Our conversation ended there and I immediately turned the rear-view mirror toward me, giving the vandal inside the cave of my heart a good long look, so he could better prepare himself for Glenda’s reaction upon seeing me for the first time in five years. However, the hollowed-out eyes of my haggard face had been replaced by those of a corpse, blinking when I blinked, squinting when I squinted. The sight of this sent the vandal into another existential rage, pounding the walls of his cave with his fists, hurling more insults at my vestibular nerve. Slow suicide makes suicide look divinely ordained! he bellowed, as I did damage control in the form of an internal monologue that reminded him of my complicated 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. Other times I’d glimpse the edges of a twinlike apparition that I could only assume was A.
If I made the mistake of looking at a mirror in the dark, then the visions turned macabre. Like a door left open at the beginning of time by an angel nursing a grudge, a mirror steeped in darkness was an invitation for creatures with disfigured faces and twisted bodies to creep up behind me and breathe down the back of my neck. Maybe they were the concierges of hell. CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has yet to find a subatomic medium for the paranormal, but a lack of evidence has never disproved anything, so it’s hard to dispel this notion.
A sufficient concentration of morphine in my blood seemed to prevent these hallucinations. And maybe there’s an article in a peer-reviewed journal of neuroscience that drills down on this irony. If so, it would be logical to assume that it also explains why an insufficient morphine blood concentration ramped up my hallucinations. In short, glimpsing a corpse in the rear-view mirror meant that I was entering the very beginnings of withdrawal. The eighty-milligram pill that I had taken three hours previous was not nearly enough, because my usual dose was one hundred and fifty milligrams of extended release morphine taken with hot coffee to maximize the absorption rate and, more importantly, the bioavailability. The pill I took, however, was the last one in my emergency supply; the runt of the litter.