“Tell me where it hurts,” he says.
Are you fucking kidding me? There isn’t enough time for that. But I know he’s not asking about that. My eyes are black from the corners to across the bridge of my nose, swollen across the bridge. My nose feels like hamburger meat rotting on a kitchen counter that we forgot to put away because Kenny actually showed up on time with the dope for once. That meat sweated and swelled and stank for a week before we finally came down and realized there was a dead animal rotting next to the empty cans of beer and overflowing ashtrays and stacks of dollar bills from a great weekend at the club.
That was before I got too thin to get paid for nudity, now, where my ribs stretch my skin and I worry that they will poke through the flesh. I tell him my nose and head hurt. He wants me to rate it, on a scale from zero to ten, zero being no pain, ten being the worst imaginable. I tell him 4. I know it doesn’t matter anyway. Everything about me screams junkie, from the thinness and the bad hair and the staring eyes and the jittery, incessant movement my muscles make, crawling underneath my skin. Even though he knows this, he will still give me twelve Percocet’s and some benzos for anxiety, the little white Klonopins that dissolve on your tongue and put you to sleep after you’ve been awake too long and even a giant hit of dope only buzzes at you for seconds, and you can’t get high anymore.
I used to ask people to rate their pain, before, when I was a different person.
Ten is another level. Ten is amputations. Ten is rape that requires reconstructive surgery. Ten is burns, cooked flesh. Ten is flesh filleted open to the bone. Ten is pure white bone, sticking through flesh. Ten is being held down by your dad’s friend and having something split you open while you’re told to be a good girl. Ten is being torn open. Ten is when you are a dead person walking around like you are still alive.
“How did this happen?”
What story this time? The cupboard door left open, standing up into it. Walked into a door? Fall? None of these are believable. I don’t care anymore anyway. “My boyfriend punched me,” I tell him.
“Have you filed a report?”
“DO you want to?”
“Do you have somewhere safe to go?”
“Safe as anywhere else.”
He tells me it might be broken, but it’s not displaced. My vision is fine. I am two days out from the actual injury, meaning I don’t have a brain bleed, but they will do x-rays and CT scans if I want. I don’t want. I only came to get legal drugs, so Carter and I can take them and pass out until they get back from Texas. They’re in Oklahoma, hauling dope up for Skeeter. Skeeter sounds like a name for a thin, scraggly white dude, but he’s a thin scraggly light skinned black dude, who sells crack and buys cheap houses. Rents them out and burns them down. He might look harmless but he’s not. Once he was cooking up four ounces of dope at his new place, this is back when I still had tits and an ass and only used enough to get through life, and he kept me around to lure in dudes to spend money, and he heard a noise and told me to get in the vent in the floor. There was a gun, black and small, and heavy for its size in there. He told me to shoot anyone who came through the door. He was busy mixing in the baking soda, which would fizz up like Alka Seltzer, before he swirled the Pyrex glass around and watched the oil from the powdered cocaine mix with it and solidify into a big white yellow chunk. He had two kinds always. Yellow and oily, barely cut, that would fuck you up off one hit, and then the white, cut with extra soda and baby laxatives, that flaked off on your fingers. That was ok, it was for beginners and desperate, end of the money crackheads who brought stolen DVD players, TV’s, Blu-Rays.
They went to Oklahoma because we let them live with us for free, and they owed us, and Skeeter told them to bring up the dope. If they get pulled over, they’re fucked. They don’t even know where the dope is. Skeeter doesn’t trust anyone. So, we have been waiting for hours, and our dope ran out, and Skeeter says he doesn’t have anymore, until he gets the delivery, which is fucking bullshit because he never runs out, but Carter and I know not to beg. Skeeter cuts people off who beg. They are liabilities.
I got lost in that train of thought and when I look up, the man is staring at me, and he says, “do you need help?”
I shake my head, but there is a glimmer of hope, that he will say, yes you do. You don’t belong here. But I know I do. When I used to be a person, I believed you could be anyone you wanted to, you could do anything, but I know all that was a lie. The glimmer leaves quickly, and I am hopeless again, adrift in a sea of wanting to die but being too afraid to do it.
“The nurse will bring you your prescriptions,” he tells me, and he is tired of people like me. I am tired of me. He gets up to leave then, and he stops and says, “you aren’t going to hurt yourself, are you?”
I say no, I’m not suicidal, and he tells me if I need help with my prescriptions to tell the nurse. They have a program, and I nod but we always have money for drugs. Just nothing else. I want to ask if there is a way I can gain weight easily without eating, so I can dance again, because the drugs have killed my mouth. It hurts to chew or swallow and everything taste like wet cotton and stale cigarette smoke and I don’t want to eat. I am dead inside.
If I dance again and get money, he won’t hit me when we run out of drugs. I don’t really care about being hit. My body isn’t mine anyways. I care about the times there are no drugs and I have to be aware.
The nurse brings me my prescriptions and doesn’t say anything about the program. She asks if I want to file a report, again. If I have a safe place to stay, again. I answer the same way. I am ready to go where Carter waits with the car running, head leaned back against the headrest, probably passed out with a cigarette half smoked in his hand.
I sign my name to say I understand the instructions given to me, the follow up I won’t go to, the limitations of how many to pills to take, which I will ignore and take all of them immediately, split with Carter. “He might end up killing you, you know,” she says.
God, I hope so, I think, and hand the pen back to her.
I’m dead inside anyway.
Banner Image: Pixabay.com
4 thoughts on “Broke Nose by L’Erin Ogle”
I admire your protagonist. But she’s wrong about being dead inside. Within her lies toughness, perhaps determination. Good work. Very strong voice.
Gritty and painful— at least 8 on the 0 to 10 pain scale. If anything can adequately describe what it’s like to be dead inside, this does.
Sad, self-destructive story. I thought that the first person narrator wanting help and not being able to ask for it brought home how dead and broken she was inside.
Drug seeking, if successful, is the appetiser of the addict. It softens the need but the life or lack of it still needs to be addressed.
You have touched on issues that need to be faced as we are all effected whether they be individual or social.
Beautifully written as always!!
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