It feels like it’s been snowing since December. Like this winter took place in a sealed environment. Katya doesn’t care. She tells me that the snow in Moscow starts in November and doesn’t finish till April. She says that no one acknowledges the snow. Like if they ignore it, it will go away. Katya tells me that Saint Petersburg is the most beautiful city in the world. That you can go for caviar and champagne, go to the opera, and finish the night doing quality blow in a club on a decommissioned warship. She’s so jazzed up tonight. I can see the blood pumping through her at high speed. She’s wound up.
We go to a blues bar and eat stale candy. We do shots with the bartender. Katya tells me that in the mountains to the south there is a clan who became obsessed with American blues during the cold war. She says that to this day their village is the Eurasian center of blues music. It’s also a town that’s seen its fair share of cleansing. Katya seems preoccupied tonight. Almost homesick. I’ve never heard her speak this much about Russia, or herself. I pay our tab and take Katya to a Russian tearoom a few blocks south. We order caviar. We drink Moscow Mules and eat oysters. The oysters are thick and creamy, West Coast oysters. We dip into the club attached to the tearoom and dance with some kids. I find a dude and trade money for drugs.
The sun was moving west, and its rays fought through the clouds to cast long, skinny shadows over the dilapidated tenements of East Purgatory. The elevated highway concealed the surface streets surrounding the Johnny’s Pizza that rubbed up against the Port Authority. In a parking lot decorated with soda cans, used prophylactics, and glass vials, the skeleton man sat on a concrete division, flipping through the photography book that he’d lifted from Laz. Waiting for junk was a major part of junk. Throughout his decade-long journey to dependence, he had logged hours upon hours sitting in parking lots identical to this one, waiting for some unnamed savior to relieve him from his personal hell. The waiting was part of the game. Junk is not a kick. Junk is a way of life. He could remember reading this sometime during his formative years before the habit had impregnated him with the sickness. When he was on the fix, his loneliness was kept at bay. Junk was an ever-present shadow that acted as a sort of companion, albeit not a compassionate one. A shadow for his shadow that could be seen in the dark.
The last week without junk had been a strange and suffocating experience. He could not understand why anyone—himself included—chose to give up junk when they had funds and access to it. This last time, the separation was brought on by a feeling of impending doom that he could not shake. Even Dr. Cooper’s treatment had stopped being effective. A body can only sustain itself for so long when it fears sleep and waking. So, as to why he decided to punish himself by withholding junk, it may have been just that: a self-administered punishment, a cleansing of the soul. An allotted period of time for his body to regenerate and replace the junk-sick cells. It was also an attempt to rid himself of the horrific nightmares and paranoid delusions that sullied his existence.