Epidemic- Chapter 27

He may not be my prince charming, but I can’t call myself a princess in my state. I’ve become a pathetic, low life, heroin junkie. Dependent on deception and manipulation to obtain my means for survival. Survival has been redefined for me out here on the streets. It no longer entails food, shelter, and a hot shower. Cable television and an internet connection have become trivial luxuries that I can’t access or afford. When given the choice between something to eat or a half a shot of dope, the dope always wins. Ironically, survival for me means enough heroin to not be sick. In reality, what I’ve come to know as survival, is going to be the death of me. Eric will likely be a part of my ultimate demise.

He wants to go check out the abandoned property and I oblige with his request. We venture into territory that is unfamiliar to me. Although, he appears to know exactly where we are going. It is September in Washington state, so the sun is lessening its shine and rain is settling in for the next nine months. Still, it peeks out from time to time into October. Today is one of those, can’t make up its mind days with the weather and a faint rainbow graces the sky above. My mind briefly wanders to God’s promise that is associated with the rainbow, but I quickly dismiss allowing myself to reminisce about God’s promises while I am out here breaking mine.

The trees are tall and brilliant with every hue of green, covering their leaves and branches. Washington is known as the Evergreen state because of the abundant growth of these tall, coniferous trees. The road we are on is canopied with a beautiful assortment of deciduous trees. These are my favorite. In part, because there are so many evergreens in the state that to experience a canopy of beautiful leaves, is less common and breathtaking. If you have ever watched the Twilight movies, they truly capture the nature of our state well. Heavy patches of moss grow up the tree trunks and blanket the branches. The wooded floor is covered with ferns, brush and blackberry bushes. It can be enchanting and welcoming of adventure. Typically, when I find myself on a road like this, I will awaken a spiritual experience inside, by putting on instrumental or classical music. With Eric in the vehicle, that is not an option. Still, I feel God nudge me a little through his creation and I daydream about exploring my surroundings.

Eric’s mood is quickly deteriorating. He is becoming hostile and demanding. A common complaint in our circle is my inability to drive without getting lost or turned around easily. Of course, this is their backyard, not mine. My stomping grounds are about thirty minutes south of here. Eric instructs me to take a turn and follow it to the very end of the road. It dead ends. There is a gravel clearing we can pull into and actually back the vehicle into an opening in the trees so that we are not visible from the road. He tells me to back in and initiates another shot of dope. He quickly hits, grabs his backpack and tells me he will meet me back at the motel later. He suggests I pay for the room for another night and opens the car door. I immediately argue that this is a bad idea and that I have a bad feeling about it, but he refuses to listen and screams at me to get the fuck out of here. I have not taken my shot of dope yet and he doesn’t care. His tone changes to his usual taunting one and he wants me to leave and never look back.

Eric no longer has a cell phone and I explain that if he were to get in trouble he would have no way of contacting me. He doesn’t care. He reaches over and starts the car, slams the door, hits my windshield and mouths for me to get out of here, before running off around the corner and up the road. In order for me to exit, I have to drive right past him, but I am uncertain as to which property he is going to. Curiosity has the better of me. I angrily speed past him and turn up the road, heading back in the direction we came from. There is nothing but nature around me and I opt to park my car on the side of the road and jog back to the turn, in an attempt to see which driveway he heads up. All of the properties are off the road. In order to camouflage myself, I walk into the trees alongside the road, duck down and peek through them. Eric is running up the road still. He doesn’t see me. He is looking around and behind him. There are no signs of life here. No cars, neighbors or people out walking their dogs. It is eerily silent. Eric cuts through a fence and darts up a hill before disappearing behind trees that are blocking my view of a home.

After he is no longer in sight, I head back to my car. I realize I shouldn’t stay, but for some reason, I can’t leave him here. We are about twenty minutes from town in the middle of nowhere. I haven’t seen a vehicle in forever. Furthermore, my shot is mixed and ready to shoot up. That clearing I parked in up the road is secluded and I decide to head back there and park for a few minutes so I can gather my thoughts. As I pass the area I saw Eric disappear into I glance over, but he is nowhere to be found. Once I have parked, I put in my Twilight instrumental movie score and crack my window. There is a timer on my iPhone to remind me to turn the music off after 15 minutes, so I do not drain my battery. The rain is softly trickling down the forest around me and the music sends goosebumps throughout my body.

