This Is Where Dreams Come True

October 3rd, 2021 – Day Three of the 31 Days of Godless event at http://www.godless.com

Originally written in 2015 as a futile and frustrated attempt to write a piece of short erotica, the story took on a life of its own and became something altogether unpleasant and not suitable as erotica.

I’ve revised, rewritten, and returned some previously censored content to the story and released it on Godless for only $0.50.

Amy’s expectation of a relaxing summer of housekeeping at a theme park hotel is shattered as guests and staff alike are overcome with carnal desires that cross all lines of decency. Can she escape with her sanity intact? Can she even make it out of the hotel?

Check it out for yourself at http://www.godless.com or by downloading the Godless app on your mobile device of choice. The link is below:

Active Kickstarter Campaigns I Support

The first project I’ll recommend here is an upcoming comic/graphic novel from Madeleine Holly-Rosing. It’s a continuation of her Boston Metaphysical Society series of graphic novels.

You have until April 29th to support this project.

Next up is a no-brainer for those who know me. Joel Hodgson is working to bring fans of MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000, for the uninitiated) a 13th season. There was no way I could avoid supporting this project.

You have until May 7th to support this project.

And, finally, from Weird Little Worlds Press, we have the Humans Are the Problem horror anthology. Not only can you support this project, and help to make it the best anthology it can be, the publisher is also open for submissions through May 15th. I’m also including the link to their submission page below the link to the Kickstarter campaign, just in case I have any interested authors viewing my blog. I’ve been considering submitting something as well.

You have until May 8th to support this project.

Additionally, there’s an Indiegogo campaign I’d like to see more horror fans supporting. I was the first one to back this project and I hope to see them reach their goal well ahead of the conclusion in 25 days.

I have been a fan of the Friday the 13th franchise since before I was technically allowed to watch the movies. These films, along with other slasher fare, had a profound influence on me as I was growing up. No, that doesn’t mean I slaughtered my way through dozens of scantily clad camp counselors…just that I developed a deep and lasting love for the slasher genre as a whole, in large part due to the Friday the 13th films.

This project is meant to provide a connection between the 8th and 9th installments of the Friday the 13th story. As many of you are aware, the film series, prior to Jason Goes To Hell, built from one installment to the next, often directly following the previous movie. That changed with the release of the ninth movie, to some extent because of issues with the rights to the Friday the 13th name vs. rights to the character of Jason Voorhees. This movie is intended to help smooth out that transition. Please find it in your heart to support Voorhees: Night Of the Beast.

The link follows:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/voorhees-night-of-the-beast-movie/x/26176655#/

Crowdfunding Campaigns I’m Supporting

I thought it might be worthwhile to share links to the current crowdfunding campaigns I’m supporting, because the small handful of you who read my blog posts might also be interested in some of the same things.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brianpulido/brian-pulidos-newest-lady-death-cataclysmic-majesty-1?ref=user_menu

http://kck.st/3jAmN3H

https://igg.me/at/LDMeMsrxXBo/x/26176655#/

Dreams, and the Places They Take Us

Have all of you dreamt of specific locations, or a singular location, so many times that you occasionally recall that place in your waking life as somewhere you momentarily believe you can return to? As if it’s somewhere you’ve actually been before?

You only finally stop thinking that way once you’ve reminded yourself that the location exists only in your dreams, though you feel like you’ve been there so many times before.

There are two locations like this for me, both of them situated in outdoor environments that bear a strong resemblance to regions of the Black Hills…or at least they feel like they’re situated somewhere in the hills.

One is a large cave system on private land that I’m able to enter by maneuvering my way along a cliff-side that others apparently don’t know about. It doesn’t keep me from trespassing, but it keeps me from being caught while doing so, as it provides me with an otherwise unknown entrance via a large grotto coming off the cliff wall. Descending from this hidden grotto is a sort of primitive staircase, something that could have been carved into the stone by an earlier culture. I’ve never followed the stairs down any further than the fissure that leads me into the cave system, but the stairs descend much deeper into darkness. The interior of the cavern is so familiar to me as to feel like I’ve been there dozens of times. In my dreams, I’ve taken other people there to experience the place in addition to making numerous trips on my own. The smells and taste of the air are so vividly recalled, as is the way sound reverberates from the walls. The chill of the water in a slow-moving underground stream that pools in a certain location where I’ve always had to strip down to traverse is as real to me as any memory.

Another location is similarly to be found along a cliff wall, this one rising up from an otherwise normal hiking trail that leads off into a narrow, mountain valley. By scrabbling along what would only be liberally described as a path up the early part of the cliffside, one can reach a small tunnel that pushes through to a sheltered cliffside on the opposite edge of what is actually a thin dagger of rock rather than a solid stretch of mountain like what is to be found in either direction to the side. From this sheltered cliff, one can see a whole different valley spreading out, far below. I’ve spent countless hours sitting there, enjoying the view, or so my memory tricks me into believing.

