Epidemic- Chapter 15
My eyes are still heavy, as my body fights to wake up to the awareness of where Eric is taking me. It is dark now and I wonder if I have been sleeping from exhaustion or if I am fighting the near death of this heroin fog. My mind continues to question Eric about where we are going, what does he think he is doing driving my vehicle and how did he find me. However, I cannot find the strength to physically speak these questions. Eric is reassuring me that I am lucky he has come along and found me when he did. Why? Am I overdosing? I’ve never OD’d before. Maybe this is what it feels like. Will some cold air hitting my face help me to wake up? Eric has cracked the passenger window and I am being met with it. It feels good on my clammy skin. Eric passes me a lit cigarette and tells me he is here now to take care of me. Do I need him to take care of me? What does he mean by that?
Anger begins to boil off the heroin and suddenly I am able to articulate my thought into a demanding question. Just what the fuck does he think he could ever do to take care of me? He smiles his smirky little grin. I am reminded of when I was able to wipe that smirk off his face not so long ago and I fake a smile in his direction. We have had repeated arguments about my not wanting him to drive my vehicle. He is not insured on the policy and the vehicle is in my father’s name. I never let him drive it. Even with a valid driver’s license, he knows better.
I demand that he pull over but he just laughs and questions my ability to drive in the condition I am in. Of course, he is correct. While I am uncertain as to what the exact nature of this condition is, it would be unsafe for me to be behind the wheel of the vehicle. It is funny, well more ironic in truth, that I have some how rationalized my inability to drive now. With a constant needle in my arm and an accompanied heroin nod, it is never safe for me to be driving really, but like a drunk justifying the sway in their walk with only consuming two drinks, HA, I won’t admit that I am not in control. The surroundings are becoming familiar, as the haze begins to fade from my mind. I recognize the direction we are headed. Eric is driving the back way to the Skagit Casino. He knows that I love to gamble when we are down to a pathetic five bucks. More often than not, with a little patience and a twenty cent bet, I seem to have found a steady luck that will turn it into at least a twenty dollar bill. Once it took three hours but, I was able to turn six dollars into forty five.
Eric never comes into the casino with me. He insists he is content just sitting in the car and listening to music on the computer. I never leave the keys in his possession. I suppose if I were really smart I might realize that he could walk off with the computer and turn it into cash easily enough but for some reason I doubt his intention in doing so. He is glued to my laptop. He tweaks out on it, making countless playlists of all genres of music. Truthfully, I prefer that he allows me to go play for a few hours. It gives me time to be alone with my thoughts and there is most definitely a rush that comes along in the thrill of turning change into profit. There has only been a mere handful of times I was unable to do so, so I have convinced myself I have found a niche in the system. Fairy’s Fortune slots are my favorite. It features three bonus rounds and tends to keep me playing the longest.
As we continue to inch closer to the casino, I inform Eric that I can see the plan he has for me to once again come to the rescue and find a way to save our asses from the inevitable sickness we will fall victim to in the coming hours, if we are unable to dose again. Again? Shit, I had two shots worth of dope left last I remember and I know I only took one. Did he take my final shot? It wouldn’t be the first time. I trace the under-wire of my bra to find that the small chunk of tar is still concealed there in its little baggie.
He laughs at me again. My eyes roll into the back of their sockets, as I attempt to steady my head upright. Hours had gone by between the time that I abandoned Eric at the lake to the time he stumbled across me slumped over in my car. What had he been doing that had provided him with any money? In fact, the more I observe his behavior, he is obviously tweaking. My suspicions are confirmed when he pulls off up the road from our destination, tosses a baggie of crystal on my lap and says it is time to do a line and wake my ass up. I reach for my Tech N9ne CD case to chop up a couple lines. As I am crushing the crystal with my grocery store rewards card, Eric tosses a fifty dollar bill on my lap and tells me that’s for me to play on tonight. Fifty bucks? That is a nice sum of dope for us right now. Why would he want us to gamble it? Is this some sort of trick? Is this another way for him to degrade me when I come out of the casino broke? Giving him a reason to blame and hate on me? Possibly, however, if he is willing to toss me a fifty, I am most certain he has plenty more in his pocket. Naturally, he won’t confide the truth with me about how much he has or how he has become in possession of his new found riches.
