It’s been nearly three years since my life began going down the shitter, and just over two years since an ethereal hand depressed the flush handle. I was clogged in a toilet of alcoholism and self-loathing, seeking something, kidding myself that I could make a better life for myself if I could just find a place to be. This was the going down the shitter part.
So, what do a lot of people do when their brain is tainted with poison? They try to run away from it, and in the process make a lot of bad decisions. You see, I was also in love. Deeply in love. And the woman I was in love with was in love with me too. Fantastic!
And so I ran away from what I thought my problems were. I moved to Florida and was in love. But there’s the old adage, “Wherever you go, there you are.” I had escaped nothing, only brought my troubles with me and incorporated my Floridian friends into it, as well as the woman I planned on spending the rest of my life with. I took my shit and, never meaning to, like a monkey, I flung it at them.
I’m not going to get too much into the story, but the problems I thought I could escape wound up putting me in jail. They put me on the street and in flophouses, where I was once offered a $20 hooker, which I passed on, even with nearly a fifth of rum in me. Before I left New Mexico for Florida, my friends had been concerned. I figured if I could just get out, everything would be okay. But the title of a Richard Stark novel became very true for me: Nobody Runs Forever. I lost many of my friends, and my fiancé currently wanted little to do with me. Two friends, Gerald and Loretta Hausman, were the only ones who saw the severity of my problems. Unlike some of the others, they didn’t shut me out. They brought me in and did what they could to help me. I still struggled with drinking but it tempered itself a bit, and I got set up in St. James City, which is not really a city, but half of an island.
Then it happened. I received a phone call from my fiancé’s mother. My love had put a pistol to her head and pulled the trigger. That was in April of 2010.
I don’t want to bore you, the reader, with my tales of woe, so I’ll wrap this part up. I struggled along for another two months, then decided to give up. On the 4th of July I hacked at my wrist with a serrated kitchen knife until there was more blood than in a Herschell Gordon Lewis flick. My life was saved by a freak occurrence. There’s more to this story but that’s all I feel like telling you right now.
I came back to New Mexico and started writing—something I hadn’t done for a while. I was still drinking, but getting more and more tired of it. The first story I wrote had no title. It was a novella and it dealt with my addiction, and with the loss of the woman I loved. In the end I decided to self-publish it on Kindle, and it was later picked up by a small press for print release. Ten minutes before I posted it into the nebulous Amazon database, I realized I still didn’t have a title. I shrugged and said, “Fractal Despondency. Yeah, sure, that sounds good.”
Immediately after I wrote another novella with a similar theme, though less addiction and more dealing with loss. I called it Shadowboxer.
Eventually I wrote a follow-up to Fractal Despondency, hoping to give that character a somewhat happier ending, called A Crack in Melancholy Time, though I hardly even count it in the catalog of my work. Where Fractal Despondency and Shadowboxer worked, A Crack in Melancholy Time utterly failed, in my opinion. But there was a theme in these stories. A clear theme, and that theme was grief, shame and blame, self-reproach.
I blamed myself for her suicide for a long time.
And then I got sober. I realized there was nothing I could have done. I miss her more than words can describe, but it wasn’t my fault.
My writing began to change. Still on the dark side, still self-analytical and critical, but I wasn’t wallowing anymore. I wrote a couple of books and some short stories and began attempting to put together an anthology. Things seemed to be getting better, mostly because they were getting better. But something nagged me. Fractal Despondency and Shadowboxer, the characters continued speaking to me. They no longer haunted me like they once had, but they spoke to me, and eventually convinced me to head back down that painful road again. But this time, as I started to write, I noticed how, though similar in many ways, my perspective had changed.
Butterfly Potion is the literary finale in a treacherous time in my life. One I wish I’d never had to experience, but one I did experience.
As I said, even though it’s out there, I don’t much count A Crack in Melancholy Time. Fractal Despondency started me on my journey. Shadowboxer took me down even deeper and darker, and Butterfly Potion, to me, is the cork in the bottle of an emotional wine I’ll keep down in my own personal cellar, reminders of what was, what could’ve been, of how weak I can be, and how strong I truly am.
I’ve rambled long enough.