Existential Terror and Breakfast: 27 - revfitz.com

Existential Terror and Breakfast: 27

Epiphanies taste better with toast.

“She kicked me out Mal, shit she kicked me out” a familiar and urgent voice declared over Malcolm Steadman’s phone.

The caller ID read “Garry”.

“Um, yes, hello?” replied Malcolm with no justified reason. Somehow, the conversation continued despite his fumble.

“She kicked me out! I-I’m homeless Mal. Got no where to go man. She kicked me out!” Garry continued no less urgent.

Malcolm hadn’t seen or heard from Garry since his time at the psych ward. Even before they exchanged numbers Malcolm knew that he would come to regret it. As earnest and kind as Garry had been to Malcolm, he had admitted to being addicted to heroin. Opiate addicts only ever called if they wanted something. With this knowledge ahead of time, Malcolm was slightly aware that giving him his number anyways was a sort of unspoken consent to being a willing party if Garry had needed something. Even if Malcolm was just being polite.

Damn Malcolm’s psychotic need to be polite.

“I-Is this Garry?” Malcolm replied, knowing damn well that it was and somehow still finding a way to contribute nothing to the conversation.

“Yeah this is Gary! …She kicked me out Mal”. This was going nowhere.

On a long enough timeline, Garry was always going to get kicked out. He had been to rehab three separate times, and after knocking up his teenage girlfriend had attempted suicide and and then proposed to her in a psych ward. No matter how desperate her situation might be, everyone had a breaking point. Malcolm was honestly surprised that his girlfriend didn’t kick him out earlier.

Malcolm wondered if this wasn’t the first time.

Mercifully, Malcolm asked a real question: “What happened Garry?”

“Look Mal. I’m not going to lie to you. I have no reason to and I’m tired of lying to people. I promised her I wouldn’t do it anymore, and I meant it man, I really meant it but I did anyway. Not inside the house or nothin’ but I left my stash in the open and fell asleep. She got home and saw it Mal, not just needles but spent needles. I apologized, tried to explain about not doing’ it in the house bet she didn’t care. I’m homeless man.” There was a short pause before Malcolm replied, and in the conversation gap it almost seemed to Malcolm that Garry was going to cry.

This touched Malcolm, and maybe it shouldn’t have. There was nothing but redflags in what Garry had just relayed, but there was also desperation. It had occurred to Malcolm that a junkie never means to do anything wrong. It was totally possible that in Garry’s own head that he always had the best of intentions. A decent man who always intended to do good, but was always foiled by his actions. Only psychopaths lacked empathy, surely even a junkie did not want to do harm. Garry’s argument with his girlfriend was one over semantics. He would never disrespect her and her house by doing the drugs in doors, didn’t that mean anything? Maybe only to Garry. Only psychopaths lacked empathy, and Malcolm was no psychopath.

As misguided, and possibly dangerous as Garry was, Malcolm’s heart sank for the man.

“That sucks” is all Malcolm said in reply.

The sound of urgency in Garry’s voice fell and his voice settled to that of a whisper. “I’m homeless Mal.”

There was an obvious choice here, a question that had not been directly asked but that Malcolm would soon have to answer: would Malcolm open his door for Garry? Would Mr. Steadman let a junkie into his house?

Garry did not know where Malcolm lived. He could ignore the implication in the call, or outright refuse and there would be no way for Garry to randomly show up at his door. The only repercussion would be a bunch of unanswered calls from Garry until he either got the hint and stopped calling, or Malcolm blocked his number. That, and guilt, but guilt could always be drowned away in alcohol. Though this seemed cold, there was such a thing as self-preservation. Though their interactions before now (no, especially now) had always been awkward, Garry was nothing but kind to Malcolm, but Garry was an addict. Not only was he a slave to opiates, he was not a white-collar (or even blue-collar) addict that somehow found a way to function in society. Garry had the words “fuck authority” tattooed on him. On. His. Head. All evidence pointed to this man having no impulse control. Malcolm was already mentally unstable, financially ruined, and almost out of beer. Wasn’t letting Garry in shooting his own foot?

There was one other factor that Malcolm had not fully explored though, and that was the circumstances of how they met. Malcolm may not have been brought to the psych ward for involuntary holding for the right reasons, but Garry had. Garry was suicidal. He had at least threatened to do it once before, and that was before he was homeless. It would be no one else’s fault but Garry’s if he turned his hand upon himself. Certainly, if Malcolm refused to house the man, whatever Garry had decided to do afterwards was not on him. Did that matter though? Malcolm Steadman had a chance to help the man, to prevent, or at least delay that self harm. They had only just met, if Garry had called him, didn’t that mean that he had nowhere else to go?

Malcolm had decided.

“Look,” said Malcolm, “it really sucks that your girlfriend kicked you out-“

“Girlfriend? Nah Mal, she didn’t kick me out, her mother did.”

Malcolm did not know if that was any better. Of course his teenaged girlfriend still lived at home.

“Look,” Malcolm rebounded, “If you need a place to stay, you can crash on my couch for a few days but-“

“I KNEW it! I knew you were a good person! Thank you Mal! Thank you! You won’t regret this man!”

After genuine laughter and relief, Malcolm gave Garry his address. He would be there before dusk. As good as Malcolm felt from doing a good deed, he also felt dread, but then again, Malcolm always felt dread.

Malcolm ended the call.

In front of him was what was left of his beer, and his antidepressants. If Malcolm was going to harbor a suicidal addict in his apartment, it only made sense that one of them had to be mentally stable. Malcolm resolved to take his meds, continue his therapy, and do his best to pursue being normal, if only to balance his unstable counterpart. There could not be a suicidal heroine addict and an eccentric alcoholic under the same roof.

Then Malcolm drank the rest of his six-pack, because, well, Malcolm is an alcoholic.



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Rev. Fitz
M.P. Fitzgerald (Rev. Fitz) is an author, illustrator, and amateur Mad Scientist who lives in Seattle.


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