For some reason Haskell’s neck hurt. Liked he’d slept funny for a long long time or had pulled a muscle. Had he been asleep or was he just becoming conscious or what? Haskell was alone, or he thought he was until he heard some soft snoring coming from behind the sofa. Someone asleep on the floor. No clue who it was but that mystery was for another time. There was light coming through the window so it was daytime. Somehow Haskell figured out from the angle of the light coming in that it was mid morning. He guessed it was a Wednesday but really that was a guess, he was pretty confident that it was a weekday.
The phone rang. My god it sounded loud and faraway and weird and disturbing. It was sitting right there on the coffee table so Haskell picked it up.
“Hey Haskell, that you, man?” It totally freaked Haskell out that there was a voice coming out of this thing in his hand. Then he remembered it was a telephone and that’s how this shit works. It took him awhile to remember he was supposed to say something back.
“Yeah. It’s me, dude. Who’s this?”
“Who’s this? You kidding me man? It’s Jaimie. How fucking loaded are you, dude?”
Haskell didn’t understand the question but he remembered that Jaimie was someone he knew and was in fact a pretty good friend, although he couldn’t picture Jaimie worth shit.
“Hey Haskell, you still there, man? God last time I saw you you were totally zonked.”
Haskell wasn’t sure what any of Jaimie had said meant. So he just said, “whatever.”
“Listen man, can I borrow your car today? I gotta help my sister move out of her house. She had a big hassle with her boyfriend and he got all violent and shit. So is it cool? I mean if I borrow your car?”
Haskell’s mind was clearing up a little bit although at the same time he saw a bunch of colors on the wall that didn’t belong and the curtains were doing some weird shit. But he decided to tell Jaimie he could borrow the car.
“Thanks, man, I’ll be right over.” Jaimie hung up. Now Haskell had a million questions for Jaimie like “where am I?” and “what day is this?” and “what should I be doing?” There was so much he didn't know didn't understand.
Haskell slumped backwards in defeat. Life had kicked the shit out of him and he didn’t know what to do. For the first time in his life Haskell was sick of being high. He’d had it. Getting high had been the be all and end all of Haskell’s existence since his first glass of wine at age 13. Now he was 26 and sitting in his apartment not sure of what day it was or much of anything else. He couldn’t control his mind. It used to be entertaining to have his brain dance and swirl around and take him places but enough was enough. When it takes you awhile to remember who you are and where you are, it's a bad scene. And there was someone laying on the floor behind his sofa snoring.
He wasn’t sure who. At least this he could investigate. Haskell stood. His legs were wobbly, he was dizzy and felt weak as a kitten. But he managed to peer over the sofa.
There was, of all things, a naked woman asleep on the floor. Haskell had two quick thoughts back-to-back: this woman was young and pretty was one and the other was that he had no freaking idea who she was.
Haskell decided to take control. He stepped around the sofa and shook her. She mumbled and groaned and finally her eyes opened. She blinked a few times, looked up at Haskell and said: “Eddie!”
It came back to Haskell, this chick thought it was funny to call him Eddie because of his last name, as in Eddie Haskell of Leave it to Beaver. “I told you my name is Ryan.”
She giggled. “Sorry Ryan.” The young woman stood up. “I gotta pee, don’t go anywhere.” She skipped to the bathroom and Haskell was left trying to remember her name and anything else about her, although he did note with satisfaction that she had a cute bouncy ass.
Haskell sat down at the kitchen table and tried to clear his head. Everything he thought about was fuzzy, including whether he had slept recently or not. The woman emerged from the bathroom. “So Ryan, we never did it last night cause you were so high. Feeling ‘up to it’ now?” and she giggled.
Haskell did indeed feel up to it, at least physically. But whether this was a good time to be making love to a veritable stranger was another matter entirely.
“Um, look, I’d really love to, but for one thing and I just gotta be honest here, I don’t even remember your name.”
“Wow, Ryan you were high last night.” The woman seem disappointed but quickly rallied. “I’m Lisa, silly. You were high last night. Look if you want me to split —“
“No, not it’s cool, we can hang out, maybe get some food.” Haskell didn’t feel like being alone, waves of depression were washing over him, and the thought of being alone was terrifying. Also he wasn’t about to let such a cutie get away. “I mean if you can forgive a dude for forgetting your name. I know we had a really good time last night.” This was pure conjecture on Haskell’s part.
“Cool, I’d love to hang out. What shall we do first? Or do we need to get like reacquainted? I mean if you forgot my name, you probably forget everything else.”
“No it’s all coming back,” Haskell lied. “A friend’s coming by to borrow my car. After he leaves maybe we can get some breakfast and go from there.”
“Awesome,” Lisa said, then gave Haskell a kiss on the forehead.
