Major Near Miss!
Michael was in his element. The San Jose State University basketball team had just won a narrow victory against Cal State Los Angeles – and he had made the shot that won the game!
“Man, that was awesome!” exclaimed Thetford in the locker room.
“Yeah, well you saved the homecoming football game last fall,” Michael told him. Since both he and Thetford were very tall and powerfully built, they played football as well as basketball.
“Goin’ to the party tonight?” Thetford asked him.
“You bet!” answered Michael.
“Good. I have a surprise for you.”
Michael wondered what that surprise could be.
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When he arrived at the hotel suite, the party was in full swing. Champagne and various types of alcohol lined the bar, even though many of the team members were under drinking age. Out on the balcony, some were smoking cigarettes and marijuana.
“There you are!” Thetford approached him. “Come outside, to the balcony.” Once there, he led Michael to a quiet corner. Puzzled, Michael asked, “What’s going on?”
“This.” Thetford pulled out a little glass vial with white rocks in it. “This is what’s happening.” Then he pulled out a bong.
“Uh – is that what I think it is?”
“If you think it’s crack, yes.”
“What are you doing with that stuff here? Get rid of it right now!”
“Shh! Cool it, man! It’s not that bad. I’ve been using it since September, and you don’t see me falling apart. In fact, about that winning touchdown I made – crack helped me with that. I woke up that morning with the flu, and crack cleared it right up. It makes you feel like Superman. Here, try it – just one hit.” He put a rock in the stem, handed Michael the bong, and lit the rock. Michael looked at it reluctantly. “Go on – just once won’t hurt you.”
Hesitantly, Michael put his mouth on the bong and breathed in a little of the acrid smoke. Immediately, he choked and gasped. He was about to say, “Never again” when an incredible rush of energy filled him. Suddenly, he really did feel like Superman!
“See what I mean?” Thetford told him, taking a hit himself.
“Yeah! You were right! This stuff’s FABULOUS!!!”
“Shh!” said Thetford again.
They went back into the party, and enjoyed themselves. Michael reveled in his teammates’ congratulations on winning the game for them.
The next morning, as they were leaving, Michael found Thetford. “About last night – I’m never using that stuff again, and I don’t think you should, either.”
“I know if I do, I’m going to be hooked.”
“Aw, c’mon! Everything in moderation! You ain’t gonna get hooked if you use it every once in awhile.”
“Nope – never again.”
Thetford shrugged. “If you wanna be a wimp about it.”
The basketball season ended, followed by graduation in June. At the commencement party, Thetford approached Michael. “As you see, crack didn’t keep me from graduating. My major’s Business. What’s yours?”
“Political Science,” answered Michael.
“Good luck getting a job with that,” sneered Thetford.
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Thetford’s prediction proved to be true. Since Michael had spent all his spare time touring with the college football and basketball teams, he hadn’t gotten an internship, and therefore had no job lined up. He couldn’t even figure out what sort of work he could do with a Political Science degree. This was made even worse by the economic downturn, which was the worst since the Great Depression.
Michael had to resort to working a series of temp jobs in the electronics industry, inspecting computer boards and testing software. Over the next few years, he was too busy struggling to even think about dreams, or any sort of leisure. Eventually though, he was able to maintain balance in his life. He developed an interest in film, and managed to save enough money to buy a video camera. He practiced with it in his spare time, and eventually landed some contracts filming personal movies, and even some commercials which showed on obscure TV channels. His life was so full, he forgot all about the experience with Thetford.
One day, on his way to deliver an order, he was driving down San Pablo Avenue in Oakland. Lining the street were hookers. How sad, he thought to himself. Probably most of them are kids who ran away from home, and some pimp took them in and had them live a life of partying until they got hooked on drugs. Now, they can’t escape, because the pimp has all sorts of contacts, so he can always find them. Even if they manage to evade him, they’ll go through agonizing, even life threatening, withdrawals from the drugs. This is modern day slavery!
Seeing a liquor store, Michael decided to pick up some beer to share with his client. He parked the car and got out. Standing in front of the liquor store was the ugliest woman he ever saw. Obviously, drug use hadn’t helped her looks. The woman took one look at him and burst into tears.
Michael was startled. “W – what’s the matter?”
“You don’t remember me?” the woman asked him in a deep voice, which startled Michael even more.
“Uh – no I don’t.”
“I guess I’m hard to recognize, after all this,” she sobbed. “I’m Thetford – the one who offered you crack. You can see where it’s gotten me!”
Michael eventually went on to buy a very nice house in South San Jose and marry a wonderful woman. Today, he produces MTV videos. As for Thetford, he is most likely long dead.
Pursuing your dreams - a fabulous alternative to drugs!
© 2016 Ana Kolomeka