(A/N): It's been a while, but back to the writing board! heh. Thank you to everyone who has stayed with me, Finally got a computer so expect more updates regularly. Writer's block has been annihilated. My spell check isn't showing anything. Any mistakes will be corrected promptly. Thanks guys, lovelovelove.
"Hyde! Wanna walk home with us today?"
Hyde slung his book bag over his shoulder and scanned the parking lot. Eric waved him over. Donna stood beside him giving Kelso some incredulous look. The middle of the school year had crept up, and the chill of winter was setting in too quickly. His walk home would be unpleasant to say the least. Lately, Eric had been inviting him over for dinner after their walks home. His mom, Mrs. Forman, always made delicious, warm meals he could never say 'no' to. In his head he weighed out taking a freezing walk home to unfinished cans of beer and half smoked cigarettes, and eating warm food with the Forman's.
His mind was already set.
"Yeah, man." Hyde caught up with the trio as they started their trek through the light snow.
"So, how's it going Hyde? Did you do well on the English test?" Donna questioned, still smiling.
Hyde shrugged, "I guess."
"Man, I think Mrs. Wilson hates me!"
"Why?" Hyde asked Kelso with a sneer.
"Because, she failed me! I did what she asked! I wrote the story and everything. It was like, five paragraphs!"
"Kelso, I don't think writing about space boobs and volcanoes qualifies as school appropriate material."
"Space boobs?" Donna questioned with a smirk.
"Right on, Kelso. Creative writing." Hyde nodded as he pulled a cigarette out of his pocket.
"That's what I said," Kelso replied, exasperated, "She asked for freakin' creative writing. I thought it was pretty freakin' creative!"
Ignoring Kelso, Eric caught a whiff of something foul in the air, "Hyde, What is that?"
Hyde stopped and looked at Eric. "It's a cigarette, man."
"Well, I know that. Why are you smoking it? That stuff will kill you!"
"Stop being a baby, Forman." Hyde took a drag and noticed his friends gaping out of the corner of his eye.
"Hyde…" Donna began. "What's up with you lately? You've really been worrying us."
"Donna, not right now."
"No, Eric. He's our friend and we need to talk to him about it."
"Hello. I'm right here." Hyde interjected hitting his cigarette again.
"Look, man. You've been weirding us out lately. One, You always smell like… my mom after she gets off of work. And you've missed school. And you've just been looking like crap."
"Thanks, Forman." Hyde said sarcastically placing his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
"Come on. He's right, Hyde." Donna placed a hand on his shoulder, "We're worried about you. You're our friend."
Hyde just smiled at her, "Well, thanks for the concern, guys. But I'm fine. Everything's cool, man. Just relax."
"You promise?" Donna spoke softly.
"Yeah, kid. I'm good."
"Excuse me, Steven?"
Hyde rolled over and squinted as the morning light connected with his bloodshot eyes. Dull pain throbbed near the front of his skull. The form of a cute girl with warm honey skin appeared in the door way.
"Steven. I've got your meds for you. You should be feeling a bit more awake today. You're through detox watch, the morning you'll be joining the rest of the patients. So, gather your things and I'll be waiting for you in the hall when you're ready."
Hyde nodded as she left the room. He tried to remember how long it had been. Maybe three days? Three days of laying in bed and sleeping with the occasional few bites of food the nurses brought him. He was beginning to feel the effects of his lifestyle the longer he was here. His body felt perpetually useless; his legs like jelly, and his mind just as exhausted as the rest of him. Being shut in the detox room and left to sleep for three days was just the vacation he needed. A part of him just wanted the relief of not being able to find drugs or liquor. When all you can think about is the next fix, all else comes last. Including bodily functions and basic means for living. Now that his appetite was sated and he had adequate rest the treatment thing was beginning to sound like a joke that exit door around the corner was looking pretty sweet.
Hyde crept out of the room peering down the hall to check for his nurse. To his left was the dead-end of the hall with a gray door. Above the door was the most beautiful word he had ever seen in his life, 'EXIT'.
