Monday, November 26, 2012

The Crashing Halt (26)

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.

            I took some extra time pushing stray trash from around the bonfire into the glowing embers after I threw my bag of trash onto the top of the flames.  The bag was melting and hissing as I finally turned away from the fire and started my hike through the dark property and towards the faint sounds and dim lights illuminating the farmhouse.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear the sounds of several car doors and engines starting followed by the familiar sound of the gravel driveway under the moving wheels of hastily exiting vehicles.  I deliberately slowed my pace to allow as many of our guests to leave as possible before I got to the farmhouse.  I wasn’t really in the mood for a lot of fake goodbyes and the potential to witness the expressions of feigned sadness on the faces of some of Bull’s longtime acquaintances as they retrieved the last bags of dope that they knew they would ever receive from Bull.  I refused to take part in some kind of charade of mundane grief over a decision that I knew Bull thought was obviously for the best for those of us closest to the situation on the farm.  Nevertheless, I was starting to ache for the taste of our last batch of dope, and I finally climbed the cinder-block stairs leading to the leaning, ramshackle porch at the rear of the farmhouse. 
            When I pushed the door open into the kitchen and walked into the fluorescent brightness of the lit house, I was pleased and visibly relieved to see that the only remaining faces at the table were Rhonda and Bull.  Dayna had resumed her position on the couch in the living room, and was snoring loudly while hugging a large bottle of what looked like expensive tequila.  I walked past the round table, and stood over the couch where Dayna was sleeping while Bull and Rhonda watched me wordlessly.  I looked over my shoulder at Bull and pointed to the bottle resting in Dayna’s arms.
            “Think she’ll mind?” I asked quietly.
“If you can wrestle it out of her grip, I don’t think she’ll even know it’s gone,” Bull laughed.  “I think she got pretty loaded while everybody else was out cleaning up.”
I began wiggling the bottle away from Dayna’s motherly embrace, and finally liberated it from her.  She never stirred, and I returned to the round table and sat next to Bull in Dayna’s chair.  I put the bottle of tequila in front of me as I sat down, and Bull picked it up, apparently examining the contents.  It was about two-thirds of the way full, and he set it back down while a fierce grin spread across his tired face.  The folds in the skin on his face looked almost like a worn out piece of sandpaper.
“Doesn’t take much to knock her the fuck out, does it?” He stated it more than he asked, laughing and shaking his head.
“Nah… cheap date I guess, huh?” I smiled back and removed the fancy, cork-style cap on the bottle and drank deeply from the warm contents.  Tequila always tasted better to me when it was warm, and now I was thankful that Dayna had been keeping it so close to her body.  “Can we get high now, boss?  Or did you give all of our hard work away to the worker bees?”
“Hell no, I didn’t give it all away…” he snarled, and reached under the table.  He retrieved two glass jars from somewhere near his feet.  The jars were dry, but cloudy with dope residue that had collected there during the smoking-off process.  At the bottom of one of the jars were two tightly wound coffee filters which resembled the crafty ghosts that kids made in grade-school art class with Kleenex and cotton balls.  Bull dumped the ghost-shaped filters onto the table in front of him and handed the jars to Rhonda, seated to his right in what was normally my spot.  She was holding a denture brush in one hand and had a square mirror on the table in front of her.  She immediately began to gently scrub the jar’s interiors with the brush, collecting and dumping the dope residue onto the mirror in front of her in a healthy-looking pile of white, powdery crystals.  Bull began to carefully unwrap one of the filters, exposing a large lump of white dope.  I watched intently as he gently prodded the clump of meth with his pinky finger.  It began crumbling into a fluffy pile of what I had begun to apparently, desperately and visibly want to ingest in some fashion. 
“Looks pretty good, huh?”  Bull looked over to me, and I responded with a sigh and a smile that must have looked and sounded pretty dumb, because he sat back and started laughing with his hand in front of his mouth.  Rhonda looked up from what she was working on, but by then I had recovered my composure, sat back in my chair, and lifted both of my middle fingers at Bull.
“Yeah… fuck you, boss.  You caught me geekin’ out a little bit.  You know how much I love to watch you take your time.”  My face felt warm and flushed, but I couldn’t help but laugh at myself.
“Okay, so what are we doing with this shit?” Bull asked, leaning to his immediate right.  He punched several buttons on his safe, and popped the door open.  He reached into the bottom of the large vault and retrieved a set of digital scales.  I watched as he powered the scales on and calibrated them, using a stray nickel he found on the table.  “Are we selling it, or keeping it for a rainy day?”
