Epidemic- Chapter 22
My eyes struggle to meet Eric’s in the darkness surrounding us. Tara is calling my phone. If I answer it, I will be forced to speak and could give away our location. If I ignore the call we won’t know if she suspects it was us attempting to rob her mere moments ago. Eric urges me to send her to voice mail and I agree. Immediately, he suggests we text her and make an excuse as to why I cannot answer the phone, in an attempt to inquire about the nature of her phone call.
My hands are trembling in tune with my hearts pace. Before I can complete a phony text message to Tara, my phone buzzes with an incoming text from her. It reads that she is willing to break us off a piece of tar, if we can take her to Burlington from Sedro. My mind races with speculation about why she may be texting this offer. It is not uncommon for her to request rides and in turn, she breaks us off with dope or shards. However, what if this is all a trick to get us to come back to her house? What are the odds that when that car was patrolling the area that it didn’t spot my vehicle parked up the road? Eric is equally suspicious and we engage each other with our thoughts and theories behind the text message. There is no sign of anyone searching for us on foot and the car that had sped up and down the country road has since vanished. There is a chance that our combination of paranoia and guilt has caused us to imagine this entire scenario of a pursuit and the text message may be legitimate. We listen for voices and watch for movement in the pitch black field ahead of us. With the exception of the occasional mooing from cows, there doesn’t appear to be any other commotion going on around us.
We agree that we should feel out the situation and I respond that I am in Burlington, so it will take me about 20-30 minutes to get to her house. This will give us time to further discuss what to do next. The truth is, in drug circles, time is of the essence. One of the most frustrating experiences within the drug subculture we belong to is waiting on the dealer to show. Usually, you are parked in some random parking lot or hauled up in some flop house, (drug house) attempting to not look suspicious and the said twenty minutes can turn into a few hours. It is an annoying, but expected occurrence.
If we could get back to our vehicle without being spotted, I would feel much more at ease. We would be able to call Tara and note anything that may sound off in her tone or story. Eric and I scan our environment again and decide to creep out of hiding and make our way along the fence line through the field. The safety protocol is that if we see any lights or shadows moving towards us, we will hop the fence and end up in whatever backyard it borders and make a run for it. As we begin to slide slowly across the fence line my heart begins to race again. The adrenaline coursing throughout my body is causing my breathing to speed up to a heavy panting. My phone buzzes. It is another text message from Tara asking how far away we are. She continues to send paragraphs about how her mother is camped out under the tree she calls home on the side of Big 5 Sporting Goods and is talking to her shadow people again. Apparently, a friend has called her multiple times to let her know that her mother is causing a scene and she is in dire need of getting to her promptly before the cops are called. In addition, a group of spectators are sitting on the bench nearby mocking her.
The story sounds legit and we begin to feel more at ease about walking nonchalantly through the field. I reply that we are on our way and make up a story about having to put air in my tires, apologizing that we are not already there. The grass is wet with dew and the bottoms of my jeans are damp. Walking past Tara’s backyard reactivates that rush of adrenaline and panic and Eric suggests we walk out into the field a little bit away from the fence, just in case there is in fact somebody waiting for us on the other side of it. Every foot step causes swish sounds and I am terrified that it is louder than it really is. If someone is waiting for us, the sound of the swish would certainly alert them.
We don’t stray too far from the fence, but wander into the field to avoid hugging it. Suddenly, the sound of a vehicle, accompanied with headlights begin to surface on the road. Both Eric and I drop to the ground face down. Sounds of disgust are coming from him but I am uncertain as to what he is quietly ranting about until after the car has passed and we are back on our feet. It takes everything in me not to laugh at Eric’s misfortune of laying in cow manure. Another car speeds by and we immediately fall back into the grass. Rather than jumping back to our feet, I initiate crawling through the field until we are no longer parallel to Tara’s backyard. When we are a safe distance away from it, we both stand up and walk towards the fence. We don’t know if either of those vehicles were out searching for us; however, with the amount of meth in my bloodstream, I can’t help but react with that type of paranoia. As we draw nearer to the road the thought occurs to me that once on the road, we are parked about a quarter mile away. If they are looking for us, there is no where to duck when vehicles pass us by. It may be in our best interest to hop the fence into a backyard and cut across Tara’s road. Her road has a ditch and several homes with yards we could run into, if a vehicle approaches. Eric is in agreement.
Eric and I attempt to peek between the boards of the fence we are leaning against. While there is a fence running the perimeter of the field, it is not all the same type of fence. Each home has a different way of separating their backyard from the field we are in. A chain link fence would be a much easier fence for me to hop over, but the chain link option is behind us now. There are sounds of crickets chirping around us and it causes my mind to embrace its tweaker echo. When your head experiences that meth induced echoing, it is similar to the way it feels after you leave a rock concert or a dance club and your hearing is compromised; however, it is accompanied by countless thoughts racing through it and the voices of its demons chime in from time to time.
Eric is much taller than I am and insists that I need to hop the fence first because he can give me the necessary boost required for me to make it over. After he hoists me up, he immediately follows. Both of us land on the ground below and not gracefully. The house that belongs to this yard is dark. Not a single light is on inside, making it eerie to walk by. Without warning a big dog begins barking at us. He must have sensed our motion through the windows. A light in a back room turns on and Eric and I run as fast as we can through the back, into the front yard and across the street. The front door of the home opens, a porch light turns on and a mans voice calls out to us, but I cannot make out the words over the sound of my feet on the pavement, my rapid heartbeat, my tweaker echoing mind and the wind as I run faster than I have ever run in my entire life. The man is not chasing us. Still, all I can think of is the possibility that he may have had a gun and what an idiot we were for trespassing. After our marathon sprint has exhausted me to a point of going no further, I stop to catch my breath. The car is right around the corner and Eric grabs my arm forcing me to keep going.
