The Smooth Waves Of Complacency
He knew exactly how long it would take. Having been there several times he had slowly learned that some things, no matter how well planned, didn't happen according to such. At first, it's frightening -- the longer one sat waiting the larger the chance of being caught. He had preferred an in and out scenario with all his transactions, that rarely happened. After one becomes use to the idea, it goes from frightening to frustrating. As if he didn't have other things to do! Yet, instead he had to wait hours, sometimes days, to get what he was after. Rehearsed lines and metaphors fall on deaf ears and the pattern goes unchanged. Then after frustration comes anger. Who does he think he is making me wait? I am going to give him a piece of my mind then if that doesn't do it, a piece of something else! However, upon the man's arrival, Leon, and others like him, are all please and thank you. Dismissing the event that had set them off as "no big deal."
Eventually, one becomes complacent. Accepting of what it is -- part of the game. If you want to play, this is part of it and there was no changing it. When you wanted the stuff, especially when out, you did what you were told. It didn't matter to the dealer, they had others lined up, and in the great scheme of it all the money obtained from any one individual was a drop in the bucket. Besides, ten more users were born every day. Leon knew he could be easily replaced. Just as in telling a popular restaurant you will never eat there again. It may feign disappointment, when actually, they couldn't care less.
Leon checked his mobile for the time. He had been sitting in the parking lot of a closed grocery store for over an hour. He noted that it was longer than usual, however, not a rare occurrence. He nervously tapped on his steering wheel, unable to stay focused long enough on his mobile to read internet articles or emails. His eyes darted around, keeping a watch for interlopers or bacon cousins. Checking the time again, his shoulders slumped in disappointment, although it had felt like an hour, it had actually been less than five minutes.
Thirty minutes later and Leon is startled by the ring of his mobile resting on his lap. He looked down at the screen to see the incoming caller was the very person he had been waiting for.
"Hey, man! What the fuck? I have been here for almost two fuckin' hours!" Leon began ranting as soon as he pressed the green button with an outline of an old handset phone. Before he could continue he was interrupted by a gruff voice.
"I don't give a shit how long you've been waiting, Leo." said the gravel-being-dragged-across glass voice, "In fact, you are lucky I called at all after what I learned a bit ago. Leon, you have seriously reached the bottom. You, my friend, are fucked. I am cutting you off, man."
Leon laughed nervously while his mind raced trying to find a reason for such a harsh event. Finding none, he concluded Davis was just messing with him, a sedgeway to an excuse for being late. "Sure, Dav, right. Why would you cut off your most loyal customer? Come on, I am going to put your kids through college if you ever find a woman desperate enough to have sex with you, let alone kids."
"I ain't fuckin' joking, you weaselly piece of shit! You think that you can rip me off? Think that eventually I wouldn't find out? It's cliche, really. A druggie rips off his source and thus loses the very thing he was desperate enough to steal for. It's a shame really, since you have also been black listed by every other provider in the city. Which is why you pay full price knowing full well it's short and lower quality. You had no choice. Just like now. Whether you like it or not, Leo, you are a recovering addict."
With that the line went dead. Leon began to panic.
Leon's eyes darted open at exactly six in the morning. He had been asleep only a few hours, blissful it was. At least when he had been sleeping the creeping panic had been at bay. Now, as the euphoric feeling of deep sleep wears off, that old friend panic creeps back in. Leo hadn't gotten a hit in over twelve hours and was feeling the effects of the substances absence. His stomach was in knots and nausea was building in intensity. Leon knew what would come, at least, he had read about it. After all, he hadn't been without his chemical a whole day in over two years. It felt surreal, everything was livid and bright. Sound was amplified and colors stood out like never before.
Maybe a shower will help. He thought as he climbed out of bed. He staggers as a wave of disorientation sweeps over him. Steadying himself, he slowly makes his way to the bathroom. Arriving, he turned on the light and looked in the mirror to see a stranger staring back. A pale, sickly looking string of a man stared back at Leon. Hair greasy, skin almost translucent, marked with red inflamed pock marks. Eyes clouded and blood shot. Death alive. He stared in the mirror for a few moments and walked over to the shower suddenly ill and downtrodden.
Drying off, he sat going through the motions. Leo had felt no better from the cascade of water and the clean feeling obtained from bathing. Even his cigarette tasted horrible, which to a smoker rarely happened, and he was getting no satisfaction from it. He reached up and rubbed his face in an attempt to clear away the fog. Like everything else he had tried, it did nothing. Maybe if I eat something that will help. Crossed his mind and he rised up from his bed and shuffled to the kitchen.
