I'm not an addict anymore

When he was about to wake up, he heard a bunch of sentences that did not make any sense to him. Why they did not, he would understand soon enough. It was like when a movie starts on a black screen and you hear people talking but you can't make sense out of it because you do not see their faces and you think it is some kind of scene from a bar when it actually is not. You just need to link your hearing to your sight to decipher it.

"His vitals are good. He could wake up anytime."

"It would be somewhat funny if he woke up today because that'd be three months since he overdosed and the meth is generally completely out of your system by that time."

And of course, as a people-pleaser, that's when he started to open his eyes.

"What the… cunting… hell… are you talking about?"

His first words after three months of coma due to a crystal meth/mephedrone/GBL deadly combo that somebody had topped with a bit a ketamine, to which he reacted badly as it was his first time taking it and it did not mix well with GBL the first few times. He would soon learn what had happened after he first passed out and before he actually overdosed. A dire story. Which he could not remember yet.

"Mr Sanchez. I see you finally joined us again. Do you remember any of what lead you here?"

"You mentioned crystal meth. But I never took crystal meth. I never took drugs in all my twenty-four years of living. We barely can find weed in France."

"Oh but sir, you're twenty-eight."

"And why are we talking English? I live in Lille, in France. What the hell is happening? Let me out of here."

He then proceeded to get out of bed and fell flat on the floor.

"You've been in a coma for three months, sir. And it seems you have quite the case of retrograde amnesia, the nurse said. You forgot four years of your life. And obviously you've got severe muscle atrophy from staying in bed for so long."

"Good thing I'm a freelance translator. I can keep working while in bed."

The nurse helped him back on the bed and made a lemon-squeezed face.

"From what we've gathered when we contacted your emergency contact, you were on benefits and he had kicked you out the day you overdosed. It appeared you were clean, or claimed to be, until the incident that led him to throw you out of the house. You might have relapsed and overdosed right after that."

He then started to feel dizzy. His last memory was hooking up with that girl that would not shut up about Greys Anatomy and P!nk. He barely ever drank and the only "drug" he had ever used was a piece à space cake eaten against his will. So what the fucking fuckety fuck fuck?

"I don't feel too good. Would you mind rewinding down a bit. If I lost four fucking years of memory, please be mindful of the fact I'm fucking lost and although I can't walk, I can drag myself to that window and jump."

He tapped on an invisible watch.

"I don't have all day. I'm all ears, bitches. When did I start being so rude? Oh yes, when I became a junkie. Fucking hell. And why do I want to call them a miserable bunch of cunts? Oh yes, because I have changed. Hey, I have changed. I lost like forty pounds. Diet? No, drugs."

All to his considerations, he had not noticed the man sitting behind the doctor and the nurse. Quite handsome –to his standards, which were pretty inexistent as he preferred seafood to sausages-, he was sitting in an armchair, with his arms crossed, very much peaceful and serene. Serene… This word lingered in his head. And it was not one he would spontaneously use. Anyway, it was not that important right away.

"So, I was a raging junkie up until my overdose. Care to had flavour to that story? And some make-up to that dull nurse's face?"

"We don't know that much. But that young man here might know more than we do. Mr Hawkins, if you please.

"Young compared to you. Damn it, you don't say that. Where's your "Fake it till you make it" attitude? What? What the fuck is that crap? I just fake it and I never make it. Oh, that one hurt. Now I feel like I want to cry. Damn it, I'm crying."

This Mr Hawkins had a look full of sympathy for the man in the bed –or so it seemed- and asked the hospital staff if they could step out for a minute so he could catch him up on what he knew about him.

"I guess that's a good option. One person at a time is always better. Don't say too much too fast but don't lie either. And you, sir, try not to antagonize him too much. He is your room and board when you get out of here. Soon."

That remark earned him a raised finger. As soon as they were alone, something unlocked, like they had known each other for a while. Mr Hawkins, aka What's his face, came to sit on the side of the bed like they had known each other forever. This weirded out Miguel and made him feel quite uncomfortable.

"I'm an animal. Why can't I be nice to them?"

"From what I've heard, that's how you were at the height of your using. And even when you stopped, to a lesser degree. Your mind might somehow have reverted to that beyond the amnesia."

"Maybe. And I apologize for what I've said. You're not that old.

"Thanks for the stress on 'that'. Made my day."

"You're welcome…"

"Mike."

"Nice to meet you, Michael."

To which Mike answered by grabbing his hand and pressing it against his cheek. Miguel promptly removed his hand and pushed him away.

"What's wrong with you, faggot?"

"What?"

"Do you wanna lick my index too, pervert?"

"Just the index?"

This time, he pushed him off the bed.

"What the fuck, man? I thought we were friends."

The doctor entered the room again.

"Everything ok?"

"Yes, sir. I think Miguel forgot something essential about him. Please step out again, this is a big one. We need some privacy."

At that point, the patient in bed started to feel dizzy. When he heard what he was dreading, he passed out.

"You're gay, Miguel. And I'm your boyfriend."

oOo

A few minutes after, he came to, surrounded by those three people he now feared.

"Don't look at me like that, you knew that by forgetting the last few years of my life, I was in for a rude awakening. I wanna start the physical therapy as soon as possible. I need to be able to explore that city and rediscover my past as soon as possible."

His wish was fulfilled beyond his expectations since the system, and his newfound homosexual lover, wanted him out of the medical system as soon as possible. And he got one hell of a trainer that pushed him to the edge be cause he hated "fucking slamming crystal junkies".

Speaking of addiction, Miguel refused all pain killers after a few days. That surprised all the nurses who praised his recovery and his resistance to drugs. To which he answered he just had no desire for something that was going to mask how he was feeling. That did not strike a chord with the medical staff but it bugged his boyfriend when he heard that. How was that possible? He had seen him at his worst but here, it was like he was somebody else. It was hard for him to define it with words, but it reminded him of something Miguel had been trying to formulate when he entered recovery the first time.

"If I went back in time, with all my memories of using in my mind but that I had no 'body memories' of them, would it be different? Would I be able to never use? Well, I guess we'll never know".

