Excerpt from Blasted


The Beginning of the End

I was drunk. Not ass-over-teakettle, legless drunk, but pretty buzzed. It was the summer of 1981 on Cape Cod and I was twenty-five years old. I was feeling restless and lonely, in need of some action.

I headed to this ramshackle cottage that was in perpetual party mode, no matter the time of day or night anyone could go there and get into some shit. I crunched my way up the shelled driveway, the quarter moon just enough to light my way.

The music was pulsing loudly, spilling over me as I opened the door. The lights were turned down and there were clumps of people all around: couples making out, people passing around a bottle, others toking on pipes, filling the air with the skunky smell of weed.

I sidled up to a clump and a woman I didn’t know pushed her face uncomfortably close to mine and looked me intensely in the eyes.

“Try this,” she shouted over the music, waving a blue porcelain pipe at me.

“What is it?”

“Coke, you’ll love it! Here, I’ll light it.”

“Why the fuck not? I thought.

She lit the pipe and I watched the little white ball combust, making a snapping noise as it turned red-orange-blue, briefly black and then quickly boiled out of existence. The smoke curled into my lungs with a sweet but acrid, chemical taste. My chest expanded, my heart jack-hammered, and I felt a powerful rush that demolished my usual way of feeling — alienated, depressed, ashamed, and broken. I felt an outsized, muscular confidence. I belonged and was fully alive. I knew right away I would chase that feeling with a desperate yearning, beyond all reason and decency, shucking my self-respect like a heavy coat on a hot day.