Sunday, March 1, 2009

Tough Love

I’m writing this for the sole purpose of making Roger feel as though life is passing him by. Saturday was a good time. I got to Chris and Jen’s Texas Independence Day party around 2pm and quickly became not sober. I didn’t mean to because I had to go to Craig’s surprise birthday “Kissing” Party later that night and there’s a line of insolence I cross once cheap beer is being pumped through my veins. Either way, by the time I got there, everyone else was sauced too, so it all worked out. At Chris’, I saw a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long while, and I could probably count out about 8-10 of them who irritatingly asked, “Where’s Roger?” as though we usually walk arm and arm into social settings together. One of his friends’ (Jeannie’s) face actually fell when I said I hadn’t seen him. She then scowled and cursed him, which I think was a defense mechanism to the worry and distress I saw in her eyes. I told everyone that I didn’t know where he was, and I didn’t, but I had a pretty good guess. He was sitting in his dark furnitureless apartment, taking sips from a bottle of Turkey 101 in one hand and a 20oz bottle of Coke in the other, spilling both liquids as well as ash and food on himself and the carpet between his feet. He’d be watching the commentary of a DVD or TV series that he’d seen so many times before that they didn’t even make him laugh anymore. Occasionally, he’d flip open his phone to read the party commentary I was texting him. He would feel momentary resentment for me because he knew that I knew what he was doing, and he also knew that I was only texting him to describe all the fun he was missing. He’d then experience an implosive moment of self-loathing, shame, and regret for how out of control his life has become and in his desperate need to understand why he can’t stop drinking on his own, his senses would overload, and he would sob into his hands.

I left Chris and Jen’s around 9pm after waxing books and strumming a couple of Chris’ fancy guitars (he was very patient with my elementary knowledge), and I headed to Craig’s party. A few hours before, I’d received a mass text from said birthday boy that reads as follows: “For kissing party participants: feel free to bring masks, props, musical instruments, semaphore flags and the likes. We’re going to break some hearts and some faces. Hearts mostly.” I saw a nun and a wolfman there. Roger was invited to that as well, but fortunately for me, he knew less people there, and only one person asked about him. That person was Eric. He didn’t know anyone at the party but me and Craig, so he invited a Sixth Street rat of a girlfriend of his over. She came when the bars closed and looked frightened by all the Austin hipsters. I only mention Eric because Roger knows him and knows that even Eric, a man whom I had to continuously remind that there were several gay people at the party and to stop saying “fag,” showed and had fun. I left around 4:30am, two hours after the presumptive time that Roger was dry heaving over his toilet.

I can’t help but feel a sense of helpless responsibility for watching a good friend slowly commit suicide. And while some of you may regard this posting as written in bad taste, perhaps that’s why people we care about are allowed to secretly waste away while the rest of us aren’t talking about it.

1 comment:

Bash said...

Although Alice in Chains never officially disbanded, Staley became a recluse, rarely leaving his Seattle condominium following the death of his fiancée in 1996, due to bacterial endocarditis.[18] "Drugs worked for me for years", Staley told Rolling Stone in 1996, "and now they're turning against me, now I'm walking through hell".[33] In 1998, Staley reunited with Alice in Chains to record two new songs, "Get Born Again" and "Died". Originally written for Cantrell's solo album, the songs were released in the fall of 1999 on the box set, Music Bank. The set contains 48 songs, including rarities, demos, and previous album tracks.[2] The band also released a 15-track compilation titled Nothing Safe: Best of the Box, serving as a sampler for Music Bank, as well as the band's first greatest hits compilation. The band's last official releases include a live album, simply titled Live, released on December 5, 2000, and a second greatest hits compilation, titled Greatest Hits in 2001.[38]

After a decade battling drug addiction, Layne Staley was found dead in his condominium on April 19, 2002. An autopsy revealed Staley died from a mixture of heroin and cocaine 14 days previously. In his last interview, which was given months before his death, Staley admitted, "I know I'm near death, I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way".[39] Cantrell, shaken by the death of his friend and band mate, dedicated his 2002 solo album, Degradation Trip, to Staley.

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