Karas just called. "Hey, Patrick," he says, "is this the House of the Rising Sun?"
"No," I respond, freshly f*cked on one of Radek's Question Mark mixes, "the sun never rises in this house. This is the House of House."
"The House Music House."
"Listen, I'm gonna come over with some CD's and something to smoke."
"Aw, Christ, Jay, yer killin' me."
"No, you have suicidal tendencies."
I laugh and tell him to head over. He's right in a way. This weekend was a perfect example. I just want to get as f*cked-up as possible. Friday it was piko, X and hash. Yesterday X and grass, with a very unhealthy dose of alcohol and energy drinks.
Right now I'm going through a phase of regret - regretting blowing so much cash, regretting my loss of free time, solo time, down time.
Waking up means coming down these days. The lifestyle is getting dull, becoming somewhat of a rut. For the past three years I've spent almost every night in varying stages of drunkenness and being high.
It started in Canada and continued in the Czech Republic.
I foolishly figured I could dry out here, but, no, it just got harder in Europe, especially considering I've got a considerable number of friends in Brno who grow and deal and are true to Moravian hospitality. I'm tempted to start dealing myself - I could make a tidy profit on friend Mel's Scrooge McDuck pills; quality pills, but it seems like such a hassle. But it'd be so easy. . . .
No, think I'll just stick to using. Teaching brings in enough cash for the time being, or does it? Seems like I'm in constant debt to friends and colleagues. There's nothing romantic about being broke and hunger f*cking sucks. With the language school I should bring in about 9,000Kč /month. Private students, there's potential for another 5,200Kč/month, clear. Sweet.
But selling pills, say ten in one night, would net 1,000Kč profit. Plus, if I get someone to take the bulk of Mel's stash I'll make 1,000 Kč. But I can't be bothered to do the legwork. I'm just enjoying the highs. It's come to the point where being drunk or stoned or up or whatever levels things out, things become normal when I'm 'faced.
My last flatmate, Canadian Curtis "CanCurt" said that this is a lot of what being an expat is all about - debauching until you hit that point where you start telling yourself "F*ck, enough already."
Maybe it's because I can't believe I could spend the rest of my life doing this if I really wanted to. Just night after night, popping, dropping, smoking, boozing, shagging.
Going through the daytime motions casually, stressing from time to time, watching the 'normal' dogwalking plebes doing the same with much less style, much more hassle. Just a bunch of boring cunts living boring lives.
Take a look on the trams, trolleys and buses, in the streets and the shops early in the workday morning and after closing time. Dead fish eyes, drooping sloppy mouths, the body bent and slack with defeat and resignation.
"This is as good as it will ever get." seems to be the mass motto. Some still dream, but it goes no further than mental motion pictures straight outta Hollywood. They're international, of course, they're the ones who keep things going. They're responsible, they're burdened, they look for escape, find none so use television and their dogs and gardens as substitutes.
I kind of wish that was all I needed to make me happy. These people have constructed their own boundaries and keep themselves satisfied within them by doing things that bore the f*ck out of me.
I don't like boundaries, I'm constantly searching for new ways to smash mine down. Chemicals corrode then dissolve them, make me feel like I can do anything, make me believe that tomorrow the world will be mine.
Then the effects wear off and I find myself among these real people, these dull people who I feel I have no use for, these sad-looking common garden-variety human beings who have forgotten how fun life can be.
I suppose it wouldn't be any better if everyone was happy, satisfied and enthusiastic and cool - God knows I'm not feeling this way these days.
But being surrounded by dream-white, up-and-coming young wankers, bile-green, nauseatingly dull middle-age twats and crumbling ash-grey crusty old farts just makes things worse. I just want to slap everybody into life, just to keep things interesting, to avoid boredom.
Boredom. Probably the state of mind that I detest most in life. That was my main problem in Ottawa - it got boring. My fiancee got boring. Looking for work, looking for a shag, the pubbing and clubbing scene "if it can actually be called a scene), the petty politics of every clique with which I had come into extensive contact with - all got boring.
In Brno I'm never bored - or am I? I'm on the verge of falling out of routine into rut. Teach all day. Get together with friends and get f*cked up at night. The only difference the weekends make is that I can do heavier drugs, I can pill up or drop on Fridays and Saturdays, safe in the knowledge that I can sleep off the comedown the next day. Here instead of looking for work I'm working.
