Yesterday was the last day of an amphetamine bender. I slept for like two hours and then took a bunch more. Spent a lot of the day in airports fucking around on Twitter. It became clear early on that this bender had gone on for one day too long as of that day. My chest hurt something awful. It hurt to swallow and I felt dazed. Once my travels were done, I watched six hours of porn in one sitting before passing out. It was great, the porn binge: one of the best I’ve had in some time. That night, I dreamed I was with my big ex from high school. I stabbed her to death and got away with it. Reality is stranger than fiction, but neither hold a candle to the dreams I have.

Today sucked, though. My body ached. I wanted to take more uppers but knew I shouldn’t, and actually managed not to. In a bout of nostalgia, I started watching more porn. It didn’t feel right, though, like I knew it wouldn’t. There was no amphetamine rush to it. The cold calculating commentary was dull and I got bored. I didn’t really know what to do and I realized I just wanted to spend time with you. Porn is great, but it is not a good substitute for the company you seek.

I knew you’d be asleep, so I texted you: “I want to jerk off to you.” This was a stupid lie with no pay off. What I wanted to do was fuck you, and texting you as much would have gotten you just as annoyed as what I did text, so why I wasn’t honest is beyond me. Is it even a lie if there’s no assumed benefit?

Then you called me and were mad. I thought about what you had texted me not so long ago: “Sometimes I think about calling you, but then I don’t know what to say, and then I just get really choked up and conclude it’s probably a bad idea. But I really hope you’re well and feel like you’re on a meaningful path. Thank you for your kindness.” The first thing you said over the phone was that I was an idiot. I didn’t feel like disagreeing, so I asked why the fuck you were awake. You said it was because you had a cold and had slept all day, but you didn’t sound sick at all. It made me think of a few months back when you texted me a bunch of thoughts on Camus and I kept toggling between them and my Tumblr search for ass-to-mouth GIFs.

Somehow, I managed to turn the conversation around. I asked if your boyfriend wants to marry you and you said “yeah.” I asked if you wanted to marry him and you said, “Oh I don’t know, baby,” in a sweet voice that betrayed no signs of sickness. Then you said that was a slip, and that you shouldn’t have said it. I couldn’t figure out why I even asked; I already knew both answers. You were uncomfortable and then I asked if you still wanted to live in New York City and work in fashion forever. You said you didn’t. I asked what you wanted these days and you said to just make art and write and have kids and live a drive away from your parents, but not in the middle of nowhere, so in Tacoma. I was pretty sure of that answer too, but I wanted to make sure. When we broke up, you never wanted to leave where you were or what you were doing. With the change in mind, I knew I could deliver. I may have been a broke loser in NYC, but that wouldn’t be the case in Tacoma. There, I’d be normal. We’d be able to have a middle-class life in that city. The cost of living would be fine and I could just drive trucks or do medical coding or something for the rest of my life. If things didn’t work out between you and this new guy, or if you just felt like giving me another shot, this would be the time.

You could quit your job and your parents could help us get started in the land of Raymond Carver. So many of the problems in our relationship would evaporate: big city rent, cosmopolitan opinion of me, your entanglement with the rat race, our inability to save money for a house, and so on. We could just start again somewhere normal, where people don’t judge you by who you vote for or what you thought of the last September issue. I’d been waiting to ask you these questions to set you up for this proposal. When the time was right, I’d build up this line of inquiry and close with my big proposal: I’ve still got the ring, you know. But I didn’t. I asked all the right questions and didn’t pull the trigger. Instead, I just jerked off to your voice in silence. The pause in speech over the phone wasn’t awkward. It was that comfortable kind of silence that two people can share when they know each other so well. Maybe you were waiting for me to ask you what I’d planned on, but I know that you weren’t. I came into my trashcan while thinking about my standard jerk-off scenario with you where I play with your ass until you cum and then eagerly clean off my fingers. As I finished, you said, “Well, it was good talking to you. I should go to bed.” Maybe you heard me cum, but I know that you didn’t.

I wished you good night and went outside to have a cigarette. Out there on the balcony, I thought it all over and realized that it’s over. I’m not even fighting for you anymore. If this were really a tragic romance destined to be vindicated or dashed, I’d have to pathetically propose scenarios where we get back together. This time, I didn’t. That’s it. The end.


“The End” is an excerpt from Richard Power’s new memoir, Letters from a Heartbroken Pervert. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.