In Search Of A Chemical Smile


The habitual lack of self control I have over my own medication, has a tendency to block out the sun. This is the rerun of my life. I’m prescribed painkillers for my lower back problem, but I have a problem following rules.

It says to take one, three times a day. Don’t make me laugh. I’m taking two or more, three times a day, and enjoying life more than anyone else when under the influence. I have a problem with excess, which equates to a problem with life, once my supply begins to dwindle.

I’d raid your medicine cabinet if given the opportunity. Whatever it takes for a chemically induced smile, ’cause as of now I’m not smiling.

My week of misery had begun. I had to wait until next Monday for my refill. Each passing second is an opportunity lost. I was flopped out on my couch pondering the possibilities, when I reached in my pocket for my iPhone to make a call to Jake.

He picked up after the first ring. He must be lonely.


“Jake, what’s up, bro. I need a favor.”

“Who didn’t know that,” said Jake. “I only hear from you when you’re desperate. When’s the last time you called to jam on the guitar, man?”

“Fuck all that,” I said. “Are you holding.”

“Nothing but my dick.”

“Uh huh. You never had much luck with the ladies.”

“And you never had much luck with my medicine cabinet, asshole.”

“Fuck you,” I told him, as I pushed end on his sorry ass.

The last thing I wanted was to subject myself to the belligerent behavior of my inebriated mother, but drastic times call for drastic measures. Jake was my only other option. You’ve seen where that got me. I searched for her number in my miniscule list of contacts, pushed the button and said hello.

“Is this my only son,” she asked in a half drunken voice.

“Yeah, mom. It’s me.”

“I see. So it is my son, the big shot author who can’t support himself through his writing. What do you want?”

And this is a typical conversation between me and my mother. I can’t even begin to express the amount of resentment I feel for this woman. Or the amount of emotional stress I go through each time we interact. She’s done damn near nothing but traumatize me throughout my life. There’s been plenty of times I’ve shed tears over it. More times than I care to count.

I always seem to give her a break though, cause of her title, only to endure more abuse. On a positive note, she’s set a multitude of bad examples for me not to follow, plus she’s my inspiration for staying off the bottle. But then again, I’m at my wits end with a different type of bottle.

“Well, mom, I was gonna stop on by to say hello. If that’s alright.”

“Bring a bottle of cheap vodka and we got a deal.”

I arrived at her modest sized, red brick home in Brookline, bottle in hand, about fifteen minutes after I hung up the phone. She let me in, then staggered her sorry ass into the kitchen. She must’ve had an early start. I followed her in, and handed over the poison. After that she started her celebratory dance, hands in the air, spinning around like an asshole. It’s the type of thing that would scare off any girlfriend, regardless of their self proclaimed liberal predilection.

“Holy fuck,” I said. “Are you through making an ass out of yourself yet, mom?”

She gave me that evil drunken look that used to frighten me as a small child and said, “You always were an ungrateful little bastard!”

“Wonderful,” I said. “Have another drink, mom. I love these special moments we share together.”

She opened the bottom shelf bottle of vodka, and made a mix drink that would hinder the motor vehicle skills of the most seasoned alcoholic.

“How’s your writing going, son? Have you found an audience for the filth you put out to the world? Do you know how that makes me feel?”

“You should be happy, mom. You can add it to the list of reasons to drink. Not like you need an excuse.”

She took a big hit of her drink and said, “Fuck you!”

My backs killing me, I’m ready to strangle this drunk, and I still can’t smile. Especially here.

I looked to the steps leading upstairs to the medicine cabinet. I was feeling optimistic. But she was just warming up.

“Your writing is terrible, and you don’t know how to treat your own mother. Shame on you, asshole! Shame! On! YOU!”

At this point I’m fed up. There’s no winning against a righteous drunk like her. She’s the type of person who starts shit, then plays victim. I’ve been dealing with this headache since she quit alcoholic anonymous in my teenage years.

Fuck! Nobody can make me wanna kill, murder, destroy like my own mother. Instead of going all OJ Simpson on her ass I took off to the bathroom.

“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?”

“I’m going to the bathroom, mom.”

“The fuck you are! You’re going to raid my medicine cabinet!”

“Mom, fuck off! I gotta shit! Leave me alone!”

