February 23, 2015
In Focus And On Her Way
I was seated in the passenger side of my car, a 1997 Honda Civic hatchback, too high to drive. Steve was driving, navigating us down roads with names like Roberto Clemente Drive and High Street, deep in the flats of Holyoke in our abusive motherland of Western Massachusetts. Having just bought a little over a half ounce of cocaine, I was complaining because his connection Lulo had given it to us already dimed up, meaning we’d have to individually rip open 50 or so of these little white snappers in order to get it all in one big pile like we loved to do. There’s something extremely exciting and strangely comforting staring at a big pile of drugs, much like staring at a pile of money. I called ’em snappers because they look like those paper snapper things we’d buy at the corner store when we were kids. You know what I’m talking about; you’d throw ’em at the ground or more likely, the back of some poor bastard’s head and they’d create a little explosion. Not only did they kind of look the same but I guess you could say they had the same effect all those years later… little explosions. Anyway, here I was, holding a sandwich baggie filled with all these little bundled up white rocks, looking for a spot to hide them. Too big for the usual go-to of an empty pack of cigarettes I instead jammed it in the unused ashtray and turned up the radio. I can still remember U2’s Vertigo playing and Bono counting off “Uno, dos, tres, cuatorce!” I was so far gone I didn’t even bother to change the station.
We came to a stop sign and Steve threw out the question of whether we should go back to the hotel, meaning a left turn, or stop by his rented storage space, meaning a right turn. I can’t remember what we wanted from that storage locker but I’m sure it was important. Anyways, before I could answer he was turning right, loudly peeling out and fishtailing into the afternoon traffic. I remained ultra calm and the world outside seemed beautiful from behind my sunglasses as we whipped by the old shuttered factories and faded brick buildings of the once prosperous paper mill city of Holyoke. It was unusually sunny and warm for mid-October and the weather went perfect with the opiates soaking my brain. Come to think of it, a cold rain would have fit too. I reached down under my seat and felt around for the plastic tube that I knew was down there somewhere. I pulled out an unlabeled CD-R and wondered what was on it. My hand felt something glass and I pinched it with two fingers and awkwardly fished it out. There it was, the pipe. Have you ever seen those little fake roses inside glass tubes they keep semi out of sight and sell for a dollar in city convenient stores? That’s what you use to smoke coke. Of course you’ll need a Chore Boy copper scrubber from the grocery store that you cut up and jam in the top to act as a screen. Obviously. We’d already done all of this and, as we were wont to do, taken it a bit further by attaching the pipe to a long clear plastic tube. We cut a hole in the bottom of a plastic soda cup from McDonalds and fed said tube up into and right out of the hole in the top, just like a straw. It was an ingenious and hilarious apparatus that allowed us to take blasts pretty much anywhere we wanted. Stopped at a red light, I’d say something like “I’m thirsty,” and Steve would load up the pipe and say “Go,” my signal to take a sip. I’d even cheers the car next to me if the mood struck. Be friendly.
But I digress. We saw the cop as we came off the bridge, sitting there like some short-haired troll in the shadow of one of those nondescript buildings I mentioned. I kept him in my peripheral as we passed by at 30 MPH, outwardly breaking none of his laws. Steve kept silent but the mood in the car spoke volumes. The pig put the kibosh on that fleeting sense of fuck you freedom that happens in the afterglow of a successful drug deal. I saw him nervously eye fucking the rear view mirror and smelled the trouble coming at us.
He said it quiet and with little emotion but hearing that word made my whole body go amphetamine tense and I knew right away that the fucker was behind us. I didn’t even ask. Suddenly we were taking a guilty hard right into the corner gas station and aiming the hatchback for the pump where we over shot the preferred lineup from nozzle to gas tank door a good 5 feet, give or take. Steve threw it in reverse and before I even completely turn my head around I could see the flashing lights. They weren’t as dramatic and heart seizing as they become after sun-down but the sentiment wasn’t lost on us. The first thing I did was grab the contraband and shove it down between the seat and center console, all the while trying to keep my head still and my shoulders level. That’s when I noticed it. Like some kind of evil translucent serpent coiled at my feet the pipe lay, waiting to strike. “Son of a bitch!” I said out loud, and Steve instantly knew what I was referring to. “Hide. Hide!” he muttered under his breath like some kind of junkie ventriloquist while I desperately kicked at the thing in an attempt to banish it back under the seat. I can still hear that knock at the window. Three short and very stern raps and I knew the jig was up. I calmly turned my head in a manner meant to look like I was expecting someone to be there and met my eyes with his. The son of a bitch actually smirked and nodded his head yes when he told me, in an almost disappointed tone to, “Open yr window,” which I did quite willingly. At the same time the other cop was at the driver’s side talking to Steve, who was in the process of digging his license out of his pocket. I observed his trembling hand as he handed it over to the officer and I knew then, without a doubt, that we were going to jail. The hammer was about to come screaming down on us, a hammer that I had failed to acknowledge after repeated close calls, a hammer that had been destined to nail me all my life. Here she was, in focus and on her way.
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