11:00 AM - Day One
Leon was in agony. He laid on the couch and stared at the ceiling wishing he could just fall asleep. Nonetheless sleep would not come. Whenever he tried to shut his eyes flashes of color or rapid images would occupy the darkness behind the eyelids. He could find no comfort either, tossing and turning, changing positions or sides of the sofa. Seeking comfort that was nowhere to be found. He almost felt like he had to move, as if he remained still he would explode. He stood up and tried walking around his small apartment but the feeling would not subside. Sometimes he thought his skin was trying to escape, trying to simply detach and fly away. Other times Leon thought his muscles were going to lock in place, causing him to collapse on the floor in hellish agony. He started pacing faster and faster. Before too long Leo had been at full speed, circumventing the floor plan, mumbling to himself, in an attempt of distraction, he had believed madness was creeping in.
Leon quickly stopped and threw his hands on his head. He could no longer take it. He had to get something, even if just for the rest of the day, he could be clear headed and make a plan. The situation he was in had came on too suddenly, if he had time to think it through he could be more prepared. There was only one problem. Leon had no one left to call, he had burned every bridge in pursuit of his high. However, desperation had engulfed him and Leon reached for his mobile. Events of the past not even crossing his mind as he opened his contacts list.
Leon's Track Record
Leon began using almost two years to the day his final supplier gave him the gift of forced recovery. When he had first started everything was grand, even friendly with some of the many contacts he had to obtain his escape from reality. Leo had prided himself on his ability to maintain his life, job, bills, rent, food, all paid before he sought his prized medication. Nevertheless, the slow decent began, he started using more and more, then he started missing work more and more, then he started paying his bills late more and more. More and More. Then one day, he was fired. Then one day he was hungry. Then one day he was without power. No matter, he was high. Nothing was much concern.
Then he started asking for "fronts" the whole "I'll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a fix today" and of course, he got out of control again. His debts surpassed any ability to pay and score so one by one, he stopped calling certain dealers and answering those dealers phone calls wondering where their money was. Little by little, Leon lost more and more crediblity and those he didn't burn did him a favor and cut him off. His last resort had been Davis, known as a bait and switch dealer, Davis would generally get you high on really good stuff, then sell the user what they believe is the same drug they just used. Actually, it was always lower quality, sometimes even fake, and less for more money. Leo knew all that going in, all the same, he had had no choice.
One night, he had met Davis at a bar. Obviously drunk, Davis had not only admitted as much to Leo, he sold him some good stuff and even told him where he hid his stash! Leon filed the information and the next time he had seen Davis asked him if he remembered much of that night they met. Davis had denied even seeing Leo that night. The time had come. Leon went to the abandon house where Davis said he kept the stash and, surprisingly to Leo, found three grams of quality product. He slipped it in his pocket and slipped out of the house.
4 Hours Later
All his calls had gone unanswered. He had tried and tried, even left messages that amount to begging, angry and promises littering the babbling of a desperate man. No one had bothered to return the distress signal. Leon had been abandoned. Written off and disavowed he found himself at the edge and leaped off without second thought. He began searching the apartment, checking drawers, pockets, under furniture, anywhere he may have dropped some, or left some by accident. When he had started crawling around on the carpet looking for even crumbs of his crutch it occurred to him the depth he had sunk.
However, the moment had been fleeting and he continued his frantic search of every inch of the carpet. An hour later, he found nothing and had resorted to cowering in the corner, shaking and whimpering like a scolded child. Foreboding thoughts of dark ways to escape the anguish and physical pain that racked his body. Leon had started feeling sorry for himself; Why is this happening? , What did I do to deserve this? Nobody cares about me, they're all probably laughing! and other pointless, self-defeating imagined situations crossed his mind. There was only one way to escape this. Only one direction he could take if he wanted to vanquish the feeling of "ender." The word he used to describe a situation forcing a conclusion. It was an ender when Davis had told him he would supply him no more. Leo knew he had taken the situation for granted and in his lackadaisical attitude, burglarized the proverbial hand that fed him. His wrath directed in the wrong direction.
