On a Plain
I’ll start this off
Without any words
I got so high that
I scratched ‘til I bled
2nd April, 1994
He breathes in softly. The three strands of long, blondhair cradling at his nose’s bridge, flail wildly as he exhales like a high-frequency sound wave oscillating, orlike the result of poor craftsmanship as Ice Cream Sold Here! flaps manically in the coastal winds, its screws tentatively easing out of the sign-post. He blinks repeatedly as the muffled sound of German voices grow louder. He opens his eyes. His body aches all over. A dull headache threatens him with a migraine. He feels his arms; his muscles are bruised blue and dotted with minute holes. He probes profusely here and there with his tongue -the inside of his mouth is a drought-ridden wasteland.
He throws back the technicolour duvet cover; what was once a brilliant white is now besmirched with large insipid colours; beastly browns, obscene oranges…he finally sits up on his mattress to face the incessant babble of a foreign tongue. His ears now fully attentive, his headache is angered. He brushes his golden, fraying locks out of his vision. His headache clamours again. He turns his head this way and that; where is the remote control? The German man talks sensuously with renewed vigour; the woman screams with delight.
He clasps at his ears. The harsh, Germanic tones penetrate his fragile eardrums. He swings his legs out the side of the bed to stand up…too quickly; his legs wobble; his head is vacant; the red walls start to spin lifting the excited Germans into the air; his eyeballs start to roll back so he tries to close his eyelids; his stomach is nervous in all the commotion and so cramps violently. He can’t take this pain anymore! He slumps down, back onto the canvas of a bedspread. He holds his head in his hands and tries to regulate his breathing; in…hmmmmph…out…foooo, but he can feel himself grow colder as goose bumps populate his arms and legs.
“I hate myself and I want to die,” he tells an empty bedroom and an unsympathetic migraine. He sways to the left, just glancing the corner of the bedside table like the sweetest curved strike of a golf ball. He crashes down onto the burgundy-carpeted floor. Yet another bodily fluid makes an unwelcomed appearance, slowly falling down the side of his face before becoming one with the carpet. But the reds fade from view; his world is black again.
Several hours pass before he awakens. His headache is asunforgiving as ever. He gingerly sits up against the side of his bed. He rubs his eyes with scaly hands; flakes of dried reds fall as he moves his hands up and down. Those noisy Germans are still moaning away in the background, but they are just a tangle of pink, heaving bodies. His retinas struggle to take in the television’s image. He blinks twice. On the TV, a man is lookingthoroughly pleased with himself, sitting in between the legs of a large-breasted woman who is smiling sultrily, her tongue working its way round her lips.
Bit by shaking bit, he turns his head to the left and finds a corner-post of the bed. He latches himself onto it, like a sea urchin to algae. He drags his body closer to it,stubborn legs et al. The blues and blacks on his armcontract as he sluggishly draws nearer. His green eyes, those once sparkling emerald eyes, are bloodshot and dry. They desperately search for the bedside table. They can just about make out the brown sugar sitting innocently in an old, glass ashtray. Saliva sloppily drips, drips, drips from his mouth as he feels upon the dusty table top.
A moment of fortune as his right hand stumbles upon the remote control. On the TV, a second, lightly tannedGerman woman strolls in, wearing nothing but black platform heels. Her soft, round buttocks sway from side to side as she approaches and then stops to stand over the exhausted German man. The man looks up at her, examining her sheening body and smiles broadly. He looks back down back between his legs at his lifeless friend. It shrinks into nothing…the TV image, that is, as our fallen hero finds the ‘OFF’ button on the remote.
Back on the cold wooden floor, the blond man savours the quiet – he knows it won’t last. Sure enough, the calm has come and passed; the gastric storm arrives with unashamed ostentation; his stomach tightens; the frightened child clutching at its mother. This is noordinary child – it’s far too strong. It grips harder and harder, bowling over its mother into a foetal position.“Stop, stop, stop! Argh!”
But this child is far too perturbed and insolent for that.The mother screams in agony.
