Half-heard, chapter 6

A weekly serial novel.

"Yeah, well, here it is: These people, they all go to so many support groups, AA, NA, CA-type meetings. Because they can be real reality checks, you know. And create such a strong sense of awareness for others around you. You can recognize yourself in others, themselves in you, ex-etera (sic), and they go for the community that sprouts from all this capital-S sharing, yadda, yadda. So, the numbers of these extremely needy folk is ever-growing, so much so that the church basements and community halls are running out of chair-space for those really in need of the support, you know, like the real addicts. So the case workers, the sponsors, the counsellors, the Al care staffers and social workers threw their arms up in the air and said they couldn't take all the regressing of their most in-need clients and patients who couldn't even elbow their way into these rec centres for their Monday New Beginnings or Thursday Fresh Starts. So they devised this weekly catch-all session for the Anonaholics—that's what they started to call them—in hopes that it'll lure out as many as they can so things can go back to normal and the regulars can get to their meetings if they need to. Now at these meetings, the Anonaholics, totally out in the open now and not having to hide behind any sort of cliche drug-brimming story, free to say anything at all, they just sit or stand around and don't even have to speak in vague terms about their concocted addictions. They don't have to pretend anymore. They just share with each other openly. Sometimes they just sit and tell stories. They talk about their past boyfriends and girlfriends, their dead parents, the people they hated in high school, current events, the weather, the amateur porn actor campaigning for MP, whatever. It's like a weekly mixer... Yeah, below that new vegan place, No Bones About It, on Agricola, yeah. Apparently the owner is this Shambhallic trust-falling talking-stick type and really endorses the whole idea, like, this support group for people with no real distinguishing problems other than coping with, uh, what did they call it? The, uhhh, 'fragility of the human condition'..."

"Hey, it's Sarah... Yeah, I know... This place has turned into a trench. Welnot's caution-taped both bathrooms, screaming 'none shall pass,' hugging his racket and this mason jar, blaring 'Flight of the Valkyries' over and over in the hallway. It's only been since morning now but it looks like he's been there for weeks. I think I heard him unzipping earlier, I don't know where he's using the... Yeah, I have to run over to friends' houses to use the bathroom since he won't let anyone... Yeah, he's convinced it's Alex. I really have to have a firm talk with him soon. He's further and further from all of us every day now. I haven't known him long, I know. He just seems so inflated, detached and floating high above now with this sense of moral, ethical-and-whatever superiority. And he thinks Alex is bad..."

"... The thing is, I'm not even one of those closeted in-need-of-attention-and-support types. I got tipped off on the meetings by Humphrey and I sought to check it out since I got this real huge bundle of Noon O'Clock Shadow from interior B that should disappear pronto. See, because how I think it's working is like this, man: They so desperately want to be held like those diseased with addiction are held at these meetings. And they get that there, or some approximation. The uniqueness of their problems blends in with everyone else's through this swapping of solipsistic woe-is-me moping for sharing and caring, and they are 'one with each other' and feel safe. But what I figure is there are those few that want back in the self-centredness of (relatively drug-free) wallowing again, at least between mixers, and I am able to give them a little peek into dependency through some pretty tame drug use. They can feel the romance of being a sky-high sleaze if they really want, and have another small hole to dramatically crawl out of. The thing they were trying to mimic, right? What do you think?... Ah, well... Also I'm trying to get a weekly gig DJing the closing reception party there too."

"He hasn't come home, but when he does, he'll see me here. That's right, hooo buddy, I'm not goin' anywhere. I got enough frozen favourites thawing under this blanket that'll last me a week... That guy, with his bullshit... This toque? Oh, yeah, it's just to keep me warm. It gets really cool down here at night. I mean, it will. I could be here for awhile. I got lots of eps of Friends on my doodad here to keep me company though.... Well, go piss somewhere else then, come on. That's such a Ross thing to say."

The new chapter of Half-heard is published in The Coast—newspaper version—every Thursday. One week later it is published here online. So it's easy to catch up online, but best to stay ahead in print.

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