Later there is thunder and the smell of exhaust. There is darkness and the sound of my own heart beating as though it might burst. There are mumbled conversations between faceless men.
I am blindfolded and bound in the back of what I’m guessing is some old piece of shit van. The same van I thought looked suspicious about an hour ago. If only I’d kept up my guard, but I was distracted. I was thinking about her.
“You’re going to dig your own grave,” one of the men says and laughs.
“Get fucked,” I spit.
Something hits me hard in the face. I’m guessing it’s his boot. There is a blinding flash of pain and the taste of my own blood. One of the other guys laughs. This is all just fun and games to them, but a couple of my teeth feel loose.
“You fucked with the wrong guy, dead man,” another voice says. “You should know better than to cross Big Bear.”
Big Bear. That evil motherfucker with the gay ass nickname. There was nothing cuddly about this asshole. I told her we shouldn’t do business with him. He had a reputation for reveling in the pain and misfortune of others. But she said he had the best offer in town. We could make ten times our investment, she said. She was always good at talking people into things, especially me.
“He’s going to enjoy killing you slow,” says the first voice with obvious enjoyment.
"You mean killing me slowly," I say just to feel superior to these drones and I feel something kick me in the ribs. It takes me a couple of minutes to get my breath back.
Goddamn you, Felony.
But this is all later and every story has a beginning. I guess this one starts with the day I met her.
She was all peroxide and tanned flesh. She couldn’t have been more than eighty pounds soaking wet. She couldn’t stop talking and I couldn’t figure out if it was because she was high or manic or both. She was the type of girl I avoid like herpes. But something about her fascinated me.
I met her at Rick’s. I was going to score a little crank for the weekend. Most of the people who hung out at Rick’s were addicts whose whole lives revolved around their drug of choice. Rick could get just about anything, but mostly he sold stepped-on coke and decent crystal meth. I’m sure the cops had been watching him for ages, but were just waiting to catch him with a big bust. I always felt like I was being watched. But that’s normal for someone high on speed. Paranoia is just part of the buzz.
There were the usual suspects when I walked into Rick’s house. The whole place smelled like one big ashtray and burning chemicals. People were sitting around smoking crystal meth and talking incessantly. I just wanted to get my shit and get the fuck out of there before I got sucked into their world and ended up spending the whole weekend on one of Rick’s couches staring at the walls.
Rick came into his living room talking to some girl I’d never seen before, the one I just described. She comes up to me and hugs me like we’ve been friends for life. I wonder if she’s on ecstasy or something. I really hate people who do ecstasy. I don’t understand why anyone would want to love everyone.
“Jack,” says Rick. “This is my friend Felony. She’s from California.”
I guess that explained the tan. I’d thought maybe she was one of those trailer park girls who spend a lot of time in tanning beds. There was an orange tint to her that I attributed to fake sun, but maybe it was just the fact she was pumping her body full of chemicals every single day.
“Rick’s told me all about you,” Felony says.
I’m surprised to find myself liking her voice. My first impression of her wasn’t really a good one.
“Did he tell you that I hunt criminals by night?” I ask.
Rick laughs and takes a hit off a glass pipe that someone hands him. A couple of other guys chuckle too.
“What? Like Batman?” she asks.
“Just like Batman. I even have a cape.”
“What kind of criminals do you hunt?” she asks me taking the pipe from Rick and hitting it.
“Drug addicts,” I say and everyone laughs.
She just looks at me like I’m some sort of puzzle that needs solving. You spend a lot of time with junkies and you’ll find it’s rare to meet one that’s interesting beyond being crazy. Then again, who isn’t crazy that spends days on end geeked on speed?
“I like you,” she says and smiles a smile yellowed with cigarettes and crystal and probably coffee. Somehow her grin is beautiful just the same.
She hands me the pipe and I hit it. I feel the chemicals rush through my brain and the world around me comes to life with clarity and my thoughts become razor sharp. It’s funny how drugs can make the most boring things instantly exciting. I guess that’s why we spend so much time doing them. Sobriety is okay and all, but getting high is fucking great.
An hour later and Felony and I are fucking in Rick’s bed. His room smells like dirty socks but I don’t even care. We’re going at it like caged beasts fucking to remember freedom and I wonder if this is the girl I’m going to marry. It’s a crazy thought that comes out of the blue, but I never let go of it.
Not even now after she took the money and the drugs and left me alone to die at the hands of Big Bear. Not even now after she fucked all those junkies behind my back.
I guess this is what it means to love someone. But I can’t help feeling like the biggest sucker in the world.