Orthorexia

JULIEN SKROBEK

 

Eric has left the door open for me. I tell myself I’m following the music, Lune Morte. Once he told me each time a new one comes out he puts it on repeat in the dark with a bag of H. I try to do everything he does. It’s hard sometimes, as he is more of a man than I will ever be. He’s got the skull head. I want the skull head too but no matter what I do I can’t get rid of my baby fat and my face remains full.

It’s me. We kiss and I go to my usual place on the bed. I love his room. I love the smell. It smells like mine. I remember the day I realized all our rooms smelled the same because we sweated H. I felt so proud. I felt I belonged. I belong here. Eric throws me the two bags of H and the bag of C. I only catch one and spend a couple minutes looking for the others in the rumpled sheets. I thank him. As if these were gifts.

He’s back to the videogame on his computer and says speedballs. It is not a question and he is not looking at me. I take the Nocturnal Asphyxiation CD I always use to make the lines. I go slow and make two perfect parallel CH rails. Fat ones because I want Eric to feel a bit numb. A strange and lonely life awaits me, I think to myself as I catch my reflection in the CD case. Can’t I just enjoy this moment?

I take mine first and hand him the CD. He’s still not looking at me but careful not to spill any. I’m thankful he wanted speedballs because that means I won’t be throwing up within the next hour. The C constrains the negative effects of the H. When I take my eyes off from the floor I realize Eric is looking at me.

What do you think? I say it’s fine, although it’s impossible to judge the merits of the H alone in these conditions. Not yet at least. I want you to hear something, he says. The videogame is gone and he is going through a huge folder of files. Eric uses file extensions I have never seen. He is a real man when I feel like such an impostor.

He found the file. Tell me what you think. It’s sort of a Blackgaze track. The guitars are all highs and mids. White noise. Is it yours? It is. You could call it Noisegaze. He shrugs at first but changes his mind immediately and smiles a little. Do you like it? I nod. What about the lyrics? How can I tell him that I already know the lyrics by heart? That I’ll never forget? It’s great, I say.

Oh before I forget… And I give him the money. 180€. Eric puts the money on his desk near the mound of C. Look, I’ve got to go outside for a deal, you wait here okay? Sure. I’ll play some of your new tracks. OK. See you in a minute. I wait a while after he’s gone to make sure he hasn’t forgotten something, then I take a little C from what’s on the desk. It’s your fault I say to myself. You’re making me do it. You’re so cruel. This is for all the things you put me through.

I know the deal is going to take some time because Eric likes to make people wait. He’ll probably buy a beer or two before he goes to the appointed place. I steal another line. As soon as it hits I start getting paranoid. What if he had weighed it before leaving? What if he weighs it when he’s back? I’m fucked. Don’t worry about that. He trusts you. He trusts you and he loves you.

That night I knew you didn’t love me anymore. I was lying next to you on the mattress, you that didn’t love me anymore. You used to, and then you stopped, and I knew why. I knew the real reason.  It wasn’t because I was a sadist. No, it was because I was almost nothing. Almost doing things. Almost you. Just like that girl said when she saw me with Eric the first time. I doubt it, she said, to whatever words he had used to introduce me. I reached out to my MP3 player to find out the only song I had in there was a song by Asthar. All the music was gone, as one day all the music would go out of my life.

The key automatically played the song on repeat until the battery was exhausted. As these minute things happened I was aware how pathetic it was. Just a silly break up blown out of proportions. I went to the kitchen and got the bottle of vodka we had bought for when your sister and her idiot boyfriend would come. I drank in a couple gulps then I felt better. Banged into the wall, into the chairs, talked to you who were pretending to sleep, talked to myself. Tomorrow I’ll take the train for Paris. If you open your eyes I’ll beat you up. If you move I’ll beat you up. If you turn around I’ll kick you so hard you’ll never have babies. Don’t you wake up on me.

He’s back. I got a call from Miu. She’ll be here in half an hour. Cool, haven’t seen her in a while. Miu is a Pastel Goth. I always tell her how much I love her purple hair but I’m the only one she hasn’t slept with. Maybe her instinct tells her I’m not worth it. You haven’t put any music on have you? Eric plays some Nacht Thron. It’s his favorite tape.

Miu is here and she came with Alexandre. I like Alexandre because he’s uglier than me and he has the medicinal opium connection. I tell him I’ll pay him when I get some money to buy cigarettes later. He hands me a piece of black meat (I know it’s not black meat). Eric gets the aluminium foil. We burn it twice and we’re sad to let it go. Look at us, says Eric. Look at Miu. She was a nice girl before she met us. She laughs and coughs horribly.