Normally, I would question him and be reluctant to take anything that may be stolen. Something inside me has changed. Suddenly, I have gone from the girl who has cried repeatedly about her own possessions being jacked, from a girl who refused to be any part of any kind of shoplifting, home invasion or even simple stealing from cribs (houses) that we were chilling at, to a girl who has nothing more to lose. Why cry about taking from others when I have been robbed of everything? A sense of entitlement even, or so I choose to rationalize. An eye for an eye, if you will. It is typical for him to throw the crystal at me to cut lines. That way he can criticize me no matter how thin or fat I make them. If they are fat, he will accuse me of being greedy and if they are thin he will call me stupid and elaborate we will never get high on the amount I have crushed. For the longest time I would refuse responsibility but he would not budge and my insane desire to get high would always win. Tonight I don’t care and put up no fight for him to chop them up.
After I have crushed and lined up two fatty rails, I hand the CD case to him for him to pick which line to snort. Surprisingly, he instructs me to go first. I question him briefly, assuming that after I snort a line he will chastise me for snorting the bigger line, but I inhale the rail quickly. It burns. I pinch at my nose, as tears well in the corner of my eyes. My body rocks back and forth and I reach for a bottle of water to snort a small amount of liquid, forcing a drip and bringing relief to the burn. Once my rail has hit me, I hand the CD case to Eric. He again refuses it and tells me to take the other line. These lines were fat and my nose is still burning. Is this a joke? What is he up to? He runs his hand across my face and tells me to take it and get well. There is mixed emotion about riding another rail. In part, I want to. However, the burn makes my entire body cringe with the idea of snorting another one. Without any further delay, I plug my other nostril and inhale the massive rail. SHIT! It burns. God! It hurts so good.
Eric doesn’t even ask me to leave the keys with him, so we avoid the fight of me walking off with them in refusal to do so. He tells me to have fun and win big. We agree to my being in there for no longer than three hours without coming out to check in. That is equivalent time to the laptop’s battery dying. Once inside, I race over to my Fairy’s Fortune, but sadly they are full. I choose to remain in the area so that when one opens up, I can jump on it. It is difficult to bet only twenty cents when I have fifty bucks in my pocket. I decide to sit on a machine I have never played before and try a couple spins at a dollar bet. Just my luck, I hit a bonus round on my second spin! Within the bonus, my machine retriggers and I am granted more free spins. My jaw is jacking and I rock back in forth with anticipation of what this bonus round might bring. The game retriggers again and I am granted several more spins. Once the bonus is complete, my jaw drops. My second spin, on a dollar bet, I hit the bonus and I now have over four hundred dollars on my ticket.
Oh my God! Over four hundred dollars in the machine. What should I do with it? Should I quit now while I am ahead? Do I dare tell Eric about the winnings, or hide some for myself? I know he is not being forthcoming about how much more money he has in his possession right now. I have never lied or kept secrets from Eric before but suddenly I feel the urge to. Of course, I have only just sat down mere minutes ago. If I came out now he would know I either did something really stupid and lost it all quickly, or that I indeed hit big and therefore I would need to produce the winnings. I don’t want to leave yet. Perhaps tonight is my lucky night. Naturally, I will continue to bet a dollar per spin for awhile, considering I am ahead.
It pays off. Only a few spins later and I find myself in another bonus round. Each spin dings and cha-chings, with pays. This is both very exciting and nerve racking. What should I do? Keep the money and score massive amounts of dope and a shower or keep trying my luck on this machine? This machine is still paying. The bonus didn’t retrigger, but it added another hundred bucks to my total, bringing my ticket up over five hundred. After another fifteen spins the machine has the appearance of being done with it’s generous payouts, but the gambler developing inside of me urges me to take one more spin and then just one more spin. When I was a cocktail server at a casino, I witnessed people deposit their entire paychecks into the slot machines. They were angry and depressed and it was almost a warning for me to not get sucked in. I didn’t gamble back then.