"Steven! I wouldn't do that if I were you. It's against medical advice and the second you walk through that door you can kiss your insurance payments good-bye."
Fuck, he thought she had left already.
Hyde paused, "I was just trying to smoke a cigarette."
"Uh huh," The nurse scoffed, "Okay."
"If you wanna smoke, smoking area is outside, and through the meeting room. Men and women are separated. We find that two addicts hooking up in rehab when their at their most venerable doesn't do too much for the recovery process. Follow me, I'll take you down there right now." She motioned for him to follow her.
On one hand he could just leave. It's not like they could make him stay. On the other hand, that gorgeous nurse was right. Hyde would owe the government lots of money, considering the insurance was through them. And that's just a whole 'nother bunch of government issues he could do with out. Plus if he walked behind her he got to watch her hips swing from side to side.
Oh, what the hell…
"And what is this recovery process I keep hearing about? Are you talking about the drugs you replace street drugs with? Or the crack pot other addicts that talk to us? Or the congregation of a bunch of drug users and dealers in one area, conveniently able to talk to each other and make new 'friends'?"
The nurse cocked an elegant eyebrow and smirked, "Oh baby, you got a lot to learn. It's okay though. You'll get it. Men's area is this way. Cafeteria's to your left. You'll eat three times a day, once in the morning at 8, then again at 12 and again at 7. You get you're meds at 5, 11, 6, and 9. Don't miss those, baby, cause that's all you get."
Hyde gave her and incredulous stare, "So more drugs?"
"That's right. More drugs. More drugs cause when we put a bunch of chemicals in our body, it changes the way our brains work. We begin to feel depressed, hopeless, angry… which leads to more using, and then it just cycles all over again. We give you drugs to get through your detox without dying, and psychiatric medication to fix those mental issue our drug histories have caused."
Hyde shrugged, "Makes sense I guess." Unless they're just giving us more drugs to be chemically dependent on so they can get insurance money. Those are the real fuckin' criminals.
"Here's the men's area. They're in group right now, so don't worry about introductions, you'll just step right in and have a seat."
The space was large, down a hallway to the left was five doors on each side, three pay phones, and an exit door. In front of him was a large white room with tile floors. To the front there was a man with no arm sitting and speaking in front of a chalk board to a room full of some younger and some older men. There was an open chair next to some kid that looked to be in his mid twenties. His blue hair was shaved off on the sides, looked like some gutter punk. That'll do, pig. That'll do.
What the hell, I'm starting to sound crazy. I need a fucking drink.
But there were no drinks. No pills (besides the kind he didn't want), no weed, no coke, no fuckin nothin'. Except for a bunch of fucks in a white room, and some guy without an arm.
As he stepped into the room, no one even looked in his direction, they all seemed thoroughly fixated on whatever the man was saying. Hyde took his seat beside the kid with blue hair and tried to settle in. He shoved his hand in his coat pocket, feeling nothing. Nothing but cloth, and he cursed the movement in his head. The worst part about all this shit, was that he was stuck now. And he put himself here. He put himself here.
The image of his friends washed through his memory like watercolor. It was easy to slip into memories in the white of the room around him, with the monotone voice the man with one arm spoke with. It was mostly splotches of Jackie. Her smile, so bight. Dark hair around darker eyes. She was the beginning of all this.
He shifted in his seat. That was it. If he had to be here, she was the reason. He knew the reality of getting her back was hopeless. He fucked her over and took down the rest of his friends with them. One by one, they all found out what he did to her. And drugs are no excuse. Not to someone who can never understand.
Even Donna. She tried, tried to lie for him, tried to fix him, tried to put him up, tried to understand. That was the part that killed him. The last one to really try to give a shit. Done and done, and he knew what he was doing. Thinking about it made him feel cold. The look on her face was something he would never forget, "You told me Hyde!" He remembered bitterly, "You told me it would never happen again!"
