J Knight (9/25/90-Yesterday / Watertown, N.Y.)
Biography of J Knight
I woke up eight, nine, ten, eleven o’clock in the morning (I can’t remember) on the couch in the deep darkness of the basement, pulled my cell phone out of my left pocket and texted Tallulah (I had been in the habit of going to sleep at six am, and waking up around 8: 30 to text Tallulah when she was at school (cause I wasn’t going at that time; I would have, just to see her, but I had no ride) , then I would go back to sleep until three or four when Josh and Sydney would get up) she didn’t reply. So I sed something like: I love you girl, but I should just give up and stop trying to talk to you because you always just ignore me, even when you tell me to call you, or text you(one time I sed to her: “Maybe I should just give up and stop trying to talk to you.” She looked over at me, her mahogany eyes all lit up magnificently, bright and warm as sun and sed, “No, don’t do that.” So one time I sed to her, “I feel like Charlie Brown.” “Why? ” she asked me. “You know how Lucy always tells Charlie Brown to kick the ball, and she holds the ball for him, and he always runs up to kick it; and she moves the ball and he always falls down? ” “Yeah, I love that part, ” She sed. “That’s what it feels like between me and you.” She didn’t say anything until I changed the subject.) So without a reason to be awake, or a reason to be alive even, I drifted back into sleep, breathing in the darkness and a calm defeat.
I awoke again at seven pm, still in the darkness of the basement; Syd and Josh were gone, their beds empty; off to score more drugs or sell some of Syd’s furniture, or sell some drugs or something, I didn’t care; I just laid in the darkness thinking of the day I had slept away and thinking about Tallulah. I could feel the heavy desperation and sadness all thru me, weighing me down with a heavy tragic sorrow; I wished I was dead because I had nothing to live for; I didn’t have a home, money, or the thing I wanted most out of everything in the world: Tallulah. So of course, I had to try to talk to her; I had too. It was the only thing that could make me feel just a little bit better, the only thing that could make me face the day and give me a reason to be awake, a reason to be alive, just for the little time I would spend talking to her. So I pulled my phone out: she hadn’t texted me. I typed slowly in my sadness and heavy waking hours, saying something like: “I love you so much girl, I just can’t give up, ” and I closed my phone. It began to vibrate in my hand. I opened it up, the screen saying: text message, with the name Tallulah under it. I was really happy she had responded and pushed receive; it sed: “Can I stay with you tonight? ” I frantically texted her back with nervous hands going as quick as I could go: “Yeah. Where are you? ” the phone vibrated in my hand, a call from Tallulah. I answered quickly. “Hello? ” “Hey, ” she sed in her cute little-tiny-voice. “Can you come get me? I ran away from foster care and I’m all alone in the dark woods. I’m scared and it’s cold.” “Uh... yeah, I think I could do that for you. Where are you at? ” “I’m on long; by the Donatos.” It was about ten miles across town in Westerville, the county over. I wasn’t really sure where it was at, but I knew Sydney or Josh would know. “Yeah, I’ll try my hardest to come get you, okay? ” “Yeah, please just hurry, it’s so cold out here.” “Yeah, okay; I’ll call you back.” I hung up the phone and called Josh; when he answered I sed, “Hey, when will you guys be back? ” “We’re on our way back now; ten minutes.” “Okay man, ” I sed and hung up the phone. Within ten minutes, I heard the door from the garage open and Syd came down the stairs. She was wearing her hippie long brown dress and a tight blue t-shirt. Syd is a tall girl with dark hair and her father is of Syrian descent, a girl who is very into acid and the Grateful Dead, with an unlimited amount of drug connections and she seemed to know everyone around town, always knowing people everywhere we went. “Hey Syd, ” I sed looking up to her from the couch, a little nervous energy flowing thru me, hoping she would give me a ride to pick up Tallulah. “If you give me a ride to go pick up Tallulah, you won’t have to owe me that twenty dollars anymore.” (In a later sketch