Here they were and it was like it was the contrary. His body had experienced the drugs, but the brain had lost all the memories, all the re-wiring drugs did, and it was like he had lost the desire to use altogether.

"It's as if he were cured from addiction, he mumbled."

"What? Miguel asked from the other side of the room, while walking on the treadmill, covered in sweat.

"Nothing, I was thinking out loud."

"Oh, ok. Well, don't do that, that's weird."

Slowly, three months had passed and Miguel could walk again. Nobody knew what had happened to him exactly. But apparently, he had been found on the floor on the street, naked, with a broken vertebra, one very bad open leg fracture and severely injured arms as he had been dragging himself on the floor. The doctors had concluded to a psychotic break due to an abuse of drugs as traces of several different drugs had been found in his system. There was no way to reconstitute more of the story until he remembered what had happened as he had been found in a deserted alley. Mike had filed a missing person report after forty-eight hours but as his boyfriend had disappeared without a trace, he had to wait until the hospital identified him before he could be found.

A few weeks after, his papers were found in a garbage can. The police concluded that another drug addict had taken him to a hotel for sex and saw an opportunity to steal from him while he was passed out. But that would not explain why he was found on the pavement with so many injuries. So they tended to think it was a set-up where he was drugged willingly but then made to pass out to get robbed, probably by substituting another drug. This might have included rape and assault. But they would not follow that trail since he had a history of addiction and police arrest. So the case was rapidly closed. Why? Because the addict is always wrong. The line is fine between consensual sex and rape.

So now Mike was afraid. For all the wrong reasons. Reasons he could not utter because they were awful. Monstrous. Because he loved this version of Miguel better than the one he had loved and -thought he had- lost. Their past was shaky and at some points blurry. He was going to piece things back together now that he could walk and at some point, the old Miguel would take over and Lord knows what would happen when the two worlds would collide. Or what secrets would be uncovered…

"Good, Ramirez."

"Sanchez."

"That's the same."

"Closeted racist prick."

"Right back at you."

"Ok, I'm bored. Are we done, fucktard?"

"Actually, we are. You only need to see your GP regularly from now on and see a massage therapist one a month until he says you're a hundred per cent. Good job."

Miguel was stunned by the sudden nice words.

"Ah, uh, well. Thank you."

"And congratulations on your three months clean and sober."

"Are you having a stroke in instalments? Do you smell toast?"

"Yeah probably. Fuck off now."

"Ok, I'll do that."

Thinking about it, Mike realized that the two worlds had already collided. There you had it: the cunting bitch unable to not swear every five words but who had learnt to be grateful for her recovery from drugs and had learned to deal with people had met a version of himself that knew nothing about drugs and that had no desire to use. Or to fuck men. All those four years where his life had turned into an apocalyptic mess and he had finally hit the gutter were gone. Lord only knew what would happen when they would come crashing back and interfering with this new life in the making. A life in which Mike was a supporting character and where Miguel was still in the closet and happy to be there.

"Shall we head back home, Miguel?"

"Sure, Michael."

Oh yes, he would only call him Michael to maintain a clear distance. If their hands were to touch, he would take his away promptly and walk at a distance. Still, to Mike, it was preferable to the three months during which he had to go back to live alone.

oOo

"I'm going to my room, said Miguel. I'm knackered. I made dinner earlier. You just have to heat it. Good night. And… Thanks for letting me stay here."

"You're welcome. After all that's happened, I think that's the best place for you to…"

But he had already closed the door to his room and put on a movie. Some would say it was a small victory. So he took it for what it was. As all the computers were linked to a device that interconnected them, he was able to see which movie the one he stills considered his other half was watching and he put on the same one. He fell asleep in the sofa. When he woke up at three a.m., the temperature had dropped and he was freezing. Nobody had put a cover on him. He rolled himself in it and went to bed. It was red. Miguel's favourite colour. Colour of love, passion, blood, death, slamming, fucking somebody too hard, getting bashed by your dealer... Again, his mind was wandering, fantasizing about drugs. Holding tighter to the cover, he went to bed and fell asleep on top of the bed cover. It reminded him of the first time they met.

oOo

Shy Sharers Meeting, Islington

Four months ago

It should have been spring but it was actually almost colder than in winter. The place was close from his home so he had chosen this one to be his very first meeting. He had no idea what was going to happen. He was still high from his last use. The friend he had been living with for ten months had given him an ultimatum: having him disappear for days on end was ok when he could support himself and he could be tracked. But he was tired to pick him up at the police station and pay for everything on the house. He was even feeding his cat. So either he stopped using and drinking or he left. Less than twelve hours after, he had looked on the Internet and found what they call a meeting. In this little room in the basement of a house that looked more like the place some thirty-year old geek virgin would be renting from his parents' house, one of these "meetings" was taking place. When he arrived and went down the stairs, he saw a very lively forty smoking a cigarette. His first thought was how he could trick him into slamming meth so he could fist him and tape him. But this had to change. Or to happen without drugs. Most likely the second option. He was literally going to make a move on him, using what leftover effects of drugs he still had to give him confidence, but he was not fast enough:

"Hi! My name is Mike! Are you new around here? The meeting is over there, first on the left."

He went to hug him but Miguel kept him at arm's length.

"Hold on, sissy. I never said I was here for the meeting. Don't act like my girlfriend quite yet, I haven't shown you mine."

"I'm… I'm sorry. I just assumed. Nobody comes down here unless they want to…"

"Unless they want what? To get finger-banged by bored middle-aged junkies? Hands off, alright? I have a problem. I'm here to see what I can do about it. I don't need pity. I'll see myself in. Don't sit next to me."

Being extremely shy and socially awkward taught him over his years how to use it to its own advantage to make people feel exactly like he did. He went into the room and sat in the back. When the meeting started, he listened carefully and the readings stroke a chord. The unmanageability, the desperation, the wearing a mask. That somehow summed it quite all up. And then the people started to talk. He resisted, looking for the differences rather than the similarities. But as he started to doze off, the words kept pouring into his head and they made even more sense. Also, the room was very cold and he had not taken nearly enough layers. But suddenly, he felt warm. He slept through the rest of the meeting and only woke up when most of the people had vacated the premises. He jumped off his chair and checked for his wallet and phone. All there. Somebody had even left a warm tea with mik and two sugars. And a jaffa cake. Like he had read his mind. Last thing he noticed is that before he woke up and stood up all scared, he was covered in a grey padded coat that was now on the floor. Mike's coat. He looked around but the man had gone home.

