In search of a chemical smile

Flash Fiction by Michael Marrotti 💥 Art by Callum Iqbal

imageThe 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.


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 for his latest poetry and short stories.

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