Knight In Shining Mustache

By: Ophelia Pain

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 26th Jan 2022

I wanted to scream…the pain was so intense that I just knew I was going puke soon. I rolled over onto my side so that if I did, I wouldn’t get it all over the sterile bedsheet. I couldn’t stop shivering, my heart was racing, and my face was pouring with sweat. I wasn’t sure if the beads pouring down my face was sweat or tears. My chest felt tight and every breath I took was knives in my throat. I sat up onto the side of the bed as the dry heaves began.

Still think this is a good idea?

Shut up, Murder…

I pulled the scratchy green hospital blanket up over my shoulders and tried to take a deep breath. I couldn’t stop dry heaving. I stretched my neck and pushed it to the side, trying in vain to crack it. My head throbbed and my veins felt like they were on fire. I knew if I just got a taste, I would feel so much better…

You probably wouldn’t hurt as bad either…

The completely defeats the purpose of why we’re here…

My teeth clattered together as I drew my legs up to my chest…I pushed the heels of my palms into my eyes until little red dots speckled my vision. I fell sideways on the crinkly hospital bed, the shivering was making my muscles tired. I just wanted to sleep…if I can’t actually use anymore, I can at least dream about it…

I rolled over towards the window, trying in vain to allow sleep to overtake me…I heard the door unlock and open. I turned toward the door and saw the smiling nurse coming in to check on me.

She was my favorite since I checked in to this facility, my 4th attempt at getting clean. Her name was Sharita, but the other junkies that were further along in treatment called her Shee. She was a beautiful, voluptuous black woman that always wore her own scrubs to work instead of the dingy green scrubs provided by the facility. I sat up and turned around on my bed and did my best to smile through my chattering teeth…

Mornin, funshine! You look like shit…

Thanks…I feel like it too, if you can believe it.

She laughed and pulled the vitals cart into my room and started unraveling cords. I raised a shaking arm up to her and she wrapped the blood pressure cuff around my upper arm and stuck the thermometer under my tongue…

You ain’t shakin like you were yesterday. You’re almost through it, cupcake…BP is a little high…your temp is comin down. You want some Tylenol?

Tylenol? Isn’t this bitch a nurse? Quit holdin out and give us the good shit!!!

At least she’s trying to help…

Shee turned around from the vitals cart and sighed at me, her right hand resting on the side of the cart. I looked up at her, almost shamefully, and gave her a small reassuring smile. Shee saw right through it…

Baby…you know this ain’t gonna work if you don’t work through the shit that brought her up in the first place…

Oh she’s a fuckin psychiatrist now? Where’d she go to school to get all these degrees? University of Pheonix?

Yes…lets you and I, as a junkie in detox, look down on the medical professional thats trying to help us…

I know it’s hard to look ya past in the face, but I’ve seen thousands of people come through this place and not a one of them has as bright a future as you do…

I looked at her, my sweat soaked brow furrowed. Shee sat down on my bed next to me and put her hand on my vibrating knee…

Is she comin on to us?

I took a deep breath and sighed shakily…

Look…you are a beautiful soul with nothin but good things waiting for you. All you gotta do is just make it through this…sometimes the only wait out the fire is through…

She brushed my hair behind my ear and patted my knee again. She coiled up her cords and headed towards the door…

Hey, Shee?

She stopped just short of the hallway and turned around to give me a soft smile…

Yes, baby?

C-can I have some Tylenol?

Sure, baby…I’ll be right back.

She winked at me and closed my door behind her.

I started awake cuddled up between LC and Bho. It suddenly made sense why I was so sweaty. I love both of them, but holy fucking shit they both run hot enough to qualify our house for an HVAC discount. I tried to sit up carefully as to not wake them, but since I’m about as graceful as a bull in a China shop, you can imagine how well that goes…

Bho turned over and looked at me. I kissed her shoulder and told her to go back to sleep. In the process of crawling over Lewis, I happened to roll him over and found myself sitting on his lap…

Sexy dream?

