Dave closed his eyes and took another short breath. Kurt was having a fit – this time it wasn’t like the others he had experienced before. This time, it was a fit of rage. The room they had been practicing in was fast becoming a mess, as Kurt could be heard inside throwing things, kicking things, smashing things – wrecking the place.
Krist rested his back against the wall and looked to Dave. “This problem can be treated,” he said quietly, knowing what was causing Kurt’s outrage. “He can try a number of treatments.”
Dave nodded and lit up a cigarette and taking a drag before answering. “When did he find out?” he asked, softly.
“This morning,” Krist said. “He called me as soon as he found out.”
“And is it serious… like, epilepsy or something?” Dave asked, looking to Krist straight in the eyes.
Krist shook his head and smiled slightly, simply out of relief. “No, nothing like that,” he replied. “He’s got Panic Disorder.” Krist explained.
Dave looked to ground again, and exhaled the smoke. “How is that different from Generalized Anxiety or whatever?” He asked, his voice was low and almost shallow.
“The person doesn’t know when they’ll suffer another attack – the attacks are varied, recurring, but for no real reason.” Krist caught Dave’s stare and kept his eyes trained on the younger man’s face. “They’re unpredictable.”
Dave smiled slightly and nodded. “Like Kurt,” he said softly, his smile soon fading.
Krist returned the smile and nodded, he had thought similar things when he was talking to Kurt earlier. Dave sighed again and finished his cigarette before stubbing it out on the wall.
“And how is it treated?” He asked, leaning back against the wall and crossing his arms, looking at Krist warily.
“There’s a lot of ways they can treat it – medications, creative visualization, talking therapies, self-help techniques… ” Krist’s voice trailed off. “Or self-medication with -” he paused and looked away. “With illegal substances.” He finished.
Dave’s face dropped and he looked at Krist for what felt like an age. “And you knew what he was planning on doing?” He asked, shocked – his voice suddenly very shrill. “And you let him?!” Dave began to grow angry.
Krist stepped forwards; his movements were twitchy, panicky. He put his arms out in front of him, holding his hands up, almost as though he was trying to guard himself.
“I didn’t know when!” He proclaimed, “He just mentioned it slightly, but he was saying a lot of things – he was rambling and he was mumbling and he…” Krist stopped; there was no excusing himself.
“Do you know what he took?” Dave asked, turning and placing his hand on the doorknob, readying himself to go back inside – to help his friend.
“No. He thought about pot… maybe doing some mushrooms… I don’t know… from his reaction now, I think it’s something stronger.”
Dave didn’t reply and slipped inside – the room had been completely trashed, but Kurt had finished his tirade. Smashed up instruments, strewn paper and cardboard, an amplifier was on it’s side, the speaker detached from the base unit. Even the water cooler had been pushed over and was dented, lying on the floor, surrounded by the water that had once been inside.
Kurt was sitting in the far corner, surrounded by the mess he had created. His knuckles were bleeding, which was the first thing Dave noticed as he went over to him. Seconds after, he saw a thin line of blood coming from Kurt’s nose and glanced back at Krist.
“You took cocaine?” He asked, kneeling down in front of him, it was obvious now, from his reactions, from his body language – from the way he had been acting all afternoon.
Dave had only ever experienced cocaine once, and it hadn’t been him taking it. He had only ever tried pot and acid, his intentions never went any further. A good friend had taken cocaine once, and Dave remembered the way his friend had acted. It was almost identical to the way Kurt had.
Kurt’s face was flushed; his eyes were bloodshot and watery. A small sweat beaded his forehead, and his body was shaking slightly.
“Sp, spe, speedball.” He muttered, his nose running and mixing with the blood.
“What’s that?” Dave asked, looking back to Krist, who was getting tissues and bottled water from his bag.
“A fucking stupid idea.” Krist said in annoyance. “It’s a cocktail – a mixture of heroin and cocaine. People can die from that, Kurt.” He said, sternly as he came over, kneeling down next to Dave.
“You really think this is going to help you? You honestly think this is what you need?” Carefully, Krist wiped Kurt’s nose, and handed him the bottle. “You need to drink this.” He continued. “Dehydration is the last thing you need right now.”
