‘The Go Aways’ Fiction by Marlon Martinez

Before Doc kills you the first time, you need to start going to certain types of meetings. You’ll find yourself in the basement of a church with a group of people, who you don’t really know, but sit on flimsy chairs with them every Thursday to discuss why all of you are the way you are. The person running the meeting stands at a podium in the front of the room like a maestro does at the opera, but instead of instruments, everyone is holding on to cups of burnt coffee and cookies that collapse into sawdust when you put them in your mouth. He’ll ask if anyone would like to share tonight? You’re supposed to introduce yourself by saying: Hi, I’m Noun, and I’m a verb. 

And your audience will collectively say: Hi, Noun

From there, you’ll tell them that your addictions are due in large part to your wife dying during child birth the year before. Nobody really flinches because everyone at these meetings have comparable if not sadder stories. 

Like Eve. 

Eve lost all of her family as well but, instead of how you lost yours, her’s was everybody. She came from a big one, family wise, and every summer they rented a tour bus for their annual family reunion and, altogether in one vehicle, went upstate somewhere for a BBQ. Three years ago, Eve couldn’t get out of work on time so she wasn’t able to take the ride with them. On her way there, after work, heading to the barbecue, traffic was stopped for miles because a tour bus had gone over a cliff, killing everyone on it. 

Yeah, that tour bus.
You and Eve will strike up a friendship and talk about how boring it is not to feel anything 

anymore. That you’ve both become more depressed about the boredom than the tragedy that was supposed to be depressing you. During one meeting, the two of you hatch up a plan to kill yourselves but be brought back to life. You’re both honest people and realize you don’t have the courage to die all the way

The second thing after all this is you’ll need to find someone who can bring a person back to life and has access to hypodermic needles and Narcan. You’ll come across this paramedic who sells the prescription pills he finds in peoples homes when they die. And in the back of his ambulance, you and Eve, this paramedic rails up lines of coke the size of jet engine emissions. He asks you if you want to blow a line and you’ll say no, but he’ll blast off anyways, and Eve whispers to you that this guy might not be the best fit for the job. Then you get lucky and meet this stunning redheaded doctor who wears a pocket-protector with no pens, and drives a station wagon but has no family or kids, and collects peach-pits that look like famous people, but she tells you that she likes the idea of perfecting the art of bringing someone back to life. Says she owes it to science. You call her Doc because A) it’s her job and B) it’s best not to get too familiar with the person who will be taking your life on a monthly basis. 

Dying on lay-a-way should always be kept professional.
When you get the ball rolling, it’s just going to be the three of you. Doc and Eve. In the beginning, you’ll try to figure out different ways to die.
Asphyxiation works but is a real pain in the neck. 

Drowning, way too wet. 

You’ll suggest pills but Doc says that there is nothing in this world to bring a person back who has overdosed on opioids. 

You settle on morphine. Despite feeling like death afterwards, your lights go out dim but once Doc pushes that Narcan into your veins, they turn on super quick. 

On the second Saturday of the month, Doc and Eve will come over to your apartment so you can die official. Sort of. Before they get there, you’ll debate whether or not to set up candles and incense, but you’ll hesitate because you don’t want it to seem like a date, or god forbid, macabre. When they get there, Doc sets it up so you won’t hurt yourself when you’re dead. Pillows, steamed towels, chocolate and such. The works. Doc tells you to lay down but you’ll tell her: I hardly know you, and she’ll laugh, begrudgingly, and rolls up your sleeve. She swabs the bend of your arm with alcohol. She punctures the skin with the silver cane of the needle, and slides it into your vein. Doc asks you if you’re ready, and you won’t finish the nod that tells her yes as she drops the plunger that pushes the dope into your body. Your face turns into cascading sand and you’ll drool a river as you go. 

For a second, you’re nothing. You’re the absence of color. Free of everything.
Not connected or hinged. You go nowhere. 

That’s when Doc hits you with syringe numero two. The Narcan she pumps into your arm kills you awake with the first breathe you take. Your heart is in a blender on liquify when your body realizes its still alive. When the shock subsides, after you smell the burger you ate earlier in the day in your pants, you start to do something that you haven’t done in a while. And you don’t want to, you certainly won’t know why, but you’ll have the biggest smile on your face when you see Doc’s face. My turn, you’ll hear Eve say. 

Death brings you closer to people and this is the case between you, Doc, and Eve over the next few months. You’ll start to learn intimate details about each other. Doc knows how to speak French. Eve says she can juggle then proves it to you one night after you aren’t postmortem. You tell them, on a flight back to L.A., you sat next to a guy who claimed he created the small plastic things on the end of your shoelaces. You’ll look forward to every second Saturday of the month because thats the one day you’re dying to feel something. 

Unfortunately, once the three of you have perfected the whole Jesus routine, you’ll run into one of the members of your old group, the one where you met in a church basement. The person tells you he can’t believe you’re still alive and breathing, and you’ll think to yourself: Well, kind of, but when they see you they know something’s up and want in on whatever it is you’re holding out on. You, Eve, and Doc decide to take new members in but only the ones with the worst stories. 

There’s Conrad who had his wife murdered in front of him in their home. 

Gina lost both her sons to leukemia and found out that her husband was having an affair the entire time. 

