Written Spring 2012
The percocet crackled and smoked like a fresh log thrown onto a bonfire. The refractions of the lighters flame across the crinkled tin foil gave the large V emblazoned across the pill an ominous appearance. It looked as if it were the altarpiece from a ritual of a dark and ancient culture. A race hidden beyond the reach of the fragile records that our species' keep of our trials and tribulations. A people who resided in the dark corner of some unexplored jungle, where human blood flowed like rivers in the name of appeasing a bloodlust god that ruled over his people with an iron fist and an insatiable lust for sacrifice.
Fucking hell, Ed thought, I really have to stop letting my mind wander in this condition. No matter what I try to think about I always end up back at the same place. The memory of his last fix felt at once both moments and eons ago, but it was neither. Ed had gone two days without any opiates, and the starvation was beginning to feel unbearable. He was supposed to get paid for some odd jobs he did for his uncle yesterday, but when he called for the money, he was informed that he was going to be boned for at least a week. This did not bode well with Edathan, since he had been using every day for the past month. Now that he was on his second day without, and he was beginning to get desperate. There was much dispute among addicts as to which day of withdrawal was the worst, but the general consensus was either day two or three, and Ed placed himself firmly in the former group. By day three you knew that you were over the hill and it was only going to get better.
The biggest reason Ed despised the second day was the itching. The itching was another divisive issue among perc aficionados. Most people found it to be at worst a minor nuisance, some people Ed knew even said they found it to be enjoyable. Ed, on the other hand, hated the itches. They were worse than the upset stomach, the pain, the weird combination of restlessness and lack of energy that kept you constantly bedridden but too wired to ever sleep. The itches tormented him to the verge of madness. They would surface randomly across his body and pulsate like a distress beacon. If he ignored them each throb would build in intensity until he could focus on nothing else, then, when he finally gave in, the itch would instantly jump to a new location on his body like a sadist's take on whack-a-mole. The only solution Ed was ever able come up with was to scratch each of the areas where the itch manifested itself until the skin was raw and there was a lingering pain. Once the skin was sore like that, the itch wouldn’t return to the general vicinity of the wound, so he would cover his body with scratch marks in an attempt to strangle the itch out of existence.
As Ed inspected the red trails that ran about his body like a forgotten map, he heard a knock on the door. The piercing bangs thrashed around his skull and set loose an avalanche of rage through his body.
“Who the fuck is it?” he yelled with no attempt to restrain his displeasure.
“It's Jon.” Came the unfazed reply. A jolt of energy shot through Jon's body. Maybe this was the solution. Jon got paid yesterday. Surely he would have something he could lend me til the money comes through.
The door opened, and Jon walked through, carrying a box of Reynold's wrap and a tube of toilet paper.
“Yo man.” Ed said, making no effort to conceal his desperation. “That money Jake said he was gonna give me today fell through. I'm hurting like hell right now. Any chance you could help me out.
“Dude I only got two left.” Jon replied. “And I need the other one for tomorrow.”
“Dude, I'll make something happen tomorrow, I swear. I'm just hurting like hell right now and I need a fix ASAP.”
“Well allright, as long as you hit me back.”
Jon pulled out a pack of cigarettes and ripped the wrapper off, revealing two light blue pills that had been stuffed down the back of the pack. Despite the distortion of the cellophane the two pills glowed like the moon on a cloudless summer night in Jonathan's mind. Jon tossed one of the pills into Jon's lap. “Merry fuckin Christmas,” he said with a smile.
“Holy shit.” Ed stammered, and then after a brief but palpable pause said “Thank you” with a sincerity as profound as any he could recently recall.
Ed went at the pill like a piranha, swiping a piece of the tin foil, a rolled up strip of paper and the pill on his lap in a single motion. He put one end of the paper in his mouth, popped the perc on a small indentation he pushed into the tin foil with his thumb, and held the lighter to the other side of the foil until the pill began to coast and a thin wisp of smoke wound into the air up and up through the paper. The smoke settled in Ed's lungs and began the process of purging all the symptoms that had been plaguing him the past few days: the itching, the restlessness, the leg and stomach pain, the morbid self reflection, the unrestrained bitterness, and the all around acting like an intolerable asshole. Jon felt like himself again.
“What are you gonna tell Jenny this time?” Jon asked, as the scowl that had scarred Ed's face for the past two days melted into a floppy, oblivious expression of a man in great relief. “Let me guess: You needed forty bucks to get your poor grandmother on a bus across the state to a specialty clinic for uncontrollable toe spasms?”
“Nah, I'll figure something else out. Jenny still won't believe anything I say since she found out about where all the money for Dad's ear surgery actually went.”
“That blows.” Jon said. “It's half the fun of keeping them around in the first place.”
“Tell me about it.” Ed replied.
“Or better yet, how about you tell me about your grandmother. She should be just about ready for a new refill.”
“Not until a week from tomorrow.”
“Well than.” Jon replied. “How exactly are you going to make good on this commitment to get me a pill for tomorrow.”
“Well, it just so happens that Mike Berlinger introduced me to this new guy who's trying to get started in the game.”