In addition, I watched my coworkers get off work after ten hour shifts on their feet dealing with these angry, depressed customers and in turn put all their hard earned tips back into the machines. I never understood how they could work ten hours to lose it all in twenty minutes. Of course, they won sometimes and therein lies the answer. The winning, is itself like a drug. It produces it’s own euphoric high. My entire body is buzzing with excitement and anticipation of what the next spin will bring. My machine hits five of a kind and starts dinging with it’s wins. Another fifty bucks! At this point I know I should pull my ticket out and leave, but my tweaker brain is focused on playing. That’s the thing about meth. It scrambles the part of your brain that is responsible for focusing on things. No matter how badly you want to stop hitting the button, your finger continues to connect to it. While this is much more fun than cleaning the same spot in my car for six hours despite multiple attempts to focus my brain on to something else; I fear I will not find my ability to walk away. If that ends up being the case, I will lose it all.
I fight my machine going up and down with the same forty bucks for the better part of a half hour. Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, I notice a woman is getting off of my favorite game. Quickly, I hit the cash out button and make my way to take her place at Fairy’s Fortune. Almost immediately, I am in the bonus round. There are actually three bonus rounds; however, this one is my favorite. It takes you to a screen, where you chose items on the screen, in hopes you do not find the fairy. Each item is worth money, but if you find the fairy, it ends that portion of the bonus and takes you to another screen where you chose from a few constellations. Those are worth the most money.
Success, I have chosen several items before I find the fairy. Once faced with the constellations, I take a moment to consider my options. The man with the bow, is a no. I rationalize I hate men and they never pay me, they only take. The butterfly is beautiful; however, the unicorn reminds me of Natty. My daughter loves unicorns and I choose it. It pays off! It was the largest amount of money and the bonus has added another $120 to my winnings! Another hour of play goes by, bringing several bonuses and big payouts. My ticket is at $1200. It is imperative that I convince my tweaker brain to focus on walking away and refrain from hitting the button. There is always that voice in the back of my head instructing me to take one more spin. I ignore it. After I cash out my ticket, I make my way to the bathroom. This is unreal. I can not help but to count it in the stall several times. What should I do? Eric has no idea how much money I have made. His lazy, pathetic ass is chilling in the car.
If I pocket some for myself, will he do a body search to see if I am hiding money from him? My mind can’t help but wander to the idea of inserting some cash into a body cavity; it is highly unlikely he would do a body cavity search! Although, he is a tweaker and quite possibly the worst human being I have ever met; who knows what he is capable of? It is insane, I know but I can’t fight this annoying instinct to be truthful about my winnings. Somehow I have rationalized that I am not a liar. Why? Because, yeah I lie about my drug use; however, with regards to most everything else, I am an honest person. Why can’t I justify lying to Eric?
Fuck it. I take $500 and shove it into the baggie my last piece of tar is concealed in. I have never done this before and am reluctant to insert anything into my bum. Just the thought of it makes me cringe and I am uncertain if I can muster the strength to do it. The other option proves an easier concept, but it too, has me paused for the moment. How can I do this and which way do I go about it? Perhaps, I could just put the baggie in my underwear without inserting it anywhere and get away with it, but what if he frisks me. He has groped me a few times before when he thought I was hiding dope from him.
Of course, he has never found anything because I have never hidden anything or cheated him before so maybe he will trust what I produce, as being everything I won. After all, I am still coming out with $700. That amount, in and of itself is huge and he may have no reason to question if there is more when I am already producing so much. Why is this so difficult for me? If this were dope and cops were pulling me over, it would already be up my bum without hesitation; however, this has a major EEW and OWW factor. Nevertheless, it’s done. After I wash my hands thoroughly, I giggle out loud at the thought playing through my head. For whatever reason, I hear Ace Ventura’s voice saying, yummmmy and see his silly face while saying it. The other ladies at the sink look at me, as I have my giggle fit. So this must be what a drug mule feels like? I am seriously walking out the door of the casino with a piece of tar and $500 shoved up my pooper.
