Dirt Face by K. Charles Moore
Dirt Face is the first novel from journalist and author K. Charles Moore. The novel follows a young adult character in a small town. The character struggles with social norms and drug use while trying to find a meaning in life. This novel covers issues many young adults face as they become lost to society. Thrust into a perplexing world overwhelmed by the cost of reality. Drugs, sex, and violence ensue.
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A car ride to somewhere unknown to pick up some dope with someone I still don’t know. It’s different now, things just happened. We drive for an hour across dirt roads. We take the back way into town with the windows down. The dirt blows through the car’s vents in the dry dusty part of this barren landscape. For some reason the dirt has a clean taste. You wouldn’t think that about dirt.
We drive to a town with no ideas if we can even score, no connections, we don’t know a single soul. This is why we are here it’s something to do. We drive through town and hit up the places only the most decadent roaches will find themselves. A locality that is full of lot lizards and junkies, a place where the dissolute pay by the hour.
It’s so easy to score a few rocks off one of the local junkies. There is only one stipulation and this is a true junkie stipulation. My newly found companion and are forced to share the coke we buy off him with him. The person wants to prove to us he isn’t a cop or a snitch and this is his way of showing it while getting high in the process. It’s a good deal for him. He takes us back to his motel room, cans and water, filters and flames. It’s dangerous but I don’t care. I am too young to care and too stupid to know any better. I am a young immortal, life doesn’t matter and death doesn’t have a name.
The carpet in this motel room is thick; it feels like a black woman’s Afro. I run my hands through the thick dark carpet as I sit on the floor. The walls fade in as my thoughts begin to echo. My body moves inward and outward like birds on the horizon. Everything in this room is a part of me right now.
I want to sit in the chair but I can’t move. The chair is tall every growing like the magical bean stock from the children’s story, it towers to the sky. It’s the chair way to heaven. I want to experience the embrace of that chair holding me firmly. I want to endure the danger and insecurity while gripped tightly in the confines of the chairs arms. I’m so vulnerable outside the chair. I close my eyes and I begin to come, to come down.
This cesspit pit is a terrible place for an adolescent with nothing yet to fear. This whole area is in the middle of nowhere. One thing is true the middle of nowhere doesn’t care who you are and you’re lucky if you make it out or become someone around here. Drugs are easier to get than alcohol because junkies lack many morals. In the middle of nowhere, you can find yourself if you don’t lose yourself first.
Every day starts the same, it’s always hard to wake up unless you got a plan or some dope left over from the night before. After a night of smoking meth or sheets of cocaine, waking up can be even more difficult. I don’t keep friends and I would never trust any of these people around here, they’re just drugs. The only people I talk to are either people who can score, or people who recognize I can score. In the middle of nowhere, these people stick together. However, a user will never identify as a dealer. For an addict there is too much risk as a dealer. A bust can cause dry spells because paranoia to a junkie or dealer is a pestilence of fear that spreads like a Colorado wildfire.
Today is a bit different, two people I barely know will move into my house. I hate people but this means more money for more drugs. I pulled myself off the floor from a mattress I call a bed. I’m sick. Not sick or hungover from the abuse I put my body through the night before, but a viral sick. The bathroom has a full-length mirror on the door and my appearance is well admirable, even with the symptoms of a developing virus. After a shower and some bloody Mary mix, the spicy kind, the new roommates interrupt my forenoon joint.
These people are excessively eager to move in; it’s too early for the smiles on their dumb faces. Two dip shits that grew up together. I detain no knowledge about these two other than they understand the lifestyle. I bought a few ounces of weed off them in the past. They start to move in upstairs where there are three open rooms. I tell them to take their pick and the extra room will be a place we can get high together. I leave them and hideaway in my room on the main floor of the house.
I light a cigarette and stare out the window at the emptiness outside. Some run down old house across the street that used to be a place where families lived. The forgotten lives behind deteriorating walls and rotten wood. This seemed to be a metaphor for the whole town. No one here can escape this forgotten place without the help of death. The drugs just make it easier.
Sometimes I missed my family but all I ever had was my mother. No one else cared and when she died a year ago, I lost my chance at getting out of here. She left my father when I was young and all I know is his name. We share that name. I took a drag and blew out the smoke as I watch it hit the window. I realize even windows can be walls.