What’s particularly funny to me is that I rarely recall my dreams at all. And yet, when I find myself thinking of either of these two locations, sudden recollections of numerous visits come to mind from dreams I don’t even remember having.

That’s all, just a little bit of absent musing for the day.

What sort of locations do your dreams paint so vividly that you recall them in waking life as real places?

Is That Guy a Murderer? The Answer Is He Might Be.

Once upon a time, I used to do a great deal of shopping at our local Best Buy…back in the days before I realized just how much money I was wasting buying things there instead of doing so online. There was a sales representative there who frequently struck up conversations with me and we seemed to have fairly similar areas of interest. Admittedly, being not the most social person, I did find this individual a little bit annoying…but he seemed to just be sort of lonely or socially awkward (like I have room to talk), so I didn’t go out of my way to avoid him and the ensuing conversations when I saw that he was working.
In addition to those encounters at Best Buy, I began running into him while standing in line for Midnight releases of video games from GameStop. Yes, I was one of those people for quite some time. We chatted when we saw each other there was well, which wasn’t infrequent since we both appear to have wanted a lot of the same video games on release night. Again, refer back to my comment about he and I having similar tastes.
A couple of years later, after not running into him at all, a girl I was dating at the time invited me to join her at a friend’s house. This friend happened to be dating the individual in question. Naturally, we recognized one another and chatted a bit more. I wasn’t comfortable there, and I chalked that up to my normal discomfort in other people’s homes. It turned out, as I discovered later, this guy was abusive toward his girlfriend and the household was indeed filled with a good deal of tension. They broke up a short while later and I didn’t see him again. I was not unhappy about that.
Another couple of years pass.
The next time I see this man is in a photo of him attached to a news story about how a friend of his had hired him and another mutual friend of theirs to murder his girlfriend. They picked her up in their car ostensibly to give her a ride somewhere, and after they were away from civilization, the guy I’d chatted with so many times stabbed his friend’s girlfriend and killed her while the other man held her down. He and the other fellow drove her body out into the Black Hills and buried her before returning to their lives for the following year or so until the story broke.
There’s a whole lot more to that story, including the fact that the boyfriend who’d hired the killer(s) then convinced a couple more friends to dig her up and bury her body somewhere more remote, thus making it impossible for the killer(s) to lead authorities to the body if they were so inclined (after he didn’t pay them).
I’m not going to delve into it any further than this, it’s been reported in great detail in various South Dakota newspapers and on television news programs. I just thought it was interesting to know that you or I could, at any point, during any interaction, be talking to a person capable of cold-blooded murder.

The idea to write this blog post came from the fact that a friend of mine who works in local television had recently written a story for the station, providing updates on the court case in question.

On Reading & Re-Reading

This post was written in response to a number of posts I’ve seen within a specific community surrounding the writing of one fairly popular (though still independent) author. I’m not going to mention the name or anything, but it is an author I happen to enjoy…though seemingly not to the same extent as others.

I love books.

I have loved books since I was a little kid, a love further nurtured by certain members of my family. My mother had a pretty sizeable collection of paperbacks available for me to pilfer and my father had a nice assortment as well. Horror and mystery were my first loves, to some extent because those were the things most readily available to me and most likely to capture my interest.

It started simpler than that, of course. Book fairs at my elementary school always left me disappointed, because there were always more books that I wanted but that we couldn’t afford. I, at a more naive time, honestly believed that it was reasonable to expect that I could collect all of the books from The Hardy Boys series as a child.

It grew and expanded from there.

I was devouring books by Dean Koontz and Stephen King with regularity before I’d even reached middle school.

Hell, I received multiple personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut just by reading The Stand (unabridged) when I was in 6th grade, and that was only one of many books I read that year.

In 8th grade, I was introduced to H.P. Lovecraft by a friend who was also on the football team with me. It was that same year when I started reading the fantasy novels from Terry Brooks. Not much later than that, I read Frank Herbert’s Dune, inspired by recollections of seeing the movie when I was much younger.

I guess I mostly just wanted to point out that reading has always been one of my greatest joys. It was important to get that part out of the way.

That being established, I cannot wrap my head around seeing literally dozens of people talking about reading the same series of books for the third or fourth time (or being on their third or fourth listen to the audiobooks of the same series). That’s almost cult-like to me, when that is time I could spend reading a new and different book (or listening to the same). No one author has written anything so spectacular that I would read the same book from them multiple times within a four or five year period. Most books I can’t even bring myself to read a second time at all.

Am I the weird one here?

Is it normal to just devote oneself to a particular series of books and repeatedly immerse yourself into those books at the exclusion of others?

Even as an author, I actively promote and encourage the reading of other authors I enjoy and admire. I wouldn’t want people sitting around and reading my books over and over again when they could be exploring other stories, maybe even stories that I found a great deal of pleasure in reading.

I guess I just don’t get it.

I can’t understand it at all.

