Saturday, October 27, 2012

Puppies, Dope Cooks, and DCFS

     Every single word written here is an extraordinary exaggeration of events that have played out in my head... based on the stories I have heard from people I have met in jail or while I was dealing with my own stupidity and carelessness, resulting from my own addiction to alcohol and drugs.  This is in no way a glamorization of drug use, but a tool to lend some humanity to a subculture that has been demonized and written off as a hopeless and worthless part of our human family.  I do not condone or promote any of the behavior or activities herein.

Chapter Fourteen
          One event, in particular, changed the course of things forever for Bull and all of us reliant on his talents.  This change came in the form of a visit to the farm by the Department of Child and Family Services.  Bringing up DCFS in front of a group of meth-heads is kind of like saying the word 'Voldemort' to a bunch of non-muggle, magic-folk in the Harry Potter universe.  You just don’t say it without expecting bad things to happen.  Spines tingled, and hair stood up on the backs of necks from thoughts of previous experiences with these people  whenever the dreaded four-letters were uttered during normal conversation.  It was not a joke to anybody, being that none of us were capable of saying that we didn’t know somebody who had had their way of life turned upside down at one time or another by these child-harvesters and home-wreckers. 
People who worked for DCFS were thought of as the enemy, no matter how desperately the children in question needed to be plucked from their tweaker parent’s hands.  Nearly one-hundred percent of the times that DCFS showed up for drug related concerns, the police were not far behind (sometimes hours, sometimes days, but rarely a week) with search warrants, ready to arrest addicts and further separate addicted parents from their kids and begin the lengthy process of prosecution and re-distribution of the family.  I knew this fact-of-life very well, and Bull knew it all to well, as he had dealt with them extensively following one of his lengthier prison terms.

The day that DCFS showed up and took Dayna’s son from the farm I was on an errand which resulted from Dayna and her son losing their puppy, Lillybell, under the wheels of a combine passing in front of the farm the previous week.   Dayna had become increasingly incoherent and incapable of dealing with the boy over the last month, and often relinquished him to willing family members or more functional members of our circle.  The day that Lillybell got crushed by the passing combine must’ve been one of Dayna’s better days, as the days that her boy was with us on the farm were becoming few and far between. 

Lillybell’s death was traumatic for Dayna, but surprisingly not-so-traumatic for her son, who immediately hugged his crying mom and told her that it would be okay, and that they could just get a new puppy somewhere.  I thought that this was a surprisingly detached thing for a boy his age to think, but I immediately jumped at the chance to make things alright.  My friends a few towns over had just had a litter of mini pinschers, and they were looking to find willing homes for several of the pups… and I just so happened to have a couple of friends in need of a replacement puppy.  I borrowed one of Bull’s pickup trucks the following week, and traveled to my friends farm to pick up the puppy.  This was an all-day affair, as my friends were clear across two counties, and I hadn’t visited with them for quite some time.  They weren’t users, which made visiting kind of difficult for me, but they did have good beer and moonshine in the freezer, so I wasn’t preoccupied thinking about dope all day.
When the visit was done, and I had picked the puppy I wanted to take back to my friends, I said my goodbyes and carefully drove every gravel road I knew back to the farm, as I was pretty well hammered from a day of drinking and bullshitting.  I sobered up a little bit by taking a few hits off of a nearly dry, glass pipe, but it was really only enough to agitate my addiction.  The farm couldn’t come into sight soon enough.