Once inside the car, we sit breathing heavily for a few minutes. Neither one of us can speak from the exhaustion. It is time for three things: our last shot of dope, a cigarette and a phone call to feel out Tara before committing to driving to her house up the road. It isn’t until I reach for my phone to make the call that I realize my phone is no longer in my pocket. It must have fallen out somewhere between jumping the fence and running through that mans yard. We have no choice but to go back for it.
This can’t be happening! Thoughts begin to race through my mind. Speculating all the possibilities of times I may have lost my phone in the trek back to the car. Did it fall out when I was crawling past Tara’s fence in the field? Did it slip from my pocket when I hopped the fence? If so, which side of the fence is it on? How are we going to find the phone in this darkness? Has Tara been calling wondering where we are at? Eric suggests the phone is a lost cause at this point and doesn’t think we should go back for it. How can he possibly believe that. I accuse him of being a chicken and inform him that if the phone is in that man’s backyard and he discovers it, he can report the trespasser as me by the information on my phone. In addition, there is incriminating information concerning Eric and heroin within the text messages. This causes him to rethink his initial decision of abandoning it.
We both agree that while we are in the car, we may as well take our last shots of dope. The meth has me tweaking balls and I am hoping the heroin will silence the paranoia and help me to balance my mood long enough to find my iPhone. Tara has likely called or text repeatedly, questioning where we are at. That’s the drug world for you. There is no consideration of time. When given the option of being punctual and reliable versus getting high, the dope always wins. This will anger her but she would make the same decision if the roles were reversed. After about twenty minutes of failed attempts, I successfully connect with a vein. Eric is being his typical asshole self. Calling me names and insisting that I hurry up. Once we lock up the junkie kit in the glove box, Eric produces batteries for one of my mini-flashlights. Unbelievable! The number of arguments we have held concerning him tweaking out and stealing my batteries and lighters have all been confirmed in my favor with him doing this. He attempts to play it off with some lame proclamation of finding them in the door and actually has the audacity to inquire as to why I put them there! There is no point in arguing with this douche bag and I opt to not even dignify that absurd suggestion with a response.
While he reassembles my flashlight, I decide to change into an all black ensemble. The damp bottoms of my jeans were making me cold and it will be much easier to maneuver in yoga pants. Due to the cow manure, Eric also decides to swap out his shirt. Once outside, I lock my car and Eric suggests he hold the keys because I am a dumbass who loses things. Truthfully, I am in yoga pants now and do not have a pocket for putting them. Reluctantly, I hand him my car keys and he smiles his stupid condescending grin, as he shoves them into his pants pocket. We begin to creep through the darkness, retracing our steps. Eric shines the flashlight and searches the ground, in hopes that the phone is nearby and we don’t have to go back into that man’s yard, or worse, the very, large field.
We have no such luck, as we draw nearer to the man’s property. Eric puts the beam of the flashlight, flush to his palm and whispers that we can’t shine the light in the yard without alerting him or the dog. The stupid dog! How on earth are we going to search the yard without setting the dog off and drawing attention to ourselves again? We decide the best way to get into the yard without being detected, is to crawl in on all fours. The irony of walking on all fours like a dog causes me to giggle a little. Eric is not amused, as he turns the flashlight off and assumes the position. Slowly, we crawl along the fence bordering the neighbors yard. So much for not being cold. My pants are soaked and my hands are instantly chilled by the dew on the grass. Once we are in the backyard, Eric and I begin blindly feeling around for the phone. My hands are deceived by a rock and Eric, while not experiencing this same deception, has now had his hand around a piece of dog shit to match the cow manure he laid in earlier. The darkness hides my smile from Eric’s view but I thank God for his misfortune.
Eric decides to turn the flashlight back on but keeps it about an inch from the ground and pointing straight down, in an attempt to conceal the light’s beam. This won’t help him find my phone unless he directly stumbles upon it; however, it may help him to avoid more dog shit. Damn it, it doesn’t help me however, as I too, have just put my hand into a pile of dog excrement. There is no sign of the phone and my heart hasn’t slowed down since we entered the yard. It feels as though I may have a heart attack. We are nearing the back fence and I fear we will have to hop over it and search through the field. Suddenly, a buzzing sound alerts me. My eyes scan the area around me and a bright light shines on the ground not far from me. It’s my phone! The buzzing sound was the vibration from being silenced. Quickly, I make my way to the phone and recover it. Eric stands to his feet and turns off the flashlight. There is 13 missed calls from Tara and 26 text messages! No time to respond to any of this now. My only concern is getting out of here without alerting the dog that we are in his shit covered yard again.
Without pondering on strategic routes or the best way to exit the yard, Eric and I decide to run again. We run at full speed past the house and into the front yard, across and up the street. Unlike last time, the dog did not bark at us and the man did not scream. We made it! My heart is beating out of my chest and we both stop to catch our breaths, briefly. I begin to read the text messages from Tara. Most of them are inquiries about where we are and why we are not responding. However, the last several have turned angry and threatening.
Tara insists that she is never going to talk to us again and that we can forget about using her as a dope connection anymore. Eric laughs and I soon follow, at the realization of how absurd that is. Dope dealers don’t turn down money. She will sell us dope again. Finally, we are back at the vehicle. We discuss what we should tell her about why we stopped responding and why it has now been three hours! Oh my God! We have been ducking in fields, hopping fences and lurking in darkness for three hours now! I suggest we get into the vehicle, so that we can get warm, smoke a cigarette and determine what lie to tell Tara. Eric agrees and reaches into his pocket to grab the keys. His face freezes, as he frantically pats his body down. Oh my God, are you kidding me right now? Eric has lost my fucking car keys.