There are movies and television series that I’ve watched numerous times, but most of those later viewings are just to have something on that I enjoy for background noise while I work on something else (often reading a book)…or to share the experience with someone else who hasn’t previously experienced the same pleasure I have, and I’m hoping to capture some of that initial joy vicariously through their experience. There is also the fact that a movie only eats up a chunk of a couple hours while (at least for me) reading even a moderately-sized book can take four times that long.

It feels weird to me, interacting with members of a literary appreciation community who repeatedly brag about being on this number of read-throughs and so on. I feel like I’m losing the capacity to relate to these folks beyond a very limited scope.

Part Thirty-Eight: Life After Meth

It was the final little span of time while the degenerate and his wife were in my life, after my roommate and I had opted for a life of relative sobriety and clarity in our lives and in our home, that I ended up being involved in what would be one of my strangest and categorically one of the worst relationships of my life…though a wonderful little girl did come out of it, so I can’t claim that it was all bad.

The girl that I ended up involved with was the daughter of the degenerate’s wife, someone I had dismissively met years before and not remembered. In my newly adopted sobriety she and I bonded over our mutual disdain for the junkies and tweakers still populating our respective lives. She and I had both recently sobered up and felt more than a little bit of contempt for those who hadn’t made the same choice.

When I say that she sobered up, I mean only that she had stopped using methamphetamine and cocaine, because she was still one hell of a drinker. There was one evening in particular during which she emptied a bottle of gin into a bowl along with a can of Dr. Pepper and thirstily continued to drink from said bowl like the classiest woman I’ve ever met. Being highly intoxicated by the time she was done, she was in no state to go anywhere so I invited her to just sleep in my bed with me that night. She ultimately stormed out of the house in the late night hours without even putting her shoes on because her attempt to seduce me failed for two reasons, the first one being that I wasn’t interested at all but also because there is one thing I have always insisted on; I will not sleep with a woman who is intoxicated unless we’ve had a sexual relationship already in place, I don’t know if it’s a moral code or what one might call it, but it would feel too much like taking advantage of someone.

Had I been in a better state of mind, without the after effects of months of heavy drug use and a thoroughly confusing non-relationship that I told you about already, this girl and I would not have become anything more than friends. I wasn’t particularly attracted to her, physically or otherwise, but we did click in some respects that surely could have made us friends at the time. I was not in a good place though, certainly not a healthy one yet, and she was very much interested in me.

Who was I to deny her interest; I wasn’t someone anyone else would want?

There was pressure from her mother for us to get together as well, because she had met my two oldest children and determined that I would be able to give her a beautiful grandchild or grandchildren, if only I could be persuaded to become intimate with her daughter.

The whole situation was fucked up, and only became more fucked up when both the mother and daughter approached me (together as well as separately) in order to propose that I knock the daughter up and then I could leave the picture altogether if I so desired.

I sometimes have those moments when I am forced to question whether I am mentally retarded in some small way or at least severely unbalanced, and my agreement to that plan was definitely one of those things that elicit that rumination.

It didn’t remain as clean and businesslike as all that, as she and I fell into a sort of relationship together…and she did indeed become pregnant after only a couple of months. I wish I could regret that, but the daughter we had together makes that impossible for me. Children have a way of doing that sort of thing to us, turning an otherwise regrettable experience into something we wind up treasuring even if there is nothing else worth holding on to from a whole period of our lives.

I will say that, if it had been possible, I would have preferred to have this daughter with a different partner though…a better alternative would not have been difficult to find.

During the pregnancy itself, things really weren’t so bad with her. She may have given up drugs prior to meeting me, but her alcoholism went on hiatus during the pregnancy and that served to make her a much more tolerable human being. She was so proud of herself for being completely sober for the first time in I don’t even know how long, and it was contagious enough that I was proud of her as well.

That didn’t last long.

It was only two weeks after our daughter was born when I received a phone call from her while I was at work because she needed me to pick her and our daughter up after I got off because she was drunk in an apartment downtown and there was no one sober who could get her and our newborn daughter home. After retrieving her she repaid my kindness by vomiting in my car, having managed to do little more than put the window down before evacuating the mostly liquid contents of her stomach.

This became a routine for us, not the puking in my car part of it (thankfully that was only the once), but the retrieving her drunken self from somewhere or another. Initially it was once every couple of weeks, for a month or two, and then it was once a week, and it kept getting worse until it was a couple of days pretty much every week that I was having to rescue our daughter from some place her mother had dragged her off to in order to be drunk, slobbering, stupid drunk.

The relationship didn’t survive her drunken escapades after we moved into a new house shared with my former roommate, the waiter, and his girlfriend. Having friends around helped me to build up the necessary self-respect to offer her an ultimatum, that she stop drinking so much or she needed to leave. Of course, I was the bad guy for putting my foot down like this.

