Evan was always smart. He had flunked out of college, only making it
through a year and a half towards a bachelor's degree in chemistry.
He had gotten A's in chemistry, A's in mathematics, and failed
everything else. He couldn't spell, he had no sense of creativity,
history traumatized him, and he just had no interest in bullshit. He
After college he had started making LSD. He had gotten into it
towards the end of his time at college, and although most people
thought it was impossible to get addicted to LSD, Evan knew he was.
He had the knowledge, and he had no other drive inside of himself. He
made his own unlimited amounts of LSD, all for himself. He sold some
of it to get by for a while, going crazier and crazier. He ended up
penniless, starving, out of LSD, living out of an old Chevy Nova. He
was homeless in a rough city. He had gone crazy and knew it. It
scared him when he would talk to people, knowing that none of them
could tell how crazy he was.
Finally one day he caught himself going too far. He was starving,
always chewing on his nails from the terror of how his life had
become. He caught himself gnawing at his own hands until they bled
out of hunger more than anything else. He knew it was time to turn
things around. In the city there were places to go for help, always
overrun by the sheer mass of the thousands of people just like Evan.
He knew he would never be heard, he knew he would never get the help
Worrying he would be shot for it, he stole enough gas to drive out of
the city, into the countryside, looking for help. He wondered if his
car would even make it. It did, he made it to a small rural town
completely empty of his homeless brethren. He found food at a food
bank staffed by loving Christians, and he should have stopped there.
He was able to get enough to eat again, and living out of his car was
normal to him. He was able to pass for normal enough, more scared of
himself than anyone else was.
He didn't stop there, though. He started looking for psychiatric
help. He never opened up to anyone, he just said he wanted a job. He
just thought that was a normal thing for a person to say. They could
tell he was on some kind of drug, but they asked stupid questions
about it. They started there, giving him all the mental tools he
would ever need to stay off any drug forever. The main thing that
allowed him to learn all of what he had to do was his own desire. He
never wanted to touch anything again that would make him any crazier.
The therapists helped coordinate for him to meet with the man who ran
the local laundromat. He cleaned up as well as he could, and went to
the laundromat to meet with the man. He was more presentable than
anyone except Evan could have expected. He knew he could present
himself well, if nothing else.
The job sounded good. The therapists had said the man needed help
with a few odd jobs, and Evan would also learn from the man how to
repair appliances. Evan didn't have the heart to make them feel small
by telling them he was perfectly capable of something like that
already. Evan was a walking miracle of the human will to survive,
driving a miracle of the human will to fix a car that shouldn't be
able to run. He hadn't even told the therapists his real name.
Watching them struggle to find a birth certificate that didn't exist
didn't make him laugh. He didn't find anything humorous in it.
The laundromat had rows and rows of washers and driers. He walked
past them all, gently touching them, happy to think about a new life
working for a good Christian man. At the far end from the front door
were bathrooms and a large sink. The laundromat seemed impressive.
It seemed well-kept. It excited him to think about being someone
there helping keep things in pristine working order.
He walked back across the laundromat to wait by the door, looking out
the window at the most perfect main street of a town he could imagine.
A car went by only once every few minutes. No one hustled, no one
bustled, no one treated each other like garbage, murdering for a $5
fix. He looked up at a clock on the wall. The man was a few minutes
late. It didn't bother Evan, with a life like he had been leading.
He noticed a small stain on the tile floor by the window at the front
of the laundromat. He fixated on it patiently. He didn't know how
long he waited until the door opened and the man walked in. Evan
looked at the clock. The man was 22 minutes late, but it didn't
They started talking, and Evan didn't miss a beat. He had been in
college, he hadn't worked much. He didn't mention hitting rock
bottom, eating the flesh of his own living hands. The man looked at
him wrong. Evan's heart sank, realizing the man intended to use him
like any of the grotesquely disproportioned prostitutes of whom men
like this drove into the city to occasionally murder. Evan ignored
his instinct to fight or flee. He had nowhere else to go. The man
told him he owned a trailer park and wanted Evan to trim weeds,
complaining that no one seemed to want to work. Evan looked him in
the eyes, concealing his thoughts of chewing on them. The man
complained and complained, saying his trust had been broken too many
times before. Evan understood, but he hated this man with a deep fury
and passion he wasn't even capable of showing anymore.
The first day he worked only about three hours total. He could barely
hold the equipment. He had been getting enough to eat, and all of his
weight had come back as muscle for some reason, but he was still very
weak. The man was abusive. He arrived late, making comments about
how he couldn't afford to chase Evan around getting him to work. Evan
didn't waste time, he got all the weeds trimmed. The man left, saying
he had wasted more time telling Evan what to do than he had worked.
The trailer park was full of people on drugs, waiting to move to the
city to be homeless. Evan wondered if he should warn them. They
looked at him like they wondered if they should warn him about the
landlord, but he already knew.
Evan waited at the trailer park for the man to return, after trimming
all of the weeds. He waited about an hour. Finally the man showed up
again. Evan wasn't worried about waiting around, but when Evan
mentioned payment, and the man said, "well, you only worked a couple
of hours today," Evan immediately tendered his resignation. The man
sighed dramatically and handed Evan a $10 bill. They said their
Evan spent the money on gas, and stole the rest to fill his tank. He
drove back the laundromat and parked. He walked to a junkyard, snuck
in, and stole battered plates off another broken down Chevy Nova to
replace the current stolen plates on his. He had done this time and
time again. In the junkyard he also found two large steel plates with
plastic spacers to insulate them and hold them apart, plenty of wire,
and a large rectifying diode. He went to a grocery store and stole a
box of baking soda and a box of tea candles. He walked back the
laundromat, and by the time he got there it was dark.
He went into the laundromat. No one was likely to be here, but the
man left it open 24/7. That was perfect. Evan didn't want to hurt a
single person, he never had. He selected a drier and started pulling
it apart, getting the power cord off it still attached to a large
transformer to step down the voltage from 220 to about 50 volts. The
diode would handle it perfectly. He twisted the wires to the input of
the diode, and connected the DC outputs to one of each of the large
steel plates. It was all ready to go now. He filled the sink with
water, poured in all of the baking soda, and stirred it well. He
dropped the steel plates into the sink, careful to keep the diode and
transformer out of the water. He plugged it all into the wall, and
was pleased to not see a single spark. The water started gurgling,
hydrogen gas and oxygen coming out of it quickly, rising to the
ceiling. The water level was even dropping at a barely perceptable
rate. Evan quickly adjusted the faucet to perfectly match the drop in
water, so that the sink would always be full but never run over. He
had to be quick now. He ran across the room to the spot on the
ground, next to the large window at the front. The hydrogen gas would
reach that spot last. He set a tea candle on the floor, lit it, and
walked quickly to his car.
He started the car, revved the engine, and peeled out back to the big
city, armed only with everything he would ever need to stay off drugs
for the rest of his life. His future in the same old homeless life
seemed so much brighter than ever, just like the therapists had told