amazing if spoken. I don't imagine you do beat poetry or anything of the sort. ;) But if you did, man ... oh man, that'd be grand.

Marisa Birns said...

Wow, this is powerful stream of consciousness. You've got the male voice and druggie attitude down pat!

Such a loss.

ellecee said...

I like that its disjointed but focused. Also like the Velvet Underground quote, almost makes me want to sing this to the tune of "Heroin."

Unknown said...

Fierce and raw... Man, this sorta grabs you by the shirt and slaps you around a bit.

I totally dug it, carrie... Loved the freeverse feel to it

pegjet said...

Kind of a crazy consciousness. I don't think I got a new insight into an addict's mind, but I too liked the breaks and the disjointed focus. Very immediate and I agree with litrock--spoken this one would rock.

Sulci Collective said...

fantastic rhythms to the scattered, unfocused thoughts that keep cutting across one another. The thing is, I believe this is how our minds work at lightning speed anyway, so thoughts are never strictly linear.

I really, really enjoyed this piece.

marc nash

Diandra said...

Never been there, but imagine it to be rather accurate. Especially like the unadorned writing, makes it more "real".

Jen said...

Euuurgh. I think he fucked up, too. And I almost feel sorry for him, though I rarely do in situations like this. I like the rhythm of it, how stuttered it is, and the description you manage just with his thoughts.

Unknown said...


I like the pace and the voice in it all... the denial of this cat as he's dying until he gets to the end and realizes he fucked up. I like the part of the groceries by his head... I can just picture someone coming home to find their other on the floor because of that shit... I can relate to this so I totally get it and love it.


Laura Eno said...

Wow, Carrie. I think you nailed it. Raw and desperate.

Paul D Brazill said...

Oh, it's good. Kick it about a bit more now that you've scratched the itch. Podcast would be good as lirock said.

Sam said...

I wasn't sure what to make of this, not having an experiental coasthook to hand it on, so-to-speak, but the break to the ending pulled me right in and I ended up really liking this piece.

Laurita said...

I like how this slips further and further as you read. Raw.

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

The breaks really made this piece.
"the Either place" threw me, in a good way though.
No personal experience of such things, but it is how you imagine it to be!

Stina said...

Reading it made me dizzy. You're the master of dragging readers kicking and screaming into the character's POV. Smooth flow and still nice and disjointed. Awesome, as I've come to expect from you. You're my favorite writer. :)

Chris Chartrand said...

I like the piece-love the ending. You nailed the stream of conscious and disjointed thinking. Nice touches of frenetic realism with the wall paper and groceries by his head. Cool piece.

Tony Noland said...

I liked the disjointed feel of this, and the fact that this guys priorities are deeply skewed.

The one thing that struck me is that he remained sort of articulate right through to the end. The final sentence was grammatically correct, for example. Maybe that just a slight jar for me, though.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

I would love to hear you read this too... and what do you mean, it's not the best you've done... too hard on yourself, Carrie. This is a topic that could wind up corny and boring... this totally wasn't. The voice was perfect, pitch-perfect. The flow was constant and solid. I was sucked in from the get go -even from your intro I knew I was gonna be rocked.

Deanna said...

Carrie, I've seen this first hand, and you nailed it, IMHO.

Can't find who said it now, but they're right - you're too hard on yourself. The breaks and the pacing here is what made it ROCK.
Superb writing!

Eric J. Krause said...

This is powerful. The voice is excellent--makes the story. And the ending is crushing. Very cool. I enjoyed it a TON!

Linda said...

Edgy voice lost in the need for smack, and then the getting. I agree -- would def make for a good reading. Peace...

Anonymous said...

The structure fits the thought process beautifully. Two of my favourite books were written about heroin addiction - "Requiem for a Dream" and "Under my Skin" and I agree that you nail the voice and the fucked up priorities.

We get he's pretty wasted - given he can't even remember his girlfriend's name.

The only problem I have with it (as pointed out in my writers group) - first person narration can't end with that narrator dying (there I go - set the cat among the pigeons probably)

I'd love to hear the internal monologue of his girlfriend and the juxtaposition to his.

John Wiswell said...

Had a long day yesterday, so I waited and re-read this one today with a clear mind. I think there's good meat on this. You have a power for phrasing and a couple of the gimmicks work. But there are some things that turn me, tired and rested.

If you return to this, I would give the conjugation and spelling another pass. The conjugation of verbs is particularly awkward, including the opening words: "I’m breathin’ and shutting." One is cut by an apostrophe while the other is whole. Clipping all of them would unify the voice.

I'm also not sure textual things like "MAN" and "burrrrrn" help you much. You have a strong sense of voice without gimmicks. Drug use would naturally have somebody's voice swinging all over the place, but these things don't lend the effect nearly as much as you might like. The ellipses and the dash-interludes (like "just let me up and --Shit. Man I'm messed up") are the gimmicks that really pop tone, and using just them without other unusual textual tricks might make for a better printed monologue. Wherever you feel it still needs spice, just turn a phrase about this warped experience. Our addict is not erudite, but being ****ed up can cause people to say very colorful things. We both know you can do that because you do it in sports of this piece, and you do it in almost every other story.

Hope that critique makes sense, and that it doesn't make me sound condescending or superior. I intend neither, just trying to provide one of those crits you like.


Carrie Clevenger said...

Thank you for all your encouraging comments! I don't read stuff aloud. Bleh. I don't like the sound of my voice.

JOHN, wow, this is very, very good advice. I can't wait to edit according to your suggestions. Your time and consideration is so very appreciated. This is very valuable feedback. I do appreciate it!

Unknown said...

Very raw and gritty picture of a character who's reached the end of the line. I love the detail that he can't remember the girl's name. It shows how lost he is. Great ending, too. My #fridayflash is completely different. It's at http://mcdonnellwrite.blogspot.com/2010/05/dolores-larry-and-naked-kim-kardashian.html

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't have experience with this sort of addict, but my opinion is that this piece is excellent, just as rough and raw as it should be.

I think his dying realization is just fine, too. Whether we just stop when we die or not, it's the perfect last thought.

Very well done, Carrie.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Well, I disagree with John on one point: "breathin and shutting" - it's perfectly OK to mix it up, go with what works for the voice. I agree with those that feel a spoken word vibe to this. I would encourage you, when you write such pieces, to speak them out. It doesn't matter if you don't like the sound of your own voice. Imagine someone else speaking it.

The jargon doesn't bother me. I've been close to heroin addicts and they used all that language that sounds hackneyed.

Not to nit-pick, but Heroin was written by Lou Reed, not the whole band. I mention it because Reed is one of my favorite writers. The Velvets get a lot of attention, but Lou Reed was-is the writer.