This was not the first time, nor was it to be the last, that I was faced with a woman who treated me like I was an asshole for little more than standing my ground and displaying a modicum of self-respect and dignity, demanding a little bit of decency and consideration from my supposed partner. Clearly I am a fucking idiot because there have been more than just one or two women I’ve become involved with who considered it an intolerable affront for me to demand any such thing. Maybe it has to do with the sort of women I attract (looking, as I do, like a fleshy pin cushion), maybe it’s just something about me that makes me seem like I am suitable to be walked all over like a carpet and shouldn’t have the audacity to demand more from these women. Whatever it is, I damn well need to figure out how to change it one of these days. That sort of shit gets old really fucking quickly.

As you can probably guess, she opted to continue drinking her life away rather than concern herself with being a mother or my partner. She moved out with our little girl and continued living her life as she preferred. Thankfully that baby girl still ended up with me a lot of the time, during my days off and when her mother was at work I would keep her there with me since there was no other babysitter available.

The fact that my daughter was spending so much time with me even after her mother moved out was something that made me exceptionally angry about what came next in this particular story.

It was less than year after being out on her own that the mother was picked up drunk by the police, in a car full of other drunks, out on some errand or another. She became hysterical and insisted that the officers let her return home or take her there to her baby. The police checked out the house in question and found our daughter asleep in her crib in a house full of drunk and/or high individuals, not a sober person in sight.

Our daughter was taken into protective custody and Child Protection Services placed her in temporary foster care. I didn’t find out about any of this until a couple of days later when I called the mother to inquire as to why our little girl hadn’t been dropped off with me.

I was livid, to put it mildly.

My being angry was made no better when I was finally able to contact someone with Child Protection Services to demand that they let me know what was going on with my daughter and why I hadn’t been contacted. They rambled off some bullshit about how they had no contact information for me and that they were going to keep her in foster care because they didn’t feel that it would be a good idea to have her in unfamiliar or strange surroundings. Think about that for just a moment, they placed her with total strangers as foster care rather than send her to be with her own father, with whom she had spent probably as much time as she had with her mother, if not more. This was the sincere, totally straight-faced response that I received from these people. These are people who have to have achieved some manner of college education before they can work for that department, and yet the total lack of reasoning capability exhibited by the caseworker I spoke with was beyond astounding to me.

It offended my mother and grandmother as well, and they began petitioning the caseworker to pull her head out of her ass in what was probably a more civil tone than I was managing to muster after a couple of days time. I am not ashamed to admit that I was not composing myself in quite the gentlemanly fashion I probably should have been…under the circumstances I had every right to be angry.

It took a while to get through to these people and it was finally agreed that our daughter would be released back into the custody of her mother if she agreed to leave the home and roommates she had and was residing with me. So, she and our daughter began occasionally staying in the house with me, but mostly they would show up early in the morning on the days when the caseworker was going to perform an evaluation of the living conditions. I know that I was breaking the law by going along with this deception, but those jackasses were not going to release my daughter into my custody, and I sure as shit didn’t want her mother living with me again. We manipulated the situation to our mutual ends in order to get our daughter out of foster custody and I feel no guilt about doing so.

The mother was no more suitable to be caring for our daughter than she was before that whole debacle had taken place, but I was damned if that little girl was going to end up staying in foster care any longer than she already had…and it worked out, to some extent.

Sadly, the mother is no more suitable to be a mother today than she was then, less so in a number of ways. She has been in and out of treatment programs four or five times since then for drug and alcohol abuse, Child Protection Services has become involved in her life again at least one more time, and our daughter has been almost exclusively living in my custody for a number of years now, which is where she belongs. It’s just a damn shame that her mother seems to be unwilling or unable to provide a better example of what it means to be an adult and a woman.

I sure know how to pick ‘em, right? You can shut up though, I don’t need your judgment, and it’s not like I’m unaware of the fact that I have some pretty damn poor taste or judgment when it comes to the women I allow into my life. It’s not always a disaster though, just most of the time.

Part Thirty-Seven: For Your Amusement

Let’s take a break from the more serious fare and spend a little bit discussing some random things that are popping into my mind at the moment, an opportunity to lighten the mood a bit after my last few posts.

Thanks to one of my best friends I was inspired to entertain myself at the Central States Fair one August in a way that had nothing to do with any of the rides. I spent a while wandering aimlessly through the midway until it got dark enough for my purposes and I was prepared to have some fun…and my experiences with scouting at an earlier age had taught me quite a bit about being prepared.

I had a few Alka Seltzer tablets in my pocket and a fountain drink I had purchased from a concession stand along the way. I picked my victims for this prank entirely at random, approaching them slowly, popping a tablet of the Alka Seltzer into my mouth, filling my cheeks with soda, and allowing the foam to begin spilling from my mouth as I latched onto the stranger, rolling my eyes back into my head so that only the whites were showing and muttering in a rasping voice, “Someone in here wants to talk to you.”

I got away with startling people with that particularly amusing prank five or six times before I noticed the obvious security personnel following me wherever I went. I had gotten my enjoyment out of the night and figured it was time to cut my losses and get out of there before I got into some sort of trouble, also the front of my shirt was pretty well drenched from the foam that had been spilling out of my mouth. If I had been thinking I would have hidden away in the haunted house and tried out my prank on the people in there…would have added a legitimate scare to the attraction perhaps.