Random acts of kindness? Since when did humans do that? Especially gays? On that thought, he went home.

We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction and that our lived had become unmanageable… Whatever that meant.

oOo

When he woke up, he had dreamt about the first time they had met. Not a good feeling, especially given the bronchitis it had caught. But it was probably this that had made him come back the next week.

Not long after he woke up, Miguel knocked on his door.

"I woke up very early, I'm gonna try to hit the 7 a.m. meeting in the City. Can I use the shower before you?"

"Sure, I'm gonna make coffee. Do you want some herbal tea?"

"Uh, no thanks. I know I used to dig that but I'm still the 24-year old French drinking hot chocolate and eating bread and butter.

Mike rushed out to buy bread and chocolate powder. But when he came back, Miguel was gone. He had left a quick note.

"Don't bother for me, I'll be in and out all day. I'll pick food when I get a chance. Sorry, I know you went to pick up food for me but I can't handle intimacy right now, let alone with a man."

The first sentence was yet another reminder of their second encounter. Or more, it was what he had not written. Their famous bit: "That's what he said". When dirty minds met, it gave sparks.

oOo

Shy Sharers Meeting, Islington

A week after they first met

He threw the jacket at him.

"I believe this is yours."

"Ah thanks, man. You were freezing, I thought you could use a cover, you were only wearing a hoodie. Thanks for bringing it back."

"Yeah, sure. No need to tell your whole life story, I'm not your mother."

Mike could not help but notice that the jacket did not smell like his perfume anymore due to heavy-wearing. He felt quite happy about that, for reasons he did not understand quite yet. His only mistake was that he could not hide his cough from the newcomer. And the said newcomer felt awful to have insulted him again, on top of having made him sick. Once again, he went in and sat in the back. When the meeting was about to start, Mike came into the room last and the only spot left was next to Miguel. The latter made a sign to come sit next to him.

The first share was by a very straight man, with a deep working class accent and a misogynistic streak. That just added to the situation when he went on about his past.

"… It's like when I was using, I had this hole inside of me that needed filling. All I could do was service other people…"

The guy was making a beautiful share about his addiction and his recovery but all they could think of was the double entendre. Both noticing they were giggling, they turned to each other and whispered:

"That's what he said."

The secretary gave them a dirty look but it was too late. The ice had been broken and they were laughing. They had to calm down. Mike showed his phone and went on to type his number as if he was writing to himself. Then he typed a text to reassure him.

"Don't worry, even though it's tradition, you don't have to take my number if you don't want to. I thought we could talk like that to calm our laughter for now."

"O'right."

"Cool..."

"Miguel."

"Nice to meet you, Miguel. I'm glad you came back."

"Yeah, I'm glad I came back too. Whatever."

What they said/wrote after he did not remember. But two days after, he would receive a call to help Miguel flush a bag of drugs some guy had brought to his place and left to try and make him relapse. Mike explained to him he had a choice and whichever option he chose, they would not give him a hard time because they had all been there, some more often than others. Don't pick up, pick up the phone, as he used to say.

oOo

He had kept all their texts and he had read them so often he almost could recite them. Some were really hard to read because they showed their flaws, all that went wrong between them. But it was their story. They both had relapsed, both cheated on each other, but they had survived everything and their love had become stronger. Until that fated day when he had disappeared three months ago.

He went to shower with the music on his phone on full blast; a bad habit he had taken from Miguel.

oOo

Miguel wandered all day. He knew Mike had a day off and he did not want to have to stand the stares and the stories about the past. He had heard about those gay meetings addicts go to but he had no idea one would come to him. At about 6 p.m., some guys he defined as "gayer than unicorns" popped in. He had never done that himself but often, regulars to a particular meeting would meet beforehand at the local coffee shop they usually went to after to give themselves courage when they were not sure about going. And those guys were that bunch. They recognized him instantly and jumped on him.

"Miguelina, amore! Where have you been? Aww! We missed you! Are you going to the gay meeting at 6:30?"

"…"

"Anyway, welcome back!"

The tall slim heavily tattooed handsome Italian guy hugged him without leaving him a choice. Strangely, he would throw Mike on the floor if he did that but he let that guy do it. And it felt kind of good. Also, a tear rolled down his cheek. What was that? What was happening? He also got a look from another short blonde twinky guy. The kind of guy he used to define as "the ones I can never get, unless I pay" in his "other" estranged life. That's how low his self-esteem ran.

"Hell no. Please don't tell me I paid to have sex with this guy. Or any guy. Did I ever do that? Or was I ever paid? And did I ever sell drugs? To one of those guys? And why do they act like I just disappeared? Does nobody know what happened to me? Ok, before I scream, stop touching me. I'm not gay. And for fuck's sake, who are you?"

The twinky guy was actually his sponsor, a person he respected he admired so much he had recognized him beyond his retrograde amnesia. He used to say some people were destined to meet beyond all obstacles. And this tiny bunch was actually his closest group of friends, one of them being on top of that what you would call a guide and a mentor. But that had not always been the case as he had had to walk into that gay meeting for the first time. And it had not been pretty.

oOo

LGBT Narcotics Anonymous Meeting, Soho, London

Three weeks later

"No, I don't want to! I hate gays!"

"So you hate yourself?"

"Of course, you moralizing bitch! Why else would I stick a needle in my arm on a daily basis?"

"And this will be a room full of meth heads, but without the rotten teeth, for some reason. And believe me, they are hot."

"How is triggering my sex addiction a good thing?"

"Come on, Miguel. This is an excuse and you know it. You never had a sex addiction. You told me yourself your sex drive became less important than before you started using when you got clean. You used to have a sex on a daily basis, addiction or not, and you haven't had sex for three weeks. Of your own free will. Without trying to be abstinent."

