[Before & After] Drafts Of My First Novel, It's A Long Way Down — What a difference a year makes!
Here's a comparison of two drafts of the same section of "It's a long way down," my upcoming novel.
The next day, David passed in and out of existence in a weary opiate-induced dream. He didn’t want to think of anything but the pleasure of a pointed, full needle. The powdered salvation would always be there for him. It wouldn’t betray him. It wouldn’t leave him without comfort. It wouldn’t lead him astray. It wouldn’t tell him to do dumb fucking things, things that were too early to be bridged, too early to be fixed. It wouldn’t lead him to complete and utter ruin. It wouldn’t leave him lonely and insecure, when he needed someone most. No. It was others who did this. Not the junk, his only friend, his intravenous snuggle buddy.
And like that, as he preferred to pass the days alone, his interactions with Freddie were less and less frequent, until they became nothing more than a business transaction between consumer and retailer. And he was perfectly content to live out his days blissfully sedated in this moderate, full service, one bedroom hotel room. But, as magic would have it, fate shifts and new directions materialize despite the comforts of monotony, and suddenly, he wanted his own private space.
It began as he browsed the paper, and found himself on the classified section staring at an advertisement for an apartment called the “David Thompson.”
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If nothing else, the salvation of a powdered tincture would always be there for him—the sweet, sweet toxic embrace of the tar—ready to rub his shoulders into oblivion. It would never leave him high and dry, on the side of the road, thrown out with the trash. It wouldn’t lead him down a dark alley, only to let him bleed out like a dog, left to paw his way to help. No, this inanimate pleasure powder, god’s gift from the ground, was all he had left. It was what he would turn to in the cold of the morning. It kept his bed warm when he was alone. His intravenous snuggle buddy, his only friend left on earth.
From that day forward, he preferred to pass the days alone in his modest room, fading in and out of existence in a weary, opiate-induced dream. On the rare times that he had any awareness at all (his come downs), he ordered room service, boozed, smoked cigarettes, and watched a select few television reruns, which predominantly included Seinfeld, the odd Curb Your Enthusiasm episode or The Office (American version).
At most he saw Freddie (but just to restock) once a week. Their relationship having devolved into nothing more than a cold transaction between budding capitalist and hungry consumer. The last time any warmth passed between the two was right before David attempted his reconciliation with Alice. Some men hold grudges, some men get high, and David, as over-indulgent as ever, tried both.
But there was a certain comfort in David’s new life, an ironic joie de vivre, or non-life. To not have anyone to care for, to let all inhibitions be left at the way side, and to blissfully sit there, idling, laughing at man hands or the soup nazi. The radical newness of it all, after a lifetime of sweat, was refreshing. And he would have been content to spend the rest of his days in exactly that position, grafting to the bed and engorging himself on life’s little—and large—pleasures, but life can sometimes have other plans for you.
One day, there was a knock on the door. He bumbled his way towards the sound, using the wall as a crutch, with no idea who could be on the other side.
“Hello?” he said to the phantom.
Nothing. He opened the door an inch and peeked out. There was only an empty space where he expected a man to be. He looked down and saw a serving cart, with a silver tray on top. He scratched his head and squinted, as if judging the tray’s importance in the world. He opened the door wider and, moving the tray to the side, stepped out. Looking side to side, then coming to the odd, yet satisfactory conclusion that he was alone, he shrugged and brought the cart in. He removed the lid and, expecting food, found a rolled up copy of the LA Times. He threw it on the bed and resumed watching an episode of Seinfeld, the one with the cigar store Indian, before shooting up.
Some time after, having rolled around in his bed in a postpartum heroin slumber, he had splayed the newspaper all over the room, the only page left on his bed being the classified section.
Circled, and in purple ink, was an apartment for sale: “The David Thompson.”