As twilight set in, and the sun went down leaving a pink and purple hue in the southern Illinois sky, I pulled up into the driveway of the farm, and was met by Bull who was sulking around outside a darkened farmhouse by himself.  I waved from the truck as I turned off the engine, and grabbed the puppy, which had fallen fast asleep exactly two minutes before we reached our destination.  Before the pup had found a spot suitable for sleeping, it had been everywhere in the cab of the truck, including my shoulders, my lap and underneath the pedals.  There was also a fresh pile of puppy poop on the floor of the passenger side, and I believe it peed by my feet.  It was a nerve-wracking trip, to say the least.
“Hey Bull…” I said as I retrieved the puppy and shut the truck’s door.  I tossed him his keys which he caught without taking his eyes off the puppy in my hand.  I smiled at that little feat of skill.
“Is that it?” He asked.  “It don’t look like much of a dog.”
“Nah, it ain’t much.  But it’s enough for that boy, I suppose.  Where is everybody?”  I was beginning to get a dismal feeling about Bull’s demeanor, and asked, “What the hell’s wrong with you?”
“DCFS came today… Dayna failed her drug test for them, and they took her son away from her.”  Bull, looking more morose than I have ever seen him, reached over and grabbed the puppy from my hands and held it up in the diminishing light to inspect.
“Shut the FUCK up!  Did they bring cops?”
“Yessir.  They were ready for her to fail before they came out.  I guess somebody called the DCFS anonymous tip-line and reported her as an unfit mother who was addicted to meth.  You don’t know anything about that, right?”  Bull’s gaze fixed on me, and I couldn’t lie to him even if I had tried.
“Fuck you, man… why the fuck would I do that to you guys?  Are you being serious?”  I felt the blood in my knees disappear, and I went numb from my elbows down.  “I mean, for fuck’s sake, dude… I work hard around here trying to make things as easy as possible for you guys.  Why would you ask me something like that?”
“Hell man… I know you didn’t do nothing wrong… but everybody’s a suspect in my world.  You know that.  At least I hope I’ve taught you that much.”  He sighed and looked at the puppy in his hands.  “I don’t know how this is gonna go over with Dayna.  She’s a fucking mess, brother.”
“Well, I suppose it could go either way, Boss.  She’ll either love that doggy, or snap its neck.  Either way we have a lot of cleanup to do tonight, if we want to get that child back in his mother’s arms.”  I started to walk towards the dark farmhouse.  I can’t remember ever feeling like the farmhouse was this dark before.
“You’re right… we do.  Let’s go get this over with.”  Bull followed me to the house.  The puppy was licking his face and he was murmuring something under his breath to the dog.  He seemed to be smiling, but I could hardly tell in the faint light.  The sky had turned orange and black behind the silhouette of the farmhouse.
I opened the screen door, to find Dayna lying on the couch with an arm over her eyes, and a river of  tears flooding down her face.  She took her arm from her eyes and looked at me with red, bulging eyes underneath puffy, bruising eyelids.
“They took him away from…  I’ll probably never see my son again…”  What appeared to be fresh cuts above her elbow had left streaks of pink tears on her face, adding to the horror of the day.
“I heard about that Dayna.  I’m real sorry, but believe me, we’re gonna do whatever we can to fix this situation.  Right Bull?”

“That’s right.”  Bull was pandering to her a little bit, but Dayna didn't seem to notice.  “Look at the present he brought for you.  It’s a male.”  Bull pulled the puppy from behind his back, and at that moment, the puppy who had been silent most of the ride here, and the whole time we had been in the driveway, began whimpering and trying to get out of Bull’s hands.
Dayna’s eyes brightened briefly underneath the glaze of sticky tears and puffy eyelids for a brief moment while she reached for the puppy, which went silent in her hands, as if inspecting Dayna the way Bull inspected him. The pup remained squirmy in Dayna’s hands until she held him to her face where he immediately began licking the tears and pink, diluted bloodstains from her face.  She closed her eyes and hugged the puppy, and muttered “Awwww… thank you.”                   
That was the last we heard from Dayna that night.  Bull and I began to carry on a conversation as if Dayna wasn't there, which in all actuality... she wasn't.      
“I guess that went well then… right?”  I asked Bull and smiled.  We both began walking towards the round table in the other room.  Bull pulled a pipe from his pocket, turned on the overhead light to inspect its contents, and began smoking.
“It could’ve gone A LOT worse.”  He said through thick smoke as he smiled back and handed me his pipe. “Well, I guess we ought to cook up the rest of these pills before we throw everything away, huh?”  Bull pulled a pile of pills and about 15 blister packs out of his jacket and showered them on the huge, solid table.
“Are you fucking serious?”  I nearly choked on my hit, as I stammered with obvious disbelief in my voice.
“When am I not?” Bull replied flatly.  He threw me a small, black duffle bag.  So, without thinking much, and before he could change his mind, I started to gather the blister packs and whatever else we needed from the house and shove them into the bag.  
“You're right you lunatic... lets fucking cook some dope before they come back with search warrants.”  I smiled and said, but I was scared as hell.  But there was no amount of fear that could keep me from doing what we were about to do.  There wasn’t any authority in the world who could threaten to take anything away from me that could stop what we were about to do.  At that moment I loved nothing more than the idea of spinning off another batch of dope.  DCFS or not.  At that moment I realized that I  wasn’t only addicted to meth, but I was addicted to making it… I was addicted to the shared giddiness between Bull and I, and I was addicted to getting away with it.  Bull must have seen it in my eyes, because he smiled that fierce grin, and his eyes looked like a bright blue propane torch again.  It was refreshing after witnessing his morose behavior when I arrived.
“Let’s get on it motherfucker." Bull sneered.  "Johnny Law is coming, and the clock is ticking.”
The clock was ticking, indeed.

This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo