A clatter in the doorway behind me. I freeze, holding the orange juice in my mouth. Now that I have time to really examine the taste, there are subtle hints of the dish soap used to clean the glass.
I slowly turn my head almost all the way around, scanning the room. Nothing. My free hand reaches down my side and slides my pistol out of its holster. My eyes dart around the room as I hear another clatter.
A grey blur darts across the room. I spin, splashing orange juice on my face, and futilely empty a magazine across the floor, always half a second behind the speeding goddamn rodent.
“Jesus Christ!” Todd shouts, walking in from the other room holding his ears, “I was sleeping you asshole!”
“Sorry,” I say, relaxing and replacing the pistol, “I thought I saw a mouse.”
“Well did you get the bastard?” he yawns, scratching at his eyes.
“No,” I sigh, shaking my head.
“Of course not,” he groans, “Well who gives a rat’s ass? We’ll be out of here in two days anyway.”
I gasp. “You think they’re rats?”
“Hey man, you OK? You look a little down.”
“I guess you could say that.”
“You know what your problem is?”
“Yeah, I know what my problem is. My problem is I have a terrible sense of self-worth. I constantly harp on my failures while ignoring my successes. Causing, of course, a never-ending spiral of failure because as I trust in my own abilities less and less I succeed less and less. Of course, it’s not really my fault. When I was young, nothing I did was ever good enough for my parents. I was the only child so all their attention was always focused on me. Whenever I screwed up, I got it big time, when my father was even around. Most of the time he was off on ‘business trips’ (at his funeral I found out he had at least 50 mistresses) leaving my mother to raise me. I mean, she tried her best, but she didn’t have the masculinizing influence that a father would have had. Plus I think she knew what he was really up to so most of the time she would just cry herself to sleep watching TV, leaving me to eat stale crackers and tuna. Actually, the tuna probably didn’t help either. There’s a lot of heavy metals in that stuff. Probably disrupted my brain real bad, probably all sorts of chemical imbalances up there now. ‘Course, things didn’t get much better when I went to college, my mom wasn’t willing to cut the apron strings, they’d call me every night. I tried sometimes to ‘accidentally’ leave my phone in my room but then I just got chewed out. Honestly it was basically like having someone watching you all the time, do you know what that’s like? Of course now that they’re gone that’s not a problem anymore and I feel relieved, but I really feel sort of guilty for feeling that way too. And honestly after having someone there all the time to force you to achieve and to support you when you fail…it’s sort of hard to deal with actually being independent. Honestly, all in all I’m pretty much just a basket case.”
“Sorry, what were you saying?”
“I was gonna say that your problem is it’s been too long since you’ve gotten drunk.”
“Yeah, actually, you’re right, that’s probably what it is.”
Todd had a problem. He was addicted to pills.
He wasn’t addicted to pills in the way that you might think. He wasn’t addicted to painkillers or sleeping pills or antidepressants or anything specific like that, he was just addicted to pills. Didn’t matter what it was, if he saw one he had to take it. Couldn’t help himself.
It had gotten him into trouble in high school when he started taking his sister’s birth control pills and he had to get breast-reduction surgery. His parents put him in rehab and it worked for awhile, until one day his dad left his Viagra on the counter.
He’d been to rehab a number of times, tried detox, psychotherapy, nothing worked. A therapist once told him it was phallic. For Todd, the pills represented testicles and his obsession revealed his repressed homosexual tendencies.
“Fuck it,” Todd told him, “If you’re gonna tell me shit like that I’ll stick with the pills.”
After that, he gave up trying to find a cure.
I always gave Todd the pills my psychiatrist gave me. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, antibiotics, antihistamines, you name it. They didn’t ever work for me, and Todd enjoyed taking them. Plus, I knew eventually my doctor was going to get tired of me and decide to write me a prescription for something deadly. I felt a little guilty every time I gave Todd my newest prescription, but I figured that he’d probably OD one day anyway so it’s not like it’d really be my fault.
Plus he kind of got on my nerves.