Epidemic- Chapter 28

Immediately, I rustle around the bed and hide the dope under the mattress. Thump, thump, thump; the door knocks again. My heart is panicked and beating rapidly. My television is up and I almost flip it off but realize that will draw attention to the reality that someone is for sure in the room. They can’t come in here. They need a warrant and I realize that. Although, after what went down, I am fearful they have one. There is a back door to the motel room that leads out to stairs that will take me down to the ground floor to a commons area. Even if I make it down there, in order to go anywhere I would have to get around them in the front. What if they have this place surrounded? The curtains are closed so I can not peek out the window, in an attempt to see if they are out back. However, the front door has a peephole.

Slowly, I creep over to the front door. My mind envisions it flying open at any moment. Who knows how many of them are out there? As I stand on my tip toes, in an attempt to check it out, a voice calls out my name. It is Tyler. Oh my God! It is only Tyler! What the hell? Quickly, I open the door and instruct him to get in. Immediately, I ridicule him for the way he knocked on the door and remind him that people get knocked the fuck out for knocking on doors like that. He knows better! Seriously, this is a known courtesy of the drug community. Discussions, scratch that, many discussions have been had in circles about not knocking on the damn doors like that. Announcing yourself so that the people on the other side of the door don’t have full on panic attacks like I just had, is a sign of respect. His actions were like those of a cluck, (dope fiend). Dope fiends are so desperate to get high, they abandon all courtesy and common sense. Mixed feelings of anger and relief consume me, but I feel obligated to punch him in his arm, I am so mad!

He rubs the point of impact on his arm and apologizes. His eyes scan the room and he inquires about Eric. Before I know it, I am rambling the details of what went down at rapid fire rates. My body can’t sit still, as I pace back and forth beside the bed that Tyler is now sitting on. I talk with my hands. Meaning, they are flying all over the place while I tell the story. My entire being is animated and revved up. I am the type of person who needs to vent when shit goes down and I realize I had not had anyone to talk to and was holding all of this in. Of course, dope is numbing, making that much easier for me to do. Tyler asks if he can mute the television and I concur. When it is all said and done, I light a cigarette and sit down on the bed. To my surprise, he asks me how I feel about it. How do I feel about Eric being locked up? My eyes survey the room. There is a DVD player, food, full packs of smokes, dope, and cash, all in my possession. I feel pretty damn good. Before Tyler interrupted my evening, I was laughing again. The ninja turtles had me sincerely rolling on the bed in laughter. I can’t remember how long it has been since I felt that kind of happy.

Tyler is wearing a rather large grin on his face and I can see he doesn’t need me to answer the question for him. My face says it all. Technically, Tyler partially paid for the first night in the motel room and wants to know if he can stay. It feels nice to have a dope buddy with me, but I am a little disappointed to not have more time to be a nerd all by myself. The next hour or so, he lectures me about being too good for Eric and repeatedly inquires as to why I would put up with that abuse. He won’t allow me to laugh off his questions. He insists on answers. He tells me I am beautiful and that every single guy in our dope world would kill to have a chance at being with me. Oh no. Is he hitting on me? Is he trying to swoop in and save me? The reality is, he sees an opportunity. He may not be abusive like Eric, but he is equally manipulative and sees me as vulnerable and weak. An opportunity for him to be taken care of and fed, (by fed I mean dope, not actual food). Am I being paranoid? He might be a great guy? Maybe he is being sincere? No. Junkies are driven by one thing and one thing only, dope. Even with the best intentions, deep down I know, the dope always wins.

The dope won with me. I was quick to delight in finding Eric’s stash of both dope and cash. In fact, since the sirens subsided, I hadn’t given another thought about him, until Tyler showed up with his inquiries. This is a man I had professed to love. How could I be content with him being locked up? It’s simple. I have been just as dependent on him as he was on me. As much as I would love to believe I am an innocent victim in all of this, I am not. Sure, I may not have been malicious with my intentions; however, I used Eric just as much as he used me. Initially, he had the dope connections. All of our dope boys were his acquaintances. He provided a sense of security when we had to venture into dangerous territories. He helped stem the emptiness that being alone causes. While opiates tend to abolish a man’s sexual appetite, they didn’t have that effect on me. I used him for sex. Ha! That is an understatement. If you’re a man who has not done dope, you may find this hard to believe, but sometimes a woman has to convince the man to have sex! He simply does not have the need or desire when he is numb from the dope. I use the terms “hard” and “numb” with a pun like intention. Even if their brain is willing, well, you get my point. Eric rarely had that issue. Most likely, because we were always banging meth too. To find a boy toy in the dope community who could actually perform, well, of course, I used him. A smile crosses my face. Fuck Eric. A new kind of evil has invaded my soul. What once disgusted me in others, delights me to the core in myself. Fuck him.

