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Fiction by Ron Riekki

Sweet Talk

Wait, so you’ve all done heroin?”

Nods all around.

We’re in Ferndale. No ferns, no dale, far as I can see, but I can’t see far out the window, because there’s a thick-ass fence that’s going fence-crazy out there, like it hates the sky and wants to make us feel imprisoned for the night, and it’s doing a good job.

Jesus.”

Why? You’ve never?”

No.”

What drugs have you done?”

None.”

Really? A virgin.”

No, I’ve had sex, but I’ve never done heroin. My uncle was a heroin addict, so, no, I never wanted to do it.”

A boatload of Quiet.

But Katie, you’ve done it?”

She nods.

A lot?”

No.”

Just like one time?”

No.”

Like how many times?”

Don’t grill her.”

I’m just didn’t think that, I dunno. I can’t believe you’ve all done it.”

This is Detroit.”

What’s that mean?”

No, it’s Ferndale. Ferndale’s not Detroit.”

It’s fucking Detroit.”

Yes, it’s having sex with Detroit, but it’s not Detroit.”

Dude, Ferndale’s fucking Detroit.”

It’s not Detroit.”

Whatever.”

But how do you mean that you’ve done heroin just because you’re in Detroit, or near Detroit?”

Because, this is a hub.”

Hub?”

Dude, so much of everything flows through here. This is like, in the old days, like, with the Great Lakes, this is where everything came through, like, fur and, like, carpets and shit. The traders were here and now it’s the drug trade.”

Why have you never done heroin?”

Because I’ve seen what it does to people.”

What’s that mean? You think I look like I do heroin?”

I don’t know. I mean, with my family, the people who do it, they look different. My uncle used to look like Jesus and then he started doing heroin and he looked like Skeletor.”

And what’s he look like now?”

He’s dead.”

Overdose?”

Car wreck.”

That’s too bad.”

But he was high.”

I was reading this thing that they always talk about overdose, overdose, overdose,’ but the real deaths, like the most deaths from heroin are all from, like, car wrecks and suicides and shit like that. Just overdose’ makes the news.”

But, wait, how many times have you done heroin?”

Me?”

I nod.

Thousand. I don’t know. A lot.”

A thousand?”

A lot.”

A thousand though?”

I don’t know.”

How about you?”

Dude, heroin’s not bad for you.”

What?”

He thinks it’s not bad. He’s different. He’s radical.”

It’s not though.”

It kills people.”

Because it’s not legal. Legalize it and, like, have it be pure and, like, give us fucking good needles and shit and not make it illegal and just part of the whole incarceration system and, yeah, it’s not bad for you.”

How not?”

He thinks it gets you out of the corporate cycle?”

Marxist.”

It’s Marxist to be pro-heroin?”

He nods yes.

I’ve never heard that one before.”

He wrote a manifesto.”

A manifesto for heroin?”

I just think this whole world is completely brainwashed and the news brainwashes us and jobs brainwash you and when you’re a junkie, you’re free and you do whatever you want and you’re not concerned about the tidiness of your cubicle and making fucking mortgage payments.”

Yeah, you’re concerned about heroin. My uncle would steal from us all the time.”

Good.”

Good?”

He’s not, at least he’s not being a zombie.”

He looked like a zombie!”

Do you think I look like a zombie?”

No, but my uncle was a hard-core addict.”

I have it under control.”

How the fuck do you have heroin under control? How do you do that?”

He shrugs.

So you’ve never been arrested or nothing like that?”

Laughter.

What does that mean?”

Two years.”

Of?”

Prison.”

For?”

Nothing.”

No, seriously, for what?”

Don’t ask people about prison, dude. Prison hurts. It’s not a conversation piece for conversation just any time.”

No, he can ask.”

My uncle was never in prison, but he was in jail twelve times. At least that’s what he told me.”

White privilege.”

Well, he’s part native, but some natives say he’s not and others say he is, so whatever, but my other uncle’s been in prison for his whole life.”

For?”

He’s nuts. But I don’t think he’s my uncle, like legally, or whatever the word is. There’s a lot of divorce in my family.”

Oh.”

But, whoa. You’ve all done heroin.”

I ODed.”

Really?”

Yeah.”

And?”

I was dead.”

And? You lived, right?”

No, I died.”

But you’re alive now, obviously.”

But I died.”

That’s crazy.”

They Narcaned you?”

I don’t know. I was dead.”

You just woke up?”

Yeah. In a body bag.”

What?”

I was in a body bag.”

They declared you dead?”

Yeah. In the ambulance.”

Jesus.”

And I woke up and it was all dark and I couldn’t get outta that shit and so I just started punching and the paramedics let me out.”

Jesus.”

Fuck.”

Jesus.”

Yeah.”

Jesus Christ.”

Yeah.”

Life’s nuts.”

White privilege.”

Damn.”

What?”

Any of you else died?”

Nods yes.

Really?”

Nods yes.

You’re kidding. How many times did you die?”

Mark holds up one finger.

I look at Stephen.

Once. Just.”

But you died?”

I ODed, but you’re not dead. You’re ODed.”

I think that’s dead, no?”

I don’t know. Are you dead? Not dead, right? Or you’d be dead?”

The EMT said I was dead.”

EMTs are idiots. EMTs don’t know anything. EMT school is, like, a month. Medic school’s a year. Medics kinda know stuff, but EMTs, like, just drive the ambulance. They pretend like they know what they’re talking about. My cousin’s an EMT. She’s an idiot. She’s nice, but she’s an idiot. Seriously.”

This is really making me sober.”

Talking about death?”

No, drugs. It’s like talking about pregnancy. It makes me the opposite of horny.”

Holy Christ, put that on your Facebook. Put that quote on your tombstone.”

I’m going.”

No, I wanna hear the death stories.”

Why? So you can write them in your stories you write?”

Is that OK?”

Do whatever you want. No one will care.”

About a story about how you died?”

Dude, no one cares about me.”

Holy shit, I’m going to hug you.”

She hugs him.

I want a hug too.”

She hugs him too.

Can I get a hug?”

Don’t hug him; he never died.”

Or did drugs.”

She hugs me.

Katie, you’re too nice.”

People should be hugged. My mom raised that. Me like that.”

Your mom’s awesome.”

I wish I was you. I wish I was like you.”

Quiet. A barrel of Quiet. Big thick-ass Quiet.

I look out the window. The fence out there is raging. I want to ask more questions, but everyone’s tired. They’ve all died before, so they’re really tired. The fucking walls even want to go to sleep. What the hell is all this for? Nothing makes sense. We’re all going to die one day. I look around the room. They have tattoos of the future on their arms and tattoos of poems on their legs and tattoos of tattoos on their tattoos. They’re pale and tired and one of them works Monday and one of them works Thursday and one of them doesn’t work and I hardly know them and I know them well and the fence is just fucking eating up the sky and the sky is the color of heroin and there’s a storm coming and, goddamn, I love a furious storm. I hope it’s a good one. We sit there.

Ron Riekki

Twitter: @RiekkiRon

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