Tuesday, September 18, 2007

long distance zombie

I got a call earlier on the landline, which I usually never answer, even if it’s plugged in, which it rarely is. Immediately I curse myself for lifting the receiver. A bill collector, young and female and hungry for closure, barks at me on the other end. I've got a debt from a few years ago. I debt I was aware of but ignored. Something I figured would slip through the cracks, forgotten in the long history of bills that go uncollected. It wasn’t for much, but it was for something. She wanted that something. She wanted it now.

We come to an agreement and I resign myself to making a payment. Just one step towards clearing my name, which has been drug through the mud of financial insecurity for so long I don’t even know if it’s possible. I get transferred to a different department and then transferred to another. They say they have me on file for another debt, one from 1994. I tell them I don’t know what they are talking about and hang up the phone.

But I do. I do know what they are talking about. A phone bill from when I was 18 years old. Our first apartment on Pine street in San Francisco. It was 4 of us that moved in but only 3 of us paid the rent. And that we did in slow, uncertain increments. At any given point there were 6-7 people crashing there at once. Bibles of LSD trafficking through our freezer, pounds of weed slung from under our beds, boats of mdma counted out on the coffee table.

We paid our rent selling squares of illusion to kids at raves. We ate half our supply, just making enough to support our own habits. The cable was shut off within the first two months, then the phone a month after. The name on the phone bill changed hands 4 times, every single one resulting in a debt for the recipient, a scar on their credit report that would haunt them forever.

I am bearing that scar.

The last thing to go was the electricity, this was right before we were kicked out, 5 months into our stay. If the walls in that apartment could tell stories it they would probably slur from being so shitfaced.

There was me smoking mushrooms from a bong and then exploding vomit all over the bathroom wall, unable to bear the taste of it. It tasted like what I imagine cat food to taste like. There was the night one of us came home with a full tank of nitrous and passed out on the bed muttering, “go ahead and do it all,” and a pile of balloons filled with 20 pounds of dental grade laughing gas gone in a few hours by 7 starving ravers. There was the threesome in the living room negotiated over a bad of speed. There was the acid dropped on sugar cubes on pages of mein kampf on our eyeballs and tongues and the sun always rising as we fell asleep.

No one had a cell phone back then, only pagers. And thus, the phone bill soared. There were calls to Thailand, the Philippines, Canada, and New York. None of us knew who made them and none of us would pay. We would ask around and get blank stares in return. Apparently, no one made the calls. I suppose we justified that is the reason we wouldn’t pay. The bills were discarded, rotting in the arrogance of our youth. Now they are back for closure. Fucking hell.


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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.