Chaz lowered his eye to the door’s peep hole and peered through. A thin figure stood on the other side, body deformed by the convex bend of the glass. He looked bony and malnourished, his face thin and unshaven. A t-shirt was draped over his body like a poorly-fit and tattered tablecloth, Bob Marley’s face plastered across it. He wore equally large blue jeans, baggy and frayed toward the bottoms of his feet from being dragged and stepped on for who knows how many years. Track marks from injecting marijuanas lined his arm like a connect-the-dots game forming an abstract picture of addiction.
Chaz backed away from the viewing hole, undid the chain bolt, twisted the lock, turned off the alarm, undid the padlock, slipped open the deadlock, removed the tiny, wooden fence, and finally turned the doorknob. He stepped back and pulled open the heavy door, a cacophonous creak accompanying its abrupt movement. He then opened the slightly smaller, less noisy wooden door behind it.
“Were you followed, Brad?” Chaz squinted his eyes as he stared beyond him and into the hallway, studying a waving shadow to ensure it was nothing more than the same tree it had always been. The hallway itself was an absolute mess: Walls caked with water damage and mold, ceiling lights long-since functional, broken tiles—formerly from the ceiling—scattered across the floor. Then again, his apartment looked no better. It was the best he could afford, though, considering his situation.
Money had become scarce since dropping out of college and being thrown out of his home, even if he had taken up a new job as, what he casually referred to, a “gay for pay” employee. In truth, his addiction to injecting marijuanas was getting worse and he knew it; his memory had already taken a significant toll following his continued abuse, and it seems his intellectual abilities were faltering too. Even his body, formerly muscular and quite fit, now seemed more and more skeletal as the days passed, the marijuana slowly eating away at his physical appearance.
“Would I have come here if I was followed? Come on, man. Let me in.”
Chaz nodded and moved to the side as he took one last glance down the hallway. He walked over to the couch and sat down with a heavy thump. Brad closed the door and followed closely behind, seating himself next to him and placing his feet on the table in front. Chaz turned his head toward Brad.
“Let’s see it,” Chaz said. He wanted to ask Brad how he was, if he was dating anybody, what he did that day—anything similar to how they used to speak, but his body simply refused to comply. It needed to reach that next high.
Brad reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag. It looked about eight ounces in weight and was completely filled with a green, moss-like substance. It appeared enough like marijuana, but after their last debacle of oregano mixed with grass clippings and confetti—which gave him a terrible high—Chaz needed to be sure before injecting. Brad took the bag in his hand and lifted it to his nose, then inhaled deeply. He smiled and passed it to his left. Chaz placed his pointer and thumb into the bag and removed a small nugget. He leaned into it, inhaling its scent as he did so, then lifted it to his open mouth and rubbed it against his gums. His eyes widened.
“This is good stuff, Brad, much better than before. Where’s it from?”
“New guy, Blaze-Smoker recommended him just before he was arrested.”
“Mind if I take a hit?”
“Why else do I keep getting this shit?”
Chaz bent down and stuck his hand under the couch, fumbling around beneath until his fingers wrapped around a plastic case. He pulled it towards him and lifted it onto the table. It was black, maybe three inches across and six inches tall. He unscrewed the lid and poured the contents onto the table. Six syringes scattered across the wood finish, along with a small, brown stick. He grabbed the syringe closest to him and bit off the plastic guard covering the needle on the tip. Chaz then reached for the bag of marijuana and removed another nugget, this one about three times larger than the earlier sample. He removed the top of the syringe and shoved the marijuana into it, using the brown stick to push it all the way to the bottom like a soldier in the Civil War reloading his musket. Chaz then placed the top back on.
“Tie me off,” he said, nodding his head toward a live lobster on the ground beside the table. It had a thick, white rubber band wrapped around each claw. Brad glanced over and casually slid one of the bands off its claw, then placed it around Chaz’s bicep. The lobster snapped and quickly scurried away. Chaz’s veins slowly began protruding under the strain from the rubber band, thick lines that seemed to twist all across his forearm. Chaz lifted the needle and carefully placed it over a vein opposite his elbow then lowered it down. His skin bent inward like a plastic bag on the brink of breaking as the needle pierced his flesh. He squinted, then pressed down on the top of the syringe. The marijuana quickly flowed out of the needle and into his bloodstream.