I'm still on the pull, only with a greater success rate. Pubbing and clubbing is much better in Brno, there's a better selection of places to go, not to mention the nonstops for a 5 a.m. pint.
As far as petty clique politics go, they exist here, but more so within the ex-pat community than among the Czechs. It's a bit strange gossiping these days, both picking up and dumping dirt on everyone.
I had become used to tuning out whenever it started up. But it's started up again and it's getting annoying. I find myself annoying when I'm involved, but I can't help it. I'm too f*cking curious and I've got a big mouth. Also, I'm too f*cking honest.
There's a knock at the door. Karas is standing there grinning madly, half-dancing as he hops from foot to foot. He's singing, "D.I.S.C.O. D.I.S.C.O."
"Hey, my chemical brother." I say, "So, watcha got?"
"It's a surprise, you are gonna see. No, you are gonna listen and you are gonna move and it's gonna make you sweat."
He's in immediately, then he's at the stereo. A familiar sound, a familiar voice is coming off the vinyl he's just set into motion on the turntable. "Right now. . . right now. . . right now it's time to. . . KICK OUT THE JAMS MOTHERF*CKER!!!"
F*ckin' choice. KLF, The White Room, 'What Time is Love?'. Mint nostalgia from many a good night at Le Bistro in Hull. It makes me think that Ottawa wasn't so bad after all. Never thought I'd hear it in the Czech Republic. Karas enters the kitchen and interrupts my thoughts. "Hey, Patrick. Have you got some papers?"
"I dunno, man." I say, "I may have some small ones. People keep f*ckin' stealing my big ones."
I go through my junk drawer in the kitchen. I find one last Golden Sphinx in a pack found crammed way into the back of the drawer. "Success!" I say.
"Alright. Let's roll this mother."
Karas hands me a gram-sized chunk of quality hash. It's black-brown and hard, yet slightly malleable. It smells top shelf. "Who gave you this?" I ask, still sniffing the chunk.
"It's from Werner." answers Karas.
Werner's an Austrian guy who makes parties from time to time in Brno. They're usually hard house parties, sometimes he adds a few techno DJ's to the line-up. Sometimes the music's a bit heavy for me, but most of the time I'm too f*cking blotto to care.
I get to work, skin up a decent spliff and light up. The taste is smooth, for a change I didn't overdo the tobacco. "Nice stuff." I say, passing the joint to Karas.
He pulls, holds it in, exhales then says, "I think it's Dutch. I don't know the name of it."
"There's some nice Skunk floating around the city. 250 crowns a gram. Personally, I'd rather just smoke the stuff grown here. It's not so bad and it's free."
"Yeah, I know." he says, returning the spliff, "Radek has some good stuff."
"I've got some here. I think it's Killer Two. The other night we smoked this great mix of Question Mark. Actually picks you up."
Radek Zoubek was a former student of mine who lived in Støelice, a small village 13 kliks southwest of Brno. He had something like thirty plants and had given them all names based on their effects.
Most of them were called Question Mark 'n'; that is to say that there was a family of Question Mark plants that went from one to, I believe, fifteen. Radek called these plants Question Mark because he couldn't adequately describe the effects of these particular plants.
He made mixes from these plants and these mixes usually had properties that earned a name more appropriate than simply Question Mark Mix, like Bomba and Spatsak "Sleeping Bag). The Smiler family was nice, it made you laugh your ass off almost like you would on a mushroom high, only a little dumber.
The cream of Radek's crop, though, all came from the Zabij"k "Killer) family. A f*cking great high, but in moderation. Smoke too much, too fast and too soon in the evening you might as well leave the ring on a self-inflicted TKO 'cause it wouldn't be long before you'd be f*cked up and down, over and out for the count.
Karas flinches when I mention Killer Two. "Oh." he says between pulls, "No, I cannot smoke that. This stuff of Werner's is enough. I'm scared to smoke that Støelice grass."
By the time I snuff the roach I can feel the hash swiftly wrapping my brain deep in a thick, grey velvet cloud. My nerves loosen and I start to move into myself. I feel normal, but very introspective. I want to be alone. The conversation would end now. I suggest we go into the living room to listen to some music. Karas is more than happy to oblige.