The next prank was planned, but never implemented. My fellow musician and I wanted to rent or outright purchase full wet suits which would leave no skin exposed and sneak into a port-a-potty at the fairgrounds, lowering ourselves into the respective basins of two separate units, from which point we would fling feces back up at unsuspecting victims when they used the toilets…maybe even just slapping a handful of the waste against their cheeks when they sat down, potentially scaring the shit out of them in a far more literal sense.

We figured that we could safely escape from security or police because no one was going to attempt to tackle us, coated in filth the way that we surely would be. We could race, awkwardly as would be the case wearing scuba gear, to the creek where we would dive in to the relative safety of the water where we could swim away to a safe distance and escape to laugh our sick asses off in safety somewhere.

In retrospect I have to think it might be best that we never did attempt that specific prank since I doubt it would have gone anywhere near as smoothly and seamlessly as we imagined it going. Wouldn’t it have been grand, though? If it had worked out as planned, it would have been absolutely fucking brilliant.

Or maybe I’m just crazy…but you can keep your opinion to yourself on that matter.

We had many genius plans, my fellow musician and I, so many hilarious pranks that we never got the chance to try out.

We wanted to purchase nice, white suits of some thin, breathable material, dress ourselves up as fancy as possible, and swallow almost toxic quantities of laxative. The plan was to board an elevator, push our way to the front of the cab, and let loose in front of everyone before accusingly looking at every other passenger when the smell permeated the compartment.

After we had gotten bored with the elevator the plan would have been to wander around in a public place, shit stains on display, without acknowledging the situation. Having no shame could be liberating sometimes, and it would have been terrific fun to try out that little prank as well, if not also a bit degrading.

There was also an entertaining idea of staying with someone who owned cats and insisting on using the litter box instead of the bathroom with a totally unbroken nonchalance, regardless of the privacy level…I still consider trying that one out as an adult someday, which should tell you just how adult I really am…or am not.

We may have had numerous plans that were never fulfilled, but there were plenty of things we did for entertainment without any planning involved. My fellow musician and I had a coworker who became a friend of ours and she happened to live in an apartment downtown near where we would aimlessly find ourselves wandering a great deal of the time during the midnight hours.

It just so happened that the alley entrance to her building never seemed to be locked, and we decided to walk right in on many occasions. At the end of the hall where the apartments were located was a large cabinet with wooden doors, which were similarly unlocked, and we couldn’t keep from peeking.

Out of that sheer juvenile curiosity (though we were both supposedly adults at the time) we discovered that these doors opened on the breakers for all of the apartments on that floor. It should be obvious what came next, as we immediately tripped all of the breakers before restoring the power again.

We came back and did the same thing quite a few times, when we were walking downtown and happened to pass by that particular alley entrance. Perhaps our actions cost some resident their job because an alarm didn’t go off in the morning, but we didn’t care. We were amusing ourselves and that was the only thing that mattered to us at the time. The victims of our amusement weren’t even afterthoughts.

That sort of dissociative mentality informed a lot of our decisions…and especially mine, as you will learn (if you haven’t already), but that’s all I wanted to share right now. That’s it…move along, there is nothing more to see here.

Part Thirty-Six: The Love of My Life

We’re going to jump forward a little bit here, or perhaps more than a little bit, because something specific is on my mind.

I met a woman a couple of years ago who changed everything for me. She knocked me off my feet in a way that I couldn’t have conceivably seen coming, in a way that I can confidently state that no other woman could.

It started innocently enough, with a night of fantastic conversation that neither of us wanted to walk away from. It was only a couple of days after the New Year, and I still can’t imagine a better way for that year to have started off. New Year’s Eve had been a disappointment for me, as the girl that I had been involved with was too busy drinking in the bars to even visit me long enough to wish me a happy new year with a kiss. I was in the final stage of a failing relationship which sorely lacked in connection and communication; so that night, losing track of the hours in captivating conversation was a blessing that I wouldn’t have dared hope for.

It began with something so simple, a friend request on Facebook from a woman I knew of but didn’t actually know. She had been involved with a friend of mine almost a year before and was previously married to an acquaintance of mine who I hadn’t really seen since before they had gotten married. In addition to those connections we had numerous mutual friends, so I had seen her pop up all over the place for quite some time online, though we had never been properly introduced and had never met in person.

I had always thought she was incredibly beautiful, and I do very much mean it when I use the word “incredibly” as a modifier there. I never had any occasion to contact her because there was no reason for me to suspect that she would even know that I existed…or to care, even if she did know. We know about my crippling self doubt and insecurity already, so there is no reason to explain why I felt that way with respect to her. It should come as no surprise.

It startled me to receive the friend request from her, if only because I had entertained the thought of trying to establish contact with her so many times before just to try and get to know her. That initial shock was nothing compared to how startled I was at how well we seemed to hit it off. We talked for hours, like I said, discovering that we had far more in common than either of us had with anyone else who had come into our lives, and I was beyond captivated with her.