Surprisingly, I hit a vein almost immediately. Old reliable has been faithful to me again. Puncturing through the scar tissue was painful and involved two stabs at it. The blood mixes with my sweet heroin and I watch as they dance in tune with the violin strings of my favorite piece of instrumental music. The timer goes off to remind me to kill the music, but I ignore it and enjoy the strings. The rush is sensual, as I slowly push the plunger of my rig. Heroin. My friend, my lover, my demon. Embrace me. The only thing that can make a shot of heroin better, is a cigarette. Before I light it, I decide to swallow the shard of meth I pocketed earlier from Tyler. The forest around me is inviting and I step outside for a few minutes while I smoke. There is no one around, so I drop my pants and urinate behind the trunk of my car. Thankfully, I have a roll of toilet paper for emergencies and am able to take care of business.

The rain has lightened to more of a sprinkle and I welcome its refreshing mist on my face. Although it is actively precipitating, the trees provide shelter and I am not soaked by the skies sprinkling. My body twirls around and I extend my arms as if I were a toddler again. The fresh air is invigorating. The voices begin their chatter, as the meth takes over my heroin euphoria. What is Eric doing? Has he stolen the car on that property and headed back to the motel, while I am parked here still? What am I still doing here? Something provokes me to investigate what he is doing. Should I drive back in that direction? It would be smarter to go on foot, as my car is hidden in the shrubbery and trees around it here. Suddenly, a rustle occurs in the bushes and frightens me. Am I alone here? It could be a deer or some other form of wildlife. I don’t hesitate to hop back into my car, start it and pull out.
There is nothing left for me to do but to make my way back to the motel. The idea of getting caught up in this scheme that I objected to from the beginning, should be enough to ward me off. However, without thinking I pull into the driveway of the property Eric disappeared to. There is a gravel drive that twists and turns, but it is completely hidden from the road behind a large gathering of trees. Eric is frantically tossing items into the bed of the truck on the property and is angry that I have pulled in. I beg him to abandon the vehicle and get into my car but he refuses. He alternates between pounding his fists on my windshield and stroking his hair, even pulling at it in disbelief. He opens the driver door and grabs me by my hair while shaking me and screaming in a whisper that I am a fucking dumb bitch for still being here. My head throbs and rage takes over me. As he walks back to the pile of stolen items on the ground beside the truck, I peel out of the driveway and head back to the motel.

My heart is pounding and I decide to blare my music, as a way to release these pent up emotions. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a few wrong turns and get turned around. Finally, I am back on the trail and recognize the area I am in. There is some road construction up ahead and I am forced to stop. I can’t believe it. The truck behind me is Eric! I watch in my rear view, as a man a few vehicles back, gets out of his car and approaches Eric. I silence my radio and roll my window down, in an attempt to hear what the man is saying. He is screaming at Eric, insisting that, that is his father’s truck. His deceased father. Eric argues that he just purchased the vehicle and agrees to pull off the road to meet with the man up ahead. My heart begins to race and my eyes connect with Eric’s in my rear view mirror. He pulls down a road and I hesitate to follow him. The road construction is preventing a way through and the man has likely called the police by now.

I can’t leave him, can I? He leaves me all the time. If the roles were reversed, would he stay and make sure I got out alright? After warning me not to be a part of this shit in the first place? Risking his own ass for mine? No. I don’t think so. All of a sudden, my passenger door opens and Eric has jumped inside my vehicle. He ducks down in the front seat and covers his face with his backpack. The construction lady up ahead is on her radio and staring at me. I push on Eric and tell him he looks completely fucking suspicious and to please stop it. I scream at him that I knew this was a bad idea and he tosses his backpack into the backseat, tells me I was right and flees my vehicle on foot, but not before telling me to park at the gas station up the road and wait for him.

Sirens echo throughout the valley and I see red and blue flashing lights, as the sirens get closer. To avoid looking suspicious, I pull into the gas station, leave my car unlocked and go into to purchase a soda with my food card. When I come back to my car, a police officer pulls up right beside me. If I sit here and wait, he will likely approach me with questions and might connect me to this crime. If I leave he might not follow, if he is looking for Eric. There is no way I am going down for this shit. I didn’t sign up for it. I was against it and I warned him not to do it. It is not my fault that he didn’t listen. The cop makes eye contact with me and I shoot him a smile, in hopes, it will detour any attention away from me, before starting my vehicle.

