End of Time by Fernando Meisenhalter

She preps students for SATs, tells them that for some extra cash she can get them into the college of their choice.

“But that’s a lie,” I say.

“I’m playing the odds,” she says.  “Some will get in, some won’t.  But if they do I tell them it was me and then keep the money.”

“But what if they don’t get in?”

“I return their money.  I’m no shyster, Fernando.  I run an honest racket here.”

I don’t argue, she’s my girlfriend, the love of my life, we share everything, even our dishonesty, so I don’t say anything.

“I’m not a bad person,” she says.  “I give them hope, which is the most precious thing in the world.”

“By the way,” she adds, pointing her finger at me, “you too need to get your act together; become somebody, move ahead in life.”

“I was born on the wrong side of capitalism,” I say.   “I’ll never amount to anything.”

“DON’T SAY THAT!  DON’T YOU EVER SAY THAT, FERNANDO!  PROMISE ME YOU’LL BE SOMEBODY SOMEDAY!  PROMISE ME!”

“Okay, okay,” I say, scared by her tone.  “I promise.”

“We’re good people.  We both deserve a good life.”

I kiss her goodbye, leave for work.

I’m a substance abuse counselor, it’s my full time job, which means I’ll always be poor.  But I enjoy talking to clients.  One tells me she uses Meth to outrun the voices; another one that she got referred to the program by her dealer.  (I guess dealers also have to keep customers alive.)  Another one that he carries a .45, but then always goes to his anger management classes.

I also have a youth, a notorious thirteen-year-old weed dealer whose urine samples are always positive for THC.

I tell him his UA is positive, and he thinks positive means a good thing.

“No,” I say.  “Positive means it’s dirty, that you’re going to Juvie.”

“Juvie…” he says in that calm, pothead voice.  “Yeah… I ain’t tripping…”

He must be high right now.

I call his mom, tell her about the kid’s dirty tests, ask her if he might be having access to marijuana at home.

“Well, he ain’t getting any of mine,” the mom says.

I try hard not to laugh, but right then I realize the kid’s never going to stop smoking.  He’ll go to the Hall, come back, go back to the Hall, round and round, until the end of time (or until he turns 18 and gets his marijuana card).

I never argue with clients.  No one listens to me anyway.  I just always write the same note: Client appears to make no progress, over and over, until the end of time.

I close my files, let the kid go, punch out.

It’s 5 pm.

When I get home I find my girlfriend waiting for me.  She’s cleaned up the whole place, inch by inch, always a bad sign.

“I want a baby,” she says.

“But we can’t even afford to feed ourselves.”

“I wanna baby!  And you promised, you promised you’ll make something of yourself!”

It goes on for hours.

“We’re good people,” she says, “you and I.  We deserve some happiness.”

I stand there, my mind drifting towards eternal, sad places that still don’t have a name.

“You have to become somebody!” she keeps saying.  “You promised!”

I stare at the floor, letting her words float, glide through my mind, all empty and crazy, like the universe.

I wait and I wait.  I think of the emptiness of it all, think of my soul dying and never coming back.  I wait and wait, and imagine me writing the same prognote over and over again: client appears to make no progress; no progress: no progress at all, writing it over and over again, until the end of time.

 

Fernando Meisenhalter

Image – Pixabay

14 thoughts on “End of Time by Fernando Meisenhalter

  1. I have had more than one doctor tell me that there is no effective treatment for meth. Moreover, facilities that treat the addiction and those at which the severely* mentally ill are “housed” are dreadfully understaffed. They have plenty of admin people, but few persons who interact with the clients. Counselors are grossly underpaid. This fine piece effectively shows the hopelessness of it all. It doesn’t have to be utterly hopeless, but it will remain that way and worse until more funding is allocated.

    *”Severely” as in having a visible, bloody ax in your hand. Mere paranoid schizophrenics, meth-enraged
    psychotics and those who have a little bit of everything wrong with them are “housed” on the streets.On my way to work last week, I counted 11 persons who fit the description in Seattle; at least 20 more that evening.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks, irene. it’s an epidemic out there, so true, so true, true, true. meth was the big thing when i was a counselor. almost everyone in the program was in for that. today i hear it’s all opioids, which is just as bad, if not worse due to the overdoses. i don’t even know what to think about it anymore. it’s overwhelming. so that was my two cents. now to another question: have you written anything new? be well, meisenhalter.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I run an honest racket here. – Love it, it sounds like our democratic governments.
    To me, this story tells some matter of fact truths of peoples problems, but as always there are no solutions, will there ever be one?.
    I am not sure how you help addicts of any kind, no one I know will admit their addictions.
    But i do know that moving the addicts out and away from the influences of their present environment does work. However, that apparently goes against their social and family wishes.
    From; Waiting for Godot
    Estragon says, “Nothing to be done.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • thanks, james, for the kind comment. sadly that racket was a true story. the guy who told me about it was all proud about it, and how he made some money. i don’t know where he is. probably in the government! best, meisenhalter.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wow, this guy’s girlfriend is a con artist and now she wants a baby. Red flag x 2. He enjoys talking with clients, I can relate to that, but he certainly seems to have a low rate of job satisfaction. The key sentence seems to be “you have to become somebody.” It’s as if, as an addictions counsellor, he’s no one. I’d recommend moving up to management. (Just kidding) I know a guy who runs a recovery house. He was an addict for many years, and he knows all their tricks. It’s an ongoing struggle. I’d call him a kind of hero, actually, for how he’s persevered. I’d give the guy in the story a prescription for a new girlfriend.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Fernando,
    The line ‘We’re good people’ is so simple and many will have uttered this.
    That statement can be relative, subjective, delusional, understated, overstated or an argument for thoughts on being deserving.
    The motive for saying this plays a huge part and probably would point you to which one is touching on the truth.
    If you look at both their circumstances, how they feel about themselves and what they want, it only goes to show one thing – Nothing is black and white. There are complexities in both good and bad.
    That is a helluva long winded way of saying, you have come up with a very human story!
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks, hugh. i always appreciate the comments and wonderful support. i would like to hug you guys one day, and thank you for all your kind attention. for now some best vibes and a big virtual hug! meisenhalter.

      Like

  5. You’ve got a gift for flash fiction. I’m there in your world, feeling it all – the justification for immorality to the perpetual weed high that slowly warps a teenage brain into mush. Thanks as always for your words weaved into a great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like the writing, as usual, but the story eludes me. I don’t know any addicts so I can’t really relate (yes, I know I may not even know if they’re addicts), but I like how you wrote it. You are a good writer, in my opinion, and I’d like to see more lengthy stuff from you.
    Harriet

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “We share everything, even our dishonesty.” We all lead complicated lives, and many of us needlessly complicate them to an extreme that we can never get out of, a vicious cycle to the end of time. Once again, Fernando pulls us in to people and situations we feel we know all too well. Thanks, Fernando!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.