Short Story: Pipe Dreams

Love is not a flawless state.

 

Up an inch. Down half an inch. Warren adjusted the leather belt on his upper arm until he felt that blissfully tight strain on his limb, forcing an isolated vein up to the edge of his skin. He put the belt in his mouth and held it taut with his teeth. SCCHHhh! SCCHHhh! SCCHHhh! His thumb flicked a rusted chrome lighter until a quivering flame popped up. A bent spoon wavered over the flame in Warren’s shaky hand, until the brown sugar began to bubble. Warren’s other hand, equally unsteady, tapped a needle into the liquid and pulled back the syringe with his thumb, filling the tube. He pulled back his head, not only to strain the vein more but because ironically, Warren hated needles. Warren plunged the needle into his arm and collapsed backward, his arms and legs floating, as he leaned back and let it all go.

 

Monsters of old rip through his mind. Cutting through. Jolting images illuminate his mindscape like a lightning flash. Banshee shrieks pierce the veil between what he knows as reality and dream sending him into a sweeping vortex until what he knows is no longer known.

Down

        Down

                  Down

Into the pit where dreams go to die.

Clutching his knee, he braces himself and rises to his feet. Surging from behind comes a chariot pulled by two great stallions. “Our guest” the horse states calmly and respectfully, “your tour begins here”. Before Warren can even voice his confusion he is whisked off down the solid rock path.

Bump buMp bUMp bumP, goes his ancient ride as they speed down the slim passage of stone, surrounded by torrential flooding water. BUMP BUMP BUMP. The noise grows and grows. It becomes deafening in his ears as his senses are bombarded by shrieks and growing noise until all he can hear is that he cannot hear.

“What in the hell is going on” he demands.

 

All of a sudden, it’s gone.

All of it.

 

A hospital bed is his new home.

Awakening to harsh fluorescent lighting, he rolls his neck forward to see what’s around him. Straight ahead a television, to the left a bathroom and a door that must supposedly lead to The Beyond. And on the right a woman, who looks to be sent from some ordeal of great stress, sitting on a sofa next to his bed. A small human uncomfortably lays his head on her worry-stricken body, yet he is in an even deeper sleep than the woman.

Yet the small human’s eyes flutter first and open. “Daddy”, he whispers, “what have you done?”

 

“It was her. She sent me here”.

 

His eyes slumped once again and dropped him back into the void behind his closed eyelids.

 

Love is not a flawless state.

 

Rush hour traffic: the grossest insult to the human id in centuries. From a survival standpoint, every person on these roads is in a huge hurry to get from doing something pointless to doing practically nothing at all. In the middle of this futility sits Warren in a blue sedan, a hopeless look plastered across his face as he stares out over the freeway of brake lights. Warren’s car looks just almost as hopeless as him, with all luster gone and the tint faded to the point where it no longer turns anyone’s eyes. Warren’s look of negligent despair looked as if it wouldn’t change even if the cheap aluminum of his vehicle closed around him. To him, it didn’t matter. He was already trapped.

 

Reawaken.

Now in a stadium, large enough for many thousands of spectators. Yet not a seat is filled. He turns, gazing around, wondering what he is experiencing.

“Warren”.

He spins around and comes face to face with the woman from the hospital couch, close enough to feel the hot breath escape from her and make contact with him.

“You think you’re god, don’t you, Warren? Playing games with me. With my mind.

No, my ‘husband’. (Her over-enunciation was more than enough to punctuate the already disapproving look that coated her face). You’re no god. You were never even a man.”

Her eyes drip blood like tears as she spits out, “We’ve had years together of happiness and joy. Thrown away on petty lies and spoons”.

That insult stuck Warren like a knife that was thrust into his ribcage and twisted.

The red tears turn into a flood as she bursts into violent, maniacal laughter, “What is my heart if not a toy?”.

 

Love is NOT a flawless state.

 

When Warren finally arrives home, he pulls open the door with an exasperated sigh. After a mind-numbing day of monotony, hopefully, there was something here for him. Something that would help him feel like all the mental abuse he endures over the course of the day was worth it.

“Diane!”, he shouted. No answer. “Diane!” Still no response.

Warren wonders to himself what is wrong, she is supposed to be home right now. He begins to start cooking dinner for their family, Warren, Diane, and their son Tommy, his favorite point of the day.

 

Almost an hour later, and Warren’s pasta alfredo is sitting in bowls on the table, untouched. Chairs around the table are unmoved and empty. Warren himself is pacing anxiously around, furiously questioning where his family is. His mind feels cluttered, bundled in a vicious knot like earbuds left in a pocket for too long. He cannot even think straight, as ideas fly at him like kamikaze planes in a whirlwind of emotion and confusion, darting through his mind with what felt like a deafening roar.

Shaking off the mental onslaught, he ventures upstairs. Knocking twice on Tommy’s door, he twists the golden knob and opens the door, peeking his head in only to find nothing. Warren continues down the hallway to his bedroom and walks in through the ajar door. Just as he suspected, there isn’t a soul present. Worn out and depressed, he collapsed onto his bed, throwing himself back onto the ornamental pillows he had always found so pointless. Warren hears a slight crackling under his head and wildly grasps there to find a sheet of notebook paper, now crumpled by his skull. The note reads:

 

Warren,

I’ve taken Tommy with me. We’re going to stay with my mother for a bit. You haven’t been the same. Not for a long time. You have no drive when you’re home and I’m guessing it’s even worse at work. I’m frankly insulted by how you have acted recently, with no regard for us… your family. Our relationship has been practically nonexistent for a while now, and when I found out you were using again, I realized this is bigger than our relationship. This is now about safety. Safety for me. Safety for our son. We are not done, Warren. But you need to fix yourself before we can fix us. Always remember, love is not a flawless state.

— Diane

 

Warren reached behind his nightstand and grabbed the small, black vinyl bag that now was his only escape. He opened it and took off his leather belt and began to tie it around his arm. That line went around and around in his mind. Love is not a flawless state.

 

Beep beep beep.

 

Beep beep.

 

Beep.

 

Beeeeeep.

 


 

 

 

 

 

Hey, everyone, thanks so much for reading my story! I would love to hear any feedback you have for me, positive or negative! As an aspiring writer, I am always looking to improve my writing skill and individual style.

 

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