Delirium Tremens

A short piece about the experience of alcohol consumption from 2014.

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

Fade up on a moment of clarity. Enter SELF.

SELF
It occurs to me the faith I will
need as one by one my brain cells
are killed in action. How many
neural connections do I require
before I divorce completely from
all logic and reason?


A shadow is cast over self. Enter EGO.

EGO
Will I transform into a carnivorous
vegetable reminiscent of a 1950’s
horror film: eating only everything
that comes close to my drooling
mouth?
(beat)
It’s only fitting that a man with
the caliber of a water pistol be
the recipient of a horrible, slow,
embarrassing death.

SELF
Is it actually dying or more of a
shift in existence?

Stars bounce around the periphery, disappearing before the
eyes rack focus. I, we cough.

SELF (CONT’D)
Sober now, my eyes, ears, nose,
tongue, and nerve endings sharpen
focus. I sense the rawness of
reality manifesting on my lower
legs. A bought of eczema, just
begging a handful of jagged
fingernails to claw, scratch, and
tear it off.
(Down on knees)
Just a minuscule drop of relief. A
small taste please.

I, we wheeze.

EGO
Sobriety, the stoic’s drunkenness.
It all still feels fake.

BACK TO:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
I am visiting the set of my favorite TV show for the first
time. The dissected apartment disillusions me. A RED GLOW
bounces off my face in harmony with the electronic HUM and
CLICK of flashing signs marked ‘applause.’

3 OMITTED
thru
1346


1347 INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT (CONTINUOUS)
I wake up rubbing my temple. GOD, an octogenarian with a full
head of white hair, exits the building. However, its
SCREECHING echoes still crash around my head.

GOD
(Sniveling)
My son did not commit suicide. You
killed him.

I step out into the light. Blinking like an old projector, I
take in the images at increasing frame rates.

24 FRAMES PER SECOND
I lick my lips.

30 FRAMES PER SECOND
The corners of my mouth defy gravity.

60 FRAMES PER SECOND
Through cracked lips, an unfamiliar voice squeezes out a
SUBTITLE:

ID
(Submerged)
I’m out in society.

Familiar voices respond.

SELF
Is this me?

EGO
Or some other beast entirely?

I wipe SMOKE out of my eyes. The angst making a meal of my
LIVER, LUNGS, SPINE, and ever more fragile GREY MATTER.

SELF
The only advice I have been willing
to flood me has been vice.
Acceptance needs to seep in.
Drained dry and clean of my old mentor.

SELF (CONT’D)
It has to.

The echoes of my ego still reverberate in the walls of my
skull. Spiraling down my spine, giving us CHILLS, SPASMS,
and NAUSEA while gripping a toilet bowl.

I, we stick to the script.

ID
I’m okay.

The new mantra begins to sink in like an unused snip of 8MM FILM in a tar pit (slowly).

EGO
I’m okay.

ZOOM IN
One thousand raised pink SLASHES from wrist to armpit.

SELF
I’m okay.

FLASHBACK
BLOOD drips, spelling out a phrase on the floor:
“Blood: I”M OKAY.”

An ellipsis SPLATTERS on the linoleum behind the mantra:
“BLOOD: …”
I inhale.

INT. EMPTY SHELL OF A MAN – QUITTING TIME
The partiers arrive. The bouncer lifts the rope, introducing
4,000 queer chemicals to the pulmonary party. They work the
room and make acquaintances with the rest of the body.

Reluctant to leave at last call, the SMOKE stumbles out
leaving sticky SCUFF-MARKS on the dance floor.
(On judgement day I’ll
still most likely say…)

GOD
I’m okay.

SELF
I’m okay.

CUT TO:

Guitar, Waiter, Poetry

by Marcus Jonathan Chapman

It was Flamenco night. Some black haired, olive oil skinned man was grating his finger tips on the guitar. A woman whipped her skirt around her legs with one hand while clacking castanets in the other. A spot light illuminated the two on stage, the only other light coming from the candles at each table.

“More sangria, sir?” the waiter hovered his pitcher over my glass. I nodded. He poured. I chugged.

I chewed on a bit of apple that made its way through my teeth and watched the Spaniards sweat on stage. The woman began to sing. A haunting wail that sounded like the agony of regrets. She twirled and sang words that sounded like the poetry of the dead or the drunk.

It was my fourth Sangria. My eyes began to water and tear splashed on the table. Maybe it was the music or maybe it’s because mixed drinks are hard to judge.

I looked around the room. A woman with white hair and spectacles clapped her hands. A man with a bald spot threw his shoulders back and forth to the rhythm. A young couple was making out in the corner. The waiters danced with their trays between our tables.

I looked at the empty seat across from me but didn’t feel regret. I couldn’t place the feeling.

I flagged down the waiter for another Sangria and sat, trying to figure it out. All this raw emotion and rush of feelings but I was alone. In younger days it was easier to identify my feelings. This is happiness. This is regret. This is anger. As I grew older, the feelings tied themselves to memories and experiences, making it harder to untangle one emotion from another.

And so this is it. A moment. The moment. It leads into the next and swallows whole each moment until you find yourself alone. It wasn’t pity I felt for myself, just a reminder that when life is around you, it must be grabbed, touched, caressed, held, laughed at, cried with, struggled with…

To feel it all, all at once and acknowledge that I was feeling. That’s all that was necessary.