Dave sat back on his legs a little and watched Krist – it didn’t seem as though this was the first time he had tended to Kurt.
“Will he be okay? I mean… if it’s a lethal combination, shouldn’t we be getting him medical attention?” Dave asked, looking at Kurt’s face – he was pale but flushed and his pupils were dilated. He looked horrible.
“How much?” Krist asked, looking at Kurt. When Kurt didn’t respond, Krist took Kurt’s chin between his thumb and forefinger, forcing Kurt to look at him. “How much, Kurt?” Krist’s voice was commanding now, direct, abrupt.
“Few grams…” Kurt slurred, closing his eyes and trying to pull away.
“Did you inject the stuff? Did you smoke it? What did you do, Kurt? How did you use it?”
Obviously, from the nosebleed, Kurt had snorted some of the cocaine, but from Krist’s knowledge, the cocaine and heroin was usually combined and then injected together. He needed to know what Kurt had done.
“In, in, inject and I, then I – just, then I…” Kurt was losing consciousness, and Dave felt a surge of panic as their friend suddenly became very unresponsive.
“Krist! Krist, what if he dies? Krist, you said people die from this shit, Krist, we need to get him help!” Krist nodded and ordered Dave to call for help.
As Dave left, Krist moved around, behind Kurt, holding him to his chest, supporting him – cradling him. He felt his own stomach cramp in panic and tried his best to keep calm.
“This medication may cause you to feel more panicky to begin with, but after a few weeks, the effects will lessen – once it gets into your system.”
Kurt looked at Krist with such annoyance, the drugstore assistant stopped what she was saying and almost didn’t continue. “It’ll help you, Kurt.” Krist said.
Krist smiled almost apologetically to her and she handed Kurt the medication as he confirmed his details. He hated the paper bags they used, with the stupid address label and the stupid green cross, depicted on the front. Kurt was in a hateful mood that morning.
It was the usual rainy morning they often had in Seattle, and Krist drove Kurt back to his apartment, where Dave had been cleaning up and trying to make the place less cluttered. Since Kurt’s drug usage, Krist and Dave had been watching him almost hourly.
Kurt had been very lucky to get away with it – with what he had taken and how dangerous it had been. Had the paramedics not arrived when they did, it was likely that Kurt would not have still alive.
“They want you to practice your creative visualization,” Krist mentioned, as he pulled up the drive, small puddles had formed and the wheels of the van splashed through them, sending a small water-spray and foam across the drive. “And your relaxation techniques.”
Kurt was still staring out the window, as he had been since they left the drugstore. “Good,” he muttered sarcastically. Krist smiled slightly at Kurt’s attitude. He had been like it all morning, once he’d learned that Krist was taking charge of the situation. It was probably the worse thing Kurt could have envisioned.
Once inside, Kurt flamboyantly threw himself at the sofa and sat down, knocking the pile of clothes and items that Dave had placed there, to the ground. Dave ignored it and picked them back up again, regardless.
“You need to take your medication three times a day, with food…” Krist stopped as Kurt sighed loudly again.
“Yeah, because my appetite is so fucking good.” Kurt complained.
“Or you could try milkshake,” Dave suddenly quipped.
“But you might feel sick to start with.” Krist continued, reading the small information pamphlet that had come with the medication. “There are a few side-effects listed here.”
Kurt rolled his eyes. “Please, do read them out. I am so very excited and eager to hear about it. I await your reading with such anticipation, I risk pissing my own pants with such excitement.”
“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,” Krist mentioned, still reading the pamphlet.
“And anti-depressants are not going to stop me having panic attacks. It’s just government mind-control. It’s how they make you conform.” Kurt spouted.
Krist sighed and looked at Kurt. “There are some things wrong with the government, Kurt, I agree, but they don’t make drugs to control people – well, not these drugs anyway. It’s purely undiplomatically correct for you to even think this. This medication can help you, Kurt. It has nothing to do with politics or the government or anything like what you have thought -”
Kurt tuned out - he wasn’t even listening anymore. Krist was ranting about the government again, going on about something to do with democratic substance or something. Kurt didn’t care.