I’m tired. I make four lines of C and hand them around. This time I take mine last. What are we doing tonight? Alexandre knows about a party not too far. We all agree on taking the last metro and spend some time there. Eric’s girlfriend Ana will be there, her ex is throwing the party. Ana is an animal and I’m afraid of her. I’m afraid of the way she looks at me, like she’s ashamed of me. I try my best to be smart when she’s around but I never seem to cut it. Maybe she knows.

Eric goes to the kitchen to cook some K. I have no idea how he does it because I don’t want to show my ignorance by watching him or asking him about it. Plus I would never snort something I prepared myself. I’m just a basic user. I like kicks on a plate and am not too interested in the rest, except to keep my chemical balance in order.

The K is free. I never know why Eric wouldn’t let me pay for it. It’s his gift to me and to the others. I take my line and lie on the bed. The music takes on a new dimensional aspect. It’s like I’m living in the music. The walls of the room are not walls. My body is not my body. The world has taken a new structure. Only Eric remains unchanged, sitting on his throne, eternal from the highs. Those who’ve been in a K-hole have been to outer space.

I don’t remember much of the metro ride, or even the party itself. I think I spent most of my time sitting in a chair, going to the toilets once in a while. I know I drank some horrible wine because it’s still twisting my stomach. Miu wants to walk home and since we live not too far apart I go with her. We stop on the way for some food. I take some fries with ketchup, thinking it will bring in a density I sorely miss, but I nearly throw up at the first mouthful. Miu laughs at me but not in a cruel way. Some people are not made for H, she says.

We’re in front of her building. She invites me for a last line of C and says she has some good vodka. We go up to her apartment. I’m looking at her paintings, which I don’t like at all. More precisely there’s nothing to like or dislike; it’s just not interesting to me. She puts on some music, Morosity. It’s still night outside, but not for long. The C is cut with speed. It reminds me of Cadaqués.

I turned my back to you to extract a huge piece of solid and bloody snot from my left nostril. It didn’t hurt but maybe it was thanks to the cocaine anesthesia. We walked all around town until we found the man. There is always one man. He seemed nice enough but you said it was cut with speed and we shouldn’t give him more than 50. He followed us for a while. Fucking tourists, he said. I wouldn’t have acted this way if you hadn’t been with me. Remember when we took the mountain road that follows the shore? You had put on that Fog Mouth best-of tape one of your ex-boyfriends had made for you. I was so happy. I believe it was one of the happiest moments in my life. All those men you had been with, hundreds, a thousand maybe, and I felt nothing. No pain, no jealousy. You tamed the lion in my cage; now you’re making me see stars.

Closer. We kiss. I can’t get it up because I have to piss. Can’t get it up, can’t get it up, can’t can’t can’t. I have to piss. I’ll never get it up. Useless. Excuse me, I say, and go to the toilets. Miu laughs and shakes her purple hair. First door on the left. I can’t find the light. Is it one of those stupid things where you have to move? I can’t piss. It’s burning. Like never before. What if my piss comes out purple like Miu’s hair? I smile in the dark. I feel good here.

It’s ok, she says, when I come back. Anyway, I have to sleep. I make two lines of H for sweet dreams, but as soon as my head hits the pillow I feel like I’m trapped in my own body. I can’t move. I want to scream but I can’t. I turn my eyes in Miu’s direction. Her eyes are closed. I scream. She doesn’t move. Nothing is coming out of my mouth. I have no mouth. I close my eyes too and pretend I’m still in the toilet room. It’s no use. I can’t move to turn the light on, just can’t move. I have a disease, a syndrome. My heart is pounding in my ears. Then it stops. I have no ears. I have been decapitated.

I wake up three days later. Miu knew I was in a coma but she didn’t want to call anyone because she was afraid they would call the cops. My legs didn’t work at first but I manage to get up after a while. Why didn’t you call Eric? I did, he told me to let you sleep, that it would be alright. How did he know that? He said you were strong. She’s crying now.

I pick up my stuff and find my way to the street. My eyes hurt from all the sun. I head home. As I walk my senses are being restored. I’m trying to take in as much as I can, the smells, the trees, flowers, faces… I’m smiling like an idiot. He said I was strong.

