Joshua Shepherd is a writer from Dallas, Texas.

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020

"Want a ride down?" Jorge asked.
"I'm gonna walk, get some air."
"How do you think Eddie's gonna act?" Jorge asked.
"Won't be here to see."
"Don't you think it could be a bit..."
"Jorge, how do you think Eddie will react? He's gonna have a tantrum and I won't let it be the day he snaps me in half."
"Okay chill," Jorge hugged me. "When you're out you can stay with me and Cece."
"Thank you."
Jorge gave me a smile and left. I was glad Jorge and Cece were confident in me to clean up. Being 23, I could get out of this hole I'd been in since being abandoned to a dealer for heroin when I was 11. I trudged back in the bedroom to grab my blanket, I'd been sober all day and made it past noon for the first time in years. Hopefully this is easier when I go to detox. After that and rehab, I could be back in college and out of this.
Just as I zipped my bag, I heard a car door. Who the hell is here at 3:45? I peeked out the window and saw Eddie stumbling up.
Shit. Why is he here? I ran and grabbed the bag to crawl out the bathroom window. He saw a hint of me going into the bedroom as he walked in.
"Julia what you got cooking? I quit the worksite." Eddie said.
I could see him in the living room, too drunk to remember he sold the tv for liquor last week.
"Julia what we got I'm starving!"
I'll leave, soon as he passes out.
"All we have is cans."
"I'm out working all day and all we got is cans? How much you drop on heroin this week? You sure as hell make enough at the grocery to get some real food." Eddie slumped on the couch. He popped the lid off his whisky and looked again for the tv.
"I haven't spent a dollar, and canned food is fine Eddie."
I couldn't tell if my bag was visible in the bathroom door through the bedroom, but it was too late to move it. I slid onto one of the folding chairs in the kitchen.
"Like hell you don't have a needle for the one second I ain't lookin."
I couldn't deal with him anymore. I took two pills. The detox place will take me wasted anyhow.
"Julia what the hell happened to my tv?" Eddie sucked on a bottle of whisky.
"You sold it last week."
"Why would I sell my tv?" Eddie asked.
"We didn't have cash and y—"
Eddie shattered the bottle on the wall across the room, the yellowish carpet filled with red droplets and shards of glass.
"Oh, so you took my tv to get more damn drugs! You know your little highs are costing us a lot of money we don't got. And I'm sick and tired of not having food and things as simple as a damn tv. All you have for the kitchen is a folding table like we're fucking camping. Next thing I know I'm gonna get in from work and you layin on the floor with no bed, tellin me the nasty carpet is good enough. After all I done to help you get that job, you can't will yourself to clean up for a day to give me a decent home."
"I can run out and get us some food if you want," I said.
I could easily toss my bag out the window and get it on the side of the house.
"I think I'll go out to the bar; you pick up some damn groceries."
"Okay," I whispered.
I felt it was close, I slipped another pill to try and help me focus to get out, but half choked and ran into the washroom by the front door to sip the faucet. When I came back out Eddie was walking to the bedroom.
"I thought you were going out?"
"I want to get a better shirt." Eddie mumbled.
He walked in and I came behind him, as he made his way to the dresser, I kicked the bag underneath the bed. My thoughts were running fast now after three pills. Or maybe four. I can't remember what kind of pills they were so I don't know what overdoing it would be. These things had to be meth and I mixed them up.
"Why you still here Eddie?"
"What is this, a damn interview? Can't I just get some things to head out and look decent?"
"Just saying you're gonna miss out getting ready like a girl."
"Why's there a bag by the bed?"
"Must be from that trip. I never unpack after a drive and you know, it just gets forgotten," I said.
Eddie peered down at the bag. He slowly walked back to the kitchen.
"Maybe I'll just hangout here tonight. I got drinks." Eddie said.
I followed, then stopped and leaned on the door frame.
"Are you sure? It isn't a problem if you want to go and I'll hit the store," I said.
"Oh, I bet you will," Eddie mumbled.
Eddie leaned back against the counter in the kitchen and chugged the rest of the other bottle of whisky, strangling the empty neck.
I moved around the bedroom waiting. I arranged and re-arranged some things. I kept peering down at the bag wondering what was visible.
"Hey, Jul, why don't you grab your blanket we can relax out here," Eddie called from the kitchen.
I grabbed it from under the bed, when I rose Eddie was in the doorway.
"Hey Jul, if it's a bag from the trip how come your blanket you sleep with every night is in it."
"It must have fallen off the bed."
Eddie stepped in and connected with my face. He sent me spinning across the room to the floor.
"Where were you headed? Off to see some guy to get high?"
Eddie kicked me in the stomach, and I gasped.
"We not doin this no more Jul. I'm not playing around while you suck off guys for hits of heroin. I'm gonna teach you tonight how it'll be from now on."
His hand reached towards my throat, and I bit him as hard as I could. I swung the back of my head up into his nose and crawled away before climbing to my feet. I popped another pill to try and focus.
As I turned Eddie was there, red rivers flowing out his nostrils. He hit me across the nose and sent me spiraling to the living room. The whisky bottle shattered on the ground everywhere as I slid across the floor.
"You think you can leave? Like some other guy will put up with your near deaths and your floating around the house inside that hot air balloon of a head?"
"If you come any closer, I'll scream Eddie. I will scream and someone will call the cops."
"You think you'll ever get me thrown in jail? I'm tired of you playing the victim here after everything you put me through."
He staggered to kick me, and I rolled. He went feet up into the air and landed shattering the coffee table. I ran towards the kitchen and felt a chunk of metal smack into my back. I collapsed to the floor, taking a cutting board down from the counter and a needle. He crawled after me snarling like an ape and I shoved the needle into his face. I turned around and grabbed a knife and dove on top of him. Before he could reach anything, I plunged the knife into his chest.
I got up and scrambled through the kitchen and bedroom into our bathroom and locked the door. Sliding back into the corner, I sat next to the toilet. I tried to wipe blood from my face, but my hands were too shaky. I sat for what felt like an hour, thinking I heard banging, until I realized that was in my own body. Finally, I crawled over and opened the door. I walked to the bedroom door and peered out. Eddie laid in a red pool on the yellow tiles of the kitchen. I walked over to him and pulled the needle out and went back in the bathroom.
I opened the cabinet and pulled out a bag. I rinsed the needle off and pulled a spoon and lighter from the toilet lid. I put it on the spoon and heated it. I sucked the sludge through the needle and took the hit, I thought about how this would be my last high. This was it for me in this life. It was day one tomorrow. I thought of all these things as I faded into something beyond a high and slumped by the toilet, my bag ready to go.

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