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Old Glory’s High (Part 1)

(Inspired by our weekly writing prompt: The American Dream)

It’s late, the stars create cookie-cutter light impressions in a tattered pitch sky as the neighbor’s Golden Retriever howls off-key to the seductive pull of the blossoming full moon outside.

She’s here, as usual, her hair a bit more tangled and greasy, her amber waves slowly ebbing away to dirty bleach blonde like sand being stolen over the years by an ever-hungry sea. Her hands are thin and nervous, tangled together like a fish in a net, dancing like spiders in their silken webs as she shuffles from foot to foot, rubbing her arms in a vain attempt to keep warm down here in her condition.

The air is cold, stifling, a touch too sterile, in a worrisome contrast to her unpleasantly hopeful expression.

“I can’t keep doing this,” I say, and her puppyish look, almost pathetic in that blatant begging, sours like curdled milk left to ferment in the boiling desert sun.

“C’mon, honey, I just need one more, just one more.” Her painted nails, chipped and worn, reach out like talons, digging into my arms with a sort of subdued desperation. I watch as blood comes up in stinging welts from the minuscule cuts and wonder at the ragged look of the cuticles that caused them. Callouses run up and down spray-tanned fingers, uneven and worn from times of both poverty and wealth. The Great Depression’s yellow tint of hunger pains still lingered in the shaking of those old-beauty fingers, shaking now from a different kind of craving. You used to keep yourself so well. What happened to the state of your hands? Gloves used to cry to offer those hands a palmer’s kiss, and now look at them, worn out and ragged as a newspaper left out in the rain.

“You’ve known me for years. I don’t lie to ya. I just need a little…”

My eyes face away, trying to look anywhere but at her. Is this what we have been reduced to? I don’t want to see you like this. I don’t want to see you strung out and begging for the next fix. It’s too costly. It’s too much. And it’s never enough for you, is it?

I watch the shadows flickering on the walls, throwing the old furniture down here into crazed impressions of tall, gaunt, hungry monsters, warped twists of their true selves, and even that is an illusion in the end. She paws at my arms again, tilting her head as if offering an invitation to trade something. The circlet wrapped around her head is askew, rather odd in its very presence as it thrusts old spikes into empty air, as an absentminded declaration of dead defiance of God knows what. Guess she got it back, I thought. I didn’t think the pawnshops did refunds.

I ignore it and just give her what she asks for.

A/N: The UN Office on Drugs and Crime statistics show that America’s pain pill and heroin addiction exceeds that of all other countries in the world.

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7 thoughts on “Old Glory’s High (Part 1)

  1. I could feel the protagonist’s revulsion easily with the words chosen. Everything hints at what could have happen but doesn’t given much else away, which makes me cook up all sorts of nasty stories for Old Glory. Feels like it could be set in Nevada, some where desert-like where the nights get cold while the days burn bright – hot enough to run about in skimpy clothes.

    (Jun just told me that Old Glory usually refers to the US’s flag, a personification of America.)

    Jun and I were discussing your post, he’s got a lot of questions. I made an off-hand comment about how she’s probably sucked a few phallic objects for her circlet back, and he said that by the time one reached that stage of junkiness (heh), one wouldn’t care much for their trinkets anymore. I thought perhaps she was hoping for cash, or something more desirable for trade, but the pawn shop owner ripped her off and just tossed her the circlet back, laughing as he tucked himself back in.

    Why a yellow tint for The Great Depression’s hunger pains (Jun suggests it’s the color of your skin after prolonged usage of drugs)? Who is our protagonist who has what she wants, a drug dealer, a clearly sentimental old friend who gives her cash to enable her addict, or someone who used it to hook her, but is now disgusted by what she has become?

    You A/N hit it all home, as if until that point the story was just a glop atop the opening of a jar, then the A/N swung by and slapped it all into the jar; an awful realisation that this is the story, repeated ad nauseam over the generations spelling the break down of families and fortune, and it isn’t showing signs of slowing down. (And if there was a more fitting term, “ad nauseam”, for this sensation, I can’t think of it. Golf a clap for the Rara!)

    I feel like I need a shower, some healthy food, to push away the imagined chill and filth that has crept up over my skin.

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    1. I love how much this story provoked conversion between both you and Salaluka. I hadn’t really considered that it could be taken into all of these different directions, and I suppose that’s mainly due to the fact that I already had the entire story planned out in my own mind, but decided to break it into parts 1 and 2 when I realized that I didn’t want to do what I did last week by writing an obnoxiously lengthy story that others would feel compelled to read as part of our assignments. Now I’m rather glad that I did break it out because it sparked so much intrigue and unanswered questions. However, part 2 might take a direction that you maybe didn’t think of, and hopefully that doesn’t sour your current thoughts about where this story might go…

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  2. You make me feel old. What happened to crack and meth? I can’t help but notice that this is labeled part 1. I take it there’s more of this? Very well written. Graphic

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    1. Why do you feel old? You weren’t alive during the Great Depression, unless you’re a vampire and haven’t told me about it. 😛

      This is part one. I am currently writing part two, which should be posted soon.

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      1. I am a vampire and I was alive during the Great Depression. I just slept through it cause it was too depressing to deal with. I’m looking forward to hearing part two. Are you going to put anything out as a compilation or some sort of book in the future? I would love to buy one of your books if you’d let me borrow the money to do so.

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      2. I’ve never thought about making a compilation of my writings before, but now that you mention it, I really like the idea. It would be cool to have a book of all my short stories and poetry. I had once toyed with the idea of making a CD of my spoken word poetry, so that people can get a sense of the piece as its meant to be performed. Maybe I could do both and have the CD accompany the book.

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