My attention focuses back on Tyler, who asks if I am ready to take a shot. He knew I had recently taken one when he had shown up and wanted me to wait before taking another one. In fact, despite how badly he must have wanted to tie off in the privacy of a motel room, he waited to take his with me. Maybe, he isn’t a bad guy after all. That is a difficult thing for me to do. When you want to get high and you have dope, you don’t wait. You do it. The fact that he waited, not only to take one but because he was concerned about my safety in taking one too soon after the last one, says something. What does it say? Is he sincerely concerned about me? Does he care about me? Or, is he that good? Was this all part of his game? In truth, Tyler has a girlfriend already. She is a dirty, junkie bitch. She always looks mangled and nasty. She doesn’t even attempt to pull herself together with makeup and clean clothes. Tyler, on the other hand, is very attractive. The fact that he deals with her at all, tells me all I need to know. He uses her. She gets some kind of settlement money every month. A substantial check. She also lives in a house, so Tyler has a warm bed and dope with her. I can’t allow for myself to be pulled in to his facade.

Tyler glances over at the movies on the table. He seems overly excited about the fact that I have all five Twilight movies. He mentions that he had noticed I had all of the soundtracks and instrumental movie scores in my car. Of course, that means he knows how much I love them. Who else has the freaking instrumental tracks? Only a completely obsessed nerd. He suggests we put the first one on and have a marathon showing of all five, in between nods of course. Damn it! How can I say no to that? That is likely what I would have been doing alone if Tyler had not come knocking. Before I agree, I ask him what his girlfriend would think about that. Of course, he rambles on about how he is contemplating leaving her and that they are actively fighting. This is dangerous. Either he is lying and wants in my pants, or he is telling the truth and wants in my pants. Either way, I know I should resist his trap. He walks over to the DVDs and puts on the first Twilight movie. My resistance is futile. The only thing left to do is cook up our shots.

My spoon is charred. I ask Tyler to grab me a tissue from the bathroom, in part so I can grab the dope from under the mattress. At this point, I don’t want him to see how much dope I am riding with. He returns to the bed and I wipe the bottom of the spoon with the tissue. Tyler breaks off a large piece of dope and tosses it in my spoon. He is good. He knows I have my own dope, but this way it won’t look like he is using me for anything. In fact, it gives the appearance of him being generous. My mind flashes back to several times Eric and I were down to a single shot of dope. He always took it. He never spared me. There are at least two occasions that I can recall him stealing the last shot of dope from my possession. My plan to split the shot was not good enough for him. The worst part of Eric taking the final shot was not only feeling dope sick, but I was the one who hustled our next fix. Panhandling is never fun, but add being dope sick to the equation and it is nearly impossible. If Tyler and I were to find ourselves in that predicament, I wonder who he would insist on taking the last shot?

The smell of the dope cooking is enticing. Watching the tar settle into a puddle, is mouthwatering. My junkie kit has a plastic case with Q-tips in it and I pick a small amount of cotton from the tip of one. I split the cotton into two and toss Tyler a piece. My fingers, roll the cotton between them into a tiny ball and I toss it in my spoon. It expands quickly, as it absorbs the pool of dope. I put the tip of the needle into the center of the cotton and slowly pull the dope up. My mix was overzealous and I realize I need to pull up excess into another rig. Because there is no blood in it, it is alright to sit in another rig for a while before taking it. My headband is the best resource I have for tying off, so I remove it from my hair. Tyler doesn’t have any trouble hitting. I am jealous of the veins men have in their arms. My frustration shows, after three failed attempts. Tyler suggests that he could hit my neck again. My eyes light up at the thought. He instructs me to take a deep breath, hold it and stretch my neck forward while he hits. There is an instant rush of euphoria throughout my entire body. My fingers and toes go numb with its tickle. The taste hits my throat instantaneously.

Tyler removes the needle from my neck and presses his finger at the site of injection. My eyes are heavy. I fight to keep them open. They refuse to give in. I can feel Tyler’s hands cupping my face and his lips graze my neck. He is kissing the injection site. He whispers how beautiful I am in my ear and brushes the hair from my eyes. I don’t want to do this. My mind is screaming no, but my body is fucking numb and unresponsive. I can’t speak, my eyes won’t open and I fear that Tyler is initiating sex and I can’t say no. My heart speeds up. It wouldn’t be rape if I can’t even muster up the energy to say no and force him off of me; however, would he believe it was consensual? I am not kissing him back, but he has kissed my lips three times now. My body is limp in his arms. How can he believe I am actively participating in this? Oh my God! I am so fucking high that I have lost complete control of my body but my mind is still active. I feel trapped. Tyler’s hands begin to move down my sides and I scream out NO! The only problem is, I am screaming silently in my mind.

