I’m sick. Not bed-bound, crying in a pool of sweat sick, but sick enough to know I fucked up. Another weekend binge has come and gone. I don’t know how many more of these I have in me. The Loperamide, which was once a miracle cure for withdrawal, is becoming less and less effective with each week. Monday through Thursday I pop ungodly amounts of the anti-diarrhea medication down my gullet on top of gallons of black coffee. On Fridays, I shit, if I’m lucky.
Now it’s Monday morning. I went to bed early last night, at around 10, an hour after my last shot. It’s now 10 AM. I’ve slept for 12 hours, and I’m still exhausted. The sweats are starting, and my legs are beginning to rise from their slumber, ready to kick after 72 hours of inactivity. Every weekend binge gives me three days on the needle, which is just enough time for my body to become physically dependent again, right when I have to get back to work on Monday. I tried cutting down to just Fridays and Saturdays, but failed every time. Boredom is a motherfucker.
I pop eight Loperamide pills, smoke a quick bowl, and get right the fuck back in bed. I have to work at three. I pant as I lay here and the sickness creeps in. My skin has a dry tightness to it that I can’t explain. No matter how much I squirm, toss, and turn, I cannot get comfortable. My saliva doesn’t even taste like my own. On top of all of this, I feel an overwhelming sense of dread and anxiety. My arms are lined with fresh tracks, all of which are beginning to bruise up badly. I have great veins for intravenous drug use, but sometimes I get sloppy. Apparently, I got very sloppy this weekend. The veins on the tops of my hands have been hit hard, and I can’t cover those with sleeves. Fuck, man…
My alarm clock jolts me awake again at 2 PM. Sweating and panting, I pop another eight Loperamide. This is not good. It’s fucking freezing, and the shower provides a brief few minutes of piping hot relief. I don’t wanna get out. I wanna die in this god damn shower. “Why do I keep doing this shit?!” I grit my teeth as I turn the water off and dry myself, shivering the whole time. I put on my goofy Wilson’s uniform, a sweatshirt, and a coat, and walk outside into the blistering cold.
“Jesus fuckin’ Christ…” I sigh as I drive. I take my coat off at a red light. The hot and cold flashes are beginning to set in. Guess I’m gonna take more Loperamide. “What the fuck am I doing, man?” I grab a large coffee with a shot of espresso, knowing it’ll do fuck all for my condition. “How can I be this tired, after spending three nights and two days slumped in a computer chair, nodding in and out? How can my body forget how to function after a quick weekend vacation?” None of this makes sense, none of it is fair. Then again, what’d I expect fucking with this shit?
I’ve got five minutes before I have to clock in. I choke down my coffee and burn the back of my throat. I put on my apron and clock in. I walk into the stockroom of the pharmacy to find a note from my manager and two pallets loaded with grocery items:
Jerry called in sick today, you’ll have to throw the whole load tonight. Watch the dairy section as well. Keep milk full, you can let the rest run.
Fuck. No Jerry means I won’t have to avoid my manager for two hours, but no Jerry means I actually have to work tonight. I toss cases of Cheez-Its, Oreos, and other shit nobody goes to a pharmacy to buy onto a dolly, working up a disgusting sweat the whole time. I put my knee up on my dolly and catch my breath, wishing I had banged in sick today too.
“Huh?!?” I jump and jerk my head forward. Shit, it’s just Samantha. “Did I scare you!? Ahaha… Wow, you’re really breaking a sweat back here, huh?” She says as she walks into the stockroom. Samantha’s a good twenty years older than me, but loves her drugs. She’s been dropping not-so-subtle hints about this to me for the last two years we’ve worked together. Usually when a fellow addict or drunk starts working here I become fast friends with them, but Samantha talks too much and too loudly for my liking. “Jeez, it’s so cold out, how the Hell are you sweating so much?!” She asks playfully as I load up my dolly. “Hehe… I’m just a really hard worker, y’know?” Samantha laughs to herself and looks over her shoulder. “Well, a friend of mine has a bunch of Percocets she’s trying to get rid of, if you’re interested.” She says, lowering her voice. “Haha, Percocet! Cute!” “Sorry, not interested. Those aren’t really my thing, y’know?” I lie. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever you say Harry…” She replies as she walks away.
Of course, every item I stock is on the bottom fucking shelf. A stinging pain shoots through my bicep as I put bags of salt and vinegar chips away. Fuck, I must’ve pinched a nerve or something tying off so many times. The sweating has finally subsided thanks to another dangerous dose of Lope, but the fatigue and bone-shivering chills are still in full effect. As break time nears, the sugar cravings kick in. I bring my dolly back to the stockroom and check my bank balance. $3.42 in my checking account, fuck. I recently made the minimum $25 payment on my Discover card, which I will max out once again when I get gas later. This is not good. I decide to check the dairy section before I head out on break and figure out how I’m gonna eat today.
The dairy section of Wilson’s pharmacy is filled from a small cooler loaded with cases of milk and cheese. “Oh, fuck… God damn it, god damn it, god damn it!” I shout as I walk into the cooler. Working back here while dope sick is pure Hell. I quickly check the milk and orange juice, all of which are topped off nicely. Right before I leave, I notice a case of Rediwhip whipped cream sitting in the corner. There are no cameras in the dairy cooler, which is great for selling drugs and stealing shit. I close the cooler door and pull a can of Rediwhip out of the box. On the surface it looks like a mere confectionary topping, but to a junky like me, it’s a full meal. I call it the Junky Happy Meal because it’s sugary and sweet, and comes with a toy: nitrous oxide. I rip the top off the can, hold it straight up, and whip that shit.