C-Bass was a truck driver who hadn’t slept after three days on the road and ended up careening his rig into a minivan with a family in it. They didn’t make it and he got out of jail on a technicality. 

You’ll meet Loomis who– well, you don’t really know why Loomis is there. He showed up one Saturday and you assumed that either Doc or Eve had okay’d it. A few months after that, the three of you realize that nobody okay’d him but that saying anything to Loomis about it would just be impolite. 

The group gets to be about nine of you. Doc says no more because she can’t keeping making the morphine conveniently lost from hospital records. 

Next step is, you’ll have to take Doc out to dinner. By this point you kind of owe her for literally saving you life on multiple occasions. Plus, you don’t see how seeing her more than once a month could be a bad thing. On it, you make template conversations where Doc mentions to you, she says she likes damaged things, and you’ll go, Is that why you agreed to go on a date with Me? And she’ll grin, warm, and looks away distracted when she’ll tell you, No, that wasn’t the reason

So now you have the this down to a science. The needle goes in, you go out, and Doc pulls you up. There were a couple of close calls so you hire that paramedic who tried to get you to buy percocets from him in the back of his ambulance. He assists Doc as she is bringing you back from gone. He’s necessary, you’ll tell yourself and the other members of the group, but only half believe. 

The next bit here is where you start to see the finish line. It’s when people start coming back with visions. They say that they experienced a happening. Some sort of spiritual shaking. 

After Doc brings her back one Saturday, Gina says she saw her boys, Jacob and Isaac, while she was not alive. Says they’re waiting for her. 

C-Bass returned this one time, and said that the family in the minivan had forgiven him. That he can let go

And one by one, this starts to happen to all the group. Except to you of course. You won’t see that wife and child you loved while you’re on the other side. Just black, then Doc’s seraph like face. Then what will happen is that one of the members of the group will slip away in the way where they never come back. 

Into dead. 

The poison spreads as you hear that Conrad went the way of the dodo by putting a shotgun in his mouth. C-Bass goes out like a disgraced Roman. With a warm bath and a razor-blade. Gina takes her final cue from Sylvia Plath and sticks her head in the oven, and you’ll think to yourself: How dramatic, but Doc reminds you that Gina used to bake the best brownies in that thing. That paramedic, who helped for a bit, he gets killed in a drug deal gone bad, and you really don’t think much about it, except that maybe you should have bought those vicodins when you had the chance. Loomis– well, you don’t really know what happens to Loomis. One meeting he was there and the next you never see him again and begin to wonder if he was even real at all. 

And how you find out about everybody else offing themselves is that they don’t show up to group next month so you make it a point to start reading the obituaries to see if anyone who’s died sounds familiar. 

With still some members not dead, Doc will tell you she won’t have any part of any one killing themselves completely. By then, you and Doc, will be very comfortable being naked in bed and moaning to each other. One night you’ll ask her if she she finds it hypocritical that she kind of goes against her Hippocratic oath every time what’s left of the group dies together? You’ll go, So how come you wont at least help them pass away easily? And Doc will tell you that she’s agreed to bring you back, not see you gone. You further it by saying, What if it were Me asking? She gives a shallow grin and deflects by sleeping with you again. After, Doc finishes the discussion by telling you that, Never. That she would never help you with that. 

Lastly, you’ll be about a year in when membership to group is back to just you, Eve, and Doc. It will feel like the old days when the three of you shared secrets like children at sleepovers. It’s then that Eve tells you that she saw her mom and dad last time she hung-out with death, and you think to yourself: I still haven’t seen shit

And you’ll see it coming. 

You try to keep it at bay but can’t fight the fact that Eve was only holding on to still so little. She tells you at your apartment one night, on a second Saturday, that your monthly get togethers have become not enough. 

That nothing is enough.
That she wants to be with her family.
And you beg her to stay. Because now, she’ll be like your family. You’ll ask her please, you 

plead, please don’t go! You try to tell her that you’re both the founding members, and to please reconsider, but she doesn’t. Eve kisses you on the forehead before she starts to walk out of your place, and desperate, willing to try anything, you scream at her that you’ll contact the authorities, but Eve turns to you with salted-wet trails down her cheek, and you see her for the last time, and she tells you that no, you won’t. Eve says to you that you’ll let her go because you’re her favorite friend. 

At the funeral, it’s just you and Doc. Dressed in black, her hair is on fire and thick and full of perfection. Doc tells you that she’s done with anything to do with the dying business. Says it’s entirely too morbid. You go to her, you’re like: So who is going to be there to bring me back next time I’m gone? There’s nobody left. Doc will take your hand and she’ll look you in the eyes for what seems like the first time but you know certainly that it’s not. And by now, you’re able to feel deeply again because everything that was killing you from before, is way in the past and completely dealt with. Doc tells you that she’s been bringing you back this entire time, and Doc goes to you, she says that she thinks that I love you, and that you shouldn’t go away anymore, that you should stay with her. 

So you stick around. 

About the contributor

Born and raised in Queens, Marlon Martinez' view of the world takes an abstract and unique approach. His writings reflect his curiosity about drugs, sex, the forgotten, addiction, recovery, love and other technologies. He journeys to the bottom of the barrel, often at times looking at the obscure hilarity of the underworld, gets into the parts of ourselves we often try to hide, and gives the destitute a platform to tell their stories. Marlon gives hope to characters that find themselves hopeless.

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