Art

You Won’t Get It – R. Jones

I.

Ambien-Racing

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.

 

II.

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 

June morning

in a yard somewhere in the 

Valley, very far from where

we’d started.

 

III.

 

Weeks. She was elsewhere.

Truly away.

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 

walk around.

 

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

and throat.

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

Toy Story.

 

“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.

 

IV.

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

about whom 

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 

imaginative horror-show—

 

“Okay,” I said.

 

He drove fast to the Shell station,

playing his heavy metal and

laughing because,

like mine,

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—

it fell)

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

was Ambien

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 won.

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.

 

V.

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

very loudly

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

to her.

 

It was as if 

my friend Zeke did not know

or understand

how much time had passed.