Lisa dressed. Haskell got in the shower. The water was warm and comforting but at the same time freaked him out. First he felt like he was the water, then it was like he was watching himself shower. His body alternated between feeling emaciated and powerful. The big bar of white soap looked beautiful in Haskell's hand. He thought for a moment of taking a bite out of it but instead rubbed it all over his body. He was surprised to realize that this in fact was what one was supposed to do with soap. Haskell's head swayed to and fro and this wonderful high gave him a feeling of euphoria followed instantly by stark raving terror. Haskell wondered again just what drugs he had taken most recently. It seemed pretty clear that the mescaline he bought a few days ago was one of them. He also could be pretty sure that he'd smoked a fair amount of that primo grass that Hodges had scored. There was usually cocaine and booze in the mix and maybe some ecstasy. Haskell started to dry off and as he did was overcome with laughter. He rolled on the floor laughing. No way could he have told you what he was laughing about. It was especially weird because a little while ago he was totally depressed. Then the depression came back. Then it left. Fuck this, thought Haskell.
Haskell got dressed in his room and had just finished when there was a knock at the front door. He thought: it's mom, it's the cops, it's Jaimie, it's some dude selling something, it's that chick's boyfriend, it's some fucking crazy monster type thing with a giant switch blade for an arm. What the hell, Haskell thought, might as well go open the door and find out, everybody dies sometime. Haskell walked by Lisa who was now perched on the sofa watching MTV. It was Jaimie at the door. Haskell gave Jaimie the car key. Jaimie said a quick hi to Lisa a thanks to Haskell and was gone in a flash.
Haskell's brain was calming down. He was still high, very high in fact, but felt like he could control his thought process. Moods were a different thing, they were all over the fucking map. He stared at Lisa who was sitting cross legged. She had on stressed jeans, a loose thin turquoise top and no shoes, though a pair of sandals were on the floor in front of her. Haskell still had no recollection of meeting her or any of the time they spent together but he was pleased, very pleased, that this super cute blonde chick was sitting in his apartment and had already expressed a willingness to fuck. The only thing bothering him was her age. She looked young. Goddamn if she were under 18 he'd have to get rid of her -- fast.
Lisa finally glanced over and caught his stare. She smiled. "Hey handsome, you wanna go for breakfast?"
Over breakfast Haskell talked a mile a minute. The whole life story. All conference tennis player in high school. Degree in Anthropology from Penn. An older and younger sister. Dad a lawyer, mom a pediatrician. Been living off a trust fund. No job in a year. Broke up a year ago with girlfriend who he'd been with for four years. Favorite trip was to Amsterdam. Liked to get high and party -- obviously. Was going to get shit together and find a career -- eventually. Liked to paint and write poems.
Lisa seemed impressed. She thought Haskell was handsome and funny and a lot of fun and pretty intelligent. She was a freshman at the local community college and almost 19 -- much to Haskell's relief. She worked part time as a waitress and shared an apartment with two other girls. Haskell admitted to being fuzzy about their meeting and Lisa told him it was in a party at some guy named Doug's house. Haskell remembered that Doug was a friend of Jaimie's brother.
By the time they finished eating Haskell was coming down from whatever combination of drugs that were in his system. He felt like drinking a beer and firing a doobie but vowed to stay sober for the rest of the day. Hell, maybe even that night, who knows -- right? In any case Haskell was going to clean up his act.
They went back to Haskell's place and made love. Haskell had been with a few chicks since breaking up with Celeste a year ago, but none had been serious and none for more than a couple of dates. He really really liked Lisa. She was the cutest girl he'd ever gone to bed with -- Celeste included -- and even though she wasn't yet 19, Lisa seemed pretty together and maybe even a little smart. Plus it seemed like she really liked him.
Lisa had a boyfriend for a couple of years in high school but he went to the other side of the country for college and they decided not to try to maintain a long distance relationship. Haskell -- Ryan, to her -- was the oldest guy she'd ever been with and -- even though he was kind of goofy -- the most mature. She was willing to let things ride with him for awhile.
Lisa went off to class in the early afternoon and Haskell was left alone at last, although they were going to hook up in the evening when she got through waitressing. Haskell decided to try and sketch Lisa from memory. Then he decided that first he'd write a poem about her. He scratched out a few lines but they sucked. Maybe just one joint wouldn't hurt and would for sure get him going. Haskell lit one. Pot made him thirsty so he grabbed a beer. After the first slug he thought maybe he should have gone with something non alcoholic but it was too late now. You can't really write or paint while you're sipping a beer so Haskell turned on the TV -- just for a minute. Jurassic Park was just starting. He loved that movie.
Half way through Jurassic Park Jaimie showed up with Haskell's car key. It had been a stressful day for him what with moving his sister out of a shitty situation, so Haskell suggested he might want to fire up a blunt. They smoked it together. They they had a beer. Jaimie had brought over a six pack of Heineken as way of thanking Haskell for the use of the wheels. They finished it off and then polished off the last two bottles of Becks in the fridge. Haskell had now had five beers and smoked a joint and half of really strong weed. Jaimie said: "you want to go over to Rocky's house? He's got some E."