He shook, curled up like a petrified corpse exposed to desert heat. The sweat felt like it was pouring over foreign skin, as if he had grown a shell over his whole body. His teeth chattered and no matter how wrapped up he got, he felt wave after wave of chills wash over his body. Out of the corner of his watering eyes he would see shadows dart in and out of view. Noticed certain colors flame up suddenly then dissipate has quickly has they had manifested. Leo would crank his head at rapid speeds in one direction then the next, up, down, left to right. On a constant swivel, certain the shadows were real, enemies closing in on the hapless victim.
Leon tried to stand up and found that his legs could not support his weight and he would tumble back to the floor. He had started vomiting from time to time and just let it steam on the floor next to him along with the urine. His stomach had started rumbling nonstop and felt on the verge of combustion. Soon after the diarrhea started and, being too weak, that too was allowed to plot its own course surrounding Leo in a stench so foul that no one would have been able to get within five feet without gagging. Leon hardly noticed and when he did, it only induced more vomiting. He was assured that soon he would pass out he felt so weak, so close to what must be death, that it had to have been certainly close to the end. No matter that when he swooned and tried to embrace the darkness that came with it, he was denied and his eyes would always shoot back open, the tremors would pick up and another round of bodily evacuation would commence.
Leon suddenly had a thought occur to him that instigated a small smile. He was a gun owner.
The Bottom End Of Free Fall
Leon managed to crawl through piss and shit, around the corner and into his bedroom. The event had evaporated his reserves and he had to rest for several minutes before attempting to crawl to the closet. Leaving a fresh trail of vomit in his wake he eventually reached the sliding closet door and opening it remembered that the hard shell case was on the top shelf, about four feet above his quivering body. He moaned with a croaking tone and struggled to lift himself up using the frame of the closet. The sweating increased from the excursion and he trembled from the struggle of trying to muster the strength.
After what felt like a twenty mile uphill hike, Leon was more or less standing in the doorway of the closet. He stood there panting, sweat still dumping out of his pores at an alarming rate. After a bit of a reprieve, he tried to lift his arm up to paw at the black plastic case on the shelf. His arm felt as if it weight a ton, he struggled to lift it even a bit, let alone above his head. Whimpering in frustration, Leon tries and tries. After what seems like years, he finds hold on the case and with every bit of strength he could muster, pulled it off the shelf and let it fall to the floor.
He stood feeling victorious and for a brief moment forgot that he was dying. A fresh flow exited his orifices and he whimpered once more. Falling to his knees, he uses his clammy, sweaty hands to try and open the gun case. His fingers felt raw and as if the nerve endings were on the outside of his flesh, exposed to the world. He cried, he yelled, he threw fits. None of it helped. Finally, after just a few moments, to Leon days, the case split open and out tumbled his Glock .45 automatic pistol and two clips loaded with bullets. Not that he would need more than one or two at the most. With shaking hands, Leon reaches for the only known cure to his suffering, at least, in his mind.
Leon stares out the window. How had it come to this? Why had he let himself get to this lowly point? Whatever, It no longer mattered. There was only one way out, one cure and one solution to the current state of affairs for Leon. Trembling all over, as if exposed to freezing elements, he reached for the matte black pistol, dragged it to him, lifted it and inserted the dangerous end in his mouth. He was careful to angle the weapon upwards to ensure maximum impact. Leon whimpered once more and then pulled the trigger.
A Dream Within A Dream?
He's startled awake. Shooting straight up in bed, panting heavily, he looked around for what could have made that sound. Like, an exhaust backfire or a somewhat distant crack of thunder, the noise had been enough to wake him up. He ran his hands up and down his torso checking for injury. Finding none, he relaxes for a moment, then he realized it had only been a dream. A horrible nightmare that had been all too vivid. The breathing started to become more relaxed, the sweating was stopping, and he even smiled briefly.
Davis let's out a sigh and reaches for his phone. He had tortured poor Leon enough, he wasn't a bad person, just needed a little lesson. Davis wasn't one to hold a grudge and twenty four hours of withdrawal should have sent a powerful message about respect and loyalty.
Davis picked up his mobile and dialed Leon's number.
It Can Be Too Late
The tired line; "If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol problem.." We have heard it so many times that it instills complacency in us much like a car alarm going off in the night. The truth is until you or someone you know realizes they have a problem, the road is marred with bottomless chasms, blockades, and blame. An individual who is addicted can be hard to reach. Plant seeds and offer an out. Always be available to help. 1-800-662-HELP
© 2016 Adam Stier
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