She started to stagger her ass towards me slurring, “You fucking cliche! All the failed authors become pill addicts. You’re no better!”

“Fuck this,” I said, as I took off up the stairs.

I’m in her bathroom pissing in the sink, spitting on the floor, raiding her pharmaceuticals for everything she had, and she’s at the bottom of the stairs calling me every malicious name in the book. I ignored her drunken antics with ease. I was busy chewing up perks. I’ll tell you what, the taste isn’t rewarding, but the chemical pleasure is almost instantaneous.

I was looking at the bitter, sickening face of a man chewing up pills in the mirror, when I began to laugh out loud. All the madness downstairs became mute. The chemicals were taking effect. Boredom ceased to be, and with it, the lingering pain in my lower back.

I felt the mental explosion going off in my head. I knew then, everything was going to be okay. I’ve acquired the chemical smile.

I took off down the stairs like an overzealous drugstore cowboy, pushed my way through the Lush known as my mom, and walked out the door.

I’m on the sidewalk when my mother walked, face first, through the screen door. It was knocked out of the frame, laying flat on the porch.

I said to her as I laughed, “Way to go, mom! Lemme guess, you didn’t see the screen door, huh?”

With a tall glass of vodka in her hand she said, “I’m near sighted, you fucking asshole!”

I’m laughing my ass off when I hear a few of her neighbors outside on their porches laughing along with me. What a spectacle. This is the behavior of my mom who’s in her mid fifties. She has a lot of nerve using words like shame.

“You give me back my painkillers, you half ass author! You’re not even good enough to self publish at Amazon! You call yourself a writer? I’m calling you a fucking loser! Give me my pills!”

I reached in my pocket, grabbed a perk to throw in my mouth and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, mom. I’ll call you around Christmas time. Enjoy the vodka.”

Then I took off to more of a serene atmosphere to enjoy my high in.

I chose Marrotti’s coffee shop as my destination. I was all alone but I was happy, enjoying a cappuccino, reading some lousy contemporary poetry, and thinking about how great of a relationship I had with my mother when she was sober. Then I chewed up another perk, and thought to myself how alcohol fractures relationships.

Some cute blonde walked past me after that. We made eye contact and exchanged chemical smiles.


The Persecuted Samaritan


My miserable boss, who wasn’t keen on hygiene, pushed it too far on that Monday night. He was screaming at me over trivial issues, like how to dispose of the garbage correctly.

And here I thought throwing it into the dumpster, closing the lid, and walking away was a job well done. I told that cocksucker to fuck off!

After almost a decade of insufficient fund’s, sixty hour work-weeks, and a demeaning proprietor, who’s eye’s turned greener after each increase of revenue, I was free.

Emancipation is wonderful. At the time I managed to save up a few bucks, so I had a little leeway until a worthwhile financial endeavor manifested. Not that it ever did.

I was driving down Castle Shannon boulevard in my Chevy Cobalt, around midnight, feeling good about my decision. ‘Millions Of Dead Cops’ was playing on the stereo.

So far so good, I thought. No deer’s in sight, which means no five hundred dollar deductible.

My iPhone was ringing. I picked it up to see who was calling. It was my mother, I hit the ignore button.

Next stop: serenity.

I made the right turn onto Mt. Lebanon boulevard, obeying the speed limit as I drove along. Right before I crossed the trolley tracks a black couple with an infant waved me down. I pulled over in the Mr. Magic Carwash, to inquire about their dilemma.

They told me they got off at the wrong trolley stop, after spending the remaining amount of money in their pockets. I asked them how I could be of assistance. They asked for a ride to Dormont. I told them no problem, get in.

I was feeling great, doing the right thing. There was even a car seat in back for the infant since I personally believe in procreation. They offered me whatever money they had lying around their apartment. I politely declined, telling them I’m doing this for the moral incentive.

We were driving up Castle Shannon boulevard, doing the speed limit, when I noticed a Mt. Lebanon cop in my rearview. The black guy brought it to my attention, but I had already beaten him to the punch.

‘Millions Of Dead Cops’ was still playing on the stereo when I noticed the police officer behind us accelerate his vehicle. My hands started to shake as I focused on the road, cop and speedometer.