I slump into an easy chair and stare at the ceiling. Karas is talking to me, mostly about the music he is playing, spilling band names and song titles into the music. I have no clue what he's talking about, so I just nod and shake my head.
Karas is a f*cking lexicon of disco, dance, pop, new wave, house, techno, trip hop, hip hop, jungle, drum 'n' bass, etc. All things modern, all things cool and club. When it comes to rock he's not so well-versed, but he hates rock anyway.
I drift away from the place I'm in and dive way inside myself, start thinking about Daniela, my most recent ex.
Haven't thought about her in a while. It's been, what, five months since we broke up, since she told me that the Dutchman she'd been waiting so long for had come back for her, that he loved her, left his good job and nice flat in Rotterdam for her. F*ck. Told her he loved her. Wish I'd thought of that first.
Sometimes I feel retarded. Everything seems so obvious it's stupefying. The love tragedy. The crash landing takeoff. You sit and brood and drink and smoke too much. This makes the music sound better, closer, more personal, you listen alone.
Sketching her over and over, improving her, elevating her to an untouchable, hence a more desirable, status. You keep things going in your mind; I imagine how things could be now, how I could have prevented what was inevitable from the start. I'm so f*cking alone.
There's a voice. "Hey, Patrick."
I'm not alone... "Patrick."
It's Karas. Right, I'm with Karas. Brings me back to the present, out of what I imagine could be into what I'm afraid really is. "I have got a question. What does, 'Strut your funky stuff' mean?"
Right. Time to think. Think about something other than my so-called love life. Karas' question is something welcome to focus on. I give him a definition, "Well, 'strut' means either to walk in a real cool way or to display or show off. 'Funky stuff' means cool moves or simply coolness, like groovy cool or club cool. So, basically, show us how cool you are - 'strut your funky stuff.'"
Sh*t, I wish more of my students asked questions like that. I wish I knew more people like Karas. Never dull, always full of brilliant nonsense to share and silly questions to ask. But right now I'm tucked away in my own little world and I don't feel like letting anyone in. "F*ck, man, Werner's sh*t is pretty potent." I say.
"Yeah," says Karas, "I think I'm gonna go over to Koèa's to see what they're doing. You wanna come too?"
"Nah. I don't feel like doing anything. Think I'll just listen to music. Can you leave some of those CD's here? Oh, and the KLF album. I wanna tape it."
"Fine, yeah, sure. I'll get them tomorrow. Hey, do you think you can get some mushrooms?"
"Yeah, I think so. Radek said he got a bunch from a buddy of his. I'll call him in the morning and see what I can do."
"Good. There's gonna be a good house party in Dražovice next Saturday and I'd like to have some kind of drug other than pervatin. I've got P, but I don't wanna do it next week. Werner said he would be getting some trips, but they're those Magic Man ones, what do you call that in English?"
"Yeah, Wizard. He's got some Wizard trips, but I took one half of one a few weeks ago and it did nothing, only made me a bit tired."
"Did you smoke too?"
"Yeah. I was pretty stoned when I took it and I smoked more with Fana and Eliáš after. Maybe that's why."
"How much is Werner selling the papers for?"
"Oh, I can get it free. Do you want one?"
I think for a while. Free acid. Sh*t, that's normally 250Kč a tab. I could sell it for 350Kč easy to some daft little gymansium club kid. Or I could take a half and have a sweet time at this house party. I figure I should sell it, since I'm broke and I'm trying to get out of the f*cked-up routine, the f*cked-up rut. But I know if I get it I'll take it.
"Call me this week." I say.
"OK, I'll call you on. . . what day is it today?"
"Sh*t, I don't know, I think it's, what, Sunday? No, wait. It's Saturday 'cause yesterday was the Supersonic Garage party so today must be Saturday."
"You are a really clever boy."
"Well, I know what day it is."
"Yeah, it's a green day."
"Hm. Yeah. Another f*cking green day."
"Well, I'm going now, so see ya. I will call you Wednesday about those trips."
"Yeah. See ya Jay.
I close the door and go back to the living room and put the Charlatans' eponymous disc into the CD player, skip ahead to 'Feelin' Holy' and start rolling another spliff, this time using a couple of normal-size Rizla blues. I'm drifting back to Daniela, out of stupid corpse-gray real life, into brilliant life-pink fantasyland.
- Art by Mary Lou Zelanzny