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.
The journey back to the farm was one of the longest car rides of my entire life. I was feeling queasy and highly anxious from having consumed the amount of alcohol and dope that I had. Not to mention that I was starting to get dope sick from not continuing to get high at the pace that I had been while I was sitting in Rhonda’s apartment. My brain wouldn’t stop replaying the feelings of the needle in my arm, and the cold, burning sensation in my skin and veins after being injected with dope. If I closed my eyes, I could see the blood from my vein swirling inside of the syringe before the plunger was depressed. I began sweating a little bit, and bouncing my leg. Rhonda noticed my leg bouncing and reached over, placing her hand above my knee with the familiarity of a concerned mother.
“Relax, kiddo… we’ll be gettin’ high again in a little while. Bull texted and said he had a houseful of people hanging out and partying. Just play it normal, and nobody will know any better…” She stopped talking, slammed on the brakes and put both her hands on the steering wheel.
“What’s the deal, Rhonda? Why’d we stop??” I asked looking in the passenger-side mirror, which was splattered with mud, and then behind me to see if we were being followed.
“Nothing really, kid… I just hope you take me very seriously when I tell you that I don’t talk about the shit that goes on at my house. It stays there. You’re welcome to come and go with my blessing, as long as you adhere to that one, simple rule. Bull is my little cousin… and my daddy’s Godson. He doesn’t need to know how I enjoy myself at home. Is that understood?” Rhonda was staring at me with the intensity of a boxer whom I would be challenging to a title bout.
“Well, yeah Rhonda. Do you think I want him to know that I tried bangin’ dope? If you think that I do, or that I’d want to face the kind of disappointment I’d see in his eyes… you’re gravely mistaken. I certainly wouldn’t think of telling him your personal business… unless it affected how we were handling our… um… other, uh… business.” I reached into the front pocket of my jeans, and pulled out the wad of cash that I had collected from her over the last day, holding it up to examine. “Apparently it hasn’t affected your ability to handle business on my end, so it’s none of my business, or Bull’s… what the hell you do in your own home.”
Apparently she was pleased with my response because she stepped on the accelerator and the car lurched forward. The ancient, ill-sounding engine continued whining away as gravel spun under the tires of the rusty grey sedan. I resumed my examination of the scenery passing by my window. After a short time, I grew bored with the passing farm fields, and started looking around Rhonda’s messy car. There were receipts and soda cans scattered around the floorboards of the car, so I started to pick up the pieces of paper to examine them. There was really no reason for me to be interested in Rhonda’s receipts, other than that I was trying to keep my mind occupied. Reading receipts from Wal-Mart seemed as healthy an activity as anything else right now… and to my tweeked out brain, it was extraordinarily interesting.
The first few receipts were unremarkable, and showed purchases of soda, cigarettes, hair products, groceries, and DVD’s. I found one receipt in the compartment of the passenger door that caught my interest though. It was a receipt for an oil change and the purchase of a car battery. At the bottom of the receipt was a box of asterisks with bold capitol letters.
KEEP THIS RECIEPT AND RETURN
YOUR OLD BATTERY FOR A
CORE EXCHANGE AND $10 REFUND
I held the receipt up and asked, “Can I keep this? Bull has about 50 old car batteries at the farm, and you never know when cash will be short.”
“Sure, hon… have at it.” Rhonda replied, never taking her eyes off the road.
I stuffed the receipt into my pocket, and resumed looking out the window. We were getting closer to the roads I was familiar with, and I felt a wave of relief wash over me. Along with relief I noticed that I was becoming steadily more aware of the amount of alcohol I had consumed as the dope was wearing off. I recognized my state of mind as ridiculously drunk… and smiled in spite of myself. Bull was not going to be happy with me. He was pretty tolerant of drinking a few beers now and then, but he absolutely loathed dealing with people who were slobbering drunk. Slobbering drunk is exactly where I was heading when the dope wore off, and it was wearing off very quickly.
The minutes ticked by while Rhonda and I drove in silence for the remainder of our journey to the farm. By the time we were pulling up in the main driveway of Bull’s property, I had caught myself nodding off several times. I immediately noticed an unusual number of vehicles parked on the gravel road in front of the farmhouse, and also in the front yard. I straightened myself up in the passenger seat, turned to Rhonda and said, “He wasn’t kidding about having a house full of people, was he?” The sluggish sound of my voice surprised me, and I shook my head in a vain attempt to regain my composure.
Rhonda shook her head, and put the car in park. I composed myself as well as I could, and was disappointed to realize that my hands weren’t cooperating fully with me as I fumbled for the door handle. Apparently, while I was attempting to gain exit from the car and failing miserably, Rhonda had made her way to my side of the car, and opened the door from the outside. I looked up at her blearily and mumbled a token of thanks.
“Look at you, young thing… you’re a fucking mess.” She reached down to grab my hand and pulled me up from the car seat with ease. “You’re not going to want to talk a lot in there, okay? Is there a bed I can pour you into somewhere in there?” She was laughing while she hoisted my arm over her shoulder and walked me to the porch stairs.
“I sure hope so…” I slurred. “Bull’s gonna be angry at me…”
“Hell… he better not be. You made him a lot of money last night.” Rhonda was stopping on each stair to ensure my stable ascent.
“You got my back, right lady?” I swung my heavy head in her direction, and ended up resting it on her shoulder. “I’m fucking drunk… goddammit, all that dope wore off… sonofabitch…”
“Shhhh… I’ll put you in bed, don’t you worry.” Rhonda was opening the screen door to the farmhouse when I finally began blacking out. The last thing I remember was hearing the sound of lots of people talking, and Bull’s booming voice.
“Well, what the hell did you do to him?”
“Just hush your mouth and help me get him into a bed, Bully…”
This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo