Confessions of an Opium-Eater
By Yasmin Hemmat
The sun was burning my eyes as I was walking in a desert. I felt tired and thirsty, and my mind had no idea to where I was heading, when all of a sudden, I saw some footprints on the dust. My expedition toward the footsteps ended with a surprise for I faced someone familiar. Not only was he familiar to me, but he somehow looked like me. However, he ran away from me and I followed him. He was very fast and I was too weary to run after him. When he realized I was not able to catch him, he slowed down. I shouted
“Who are you? What do you want from me?”
But he didn’t respond. After some minutes, I saw a huge grandfather clock, the pendulum of which was like a shovel. It moved very fast and made a deep pit underneath. The man suddenly went down into the pit. I went there to observe the man closely. He was asleep as if he had never been alive.
I remembered she had called me yesterday and broke up with me. By “she” I mean Sarah. She was a popular ballet dancer and everybody loved her. Her call alarmed me, for I knew what was about to happen. Being neither angry nor sad, I simply said “Ok!” and then hung the phone up. She had everything, while I didn’t have anything at all. I lost everything I had, and I was jobless and poor. At the beginning of our relationship, everything was different. I had a job with a good salary. I was a clerk at a company. But I lost my job due to my opium dreams. I couldn’t sleep at nights, and I saw nightmares with open eyes. My insomnia led me to a world in which I couldn’t understand whether I was dead or alive.
Opium was my paramour and muse. It inspired me to write. To write about a dark dank dungeon; about mad people who tortured others; about bloodsuckers who killed women. Gradually my stories became real to me. I could feel them, touch them, see them, and live them. I even tried to read them for Sarah, but she didn’t like them. Sometimes I felt she was scared of me and perhaps that’s why she dubbed me insane. After she left me, I locked myself in my apartment. I could not eat or sleep. I just wanted to write, but one day I realized I couldn’t write anymore. On that day I started to notice the grandfather clock. I had inherited it from my grandfather.
My Grandfather was a thin man with a pale shapeless face. Nobody knew anything about him. But there was one thing they knew about my grandfather, the fact that he had disappeared one day and nobody heard about him ever since! The clock was the only thing that enlivened his memory, and that’s why I hated the clock. There was something about that damned clock. The movement of its pendulum mesmerized me. It stroke three times with a loud noise that gave me the goose bumps. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. Meanwhile, the telephone rang, and as I picked up the phone, I heard a voice which resembled mine.
“Come to the central park right now.” said the voice.
“Who are you?” I muttered.
“You’ll find out soon; Nobody!”
“How do you know my name?”
“You have never had a name.” said the voice and hung it up. It was quite dark, but I decided to go to the park. There was some deem light though. Suddenly, I saw a small ball beside my feet. I looked up and saw a clown in front of me. He had a messy make up and was laughing and playing with some small balls in his hands.
“Come with me.” said the clown.
I didn’t move.
“Don’t be afraid. Just come.”
I went after him. We walked toward a dark room. It was a mirrored room, and I saw the clown in the mirror under the dim light. But, I couldn’t see my reflection in the mirrors. Suddenly, I came to realize that the clown was not there. I was all alone, in the middle of a room full of mirrors, and in some of them I could see the reflection of a clown. But there was no evidence of the source of that reflection. I felt like I was lost in the funhouse. So, I moved and passed the room, and reached a stage. As I got to the spotlight, the audiences started to clap for me. They all looked the same. Each wearing a black suit with a white mask. What show could be so entertaining that kept them all at the salon at this quiet and violent hour? All of a sudden, I found some colorful small balls in my pockets. They were the balls which belonged to the clown. He must have put them in my pockets when I was in the room of mirrors. But there was no clown. Was I the clown? I looked at my hands and my funny clothes. The balls dropped out of my hands and went down the stage. But when I wanted to go down the stage I realized that I was stuck within the spotlight that was like a thick glass. I tried to get rid of that place. And my inability to move spread the shreds of horror to my shivering soul. I tried to scream, and the more I shouted, the more the audiences laughed. In a moment, all of them stood up and took off their masks simultaneously. They all looked like me. Of course not like a clown with a dirty makeup, but like a man I was before: a thin man with a pale shapeless face. Then, they held some big mirrors in which I could see hundreds of my reflection, and they started to move toward me. My reflections were getting larger and larger as they approached. It grew so big that it went out of the mirrors as they came closer. I couldn’t see my reflection in those mirrors anymore. I couldn’t see anything except those features who circled around me. After that, I could see nothing but sheer darkness.
