Epidemic- Chapter 21

The nerve of this pathetic excuse for a human being! How dare he have the audacity to accuse me of stealing an iPhone that is in my name and on my credit to sell for dope. In truth, I was nowhere near his phone, as I was in the kitchen getting my smoke on and he knows it. It’s his classic distraction technique, blame me for something he did and create such a ridiculous argument that I spend more time defending myself against the absurd accusations than I do acknowledging the true guilty asshole in the situation, which is always him.

My jaw is jacking and I am tweaking balls to the walls. This doesn’t help me in attempting to make sense of the situation. The voices of speculation and paranoia chime in over the dark demon of the heroin’s certainty. Eric took the phone. The demon knows this. Of course, he did. We need money, he was just threatened about his footprint on my left cheek and is planning on dumping me for one of his separation binges. In order to leave, he has to have something in his pocket to trade for dope. Lord knows he won’t go out and hustle for money. Without me there to supply him, it is his only feasible option at this immediate juncture.

This reality is clear, but only for a moment. The paranoia of the meth clouds begins to swirl in my mind’s certainty, creating static and incessant chatter. He wouldn’t really steal his own phone, would he? He needs a phone and surely he knows that if he trades it for dope, I can’t get another phone for him? Perhaps, he is banking on the fact that I have insured the phones, so after he trades it, I could report it stolen and get a replacement phone? Does he really think that I would trust him with another six hundred dollar investment after this? The dope demon silences the chatter with a definitive recognition of truth, he copped, (stole) his own phone and turned it off and then accused me to distract me away from explaining why his phone is missing.

The entire house is buzzing around, searching for the phone; however, it’s all an illusion to appease my angry demands to do so. Everyone is likely in on this facade. Eric is throwing the couch cushions around and demanding that people empty their pockets. The females have been instructed to empty their purses and they are all in compliance without insult, a tell-all to their part in the game. Tweakers are the first to steal from you and then help you look for what they have stolen! The game of deceiving dumb old Liz. Liz, the square bear lacking any real street smarts. Liz, the educated but naive fool walking among these thieving liars. They are all in on it. Eric is their ring leader, isn’t he? Suddenly, the chatter is back and the doubts resurface. How could he do it? Why would he do this to me after all that I have done and continue to do for his worthless ass? It is this unwillingness to see the dark side of man that Eric is banking on for pulling off his scheme. The entire house is aware by now of my good girl blinders. My soul is tainted with this disease of seeing the good in people, even in the lowest of humankind and shielded from acknowledging the bad, under the pretense that I am in no position to judge others. God, the creator is the judge and he loves each and every one of us equally. A motto, an admission I have held to its conviction. Voicing this, however, has put a target on my foolish back.

The most ignorant truth about me is that I assume that because I am incapable of doing, believing or behaving some way that I know to be wrong, that others share that same belief and conviction. Its gotten me into a ridiculous amount of bad relationships, selfish friendships and manipulated circumstances that I never dare thought I’d find myself in. Now, I find myself in yet again, another manipulated situation and my only real concern is, how many of these tweakers smiling in my face are in on it? It would be a lie for me to claim that I have never betrayed a friend, gossiped behind someone’s back or hurt another human being, but to be malicious and smile in the face of someone you despise, shake hands with the hands of someone you care nothing for and laugh about it without remorse, is a level of evil my heart is incapable of comprehending. My head dismisses my sudden victim mentality, as I recognize that Eric is yelling and accusing in the direction of my blank stare. My mind attempts to shift focus from the voices in my head to the very real voice screaming in my direction. Why bother arguing with Eric about this? It’s an argument I will never win. He took his phone and wants me to fight with him to justify his sudden departure. I refuse to give in or cater to his idea of how this game will play out. My silence infuriates him, as he threatens to walk out the door. We both know he is leaving anyways but he is uncertain as to why I am aware and accepting of this reality and unwilling to beg him to stay.

The tension is building and Isaac insists that he doesn’t want this drama to play out at his house. Eric demands that I grab my shit so we can go. It hits me, Eric can’t walk out yet. We haven’t done our shots and I have the heroin. What an unimaginable bastard. The first time I had heard that term was while watching Titanic. Rose calls Cal that and spits in his face. I have half a mind to spit in Eric’s as we speak. As much as I despise the idea of going anywhere with Eric right now, I know that we have to leave so I collect my things and make my way to the car. Another incident of Eric creating a scene and screwing me out of a warm place to spend some time. Living in my car is uncomfortable. There is no walking or laying down, it is a constant sit down and fight between rolling the window down while smoking a cigarette and turning the heat on to stay warm, briefly. You have to be cautious about gas use, so when it is hot outside during the daytime, running the air conditioning is usually not an option. There is no form of entertainment other than the radio, but in order to run it I am either consuming gas with an idled engine or draining my battery that has already died on me once. There is no other room to walk into to escape Eric. I am forced to listen to him spat insults and talk nonsense. Writing in my journal is an activity that I enjoy; however, again in the dark I need light and run into battery draining issues or running the car out of gas. I have flashlights in my middle console that I grabbed to have a light to write with but Eric’s tweaker ways have robbed me of the batteries needed to operate them.