I turned my back to him to hide my fear. It didn’t take long to disappear, maybe thanks to the rhum. We were sitting on a bench. No one dreams of being a doctor or a lawyer or anything. We dream of hanging out on a bench. Hakim wanted a cigarette. I asked the wrong people for one. How dare you ask me for anything you little piece of white shit? Hakim tried to calm them down. He’s with me. The fat one pulled up his shirt to reveal a huge scar on his stomach. If you punch me there I might die. But if you miss your chance… you’ll see.

Hakim threw the bottle of rhum at his head. It crashed on the sidewalk. I’ll show you how a real Arab fights. Hakim stood up but the cops were there instantly. They probably had been watching for a while. What’s going on here? Nothing. Nothing? Good. Let’s keep it that way. You two, move it. The guys left without looking at Hakim. They were looking at me. Their eyes said watch out white boy.

We had nothing left to drink. Hakim told me he had a bottle of vodka at his place. And crack. I followed him. On the way to his place he asked me what kind of sports I liked. I swim, I said. Oh, good. Good. His place was a slum. He handed me a rock. There was very little left but he gave me a nice rock. Light up man. I sat on the floor because there were no chairs and did as I was told. Hakim got the vodka and took a small gulp from the bottle. We didn’t make a sound.

I lit up and he broke the silence. Good? Good. Good! You know what’s good? Making love. I want to make love to you. I’m not like that, I said. What do you mean like that? I couldn’t tell him I had never been fucked because he would have thought I had manipulated him from the start. I couldn’t tell him how afraid I was, the craziness from the rhum all gone away. I couldn’t show him.

I protected you, he said. I’m not like that. I don’t want to make love because I don’t know you. You thought you could buy me with a little vodka and a little rock? He didn’t look disappointed. He looked hurt. You’re beautiful, that’s all. When can I see you again? So you can know me. Tomorrow night if you want. Ok. Take another rock from the bag. It’s a gift. You’ll think of me as you smoke it.

He could have raped me for playing hard to get. Ok man I’m going. He could have killed me. I’ll see you tomorrow. Where? Same place? Yes. When? Ten? I can’t make it at ten. Eleven then. Alright eleven, same place. He could have raped me. Thanks for the crack. Come here and thank me. I put my hands behind my back to hide the shakes. We kissed. See you tomorrow.

I feel good, the wind on my face feels good. I can’t recognize the sound of the wind. It’s like white noise. I listen harder. The cars are like white noise. The kids are like white noise. My voice… My ears hurt.

I have to sit on a bench because my breath is short. At this very moment I know I’m permanently damaged. My ears are fucked. I have read about this on some blog when I had a tinnitus crisis last year. It’s called hyperacusis. At this very moment I know I’ll have this forever, or at least until I kill myself. I find my phone in my bag and check the wiki. A person with severe hyperacusis has difficulty tolerating everyday sounds, some of which may seem unpleasantly or painfully loud to that person but not to others. At this very moment I know. Until I kill myself.

I’m still sitting on the bench. I feel my foot. I still have 2 bags in my sock. Half a gram of H and one gram of C. I know exactly what I’m going to tell myself. That I’ll need more to get me through this day. My ears are fucked, I deserve compensation. My ears are fucked. Who knows what else is fucked?

My ears have been fucked for a month now. I have learnt a few things. My right ear is more fucked than my left one. Any high sound is accompanied by another sound, like the sound when you let the water run very hard. Low sounds are mostly okay. The worst is guitars. Sometimes the waterfall sound is here even when there are no discernible outside sounds. Sometimes it’s an oscillating, piercing sound. But I don’t care about those. The main problem is listening to music. Most of the time it sounds like I’m playing the music on the beach, with the sea making its irritating sound. Don’t believe that new age bullshit that the sound of the sea calms your nerves and unites you with your inner-self. It doesn’t. Not if you’re forced to hear it all the time.

The water sound is less present when I wake up. I have read some testimonies of people with hyperacusis on the internet and they also say the sound is less present in the morning. Another thing they say is that hyperacusis itself can be caused by a shock, or a reaction to certain ototoxic drugs. It’s funny because one of the few things that calms it down for me is smoking a joint of hash every hour. Weed doesn’t work so good, although it helps. It’s ok. I can live with that, provided it doesn’t get much worse. I’m not going to kill myself. I’m seeing Eric at six. Time passes slowly. How deep is the ocean?

Eric has left the door open for me. I tell myself I’m following the music, Void. Once he told me each time he receives a new one he puts it on repeat with a bag of H. I try to do everything he does but it’s hard, as he is more of a man than I will ever be. He’s got the grey eyes. Grey hair like silk. He’s got the grey voice like a cascade of tender mud, like the music we are listening to right now. I want to turn grey but no matter what I do my face remains full and pink, and I can’t grow old.