His stomach growls and churns, as wave after wave of nausea wash onto the digestive shore. Then… nothing. An unnerving internal silence lingers, as his breathing slows. He sighs his sigh of relief, but it’s all too soon. A tidal wave comes crashing down, flooding his stomach, rolls up his trachea, and finally exiting his mouth in a glorious rainbow of colours and shapes. “Courtney, save me…” he gasps. He goes under again, collapsing to the floor.
A dull thud of footsteps echo in the distance. Each step feels like a thunderbolt to his heart as the blond man re-joins our world. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. The pounding grows louder and louder, but this time it’s not his head. The sound nears and softens as he peels open his eyes. His vision mirrors a fish-eye lens he is so accustomed to seeing in his and in other’s music videos.
A jovial voice boomerangs through the house, “Dude, where the fuck are you? I’ve been banging on your front door for like 10 minutes. I had to come in through the bathroom window. I nearly broke my neck on the rubberducks in the bath, by the way.”
The blond man hears his friend reach the top of the stairs, but still he doesn’t reply, lying face down. His slow breathing pushes the dust and a Twinkie wrapper further away from him. As his friend gets closer to his bedroom,the blond man tilts his head up. He doesn’t want Krist seeing him like this. He pushes himself up with all hismight, leaning back to sit up against the bed again.
The bedroom door creaks eerily as it swings open. Hisgiant, dark haired friend enters, at first not noticing the thinning mess of a bandmate on the floor, “Dude, I’ve been calling you all afternoon…dude? Hey Kurt, you okay?”
Kurt floats through the air, high above Seattle below, turning away from a setting sun. He sees his wife sitting on a nearby cloud, her legs dangling over the white powdered edge, swinging back and forth. Smiling, she beckons Kurt towards her with her index finger.
Kurt arrives and they lie down together, searching the skies for early stars as they look up. They start to talk about their favourite Pixies song; whether their daughter will be an astronaut or a manager at Dunkin’ Donuts;why doughnuts are better than Twinkies, why Courtney’s right nipple is bigger than her left (“Fuck you!”); and why female pubic hair is considered wild, but male pubic hair is the norm. Then, it was time to go back down to Earth.
Kurt looks at Courtney and sees her face change. He can tell she’s trying to look as serious as possible. “Kurt, we’ve gotta go back down now, babe,” she says.
Kurt smiles and then looks back fancifully at the stars.
“Kurt I’m serious! Just look down there!” Courtney points somewhere over north-western America. “Bean is there waiting for you. Don’t you wanna be there for our little Frances Bean?”
Kurt looks back at her and tries to put on his own serious face. “Babe, you know I love you both so much, but I can’t be the person you need me to be. You and Frances are so much better off without me. Look at me here. No pain, no bullshit, no bad habit that I can’t kick, just a pure and simple existence.”
“No!” Courtney pleads. Her face hardens, her blue eyes twinkle. “We need you! Why don’t you get that? If not for me, you need to come back down for Frances. Please, please, please!”
“Courtney…” Kurt begins.
“No!” Courtney interrupts. “Please, just try. Please?” She looks longingly at her husband before her face softens.
Kurt’s rigid face cracks a smile and reaches out to her.“OK, one last time,” he says. They lock hands before jumping off their cloud. The air rushes around them, hanging them like two blond Troll dolls in the sky as they descend. Courtney’s white, floral sundress balloons upwards, slowing their fall.
“My favourite panties,” Kurt yells. Courtney giggles as they pirouette like ballerinas. Kurt lets go with one handand bends it above his head, mimicking a bras en couronne movement. Courtney laughs even harder.
The Earth rushes towards them. They are magnetised towards to a long strip of beach. They stop spinning and hold each other as they gracefully, but suddenly, land on Alki Beach Park in Seattle. A tidal wave of sand explodes around and above them, reaching high into the air while they continue to embrace. Courtney pulls away, “Kurt?”
Kurt looks back at her.
“Do you have, like, the biggest fucking hangover right now, or what?”
