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Or will I just die young?


Some people wanted to buy me a drink a day or two before and some wanted to buy me a drink a day or two after. And drinks were bought in between.

One of my buddies showed up with a small sachet of coke. He pulled it out of his pocket. It was a white ball tied up in a baggy. He held it between his thumb and pointer.

Him, the girlfriend and I ran all over the city that night. We’d walk into one bar: walk into the bathroom, do a line, walk back to the bar, order a beer and a shot, take the shot and leave the bar – with the beer. We did this right down the line.

There was this one bar, it had a dj in the back and that was where the restrooms were. We walked in the side door. It was a straight walk across the dance floor to the bathrooms. As we were walking by the dj, a girl approached us. She said, “You can’t bring those in here.” Floyd said, “Oh don’t worry we are not staying.”

And there was a look of misunderstanding on her face. I couldn’t tell if she thought we were misunderstood or if she thought she was misunderstood. I know we fully understood. We were breaking a law and we didn’t really care.

The three of us marched in line: by the girl, into the bathroom, in line, out of the bathroom, by the girl and out the door. Nothing in the bar had moved. It was like time had frozen. The girl was still standing there thinking.

After we walked out the side door, we ended up in an alley. There was a red convertible parked down the alley on the right. We walked over to the car and hopped right in. We began honking the horn and taking bumps.

I know there were a few days in a row with nights like this. I can’t remember specifically. I do know though, at the end, I slept eight hours. This kid we had called “Stocker Dave” woke me up off the couch in the community room. He wanted to have a cigarette. I don’t think he had one though. So we went out the first door and smoked between the two doors. The floor was marble. I remember feeling dizzy.

Stocker Dave woke me up. He said, “We have to go to the hospital.” After I realized I was laying on the floor and stood up, I asked, “Why?” He pointed and I looked down and saw blood all over the floor. I felt the back of my head and it felt like a bruised cantaloupe. It was the first time I could stick my finger in my head. It really made me change the way I saw it all. I always thought of my head as being as hard as a rock. After I fainted, I fell backwards and my head hit the marble floor. I went into a seizure.

I walked into the community room and grabbed someone’s sweatshirt. We walked to the hospital and waited in a white room filled with magazines and chairs. When they called my name the hood of the sweatshirt was drenched in blood. I got twelve staples and they gave me some painkillers. My head still hurt even with the painkillers.

When my painkillers ran out I went back to the hospital. I was trying to get a few more because my head still hurt. This nurse came in and she told me, “You’re not getting a refill. You are just trying to abuse them and sell them. There is no way you’re getting a refill.” Then the doctor came in. He listened to my argument – with the nurse over the top, “He’s just trying to abuse them. Don’t give him a refill.” And gave me a refill.

A month or so later, as the scab was healing, I picked at the scab and found a staple they missed. Actually, it was a friend. My brother and I were at his parent’s house, in the living room. They were on the couch and I was standing. They had a disgusted look on their faces like one gets when you tell them that you could stick your finger in your head. The friend, Reginald, we call him, said, “Let me see.” And he started to poke around at the scab. That is when he found it and this time it hurt a lot more because they had to rip off the entire scab to get out the staple that they missed.

One would think that this kind of experience would lead to a monumental life change. Some people might take this as a sign to straighten their life out. They may find God and live a more substantial life. When something traumatic happens in a person’s life and they become laid up, it is a good time for them to re-evaluate everything in their life. It is like taking inventory and deciding what should stay and what should go.

I think it was a year later and I was back in the city. My buddy showed up and we had a beer together. He told me, “You know Shane, you really have to slow down?”

In my head I thought you are wrong. There was a break in the noise. We both sat and thought about it. My skeleton began to smirk. It felt pretty good. The air began to lighten and everything became clear like when the clouds part and the salty pacific air floats down the street. I kind of squinted my eyes and told him, “You know, it is funny you say that. I have been thinking, a lot, about that. I think I may just die young.”

It wasn’t meant to be funny but we both laughed for a moment. We took a drink of our beers and looked around. It was refreshing.

The samurai must walk down the street expecting death at every corner. I am not saying I do this but to some extent if you live a life too protected and tight one might ask, “Are you really living?

At the same time, being an artist is like being a samurai. Although the difference is that if you had to live a normal, dull life, you’d wish for death around every corner. When I said it, it really made me change the way I saw it all. I always thought of my head as being as hard as a rock, there was a bit of smartass in my tone. I was implying that the only thing that I learned was that my head was not as hard as a rock. I was trying to be deep in a simple way but now I see it really did change. I went from thinking that I was invincible to seeing that I am slowly breaking down and will one day die. The important part till then is that I don’t let this fire burn out that is inside my heart.

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