Shallow Dance

by Matty Sullivan

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Whiskey and Weed

Sometimes life hurts.

At least, my life does.

I imagine everybody's does, from time to time. If any person in history has ever found a way to avoid pain and suffering, the bastard forgot to write it down. Who knows why. Maybe they tried, but the pencil was hurting their hand so they stopped. Or they couldn't sit still long enough to do the job. Whatever the reason, they never took the time to tell me about it.

So thanks for nothing, asshole. I'm glad your life was so great. Stick it up your ass.

I guess I shouldn't complain. In fact, I try to avoid it. Not because I have no reason to complain, but because it never does any good. Not a bit.

So I won't complain. But I feel the need to do something, because pain demands a response. Doesn't it?

Yes, it does.

So what should I do?

I suppose I could get drunk. In fact, I've already begun working on it. Whiskey, and plenty of it. But I doubt that will do any good either. It never has.

I could get high. That helps a bit, sometimes.

Fuck it. I'll do both--get drunk and high, all at once. Just go for broke and blast myself into the shadows. Call up an old girlfriend, ask her if she's feeling frisky. And if she says, 'Yes, come on over," what would I do? Would I go on over? Have I reached the necessary level of desperation and lack of critical thinking? At what point does a bad idea become a good idea? How much whiskey and weed does it take to make me stop giving a fuck?

To tell the truth, it takes a lot. I know because I've tried, and not once in my life have I succeeded in washing or smoking away my sense of appropriate behavior. You may find this hard to believe, and I'm sure that many of my friends--especially my old girlfriends--would disagree quite vehemently. But, it's true.

I know it's true. I know what's up and nobody can tell me different. This is my strength--except of course when I'm wrong, at which point it becomes my weakness.

I want to tell you something.

Sometimes I cut myself.

On accident, I mean. Never on purpose--unless, that is, my nasty subconscious is purposely making me cut myself in order to direct my attention to some area in which I am fucked up. I've heard of such things, although I'm still not sure if that's my problem. All I know is that sometimes I "accidentally" cut myself. In fact, it's already happened twice this week--and today's only Wednesday.

Both of these accidents happened at work, while I was slicing food. On Monday, it was tomatoes. On Tuesday, it was olives. Both times, I was going along just fine when all of the sudden and for no reason at all, I cut myself. First time, my left index finger. Second time, my left thumb. Apparently, my subconscious hates my left hand right now. It wants to punish it for something, and now my hands hurts so bad I can't even jack off. Plus, I'm wearing these stupid band-aids.

Anyway. Both times, immediately after cutting myself, I grabbed a bottle of bleach, took off the lid, and poured bleach directly into the wound. This is a trick I learned from my mother. Yes, pouring bleach into a cut hurts. In fact it hurts like a son of a bitch, far worse than the initial injury. But it also cleans out the wound quickly and completely, leaving no chance of infection. And on both occasions, by the time I went home the cut was well on its way to being healed.

I think this is a metaphor for my life, although I couldn't tell you exactly what it means. I guess that's what metaphors are for. Poetry. Implied harmony. Expressions of life so evocative they completely obliterate the line between pain and beauty.

Whatever it is, all I know is this: when the bleach hits the open wound, the pain is magnificent. The effect is both grounding and transcendent. Cathartic. In that moment of agony, I hear a voice in my head. Maybe it's the voice of my nasty subconscious. Maybe it's God. Maybe it's the bleach.

Do you know what it says?

It says, "Yes."

It says, "Yes. Take that, my friend. Take pain. Take suffering. Take life. Let it wound you and let it heal you. Don't look for a distraction. Don't try to laugh it off. Don't call up your old girlfriend. Just let that shit burn.

"Stand still, and let it burn."