"Damn this fucking opening up to a friend. Now he has power over me."

"Awww."

"What now? You saw another kitten on Youtube?"

"You called me a friend."

"Sorry, cunt slutbag. Won't happen again."

"Aww, and now you're giving me nicknames."

Michael gave him a swift slap on the butt.

"Get inside. Now."

"That's what he said."

Despite the joke, Miguel was not moving an inch. He feared something dreadful might happen but he could not quite put his finger on it. He had always felt welcome at any meeting, never judged and like he always had a friend to talk to.

"Daz, dear."

"Yes, Mike?"

"Grab his arm and let's escort him inside. He's so shy and such a people-pleaser he will not dare leaving the meeting once inside."

"Eh eh eh. Hi, I'm Daz. I'm the greeter at this meeting. May I have your hand?"

"Don't you want my cock first?"

And there he had made another friend. A friend with a body that would make any woman green with envy. And for sure a lot of men. But for different reasons. Or not.

"These people won't be hook-ups, they will be friends. Believe me. And bigger bitter queens than you are. Which is an achievement in itself."

As he crossed the door, he finally put the finger on his fears. And it came true. A room full of gay meth heads. Statistically, there would at least be one...

"How dare you show up here, you motherfucking cunt?"

The Indian guy jumped on him and punched him.

"You fucking bastard, I almost died because of you. You sold me PMA instead of MDMA. I overdosed because of you."

Unfortunately for him, old Miguel was always keen to come back.

"I am responsible? I? I?! What the fuck, man? I was slamming on a daily basis, I tried to hang myself twice and I am responsible for selling you drugs you begged me for? Drugs you willingly put in your mouth like they were sugar? Having met me less than twenty-four hours before? You're gonna blame me for being a raging addict. God, you're a joke… Fistmehard69… Maybe think a bit about your own recovery before you come crashing down on mine. For God's sake, you stole the money for the drugs from the wallet of the third guy that had passed out, so don't come on all Rice Queen on me when you're as messed up as I am."

The Asian man tried to punch him again but another person, a handsome Latino guy, stopped him.

"This is not acceptable behaviour. You should both get kicked off the meeting but I'm afraid you would end up in the ER. Or at the police station. And I'm pretty sure both of you are on their wanted list. So Raj, you sit here, and you sit all the way over there."

No reaction from any of them, except a desperate push to free themselves and take the other one down. Angry, the man holding them, stomped his foot on the floor and screamed "Move!". They jumped and obeyed him.

Mike was stunned. Of course, he knew everybody had a dark past and he was no exception. He had fled the house of a "friend" when said "mate" had overdosed and had come back the next day to burgle the now dead guy's house. And he had gotten away with it. So this story resounded in him. He sat next to Miguel and tried to put an arm on his shoulder to comfort him, only to find his friend rejecting his kindness and almost twisting his arm.

That was enough for Mike. Enough for now. He was ready to hear any story about his friend, only because he could outbid him with a worse tale. But his refusal for help was sometimes too much, especially when he resorted to violent moves.

"Then, stay there brooding, you fucking cunt. I'm out of here. You'll reach out when you're ready to not break my arm to calm your nerves. If there's one thing I won't tolerate, it's physical violence. I've been pimped out and raped on a daily basis by my so-called ex-boyfriend when I was younger and I swore nobody would ever lay a hand on me again. So, sort your shit out and then, you can come back to me."

On that note he left. Miguel stood up and went to sit on the floor in the corner of the room and curled against the wall. The man -that he would come to know as Tony- gave him the "I'm watching you" hand gesture.

Nevertheless, he stayed where he was and raised his hand all through the meeting until everybody else had shared so the secretary had to pick him.

"Ok, you, in the back."

"Hello, I'm Miguel and I'm a cunt."

The reaction to that was a depressing mix of approval and a few laughs and a timid "Hi Miguel!".

"I'm also an addict and an alcoholic."

The reaction to that was a depressing mix of approval and a few laughs.

"That's how I felt for the past few years. Needle in my arm or not. Each day was struggle of me against my inner self, trying to bargain with this little kid that would roll on the floor until he got his candy. And he always did. Because that cunt here in my head and that cunt here in my back, all they wanted was crystal and a few dozen cocks and loads. A night. I would bump uglies if it came with free drugs. I did not care about the consequences. I did not care about the guys. I don't wanna cross-share but you could have died, Rajesh. I did not give a fucking shit. And to some extent, I still don't. Not because I'm a monster but because I'm given a new chance. I don't care about those guys in the past, about the Raj that was eight months ago. I care about the radiant Rajesh standing in front of me right now, which is a completely different man. The past is the past. It's not prologue, the present is.

When I was using, all I wanted was to get higher. And die trying. And I will try again. I'm so despaired that I can't even say 'I might', because I will relapse and it will be bad. It will be worse. The worst. And I will hope I go to sleep and never wake up. So yes I was a cunt. And I still am. I might always be but I can learn to live with it. And to do that, I have to surrender. I give up doing this thing all on my own and try to twist the arm of one of my only friend in this world because I'm pissed at the wind for blowing or trying to make a point I can't prove. I'm fucking messed up. Please help me save my life. I cannot keep shooting myself in the foot. I surrender to you for now because I don't have a higher power. Will you be my higher power? I will try, but if I wander, will you help me find the yellow brick road again? That's all. Thanks for listening.

"Thank you, Miguel."

This "Thank you" was very solemn but heart-felt. Then came the end of the meeting, the serenity prayer and the hugging bit. He received a few hugs and an especially warm one from a trans woman called Amelia which would become one his confident and a tremendous help in his recovery. She would open his views on many subjects and he would even question his feelings for her at some point. She would be one of those encounters that make you grow as a person.

But the most warmest hug –that even deserved a grammar mistake- was from Rajesh who was crying his eyes and heart out.

"I'm so sorry I said those things. You were right. Both times. I'm a cunt too but I want to be one with you. Old Miguel is dead, long live Miguel. I don't know what I'm saying but I'm saying it. And I mean it. I love you."

"You have to let go, now. Or I'm gonna say something like 'you're hard, it's ridiculously small' or something. Still a cunt, sorry."