It seemed to Haskell that Rocky always had E, so that was nothing new, it also seemed to him that he had made a promise to himself to stay sober that night. That plan was fucked but at least he could taper off and not be totally shit faced when he met Lisa at 9:00. Haskell said to Jaimie: "no thanks, man, I gotta date with that chick you saw this morning. You go and have a good time."
"Hey man, that chick was hot. You already bone her?"
By way of answer Haskell laughed and playfully punched Jaimie in the arm. "Dude, what do you think? She was righteous."
Jaimie left ten minutes later. It was 6:30 and Haskell intended to spend the next two and half hours not getting high.
There was no beer in the house and only a little bit of weed so Haskell thought he had a good chance of making it to 9:00. Plus he intended to spend a chunk of the time taking a nap and in fact he felt into a deep dead sleep right there on the sofa. He woke up in a panic not sure what day it was let alone what time and wondering immediately if he'd blown the date with Lisa. But to Haskell's relief it was only 8:15. Plenty of time to shower and change. The thing was, though, Haskell was feeling really groggy, all the recent drugs he'd been using had taken a toll. Cutting down was definitely in order. But that didn't help Haskell now. Then he remembered he had still had some blow somewhere. A few lines would perk him right up and he'd be good to go.
It took awhile but Haskell finally found the coke in a baggie in a jacket pocket. He was only going to do two lines but he had enough for four so what the hell, might as well finish it off so it wouldn't be a temptation in the future.
Haskell made it to the restaurant where Lisa worked just at 9:00. She was wearing a top that totally revealed like half her breasts and Haskell was instantly turned on. They immediately decided on pizza and decided to take it to her apartment which was nearby. Her roommates weren't home, one was spending the night with her boyfriend and the other was off at some party. Lisa's fridge was well stocked with beer, plus she had some tequila. The two new lovers had just a little bit of pizza but a lot of booze. Haskell wasn't going to drink but Lisa seemed to want to and he wasn't going to let some chick he was with drink alone. No way.
Haskell loved being with Lisa. Not only was she hot and sexy but she was a lot of fun and could hold her liquor -- unlike Celeste and most other girls Haskell had ever been with. They'd already made love and gotten out of bed to watch some TV when Lisa's roommate Ashley came home from the party. She had some dude with her named Cody and Cody had a shitload of coke. At first Haskell thought he shouldn't indulge then decided it was probably what Lisa wanted. It wasn't long before Haskell had paid a fair price for some of the coke and they were all tooting. The party lasted until the sun came up when Lisa dragged Haskell into her bed.
They made love again although Haskell was so high he wasn't at his best. Lisa didn't mind so much as she was exhausted and fell asleep with a limp Haskell right on top of her. Haskell had had way too much coke to be able to sleep. He done three lines to every one that Lisa or Cody or Ashley had done. He climbed off Lisa and went back to the living room, forgetting to put his clothes back on. Cody and Ashley had gone to bed anyway. Haskell picked up the bottle of tequila and chugged. This was it. After today he was seriously going to cut back. He was going to get a job. He was going to really work on his paintings and his poetry and start playing tennis again. For right now though Haskell was already totally loaded and there was no point not finishing off the tequila. He did.
It looked like it was going to be a sunny day. The weather had been overcast the past few days and Haskell could do with some sun. He opened the sliding door to a little balcony and stood there, still naked. Fuck it. If someone sees me, Haskell thought, that's there good luck. The apartment was on the 12th floor so Haskell had a view of much of the city.
"It's weird because, well it's weird for sure, because. Something is weird anyway." Haskell was talking aloud. "Goddamn man I feel so fucking old all of sudden. It's like man I'm young I've got a whole life ahead of me to live but I feel like 80 for some reason. It's gotta be all this shit I've been putting into me. I must be fucking crazy to be putting all this poison in me. Shit lissun to me, man, my voice is so slurred. I can't talk worth shit. This is ridiculous."
"Hey!" Haskell shouted at the city. Then he mumbled, "don't wanna talk to anyone anyway anyhow anytime any many penny whennie..." and he started to giggle. The giggle turned into a full throated laugh. Tears streamed from Haskell's eyes. When Haskell stopped laughing he realized his chest hurt. Hurt like hell. "Fuck this, man," he said loudly. "Don't want no pain on the membrane on the brain in my refrain. See? I am a fucking poet and I really do know it!"
Haskell heard a kitten in the balcony below meowing. He leaned over the railing saying "here kitty kitty kitty, here kitty kitty kitty," and laughing like hell. "Fuck it I want to pet that cat." Haskell leaned forward to try to grab the cat which was actually about 10 feet below. As he leaned forward and stretched his arm Haskell realized that what he was doing was not just fruitless but downright dangerous. Then he fell. Twelve floors to the sidewalk.
Haskell was killed on impact.
There was initially some sentiment that he might have committed suicide but the official judgment was, given how much alcohol and cocaine were in his system, that Ryan Haskell age 26 of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania died due to an accidental fall.
One witness to his fall said that Haskell screamed like a banshee the whole way.