They both laugh. They kiss passionately. They explode into nothingness as Kurt’s world collapses in on itself. Just as quickly, Kurt’s old existence expands outwards into the shape of a recognisably sombre bedroom doused in throbbing reds with windows shaded by black duct tape, complete with a familiar face leaning over him. The face is visibly etched with concern. Processing that it belongs to Krist, Kurt then notices that Krist is dressed in a short, white medical gown. Kurt immediately recoils as his body lights up with pain, nausea and disorientation.
“No hospital, no more tests…” Kurt murmurs hoarselythrough tacky lips, still lying on the floor in his grey Flintstones pyjamas. As his eyes come more into focus, he realises his friend is wearing a white sports jacket over a pale and slightly stained Doctors of Madness band t-shirt with a black cartoon stethoscope emblazed on it.
“It’s ok, buddy, I know,” says Krist, now kneeling down next to him, holding his head. Krist opens the top draw in the nearby side-table and pulls out a small package that contains a needle and the words ‘Naloxone’ on the label, along with Kurt’s prescription details. “You’re gonna be okay, dude. You’re gonna be okay.”
Two young women wearing heavy eyeliner, some popular band’s tee, black skirts and ripped tights are sitting outside a frozen yoghurt shop in downtown Seattle. The curly brown-haired girl, Molly, gets up to get another snack. The other girl, Candy, has her pen poised over her journal. She’s struggling to write today’s entry. As she looks up for inspiration, she sees a blond-haired man with a wild stubble walking towards her. She struggles to tear her eyes away from his giant, purpleElton John-type sunglasses, before registering hisleopard-patch jacket and a pair of celeste-blue, rippedbaggy jeans.
She then notices that he’s carrying a bag full of anatomy dolls; a torso which shows the small and large intestines, another doll’s head which shows the brain and yet another which shows a vagina and uterus. Candy’s mouth hangs open as he passes her. The man smiles briefly with a slight wave and carries on walking down the boulevard. The girl is pinned to her seat. As Molly returns to her seat with another helping of blueberry frozen yoghurt, Candy excitedly yelps about who she has just seen.
“No fucking way!” Molly replies, her hand clenched firmly around the spoon in her frozen yoghurt. “Totally!” Candy replies. She immediately begins writing in her journal with fervent enthusiasm. About a boy…
Mark KH is a 32-year-old writer and poet from the Stratford-upon-Avon area. He is a graduate of Creative Writing and Spanish, and he currently lives in Shakespeare’s county with his parents. Mark likes to claim this is because most aspiring writers barely have a penny to their names, but in reality, it is due to a long-standing illness. In his free-time, he enjoys playing guitar, singing, genealogy, and masochistically watching Man United. Mark also likes trying his hand at cooking different cuisines with, let’s say, mixed results.
Mark can be found on Twitter: @MarkKHwords
Nirvana (1993) Dumb. [CD] Cannon Falls: DGC Records. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoySSBwQVso [Accessed 31 May 2019].
Nirvana (1993) I Hate Myself and Want to Die. [CD] Cannon Falls: Geffen. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-dAIz2FfmA [Accessed 31 May 2019].
Nirvana (1991) On a Plain. [CD] Seattle: DGC Records. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8S7zVVl3CIE [Accessed 31 May 2019].
NME. (2017). Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic says he saw Kurt Cobain ‘out of his mind on heroin’ days before suicide – NME. [online] Available at: http://www.nme.com/news/music/nirvana-21-1225824 [Accessed 30 April 2019].
Nordheim, T. (2016). Murder & Mayhem in Seattle. 1st ed. Mount Pleasant: Arcadia Publishing [Accessed 4 May 2019].
Seattle.gov. (2017). Alki Beach Park – Parks | seattle.gov. [online] Available at: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/find/parks/alki-beach-park [Accessed 4 May 2019].
Stopoverdoseil.org. (2017). Narcan | Naloxone | The Opiate Antidote to Save a Life. [online] Available at: http://stopoverdoseil.org/narcan.html [Accessed 4 May 2019].