Another friendship in the making. That would be cut short two weeks in the future.

oOo

Same place, outside the room

Same time

The windows being slightly opened, Mike had stayed outside and listened to the meeting in the hope that he would hear something he wanted to. And his wish came true beyond its wildest hopes. He heard the whole share and smiled. He was not making fun, he was just incredibly happy his friend had surrendered to the program. He also admitted to himself he was in love with him at that very moment.

oOo

Fast forward to the present and he had no idea who he was. It did not take a genius amnesiac to figure that one out.

"Uh, whoever you are, I was in a coma. I lost four years of memory. I have no idea who you are. I woke up about three months ago. I didn't even know I was gay. I feel like I'm straight though it has pointed out to me I had some kind of a boyfriend. And it seems like I don't wanna use anymore. At all. I'm rediscovering my life and all the shit I've done. So you need to back off."

"But we are your friends! Said the slim inked Italian man."

"I'm not denying you may be my friends but I have no recollection of it. Whatsoever."

Then, something hit him.

"I think I should be careful. Some people might use that to their advantage."

In a "wait a second" moment of clarity, he asked a question:

"Actually, I have a few memories, like of that guy called Mikey or Mike. I can't see his face nor did I found him back, but I recall the name and have some vague memories of him. That's pretty much the only memory I have."

"Oh Mike, said Rajesh. I think he called you a cunt and left the meeting the first time you came to the gay meeting. We had a big fight and I punched you. Then, we became friends. We used together and I overdosed from bad drugs you sold me."

The Italian guy kicked him in the stomach with his elbow.

"Don't say too much too fast, he hissed between his teeth."

"But, no hard feelings, Raj continued. You tried to twist Mike's arm and he left. We never saw the both of you together after that but you stayed friends according to what you were saying. He had a thing with Lars over there that ended badly so he was avoiding him. You wanna tell us more, Lars?"

"I… Sure. Hi, I'm Lars."

He offered his hand.

"Should I sit on it?"

"Maybe after we have coffee. Since you were a bit weirded out by us hugging you since you're not in touch with your sexuality, I offered my hand."

"Sorry, coping mechanism when I feel uncomfortable. I make people feel worse than I do."

"Oh, you did not. I know a lot about you and our back stories can be pretty similar in some aspects. And I love people sitting on it. Only not my sponsees."

Miguel had no idea where that weird sexual comment had come from. The old him finally resurfacing? He hoped not. This guy was an even bigger jerk than he was, he liked fisting and he was a meth addict. Of course he was too but as he had just told, he had come to notice he had no attraction to drugs at all. They did not appeal to him. He still had some vicodine for the pain they had given him at the hospital and it did not tempt him. Why people ignored that fact was a mystery to him. But he sure had no desire to go back to his old ways.

"So… Were you stalking me?"

"No, as I said, you were my sponsee."

"Wait, what?"

Lars explained that he was his sponsor since his very early recovery, recovery that he now knew was cut short by his overdose and his coma. Miguel had asked him about a week before his overdose but in that week, he had confided more about his addiction than he had ever done with anybody.

"So when you overdosed, I assumed you relapsed so I had to wait until you were ready to come back to reach out to you."

"O… Ok. That's a lot to take in. So, back to the subject, can you tell me more about that Mike if you two were involved."

"It was a fling of a few weeks. We basically agreed to be on call for each other when we had too strong a craving. We would call the other at any time and either fuck each other's brains out or have phone on sex on Facetime. And sometimes talk."

"Is Facerhyme a dating Website?"

Lars filled the void about Facetime, dating apps and Miley Cyrus and then resumed his story. This coping mechanism to prevent them from using was obviously unheard of and not recommended when crystal meth addiction so often went hand in hand with sex addiction and intimacy issues. But still they tried. And pretty soon, Mike wanted more intimacy or asked for them to go out. Lars was not up for a fast track to dating so he shut him down and put an end to their little fuck fest, as he called it.

Soon after, he started receiving texts from an unknown number whose sender was easy to identify. They were sometimes moppy, often threatening, sometimes suicidal. And it escalated up to the day where he found Mike in front of his door. Fearful, he hit him to get him out of the way and go inside his flat. He slammed the door shut but stayed behind as Mike started to tell him his life story and how he was basically kidnapped by one of his boyfriends and bullied into prostitution with all kinds of men and sometimes animals. In love with the guy and with this bad mistress they called Tina, he stayed for more than a year until one day he had enough and purposefully injected himself in the muscle throughout the night to regain some clarity and flee to the health centre where the gay meeting happened he next day. He was directed to the meeting and he got clean and sober for the first time. And then, the rest happened.

After their recovery fling disaster, also known as Bang Town 2012, he never saw him again. Mike clearly avoided any meetings where he knew Lars was going to be present. And that was scary too, because it implied some more spying on him. But that was better than doing a bad gay remake of I Spit on Your Grave.

"Well of course, until I saw him again at the meeting where you tried to twist his arm. So… that's your only memory?"

"More of a fog and a name. I thought it might trigger something."

"And did it?"

"I think it raised more questions. Major ones."

"Do you wanna come to the meeting? It'll help settle your mind, said Raj."

"Why not? But you're not gonna like what I'm about to share."

oOo

He then followed them to the meeting. Nothing had changed, apart from the people. Many ongoing relapses had changed the scene quite a bit. He sat where he had sat the first time he ever went to that meeting, but on a chair this time. Another sign his memories were being triggered -unlike his addiction-? Maybe. Some seeds had been planted and it was not a sexual pun.

He had come to realize a lot of things when Lars was talking. And he had to voice them during this meeting. He had heard a lot about the difference between being truthful and honest. And he was probably only going to be truthful. But he would tell the truth, or what was his truth at the moment, hiding only a few key details.

The meeting went on, literature was read, the person sharing his experience talked for about fifteen minutes. Then, he raised his hand so strongly he almost dislocated his shoulder. He was picked first.

"Hi I'm Miguel… And I'm not an addict anymore."

The silence that followed spoke louder than any word. Some said "Hi" back but they were shocked.