Once inside the car, Eric looks at me and suggests I must have lost considering I was not in there for the entire time allotted to play. My mind wanders to the idea that he might accept his truth as the answer and I could walk away with it all. However, that is short lived when he asks for my purse and tells me he is checking my bra and I better not squeal about it. My hand opens up to reveal the $700, I have wadded in it’s palm, as I inform him there is no need to search me and tell him I have won big. His eyes widen and he reaches for the cash. I pull back and tell him it is only fair we split the loot, as I give him $350. He argues that it was his $50 I played on so he will be taking $400 but I can keep $300 of it. What a fucking douche. I am glad I have hidden a stash, despite the uncomfortable shifting in my seat that accompanies it. Screw him.
He asks what I want to do and I respond, honestly I want a hot shower and a nice warm bed to relax in and watch some television. He suggests we get a motel room for a week, so we can enjoy this luxury for more than a night and at a discounted rate. I concur, adding that I deem it only fair we split the cost of the room. He agrees. Of course, once we are at the motel, he changes his tune. He insists we need dope and if I pay for the room, he will pay for the dope. Does he think I am an idiot? If he pays for the dope, he will hold the dope and wave it over my head. Despite my bringing this known reality to his attention, he refuses to pay for half of the room. Finally, he tosses me $150 and tells me to get the room. It still works out that I am covering more than half the cost, but know I have the stash and am happy he has contributed at all.
The motel is dingy, but has a shower, a bed and a television. No more driving around and living out of the trunk of my vehicle for an entire week! I am delighted. Eric calls a dealer and asks how much dope I want. He has decided we will buy our own bags and I am on board with that idea. Of course, I have a chunk of tar enough for one shot but I don’t dare tell Eric about that. Eric makes arrangements to meet the dealer at the grocery store across the street and asks me for my money.
Part of me wants to argue that I do not trust him to deliver what I am entitled to. The other part wants to get this baggie out of my ass, take my last shot while he is gone and enjoy a hot shower. Besides, I have more cash and this room for a week, provided he decides to be a dick and run off with the money, so I hand him $50. He kisses me on my forehead before he leaves and tells me he loves me and that he is sorry for the way he has behaved. He elaborates that I have done good and he is sorry he has taken me for granted and will be right back. His little attempt to confuse me with kindness, is lost on me at the moment. As soon as the door closes behind him, I barricade myself in the bathroom and remove the baggie. Unfortunately, there is no way to have the bathroom light on without the fan running at the same time, making it harder to hear him if he enters the room. My jaw is jacking and I am tweaking balls. I swear I keep hearing the motel door open, but it is simply my tweaker brain playing tricks on me.
The smell that accompanies pulling out this bag is disgusting and I don’t know where to stash the money. I am not putting it back up there! I decide to lift the mattress and cut a small incision into the mattress with a razor blade from my junkie kit. I stash the money inside the tiny hole, up inside the mattress. Invisible to the naked eye. My body moves quickly to investigate through the peephole. There are no signs of him so I run back into the bathroom to prep my shot quickly.
Again, I swear I hear the door open several times. Please God let me hit quick, I cannot afford to be doing this for 45 minutes. He will likely be back by then. The rig is new so I pray it won’t take me long to successfully find my vein but I have to stab myself repeatedly before I finally hit. Right as I am pushing the poison in, I know this time the door has opened. Eric calls out to me and I yell I am going to the bathroom. I quickly dismantle the rig and toss it in the toilet with the baggie and flush. It is sad to see the new rig go down, but I can’t risk him finding it on me because then he would surely know I had taken a shot. Eric calls out for me to hurry up. I open the door and he has the dope, Jack-n-the-Box cheeseburgers and milkshakes and a bouquet of flowers are laying on the bed. What is up too?