“Well, if what you mean by ‘keeping it for a rainy day’ is smoking it until its gone, then I vote for the rainy day plan.”  I was certain that Bull had no intentions of retracting his plan to stop cooking dope, but I was uncertain as to what his plans were for the recreational use of our drug of choice.  I clearly wasn’t looking forward to halting my use altogether.
“Alrighty then,” he powered off his scale, and tossed the device into a nearby garbage can.  “I guess I won’t NEED these anymore then.  I’m officially out of business.”
“Well thank God!” Rhonda exclaimed from her seat, and tapped the last of her two jars on the mirror.  The jars were now nearly crystal clear.  She dropped the denture brush into the jar she had just finished, and clapped her hands.  “Where do you want these?”
Bull yanked his thumb in the direction of the kitchen, and Rhonda quickly stood up and delivered the two jars to the kitchen counter and reclaimed her spot in my usual chair at the round table.
Bull pulled a clean pipe from the front of his bib-overalls and began loading it with fresh dope.  “I can’t believe none of those fuckers stuck around to at least get high with us.”  He shook his head thoughtfully, and lit his lighter underneath the glass ball of the pipe.  He inhaled from the smoking pipe deeply and deliberately, and handed it to me after it had cooled.  My mouth was wet with saliva, as my brain anticipated the effects of the smoke I was about to inhale.
“It’s not like I was gonna make any of them load any from what I gave them.”  Bull reached for one of the several packs of cigarettes in front of him, and tapped several smokes onto the table in front of him.  “I guess they all had better company to keep.”
“Fuck ‘em if they wanna be like that, boss. We’re done with most of them anyways, right?” I ignited my lighter, melting the dope in the pipe, and inhaled deeply from the smooth rich smoke.  I’m not sure if it was the effect of the tequila I had drank when I sat down at the table or something different Bull had done to this batch, but that particular hit was some of the best dope I had ever tasted in my time with Bull.  I handed the pipe over the table to Rhonda, and sat back in Dayna’s chair.  As I exhaled slowly I inhaled through my nose and recycled my own hit.  I relished the flavor of the dope, and it’s instant, stimulating effect on my weary brain.  I smiled to myself, and looked back towards Bull.
“Yeah,” he replied, “I think we’ve seen the last of most of ‘em anyways.”  Rhonda finished her turn with the pipe and handed it carefully to Bull.
“Good riddance, I say.” Rhonda stated during her exhale.  “Bully, do you mind if I bag these scrapings up and take ‘em home later?” She motioned towards the mirror in front of her, and the pile of powder upon it.
“Hell no, I don’t …” Bull stopped mid-thought and was looking at the wall behind her where the monitors we normally watched with great enthusiasm were now powerless and blank.   “Who powered down the monitors?”
We all looked at the blank screens.  I started to stand up, intending to remedy the malfunction when Bull reached his hand over to stop me.
“Don’t worry about all that just now.”  Bull used his hand to pat the table in front of me.  “Relax for awhile… somebody probably unplugged the power strip when they were cleaning.”
“Then it’ll be easy to fix it, boss.  Anyways… I’ll feel better if they’re on.  What if I run out of stimulating shit to talk about with you two boring motherfuckers?”  I ignored his request, made my way to the wall, and found the overburdened power strip and plugged the monitors back into the wall.  There was a series of beeps, affirming that the power had returned to the hub that gathered signals from the cameras located throughout the property, and I moved back towards my waiting, vacant seat at the round table.  The monitors began to flicker to life, and the green glow of the night-vision cameras began to come into focus as I sat down and took the pipe from Bull’s offering hand.
I continued getting high, and my attention fell from the monitors and their cycling views of the property until Bull stood up from his chair, pounding both hands on the table in front of him. 
“What the FUCK is this all about?”
I turned my attention to what had startled him from his spot.  The cameras had come online and began displaying a seemingly endless line of vehicle headlights approaching the farm from all directions.  Every time the camera view changed and flickered to another view it appeared as though another area of the farm was being invaded with the bright headlights of more vehicles closing in on the farmhouse.  
The last image I saw on the monitors was from the camera overlooking the front porch.  Several bulky figures were gathered at the door in what appeared to be body armor that I had only seen in the movies.  They were swinging what looked like a giant, black, metal log.
The front door to the farmhouse exploded inwards, as the kitchen door at the rear of the house was shattered from its hinges.  Black silhouettes were everywhere I looked.  I barely had time to realize that I was pissing my own pants before a hard, metal gun barrel was forcing my head onto the table.  The pipe was still in my hand as I exhaled my last hit of dope and began pleading for my life in unintelligible words escaping from my face and mouth which felt like they were being crushed onto the hard wood of the table, and one unfortunately overflowing ashtray.

This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo

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