An American Junkie Foresees His Death
He looks exactly how a junkie drug dealer is supposed to look: long, grimy hair, bloodshot eyes, and a full beard. His apartment, of course, looks worse than he does. For Christ’s sake, this guy has a dirty mattress on the floor. I thought that was only a Hollywood thing.
“So what you looking for,” he says in a forced voice, like he’s trying hard to sound suave.
“What you got,” I ask.
He’s fidgety. He opens his hands and closes them over and over. He also darts his eyes around like he’s hearing voices.
“It depends. I got the basic stuff here. I can get the sketchier stuff, though, if you need it.” Again he makes the forced voice. Then it dawns on me. He’s on flash.
He probably didn’t look anything like he does now a couple of hours ago, but that’s what flash does. It messes with people’s time. It speeds them up so in a span of an hour, they’ll have lived a month; two months with the good shit. I’ve heard of eighteen year old kids dying at age eighty in less than a year. They call those junkies fruit flies. But that’s not what I’m looking for. Actually, I’m looking for just the opposite.
“You got any slow,” I ask. He waits a while before he answers. He must really be flashing hard if he’s trying to time it so he doesn’t respond too fast.
“Whoa, you do know that stuffs hard to come by.” He isn’t trying to hide the effects anymore. His speech is speeding up, and the pitch in his voice is increasing.
“Xander told me you can get some, that you know a guy.”
“Xander’s got a big mouth, but maybe I can get some. It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend. That stuff ain’t cheap. It’s supply and demand, you know what I mean.” He is really speeding now; so much so that I almost can’t understand him.
I tell him I’ll give him five hundred dollars, money I took from Xander’s apartment. He fidgets some more and moistens his lips with rapid swipes of his tongue. He says something inaudible then goes into the next room. His stride looks unnatural. It’s like watching a movie in fast forward.
I hear him rummage in the room, and then he reemerges. He sits on the mattress and pats at a spot next to him. I hesitate, but then capitulate knowing if I want the stuff I have to cooperate.
“You know what this does, right?” he says, brandishing a little brown bottle. “It drops you out of time. You will cease to exist.” He is coming down. I can tell by the way his voice is deepening. “The rapture they call it.”
I desperately want to correct him. No one knows for certain what the slow does, just what it’s supposed to do. It’s supposed to be the opposite of flash. When they synthesized it they thought it’d extend the users life, but people just disappeared. Their speech would slur, their movements would stop, and after about an hour, they would vanish.
“Why do you want to do this?” he asks.
I’ve thought about this myself, and truth is I have no good answer. I could tell him my life up to now has been a waste and the future doesn’t seem any brighter. I could feed him some existentialist shit about angst and despair. Both of these things are true to a point, but they are not the main reason I want the slow.
I’ve experienced highs that have made the world grey on the comedown. I’ve experienced lows that have made a stubbed toe feel like the greatest miracle of life. I’ve traveled back and forth between these poles multiple times. In doing so, I’ve become numb to the effects of most stimulants, whether they are uppers, downers, or flashers. Falling out of time has got to be the ultimate high or ultimate low. I’m not sure which it will be, but I’m banking on one of the two. If it’s not either one, well, I don’t really want to continue chasing highs and lows in this monochrome world.
I see him insert the needle tip into the brown top of the bottle. His hand is shaking, and he looks me in the eye. “So?” he asks.
“Are you going to sell me the shit or not?”