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.