h spice

H SPICE

       As James was walking down the street, he noticed a small sign outside an old house that read: “H Spice”. Hoping it might be some obscure Dune reference, he squinted at it for about 30 seconds before realizing the tint of his sunglasses prevented him seeing the yellow sun graphic between the H and S that stood in for the ‘o’. Hospice.

“Who the fuck uses a sunshine in a hospice care advertisement.” he wondered aloud. After looking around to see if anybody had noticed his outburst (which he felt was done rather covertly, the looking), he started walking again.

James liked his sunglasses. He thought they made him look dispassionate and cool. He still wore them even though they made it harder for him to see clearly. Sometimes James would vaguely wonder if there was some kind of deep life lesson in the ‘glasses trade-off’ that could help him fix other problems in his life. But he could only ever get so far into that thought without losing track or getting bored. He was almost always bored in one way or another.

His phone buzzed, it was a text from Willow: “jamie weve got the cans, where youuuu”. James looked and distractedly scrolled at his phone for a few seconds after he had read the text, unsure of what he was stalling for. He texted back “near timmies, where are you?” and slumped down against the side of the building, feeling suddenly drained. He quickly unzipped his backpack and surveyed the contents: his sketchbook, a collection of sharpies, one macbook, one macbook charger, one bandana, and one old apple. He pulled out the bandana and idly folded and unfolded it until he felt his phone vibrate again. Willow: “pauls place, get hereeeeee”

James zipped up his backpack, slung it over his back, and started walking. Paul’s place wasn’t far away and it was a relatively cool night but he still managed to break out into a sweat by the time he arrived, 20 minutes later. After quickly wiping at the sheen of sweat on his face he pushed his way into the shabby looking apartment.

“Hey! Way to keep us waiting!” yelled Willow from across the room. James just kinda stood there, shrugged and grinned at both Paul, and Willow (who already seemed to be sort of drunk.)

James collapsed onto the couch cradling his bag.  “So you got cans? What colours are we looking at tonight?” asked James, wondering about the plastic home-depot bag filled with spraypaint cans sitting on top of the coffee table. James pulled out his black sketchbook and started to flip through several pages.

“We picked up the essentials, black, white, yellow, blue, red… oh and that weird lime green one you like so much!” relayed Paul. James was looking at a glyph he had sketched. There was a drawn-out silence. “Jamie?”

“Oh, yeah, thanks. Let’s get going yeah?” James, Paul, and Willow each insufflated 20 mg of the ADHD medication Ritalin off of the cover of James’s blackbook. They pack the 6 cans deep in the bottom of James’ backpack. On the way out the door James noticed Willow exhibit the signs of minor alcohol intoxication and gets this weird feeling at the top of his stomach not unlike disappointment (although he doesn’t ever mind being around people who are intoxicated, it kind of makes him feel good to be the least fucked up person in a room, and besides he’s just starting to feel the effects of the intranasal 20mg methylphenidate anyhow.)

As the group is walking at a brisk pace towards a good secluded concrete wall that they’ve planned on visiting prior to this moment James begins to feel a certain limitless feeling and a strong grin spreads across his face. Before long James finds himself in the midst a wall run contest with Paul, seeing who can get so many steps along a slanted piece of concrete on the side of a building. Everybody is feeling excited in a fierce and proud way. Their chosen spot is reached and everybody lies down backs against the cold pavement to catch their breath. Willow nabs James’ bag and fishes for a can. Uncapping the white she starts on one of her regular pieces. James notices that like usual when Willow is painting she has developed a calm sturdiness and pointedness of attention that she can retain no matter how intoxicated she is. James admires this quality, probably no small part due to the fact that Willow was the person that introduced him to painting in the first place.

James grabs his green can, sketchbook, and bandana from his sack and puts on the song “Clear Moon” by Mount Eerie on to stimulate his creativity. He likes to have music on while painting even though he knows it’s a bad idea police-wise. But Paul is there this night, Paul (who doesn’t paint but likes to photograph) keeps a look out for any signs of observers. James wraps the bandana around his face like a bandit. Tonight he is using his green can to paint magical seals of babylonian spirits he copied to his sketchbook from a PDF of ‘Simon’s Necronomicon’. “It’s fake, of course,” he explains to Paul and Willow, “but that doesn’t stop them from looking rad and spooky.” Pointing at his sketchbook: “Look: this one is for ‘Asaru’, he’s supposed to be the spirit of trees and food and stuff.” Paul and Willow, both committed atheists, have a brief giggle at the ridiculousness of it. James’ piece is finished in about 7 minutes, and Willow’s painting takes longer (being way more artful than James’). Together they are an odd pair, Willow’s piece is an intricately painted white owl with glowing yellow eyes which looks preternaturally wise and new beside the dripping green sigils.

Paul has been photographing them working and gets a few creepy-looking shots of James standing in front of his seals, which he’s painted to be dripping with almost-luminescent green and overall look very lovecraftian. Being photographed makes James feel uncomfortable even in everyday situations but Paul assures him he looks very cute. After Paul and James insufflate an additional 15mg methylphenidate each, the whole group stows the cans and begins to walk to an all-night diner not too far from the spot. It has become dark and very cold since they left Paul’s house hours ago. While walking they share a joint and talk about meaningless things, school, music, television. It didn’t seem important to James what they spoke about, it was more the feeling of it all.

James’ mind began to dissociate from his experience- his body still functioned, walked, kept up conversation- but automatically. He was a passive observer from overhead. Perception increasingly had become informed by impressions and ideas, like one slowly-evolving blur. James vaguely notices that Willow was no longer with ‘them’. Peering through what feels like a deep fog James perceives a familiar face grinning beneath a harsh light. James watches his body smile back. Later, he observes the bodily sensation of heat from another body. Seeing pictures. A laptop. Vague impression of food. A pair of sunglasses. Falling back onto a bed. Bits of paper. The night sky. It’s a full moon.

James eventually comes to awareness in his room. He is sitting, cross legged on his cushion, staring at the blank white wall. ‘Eyes locked and shining,’ he thinks slowly.

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