Yeah…Wilford Brimley was feeding me Oreos in a hot tub…

Whatever gets your motor running, babe…

I chuckled and kissed his sleepy face. I coaxed him back to sleep, promising details of my diabetus sexcapades later…for now, I just needed to be alone.

I debated going for a late night walk, but when I checked the weather and saw single digits, I decided a late night cup of coffee would suffice. I popped a cup in the coffee maker and pushed a few buttons, closing my eyes and allowing the scent of coffee beans and blueberries flood my senses…

Cup for two?

Walter wandered into the kitchen, bare chested and wearing a pair of flannel pajama pants that I got him for Christmas. He sat down at the island in the kitchen as I pulled another mug out of the cabinet, repeating the process of making him a cup of coffee as well. I set the steaming mug in front of him and turned around to dress my coffee the way I liked it…with artificial sweetener and flavored creamer.

I don’t know how you drink that with all that sweet shit in it…you drink coffee because you enjoy the flavor of coffee…not cuz you like all the crap you pour into it.

You drink your hot bean juice how you like it and leave me and my French vanilla deliciousness alone…

He lifted his cup up and winked at me, clicking his tongue in the process. I grinned and popped open the cabinet to grab a pack of Sausalitos out of it. I turned around and joined Walter at the kitchen island. I hopped up onto one of the stools, ungracefully tore open the bag, and pushed it across the granite to him. He took one of them and took a bite…

Ya know…if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t know anything about this fancy shit…

Oh trust me…when I first moved in to that little 3 bedroom ranch in Utah, all you kept were those Dollar Tree oatmeal raisin bullshits and Folgers. What would you ever do without me?

Probably still be drinkin black coffee and eatin those Dollar Tree oatmeal raisin bullshits…

We chuckled together and clinked our mugs…he must have felt a change in the force because he placed his hand on mine…

Hey…you’re awful quiet…

I had a weird dream…about the rehab center…remember Shee?

Yeah I remember her…always comin in my room, tellin me it was gonna be a beautiful sober kind of day…I always wanted to throw somethin at her, but her smile was too pretty to knock down her throat…

I know…she would always tell me I was destined for greater things…I just had to get the junk outta my system first…

The only way out of the fire is through…

I nodded and half smiled at him, thinking back on my first meeting with Walter…

We were sat in a circle…I don’t know why they always do this…put the addicts in a circle…that’ll help them sober up happily…

Be a lot happier if you could have brought the fuckin blanket…

I shook my head…to my left sat a blond, weighed probably 65 lbs soaking wet, her name tag stating ‘Romona’…to my left, a very leathery, but handsome mustachioed man with gray hair to match his ‘stash, his nametag reading ‘Walter’…

I sighed…the blond turned to look at me sharply…she reminded me of a cat. Any sudden movements and she jumped a foot into the air. Her beady eyes bugging out of her skull like they were being sucked out…I slapped my nametag on simply writing ‘No’…pulled the hood of my plain gray zip up hoodie over my head, buried my hands in the pockets, drew my feet up cross legged under me, and sat back in my chair…

Ophelia, why do you have to make things difficult?

You already know my name so why do I have to write it on a sticker before every group?

Because, if you would notice, we have some new members with us today on the journey to clean, sober, and happy living…and we want to welcome them…not make them uncomfortable…

Sobriety is uncomfortable…where better to practice being uncomfortable than in the safety of a sober living facility?

Greg, the group leader, pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose and huffed at me. Of course I didn’t want to make anyone else’s journey to sobriety difficult, but I’m not responsible for anyone else’s comfort…especially when it comes to something simple like my name…it carried with it poison and, literally and figuratively, pain. I didn’t need people pestering me in here for autographs or taking up my phone time with ‘hey! talk to my kid sister! She loved you!’…

Thinking awful high and mighty of yourself today…

I stretched my head to the side, hoping to pop the throbbing headache out of my neck, but to no avail…Greg picked up the yellow legal pad from the floor and leaned back in his chair…

Well I think we should probably get started…as I said we have a few new faces. I want to welcome you to New Horizons and I hope you find what you need or sobriety here…lets go around the circle and introduce ourselves so that we can know each other a little better…I’ll go first…my name is Greg and I’m an alcoholic…I’ve been sober for 16 years. Lets go counter clockwise…mix it up…

A shifty looking guy sat up straight in his hair and announced his name and what he was trying to get clean from…I naturally wasn’t paying attention until the man called ‘Walt’ began speaking…

I’m Walt…I gamble…

I looked at him quizzically…and then almost involuntarily scoffed…

Somethin’ funny?

