What year does this story take place?
That’s usually the first question I’m asked after someone reads Utopiates. Everyone wants to know just when these stories are happening. Ten years from now? Twenty? I suppose the appropriate answer is now, tomorrow, and the Sunday before never. The truth is, when these stories happen is far less important than why they happen, and why has everything to do with choice.
Not long before his death, Jim Morrison said, “Drugs are a bet with your mind.” Coming from a man who had spent most of his adult life in various states of intoxication, I’m inclined to believe Jim knew what he was talking about. In fact, throughout his career Morrison talked quite often about his drug use, repeatedly comparing it to a sort of metaphysical gamble. But the one thing he never did adequately explain was why he took that gamble. Why take the risk? What was the attraction? What did the drugs offered that love, success, talent, and fame could not? Looking into Morrison’s background, he defied most stereotypes associated with the kind of people who become addicts. He was a college graduate. He grew up in a stable home. He was incredibly successful at everything he did. Yet still Morrison chose to piss it all away. Why?
I sought to answer this question when I penned “A Moment of Clarity.” But it wasn’t Jim Morrison’s face I was seeing as I wrote about the nameless junkie who finds himself scarred for life. Since high school, I’ve crossed paths with a lot of talented people, many of whom willingly chose a life of dirty needles and tar-stained foil pipes. To this day, I still can’t grasp why they made the choices they did. But it was their faces I saw in the nameless junkie as he stalked the street of tomorrow’s Los Angeles, searching for the next needle that would grant him a few more moments of escape.