Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and mature content.
Rhys exited the house twenty minutes later, wiping spit and semen from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand as he pocketed the baggie of cocaine. He climbed into the passenger seat of the pickup truck and Lip started the engine, pulling away from the curb smoothly. Rhys dipped his finger into the baggie of cocaine and rubbed a small bit onto his gums, which turned numb as they moved down Lexington Avenue back towards Westminster street. They began their way back to the Woodwitch apartments.
The Victorian houses gave way to skyscrapers and large, square buildings made of brick, one local government office or another. The closer they got to the inner city, the more crowded everything became, with narrow streets and the buildings becoming inches from one another. Lip switched lanes and then slowed, turning with ease into the driveway that led back to the apartments parking lot. He parked the truck in between his mother's beat-up Plymouth and Ethan's old orange Camaro.
Rhys got out first and led the other inside, up the four flights of stairs and a little bit down the hall until they reached the door of 404. He unclipped his keys from his belt loop and inserted the door key into the lock, turning it and the doorknob at the same time to let them in. Six months ago he would have dropped his backpack onto the floor as he walked in; but high school dropouts (or rather kicked-outs) didn't carry backpacks.
The apartment was modest and just enough for Rhys and Ethan. The front door opened into the living room, which held a second-hand brown leather couch they had found at Goodwill in the center. In front of the couch was a square coffee table, and against the wall beyond that was a small flat screen tv sitting on a tv stand, both of which Ethan had gotten them during a Black Friday sale. To the right of the front door was the kitchen doorway, leading into the small kitchen. A small corridor held the stove and fridge on the left side, with the sink and cabinets on the right. There were dishes in the sink that Rhys made a note of to remind himself to do later. The kitchen table shoved into the remaining square of the kitchen had two chairs, was covered in bills and notes from Ethan to Rhys, and had several stains visible on its marbled white surface.
Rhys walked past the kitchen towards the hallway. His bedroom was the first door on the left; across from it was the bathroom, and at the end of the hallway was Ethan's room, whose door always remained closed. Rhys opened his own bedroom door and Lip followed him into the room. Against the far wall was the nicest piece of furniture Rhys owned, a vintage writing desk Ethan had gotten him for his birthday two years ago. On it was his laptop, a few empty plastic water bottles, a cup, a paper plate, crumpled pieces of paper, empty baggies and a stack of Stephen King books. Rhys peeled off his jacket and draped it across the back of the desk chair before taking a seat in it. Lip took a seat onto the black and red diamond bedspread fitted over Rhys' bed, which was shoved into the left bottom corner of the room. Lip let his eyes rove over the bags of fast food and piles of clothes on the floor, remnants of Rhys' most recent manic episode. He glanced at the nightstand where Rhys' bipolar meds were, the orange prescription bottle full and untouched. Rhys was busy pouring a bit of cocaine onto the desk and arranging it into a line with the same razor he used to cut himself. When it was a neat strip, he bent his head and snorted it smoothly before glancing at Lip.
Lip shook his head. "No thanks."
He leaned back against the bed, resting on his elbows as he lit a cigarette. Ethan didn't like them smoking in the apartment but the overflowing ashtrays scattered throughout the room was evident of how frequently Rhys refused to care. Rhys plotted out another line of coke and snorted it, leaning his head back and watching the ceiling as the dope coursed through his bloodstream and everything was pulled into high definition. His brain no longer felt like it was ten seconds ahead of everything, the world and his inner vision lining up perfectly as the euphoric high overcame him. He watched the shapes bloom across the ceiling in kaleidoscope colors.
"Ethan working late?"
Lip's voice drew Rhys out of his drug-induced trance. He had forgotten the other young man was there. "Yeah."
"Wanna come over for dinner? It's taco Tuesday."
"God, a Garcia burrito sounds fucking fantastic."
Lip took a drag off his cigarette and checked his phone. It was six, which meant that his family downstairs would start making dinner in about half an hour. Enough time for Rhys' high to wear off. The question was, how to get Rhys from taking more after that point. Lip sighed as he thought about it. Rhys had gone back to staring at the ceiling, muttering under his breath. Lip tossed him the prescription bottle.
"You should take your meds."
Rhys caught them easily, setting the bottle onto the desk without opening it. "Don't need them."
"Dude, you know how using fucks with your mood swings."
"You sound like Ethan," Rhys rolled his eyes. "I'm fine."
Lip realized there was no point in arguing and grew silent to let the point drop. He took a drag off his cigarette and exhaled smoke, handing the cigarette to Rhys to finish. Rhys took it between his fingers and took a long, long drag off of it.
"You and Kathy?" he asked eventually, even if to only fill the silence. He hated Kathy, though he knew that he only hated her out of jealousy.
"Good," Lip nodded slowly, putting his hands behind his head and staring at the ceiling. "We're good."
“That’s good,” Rhys turned his head to look down at his desk, sealing the baggie of coke and laying it on his laptop. He got up and began to pace, overcome with manic energy from the cocaine. He could feel his mind starting to slip, starting to chase that manic energy as it slipped away even though his last hit was only minutes ago. With the decrease of the high came the crash, the dip in his mood, his climbing irritability, the way he wanted to punch the wall and throw things off the desk and out of the window, the way the world was now too high definition, so sharp it made his eyes hurt, so sharp that it began to vibrate at the edges, the nausea clawing at the inside of his stomach, the voices running, shouting through the cavity of his skull, bouncing off his brain like bullets, pushing him down, down into the ocean, he couldn't breathe, he couldn't see the light, couldn't tell which way was up or down or sideways but he could feel himself sinking, down down down towards the birth canal, his windpipe restricted, his lungs inflating with cold water, he was there, he was there it was like an orgasm in all the wrong ways, body convulsing, the energy leaving him, the overwhelming slaps to his organs, it was too much, too much and yet not enough, chasing chasing chasing -
Someone was shaking him. Rhys opened his eyes, swaying where he stood as his eyes blinked Lip into focus. Lip's face was full of concern.
"Dude, you've just been standing here with your eyes closed for the past twenty minutes. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Rhys wavered, stumbling a bit. He collapsed into the desk chair and lit a cigarette with shaky hands. Lip remained where he was on one of the rare empty spots of black-and-gray checkered carpet in the room, staring Rhys down.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Fine," Rhys repeated, exhaling smoke through his nose and not meeting Lip's gaze. His high was dissipating rather quickly now, the blood in his veins slowing, the vibrating edges of his vision coming to a halt.
"Give it to me."
His eyes snapped up to Lip, who was holding out his hand expectantly. "Give what to you?"
"The dope, idiot."
Rhys let out an involuntary snort. "No way."
"Either you do dinner sober or no burrito for you."
"I don't need to give my dope to you to stay sober," Rhys replied, even as he itched to take another line. "Believe it or not, I'm a recreational user, not a junkie."
"Says the guy who sucked dick to get drugs."
Rhys fell silent at that, the heat of shame flushing up his neck and cheeks. He looked down at his desk, clearing his throat quietly. Lip sat on the bed.
"Sorry, that was a bit mean."
"It's fine," Rhys muttered, picking up a piece of crumpled paper and uncrumpling it, only to recrumple it again.
"Come on," Lip said eventually, standing. "Let's go help with dinner."