I woke up with a horrible headache at my house. It was early in the morning, and I went toward the phone to call Sarah, but, I remembered she had broken up with me. I sat down to start writing a new story about someone who came out of a grave, and one day he went back to that grave again; and nobody knew him anymore, as if he had never been alive. I lighted a cigarette and felt that I saw the face of Sarah on those white smokes.
“I must forget her,” I told myself. So I went out to walk in order to forget everything. I wandered around the street. I didn’t know where to go or what to do. The day seemed to be very long. Before the sunset, I went to a bar. It was a clean, well-lighted place. The sound of the music was very loud, and everybody was drinking and dancing. I saw a man and a woman at the end of the bar. He was a thin man with a pale shapeless face. But, I couldn’t see the face of the woman. I just could see her back. Her hair was shoulder-length curly blond. My gaze was interrupted when a woman came near me. She was beautiful. Her curly hair was blond and shoulder-length. She reminded me of Sarah.
“Want to dance?” said the woman.
” I can’t dance.”
She started to dance as if she did not hear me. I tried to follow her.
“Do you have to do anything special tonight?” said the woman with a smile.
“Why do you ask?”
“You could join me for dinner. If you have time, of course!”
“Sure,” said I after a pause.
We went to a small apartment. The only eye-catching object in her house was her Gramophone. She put a record on it. It was an old song and I had never heard it. But, in order to charm her, I said the song was one of my favorite ones. She smiled and went to the kitchen to bring some red wine. After drinking, she went back to the kitchen to make dinner. Suddenly, I saw myself in a mirror. I was sitting on a sofa drinking red poison. I saw a snake that was filling my cup with its venom and then I saw worms coming out of my body and I was being disintegrated gradually. The goblet of the wine dropped out of my hand, and I ran away from the house. The only sound had been heard was the sound of the broken record.
I increased the dosage of the opium since I felt I couldn’t write without it. I couldn’t live without it. My story was going to be finished. “Will Sarah come back after I become famous?” But it was not the real question! The real question was: “Would I become famous by publishing my story?” That was my biggest ambition. A nobody who wanted to be somebody. “Would I remain the same person after my fame?” For the first time in my life, I asked myself “who am I?” but I couldn’t find any answer to this question. Maybe it didn’t really matter. The only thing which was of the great importance was my story. I started to write. I wrote about Sarah. How I saw her again, and how I took my revenge.
It was dark outside. I put on my suit, went outside and got in my car. I headed to the theatre. I knew there was a ballet performance on this night. The theatre was very crowded. All the men were sitting silently in their black suits, but I couldn’t see their faces and all the women were in pink and there was something about their hair. Their hair was shoulder-length curly blond. But I could only see the back of their heads. The curtain had fallen and in the spotlight, I saw a ballerina in pink with shoulder-length curly hair. She was as light as a feather, and as beautiful as the moonshine. She was Sarah. After the performance, I went to the backstage to see her for the last time. Other ballerinas smiled at me. They put a dirty make up on their faces as if they were clowns. Finally, I found Sarah. She was smiling too. We didn’t say anything to each other. I just bent toward her face and kissed her. She kissed me back. I brought out a knife from inside my pocket and stabbed her as hard as I could. I put the knife into her heart. Her blood splashed over my face, but when her blood was falling on the ground, it bounced like colorful balls. Those clown-faced ballerinas started to laugh frantically. I looked at Sarah, and saw the growth of worms out of her flesh and she became disintegrated. I ran away in horror while those ballerinas were still laughing and screaming in ecstasy.
I got in my car and I looked at myself in the mirror. There were no blood stains, only some dirty makeup. I looked back to see if anyone came after me, but there was nobody behind the car. Nothing happened as if nothing had happened. Yet, I drove fast. I wanted to go as far as I could, but I was happy and satisfied since I had finally taken my revenge. I brutally killed Sarah. Turning on the radio, I listened to an old terrible song. The music was a bit familiar, I wondered where and when I could have listened to it. At that moment, suddenly I saw a man in front of my car. He was a thin pale man with a shapeless face. I put my foot on the break. But it was too late, and I hit the man. In terror, I stopped the car and got out of it. But it was nobody.
I was walking in a desert. I faced someone who was familiar to me. Not only was he familiar to me, but he somehow looked like me. However, he ran away from me and I followed him. After some minutes, I saw a huge grandfather clock, the pendulum of which was like a shovel. It moved very fast and made a deep pit underneath. The man suddenly went down into the pit. I went there to observe the man closely. He was asleep as if he had never been alive. I went to the pit but all of a sudden, the clock started to move backwards. The Shovel put those dust back into the pit. And the land of the desert became the same as before as if there hadn’t been any pit. The clock stopped working. The sun stopped shining. There was nothing but darkness. And after that…there was nobody.