Dave smiled, knowing exactly what Kurt was doing and he went to the fridge to get Kurt some strawberry milkshake. He handed it to him and then popped one of the pills from the blister pack.
“Might as well make a start with it,” he offered, softly.
Kurt willingly obeyed, for once, but whether it was to do as Dave said, or to simply shut Krist up, Dave was unsure.
The following morning, Dave woke early. He wasn’t sure why – there was no reason to. He knew Kurt was due his next dose of medication, so he got up and went to the bathroom, almost robotically.
It was a routine, one that needed to be implemented and enforced. It was something Kurt would have trouble keeping to. Not through any fault of his own – he was forgetful but he was lazy, but mostly, he would lose motivation because of his depression. Even something as simple as taking a pill with a glass of water could be too much for him sometimes.
So Dave had opted for the role of his unofficial carer, almost. His own train of thought only wanted the best for Kurt, regardless of how self-destructive his friend could be. It was hardly surprising with Kurt’s upbringing, but at least they were on a similar level, both their parents had divorced and both their dad’s were considered to be complete assholes.
Reaching around in the medicine cabinet, Dave tried to force himself to wake up faster; he used one hand to search for Kurt’s medication, while he used the other to wipe his eyes, in an attempt to rid himself of his blurred vision.
He found the box - it felt light. Thinking Kurt must have remembered on his own, Dave took the box anyway and went to Kurt’s room, regardless and knocked the door.
“You have to take you medication, Kurt,” he said, opening the door and talking softly. “You have to take your -”
Dave dropped the box, his senses were suddenly ignited – the room swirled around him as he saw Kurt lying on his back, surrounded by blister packets – all of them empty.
On closer inspection, to the right of Kurt’s shoulder, was a small packet, which looked to have had a white powdered substance, next to a rolled up twenty dollar bill and on the nightstand, there was a burnt spoon and some foil and a tar-like substance on the side.
Dave’s legs felt like rubber as he ingested the sight before him. It took his a few moments to move both himself and his brain before he acted on it and called for an ambulance. He returned back to Kurt’s bedside, not knowing if he should touch anything – he felt Kurt’s neck, first, trying to locate a pulse, when he couldn’t do that, he felt Kurt’s wrist and found one – a very faint, very small pulse.
On Kurt’s inner-elbows, the needle-marks were dry and old, as though it had happened perhaps an hour or two ago, and there was a dry trickle of blood that had started at Kurt’s left nostril and there were three cigarette burns on Kurt’s right forearm.
Dave’s heart was thundering in his chest. He suddenly felt very weak and sick. What the hell was going on? Kurt was really trying to destroy himself, trying to wreck himself and for what? A diagnosis of Panic Disorder - a disorder that could be treated and controlled?
Dave just couldn’t understand. Shaking, he left the room, to call Krist, he didn’t like leaving Kurt, he didn’t want to in case… he stopped himself before he allowed himself to continue those particular thoughts, his voice was shaky and dry.
“Krist… Krist… Kurt, uh, Kurt had an accident. He needs to go to hospital. I called an ambulance. They’re on their way. I’m sorry, Krist, I didn’t know… I’m sorry!” And then Dave sobbed.
Frightened, angry, anxious tears – he was only twenty-two, for fucksake, he’d never seen anything like this before – not to this effect or in this quantity. He cared for Kurt, so much. He cared for the band and he cared for Krist. He cared too much and mostly, it was his downfall, but this time it was different. Kurt could die.
Kurt was risking himself to death again, but this time, Dave could have prevented it. He was here, in the same place, in the same building as Kurt.
But Dave had no idea what Kurt had been doing. Dave had no idea how Kurt had snuck out and got his drugs, then snuck back in again, gone to the bathroom and got his medication and then slipped silently back into his room to embark on his plans of self-destruction. Dave had been here, but Dave hadn’t heard a thing.
He let the phone hang by the cord as he slid down the wall in a shaking, sobbing mess. He felt guilty and scared and angry – there were so many thoughts and emotions going round in his head, he didn’t know how to contemplate them all.
He didn’t know what to do, he felt simply helpless. He felt like a child and he didn’t know what to do.