I had Ashlee on the phone, her velvet voice and accent spun me into a bit of a frenzy, I could close my eyes and just imagine her right next to me. Her back pressed against me. It almost made the English cold not so freezing. I kept trying to hold onto the images flashing in my head like 8mm film. That kiss on the beach, just dimming as it flickered and slowly faded. This was surely going to be the same as all the others, as the time passes the Edmond magic just wears off when I am not there to maintain the dizzying effects of the web I weave. Eventually they just start to pull away. All the same, during our call and into the next week with texts the “I love you’s” were plentiful. I did miss her so very much, but somehow that was tinted with this strange melancholy happiness that I find hard to understand. We learned from each other how fucking good it could be when there is a time limit. A lesson I learned once before, but this time it was so much more intense. I knew there was probably pain on the horizon, I assumed she did too, but all the same we were tightly gripping the feelings of “having” someone.
I didn’t run that Thursday, I was blinded and blogging that morning. By the time I looked up at the time it was too late, I hadn’t ran more than a couple days since arriving, and needed to suck it the fuck up. I was back at it the next day harder and faster, trying to protect my chest and taking a plethora of fucking vitamins and probiotics to keep me healthy for my upcoming tattoo appointment.
I was hustling hard at the shop, always concerned that immigration would catch on, especially with my tattoo Instagram having many more followers than before, I was a little concerned about posting with the shop tagged and having someone burst in. I had to make sure, again, that everyone knew the score, and the risk we were all taking. As always no one really understands what’s at stake. The gamble was spread across the board: my passport, monetary fines for both shop and myself and of course the chance for deportation for working illegally. The work I was doing wasn’t my usual quality, I was finding it difficult to adjust. I tacked that up to not being around traditional tattooers, which always makes it so hard to push yourself forward. I never take for granted having artists to inspire me, seated close all day like the last few shops I have been so lucky to work at.
The Doc was on fire in the USA, she was cracking into new shit each day and I was struggling to keep up with her energy. Her energy coupled with mine had done something, it was like a contest now, how far can we take this, how much does it take? She had a dream about being inside the Trojan Horse, which I interpreted as an omen of the two of us about to sack the city and create a new future, one paved with the merciless disregard of whatever it takes to open those fucking gates and allow the Greek army to pour in. I’m very aware that this metaphor is completely unacceptable being that Troy was a patron city of my father, Apollo and I do hope that the way I’m projecting this future into existence doesn’t offend him in anyway.
I was stacking up just enough sterling to get by, just enough to buy dinner each night which was slim, I was eating once a day and it was usually just spinach and chicken or spinach and fish with some olive oil. I was dropping weight pretty quickly and my eyes were bright and focused. With that said, once I would open the dragons keep, I was fearful of what that might bring, as the opioids do a number on my weight and stomach. The immediate change in the chemistry in my brain, the change in character as Edmond becomes the Dragon and their dance was terrifying. I didn’t want to go there but all the same I wanted to go so very fucking badly. Finding someone to trust here with the code to the safe was still on my mind, it was more and more of an issue because everyone in my immediate circle has been or would be victim to the charms of Edmond, with Edmond and the Dragon working together, it would be next to impossible to say no to me if I failed to resist.
I worked on some flash for my down time at the shop, the start of the week was just enough that I was able to put away a couple hundred pounds, just enough to afford my coming tattoo appointment, but if anything went awry I would be fucked and the side hustles needed to start showing fruit. The modeling thing may have been a lost cause already in my mind. As far as my age group I’m very different to anyone they would normally see. I had tattoos and the look of youth on my side, but as with modern talent in the industry, they prefer a very unique look, and that is something I don’t really have. I’m just tall, blue eyed, handsome and tattooed, I have a feeling that isn’t going to be enough. I did wonder if I would have the gall to head into an actual casting to be brutalized, if my ego could take it coupled with the loneliness and cold. As I learned in the last post, if someone tells me I’m pretty often enough I’ll just open my wallet like any other person aspiring to break-in to make a mark, although, in my case it was purely for money and ultimately my cause and nothing else. At the current pace I wouldn’t be able to escape the UK with more than a penny to my name. Almost immediately after writing this I had an email from an agent to arrange a meeting for the following week.
The weekend was so busy I hardly had time to get up from my chair. That business led into a busy start to the week, it was the old hustle all over again and I was stacking sterling, actually seeing a way out at the end if I could maintain the intensity. The Ritalin and Armodfinil was cracking me out of bed each morning and I was crushing each run, then working a full shift then bussing home and almost immediately retreating to the sterility of my room to avoid the viruses floating all around the house and clinging to me from the bus ride home.
Tuesday, we were to be inspected by the Health Authority and I was freaking out. I smashed out two little tattoos in record time just to get the fuck out of the shop and avoid any chance of the UK government snooping around. I hid all my American plugs and evidence I was ever there at all. I had no intention of getting fucking caught working. That evening the Tuesday counter girl was entrusted with the code to the safe and instructed to only open it on my appointment dates. That evening, after the inspector had left, I had in my hand the very thing that could annihilate the system and take over the entire show. I haven’t noted why I was taking such a risk with the drugs and my addiction. Within the first year of being clean, your brain misfires so dramatically that when I would have to lay down to get tattooed, nothing would happen, my body had long shut off from giving me any of the dopamine I would need from being tattooed so heavily imagine that exacerbated by the lack of opioids, I would barely be able to sit for more than a couple hours ultimately making my giant fucking back piece cost far more than it should.