“Are you kidding me? Another one of these,” Jon replied, his eyes just barely breaking contact with the makeshift tinfoil fireplace he created. “You know that these things never work out.”
“Chill the fuck out, man, this time it's 100% a go.” Ed said.
“How the fuck do you know that?” Jon said.
“So I went to a party at Mike Berlinger's crib two nights ago...”
“And what, someone came up to you with some bullshit theoretical offer that you are going to over-exaggerate to me right now and try to convince me that you have a concrete plan.”
“Will you fucking relax! Acting like your hot shit all of a sudden. You haven’t even listened to what I have to say and already you're starting with this shit. ”
“I don't even need to, I've heard it all before. You met some guy you think we can rip off so you scrape the limbs from a bunch of other retarded schemes together into some kind of conceptual abortion, but this time you're sure it will work because you addressed one of the millions of things wrong with your previous failures.”
“Well if your so sure that my ideas suck than I guess I can find someone else to share the two bottles of percocet I'm going to have tomorrow with.”
“Alright, Alright,” Jon muttered. “So you were at Mikey's party.”
“Yeah. So I meet this dude I've never seen before, think his name was Fred Welter or something.”
Jon looked up.
“Wait. Tall, lanky fellow with black guido hair?” he asked.
“Yeah. You know him?”
“Sorta. About two years ago he sold this guy Jesse I used to work with 120 Thorazine telling him they were Oxycontin.”
“It's an antipsychotic. There's a particular brand that is almost indistinguishable from an 80. Same shape, same number on the front, and damn near the same color. The only differences are the Thorazine is slightly darker and they have a logo on the reverse side instead of the OC writing. Poor bastard didn't pick up on either; he shot two of em and ended up spending the weekend in ICU. Fred's got balls of steel showing his face round these parts. I heard that the first place Jesse went when he got discharged was that Russian dude you met that sold the off-the-boat burners.”
“Good to know. Guess I'll have to make sure to get a good look the the percs before I commit to stealing them.”
“And how exactly do you plan on doing that?”
“I'll ask to look at them of course.” Ed said with a grin.
“No, I mean how do you plan on stealing them?”
“I figure I'd bring back a classic. Remember Chris Masachiski?”
“You've got to be fucking kidding me. Of all the ridiculous schemes you've tried to pull off over the years, that one may take the title.”
“Last time I checked, the only thing ridiculous about it was how easy it was to pull off.”
“Yeah, and that was only because Chris was about fifteen braincells away from qualifying for euthanasia. Nobody with a functioning Parietal Lobe is going to have any trouble recognizing a counterfeit bill from a god damned computer printer.”
“Chris didn't find out until he tried to deposit it in the bank.”
“Yeah, and he probably didn't find out about the tooth fairy til his mid twenties. Do you remember what happened to him when he tried to deposit it. He spent the weekend in getting questioned by the god damned FBI on suspicion of felony counterfeiting. You were only saved from a few decades in federal because he was too high to remember who he had sold to that day.”
“Whatever. Who cares what happens to this dude, you didn't exactly make him out to be Mother Teresa. It only needs to fool him long enough for me to get the fuck out of the house. Let the FBI send him to Guantanamo Bay for all I care. It's not like hes gonna admit he got them from selling pills.”
“So what, have you arranged a meetup or anything yet?” Jon asked?
“No, not yet. I was gonna call him later.”
“Call him now,” Jon replied.
“Why do you want me to call him now?” Ed asked.
“Because I think that you're full of shit. I bet that this whole thing was a bunch of bullshit you just made up on the spot.”
“You want me to call him now! Fine I'll call him.” Ed pulled out his phone and dialed a number.
“Yo Fred. What's up. Yo, this is Ed, from Mikey's place. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I was wondering if I could pick up a scrip from you tommorrow. What. Oh shit. Damn.” The phone clicked shut, and Ed's face contorted into a frown.
“Look dude, it turns out that he couldn't end up getting it. I'm really sorr”
“Fuck you man! I told you I needed that shit for tommorrow. I knew you were full of shit!”
“Look, I'm really sorry.”
“I don't give a shit how sorry you are. Give me the rest of my pill back.”
“What? Dude c'mon man.”
“No. Fuck you. Hand it back.”
“No.” Ed said forcefully. Jon reached into his hoodie and pulled out a .22 pistol, then pointed the barrel at Ed's temple.”
“I said give me back the fucking pill.”
“Fuck you. What are you gonna do, shoot me over a god damn perc.”
“Damn straight.” Jon clicked off the safety.
“Then fucking do it.”
Jon stood there staring down at Ed, his hands shaking. Then Ed opened his mouth.
“Fucking pussy. Don't whip out a gun unless you have the balls to...”
A shot rippled through the air, sending pieces of Ed's skull into a Pollackesque splatter that covered the back wall. Jon grabbed a roll of paper towels and wiped down the gun. He reached his shielded hand into Ed's pocket and pulled out a wallet. Ten dollars. With the thirteen I have that makes twenty three. He walked out the door, wiping the knob as he exited. As he walked out of the house he pulled out his phone and made a call.
“Yo Joey, what's good. Yo, any chance you could sell me one for twenty three.”