Chaz sat back, his eyes rolling upwards as a feeling of pure ecstasy spread through his body. He felt the couch beneath him begin to fade away, as if he was sitting on a cloud and floating comfortably along its airy shell. Invincibility permeated through his body, his muscles tensing as his internal limitations vanished.
“Is it good?” said Brad.
“Amazing,” Chad slurred, eyes dancing back and forth dizzyingly. “Amazing.”
Brad sat up and reached for a syringe, then filled it with another nugget of marijuana. He removed the band from around Chaz’s arm, then placed it on his own before plunging the syringe in. He sat back and let out a relaxed sigh, pulling on the end of the rubber band to loosen it.
“This is good shit,” he said, closing his eyes.
A siren pierced the air, its din echoing through the tiny apartment. Chaz felt his stomach seemingly lurch upwards as his body jumped uncontrollably. He glanced around the room, eyes skipping from side to side as he searched for the source of the sound. Brad was lying on the floor, hands over his head in surrender.
“What was that?”
Brad looked up, his hands still clasped around the back of his head.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know, man.”
“Go look outside,” Chaz said.
“Hell no, you do it. Who knows what could have made that sound. Godzilla, maybe. Besides, it’s your apartment.”
Chaz carefully pushed himself up off the couch and onto his hands and knees, then began crawling toward the small window above his bed. Blue and red lights flashed just outside, the colors dancing across his decrepit ceiling like a television in the dark. He felt his body begin to shiver as he attempted to make sense of the situation. Why would Godzilla have flashing lights? Why would Godzilla even have a siren? It didn’t make sense. Perhaps it was something worse. Perhaps it was Mechazilla.
Chaz crawled until he was underneath the ledge. He slowly raised himself up until he was eye-level with the bottom of the window. He peered outside, eyes ready to witness Mechazilla destroying his block. Instead, a blinding white spotlight washed out his vision. A voice spoke from outside.
“This is the NYPD. We have you surrounded. Please do not make this difficult—”
Another voice interrupted. “This is the FBI Crisis Response Team. Come out with your hands up.”
“This is the DEA. You’re under arrest,” said a third voice through a megaphone.
“This is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” came a fourth voice through another megaphone. “We will not hesitate to open fire.”
A fifth voice began speaking: “Hi boys, it’s Jenny—your college advisor. I hope this isn’t a bad time, I’d like to suggest you re-enroll. I still do not feel your decision to drop out was the right one.”
Chaz ducked back down, his vision blurred by the blinding spotlights.
“Who is it?” asked Brad. He was sliding forward by pushing his feet against the floor like a worm, his hands still clasped around the back of his head.
“We’re fucked, man. We’re fucked. It’s over for us.”
“Who is it?” Brad repeated, louder this time.
“Who do you think? It’s the NYPD-FBI-DEA-Fish and Wildlife Service-Jenny. We’re fucked.”
“Shit, that’s just like what happened to Chad.”
“You told me you weren’t followed, you asshole! You fucked us!”
“I wasn’t followed, man, don’t put this on me. I checked. The only thing behind me when I pulled up was the same car that had been behind me since I bought the marijuana. I mean, yeah, it trailed me here, and yeah, it had similar colored red-and-blue lights, but don’t be paranoid. It didn’t follow me.” Brad paused as if thinking. “Wait a minute, how do I know you didn’t set me up?”
“I didn’t set you up, man, don’t even say that. I ain’t no rat.”
“How can I be sure? This is your apartment, you’re the one who went to the window. You set me up.”
“No way, man. Why would I set you up in my own apartment? I got so much shit in here that I’d be locked up too, even if I did.”
Brad’s eyes studied Chaz, his lips tightening as he stared.
“Okay, yeah, I believe you.”
