Life Is Just Like a Drain (or Swirls)
by Cameron Barrett

Tonight I cannot sleep. It is cold outside, even for September, the wind howling past my windows making noises that sound like wolves. I am thinking of the things I can do instead of sleeping and am having trouble thinking. It feels like I have drunk too much coffee. My mind is cloudy and my walk unsteady. I have gotten out of bed and am now watching the colors swirl by. Reds, blues, and yellows all swish by in a myriad of colors. This brings back a memory from childhood. Sweaty palms, the meaty part of the palm, pressed tightly against your eyes, blood rushing through your body in a hurry to get nowhere, colors swirling in the darkness, all is good.

I imagine that this is what drugs are like, all swirly and cloudy, stripping away the inhibitions and plunging into the mind, not sure what comes next. Sweet as candy, my mind eats it up, gobbling what was left of the bonds holding me back. With the world swaying and speeding by, my body leaves the ground. Up above my bed I float, enjoying the ceiling and its wide open spaces. It is pleasant up here and I start spinning my body in circles. The room turns into a swirling mass and the colors fly by, all pretty and perfect. I take my palms away from my eyes and I get an instant headache. Things are all blurry.

As a child in Blackpool, the choices are many. Rows and rows of swirled rock candy taunt me with their bright colors. I can only choose one and my father is in a hurry. I want them all. Standing at the breakwall, the ocean rolls itself to my feet, I clutch a sticky bar of candy, looking out across the water. Cloudy skies reach down from heaven and my coat flaps in the wind. I hear my father calling but all I can do is stare at the restless ocean and eat my bar of multicolored sugar. I close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the ocean. The crackle and crash of breaking waves lulls me into a hypnotic trance, and I stand there with my eyes glazed over and mouth full of sweetness.

Every morning the big yellow bus comes to take me away. The roar of the engine is drowned by the screaming of the children. I pay no attention and stare out the window, my breath steaming up the glass. Cars and trucks whiz by and the scenery never stops, streaks of color and and whites and grays all blurring by, always in a hurry. I discover that if I move my eyes in the same direction as the cars as they go by I can catch glimpses of whoever is inside. A man in a brown suit with big collars. A woman in a red housecoat and two dogs, one of which has its nose stuffed into the cracked window. A very fat man with a yellow shirt. I wondered how he got into his car. I once saw a man who looked very mad. He had a dark scowl and I was sure he was on his way to kill someone. It scared me and I stopped looking at the people who went by my window in such a hurry. I watch the telephone poles now, the rhythmic lines that go up and down, trancing me into a state of meditation. At night, I watch the moon race us in my father's car along the countryside, dipping and dodging behind trees and houses. I wish my father would go faster, to beat the moon in its race, but no matter how fast my father drives, the moon always seems to follow.

It is very early in the morning and I have woken to the hiss of the television, the white and black pixels illuminating my shabby apartment. For several minutes I stare into the television and try to see the swirls of color I long for so often. In the afterglow of the television, I stumble to bed, slamming my leg into the granite-topped coffee table and for an instant I see the swirling colors in my head, and I am happy. In frantic desperation and need I start to slam my legs and knees into the table, experiencing both the wonderful patterns of color and the blissful feeling of pain. I can take it no longer and fall to the floor crying, happy that I have once again found my swirls.

My roommate moves out because he thinks I am on drugs and cannot understand why I mutilate my body for pleasure. He complains about the blood in the sink and wants me go see a head doctor. The only thing she does is makes me sit on this clammy leather couch and tell her about my childhood. She is fascinated by all of my lies and eventually we make mad passionate love on her couch, only this time her sweat makes it slippery. I close my eyes and watch the swirls as we come together and afterwards while she is putting her clothes back on we talk about why it is I can never love a woman.

There is this one washing machine where I wash my clothes at that is broken. When you open the lid, the jig-jig keeps on going, sloshing suds and clothes around instead of stopping. I always try to use this washer because I like to see my clothes getting washed all pretty and nice so I can wear them next week and look civilized. I only go to this laundromat because it is open 24 hours and it has Mortal Kombat III. The only thing I hate is that everyone smokes there, so my clothes always smell like an ashtray, even after they get washed. If it weren't for that one washer and its eternal swirling slish-sloshing going back and forth, back and forth, I would never go there at all. Sometimes, it makes me very agitated.

The book of op art sits on a small table in the bathroom, its cover a series of black and white lines morphing into malleable shapes constantly moving. Two dimensions turn into three and I lose my mind in the moving pages. Lines and systematic squares transform into yellowy circles and shapely blobs of color, teasing my eyes until they hurt. I flip the pages and drop shit bricks as the book becomes alive in my hands. My eyes strain to find some assemblance in these pages but the ordered illusions taunt me and I can shit no more. The only thing left to do is flush my life down the toilet and watch the colors swirl down the drain.

There is a thumping in my head for which I cannot find a source. It seems to have always been there pounding and pumping the pain centers of my brain. Vibrant colors rotate in accompanied with the thumping and a lot of times I lie in bed because there is nothing else I can do. Paralyzed, I close my eyes and sleep, dreaming of a world where everything is made up of swirly colors and the animals all resemble zebras. In this world I can forget about all of my problems and ride the psychedelic waves of pleasure, laughing and singing as the colors zoom by. I am a stain of white among the colors, yet I do not realize that this is not a place for me. I am the albino of this world, a freak. I am awake, sweating, my covers wrapped around my legs, the September winds blowing outside my house making a sound like wolves.