I've been meaning to write something about Augustus for a long time. *sniff* Miss you, buddy!
He has dreams where he can feel his legs.
Vivid, tactile dreams of running. Of freedom.
He's always been a runner. As a child with Mom in the playground, running and laughing with the other children, blissfully unaware that Daddy wasn't coming home from Vietnam. In school, the sprints, fifty-yard dash in 6.5.
Like flying. Freedom.
But that wasn't enough for long. So he was running for Burr — running drugs. Cash in his pocket. Cash for Mom, himself, Annabella. Burr said cash was freedom, and Burr was almost like his dad, now that Daddy was gone. So he ran and he ran, and like in the sprints, he was good.
Then one day, he had a taste. Everybody did. How could you not? There was so much around. So much around. But one taste leads to another; it's the profitable magic of crack, as Burr always said. Even so, there was enough around, and it was all good until he got too high, got cornered, shot a cop.
Then he was running again. And this time, he couldn't stop.
He has dreams where he's running so hard his heart thumps wildly in his chest, and he can feel the sweat breaking out on his brow. Running, running, in the night. Running toward...nothing. But he can't stop. He hears the rapid footsteps of hard-soled cop shoes pounding behind him, and he's naked, barefoot, wincing over gravel and broken glass littering the rooftop.
Strides grow desperate, muscles pulsing with blood, with power. Running for his life, his freedom. And he can't stop. Shouts behind him, warning shots.
And he's falling, falling, falling...
* * *
He has dreams where he can feel his dick.
Making love to Annabella, sinking into her velvet softness, feeling her body's clenching embrace drawing him in, surprisingly strong. He can feel her legs wrapping around his waist, long-nailed fingertips raking urgently across his hips and ass, and her soft, gasping cries as he pushes into her.
He tries to will the dream to bend the course of history — fucking Annabella without the door busting open, without the blue uniforms pouring in, without the... rest. But the two events are inextricably connected in his mind. Sometimes he thinks it's just another measure of the conspiracy to deny him even an ounce of satisfaction.
His mangled ruin of a spine leaves him with a permanent case of mental blue balls — desire forever to be unanswered by gratification, even as his dick faithfully rises and spends in a numb display of biological function. At least when conjugals were allowed he could take some measure of comfort in Annabella's ability to use him — the lack of sensation mitigated by her closeness, the taste and scent of her juices filling his one remaining pleasure organ — his head.
But they took that away, the way Oz took everything away, eventually.
* * *
He has dreams where he can feel his life.
Before Annabella's letter. Before Mom died. Before Oz. Before...this.
He can feel the street, the active pulse of the neighborhood, brisk trade on the corner. And he's with it, in it, of it. Alive. Free. Making deals, making mischief, doing business. Young. Strong. Invincible.
Sometimes they're waking dreams in a tit-snorting stupor. Whatever's needed to keep his mind from flipping that bus over and over, with Mom — all he had left of the outside world — smashed brutally inside the hulking wreck.
The smack drifts him past that unjumpable hurdle. Past the unmanning of Annabella's desertion, past the drudgery of the dress factory, and the slop on his dinner tray, and the pissy-sweaty funk of unwashed bodies crammed too tightly together. It runs him right past, until his fucking kidneys give out.
Life, real life, his life — life in Oz, how is he going to face that again? He wishes, in hindsight, that he'd never regained consciousness. That he'd died in the hospital, unknowing, in peace.
Well, at least he still has Burr. Through all the loss and drugs and violence and bullshit, Burr has been there. Fucked up, maybe, but there.
And then there's confusion, Italian guy, Urbano, coming at Burr with a shank. More drug war fallout. And it's instinct to reach out, to interfere, to yell, "Burr, no!"
He blinks disbelievingly as the blade misses Burr and enters his own flesh, burning hot and bright in a place he can still feel pain. And it's like a dream as chaos swirls around him, shouts and motion, Burr, McManus — why is McManus there? He looks up into McManus' wide, staring eyes, but he doesn't really see.
Is he dreaming? Is it just another dream? Is he free?
"I can feel my legs," he says, but his voice floats soundlessly in space.
And he's falling.