This is a work of fiction. A snippet of a story that’s been bouncing around my brain space for a bit.
“The good news is you’re not completely fucking lost, mate.”
I slur the words to myself, as I had time and time again since first hearing them.
I am almost certain alcohol permeates from my pores, allowing passerby a contact drunk. Sat up in this hole for, I don’t know, days? Months?
I’ve been stuck in this fuckin’ rut for ages.
Another drink to calm my nerves before my mind starts racing away from me. I’m whacked out my fucking head on the uppers. The downers. The benders. The alcohol chains itself to my cerebellum, keeping thoughts from going too far astray.
A barely lit cigarette hangs out my gutter punk mouth and I’m sure for the passerby I am one ugly fucking sight.
This is Crenshaw though. A town filled with ghosts. The people here have their skin hanging from their skeletons and one foot in the grave. The high school motto is simple. “Escape.” But no one gets away from this dirty city. Crenshaw, the city skipped by the American Dream.
If unlucky enough to be born here, chances are you’ll stay. Chained to centuries of sadness thicker and heavier than the smog floating in from the factories.
A gutter punk like me is dime a dozen. Line the streets to beg the poor. The caste system here is poverty line and poorer.
Have I painted a lovely fucking picture for you?
The good news is I’ve never been lost. The bad news is I’ve just been stuck here.
The nicotine burns. One of many predisposed addictions. I inhale deeply, in attempt to fully light the weak cigarette. it’s cherry burning bright.
At the turn of the century, the government decided to wall in Crenshaw. it was for it’s own good. Of the escapees, most turned military turned war criminal. We were animals and even the government knew it.
At eighteen, every citizen underwent Cycle. Cycle determined those who would get to leave the walled in city. Cycle was a bit like boot camp if at the end of boot camp you received a badge for killing half the Cyclers you initiated with.
I don’t remember much from my Cycle. A lot of blood. Some other bodily fluids mixed in. It all culminated into standing on a golden stage as the Colonel congratulates you. When you think you’ve made it, when escape seems imminent, that’s when you’re hit with the final test.
The nicotine brings me back to present. I pull the hood a little more over my head. I’m a gutter punk. But, I’ve been across that golden stage. And this didn’t always use to be me.