(originally published in The Coffeelicious)
The needle had saved Evan’s life, but also killed him. It was the closest thing he had to a best friend — its loyalty unwavering and its ears always open. The needle kept him feeling less alone in this monster of a world.
Evan was an unassuming guy. Or at least that’s what the simpletons around him had assumed.
He was an archetypal New York City boy — stumbling along the fringes of the Lower East Side in the depths of the night, frequenting dingy Brooklyn concert venues, and acting somber by design.
Evan was also a drummer. A studio musician. Visceral and astonishingly talented. Musically, he could envision what most couldn’t even fathom.
The problem with Evan was that he was too smart for his own, or anyone else’s good, and used his intelligence to fool everyone. The hectic music business, in which he worked, was directly at odds with his subdued, tranquil nature. He of course knew this when he signed up for the job, but what the fuck else was he going to do with his life? He never had an answer to this question and didn’t at all desire to search for it.
Unbeknownst to virtually everyone, Evan was not only a gifted musician, but an actor as well. Every day at work, he would put on the mask of sanguinity.He seemed to be the type of guy whose phone was constantly buzzing due to a mass influx of text messages. The guy who was prom king in high school. But this was all because he was attractive, and it made him sick to his stomach as it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
The truth was, Evan was profoundly unhappy.
The part of his day he looked forward to most was returning to his apartment and basking on his vintage blue couch in solitude, book in hand. He often practiced escapism at work, in attempts to evade music business bullshit. His job certainly wasn’t what got him out of bed in the morning, but his love for music was something he was willing to sacrifice his sanity for.
It wasn’t the work itself that made him want to vomit his internal organs — after all, he worked at a boutique recording studio and made a decent salary. It was the insincere people. The people with whom he spent more time than his family, yet those who never asked how he was doing, or noticed the gloom in his black eyes.
Every day, on the way back home from work, he walked a few blocks, soaking in the smell of the city’s greenery, or lack thereof. On his trek back, he would stop at the same tiny, hole-in-the-wall coffeeshop religiously and get a small latte; a size large made him too anxious and jittery. He’d then walk a few blocks and take the C train up to 23rd St., just a block away from his apartment. A search for his apartment key would soon ensue, but it had to be somewhere, even if he’d have to drop everything in his hands to thoroughly search his tall stature for it.
He’d then change out of the clothes he didn’t feel like himself in and play Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon on vinyl. This psychedelia was the purest form of escapism for him; he could lose himself in the complexity and abstractness of the music and listen as the songs’ elements competed with and played off one another.
Evan reached for the needle and placed it on the vinyl, watching wide-eyed as it sunk into the grooves, producing a powerful outcry of vocals and reverb-adorned guitar. It was ethereal. Listening to this record was when he finally felt like himself. It was when he could engage in dialogue with his only friend in the world.
Evan was addicted to the way the needle made him feel.
He took the needle in his hand, and sank it into his left arm. He closed his eyes as the fluid entered his vein and churned his blood.
He was euphoric. For the first time in a long time, he didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of paranoia.
His eyes were closed, but this was unlike other times: the times that he’d listen to Zeppelin, close his eyes, and then feel a sense of forlornness as he opened them and was brought back to the present.
This time was different. He didn’t struggle to open his eyes. There was no opening to be done.