Mark and Wills continue to bust through the side door. The side door leads directly to the stair well through a laundry room. They carry boxes and black trash bags stuffed with items. The noise breaks up my thoughts so I put on headphones, press play on the iPod and lay on bed. Is this a mistake, I’ve never met these people. Nevertheless, this is where I often find myself. Mixed up with people I don’t know doing drugs. I enjoy the chance for danger and the unpredictable nature of these situations.
However unpredictable one person can be, groups of people can be much more unpredictable. One crazy person is easy to handle but two or more crazy people feed off each other. Scenarios of resistance from these two crazy bastards envelope my thoughts. Honestly, I might be the crazy one. They should be worried about how unpredictable I am, I’m dangerous they just don’t notice.
It’s late now and the light fades from the desolate canvas of glass on the living room window. I take a break from my paranoid thoughts to go upstairs. I pass through the kitchen to the laundry room then up the stairs. This house is old and the repeated steps have worn down the floors. My steps, other people’s steps, and even those who are dead now.
This was someone else’s life once. Now my life is plays over where theirs once existed. The place is the same it’s just a different time. Very similar to a double exposure over film. Some of the history bleeds through to the current events. We play over each other’s memories, lives, and homes. We slowly makes those memories, lives, and homes our own. The floors, destroyed by time and age replaced by new wood and those memories are gone completely. They become only your memories for a brief time until you’re gone.
As I hit the top of the stairs, I see Mark has taken the farthest room on the left. It’s just down the hall. The closest room to the right is empty. This room is going to be our party room. Wills is gone. I’m not sure where but I don’t care enough to ask Mark. Mark is unpacking his room; I spot a bong and load it up. Mark and I have a conversation about the house and how he plans to work nights. I’m not sure what he does and I don’t care.
After smoking some pot I’m filled with ambitious and begin to set up our party room. It’s small but big enough for a couch and a love seat. The focus is a small 13-inch television that sits on top of a VCR.
A VCR is an archaic machine that plays media on large rectangular tapes in reel format. These tapes need rewound just to re-watch movies and media over again. After a while, the tape becomes overused and decays. Everything goes away eventually, you can only witness or be a part of something for so long before it’s all gone. This weed deeply messes with my head, must’ve been an indica.
I make my way downstairs to the kitchen where I cram some chips into my mouth. Chip crumbs are scattered upon my face. At this point, the high has developed into a savage craving for anything edible. I take the time to make a sandwich with delicate ease and precision. I’ve never attempted to construct anything with such precision.
The presentation is not important. However, I stack the layers of meats, cheeses, and lettuce like it is a ritual. An individual with knowledge of sandwich occults could only produce such a delicacy. It is so good that the sandwich creation itself is unholy. It’s creation through the practice of black magic summoned forth by demons. If this was hell, then hell was good, and I’d burn in eternity for this sandwich.
With reckless abandon, I eat this unholy creation of goodness and make my way to my bedroom. Work will come too soon and dealing with people is exhausting. This room isn’t much; it’s like my life now. Empty of anything with importance because once you lose everything life becomes something less and drudging through becomes a burden. Life is the gift we all get once but it can be the gift not wanted. Drugs are a way out of this bedroom, of this town, of this life.
When I first started to get high, I remembered every feeling, every sensation. I’ve never experienced the same high twice it’s always different. I chase new highs and new sensations. At a point those good memories don’t matter. The good times forced away by chasing new highs and the scars of bad experiences. The good times I’ve had become harder to remember. Bad memories appear to hold the most weight. They come as a reminder that life is a burden. If life makes anyone happy then they’re blind or ignorant. Suffering is life and life is everywhere.
The light cover in my room has become a graveyard for insects that sit too long on the hot bulb. How do they not understand they’re killing themselves, I ponder. Is the warmth or brightness of the bulb worth death? If insects could talk, they’d probably tell me to fuck off. I guess nature by design is not an aspect of self-restraint as all good things can end with terrible consequences. It’s all about doing what feels good until death becomes a righteous pursuit. The end of what was once goodness. I flip the light switch off and save a few lives.