"And I'm not gay. Anymore. I'm sorry it's gonna piss the fuck out of most of you guys but that is how I feel. I also know most of you know me but I don't. This is not some spiritual talks about being virtual strangers to each other nor did I was degayed by some freaks in white robes. The truth is I overdosed about six months ago. The circumstances are unclear. Apparently, I had a boyfriend but nobody here seems to know that. That's the first weird thing. Anyhow, I'll resolve this in my own time.

So I was in a coma for three months. When I woke up, I had forgotten the last four years of my life which correspond to my using time. And to my coming-out. Severe case of retrograde amnesia. My boyfriend was there when I woke up. I called him a faggot when he touched me. I rejected him but he still welcomed me in his home. And I complied to that because I had been kicked of my best friend's couch the day I overdosed.

To put in a nutshell, I went from being a wealthy straight freelance translator to being a gay meth head on benefits. But with no memory of it. So when I was offered strong pain pills at the beginning of my physical therapy, I took one or two and then never touched them again. I still have them, I just disregard them. I have no desire to use. What. So. Ever. And I still feel like I'm straight. This guy I live with I have no feelings for. We could be friends but even that is not working. He is letting me crash at his because he loves me. But I don't love him back. And it even seems to stem deeper than that. It seems like I hate him. But I can't figure out why. None of my memories have come back. Not a single one. And I keep coming back to those rooms every single day since I've been able to walk again. And I can't find any of the answers I seek. I thought of just finding a guy to inject me some of what you call "chems". But what would that prove? And even then, what would happen? I'd be a straight meth head, probably the first one in the UK.

God my head is messed up."

At that moment somebody waved a paper at him to notify him he had reach four minutes of sharing time and he should wind down.

"Acknowledged. I'll just finish on that. What do you do when you're living a life you know is fake but that's all you know? What do you do when you feel trapped in a lie that is your life and you know nothing else. Fake it till you make it? But fake what? Thanks for listening to me."

Lars started panicking but, stuck at the back of the room, he had no time to follow him when he left the room right after his share. He then proceeded to text him and call him since he still had his number but he never went through.

oOo

Miguel hopped on the bus back home and waited for Mike on the couch. During this time, he tried to masturbate on gay porn he found in Mike's room. But it did nothing to him. He then went to the shops and bought vodka. He drank half the bottle and waited for his so-called loved one to come home. Relapse? No. He was not an addict after all. What better excuse?

Mike was pleasantly surprised to find him in the living room rather than rotting in the guest room.

"Hey there! Coming out of your fortress of… Drunkenness. Oh shit. Are you alright? Should I call your sponsor?"

"My sponsor? You don't want my sponsor involved."

"Why? He's a great guy. You should really call him. He can help. I know you're in a weird place with your amnesia…"

"Nicholas is my second sponsor. Lars started the job. The first time around. You know Lars, right? Apparently, you made it in every room of this flat. Sit down, now. We need to talk."

"Can you put the bottle away?"

"Sit down! Now!"

Mike obeyed.

"I know your story now. And that you are the stalker type. I need answers and I need to know you are really my boyfriend. So tell me how we became involved. If your story does not compute, I will bash your skull."

He started at the first time they had met up to their fight at the meeting in Soho. And then he moved on to the night. The night that changed everything.

"Yes, I'm curious to hear that story. It better be good."

oOo

Angel area, Islington, London

Two weeks later

"Get out! I don't want you here anymore. Pack up your shit and go. You have an hour. And you better leave the key."

This was the one too many fight with his best friend. He had gone too far and even if he had stayed clean and mostly sober since day one, they could not cope with each other anymore. He had nowhere to go but he was going there fast. With his suitcase and his grocery cart and seventy-one pounds on his account, he was headed for disaster.

He went to the next bus stop and sat there for hours. Then he found the courage to make a call.

"Mike?"

"What's up, Miguel?"

"I'm homeless."

"Holy shit. Get your butt back here. It so happens I have a spare room that has your name on it."

"Thanks, mate. I'll take the next bus."

"Ok, I'll prepare the room. Bus 274, Caledonian Road & Barnsbury. Phone where you're there. I'm in Kerwick Close. I'll text it to you."

"God, you still have this ridiculous need for details. Sorry, that's quite cunty of me. Actually, I would probably get lost without that info. I'll walk there, I'm close to broke."

oOo

Caledonian Road area, Islington, London

Thirty minutes later

Even in his time of need, Miguel had learnt to be a bit kinder. Or a little less disrespectful –depending on the point of view. The day he had screamed at him at the meeting and then heard his share through the window, he had also received a beautiful text an hour after the meeting where he apologized and told him how much he meant to him. And that meant the world to Mike. It also reinforced his feelings for him and gave him some hope there could be feelings on his side too.

So when Miguel rang the intercom, he was full of hope.

"Hey there. Come on in, make yourself at home."

"Nice flat. How many times a month do you have to go down on your landlord?"

"Oh, actually, he goes down on me. He has no teeth, it's great."

"I just threw up a little in my mouth."

"I work in advertisement. Once you stop doing coke slash cock all the time, you actually have a lot of money."

He smiled and then they stared at each other.

"So, wanna talk about it?"

"Not really. I messed up one too much time and he threw me out. I deserved it. I'm amazed he put up with my recovery and my messed up shit for so long."

"Awww, give me a hug."

For once, he did not push him away and just took it like a man.

"I'm desperate, man. What is there left to do? I have no money, no job, no nothing."

"Well, you have me. I'll help you every way I can. If you wish, I can make you a tenancy agreement for subletting so you can get housing benefits. But you don't pay rent. You'll just repay the money the government will ask me to pay next year. I will say I get the rent in cash so we can scam them."

"Twisted yet clever. I suddenly like you more, man."

"Not as much as I do, he whispered."

Miguel put his fingers behind his ear.

"Come again, darling? he asked in a funny tone of voice before he broke into tears. I didn't quite get that."

Somebody needed comforting -which he got in the form of another hug- but somebody else needed to get laid.

"I… I'm sorry. It's, you know... Prolonged contact... Oh my God! I'm sorry. Oh my God!"