“Doesn’t matter, though, we’re still fucked—“
“Hey. This is the NYPD again, we’re still out here waiting,” interrupted a megaphoned voice from beyond the window. “Just thought we’d remind you—hey, stop!” The megaphone went silent.
“DEA here. Please come out. Drugs are illegal, don’t make us shoot you.”
Chaz turned toward the window and quickly stuck his head back up to try to see outside. Vans lined the apartment’s lawn, almost every one bearing a different logo. Men with rifles, pistols, animal cages, and one woman in a college sweater, were fixated on his window. He knelt back down and out of view.
“Shit, man, I don’t know what to do. I’m freaking out. I need a fix,” Brad said. Chaz watched as he leaned forward slightly and picked up a syringe off the table. His hands were quivering as he reached for the bag of marijuana, which had been knocked on the floor in the earlier commotion. He picked it up and opened it, then filled his syringe with the remaining nuggets. He shoved in the tiny stick, lined it up over his arm without the rubber band, and plunged it in. His eyes immediately rolled backwards as the syringe emptied. He began shaking, his body smashing against the floor, mouth foaming with a strange white substance.
“Brad?” Chaz shouted, crawling over to him. “What are you doing?” He stared down at his face. It was pale, his eyes locked upward as his body convulsed. The syringe was still embedded in his arm, shaking and waving as he seized. Chaz grabbed onto his arm to stop him from twitching, but his body continued moving. He rolled him over onto his side, as he’d seen the cops do in CSI: Miami. But why did they roll him? He couldn’t remember. A stream of vomit poured out of Brad’s mouth and pooled on the floor as his body came to a stand-still. Chaz stared down at him, mind racing as he tried to figure out what was going on. Was the marijuana that good? Brad’s body trembled once more, then stopped entirely.
Chaz stared at Brad and returned him to his back. His eyes were still and distant, his face emotionless. He was not breathing.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck. Brad?” Chaz shook his body, Brad’s head wobbling freely on his shoulders. “Are you dead? Oh fuck, you blazed so hard you died. I can’t deal with this!”
Chaz reached under the table beside Brad’s head and fumbled around. He grabbed onto the zip-lock bag of marijuana and pulled it toward him. It was empty, except for a few tiny, green flakes. He threw the bag on the floor and turned back to Brad. He slowly crawled to him, stopping once he was just over his motionless body. The needle remained upright in his arm. Chaz reached over and pulled it out, biting his lip and squinting as he did so. He brought the syringe close to his face and looked into the clear center, begging for a morsel of marijuana. A small drop of blood pooled at the bottom, tiny flakes floating within. Chaz threw the syringe across the room.
“This is the FBI,” resumed the electronic-sounding voice from outside. “We would like to negotiate with you in order to end this civilly. Please come to the window and tell us how to help you.”
Chaz stood up and ran over to the window, hitting its glass on the ceiling of his apartment as he lifted it open. The blinding white lights were again pointed right into his eyes. He squinted.
“Marijuana,” Chaz shouted. “Give me more marijuana and I’ll do what you ask. Just one more hit.” The lights clicked off, allowing Chaz to once again see the over-crowded lawn. A man lowered his megaphone and turned toward another person.
“We can’t do that,” said the man, again speaking through the megaphone. “That’s kind of why we’re here.”
“Then I’m not coming out,” shouted Chaz.
“We can’t just give you more marijuana, we’re arresting you for marijuana.”
“Then we’re through talking.” Chaz turned and reached up to close the window.
“Wait,” said the man. “We have something better.”
Chaz turned back toward the window and stared back down.
“What?” he asked.
“You wanna get high?” said the agent.
“We got some meth here.” Chaz stared down at the man with the megaphone. He reached into the van next to him and pulled out a small, clear bag. He held it in the air.
“I don’t know,” Chaz said, leaning forward through the window to get a better look. “I’ve never done that before.”
“You scared?” said the man. Several people laughed.
“I’m not scared, I’ve just not done meth before.”