Not at all…just kinda funny that you’re here because you can’t stop buying scratchers, Grandpa…

Well not all of us have to stoop low enough to put a needle in our arms…

Ope…Grandpa’s got a sharp tongue…

And some of us have REAL issues that don’t take up space from people that actually need the help…

Ophelia…

I’m not here to impress some washed up junkie that used to be someone…

What the fuck do you think you know about who I used to be?

Walter!

Oh I know plenty about you, Miss Ophelia Pain…

As soon as he said my name, the whispers started…I narrowed my eyes at him…

At least I used to be someone…not some nameless gambling addict that looks like a leather sofa…

The most interestin’ thing about you is those funbags hangin off your chest…which accordin to the internet, aren’t even real…so the most interestin thing about you ain’t even real…

We were both standing, Walt breathing heavily through his nose…my eyes narrowed at him. I wished that I was a few inches taller than I was so that I at least looked more intimidating without having to get physical with someone…I felt the corners of my eyes start to tingle and my throat started feeling achy and thick…

You know what? I don’t really FEEL like sharing my feelings today…

Ophelia…

I peeled my nametag off and crumpled it up, flicking it onto the floor. I turned on my heel and walked out of the floor, allowing the door to slam behind me. I waited until I got back into the safety of my room before I allowed the tears to fall. One thing my dad taught me is to never let them see you cry…

You started it, crybaby…

I REALLY don’t fuckin need your narration today, Murder, so if you could PLEASE shut the fuck up? That would be just awesome…

How will I annoy you though?

You could try NOT annoying me?!

Almost immediately, there was a knock on the door. I ignored it as best as I could staring out the window next to my bed, knees drawn up to my chest and my head resting on them…

You know I’m knockin as a courtesy right?

I’m naked in here…

I’ve got the same parts…cover them nipples…I’m comin in…

The door opened and I heard squeaky Nikes on the tile floor…

I’ll apologize to Greg and Walter tomorrow…I just want to be left alone today…

Baby, you and I both know damn well you’re never alone…

I was brought back to reality by Walt setting his heavy mug down on the granite…

I never understood why you fought so hard in there…

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you why. It took me a while to figure out that I thought I deserved to be miserable. I was living the life I deserved…

Homeless junkie?

MISERABLE homeless junkie…get it right.

Walter chuckled as he grabbed another cookie and took a bite. I watched him dip the cookie into his coffee and take a bite, a small smile crossing my face…

I walked into the cafeteria and grabbed a tray. It always smelled like a nursing home in here…the line was moving slowly…which meant they were serving something good. I caught a glimpse of lasagna and felt myself get a little excited for the first time in a long time…

Easy there, fat ass…you can’t fuck that lasagna

I squeezed my eyes shut and put the tips of my fingers up to my temples, rubbing in vigorous circles…

You wanna keep the line movin or are you plannin on robbin a liquor store today, Slim Shady?

The gruff voice behind me made all excitement over the pending lasagna go away. I was instantly annoyed and felt the muscles in my neck tense up…I looked at him, ughed, and rolled my eyes, but moving forward in the line…

You are just an unlikeable person you know that, princess?

You don’t know a fuckin thing about me, Grandpa…why don’t you figure out how you’re gonna swallow your big old man pill later and leave me alone…

I know enough, Ophelia Pain…scorned ex-fiancé…Misfit mother…has been never was professional wrestler…

I turned around and looked at him, shifting my weight to my right hip and dropping my arm to the side…

That’s amazing…you’ve doubled your societal worth by knowing how to work the Google machine…congrats…

I mockingly clapped in his face, grabbing a plate with a large piece of lasagna, 2 breadsticks that permeated the smell of garlic into my nostrils, I scooped some peas onto the plate, and took 2 bowls of dirt pudding…I walked to a table by the window and sat down facing the rainy day outside. I began tucking into my tray and the chair next to me pulled out and down sat the unpleasant California raisin that had decided to become the bane of my existence. Everything about him was annoying…he handed me a glass of iced tea and a straw from his tray that was next to a cup of hot black coffee…

What’s that?