A sound stirs my conscious. What is that? My phone. My phone is ringing. My eyes open and I am laying on Tyler’s chest. Oh no. Did we? We didn’t, did we? The number is not a number I recognize, but I answer it. There is an automated message asking me to accept a collect call from Eric. I have a cell phone and cell phones don’t have the capability of accepting collect calls. Or, at least mine doesn’t. Eric must know this because the message reads quickly and says that it’s Eric and to please put money on his books before the call cuts out. How unfortunate for him that he has wasted his only phone call on someone he can’t even speak with.

Tyler is aware of the call and explains to me how jail calls work. He is not a stranger to the system. My heart is panicked at the notion that something may have happened while I was passed out; however, it doesn’t appear that way. We are both fully clothed and I can’t fathom not being able to tell if some action had taken place. Tyler reassures me that I was nodded out quick, so he laid back to nod with me, enjoying Twilight in the background. It seems plausible and I sigh in relief. While Tyler insists there is no need for discussion, I feel it only fair to clarify my position. It is not that he is unattractive, but he has a girlfriend and technically I have a boyfriend. Plus, to hop that quickly in bed with another person is whorish and with all the sin I am already living in, I didn’t want to behave that way. He says he understands and we agree that we won’t act on our impulses again. Our impulses? There is no point in arguing that I was unable to voice my unwillingness. He was gentleman enough not to take advantage.

It is too late to add money to the books now. At least that is what Tyler says and I accept that reality. It is already after dark. The jail is in another town. If I didn’t have Tyler with me, I would have no way of knowing. He suggests we continue our nod Twilight fest and handle the money on the books thing in the morning. Still, I feel uneasy about nodding with Tyler after what went down, so I suggest we dip into his crystal and hit up the casino. This excites him. Apparently, the casino is one of his favorite places. He asks how much I have to play with and I lie and say twenty bucks. In the junkie/tweaker world, that is a lot of money to risk blowing at the casino. He agrees to spend twenty also and pulls out his bag of shards.

The opiates are still heavy in my system and I opt to take a straight shot of meth. Tyler is taking a goofball. That is a shot with heroin and meth mixed. There is a difference between banging meth and heroin. For starters, when you miss with meth, it burns and stings and causes a massive bubble to pop up immediately under the skin. The better part of banging straight meth for someone like me who misses often, however, is, that it’s clear. Meaning, I can easily see the blood mix and know when I am in. It can be difficult to see in the heroin because it is a darker, brown color. Even if a small amount of blood trickles into the meth, it only slightly colors the clear; whereas once the blood mixes in the heroin on a trickling miss, it is nearly impossible to see when you hit. Especially, if the rig is nearly full. I have reached a tolerance where that is a more common reality for me.

Once at the casino, Tyler and I split up. There is a Mermaids game that I love at this casino. You can actually get a bonus rounds on twenty cents sometimes. In fact, I have won around $40.00 within a twenty cent bonus because the spins kept re-triggering. The temptation to bet a little higher is taunting me, as I do have several hundred dollars on me. If I were to lose a substantial amount, however, that would mean the difference between dope and being dope sick. If I were to win a nice sum, it might extend my stay at the motel. I decide to bet a dollar for a few spins before alternating between eighty and sixty cents per spin, to try my luck. Within minutes, I have lost twenty bucks. It is so frustrating how quickly money can go here. My favorite mermaids are not proving to be lucky on the higher bets.