It’s strange to imagine that, had she not taken that first step, I would never have had the nerve to try talking with her. As silly as it seems for a man in his 30s, I am (and have always been) intimidated by beautiful women, and she was certainly no exception, being so exceptionally beautiful to me that she took my breath away (and still does on occasion when I first catch a glimpse of her). It was astounding to me that, after talking with her for that whole time, that she could turn out to be such a perfect match for me.

My self doubt manifested itself when I began to suspect that our apparent connection and enjoyment of each other’s company was a one-sided thing when I didn’t hear from her again for a little more than a week after that first conversation, and I had made a couple of small attempts to touch base in that silence.

I started to think that I was right to assume that there was positively no way that she would take a real interest in me. I didn’t know how hectic her life was though, not at the time, and that her internet connection at home was far from reliable. She did indeed reestablish communication though, and we ended up talking for hours all over again quite a few times over the following days and weeks. I was enamored of her before I even knew it.

There were a couple of hurdles though, where my admiration of her was concerned. She seemed so unbelievably perfect for me, but I was still tacitly involved with another girl, which made it impossible for me to really delve into this amazing thing that was happening to me. The other hurdle came in the form of some mutual friends she and I shared who were feeding into my insecurity by reinforcing the fear in me that I could not possibly be what she would want in a man…they amplified my feelings of inadequacy. These were not insurmountable difficulties, but it was the issue with my insecurity that would prove to be the greater of the challenges.

There came a night, not too far down the road from her getting back in contact with me, when this spectacular woman invited me to her house. We had been talking quite a great deal and were already growing quite fond of one another. That first meeting was all it took for me to be entirely won over by her. We sat in her dimly lit bedroom talking for a couple of hours that night, about whatever came to mind, and joking with each other about things that polite company would find horrifying. I perused the books she had stacked upon her headboard and smiled to see so many of the same ones I had read for myself or intended to read. That would ultimately be one of the things that she cited as the sort of thing that made her so happy to have found me; that I was not only literate, but also intelligent and a writer myself.

There was something distracting though, about the fact that she was wearing nothing but a sarong when I arrived. There I was, sitting next to this enthralling and intoxicatingly lovely woman, with nothing but a thin piece of cloth covering her. If she had been trying to seduce me, she would have been hard-pressed to find a better starting point. It was undeniable that the chemistry we’d felt when we were simply talking with one another was even more profound in person. If you believe in love at first sight it could be argued that I fell in love with her right there that night…I certainly couldn’t frame a satisfactory argument to the contrary.

All that we shared that night, beyond the excellent company, was a kiss. I certainly wanted more than that and so did she…but I knew already that I wanted to be hers and that she felt the same way about me. I wanted to start things the right way between us, which meant that I needed to end things with the girlfriend I still sort of had. I didn’t drag my feet about it.

It didn’t take us long to be together and she was amazing in every way I could have dreamed as well as numerous ways I wouldn’t have thought to dream about. Everything about her served to draw me closer and closer to her. I won’t describe the intimacy here, but I would actually love to do so just to relive those experiences in my mind. We were insatiable for each other though, whenever or wherever the opportunity presented itself. We couldn’t keep our hands off of each other even during the breaks she had between classes when she would stop by my house to see me. I must admit that I miss those days, looking back…and I wish my memory was well-developed enough to allow me to close my eyes and relive almost every moment I spent with her up until today, the good and the bad.

And there were indeed bad times and fights. She wasn’t good at communicating her feelings about things and I had a tendency to push far too much when there was conflict, which triggered a fight or flight response ingrained in her since she had been involved in an abusive former relationship. I should have treaded more carefully in those cases, and I wish that I had, if only to know that I’d made things easier on her rather than more challenging when she was already in a negative state of mind. We could have avoided many of our fights if I had been more respectful of her problems concerning confrontation. That isn’t to say that there were a lot of fights, proportionately speaking. There were too many, for sure (but I would likely insist that one fight with her where I made her unhappy in any way would be too many), but I have been involved in plenty of relationships of my own and witnessed many others (both successful and not), and we actually fought less than what I would have to perceive as the average. If we had worked together to develop better habits for communication, a lot of those fights could have been easily avoided…maybe all of them could have been.

After starting my current job (less than half a year into our relationship) we developed a routine that I still reminisce about. I would spend the night at her house on Wednesday and Thursday nights while she and her children would stay with my own children and me on Fridays and Saturdays (and longer if there happened to be a day off from school for the kids on Monday). We would snuggle up in her bed on my nights out there and watch movies together until we fell asleep or until we couldn’t bear to keep our affection for one another held in check.

On Saturday afternoons, between my split shifts, I would drive to the bar where she worked and we would have lunch together. The routine was both comfortable and nice. I was happy. For the first time in my life I was happy without reservation…and she felt the same way.