There are so many sirens going off, that I can’t recount the number of police patrols in the area. As I pull out of the gas station parking lot, I check my rear view and witness the cop go into the store. He is not here for me. Once on the main street, two police cars pull up behind me with their lights flashing and sirens blasting. This is it. I am going to jail for the first time in my life and all for something I wanted no part of.

My heart is racing through my chest. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear it was about to fly from my body and slam into the windshield! Not one, but two, police cars are behind me. All I can think about is, what on earth is in Eric’s backpack that he tossed in my backseat? I am going to go to jail with merchandise that I didn’t steal in my possession. My mind wanders to the likelihood of my ability to outrun the cops. However, while I am no stranger to high-speed chases now, I know that would not end well for me. I begin to pull my car onto the side of the road and to my surprise, the cars speed past mine. Three more patrol cars, with flashing lights and blaring sirens, fly quickly by me, as well.

Oh my God! This is a serious manhunt. For whatever reason, despite my vehicle being known among these parts, the officers are not pursuing me. I watch in my rear view mirror, as several cop cars flip bitches, (u-turns) and circle the perimeter around the gas station. They may not be bothering with me yet; however, if they can’t find him, they will come looking for me. Even worse, if they do find him, what kind of rat, snitch deal is he going to make with them? He will likely concoct a story, attributing blame to me. He can’t survive in jail. The detox alone would kill him, not to mention he is all of a buck forty, (140 lbs) soaking wet. Making him vulnerable to attack. The first thing I need to do is ditch his backpack and put my dope and junkie kit in my trunk. They would need a warrant to search it. Of course, under these circumstances, they might be able to easily obtain one. I really don’t know.

There is a spot up the road that has several bushy areas. The plan is to dump the backpack and go back for it later. In addition, I haven’t given up on Eric popping up. The sirens are still echoing throughout the valley and they have not caught him yet. There are several neighborhoods with fences he could jump and wind up over in this area, provided he can run swiftly. The thought occurs to me, that it would be in my best interest to go back to the motel. It is in another city, twenty minutes from here. The meth has my mind paranoid with speculations and I am tweaking, balls to the walls. My adrenaline is ferocious and I literally, can’t sit still in my seat. Maybe I should ditch my dope and come back for it? No. The thought is laughable. A junkie ditching dope? Of course, possession of heroin is a felony drug charge. Oh my God, I would never be employable again! What should I do? Employable? Am I ready to live again?

I pull my vehicle into the area I am planning on ditching the backpack. My eyes dart back and forth, observing my surroundings. Cops are flying up and down both sides of the road and the sirens have not ceased. The curiosity of what’s inside is overwhelming and I cannot toss it in the bushes without investigating further. A quick rummaging through produces tools and his cash. His cash is in the bag! Not only that but there is $300.00 total. What the fuck? Where did he get the rest of this money? My mind immediately suspects him and Tyler had more cash from the generator. Of course, it is likely he found it in that house. A Grinch-like smile crosses my face. For a junkie, this is a lot of money, on top of what I have on my card still and the cash in my bra. His dope! His dope is in the backpack! Suddenly, I feel like it is junkie Christmas and Santa delivered.

After further inspection, I discover those face paints. I still am not one hundred percent certain that he was not the painted face that pushed me in the bushes, aiding my escape that night of the attempted home invasion. Hell, I don’t even know if that was real anymore. Where did the Mexicans go? Why, have the Honda’s suddenly disappeared? Is it possible that I was so tweaked out and sleep deprived, I hallucinated that entire night? No. It’s not possible. So many people have elaborated details surrounding it. Not to mention, the meeting in the motel that shook me to my very core. Saying goodbye to all of my family, while Marcos sat and listened. It had to be real, right? If it wasn’t Eric, then why does he have this face paint? Moreover, if he doesn’t paint his face for some reason, why is he in possession of it?