I’ll tell the story) “Okay, ” she sed, “but I have to make dinner. I’m making fried chicken.” I didn’t care about the chicken because I didn’t eat food then. My diet was dope, and when I tried to eat, I would just throw up anyway. “Fuck! ” I thought. “I need to go get her, I need to be with her, ” my thought process continued. “Plus, ” she added, “We would have to take Michael’s truck.” (Michael is Josh’s brother) I went upstairs into the kitchen to see what Josh was doing; he was standing there and as I got up the stairs I sed: “I need to get Tallulah.” Josh is a chubby guy with high red rosy cheekbones, a young boyish face, with straight shaggy dirty greasy blonde hair. “But Syd can’t give me a ride, ” I continued. “Okay, ” he sed. He went on: “Ric has been calling me for a bag, he has his mom’s car; I’ll give you some dope to sell to him, and just tell him it’s yours and you won’t sell it to him unless he gives you a ride. He’ll do it man, he’s fiending.” (I’ve know Josh since I was three and I really love this cat. Here is a good example of him trying to help me out) “yeah thanks a lot man, I’ll call him.” Josh nodded his head and I went quickly down the stairs and dialed Ric’s number; his Pixies ringback played in my ear until he answered. “Hello? ” he sed in his goofy already stoned sounding voice, even though he was sober. “Hey what up man? Josh sed you need something? ” “Yeah, you got it? ” “Yeah man, but here’s the thing: if I sell it to you, ya need to give me a ride to pick up Tallulah.” “Where is she at? ” “On long... by the Donatos.” “Okay, I think I know where that is. We’ll find it.” “Okay man, I’ll be outside when you get here.” I went to hang up but I heard him say, “Hey man, bring a CD with you.” “Yeah, okay... Whatchu wanna hear? ” “Bring ‘Washing Machine, ’ I’ve been wanting to hear it for a little while” (Washing Machine is a Sonic Youth Album... I could go into a few back stories about me and Ric and Sonic Youth, but this isn’t about that) “Yeah... okay, for sure. I’ll be outside.” “Okay man peace.” “Peace, ” I sed and hung up the phone. I then texted Tallulah back: I’m coming to get you. She texted back: okay just please hurry (of course she doesn’t know how to write so they were always simple things with no commas or even a question mark most of the time) . I put my shoes on and grabbed the Sonic Youth album off the shelf that was built into the wall behind the couch, my bed, and then I went up the stairs; Josh and Syd were in the kitchen, getting ready to make the food, josh just helping for something to do cause he didn’t eat food then either, and when he did, he didn’t throw up like I would after doing some dope. “Hey Josh.” He looked over at me. “Ric’s gonna take me to get Tallulah; can I get the stuff? ” He nods his head, “Yeah let me go get it.” We walked down the steps back into the basement and Josh pulled his stash box out from the white Styrofoam like blocks in the ceiling- a perfect place. His box had a big black rock of black tar heroin and a few used syringes. “See man, I knew he would do it, ” he sed, handing me a bag- rather a small black rock, wrapped in saran wrap. “Yeah, thanks a lot; I’ll give you the money when we get back.” “Yeah... just don’t tell Ric it’s not your dope. Tell him I sold it to you last night... I told him I was out.” “Yeah, man... for sure.” I stepped up the stairs, Josh behind me and out into the garage saying “I’ll be back, ” before I shut the door to the garage, and opened the garage door from a button in the wall; I once again pushed the button for it to close and walked out onto the black slanted driveway, the big door closing loudly behind me. I stood out there in the cold deep dirty black winter night a few minutes, seeing my breath light in the air like thin smoke until a nice new black car- Ric’s mom’s car- pulled down Josh’s street up to me (this street is called, and this is no lie, I swear, Tillicum) . I opened the door and got in. Ric is a little guy with red hair and acne all over his face, and he was wearing a black sweater that was a little too nice for him to wear. I handed him the bag and he gave me a twenty dollar bill and sed: “So where is she at? ” “Long she said.” “Yeah... okay.” and we drove off into the night, off to pick up the girl I loved, me off to save her.
