I turned the rear-view mirror toward me. I wanted to see what Glenda was going to see. I wanted to prepare myself for her reaction. But it backfired. Instead of seeing dark circles under bloodshot eyes, I saw a decaying corpse staring back at me. The physical ravages of morphine can only partially explain this hallucination. To fully explain, I must tell you that in my teenage years I developed a weird relationship with mirrors. The bigger the mirror, the more likely I was to hallucinate. Sometimes I saw my dead grandfather. Sometimes I saw the girl who was hit by a train three days after she relieved me of my virginity. I would also see Frank. He would always be smiling the way Jesus might have smiled at Judas on the morning of his betrayal. If Jesus ever smiled. If Jesus ever existed.
When I looked at a mirror in the dark the visions turned grotesque. A mirror in the dark is a door left open at the beginning of time by an unimportant angel with a rebellious streak. Creatures with twisted faces and mutilated bodies used this door to scare ice into my bones. They’d creep up behind me and breathe their stinking, self-serving breath down the back of my neck. Maybe they were the concierges of hell. I’ve never been able to dismiss this notion. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has yet to find a suitable subatomic medium for the paranormal, but a lack of evidence has never disproved anything. Take gravity for example. It’s an observable force. People jump off bridges every day with excellent results. People fall in love. Yet the graviton continues to elude us.
A sufficient concentration of morphine in my blood prevented the hallucinations. And maybe there’s an article in a peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience that drills down on this irony. If so, it probably also explains why an insufficient morphine blood concentration ramped up my hallucinations like a mirror in the dark. In short, seeing my decaying corpse meant that I was already in a state of withdrawal. The eighty-milligram pill that I had taken three hours previous was not enough. My usual dose was one hundred and fifty milligrams of extended release morphine taken with hot coffee to maximize the absorption rate and the bioavailability. The pill I took, however, was the last one in my emergency stash; the bent cigarette of my stopgap collection. It was weak, and it had no legs because it wasn’t extended release. Like I said at the beginning of this book, I was out of options.