Reminiscing about those memories has caused a mini panic attack to begin to brew inside of me. Or perhaps, it’s just hunger gnawing at my stomach. When is the last time I ate something? When you first start using meth, it is impossible to eat anything. I have a memory of chewing a tater tot until it had liquefied in my mouth. No matter how hard I tried to swallow, the meth wouldn’t allow for it. Everyone around me insisted I needed to force myself to eat. I must have swished that liquid tater tot around in my mouth for twenty minutes before finally spitting it out into a napkin and apologizing for not being able to swallow it. Seriously, I went from a size 10 to a size 0 in a matter of six weeks. However, after months of using it combined with the opiates in my system, I can eat now. There is an Alfy’s Pizza across the street and suddenly, a delicious Hawaiian pizza all to myself sounds perfect. Fuck Eric. He has been nothing but an abusive son of a bitch for so long, what a relief to be on my own. If I didn’t have all this dope and cash, I would be singing a different tune, but I do. Tonight, I am going to splurge and spoil myself rotten.

The sirens have subsided and that can only mean that they have caught Eric. This pizza is delicious, but I don’t stay too long. Now that they have Eric, I don’t want them to see me, so I head back to the motel. For the first time, in a long time, I am free to listen to whatever music I want. I put on my instrumental Twilight score and blare it. The music is enchanting and causes goosebumps to cover my skin. The thought occurs to me that it would be nice to watch a couple of movies, eat my pizza and chill in the motel room. As ridiculous as it may sound, I stop and grab a cheap DVD player to accommodate this. There is a bag in my trunk with a few of my favorite dvds already. While at the store, I grab a few caramel apple suckers, sour Airheads candy and a Caramelo chocolate bar. These are the staples of a heroin addicts diet. Because I plan on getting the motel room for a week now that I have got the cash to do so, I also grab some yummy, blue Gatorade and my favorite, Coca Cola.

When I do eat, I survive on the dollar menu at Mc. Donalds. They have these spicy chicken sandwiches featured right now, that are so scrumptious! After I swing through the drive-thru to grab a few to toss in the fridge at the motel for later, I head back in that direction and prepare to spend the night watching movies and eating junk food. And, of course, banging dope. As I am pulling out of the Mc. Donald’s parking lot, a cop car is pulling in. The officer looks in my direction and my heart speeds up again. This is a different town with separate jurisdiction, but for all, I know they have communicated about me and my vehicle and this officer is about to arrest me. He continues towards the drive-thru and I gasp in relief. The motel is less than a minute drive from me now.

After I extend my stay for a week, I unload my car into the motel room. This requires several trips, as I bring up my toiletries, clothes, all the food, Eric’s backpack, the DVD player and my bag with DVD’s. My eyes scan the parking lot and street, searching for police that may have me under surveillance. There is nothing. Once inside, I load the fridge up and eat a piece of pizza. I unpack my toiletries and even my clothing and prepare to call this place home for the next week. It’s nice. It almost feels as if I have my own little studio apartment and I realize how much I have missed this sense of stability and safety. There are not many movies that have not already been stolen from my possession; however, I have managed to hold onto all of my Twilight collection and a few random picks. I don’t feel like watching a love story right now, so Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze wins! It is only fitting. After all, I am eating pizza. I realize what a huge nerd I am by what movies I have left. The thieves must have really had a good laugh at my possession of this classic.

This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. My sister and I use to watch it over and over again. Perhaps, the most laughable part is the Ninja Rap performed by Vanilla Ice. It really dates the movie having that scene in there. However, our favorite part actually occurred during the opening credits. There is a scene where Donatello pretends to be a bop bag and teases one of the bad guys. It cracked my sister and I up so much that we would rewind, (yes, we watched it on VHS) and play just that scene over and over again.

It is crazy, how no matter how old I get, or how many times I watch this movie, it can still cause me to laugh so much. When I was a kid, I would jump all around and kick in the air, pretending I was a martial artist and badass ninja, like the turtles. However, prepping a shot of dope has replaced that activity for this showing. My stomach is full. I have my movies and Gatorade at my side. I have three, full packs of cigarettes all to myself and this glorious amount of black tar heroin to consume. Life is good. Suddenly, three loud thumps, knock at my door. There is only one person that knocks like that. I’d recognize that knock, anywhere. That is the police.


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