On the way, driving thru the darkness, Ric hugging the yellow line of the road, driving slowly with Sonic Youth droning quietly on the stereo, Ric sed: “Man, my arms are all fucked up from last night; I tried to hit myself, but I couldn’t get a vein... I missed a few times and got pissed off... and I almost got one, saw the blood rush into the rig, but I heard someone coming up the stairs so I pulled the rig out of my arm. So I kept trying but I couldn’t get it, and I shot some up into my muscle, and now my arm fucking kills man.” “Yeah... I know how that is. Sydney tried to hit me, but she did it down my arm, instead of on the other side of my elbow... it felt like the rig went thru my vein man. It’s still sore. It’s gonna be sore for you for a few weeks man.” “Yeah, I can’t do anything with it man; feels like I got a dead arm.” It went on like this for a minute and then I was telling him: “Man, one time, I had my rig filled up, waiting to take a hit, and it was on Josh’s table, and see, his mom came down, so Danny threw everything on the table on the floor, real quick like, and she was standing there, and Danny thought she could see the rigs and stuff man, so he stepped on it-“ Ric sez, : ”That sucks.” “And his foot bent my rig man, so the needle was bent, but I told Josh I didn’t care, so hit me with it anyways, or at least try, so he tries, but because the needle is bent, it wasn’t working right, you see, so it would pull the blood in, you could see you hit the vein, but it wouldn’t shoot out, so Josh broke the needle off, cause I wasn’t wasting it, you know, not wasting that... so Josh broke the needle off a says ‘shoot this into your nose. Wait you know what, I’ll do it; lean your head back.’ So he squirts the dope down my nose man... feel that burn in my throat.” “Yeah, ” Ric sez, “I wish I didn’t do it though man; I need to quit. I’m even thinking about going to rehab. I really can’t do anything without it man, and if I don’t have it, I’m always depressed.” “Yeah man, that would be a good thing... I’m glad you wanna get away from it.” (He did in fact go to rehab later on) my phone vibrated in my pocket: Tallulah. “Where are you, ” it sed. I texted back: “on my way. I’ll be there soon.” We got on Long Street, looking for the Donatos; it was just a little up the street so I called Tallulah. “Where are you, I’m pulling up now.” “I’m at the Chinese restaurant.” “Okay, I’ll be outside.” “Hey Ric...” “Yeah? ” “You got a cig? ” “Yeah, but just these Kentucky’s Best.” “Oh man, why you smoking those? ” “That’s all I could afford man.” “Yeah, okay; let me get one.” He hands me one and I light it up; it was terrible. We pull up to the restaurant that’s a part of a strip mall with other restaurants and small stores, and I see Tallulah in the restaurant, wearing her stupid ghetto clothes of big baggy black pants, a black coat, a black baseball cap on. I didn’t care what she wore, I couldn’t care less, I LOVED her, and that’s what mattered, and I didn’t care what my friends sed about her, it didn’t mean a thing to me; she meant more to me than them, and i just didn’t give a fuck. So Ric parked the car, and we stepped out, walking towards the restaurant with the goofy Chinese neons glowing in the window. Tallulah was standing there looking out at me and I put the cigarette out to go in there, plus it was just terrible (I smoke Marlboro reds) and I went to toss it the pavement, discard the damn thing, but Ric sed, “Hey man... don’t do that- don’t waste it man; I’ll take it.” so I hand him the half smoked cig and walked into the restaurant across the white tile floor, smelling the Chinese food, looking at the oriental man behind the counter, over to the side room with all the empty tables, to Tallulah who was standing by a table; there was no one else there but her, and the workers. She has a thin tan face, a playful girlish face, and I had told her she was the most beautiful girl in the world, and at the time, I meant it, with all my heart, but I don’t think she believe me that I really did mean it; I think she thought I just wanted to fuck her and that wasn’t it at all. “Do you have any money? ” she asked me. “I ordered some food, but my foster parents turned off my bank card and I can’t pay for it.” “No, I don’t... Sorry.” If I had had the money, I would’ve given it too her no matter what, and I had nothing at that point, and she knew I would’ve given it to her too. “Do you want my Pepsi? ” she asked, holding out the can to me. “Uh... no thank you; I’m good.” She looked over at Ric who had came in a little after me. “Do you want it? ” she asked, being so cute looking. I was dying for her and at that point, almost literally. I would have died for her to love me for just one day, one hour, one minute, one second, and she didn’t care. Ric nodded his head no, and she discarded it into a black trashcan, and then she walked up to the counter, Ric and I standing by the door, and she’s talking to the Asian man behind the counter, words I didn’t catch, and she walks back with that big cute smile on her face, “He said it’s okay.” So we walk out of the restaurant into the parking lot up to Ric’s mom’s car and we hop in, Tallulah in the back on the passenger’s side behind me, off back into the night, back to Josh’s house with the girl I loved more than anything with me, feeling much much better than I had when I woke up, much better than I had in days, just having her with me, having her close, something radiating off of her tight body and eyes seemed to push away the sadness and grief, but because I still needed her, and couldn’t have her, I was still grieving my lose with dark smiles. On the way back, I just talked to Ric about Sonic Youth and guitars- Ric doesn’t play the guitar himself, but he wished he could play, and he’s interested in it, so I talked about alternate guitar tunings and guitar specs, Tallulah quietly smoking a cigarette in the back seat. “Can you throw this out for me? ” she asked. For some reason, she always wanted me to throw her cigarette butts out for her, for some reason that I don’t know, so I took it from her and tossed it out the open sunroof that Ric had opened because she was smoking in his mom’s car, and I don’t think Ric’s mom smokes, so we had to air it out.
