CHAPTER ONE: January 2000 In Fred’s bright white room, she’d stacked three rows of votive candles in red jars on her dresser. Fred’s roommate, Leander, said they reminded him of the cemetery, but Fred used them as a meditation point when she prayed.
She liked the deep blue sheets on her bed. The white-and-blue color scheme matched the dress and cape of the woman in the poster above Fred’s bed. The print of Murillo’s Immaculate Conception of the Escorial, painted in 1678, portrayed the Virgin, eyes looking up to heaven, surrounded by cherubim and standing on a crescent moon. Behind the Virgin’s head, the cherubim dissolved into an orange haze. In the light of the burning votives, the whole room seemed to glow orange.
Three rows of seven candles before her, she said one Hail Mary for each.
Fred finished saying her twenty-first Hail Mary and got off her knees. She blew out all of the candles except one. The cheap candles smoked, filling Fred’s small bedroom with a grayness that reminded her of an underwater scene. She walked over to the bed and lifted the corner of the mattress. She had to grope for a moment to find it, tucked inside the elastic of the blue fitted sheet’s corner. She held up the razor to the candlelight. The blood left on it from the last time didn’t bother her. It was clean blood, her own.
She was tired of cutting her arms. She’d covered her upper arms in intersecting highways of hardened scars, and fresher wounds decorated her arms from the elbow to the wrist. She’d scared herself the other night, cutting a bit too deeply at the wrists. She’d bled until she felt like passing out. The blood had soaked into the pillow; she could still smell its stale odor. She would be more careful this time.
She took off one of her boots and her torn black stockings. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, she reached back and turned on the stereo, tuned to the local Catholic station. The music, a choir of voices singing the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, lifted her soul. It brought her mind back to her purpose. She would feel pain, not because she got some pleasure from it (though she did), but because needed it to save her soul. If heroin took away all pain, except that nagging longing for more of itself, then the pain must come from somewhere.
She made the first cut just above her knee, curving her wrist to angle the razor down toward the floor. She felt the acute sting over the thin skin there. She made another cut higher up her leg, deep into the flesh of her thigh. Fred grimaced as the blood began to flow freely. She wondered if she’d struck muscle.
The Immaculate Conception of the Escorial looked up to the heavens and pretended not to notice. The choir sang: “Lord make me a means of your peace…”
She sat there, dazed, before she realized that the sharp percussion in her ears was not from the radio station. She dropped the razor, unlocked her bedroom door. Leander stood outside.
She could see the beads of sweat on his forehead, under his gently curling black hair. His wide eyes shone. He smelled like gasoline.
The Smell of Gas by Erin O'Riordan and Tit Elington is about the lives of ten people who are joined together. There is Leander and Frida (or should I say Fred). They do heroin together and are roommates. Brigid is a high schooler who loves her partying. She also gets good grades. Her and Fred are in a relationship. She's a full fledged junkie who says she does it only on the weekends but that isn't quite true. She also likes to have sex with more than her boyfriend. Brigid was going to have a little more to worry about than just who her next partner would be.
The authors wrote an outstanding book combining saints and sinners.
We have a combination of sex, ethics (if there were any) religions and mythologies. You have to really set your mind on the book to find out their connections to the END. Can't tell you much more or you won't want to read it. It's a great book that everybody should read. It might give you some insight into some of the things that happen and why or why not? Take Brigid, she says she only does her drugs on the weekends. Let's look at this. She's a JUNKIE. They got to have it. They don't exactly pick the time and place when the urge comes over them. She's having sex with more than one partner. Lots of bad things can happen doing that. Do they happen to Brigid?
This was well written, with lots of thought provoking things happening.
Erin O'Riordan and Tit Elingtin always write extraordinary books.
Pick this one up and sit down some evening and read it. It's a good read. The cover is magnificent and tells a lot.
I give this book a 4 star rating.
I received this book as a complimentary copy from the authors for this unbiased review.