No water sound when I’m at Eric’s. He is more damaged than me and I’m fascinated and I forget to hear the water sound. No evil thoughts. I am a lesser evil yet no one in their sane mind would pick me over Eric. I certainly wouldn’t. Eric throws me the two bags of H and the bag of C. For you, he says. As if these were gifts. I take the Nocturnal Asphyxiation CD. Why do you always use that CD? I like rituals. What other rituals have you got? I’ve got tons. Such as? Well, for one I fold the notes in four before I give them to you. Oh right, that reminds me…

I’m not paying you for these, Eric. You’re not? No, these are gifts. And after these I’ll quit. Why don’t you quit right now instead of making me short 180 Euros? Because I want you to give me something before I quit and I know that’s all you’ve got to give. Wrong. That’s the only thing I don’t have to give. Pay up, kid. I’ll give you something next time. Ok, but then I’m not quitting. If I die it’ll be your fault. Why would you die? You’re solid as a rock. You’re not going to die with so little and you know it. Right. I was just kidding. It will be your fault though. Maybe I won’t die today but eventually I’ll die. We’ll all die eventually. Eric quit smiling. Very serious, he said, it’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the lifestyle that chose us. Then he burst out laughing. It’s just a line from Burroughs, you idiot. You don’t have to pay me right now if you can’t. It’s ok. I want you to hear something and tell me what you think.

There was a time when you didn’t seem to care too much about music, to be honest. We had lost contact with each other by then. But I saw you one night. You didn’t see me but I spotted you right away in the crowd. It was a Goth party on the dock. I was with Maxine and her brother Marc and you were alone. Shaven head, parka, crazy eyes. You looked so mean and handsome. You were on the hunt for customers that night. I hadn’t seen you in years but I knew you were selling K, which you confirmed later on. Do you remember that night? I was very nervous back then. I was pushing K at all the events I could find. I remember, not that particular night but yeah it was probably me. Not too many people pushing K at Goth parties. They have to ask their parents permission before they buy anything stronger than speed. It was you. You were standing in front of a temporary bar. They were playing some EBM. How can you remember these kind of things?

You were the pistil of a beautiful carnivorous flower. Its leaves were wrapping up all around you. Branches from its roots were going through and through you. Your eyes were popping out of your skull as the plant increased its pressure. They were playing some EBM. Marc was telling me how Asthar was a traitor because he was bad-mouthing the scene now that he had discovered Shoegaze. Turned his back to the scene that made him who he is… Are you listening to me?

Marc, do you see the guy over there with the shaven head and the parka ? What about him? I know him. Do you want to go and talk to him? No. And then, as Goth as I could, I knew him in another life, it’s too late. What a load of bullshit. You’re so cliché. You could have come and talked to me. Seeing you like that was enough for one night. You say I was a pistil? No, you were a dick.

Asthar is fucking genius. He can do whatever he wants after Last Days. You know I agree. I still can’t believe you wouldn’t talk to me at the time. I don’t know. I felt that you didn’t need me. What makes you think I need you now ? How will you know if your music is good if you don’t have me? I know it’s good. I just need you to say it. See, you said it. You need me. What I need is a fat line of brown. You chose the music.

I pushed your hand away to your chest. It’s over, no need to say it out loud. I made my way through the station to the underground, trying to make out the signs through a blurry of tears. Tears in my mouth, snot on my mouth. A woman handed me a handkerchief with a sad smile and I thanked her although I wished she would have minded her own business. Maybe it was her way of telling me to man up.

Hadn’t been home in two weeks, fifteen days of us going downwards and here I was again. I didn’t want to risk anything at the customs and now I was all junk sick and love sick at the same time. I wished I would throw up but I couldn’t. I wished you would come here so I could slap you in the face. I took off my clothes and lay naked on the bathroom floor. The coldness did some good. I spat on the floor. I never knew why I would spit like that when I was sick.

The phone rang. I crawled to the living room to pick it up but when I did there was no one on the other end. I thought it was you. Maybe you wanted to apologize for the hell you put me through in Lisbon. Or maybe it was the internet company that wanted to sell me a new rate plan. My skin was painful. It itched atrociously. Funny that I would never scratch myself when I was high but now that I was junk sick I simply couldn’t stop. I took my lighter, which was the closest object, and started scratching my arms with it.