We got back to Josh’s house, the green little ranch house with the porch light shining a bright yellow in the darkness, and Ric parked the car in the street. We got out and I asked Tallulah for a cigarette, she was out; she had smoked her last one in the car on the way. (I wanted to hold her hand) . So we walked up the driveway as Ric called Josh to open the door. The door lifted and we went inside the garage, and down into the basement.
Josh and Syd were still in the kitchen making the food, or eating the food, or something, so it was just Ric, Tallulah and I in the basement; Tallulah took a seat on the floor on the other side off the table in front of the couch, facing me so she could plug her phone in, and this girl is just as much obsessed with her phone as I was with her, so she sat there texting Alicia her girlfriend, and Ric took a seat at the computer with a piece of tin foil shining the bright light from the ceiling, and he proceeded to cut up a piece of dope and stuck it to the foil, and with a short clear plastic tube in his mouth, and the lighter underneath the foil, he began to freebase the dope breathing it deep in his lungs and exhaling the indescribable smell of black tar Mexican junk into the air. He would have just banged it all up, but like he had sed earlier, his arms were all fucked up, so he just smoked it. I didn’t even ask him for a hit; he wouldn’t have shared it; a stingy little motherfucker this Ric cat was; shit, I couldn’t blame him though, it was his money that he spent, so it was now his dope, and unlike me, he was a junky. At that point, I hadn’t even gotten a little habit yet, and when I did get a habit, I only got sick for two days, and when I used again a few days after that, I never got the habit back, never got sick one single day again. so all Ric’s dope went up in smoke, the black residue running in streaks across the foil, so he crumbled it up, tossed it into the trash and sed, “I gotta go. My mom thinks I went to Macdonald’s for a job interview.” I smiled and sed, “Okay man... peace.” “Peace, ” he sed tossing a peace sign in the air with his little right hand, and he lifted the tie dyed blanket that was covering the doorway in the basement (so when someone was coming down the stairs they couldn’t see what was going on- whatever that may be- generally shooting up- though you could easily hear footsteps) and stepped up the stairs out of sight. I’m sitting on the couch, a blanket wrapped around my body, like I always had (people would always come over to buy dope, and I would always just sit there, hiding under the soft blanket) and Tallulah, always on that goddamn phone was sitting there looking at me when she wasn’t texting. I began to look on the table for a guitar pick, not finding one. “What are you looking for? ” she asked. I replied: “A pick.” “You’re not gonna find one.” “There was one the other day over here, ” pointing to a spot on the table- or rather really, it only acted as a table, really it was a red chest. She just smiled at me when I couldn’t find one. I got up and looked on Josh’s dresser, finding one sitting there, and I went to the back room, a laundry room where my suitcases and bags of books were, and my guitar as well, and came out with the acoustic guitar in my hands. I sat back down on the couch strumming softly in some random tuning, playing real quiet like; I wonder if she thought I was trying to impress her. I wasn’t. Josh came down and I set the guitar against the couch where I was, and he took his stash box out from the ceiling, a piece of foil from underneath the drawer to the left of his spot where the lamp was, and sat down. He cut off a piece of the black rock and breathed on the foil- so the dope will stick- put the tube in his mouth and started freebasing. “Can I hit that man? ” I asked. He nodded his head. “Yeah...” (with smoke in his lungs) “Hold on a minute.” “Cool.” I felt a little uncomfortable smoking in front of Tallulah, cause she always wanted me to not do it, and you know what, I really didn’t care; it’s not like she was my girlfriend or ever was gonna be, and if she was, then I would’ve listened to her, but, really, honestly, she was the reason I was doing it, the reason I was so sad. The first time I ever took a shot was right after I found out