An olive branch…an apology for what I said in group yesterday…

You think you can buy my forgiveness with a glass of tea?

Probably not…but I’m gonna try…Shee said you like unsweet…

I rolled my eyes and took a bite of the salty, buttery, soft breadstick and was suddenly thankful that he had brought me a drink…as much as I love savory foods, they make a bitch thirsty…

Look, mustache-

Walt…

Whatever…I’m really just tryin to get clean so I can just forget this whole chapter of my life happened…I’m not looking for friends or love or whatever…this isn’t a Sandra Bullock movie and I don’t need to be rescued by your penis-

Is that what you think I’m here for?

What the hell else could you be looking for from me? You already know me…so you must already know what belts I’ve held, seen my PlayBoy spread, and my criminal history…

Maybe I’m just lookin for some sort of humanity around here…

In my experience, humanity doesn’t exist for people like us…

Us?

Addicts…

So maybe we should be each other’s humanity…

He shrugged and took a bite off of his own plate. I watched his mustache wiggle as he chewed and before I knew it, I was laughing…he looked at me, confusion written all over his face…

What? I get somethin on my face?

No…just…your mustache…

I could barely speak through my obnoxious laughs and when it finally subsided, Walt was just looking at me…

You should do that more…

Do what more?

I took a large bite of the cafeteria lasagna

Smile…

Oh like this?

I smiled animatedly with my mouth full of red sauce and cheese. He chuckled at me and went back to his own plate…after the gale force laughter his mustache caused me, we sat at that table and drank terrible coffee and unsweetened tea until they told us it was time for bed…

I grinned at the memory and sighed…Walter caught my smile and started wiping his face…

Got somethin in the ‘stache?

No…I was just remembering how much we hated each other when we first met…

YOU hated me…I never hated you, cupcake…

You did a pretty good job of pretending…little did I know you’d be my knight in shining mustache…

I shrugged and drained my coffee mug. I stretched and yawned…

You tired, princess?

Must be…I think I’m gonna go try to sneak back into bed…

Don’t know how the 3 of you share that bed…I’d be needin my space…

And that my friend…

I pointed and clicked my tongue at him…

Is why my life, just like my coffee, is too sweet for most people…

He chuckled as I set my mug in the sink. I went to reach for the cookies to put them away and he slide his hand between mine and the bag…

I think I’m gonna polish this bag off…

I nodded and put my arms around his shoulders, smooching his cheek. He put his hand on my forearms and rubbed his thumb it…

I love you, you mustachioed fuck…

I love you too, you smart ass junkie…

I laughed, kissed his cheek one more time and headed up to bed, managing to sneak back into the bed with minimal groaning…

When I opened my eyes, Bho was sitting with her back against the headboard playing on her phone…I heard the shower running in the en suite. I rolled out of bed, slipped the pants I had on the night before, and made my way downstairs. I rounded the corner into the kitchen, to find Walter slumped over the granite. I patted his back on my way through to the Keurig, bidding him good morning. I pulled a blueberry pod out of the drawer under the machine, hit the start button, and turned around to find Walter still slumped over on the granite…

C’mon man…we gotta feed the birds and cows this morning…

I grabbed his shoulder and shook him a bit…he wasn’t budging…

Walter…wake up…we’ve got chores…

I pushed him a little harder and rushed to catch him as he slid off the bar stool…and my heart fell through my stomach and splattered on the floor…I screamed for Lewis and Mohave, who both seemed like they were moving in slow motion. I looked down at my knight in shining mustache and let out a sound of despair that I had never made before.

His lips under his mustache were blue and the tip of his nose and forehead were both purple…my breath caught in my chest and my world turned black…