“Pussy,” laughed the man. He turned to the shorter man next to him and pointed up at the Chaz’s window. The two seemed to double over in laughter. The woman in the college sweater walked over to the megaphone and whispered something into the man’s ear. He passed her the speaker.
“Hi, Chaz? It’s me, Jenny. I really don’t think it’s wise for you to do meth. Marijuana is a gateway drug, I warned you this would happen when you told me you were dropping out to pursue a career in marijuana. Just my two cents. That said, I do have a question I’d like to ask you later.” Jenny handed the megaphone back to the man.
“You know what, fine. I’ll do it,” said Chaz. How bad could it be, anyway? He’d already injected over one whole marijuana, it was time to explore new drugs. Take the small step from weed to meth.
“Great,” said the man. “Here’s how we’re going to do this: I’m going to send up an agent—he will be unarmed—to give you the meth. You just need to open the door and let him in.”
“Can’t you just throw it up here?”
“No, I have a very bad throwing arm. It’s embarrassing for me. Please don’t make me do that.” Chaz stared at the man, he seemed trustworthy.
“Okay, fine, send him up.”
A figure ran up to the man with the megaphone and grabbed the bag from his hand. He then turned and ran toward the apartment complex. Chaz backed up and closed the window. He was excited to try some meth, to get a nice high before being locked up. Maybe it would feel even better than injecting marijuana. He walked over to the couch and took a seat next to Brad’s body. He looked over at him and smiled—he would’ve loved to try some meth. A fist wrapped against the door.
Chaz stood back up and walked over to his entryway. He placed his hand on the doorknob and then stopped. He quickly doubled back to the table and grabbed a syringe so he coul be nice and ready to inject some meth. He then returned to the door and opened it up. A large man in a Fish and Wildlife Services jacket stood before him, his face silhouetted by a spotlight on the opposite end of the hallway. Chaz moved to the side to allow him in.
“Where’s the stuff? Let’s see it.”
The man walked into the room, then kicked the door shut behind him. He was very large, at least a foot taller than Chaz. But he wasn’t just tall, he had the body of a retired professional football player on his first year out of the game. His face was covered in a thick, unshaven beard. His eyes were slowly scanning the room, all but ignoring Chaz.
“Where’s my meth—”
The man sprung forward, knocking Chaz to the floor. He jumped over Brad’s body, rolling on the ground as he landed. He pressed his palms against the floor and used his feet to propel himself into the air, then dove over the back of the couch. He pulled a pistol out as he soared through the room, landing with a solid thump against the wooden floor. He was now out of Chaz’s view, but quickly reemerged. He was carrying the lobster in his hand, one claw snapping wildly in Chaz’s direction as the other, still tied down with the rubber band, flailed randomly. The man’s pistol was pointed directly at Chaz. He leaned into his jacket lapel and spoke.
“The eagle is secure. I repeat, the eagle is secure.” The man paused. “What? No, not the—yeah, the lobster. It’s fine. Just go.”
Chaz turned back toward the door, eyes frantically searching for the bag of meth he had seen the man grab outside, just as a swarm of uniformed men—and one woman—entered the apartment. They forced him to the ground, his body falling against his will under their weight. Cries of “Freeze, FBI-DEA-NYPD-Fish and Wildlife Services-Jenny” echoed through the room. He closed his eyes as he felt the cold steel of the handcuffs lock around his wrists, his mind helplessly returning to the first time he had ever injected a marjiuanas, to the days when he was a straight-A student with a bright future. He recalled the time before his marijuana addiction destroyed his life, tore apart his family, made him drop out of school, and become a straight, gay male prostitute.
Chaz felt a tap on his shoulder. “I hope this isn’t a bad time,” said a woman’s voice from within the pile of bodies atop Chaz. Jenny’s head came into focus right between the chest of a man in an NYPD jacket and one in DEA jacket directly on top of his chin. “I was wondering if you knew where I could get some weed.” He tried to shake his head, to tell her no, to save her from the gateway she was about to step into, but all he could do was struggle to breathe under the weight injecting marijuanas had caused himself. All he wanted was one more hit.
Writing Prompt: Addicts inject a whole marijuana