"You know, I'm down, I'm weak, I wanna use to forget about it, you should enjoy the moment. I need more than comforting."

After what he put his hand on Mike's package.

oOo

"I bet you'd like to do the same to me now, uh?"

He grabbed Mike's hand and put it on his package.

"Why can't I even remember the touch of a man or feel any excitement when you touch me?"

He took a good look at Mike and added:

"Maybe it's not men, maybe it's just you?"

That was one of those glass-shattering moments for Mike.

"Why do you always say the most hurtful things to me? Is that a game? I've put up with it for three months but I'm getting sick of it. And now you're threatening to beat me up? I told you once the only thing that was off limits with me was any attempted form of violence, even as a joke. So one more threat and you're on the streets. You wanna know what it feels like to be a man, sleep in my bed with me. No touching, no cuddling, just a bit of intimacy. Apparently, you are -or you were- a relationship junkie, so that might trigger something."

"You know what? Why not? I'm drunk anyway. I don't care anymore."

One would say that was the weirdest speech to put somebody into bed. To be respectful, Mike put on pyjamas but Miguel went to bed in his birthday suit. He fell asleep almost straight away. Mike stayed painfully awake all night long with the biggest hardest erection he ever had.

Around 7 a.m., the amnesiac woke up. He went for the bottle, drank half of what was left and came back to bed. The only think his so-called lover had eyes for was his massive manhood standing proud.

As he lied down again, he looked at Mike and grabbed his head to put it on his penis.

"Suck it, it might trigger my memories. And shut your big mouth."

And so he did. Half-way through it, he tried to stop but a pressed hand against his head prevented him from doing so. As his old demons resurfaced, he convinced himself he liked it. When Miguel silently came in his mouth, he thought he had won.

Miguel quickly pulled out and stood up.

"Nothing. Not even a tingle. I'm really starting to believe we never were together and you tricked me. Hopefully for you, I probably won't remember saying that when I sober up. Nor will I ever remember who I am. Anyway, I'll be gone in a few hours. I texted Rajesh –I stole the number from your phone- and he can host me for a while. I don't see the point of playing house anymore. I'll go pack up."

He stood up and dressed up and then proceeded to the guest room to pack up the little trinkets he had gathered since he had come out of his coma. Fifteen minutes later, he was at the door.

"Thanks for letting me stay here so long. But I can't trust you. There are too many things that do not add up."

"Like what? That I'm so unlovable you could never have fallen in love with me?"

"That you're so needy I would probably have run away the very next day after we fucked and just used you to empty my balls. Like I just did."

Mike stayed frozen for an incredibly long time and then decided to attack.

"The next day, you told me you had feelings for me and that you should give us a chance. And then…"

oOo

Caledonian Road area, Islington, London

Right after intercourse

He looked in big blue eyes, more smitten that he cared to admit.

"Well, then, it's a good thing I'm crashing here, then."

"I guess this is going to be a bit weird, right?"

"Of course, as we both might think we are doing this for the wrong reasons or trying to take advantage of the other."

"Is that the case, Miguel?"

"You tell me. I would have fled if I just had wanted to breed you. And if I wanted to take advantage of you, I would be using the escorting charm to get as much money as I want from you. I think this is wrong for me to have a relationship but you took my defences down. I think I'd be a fool not to give this a chance."

Miguel apparently had that romantic vibe buried deep inside of him. So did Mike.

"Shall I make us something to eat off your body?"

"Bacon and eggs it is."

Unfortunately, Mike had a meeting he could absolutely not miss. So he had to live by 9 am. He kissed his beloved goodbye after a frugal yet sexy meal and never saw him again, until in desperation, he had the chance of phoning the right hospital and be reunited with his now comatose boyfriend.

oOo

"I could only have been a bottom. I had a prostate operation that resulted in me being impotent. Bye."

He left and slammed the door. On the other side, a loud noise resounded as Mike fell to his knees and started crying. What was there left to do? He called in sick and stayed in the hall of his flat the whole day sitting against the door on the cold tile floor. Around two p.m., he finally cried himself to sleep and around 5 pm, the phone rang.

"What the fuck? Oh my god, it's his phone. He must have forgotten it."

He went to his room and saw the phone on the floor, partly hidden by the carpet. In his rush to get out, he had forgotten it and could not be bothered to step one foot in the flat again. He picked it up and pressed the "Home" button so he could see the text or call. Maybe it was him calling from Rajesh's place. But he was wrong. It was a text message from Lars, or to be more precise, six texts. The screen only displaying the beginning of each of them, he could only see bits of them. But enough to understand.

"Miguel it's Lars, I think you are living with Mike. Please be careful. I think he is lying to you and you were not in a..."

"I don't what happened to you and that led you to a coma but my guts tell me he..."

"There is something I didn't tell you."

"Once in Brixton, somebody tried to push me on the tracks. He was cleverly covered but I could swear I recognized Mik..."

"After that, I learnt he had relapsed a few days before that happened. I never told anyone because…"

"Please be careful, he cannot handle rejection and he is a beast when on drugs. Please call me..."

Unfortunately for Mike, Lars had the bad habit of sending countless texts. And he did not know his password as Miguel was quite secretive and paranoid, even when off crystal meth and mephedrone. Mike knew that if he missed more than three times, he would know he had tried to tamper with the phone and that would be an admission of guilt.

What he did not know is that Miguel had kept his key and he had just come in to pick up his phone. He came in quietly, almost like a thief and stayed away from prying eyes when he heard pacing in his room. He glanced inside the room and saw an overly worried Mike climbing the walls.

"What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?"

When he heard a sound and turned around, he saw him. The first punch came straight after. Miguel's memory had been triggered. He remembered everything. The walls of his two selves had collapsed. Now he could tell the real tale of that night where he had gone for the first time in this flat.

"You're dead, rapist."

When he passed out, Mike had but one thought.

"Please make me suffer."

oOo

Caledonian Road area, Islington, London

What actually happened

Even in his time of need, Miguel had learnt to be a bit kinder. Or a little less disrespectful –depending on the point of view. The day he had screamed at him at the meeting and then heard his share through the window, he had also received a beautiful text an hour after the meeting where he apologized and told him how much he meant to him. And that meant the world to Mike. It also reinforced his feelings for him and gave him some hope there could be feelings on his side too.