During the summer months and Christmas break, she and her kids would crowd into the house here and we would have more time together. Our children bonded far better than either of us could have hoped for (something that we remarked upon plenty of times) and both of us were readily accepted by each other’s children as well. I won’t claim that life was perfect, but it was so much closer to perfection than I had any right to believe I would ever find.

You could easily guess that we started talking about marriage, and she was even the one to first bring up the topic in conversation, after I caught her looking at dresses and rings one day. Neither of us had the best opinions where marriage was concerned when we first got together, our previous experiences being less than stellar…but here we were, ignoring all of those predispositions and discussing our getting married in such a casual and optimistic way. It was all I could have hoped for, and she was everything I could have wanted. I knew that I would be spending my life with her, I had no doubt that she was the right one for me, and I didn’t even believe in that sort of thing.

There were ups and downs, like with every relationship…but for me the good always outweighed the bad. Maybe I will go into further detail on that aspect of our relationship later, when I come back to this topic. There will be more to write about where she is concerned. She is the love of my life, after all.

Part Thirty-Five: The Crystal Palace Falls

When the degenerate showed up in my life the final time, he was married and enjoying his own meth addiction (as was his wife, who happened to be a nurse)…the difference being that they were intravenous users, which is something I didn’t much care for. All of that aside, he did appear to be a little more stable than he’d been the last time I’d seen him when he’d attempted suicide on my living room floor…but I know how deceiving appearances could be, especially where the degenerate was concerned.

His own source being unreliable, the degenerate quickly latched onto my roommate’s best friend like the parasite that he was. Seeing those two spending more and more time together was depressing, to say the least, and it saddened both my roommate and I. The saddest part of that was how quickly the degenerate’s corrupting influence took hold, and intravenous use became the preferred method of administration by those my roommate and I had previously spent so much of our time with.

As a brief aside, intravenous use produces a quicker and more intense rush of a high that doesn’t last as long as it does when administered through either smoking or snorting…it also produces more pronounced psychological effects, and increases the health risks associated with drug use almost exponentially, no matter how careful the user in question happens to be (and the problem with drug users is that caution becomes less and less important with the passage of time). My roommate and I were well aware of these issues and considered them to be the line we weren’t interested in crossing.

The corrupting influence the degenerate exuded extended beyond the drug use itself, as he and my roommate’s best friend got a job together with a moving company where they began stealing small items like jewelry in order to sell it. This activity led to them being fired and made my point quite clearly for me, that there was more money to be made in actually sustaining employment than engaging in stupid and risky behavior for relatively small short-term payoffs. Neither of them was capable of taking the long-term into account though, not at that point…they were both too far-gone.

The increasing distaste that my roommate and I had for those in our circle of friends and acquaintances led us to begin treating them like subjects in an experiment we were performing, as we grew steadily more and more detached. We started trying to predict the behavior of different individuals, manipulating them in subtle (and sometimes far from subtle) ways in order to test their reactions and note them.

We called this Project Crystal Dreams, and we came up with shorthand nicknames for our participants within the experiment so that we could communicate about them openly regardless of who was present.

We actually got pretty good at it, calculating when one or another of our subjects would arrive at our apartment simply by determining where they were presently and what their previous movements had been. Our calling different places and asking questions about someone as far as where they were and when they’d left became another sort of manipulation, of those individuals from whom we were making our inquiries as well as those we were actively trying to monitor. We focused a great deal of our attention on the process of monitoring and exercising small amounts of control over their circumstances and the reactions they exhibited in response.

There was a perverse pleasure to be derived from those times when our extrapolations proved to be accurate, regardless of how negative the conditions might actually have been. I doubt that either of us really put much thought into it at the time, but I suspect that our interest in this little thought experiment was a method by which we could distance ourselves from the steady decline we were witnessing in our friends. We were doing what we could to separate ourselves from what was going on in order to avoid feeling connected to the events around us any more than we absolutely had to.

What the fuck do I know, though? We were spun out and suffering from severe sleep deprivation by this point, often going as long as a week without even laying down for more than an hour even though our bodies knew better than we did and forced unnoticeable little traces of unconsciousness upon us.

Sadly, as aware as I was of the state of everyone else in our lives, I was oblivious to just how much the long-term drug use and sleep deprivation was impacting my roommate. It was New Years Eve of 2003 when I looked around me, with my eyes wide open for the first time in a long while and determined that it was time to get out while I still had something of a life to return to.

I made the unilateral decision that there would be no further methamphetamine in our apartment and some self-aware aspect of my roommate was still clear headed enough to display a look of relief when I told him, in no uncertain terms, that we were done.

If I had known how close to the edge my roommate had been, I would have done what we had left all by myself, or (at the very least) split it a bit less evenly between us. We had a fairly large supply remaining that night, and his half of it must have been just a little too much.