I am not sure what he does with them. They are likely in some tweaker, squirrel storage spot with about a hundred of my Bic lighters and all my missing butts, (cigarette butts). There hasn’t been a time in my life until now when I have not always had a fresh pack of cigarettes to smoke on. Everyone is a cluck and beggar, so I’ve learned to keep my pack hidden, but Eric smokes them just as fast as I do. When it comes down to cigarettes or dope and all you have is a few dollars left, dope always wins. Most people aren’t particular about their cigarettes; however, I am a menthol smoking fool and hate full flavors. In my most desperate times, I’ve resorted to trifling through old ashtrays looking for a menthol fix. Eric suggests that we have no other option but to go to the park and ride. My eyes roll at the reality that the park and ride is right by his friend Tara’s house and after he takes his shot, he will flee my vehicle after making some dramatic scene, leaving me alone and nearly out of gas. There is a portable potty stationed at the park and ride, so I will likely stay the night there, alternating between listening to my music and writing in my journal about the events that have unfolded tonight.

On the ride over, Eric begins to speculate all the possibilities of who in the house stole his phone, successfully creating some doubt that it is possible he didn’t pocket it himself. He apologizes for becoming so angry with me and elaborates that he knows I didn’t take his iPhone. What is going on? My certainty is shaken by this sudden apology and retraction of accusation. We park the car and he quickly moves to the back seat and lines the back window with clothing, blocking the streets view of our activity in the vehicle. He offers to prep our shots for us and I dismiss it with a no thank you. There is something seductive about the dope cooking ritual. While I cook the dark, black tar in my spoon, Eric questions my ideas about getting more money. The gas station hustle is always my response when he poses this question. It is never enough for him. He is focused on bigger come ups and brings up the fact that Tara has a generator in the back of the house that is worth a nice sum of money. My ears cannot believe what he is suggesting. I don’t know why I am still surprised by his plans. This is his alleged longtime friend and I could never fathom stealing from a friend of mine.

In truth, I have no idea what a generator is worth and his description of it being extremely heavy doesn’t make his plan sound plausible. There is no way that I can both help him move this heavy machinery and be the lookout. How far would I have to park away from the house and how heavy is this thing? Why am I even considering this plan and why am I taking any delight in the fact that it would screw Tara? Eric pushes his shot in while I struggle to connect with a vein. He apologizes for my struggle and asks if I want him to help me. The fact that he is offering to help tells me he really wants my help, stealing Tara’s generator. After I push my demon in, I begin to question Eric about all that is needed of me to carry out his plan. The generator is in the backyard, so he proposes that we creep around the side of the house and through the tall grass to get to it. There are some patches of grass that are as tall as my waist back there, so it should be easy to duck down through it by the windows. That accompanied with the dark and I think we could pull it off. A brief moment of hesitation prevents me from committing to this plan, but it is short lived as I follow Eric, hand in hand, around the backside of Tara’s house.

My heart is racing a mile a minute, as I follow Eric around the side of the house to the backyard. The lights are on in every room and Tech N9ne is booming throughout the home. In truth, this isn’t even Tara’s house. She is watching it for someone and the realization that this isn’t even her generator that we are about to steal hits me. Panic is trembling throughout my body and I begin to second guess what I am doing here, but it is too late. Eric leads me through the tall patches of grass to this hunk of metal, I can only assume is the generator. My head is buzzing with voices and I swear that Tara and her friends have spotted us from the windows and are now outside among us. My head whips around in all directions. Searching through the pitch blackness, in an attempt to locate the people closing in on us. I see no one. I whisper to Eric that I think I hear someone and he dismisses me as paranoid and insists that there is no one out here and to shut up and calm down. How can I be calm? This is completely outside of my moral being.

He has brought a toolset along and is going to work on getting the generator ready to go. My heart is beating with remorse. What am I doing? This isn’t me! My breathing is heavy and I can’t hear over my own attack of near hyperventilation. Eric senses this and instructs me to stop worrying. He laughs a little and reiterates that I am the biggest square bear he has ever met in his life. Suddenly, this doesn’t seem like the insult it was before and I am half tempted to ditch him and get out of this situation immediately. A crackle in the brush to the right of me causes me to let out a faint gasp and has grabbed Eric’s attention, as well. Panting and panicked, I whisper what was that? Oh my God, what have I gotten myself into? Tara is a big girl. While I am a feisty firecracker, she is like sumo wrestler-sized and I would not stand a chance against her if a fight were to ensue.

