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Memoir | Adam Fout | Drug Seeking Behavior | First 500 words

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Kansas is a flyover state. Even the dregs of the middle class would rather take a plane over than risk stopping inside.

I’m in a crackhouse, which is to say, somewhere safe.

Somewhere like home.

The apartment’s walls are covered in blood spatters, the carpet a patchwork of black, still-wet stains. A blunt hunting knife has been stabbed into a once-beautiful mahogany table. A tiny cracked mirror with lines of coke is balanced on the table’s edge. Hundreds of cigarette butts, wet and sticky with a purple fluid, spill from table to carpet. Burn marks and holes cover the gray cloth couch.

The resident crackhead, Swimming Team Fred, has a body like a machete, smokes rocks like a bonfire. Fast Jacky is five foot and talks like six, walks like seven. He has two kids in another of those square, flat states, pieces of his heart he’ll never get back.

They are men who live at the edges of cracked needles and cellophane, gravel men who carve allowances for decay and rust in their lives.

Fred dances in the kitchen, his body in constant motion, his pupils massive. Jacky splays across on the couch, hovering near the coke. Fred’s tiny girlfriend Ella curls up on the end of the couch in a fetal position. She will not look at anyone.

I wonder what they used to be like before the American dream came there to die—the flyover states, Fred, Jacky, his kids, his heart, all of it. Places of tall wheat and sunflowers and endless light, of thunderstorms in a sky bigger than God. The land of the Wind People, of the Wichita and Comanche.

Can you count the peaceful millennia before we poured their blood into the earth, forged Walmarts and Olive Gardens from their bones? Lineages strong and infinite of Cheyenne and Arapaho, Apache and Kiowa, Pawnee and Osage and ten thousand others lost to memory and white knives.

What would those forgotten people think of the fat churchmen who roll over those raped plains in shining cars with little girls in their laps, of Fred Phelps’ horrid kids holding signs that say “God Hates Fags” at funerals for nineteen-year-old children sent back from Afghanistan in body bags? What would they say of the OxyContin and Xanax and Ritalin sown into our souls? What would they say of the legions of addicts crawling through the muck above the ruins of their earthlodges, of the buffalo-less burial grounds converted to razed frac sand and meth-bomb fields?

What do they say now?

Fast Jacky claims some portion Native American, like it gives him leave to sucker punch dopefiends when they owe him $50, like the violence in his blood comes from these people he can only ever think of as wild, these people he knows nothing about. Jacky sneers at oxy addicts while X worms holes through his skull.

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@Adam Fout This is powerful and instantly draws you into the darkness that's all around. You have some vivid descriptions and characterizations. I have to preface this to say I don't write memoir.... but I would love to hear/see more of the protagonist's characterization in the opening scene. We see everyone around him/her but we still know nothing about the storyteller.  About 3/4 the way through at "I wonder what they used to be like...." this takes us out of the scene - for three paragraphs the protagonist seems to be preaching  - it's powerful statements and I love them - but maybe move it later in the story once we are settled into the characters and setting more so we have some idea who the protagonist is and what he wants. Great writing! Vivid and powerful


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As Pat said, the scene you draw here is vivid and interesting. I wonder if it wouldn't be more effective to have these characters, Fred and Jacky and Ella, converse in dialogue during the first few paragraphs so as to keep your reader "in the scene". They seem like fascinating characters, and even if some of what they say ended up being incoherent to the reader, it might be more effective at conveying what you want to reader than splitting the scene like this. They could either mention the time before, or say something that invokes the time before. And then after said dialogue, you could talk about what it was like in this place before all of this happened.

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