I walk back to Victoria Inn, taking the clean evening air. The crunch of gravel under my feet feels like delicate little eggs cracking under my feet even through my shoes. I can see my breath when I exhale, when I remember to breath. It’s a sickly green, smells like cyanide and freshly squeezed lemons. I wonder offhandedly if Doc or Neils would see it the same. Thinking of Morts’ eyes examining me sends a chill down my spine. His river runs darker than the rest of us I think.
A heavy drag off the cigarette and I’m at the door, knocking on the door with my palm. The door is soft, gives a little in under my slamming palm, like warm plastic melting. I feel it moan and push through when I hear the soft click of it open for me. I’m not sure what’s real anymore, Leroy’s concoction is pushing through my veins like an infection. I feel like my eyes are going to burst as my body pushes out the toxins slowly. I rub my eyes to wipe away the puss I feel running down my face. The traveler, Zach, looks at me strangely and with what I recognize as concern.
“Billy, why are you crying?”
“It’s just puss Zach. I’ll be fine.”
I wipe away the last of it with my bandana. It’s thick and leaves my fingers sticky and yellow, like resin. I feel his eyes boring into my skull but he’ll get nothing from me. I’ve been trained by the best to defend mindrape.
“You’ve nothing to fear from me Zach – unless you lie to me. I’ll need you to keep me well supplied. I can pay in cash for now. When my money runs out we can work out another arrangement. Your secret is safe.”
Relief floods his face but he watches me suspiciously. I can see his vestigial stalk-eyes bulge angrily, accusingly at me, trying to probe still. I watch his nose peel open down the middle and take a gulp of air before closing up again.
“What is it you want me to get? Let me guess? Drugs?” I pretend to not notice the judgmental tone in his voice.
“You’re smart little larvae aren’t you? Yes, but I have a refined pallet. Don’t bring me shit. You bring me Tylenol 3 and I’ll rip them nasty stalks off your head.”
He tilts his head, with a audible clicks. The stalk eyes seem to be vibrating now and the room seems to go soft and blurry. I can’t be here much longer. My resistance is weakening. I need another hit soon.
“I’ve made a list for you.” I dig out the napkin from my pocket and pass it to him. He stares at it for a few minutes. I can see he’s trying to read it upside down.
“I can’t read this. What the hell language is this?” He’s looking at me like I’m the one with eyes growing out of my head. His nose takes a gulp again.
I snatch it from his hands. I notice my hands are shaking a little. I slap the napkin down on the table and pull out my smokes with my other hand. The nicotine calms my nerves and I can feel it run over me like cool water on my nerve endings.
Taking a deep drag I stab at the napkin with my finger, “The first list is street candy. Angel dust or crystal. Mescaline if you can get it. LSD, Smack, Meth. Hell, I’ll take black tar or crack if that’s all you can sniff out.”
I fold the napkin open and turn it to the larger list, pointing with my cigarette.
“These are the pharmaceuticals. Morphine, Codeine, Vicodin , Quaaludes, Rohypnol, Seconal, Tramadol , Percocet. Basically any opiate will do the trick.”
He looks a little scared, “I don’t know how to get this stuff. The only drugs I’ve ever taken were over the counter.”
I can feel the worms in my belly writhe in frustration. I push them down as the try to find their way out onto the table. I hard swallow and can feel them wiggle back down.
“None of this is hard to get. Just go to any college campus and ask around who you can score from. Trust your gut and use your bugout instincts. If it makes you feel better, I might be able to get the Doc to write you a script for the pill bottle stuff.”
I finish my smoke and snuff it out in the ashtray. It puckers up and swallows the cigarette butt. I can still hear it chewing the filter when I get up as I start to walk out.
“Listen Zach, its easy stuff. Get what you can. I’m not expecting you to go down it like a checklist.”
I lay down five hundred in c notes on the table on my way out. I’m feeling a little shaky by the time I get to the door.
“That should be enough to get you started.”
I walk out, feeling his proboscis digging around the skin under my skull one last time. I can see them now, whipping around on the ground, making their way up my pant leg. The cold air forces them to recoil out of my head and I start the long walk back to Leroy’s place.
I pull out my old mint tin and stare at the last few dots and pray the kid comes through. It’s going to be tough to reach Annexia if the supply runs dry. I put the tin back, managing to resist the urge to shove all of them in my mouth. It’s going to be long road back home in more ways than one.