I didn’t have a chance and I knew for sure (I had asked her if I did, cause see, I was smoking dope, so I was really high, so I told her how I felt and asked if I had a chance; she told me she had a girlfriend- and I knew she wasn’t just saying that- and that she wanted to just be my friend) so I didn’t give a fuck about anything; I didn’t have a home of my own, and I didn’t have her, and I needed her more than a home, more than anything, so I sed fuck it, and took a cool warm, calm hit in my right arm- and I’ll tell you, it’s not as bad as people think. If a needle in your arm hurts then... yeah, you know what I was gonna say. And I’ll tell you this as well, it’s the greatest feeling in the world besides the love I felt, just a notch below that, and dope never made me sad like love did, it never broke me- it was the opposite of that, and for the time it was running thru my veins, nothing could hurt me. So I took a hit off the foil, tasting that totally unique dope taste in my mouth and handed it back to Josh. Josh looked at Tallulah who was still sitting on the floor, and I wished she would come over and sit next to me real close, her body right up against mine and take my hand, hold me, and make me feel better, hold me to heal my broken heart with hers, that’s what I needed, that’s really what I was dying for, and Josh sed to her: “Do you wanna get high.” “No, ” she sed. “I can’t do dope.” Josh nodded his head. “Yeah... that’s a good thing.” he was wearing a short sleeve shirt and started to look at his arms. “See, ” he sed looking at the numerous track marks all over both his left and right arms, “that’s what happens when you do too much dope.” Tallulah just looked at his marks with a cute almost disgusted face. I pulled up the sleeve of my grey cardigan, my old man sweater, to look at my arms. They weren’t as bad as Josh’s, but at that point, they were all bruised up, a dark purple color. She looked at mine with an oooo! look on her face, slightly concerned. (And as all this was happening there in that room, that basement, as I stared at Tallulah, never moving my eyes from her eyes (stuck there in that color) longing for her with mad love from my sad blue eyes, I knew somewhere off in that sad dark American night sky that stretched off into the distance until it hit sun and dyed, faded into daylight, someone was in love, and someone loved that person, and they could feel their love for each other radiating magnificently between them, and they could smile a happy smile, a smile of true love, as I smiled my deep desperate longing smile at Tallulah and I felt my heart break, knowing I couldn’t have her, not then, not ever. Crack! (My heart shattering) and I felt like I would be stuck in the vast eternities of sorrow and grief, forever grieving the loss of something I wouldn’t ever, could never have, until my death that I thought I had to bring on myself, just to escape that living tragic love burning thru me, burning me down to nothing, and maybe somewhere in that ground, I could find peace) so as I stared at Tallulah, dying for her love, and ready to do it too, there was a voice from up the stairs, the scratchy voice of an old nasty, mean old lady, the voice of Josh’s crazy Grandma, calling down from the top of the steps, “Jo-o-sh, ” she sed, dragging his name out with her nagging voice like a rake, slowly dragged across a chalkboard, carried down the steps, thru the tie dyed blanket over the doorway right up to us, “I’m coming down.” “Hold on, ” Josh hollered up, stashing some stuff, Tallulah looking at me, waiting to see what was gonna happen. “Is there something down there I shouldn’t see? ” she asked, still waiting at the top of the stairs. Still stashing stuff in his box and throwing stuff into close convenient spots around him he sed, “Yeah... prob-ab-ly.” Tallulah and I smiled at each other, thinking it was funny, with that cat Josh, which I’m sure he thought it was funny too, that’s why he chose those words, didn’t even smile, just stashing stuff, the black rocks, the foil, saran wrap, a scale that hardly worked; a groove tube for pot... “Okay, ” he sed. She came down the steps, looking at us a moment, then went into the laundry room, throwing clothes in the washing machine without a word, and then she went back up.
