I’m leaning on a fence in Austin and feeling fucked. I’ve done shots of rotten vodka and though surrounded by thousands my body screams to take a shit. I bought the bottle for under ten bucks and am getting even less than I paid for. It tastes like the solvent used to sizzle jizz off a glory hole. Compounding my pain is the intense heat and noise. The sun is out and scorching Texas. Drunk people in green stream past my woozy body. This is both St. Patrick’s and SXSW, a giant festival that overtakes downtown. Everyone is joyous but I’m just doing my best to not puke and shit my pants.
I’ve used the keys on my ‘Drug Free and Proud’ lanyard to saw a hole in the privacy tarp of a chain-link fence. Through my peephole I see a band playing but really I’m here for another that starts in two hours. I’m getting dizzy and my stomach is sending signals. For now I’m twenty-nine but tomorrow I’ll be thirty. This is how I’m closing out my twenties.
I woke this morning in the trunk of a car on the Texas and Oklahoma border. I was brought to life by the screams of hail hitting my old rig. The ice pelted my trunk to create an echo chamber. Guess that was God’s way of demanding I get up. For the next few hours I made way to Austin, battling intense rain and chains of lightning. I was coming down from a drug study in Wisconsin and had drove all but four of the previous twenty-four hours. My eyes were red and I was nearing zero. I missed a turn in Dallas and somehow drove through the plaza where JFK got his head blown off. No time to stop and look for pieces. There was a show to see and shit vodka to sip.
I parked miles from downtown and changed in my car on a residential street. After ensuring a nearby construction crew wasn’t watching I sprayed my sweat soaked asshole with $4 cologne. I made a screwdriver with hot vodka and overheated OJ from the trunk-bed-car-bar. I threw on shades and began the long walk to downtown. I was tired and the vodka tasted awful but being on my feet began to wake me.
I stood in a McDonald’s lot to catch wi-fi then proceeded across the river. I passed policemen blocking off turns, allowing local traffic only. I got to downtown and the streets were clogged with people. Thousands streamed in all directions. Some congealed in groups with badges hanging off their necks, others beckoned with assurances of dollar shots. I caught some SXSW shows the weekend before but now the fest was in full swing.
I collected free cookies and power bars, using them to stabilize the drink slinking through me. It was close to an hour since I departed my car and things felt great. I stopped off in an alley to piss on the weeds then made way to my concert. The line was hundreds long so I decided to just watch from the fence. I sawed a hole through the tarp which gave a great view. Before long the screwdriver started to turn on my body, its chemicals undoing my insides.
Now I’m sitting in dirt to regain composure but that doesn’t work. There’s vultures circling who’ll steal my spot but I know I can’t hold it. I search the streets for a public toilet but all I can find are porta-potties behind a construction project fence. Every bar has lines of people waiting to see a show. I circle back and wander to a grass lot with a couple picnic tables and food truck trailers. The back of the lot is smeared in graffiti, its opposite side a fence that sits behind the stage of the show I’m here to see. I notice a porta-potty behind one of the food trucks. Thank god.
Passed out next to the toilet is a homeless man surrounded by his possessions: a shopping cart of oddities, a sleeping bag not currently in use, and several milk crates of miscellaneous items. The man is sleeping beside this toilet and beneath a tree but neither cast shade across his body. I step into the portable shit bucket and it’s filthy. According to the log it hasn’t been emptied in a month. Feces and wads of paper stack to the seat. The tissue was spun empty long ago. There’s shit rags stuck to the wall like a budget attempt at decoration. I could make a home here.
I step out and notice the hobo has a napkin dispenser but it’s hollow. I hustle to the street and pick postcards off the ground that advertise a Showtime series about roadies. I rip a show poster off a pay meter and with this impromptu TP return to the toilet. It smells like the milking barn of my grandpa’s dairy farm. It’s so hot that I’m drenched in sweat. My shirt clings to skin. As I sit and go I do my best to avoid the rising mass. It gurgles from the circle into which I’m shitting. I use postcards to wipe but they’re glossy and useless. I get shit on my hands and don’t know if it’s mine or the hobo’s. I rip the show poster into sections but that only goes so far and I’m still unclean. I step out the shit bucket and steal napkins from a food cart. With that I make myself decent. A human once more.
I feel pretty good. I’ve managed to cool down and settle my stomach. I can’t find soap so wash my hands with the dirt and weeds aside the passed out hobo. Good enough. I walk back to the fence. I feel fine and find my spot unoccupied. In six hours I’ll turn thirty. But for now I’m young, still clinging to twenty. At my feet is the vodka. There’s a sip or two left. Fuck it. Vitamin C. I scoop the bottle and suck that shit down.