The waiter filled my glass. I took a sip before setting it down to enjoy the rest of the show.

Underwear, Hide, Noisy

The morning arrived in a gradient of orange, purple and blue across the sky. The sun hadn’t pulled itself over the mountains and the moon was enjoying a glimpse of the day. The girl with the pearls in her eyes wept.

She wanted to hide from the noisy events playing in her mind. The potions from the previous night had not completely worn off and, more troubling, she couldn’t find her underwear. Buried, she feared, under the snoring ogres sprawled over the couches, chairs, tables and floor.

A thing of beauty she had wanted to glimpse. Not a thing, a feeling. Grabbing her knees, she forced her thoughts into the present. What’s next? No, that was the future. Where am I? She turned to look through a window but couldn’t recognize any of the fixtures through the glass. Her glassy eyes took in the room in front of her. The sleeping creatures around her were familiar in her flashes of memory from the night previous.

Where is my underwear? A chill shook through her as her questions probed deeper. Why aren’t I wearing them?

One of the ogres stirred, opening its eyes for just a moment and locking its gaze with hers before passing back into unconsciousness.

Could he know what had happened? Her mind fixated. She had a feeling. That question, and any answer or lingering doubt, would haunt her, either way. Where is my underwear?

She was realizing that something inside her would become stuck, no matter if she left this place or not. Her consciousness screamed at its daydreaming brother for details, but she was answered only with a feeling. More likely, a mixture of emotions that stirred in her a macabre feeling.

Anxiety, depression, sadness and darkness, if that could be called an emotion. It felt like more feelings were to blame but she had to force herself to become unstuck from that place. Her underwear was missing, she would not be. The front entrance was only a few feet in front of her, though sleeping giants lay in between.

She forced open the window and climbed out. Her skin tightening from the cold of the morning and the pearls in her eyes shining even though the sun was still hiding behind the mountains.

Swim, Cap, Elated

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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With the amount of swim lessons I’ve had I should be the next Michael Phelps. At most, I’m the Phelps of the doggie paddle: No swimming cap required.

My father, who had never actually seen me swim, enrolled me in some sort of race. He assumed I was achieving at the same level of his hopes, dreams and expectations. I was not. He would not be elated, though he never was.

Once I had set the dinner table without asking because for once I was going to have dinner with my father. The maid told him my 6-year-old contribution and the most I got out of him was a raise of the eyebrows and a downturn of his cheeks.

When he shows up the race and watches me splash around between floating plastic ropes, the most he’ll do is look around and then leave. Because he more than likely expects nothing of me so my poor performance will have met his expectations but not exceeded his dreams for me.

Gag, Muscle, Seem

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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The gag has to be one of man-kinds clearest signs of revulsion. A crystal indication that the mouth and throat have had plenty, thank you. A spasm made possible by some sort of muscle in the neck or throat (I don’t really know if a muscle is responsible at all).

I do know that the magic spell for the catalyst to vomit is brushing my tongue. Without fail, if I linger too long on the attached part of my tongue, I gag.

My face shoots forward, tongue flattens and sticks out, eyes squint and sometimes squeeze out a tear. If the brush has really landed in the right spot, I’ll expel a grunt that seems to come from deep in my gut. A warning groan from that yellow acid in my stomach.

It sticks its finger sternly in the air and clears its throat with an “Aahhk!”

A deep breath is usually required afterward to recover. It seems a relief, much like the moments after expelling 96-day-expired ketchup or rotten fish. A wave of relief letting you know that you dared to be alive.

Dusty, Bored, Thundering

3 things to inspire 1 story written in 20 minutes. #story320
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At the end of your life you are shown to a theater and given an accounting of all your stats. It isn’t some thundering proclamation from a white haired god. No, by the end of the presentation, most people find themselves bored to death. That is exactly the point.

In the beginning it can be quite interesting. You’re offered coffee, tea or water and shown to a small couch. In front of you is a man on suspenders poised to turn over a large paper flip chart. There is no preamble he gets right into it.

“These are your statistics,” he says.

“Boogers! had you saved all of them up you’d have a gigantic mound of mucus about the size of an elephant.”

(By the way in this scenario you’re 81 years old.)

“Instead you’ve picked, flicked and blew all your not into garbages, toilets, streets, and cars.”

“Earwax!”

He goes on very similarly about the earwax, except its about the size of an SUV, which you think is roughly the size of an elephant and he’s just trying to keep his comparisons interesting.

“Hair! You’ve lost 37,564 hairs from the top of your head BUT you gained 63 hairs in and around your left ear and 59 hairs in and around your right. You had an increase in your nose hairs, both in number of individual follicles as well as girth of each hair.”

“Nutsack!”

It did surprise me that the terms were not more scientific but then again he may be using language I can understand.

“Your has distended 3.73 inches!”

“Fingernails! If gone uncut and unbroken they would now be 53 yards, 2 feet, 4 inches and 7millimeters long.”

Eventually you tune out. The stats become more absurd and then suspenders opens a dusty book and things get interesting again.

“I will now read your language stats!”

“Fuck you’s! 759,000 even. Impressive!”

You think it could be more.

“Fuck offs! 33,542”

“Fuck! 3,259,117.”

“Son of a bitch!…”

“Cunt!…”

“Damn!”

It continues like this for a while and eventually you just sort of die like I said earlier, of boredom. Fuck.