You Won’t Get It – Cash Compson
January 10, 2022
with Zeke was the most fun
that I’ve ever had
in my entire life.
It started like:
Ten years ago, he inherited
a man’s bottle of the little
pretty pearl pills and
we took one in his backyard.
Night was suddenly heavy and
it grew in layers
and I sweated off weight; we broke past the mouth
of drugged slumber
and entered Choose-Your-Own-Adventure drugs—
I pulled shapes and sounds
from the dense black air-sky all around
between my fingers;
Zeke took a shit on the
black sheet of ice driveway
with his dead older brother’s ancient shotgun
laid across his lap
while he squatted.
We had so many more pills left. We had nowhere to be.
We took it again
after we graduated from something;
his girl with the big butt
and the fat dad who hated all of us
came out right as it was hitting,
right as we started moving like spaghetti fellas
in the muggy bug-mess of dirt-yard around,
and even through the advancing army of chemical smoothness
that was rounding my eyes
out with baby brain and strange wonder
I saw the anger in her now-milk-sweet eyes
when Zeke asked if
we could have sex with her
as one man.
I know I laughed then, because that was silly—
nobody finishes on Ambien.
“I’m leaving,” she said.
She left. Zeke went somewhere.
I woke up naked in the wet snap of
in a yard somewhere in the
Valley, very far from where
Weeks. She was elsewhere.
Everyone evaporated when the birches
grew bare again
and you could see through the woods
to more woolen night beyond
the pale splash of half-moon
cast down like a spotlight on us
when we surfed wet empty backroads.
He took more than I took. He was not awake or asleep.
Zeke was nocturnal without resting more than
blinking, and when he blinked he’d
rise up in moments,
gasping for air, and he’d
pop another and
I still took plenty.
I quickly learned that
the best part of Ambien comes
after you stay awake for
twenty-five to forty minutes
after the sleep stops fighting your guts
You will see all the finite objects
in your room or
in the woods
or wherever you take the Ambien
start to move and play, interact,
start and end societies,
and for an hour or three
life becomes very much like
“I am gonna kill her,” he’d said when she went off to college.
“I am gonna kill her,” he’d said when he found out she was in a co-ed dorm.
But Ambien-Racing got in the way
of the killing
because it is the
best way to spend time
if you want to hover above yourself, your town,
your parents, your whole ugly
life. Explained here,
though you won’t get it:
We were watching The Real World: Denver
one Wednesday morning in the cold again,
after sexy snow of late-year was gone
and it was just cold hard soil and rock, and
we took one
(he had gotten more
from a friend
I did not ask)
to party and wrestle
but I needed cigarettes,
and Zeke needed Diet Mtn. Dew
and cigarettes, so we got
in his cavernous, carved out van—
“We can get back before it
kicks in,” he said, though
that was not true, of course—we knew
all about the speed at which
lucidity blends with grandiose
“Okay,” I said.
He drove fast to the Shell station,
playing his heavy metal and
I knew his bowels were wild with anticipation
of the plunge that would make
everything feel like
the bottom of a placid
scentless swimming pool.
I bought the cigarettes and soda
and he peeled out to drive home fast
but then his face fell
(it didn’t curve, it didn’t bend—
those words imply active action—
down into a solemn droop-grin
and a hand dropped from the wheel
and he let out a sickening heave of
wind through his mouth
and in our eye contact
and tangled euphoria that we shared
that no one else anywhere shared or
had ever had
and the rules of motion and light were gone
and we were all there was
and caveman-muscle-memory-motion took over
and we moved for miles like that
and entered the driveway backwards,
coasting, holding hands
‘til my knuckles cracked.
We raced against time.
We did it all the time because we could.
It was like a carnival ride.
I had so much goddamn fun I forgot that everybody else was gone
and we were home in the town
that they’d all left
and it was our new place
that we made from
a very old place.
Zeke was very good at driving away from accidents.
The last time we Ambien-Raced
nobody crashed the car,
but it was the last time because Zeke whisper-shouted to me
on the highway
toward the city
above the Children of Bodom record
he had burning through the speakers:
“Look at my lap,”
and I did,
and I saw the long snake of the old gun,
and, through the mouth of road
that opened and unspooled before us as the dream medicine
made waste of me, I saw we were driving
It was as if
my friend Zeke did not know
how much time had passed.