Dennis Cooper is one of our favorite writers. His writing is often cited by young authors for its raw wit and dark humor. This section of a longer piece was featured on NERVE in 1999.
I was glad to hear from you, don’t worry about it. Whatever fucked-up shit came down between us, it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t even remember what the problem was. People change, that’s right. I figured you were off doing your own thing and didn’t remember me. I’ve fucked so many people over, I don’t expect anybody to give a shit. I’ve been in AA off and on for a couple of years, and they make you think about what you do, and so I’m better about not going over people’s boundaries, like they say. I’m sorry for being a shithead a lot of the time back then. I make people into my dad, and then I have these big expectations that are just stupid. I wish I didn’t do that, but I still do. I just fucked up this thing with a guy here in Portland, although I have to say the guy was as much of an asshole as me. I don’t have anybody right now, and I get fucked up when I’m alone. I was clean for four months, but now I slipped and everything goes to hell when I’m using. So your letter came at a good time, because I’ve been feeling like nobody gives a fuck. I’m sleeping in my van right now because I don’t have anywhere to live, and I’m getting tired of it. I was doing pretty good for a while there. I got married to this woman, Carla, and we had a daughter. I was with her for about a year and a half, and that was a good time in many ways, but I couldn’t play it the way she wanted me to play it, so she kicked me out. That’s over. She has a restraining order against me, which I deserve because it got kind of crazy toward the end. I don’t know if you want to hear all this shit. You seem to think I’m somebody special, and you always did, no matter how much I fucked you over, which is why I loved you like I did. But it hasn’t worked out that I’m so special. That’s probably why I was such an asshole to you, because you thought I was so special, and I knew I wasn’t, but I wanted to believe it, so I wouldn’t let you have what you wanted, because if you got me for real, I just knew it would change. But then it got fucked-up anyway, and later I thought I was a total asshole for not just giving you what you wanted, because it wasn’t that much to give, and you were so nice to me, and I should have given it to you, because it’s probably the only thing I could have given you to thank you and show you that I cared. But I didn’t, so I’ve always felt like an asshole. I wanted to do it, you know. I was just scared that you’d think big deal, because let’s face it, that’s what happens. It’s not like I’ve been a saint since I last saw you. I try not to let people have me because it always fucks me up, but then I don’t keep jobs very well, and I need money, so I let people have me, just so I can get by, and so that I have something in my life. So I’m not scared of that shit anymore. I don’t have big hopes about it. I still had big hopes about it when I was with you. I just thought if I waited until I got out of high school, and had my shit together, it would be better for both of us. Then that time we started to do something, and I freaked out, I thought I blew it. I didn’t have my shit together, and now I don’t think I’ll ever have my shit together, so I feel like an asshole for freaking out. I don’t know why you wrote to me, and I’m trying to understand why. The day I got your letter I went to a meeting and told them about it, and asked what they thought. Those people all think I’m a fuckup, because I slip all the time, so I don’t really care what they think, but they said maybe I hadn’t blown it with you, and that I shouldn’t just blow you off, and that I should write you back, and be honest with you about my circumstances and my addiction and so on, and see what happens. So I’m trying to be honest with you, but that’s not something I’m good at. I’m trying to think about this, and not just say if you still want me you can have me as long as you give me some money. I told them that’s what I wanted to say, and they said that I should say that I love you, and I want to be with you, and not say the money part. Really, I don’t care about the money part except that I have nothing right now. So they said I should be honest with you, and that’s honest. Sometimes I think the people who go to those meetings aren’t being real. It’s not real to think you’re going to say I love you for who you are and we should be together. I already blew that, and I’ll be honest with you, I think the drugs are always going to be a problem for me. So what I’m thinking is, I could come stay with you for a few days and just see what happens. I was thinking of driving down to LA anyway and trying to get some money out of these guys I know there. I guess I’ll just drive down in a couple of weeks and call you, and if you want to see me, cool. If you want to have me, that’s cool, and if you feel like giving me some money afterward, that’s cool, but I’m not expecting it. You said you don’t know what you want with me now, and I don’t know what I want either, not just with you but about everything. I know I want to go score, and I can do that, that’s easy. I know I want you to have me, if you still want me, and you said you do. I don’t remember if that serial murder shit you were into bugged me. Maybe I was scared that you were going to kill me, but I don’t think so. I haven’t thought about that shit for a long time. But I don’t live like that anymore. When I shoot dope, I don’t think if I do too much I’m going to overdose. I do as much as I feel like it to get as high as I can. When I let some fucking asshole have me for money, I don’t tell him what he can’t do, I just go with whatever he wants, because it’s bullshit otherwise. I got married and had a kid because I wanted to be with Carla, and she wanted that, and I went for it. If you’re still into that weird shit, that’s the way it is. If I’m going to let you have me, then you have me. If I don’t wake up the next morning, that’s the way it is. You were the nicest person to me I ever knew, and I just fucked you over left and right, thinking I had to protect something. There’s nothing to protect anymore. I gave it a shot, and it’s not happening. If you want me, you can have me. I used to be so into understanding myself, but now I just want to do things, and not understand them.