He couldn't describe it, damned if he did and damned if he didn't. Ever since he was a kid he lived in chaos, thrived in chaos, it was only natural that he would carry it with him, share it with everyone; the people he loved the most.
"But the program worked for me. It took a lot of relapsing. A lot of hark work, a lot of step work, and I'm not saying when you guys get out of here you're going to be cured. It doesn't work like that. This a disease, just like diabetes or AIDS. We're going to have it for the rest of our lives. While you're in here, your addiction is out there doing push up's in the parking lot, so always watch you're back and don't pick up that first drug."
Hyde slowly tuned in to what the man was saying and caught his reflection in the window. No way was this guy saying anything that had to do with him. Fuck yeah he was going to pick up when he got out. These people were the crazy ones. He just needed a break so he could get it under control. Just enough so he could gain his friends trust back. That's all that mattered.
"Alright, anyone got anything to add to that?" The man with one arm stood up and stretched as if he sat there forever.
Hyde raised his arm, "When can we smoke?"
The man smirked, "You must be new, huh? Yeah, looks like it's close to that time. I kinda need one too. Let's go."
The kid with the blue hair spoke up next to him as everyone started to make towards the door, "Yo man, Evan." He said holding out his hand.
"Hyde." He shook his hand and the kid asked him for a cigarette. "I don't have any, man. Came here with nothing."
Evan gave a weird sideways grin. He was missing a tooth and had a gnarly scar running from his chin to his temple. The rest of his teeth were crooked, and his eyes were the same electric blue as his hair. His accent was pretty thick. New York, Hyde figured, a lot different from all the down home southern nurses. "Me too. Alotta cats here came with nothin' but a black eye and the clothes on their back. It's not so bad as some other places though. The crowds alright right now." As they reached the smoking porch, Evan tapped on an older man's shoulder, "Rocko, got a smoke for me and the new kid?"
Rocko looked Evan up and down, "You ever gonna get your own smokes, kid?" His gaze switched over to Hyde, "Watch out around this one, he's got some sticky fingers and deep pockets."
Evan laughed and punched him on the arm, "Man, don't tell him that."
Rocko laughed, a thick smokey laugh. He kind of reminded Hyde of an old gray Johnny Cash with long hair, "I'm just messin' with ya. This ones alright." He tossed a cigarette to both of them, "You got me on phone time, I reckon?"
Evan nodded, "Yeah, yeah. No problem. Thanks for the smoke."
"Yeah, thanks." Hyde nodded, running a hand through his severely matted hair.
"You been out for a while, huh? Got some wild hair, man. Them are some real dreads." Evan laughed hard. It was odd for Hyde to take in so much at once, the other men around them were all laughing loudly, really it was more like barking. The atmosphere was painfully different from his spot on 16th street; all cold and wet and quiet euphoria.
"Where ya from?" Evan pulled him out of his thoughts.
"The sewers, the gatherings, the dumpsters."
"New York?" Hyde dead panned.
"Yo, how'd you know?"
Hyde might had laughed if he had the energy, "Man, have you heard yourself?"
Evan nodded, took another drag, and laughed listlessly, "We're addicts, brother. We don't listen to any damn body. What makes you think we're gonna listen to ourselves?"
Hyde didn't respond and his thoughts went to Jackie again. She had been relentlessly forming from the recesses of his mind since he woke up this morning, and it was driving him bat shit crazy. Evan noticed the look in his eye and spoke up again. He didn't seem like the type to really give two fucks whether or not anyone wanted to hear it.
"What are you comin' off of?"
"Hmmn." Evan nodded and took one last thick drag off of his cigarette, "Ain't that the truth, man? Most truth I heard all day. Take it easy, I'm gonna go back to bed. You should too. They'll run you ragged here, sleep while you can."
Hyde nodded and continued to stare out into the depth of trees beyond the porch. Even as the clamor of voices around him died, he never thought to go inside, didn't even want to.
All he could feel was this heavy rock on his gut, some oppressive force; guilt.
Dark hair around darker eyes, shrouded in regret and it was the most pain he had felt since he left Wisconsin.