Deus Ex Machina
When you are as clever as I am, sometimes it is easy to forget you are only human.
I got the leather case when I became eighteen; it was a present I made to myself as a coming of age gift, to mark the beginning of my adult life. I could now buy alcohol legally and gamble – not that I was interested in either. My preferences were quite different. I was fifteen the first time I did cocaine. By the age of eighteen, doing a line gave me no rush whatsoever, so I had moved onto more effective means of administration. I will say this only once; having an addiction isn’t pretty or fashionable. In fact, I have to admit it was very stupid of me, but at that point in my life I had no idea of how to solve the problem of a rusty mind for I was afraid my brains would rot if I did not put them to proper use. I hadn’t thought about other ways to solve my problem and, being the practical person I am, cocaine did everything I needed. I made a solution, a seven percent one, that worked perfectly for me; I was high enough to keep my mind stimulated, but not too out of it not to be able to function properly. It worked for quite a while, but my affairs with the police and my acquaintances with the criminals of London would prove to be much more effective over time.
But the case, ah, the case! Small and rectangular, the frame is covered with black leather. The insides are red velvet, the colour of blood. The syringe it protects is made of glass and steel; an antique from the XIX century I managed to trade with a mate from Harrow for the solution of an exam. The classiest of items for the classiest of deaths. I had the inside engraved in silver with the words “Deus Ex Machina” in an ornate script right after acquiring it. That is what cocaine is – was – for me. The “god from the machine”, the magical solution for a problem, the plot device to help the story – my story – develop whenever I stumbled upon a wall in a corner of my mind.
Almost twenty years have passed since, and the words inside the case remain the same but the meaning has changed. I am a man of science, and I do not believe in magical solutions. “Deus Ex Machina” has now become a warning. There is no easy way out, no God or gods to descend from heaven to lend anyone a hand, and especially not to me. I refuse to choose it, to pray to the White Cocaine Goddess to come to my aid when my brains need more, to take my hand and lead me outside the labyrinth when I have my tools to do so on my own. “Easy” is just too simple. It poses no challenge. It’s deadly dull.
That is why I cannot part with the leather case. I often discard superfluous information and the leather case is a memento of the person I was. It is a danger sign to remind me that I once have failed, but I’ve decided to be better, to become better. Not to need, so that I can allow myself to seek freely and to truly choose.