So when Miguel rang the intercom, he was full of hope.

"Hey there. Come on in, make yourself at home."

"Nice flat. How many times a month do you have to go down on your landlord?"

"Oh, actually, he goes down on me. He has no teeth, it's great."

"I just threw up a little in my mouth."

"I work in advertisement. Once you stop doing coke slash cock all the time, you actually have a lot of money."

He smiled and then they stared at each other.

"So, wanna talk about it?"

"Not really. I messed up one too much time and he threw me out. I deserved it. I'm amazed he put up with my recovery and my messed up shit for so long."

"Awww, give me a hug."

For once, he did not push him away and just took it like a man.

"I'm desperate, man. What is there left to do? I have no money, no job, no nothing."

"Well, you have me. I'll help you every way I can. If you wish, I can make you a tenancy agreement for subletting so you can get housing benefits. But you don't pay rent. You'll just repay the money the government will ask me to pay next year. I will say I get the rent in cash so we can scam them."

"Twisted yet clever. I suddenly like you more, man."

"Not as much as I do, he whispered."

"Come again? he asked in a voice devoid of any emotion. I hope I heard that wrong."

Somebody needed comforting but somebody else needed to shut his mouth before the wine turned into vinegar.

"I… I'm sorry. It's, you know... Prolonged contact... Oh my God! I'm sorry. Oh my God!"

"You can be, you fucking slag. I'm down, I'm weak, I wanna use to forget about it and what do you do? You use that to try and fuck me, both literally and figuratively. You disgust me."

After what he grabbed Mike's hand and put it on his package.

"That's what you want, uh? Come and get it, bitch."

He then grabbed his hair and forced to put his head against his crotch.

"Come on, go for it. Unzip me and be like my clients. Use me. Go on. Do it."

Seeing how he tried to break free, he pushed him away.

"That's what I thought. Pussy all the way."

Mike ran in the hall, grabbed his coat and took off, leaving his guest alone. Soon after, he texted him he was going to the hotel next to the Starbucks in Penton Street and that he could stay at his flat, that this did not change his will to host him for as long as he needed.

"If I don't set your place on fire, cunt, he texted back".

That was the final straw. He had often heard the sentence from other addicts who had relapsed : "It's on me". And it was on him. He just had to connect to that bareback website and it was on. An hour later, he got ketamine, mephedrone, GBL and crystal meth delivered. He injected himself and as he was rushing, he could only think of him and how he was now free, how he was back to his true self. All that he wanted now was to get back at him and shipwreck him.

"Hey man, I just did a .5 slam. I feel so bad, I think I'm gonna overdose. I shouldn't have taken a line of K with it. Well anyway, totally worth it after what you did to me. You're the pussy."

Lots of people became animals when they used. Some became monsters. When Miguel got the text, he rushed to the hotel. Maybe he was crying wolf but he did not deserve to die. He suddenly felt terrible for what he had done and said. The poor guy had been pimped out and abused by his ex. How could he have been so nasty just because Mike had misjudged his feelings?

When he arrived at the room, Mike opened the door before he did anything. And then he knew he was nowhere close to be in danger. This was a set-up.

"I'm out. Call me when you're dead."

Mike then took a loaded syringe out of his pocket.

".3 double slam. This is good shit. You will enjoy the ride."

This time, it was Miguel's defences who broke down. Had he not seen the drugs and the syringe, he would have made it out of the hotel safely. But the idea of sleeping outside and having to deal with life suddenly felt too much. He went inside the room and slammed the door, after what he slammed himself. It actually was like riding a bicycle, but with a needle in your arm. And he was hooked again. The loved-up feeling set up and then he was all over Mike. They made love like gay men do on crystal meth and mephedrone -and soon GBL-: poorly. When the rush faded and they started to get a clear head again, Mike offered to do a booty pump –injecting in the rear end with a syringe without a needle- and keep the injections for later on so they do not mess their arms too much too soon.

"Yep, whatever keeps me not thinking and feeling."

"Good boy. Give me your ass, then."

And there he went, again. His mind disappeared. Five minutes in, the drugs were already kicking in.

"Why am I rushing again already? How come you're not taking one?"

"Oh, I don't need it yet. I need my clarity for that."

"For… What?"

Barely able to speak or move anymore, he felt himself going. He had never experienced such thing but he sure had heard of it. He was going into a k-hole. He had been administered the drug against his will for he thought it was mephedrone and crystal meth. He soon passed out but his partner in addiction kept going and going. Two hours later, Miguel came to. He had regained a bit of clarity but this was a bad mix of drugs, one that would not help exert sound judgment.

Therefore, when he managed to lift his head and saw that Mike's penis was clearly not the only thing inside him, he realized that he was being raped by a demon. He then had to make a choice: face the devil or face death. He chose death. He managed to push him away and crawl to the French window. Mike was too stunned from hitting the wall to react, so when his unwilling victim opened the window and moved to the tiny balcony, all he could do was panic:

"Oh my god, no! What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?"

But even then, when he jumped, he did not manage to end his life. He crawled on the dark deserted alley for a few meters and then passed out. He was found fifteen minutes later by the cleaning lady doing the night shift when she was taking out the garbage. That's when 999 was called. Mike was already far away. He had taken care of Miguel's belongings and thrown them away in several trash cans. His suitcase was disposed of, with a wheel off to justify getting rid of it. The clothes were dropped at the Red Cross while going to Saint Pancras International and the rest disposed off in France, in Lille and Paris, the two stops to his destination. He had cleaned the whole room, removed any trace of drugs and anyway, there was no blood inside. Anyway, lots of hotel rooms in London welcomed drunk drug users only looking for a little bit of fun. So he was not worried about the state of the room.

It was like he had done this all his life.

oOo

He left him for dead, like Mike had done to him in the past. He knew he would survive. It was the idea: let him live all his life with death on his conscience.

"Farewell."

Six storeys. No way he would miss a second time.

The end