I’d told myself - and so did every damn junky in the theater, to never - never! - cop any shit from people you don’t know or you’ll get burned. I made that stupid ass mistake.
I was fiending for a bump by the time my shift had begun and there was this one regular named Jerome - a young, black guy that sometimes helped me clean up the joint so he wouldn’t have to leave and would get a whole day free in the theater.
Jerome had arrived before my shift, when he came to the concession window; he noticed the decrepit state that I was in.
“You holding, Jerome?” I croaked.
“Naw, buddy.” He said, frowning. “The place is dry. I can’t score either.”
I just groaned, looking out the window - into the abyss.
“Look, Jerome - if you have any contacts and can make a run for me - I’ll let you stay in the morning. You can help me clean up and you can keep whatever you find.”
Grinning, Jerome stated, “I know this cat down in Imperial Beach. Let me use the phone and I can score some good shit for you!”
Moments passed and Jerome was on the phone uttering yeah every three seconds.
He handed the receiver to me, “He wanna talk to you.”
I spoke into the phone, “Yeah?”
A tinny voice rasped in hyped-up speed, “My boy Jerry tells me ya wanna score? I got whatcha need, man – I got it and it’s the best. Best you ever gonna get with this price. Best, man – the best! If you’re not satisfied - I’ll personally give you a free bump. How much ya need?”
We negotiated and I sent Jerome on his way with the last of my money. I slapped a fifty in his hand and two hours later the stupid fucker came back with less than half a bag. I was pissed.
“Where’s the rest of my dope, Jerry?” I snarled.
“That’s all he gave me.” He sniveled, with the little boy hurt look.
I held the bag up to him, “Does this look right? Does it?! Where’s the other half?!” I screamed. “Get the fuck outta here! You are barred from this place, unnerstand?! Permanently!”
For a full hour, Jerome stood outside of the box office window in the silent night. He sobbed and pleaded to be readmitted. Not only did I not let Jerome in, I snorted all that shit in one sitting in front of him. Eventually, he vanished into the night.
I was a fucking mess. I dropped things on the floor, spilled coffee everywhere, and the worst part - the absolute insidious part - I began chicken pecking.
All along the shelves, wood beams, tables, and counters around the office, every surface was lightly coated with small flakes of asbestos, peeling paint, dirt, dust bunnies - I had spent a good five hours of my shift - with flashlight in hand - combing over every inch of that office checking, scrutinizing, probing every single, little dust particle – because, I remembered earlier that I had dropped some magic little speck or specks of crystal somewhere - I knew it! And God damn it - I was going to find it!
I was down on all fours, behind a heavy metal file cabinet that I had shifted out of the way, flash light swooshing back and forth, picking up bits of asbestos and dust with shaking thumb and forefinger - holding it up close to my glasses, wincing - then chucked it over my shoulder, continuing to the next, then the next, then the next.
Above me, there was a knock on the counter at the concession door. I popped up. It was Jeffry - an ancient, pudgy fairy who was good friends with Bob, my manager.
I stood in front of him – my eyes sullen, cheeks withdrawn, dirty from the floor - a sweating, trembling, jerking, shamble.
He asked in a low tone, the kind of calm tone one uses when speaking with the insane, “What are you doing?”
“Nothing!” I spat. “I just dropped something and I was looking for it. What’s up? Whatta ya need? How can I help you?” The last three questions shot out like one word.
With a worried look, he nervously ordered a coke and went on his way.