Cutting is for girls. Romance is for girls. Love is for girls. Horses are for girls. Pain is for girls. Family is for girls. Houses are for girls. I spat on the floor. Pop is for girls. Lies are for girls. Clothes are for girls. Sugar is for girls. Dance is for girls. Babies are for girls. Anorexia is for girls. Reading is for girls. Tea is for girls. Colors are for girls. I couldn’t stop. My brain was in a locked groove. You have stopped making sense, I said. Clean is for girls. Parties are for girls. Lost it lost it lost it. Scratching my arm with the lighter, scratching my face. Burning my hairs now. Smells of roasted pig.

How long can you keep it there burning burning burning when the flesh started to melt the yellowish juice mixed with the blood yellow red black purulence no the purulence would come later brown scabs so thick so thick my brain was on fire the junk was gone out of my cells the junk cells were dead now to replace them with gentle cells water cells happy cells move the lighter on your body burn the junk cells, burn the witch.

I bandaged my arms and torso and went to watch a game of soccer on TV. They say soccer and TV are like opium, and why not? And I needed to rest. Tomorrow I’ll go to the doctor. Tomorrow is the new start. Tonight I’ll see Alexandre and Miu. Then I’ll become someone else. Tomorrow. I made a list in my mind of all the things I had to change in order to become someone else. It wasn’t too much. I could make it. My bandages were already soaked with blood.

You know I love your music man but I’m not a big fan of this one. What’s wrong with it? I don’t know, the lyrics sound… young. All this despair and darkness, as if you were the first one to feel desperate on this earth… It all gives it some teenager feeling you know? You’re saying I write like a teenager? I don’t know man everything I write is the truth what can I do I’m not going to lie and if it makes me sound like a teenage dark fantasy I guess that’s too bad. Is that an ironical smile? No it’s just, it’s the first time you say anything remotely negative about what I do. And what do you make of it. Oh I’ll think about it for sure but on the other hand it kind of validates all the good you said before and that makes me happy. Or maybe I don’t love you anymore. Because of this track. Eric smiles some more. Smile, smile, never stop smiling.

Miu is here and Alexandre too. I like Alexandre because he’s uglier than anyone and he has the opium connection. I’m the only one to pay him right away. He hands me the black meat (it’s exactly like black meat). Eric gets the aluminium foil. We burn it twice and then some because there’s always a tiny particle left in there, but at some point you have to let it go. Look at us, says Eric. Look at Miu. She was a nice girl before she met us. She laughs her forced laugh and wants to reply but a horrible cough catches her midway.

Eric pats her on the back. It’s all right. You don’t have to talk. I admire his cruelty. This is a man without baby fat, not on his body nor in his brain. He’s trying to make eye-contact with me to share the joke but when I turn my eyes into his he sees something that spoils the fun. I go to the bathroom and take half a gram of H in one go. I don’t want to share with the others and I don’t want them to see me like this. I’m going to stay in the bathroom until tomorrow.

I’m going to hide until tomorrow.

Because every day I fall in love.

Please help me.

Every day I fall in love.


JULIEN SKROBEK was born in Paris in 1979. He has been involved in experimental music since the early 00’s, whether it was near-silent music under his own name or a continuous Harsh Noise Wall under more than 80 aliases. Julien Skrobek has released hundreds of recordings on various labels all over the world and now runs the Hallucination Tapes label. In parallel, Skrobek has been writing dark and largely autobiographical stories since his mid-twenties, but contrary to his musical output he has been very shy about sharing his writing.

4.1 | WINTER 2017

Contents

"The Avatars Creator Land"
José Galant
Cover Art


"Cliché Installer"
B.J. Best
Fiction

"Clouds, Light"
Scott Blasco
Electronic

"Amends"
Lorna Brown
Fiction

"Self-Portrait"
Grant Cutler
Electronic

"Bora Bora"
Michael Davis
Fiction

"Altro Alfresco"
Robert Fleisher
Experimental

"Tuba Concerto Movement II: Mysterious, Slow, and Expressive"
Todd Goodman
Classical

"Carpool"
Paul Handley
Fiction

"Il Malinteso"
Just Another Door
Jazz

"Of Leaves"
Nathan Kelly
Classical

"In Memoriam"
Matthew Kennedy
Classical

"Appear"
Jed Larson
Electronic

"Plume"
Bruce McRae
Experimental

"Great and Small"
Jenni Moody
Fiction

"Words to You"
Lucas Morin
Experimental

"Acquaintance"
Sarah Pascarella
Fiction

"A Brief History of My Relationship with Mercury"
Charles Rafferty
Fiction

"Orthorexia"
Julien Skrobek
Fiction

"Psychogramm"
Peter Michael von der Nahmer
Classical