That morning I woke, it had been over a year in the making to arrive at that day and finally start my back. I did yoga, bathed and dressed, I was already aching to do the drugs in my pocket. I packed up the things I needed for my appointment, orange juice, a towel and something to change into once I arrived. I resisted the Dragons tempting calls from my pocket and jumped two busses and a train to get to the shop on the other side of the Thames. It was cold that morning, the sun shone brightly and ice was formed on the puddles in the street. I was nervous about getting tattooed, I had a year to be concerned about how bad it would hurt on my back and buttocks, but I woke that morning with a calm that surprised me. I arrived about an hour early so I snuck into a café and had a few more carbs to make sure I had the calories to handle the pain. I hadn’t had any carbs since the Doc left two weeks before. I drank my orange Juice to keep my blood sugar up. I was anxious about when I would have the opportunity to insufflate the first 30mg of the 45mg I had allotted for the appointment. I would have to do it after the stencil was applied so that It wouldn’t lose the effects mid way through. At least that was the plan. I was immediately aware of how funny and meticulous an addict can get when planning for such things, I cant help but laugh at myself a little at how ridiculous it is but then again I find myself doing similar things when I’m not a junkie too. The Doc says its because I’m OCD, so we can add that to the list of Edmonds ticks too.
After the stencil was applied I dove into the arms of the dragon and immediately was filled with that warm and wonderous sensation as I felt it course into my veins down my fingers and into my legs. It was the very thing that’s always been missing, my shoulders immediately slumped and relaxed from their usual tension. Fuck I was just so happy in that moment. I laid down and as she started tattooing me, it was blissful how easy it was, all my anxiety was for nothing. We powered through the 4 hours of outline, her hand was light and I was in fucking heaven. We caught a quick break a little over half way through and I did the next 15mg. The time off from the dope had made the tolerances I had built up with the research chemicals wane a little. I wasn’t noticeably high (I don’t think), just enough to be relaxed and in my element. I was able to connect pretty easily with my tattooer and those in the shop, it was fun, they were all good people and I got immediate respect for sitting so well during the outline. In the end I put all the money I had saved thus far, £1k into gift certificates so I could stay ahead of my appointments. I planned to smash work the coming two weeks, to save enough to pay cash for the next two appointments in order to stay £1k ahead, hoping to pay for my final 2 appointments with the gift certificates. At the rate things were going, I could potentially be ahead of the curve of two appointments per month by the end of February; if I was disciplined and careful. It was a pretty big gamble to the overall mission, my costs to be tattooed hit around £1000 per month. I would be lucky to leave the UK with anything to my name and it was constantly in my thoughts.
Immediately following getting tattooed I jumped the bus, train then bus back to my place in southwest London. It was a fucking mission during rush hour that evening. I was slumped over with exhaustion by the time I had reached the other side of the Thames. I bathed when I arrived, then ate, drank some wine and crashed out nearly immediately. Thursday, I woke late, I had the day off and after some accomplishments in the morning I just wasted away, watching films and enjoying the idea of letting all the things I should’ve been doing just fall to the side. I was aware that I had an ache inside me to continue taking my pills, to stay up and electric as I was the day before. Eventually after resisting those calls throughout the day I took enough Tylenol PM to knock me out and caught some early rest.
Friday I woke, did yoga and ran, hustled to get to the shop. It was a quiet morning so I attempted to paint a bit. I ruined 4 straight sheets of Arches paper within the first couple lines of the artwork and spent the rest of the day in a bit of a downward spiral of anxiety and frustration. It was a difficult day full of unannointed, new to tattooing customers all wanting little jobs that required a lot of work for not enough money for the headache. I had to remind myself more than once that I’ve got to put up with these people if I want to see this all through.
That afternoon I was hit hard with depression, the Dragon was rearing his true head, driving me down, I remember so clearly why I would retreat back to the drugs, feeling that hollow emptiness return. I was half of myself by afternoon and I just wanted to retreat from everything and give into that darkness. I had no Valium left and was caught without means to fight the suicidal thoughts that haunted me most of the day. I was surprised at the strength of this darkness, I expected something similar but not until I had repeated these steps multiple times.
Saturday I woke with new vigor, telling myself it would be an excellent day aloud right when rose from bed. It was getting harder and harder to wake up in the cold, the color was draining from my wonderful summer in Cape Town. All the same I pushed forward. I ran hard and fast that morning and found my boss outside just as I was going to catch the bus and snatched a ride to work. It was a classic dreary gray rainy day in London and the shop was really slow in the morning so I used the time to make plans for the coming week and write a little. I had no paper left and was frustrated I couldn’t try and paint again and spent a lot of that morning anxious that I wasn’t making any money on a Saturday.
I had a casting appointment looming with an agency coming Thursday. I had to start to think about grooming and outfits for the day of and planning how to get to the opposite side of London by 11am. I’m not sure if I was nervous or if I was just oblivious to the idea of going in to be judged and my photo taken. At this point I had a lack of the Edmond shine that I needed to sell myself. I did have faith that whatever could happen, would happen but it was a dim faith at best. After I invited the Dragon back into my life I felt an immediate disconnect from my Gods and the Universe; a feeling that made my loneliness feel amplified and made me fear rather than embrace my future. I could tell immediately that inside my head there was a battle for my soul and the more drugs I took, the closer I would be to giving the Dragon what it ultimately wanted, to finalize the deal and kill all three of us in a that wonderful fog of numbness and death.
I signed up for the dark-web again, after months staying away and ordered some more speed and some Xanax to help me sleep. The Dragon had done that and I was powerless to stop him, I knew with the portal open I was inviting access to so many substances that would continue to make the slope slippery. I did it anyway, I had this weird feeling that we just wanted to die or prove we could win in the end and wanted to toss the dice on the whole thing and see who would win: Edmond or the Dragon.