He had no right to pull us over, I wasn’t breaking the law. Once I made the right turn onto Washington road he chose to flex his power.

Police lights were flickering behind us. I yelled out, “This is bullshit! I didn’t even do anything wrong.”

My passenger’s said in unison, “He pulled you over because we’re black. Sorry, bro.”

The police officer yelled into his loud speaker, “Pull over the fucking car!”

We all looked at each like this was crazy. I’ve been pulled over now for a few minutes. I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking.

The police officer approached my car, inspecting the passenger’s before saying, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” He sounded belligerent.

I grabbed the steering wheel to suppress the instability of my hands as I replied, “I didn’t fucking do anything!” Anger had gotten the best of me.

“Get the fuck out of the car!” screamed the cop.

People driving past were breaking their necks at the spectacle at hand.

I stepped out of my automobile when two Dormont police cars showed up for backup. This is great, I thought. That’s all I need is injustice and police brutality which the Dormont cop’s are notorious for.

They surrounded me at first, then one of them walked over to my car for further inspection. Pessimism had taken over.

The Mt. Lebanon cop asked me what I was doing with those kind of people in my car. I told him the story, and stood my ground. He laughed in my face, which triggered the other cops to laugh along with him.

These bastards actually ridiculed me for being a good Samaritan.

“You have the appearance of a fucking scumbag,” proclaimed the asshole cop of Mt. Lebanon.

“Think what you want,” I told him. “I’m here for the moral incentive.”

This only triggered more laughter. I was fucking exasperated! All I wanted was a fair fight against that pig, motherfucker!

It’s shit like this that makes me rejoice when these bullies become fatalities.

“Tell me the truth, scumbag!” demanded the cop. “What charges do you have on your record.”

This seemed irrelevant to me, but the pig had me right where he wanted, so I mentioned a few speeding tickets, nothing else.

“You stay fucking put!” demanded the pig. “I’m running your name right now. If it comes up clean, you’re free to go.”

“Free to go?” I replied. “I haven’t broken the god damn law!”

The cops surrounded me again with their hands on their Tasers, insisting I calm down, or else. I took a deep breath as the pig went back to his car for scientific research.

It felt like an eternity. By the time he got back to me, I was a nervous wreck, and rightfully so. The other two cop’s had a field day at my expense, cracking jokes about my appearance, then giving me intimidating looks. All this cause I wanted to do the right thing.

The bully cop came back wearing a horrific look on his face as he said, “What are you, a fucking smartass? Did you conveniently forget to acknowledge the fact that you disarmed two police officers?”

All of a sudden the cop’s weren’t smiling anymore. They took a few steps back to avoid being next in line for a felony offense that was diminished through the help of one of the best Jew lawyers in Pittsburgh.

Seriously, he was worth every penny. This was the closest thing to retribution I was going to get against these corrupt cops.

I sarcastically replied, “I’m not one to brag about achievement.”

They all took another step back. I was wondering how much longer this standoff was going to take when the asshole cop said, “Once I hear those special word’s you’ll be free to go.”

Confusion was now added to the multitude of feelings that were building up inside of me. I had no clue of what this cocksucker was referring to, nor did I feel like assuming, so I told him to speak frankly or I’m calling my Jew lawyer.

Single syllable word’s can be formidable when used in the correct context. He screamed out, “I was looking for an apology!”

The nerve of this bastard was appalling, but I had already known the odds of winning were not in my favor. I swallowed my dignity like a Neurontin without water as I put my head down and spoke the words, “I’m sorry.”

They all pointed their fingers at me like middle school students as sincere laughter erupted out of their piggish mouths.

“You’re free to go, scumbag!” said the bully with a badge. “Get the fuck out of here!”

I hopped back into the trusty Cobalt, and drove to the other side of Dormont. Everyone was apologetic, not like it mattered. The damage was done. They did however try to force money on me for the headache that transpired over a good deed gone wrong.

I told them everyone has a price to pay, but this right here is on the house.

Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh using words instead of violence to mitigate the suffering of life in a callous world of redundancy. His primary goal is to help other people. He considers poetry to be a form of philanthropy. When he’s not writing, he’s volunteering at the Light Of Life homeless shelter on a weekly basis. If you appreciate the man’s work, please check out his blog: for his latest poetry and short stories.