“Harry, this is Mike. He’s new, you’re training him tonight.” Jerry says to me. A skinny kid stands behind him with squinty, red eyes and a goofy smile. “What’s up, man? Mike.” He says, shaking my hand. “Harry. Nice to meet you, man.” “I’m taking off, just show him how to take calls, block the aisles, rotate, everything.” Jerry says. “See you later, Jerry.” Mike smells like weed, but then again, that could be the bag in my pocket. “I guess I can start by showing you how to fill the dairy cooler…”
As we walk to the cooler, we pass Abe, an old Jamaican guy that mops the floors. I give him a nod and motion for him to follow me. Abe follows us inside and closes the door behind him. He looks at Mike and then looks at me, unsure. “He’s cool, man. You’re cool, right?” I ask Mike as I take a dub out of my pocket. Mike laughs. “Yeah, dude, I don’t give a fuck.” Abe hands me $20 and leaves. “You smoke?” I ask Mike. “Is this like a fucking test or something?” He asks me, laughing. “Nope. Just part of your training.”
I don’t really give a fuck about training Mike. I’m more interested in making him a customer or connection or both. We go out into the parking lot and smoke a joint in my car. “Thanks, man… I like this job already, haha.” He says between coughs. “Hehe, no problem man. You ever need a bag lemme know. I’ll give you my number before I leave tonight. This job is boring as fuck but it’s an easy check. Not to mention it’s always good to have a paper trail…” I say, pulling my burner phone out of my pocket. Mike exhales and passes me the joint.
“You just fuck with bud, or…?”
“Nah man, I got Molly and acid by the sheet.”
“I fuck around with it, I could never sell it, though. I’d fuckin do it all myself…”
“Yeah dude, I’m the same way. You just sniff it, or…?”
“Hehe, yeah. I don’t go that hard, man. But like, I don’t judge people like that. It’s just like… I have a hard enough time not rolling every fucking weekend, y’know? If I got into that needle shit… I’d be fucked.”
“No, no, I totally get it. I can get you plays, though. I know mad people looking for that shit. Probably move a few sheets for you if it’s good shit.”
“Word? Well I give out free half strip samples, so lemme know. I’ll toss you a little finder’s fee for
“Word. I been out of work for the last like… two months, dude. Literally, all my money’s come from middling for people.”
Fucking hippie crack, man. Such a great high, I wish it’d stick around a little longer. I work through the entire case of whippits over the course of my shift, as a reward. I deserve it, after all, for rising above and beyond and working under such strenuous conditions. By six I’m done with everything and take an extended break. I’d be so fucked if I had a read job…
I come down from the break room an hour later to find Terry punching in. “Jackpot!” “Yo, what’s good?” He asks, dapping me up. “What’s up, man. You just coming in?” I ask him. “Yup, Lisa cut my fucking hours, I’m only here ‘till 11 tonight.” “Shit, that sucks. Yo, can you do me a huge favor?! I’m off at 11 too, but it’s fucking dead in here, I got all my shit done, you wanna swipe my card for me when you leave? I’m not feeling too good.” “Yeah dude, I got you.” Terry replies, smiling. “Thanks, dude. You’re a fucking saint, y’know that?” I say as I take my apron off and prepare to leave. Terry fishes around in his pockets and pulls out a 20. “You think you could get me a run tonight? I’m tryina get shitfaced when I get outta here.” “This just gets better and better…” “Sure man, what do you want?” “Just grab me a handle of cheap vodka, doesn’t matter what. My boy told me all vodka’s the same, whether it’s Rubinoff or Grey Goose.” I’m pretty sure that’s not true at all, but I don’t question Terry’s logic. “Sure, man. I’ll go grab that for you now, I’ll come back and you can stick it in your car or some shit.”
I get sicker and sicker as I drive to the liquor store. The sweats are coming back, and the rest of my Lope is at home. I fuck with the heat and roll my window up and down, struggling in vain to find the perfect balance of hot and cold. My legs are growing restless, I hate driving when I’m in withdrawal, especially when I’m not on my way to or from my dealer’s place.
A handle of Rubinoff costs me just over $12, allowing me to pocket $8. I can buy a Four Loko and get a couple of burgers off the dollar menu. Today wasn’t so bad after all, I guess. I hurry out of the liquor store and crack my watermelon Four Loko as I drive. Jesus Christ, I forgot how fucking awful these things tasted. The toxic malt liquor isn’t a miracle cure for withdrawals, but provides a decent distraction from the anxiety and sense of impending doom.
“Thanks for doing this, man. I only got four more months of this shit before I’m finally 21.” Terry says when I drop the booze off to him. “Anytime, brotha.” Terry goes to leave but turns around again. “Oh yeah, where the fuck’s my change?” He asks. “Shit!” I have no idea what to say or do. I’m 24 and barely have $6 to my name. I reach into my pocket and pretend to look for cash. “Haha, it’s cool man, I’m just fucking around. What was the change? Like five bucks? Keep it, I don’t give a shit, dude.” Terry says, laughing. I sigh and pretend to laugh along. “Haha, thanks man. I appreciate it.” “That a Four Loko you got there?” Terry points to my cup holder. “Oh fuck, I shoulda covered that up or something…” “Haha, yeah, I haven’t had one of these in forever, y’know?” I stammer back. “Haha, word. Have a good night, man.” Terry says sarcastically, leaving before I can embarrass myself further.
I light a smoke and gulp down the Four Loko as I drive home. The rest of the evening is spent drinking, watching Youtube videos, and browsing Reddit. Somewhere along the line I stumble onto a Trailer Park Boys Best Of compilation. God damn, I forgot how funny this fucking show was. I walk out to the living room and turn on the TV, ready to throw on some TPB on Netflix. I stumble around my living room looking for the Apple TV my grandmother got me last year for Christmas. Where the fuck did I…?
I sold it for dope money.