That was the last time I did methamphetamine until a few months later when I had to test the quality of a batch that a friend of mine picked up when we took a trip to Denver for the purpose of a drug run. He didn’t use any of it himself, and he knew that I was familiar enough with the substance to be able to give him a fairly good idea of the quality he was paying for. That was the only time I broke with my sobriety, and not for the purpose of pleasure.

That’s beside the point though, back to what I was talking about.

I went to sleep for a couple of hours that night (I’m one of those individuals who could successfully nap when under the influence if so inclined) because I hadn’t been sleeping and I knew I needed it.

When I woke up a couple of hours later and walked down the hallway towards the bathroom my roommate abruptly opened his door a crack and peered out at me suspiciously. It was bizarre, but I was inured to bizarre behavior by that point since it was essentially a constant.

It wasn’t until after I’d used the bathroom and was on my way back to my bedroom when he opened the door wide enough for me to see what looked like a god damn disaster area and stood there with an expression that was almost challenging. My first thought, upon seeing the state of his bedroom, was to wonder how in the fuck I might have slept through what he’d done in there.

Everything was strewn about everywhere with no apparent order. Even his bed and dresser had been pulled apart and spread around the room, his blinds had been pulled from the window, and posters were removed from the wall.

I asked him what the fuck he was doing with his bedroom and he responded with something terse and paranoid about how I knew exactly what was going on that night.

I turned around and headed to the kitchen for a soda, shouting on my way down the hallway that I was surprised he hadn’t fashioned himself a tinfoil hat. He replied that he had done precisely that, which was the first indication that his sense of humor was still intact or that he had completely broken from reality, and I shouted back that it was curious that he could manage that without any tinfoil in the apartment.

I stood outside of his bedroom door like an angry parent and told him that he needed to clean that fucking mess up right then and there and to get his fucking blinds back in the window before our landlord happened to come by and see the state his room was in because his window faced directly onto our porch next to the front door.

It took a little while to discover what had been going through his head while I slept that night. According to him the rest of us (his best friend, my ex-girlfriend, and I) had been on the other side of the wall separating his bedroom from mine, watching him and laughing at him more and more as he broke down. We were apparently using lasers aimed at his window to monitor him and we were mocking him the whole time. There was something about a homosexual conspiracy as well, as he had been drawing something that turned out to be an accumulation of dicks, and he was being controlled by external forces in doing so.

He cleaned things up a little bit (though nowhere near enough to satisfy me) and then left for a couple of days to recover at a friend’s house where he could separate himself from what happened that night, this friend being entirely unconnected to the drug use and activities that had been taking place. He seemed much better when he returned, but recovery from a breakdown like that takes a while.

I like to think that I helped him to regain some semblance of centering, with a healthy dose of mockery and friendly derision thrown in for good measure, because I simply couldn’t help myself. We already discussed the fact that inappropriate humor is one of my ways of coping with things that make me uncomfortable.

Upon sobering ourselves up we made our apartment into the default safe haven for our friends to find some peace and temporary sobriety as well and it seemed to go pretty well.

For the most part, it was a good thing…but it could always be assumed that the degenerate would find a way to fuck it up. One day I was letting him wind down at the apartment after a particularly heavy binge. I was staying in the living room where he was because I didn’t trust him enough to leave him to his own devices in our apartment after all the times he’d proven that only an idiot would trust him.

I happened to fall asleep on the loveseat in the living room, keeping an eye on him, and he was gone when I woke up.

It was a day or so later when I began noticing that some of my DVDs were no longer in my collection (which was nowhere near as substantial as it is today) and I began asking around as to whether anyone had borrowed any of my movies.

I was able to narrow down when they had disappeared based upon the fact that I’d watched one of the movies in question the night before the degenerate ended up coming over and I confronted him about it. He threw a fit and became angry with me for accusing him of stealing from me.

I filed a police report and provided them with his name in connection with the theft and, sure enough, they located a handful of my missing movies in one of the local pawnshops with a ticket in his name. The prick had stolen from me and then had the gall to act like I was an asshole for accusing him of doing so.

It turned out that the police would recover my items but I couldn’t have them back until they had been retained as evidence if I wanted to press charges, otherwise I would have to go into the pawnshop and pay to recovery my own stolen items. I didn’t want to wait for what could be half a year or more before getting my movies back, so I opted to pay my own damn money to get my things back. Ultimately it didn’t get me back everything I had lost, because the degenerate had only pawned some of them himself

If I had thought to mention my roommate’s best friend as well, I would have been able to recover all of my missing movies, because the degenerate had given him another bunch of my movies to pawn in his name too.

From that point on, the degenerate was never welcome in my home again. It was the last straw for me; that he had stolen from me, lied about it, and led to me having to pay to retrieve what was rightfully mine in the first place. I decided that he was simply not worth having around and informed him of that fact. I haven’t seen him again since then, and I will be a happy man if I never do see him again.

Thus we have reached the end of my tale, at least the part pertaining to drugs and debauchery, as there have been no further drugs consumed by your humble narrator (aside from the occasional prescription medication, most of which has been prescribed to me legitimately).