The darkness is clouding my vision and I watch shadows lurk around us. Being a lookout when you are tweaking balls to the walls, is not the best decision I have made. The shadows are creeping to the left and to the right of me and I tap vigorously on Eric’s shoulder. He insists that he has dismantled it and it is ready to be moved. There is no way for us to move this without creating an enormous echo of noise throughout the brush and shrubbery around us and I beg him to reconsider his plan. Suddenly, a vehicle pulls into the driveway and its headlights shine on our faces like a very literal deer caught in them. We duck down behind the generator and begin to speculate about the possibility of us being spotted. My eyes scan the lit up yard around us, plotting the best escape route. The yard is fenced and on the other side of the back fence is a wide open field that houses cattle. If we were to make it over the fence, there would be no cover or shelter to seek. In order to get back to my vehicle, we would have to run towards the main road and the likelihood of not being spotted is near impossible.

My body is trembling at the sound of the screen door creaking open. Tara calls out to turn off their car, but I am unsure as to who the drivers are. The yard falls black again with their compliance and I hear at least three voices communicating; however, I am unable to identify them. Eric angrily whispers in my direction not to move and to stop breathing so hard. As if I have any control over the sheer panic that has completely consumed me! Something touches my foot and I let out a small yelp. I can’t see what it was but it is definitely something alive and moving. Eric slams his hand against my mouth and squeezes hard. The group of people walk inside the house and I hear the door close behind them. My foot kicks at whatever has violated me and Eric degrades me with a barrage of insults including calling me a baby and a fucking idiot. I insist that something touched my foot and it frightened me but he dismisses it as paranoia. Without warning, he flicks his Bic to investigate this possibility and discovers it was not paranoia at all. Instead, there is a snake, slithering beside us.

That is it. No amount of what ifs or running the risk of being seen prevents me from hopping to my feet. Eric is equally shaken and shrieks out a girlish scream. My eyes dart towards the window and Tara and her friends are looking in our direction. The only solace I can take is that due to how dark it is out here and the lights being so bright in there, that even if she has spotted us, we are shadows and she is not likely able to detect who we are.
The lights turn out in the living room and Eric and I run in the direction of the back fence. My first crime and I am going to be caught! I knew better! Why did I agree to this? Who are those other people with Tara? Oh my God, how am I going to get away from this? Eric jumps the fence and to my surprise waits for me to fall over it after him. My shirt gets caught on the chain link and rips through it, tearing at my flesh. My voice whimpers in pain. There are voices echoing all around me now and I hear a car’s ignition startup. We can’t run to the road to the left of us because we will be met by that vehicle. There are cows mooing among us. The farmhouse is straight ahead; however, to the right of us, there is a wooded area that I was unable to see from Tara’s backyard.

Eric reads my mind and we haul ass towards the trees. They will provide us with covering and we can camouflage ourselves in their shadows. Once inside the woods, Eric instructs me to stop so he can look out and access the situation. My heart is pounding and I am exhausted from the run. A snake touched me! The thought of it causes my body to shudder and I tiptoe around the brush below me. Every snap, crackle, and pop causes my panic to heighten. The field between us and the road is the size of at least a football field, maybe more. There is no way that we wouldn’t see if someone were to approach us from that direction. But what if they hop that back fence after us? We are not too far from Tara’s backyard and I swear I hear voices calling out in questioning, who was that and where did they go? Eric is tweaking out now and shares in my panic. Should we walk deeper into our unknown, forested surroundings, or wait here for a while before heading towards the road? We are not equipped with any type of survival gear. When I lived in Alaska for a year, I was told to never go into the woods without survival gear because it is so easy to become lost. Lost in the woods sober would be scary enough. Lost in the woods high and in the dark is a terrifying thought.

There is a large stump that Eric has planted himself upon and he instructs me to come and sit by him. While I comply with his instruction to do so, I am still shaken by the snake and the thought of other creepy crawlers that may be on this stump causes me to shudder again. Bugs are my biggest phobia, although snakes have just entered within that same realm of fear. A car speeds down the country road ahead of us and I am certain that they are patrolling for us. Eric shares this same suspicion and suggests we camp out on this stump for a while.

My tweaker brain cannot decipher between the sounds of my natural surroundings and the voices chattering inside of my mind. My head is at a constant jerk between left and right, in an attempt to make out any strange movement or noise. A car speeds past in the other direction and Eric and I discuss the probability that it is the same car, circling back searching for us. We have no doubt that although we were spotted it is unlikely that they realized who it was lurking in the backyard. My phone is silenced as a precaution; however, it has not rung with questioning or accusations. Surely, if Tara had recognized me, she would have called or text my phone by now, if only to give away our location on the off chance I had not silenced it. No sooner than I have this thought, my phone vibrates with an incoming call, my heart freezes, it’s Tara.


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Zac Efron Talks About Getting Sober, ‘Crossing the Line of Fear’

Joshua 1:9 NIV

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

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