There is a new Lobster Mania 2 slot machine that is a progressive machine. That means that while you win on pay lines if you bet a certain amount and hit the wilds or selected tiles, you win the jackpot that is actively accumulating as people play on the machines. In order to qualify to win the $17,000, I have to bet at least ninety cents. It is calling my name. The original Lobster Mania is fun, so I have to know what part 2 entails. What harm could spending twenty dollars here do? Who knows, it’s a new game, maybe they have them programmed to pay people right now? That’s what they do right? Introduce a new game and set it to pay, in an attempt to get you hooked? Then once the traffic is directed to that bank of slot machines, they reduce the pays. I could be wrong. Although, it sounds plausible.
There have been studies addressing the reality, that gambling feeds the same receptors as opiates in the brain. Basically, the euphoria you experience while winning and gambling is similar to that of a pain pill or heroin addict getting high. It’s no wonder, I can’t stop pushing this button. The bonus rounds are the best part of the game and I have just hit a bonus! The euphoria begins. Bonus rounds are interactive. They typically ask you to pick between different objects, although some offer free spins. There are multipliers and usually, the bonus round is where you make big money. In this bonus, I get to pick buoys and Larry the lobsterman on the boat, pulls up the cages and pulls out the lobsters. The larger the lobster the more money they are worth. Larry pulls up a few big lobsters in three of my selected buoys and a few crawdad looking ones out of the fourth one before tossing them back. My total bonus win is $40.00! After the bonus, my immediate next spin connects some of the progressive tiles and my credits go up another $120.00! Now is the time to walk away, but that euphoria and addictive nature entice me to take, just one more spin.

Tyler has found me and can see the credits on my screen. He is excited and informs me he has already spent his twenty. He asks me to borrow a twenty. Now, the term borrow is used lightly here, but I don’t want him hanging around me, so I toss him one. Before I know it, I have lost eighty bucks and am kicking myself for taking that one more spin. Because that is just it. It is never just one more spin. It always leads to another. The thing about games with bonuses is that you want one more bonus to turn it around. Another twenty dollars is gone within minutes and I cash out my ticket. There is still around a hundred on this ticket and I decide to play a few new games. Tyler has noticed I cashed out my ticket and comes over with a pitiful, pouty face. I hate beggars. The irony, I know, as I have become one. It really isn’t the begging, as much as the pussified way he approaches me. Lip hanging like a little girl, eyes pouting like a freaking dog and a tone of voice like freaking Eeyore off of Winnie the Pooh. Tyler isn’t the only one to utilize this tactic of attempted guilt; however, he might be the most pathetic at it.

My decision to hand him money isn’t swayed by his performance. It is the desire to keep him out of my hair so I can engage in playing alone. Gambling for me is a personal activity. I don’t want to hang out and bullshit, I want to focus my energy and attention on winning. I hop between games unfamiliar to me until I am in the vicinity of Tyler. I can see he is betting three cents. That is ridiculous. You will never win. That is an immediate tweaker giveaway. When I worked at a casino, I could always spot who I thought were crackheads, (turns out they were tweakers) on the machines. They were betting three cents, wiggling in their seats, tapping all over the screen and ordering 800 free french vanilla coffees from me, each time I passed by. Of course, there was never a tip to appreciate my service, so I mega loathed them.

Now, I watch as Tyler exhibits the same posture and behavior. I wonder if I look like that? Without realizing it, I have played my ticket down to forty bucks. What a disappointment. To know I had two hundred a few moments ago makes this a gut-wrenching realization. My jaw is jacking and I am tweaking balls to the walls. If I were sober, I would have walked away. Adding drugs or alcohol to gambling outings is never a good idea. It loosens your inhibitions and makes it easier to keep pushing the button. In addition, it warps your sense of reality. You keep testing the idea that you are going to win your money back. But, really, you are losing more with each attempt. One rule of gambling is, the house always wins. Even when you think you are winning because you hit a big one night. Really, you are setting your brain to come back to experience that euphoric high of winning again, only next time you will likely lose. The casino wouldn’t survive if they didn’t take way more than they give.

Dare I play out the rest of this ticket? After all, I didn’t spend all my cash and I never withdrew the cash on my welfare card. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if I surrendered this ticket and called it quits after. Tyler has found me again. His lip in its ridiculous pout. His pathetic murmurs about not winning. God, I am growing annoyed of him already. He has more money. I know he does, but he has to conserve it for dope. That prepped shot is sounding pretty good right now and I suggest I cash out my ticket and then we can go. This disappointment Mr. crybaby and he finally speaks in a range I can hear him, asking for just one more twenty. This time he pulls out the shards card. Meaning, he reminds me that he broke me off some crystal and finishes his reminder with, I owe him. Funny, we never discussed my owing him shit. Crazy, this drug world is. Don’t ever think someone is hooking you up, sharing or being generous. No. They always come back when they are down and want something from you. I roll my eyes and cash the ticket. Twenty for me twenty for him. He heads back to the losing ass machine he was already playing and I walk in the other direction. I decide to play twenty cents on my mermaids this time. As I am preparing to sing along with the splish splash I was taking a bath bonus song, my eyes look left and my heart stops. Marcos is sitting on a bank of machines facing me and he recognizes that it is me.


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Luke 6:30

Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.

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