Later on, Tallulah asked me, “Joey, can we get high? ” “On what? ” I asked her. She just looked at me, and I knew she just wanted some weed, and I didn’t have any; so instead, she just came and sat next to me and smoked resin, “I’ve been smoking this pipe for weeks, cause I haven’t had any bud, and when I get high on dope, I just chill here smoking this pipe.” “You’ve been smoking that longer than that, ” Josh sed.
We sat down there a while, Tyler and Danny coming over, Syd coming down, us all just talking about nothing really, talking about how the night before we had seen some soft-core porn on TV, the shit that was on every night, and there was a man in a hot tub with two blonde girls, topless, each with breasts too big and fake for my taste, that were rubbing each other and making out, and the man watching this, looked just like a forty year old Tyler with his black beard and bird nose, and that man just watched those women, sitting in the hot-tub rubbing his hands together like an evil genius with a master plan. We really only watched it for a moment, really, and truly, only because we all realized the man looked like Tyler, and then the channel was changed, and we could tell Tyler, and we could report our citing of his older self, disconnected in time, with a few pounds added and long hair worn back in a pony tail. This whole time, Tallulah texted on her phone, sitting close to me wrapped under the blue and green blanket I had slept under every night, or rather, really it was early morning, and mostly, day. At one point Tallulah looked and me and sez, “my foster parents’ sed they’re gonna send me out of state if I don’t come back tonight.” I couldn’t have that; I couldn’t have her away from me as long as I was still in town, as long as I was ‘living’ in Columbus, and at that point, I was talking about leaving constantly, heading out west, out to the desert (“I’m heading out west/ gonna find me the best/ well I played the game but I failed the test/ if I can’t be a lover than I’ll be a pest”) and I did in fact leave... but not out west... not yet. So even tho I wanted her to stay with me, needed her to be there with me, I advised her to go home. “Where should I have them pick me up? ” “I guess, ” I was saying, “at the Macdonald’s over on Worthington Galena.” “Okay.” So she told them where they could pick her up, and off we went, back off into the dark winter crying streets, her right beside me, and me getting sadder every second that came closer to her leaving me, her leaving me alone with the night. On the way, walking thru that deep big black darkness, the void of dark earth night space, feeling that heavy chill of the air, I felt deep nostalgia of days past, feeling that time rush thru me, mingling with the sadness to create a landscape of deep emotional feeling pictures, and I told her how I felt, told her about my nostalgia; she didn’t understand; I could see it on her face, in those eyes. (I wanted to hold her hand so bad) I told her I had to leave, that I felt too bad to stay, that she could come with me- which I knew she never would- and I would’ve died for that, I was dying for that, every picture of that night, every image of her killed me, tore me apart, and I couldn’t take, and I kept telling her I needed to leave, and she would always say, “please stay.” When we got across the street from the Macdonald’s, she told me not to go over there with her, that it wouldn’t be good for her foster parents to see me with her right then. She hugged me and I just wanted her to hold me, to kiss me, to heal me, to love me, but she went off into the night, and I was alone with myself and the darkness, my darkness, and walking along the street with cars zooming past, headlights on lighting the path thru night, I felt like I should really just jump in front of a car, that that would be better than my meager sad existence, and I just walked back with my head down, so sad she had left me, and I wished she could have stayed all night, and not so I could make love to her, just so she would be there with me.
I went back to the basement; no-one was there. I sat there in my sadness for a while and then I texted Tallulah: “I forgot to tell you I love you.”
Later on, I finally got a balloon to myself, but it didn’t help; I needed Tallulah. I just couldn’t get over the fact that she had been with people that had only used her, that didn’t care about her nearly as much as I did, people who only used her for sex, people who didn’t love her like I did, who would never love her like I did, who didn’t care about HER, and I could never have her, ever, even tho she knew how much I loved her, how much I needed her, that she could save me, and I just couldn’t relax... I needed Tallulah.
For days I didn’t sleep, not even heroin could make me forget her, not even for a minute. I was dying. I needed Tallulah.
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