Laura's Story - Battling drug addiction
The bitter taste of blood from her cuticle while she bit onto the skin of her finger nail was not obvious to Laura’s taste buds. Neither was the pain of her throbbing finger from the scrapped skin above her nail. What was apparent though was the growing anxiety inside her chest while the hours passed as she sat on the edge of the sofa shaking her leg. She counted each stroke of the ticking hand of the clock hung high on her living room wall. Her eyes were swollen and red while small patches of perspiration evaporated from her face and neck. As well, the hot flushes did not help her tolerance of the boiling Mexican June climate. Should she call him? Maybe he would be kind this time. Her torment could possibly fill him with empathy. At last she made the choice. It was to pick up her cell phone and dial the number she knew too well.
‘Hola, yes Jean, yes it me Laura, not good. Well yes I was meaning to pick up some more yesterday. I finished my last eight ball two days ago,’ she spoke into the receiver. More tiny balls of sweat formed onto her forehead and her tired eyes were now too sore to keep open. ‘I really need a favor, you see I have no money, and I’m desperate, can I please just get a small amount, like just a gram, and I promise I will pay you back when I get paid from work. No? Please Jean Jean….’ For the next three minutes she begged, cried, negotiated and begged some more. She explained that she had not slept in forty eight hours, was sick and in the depths of despair, but Jean Jean, who was on the other end of the line was unaffected.
Laura did not hear the rattle of keys in the door nor did she notice her house mate and best friend Edgar in the room standing opposite her stunned by her appearance. At first he had thought that she had been beaten and then realized that the dark blotches under both eyes were black mascara residue.
‘Jean please, please I know it’s a business. Yes, yes I know. I’m going crazy, I’ll do anything,’ she began pacing up and down her living room floor, but what she heard next made her suddenly stopped in mid track. It made the sick feeling inside her chest and belly grow even more. ‘What! No way. Not that. I will do anything, but please don’t ask me to do that Jean. Jean no! Don’t hang up wait, wait listen. Please I’m begging you.’ She was quickly silenced and listened to what Jean Jean had to say. Defeat obvious in her expression, she sat quietly on the marble floor, and wiped the streaming tears from her face with the front of her soiled T-shirt. She listened to him and finally understood what had to be done, and knew that nothing in this world was given, never was and certainly won’t be at this moment. She stood up, slowly walked over to the kitchen bench and inhaled a generous amount of air before she spoke again. ‘Yes I understand. Okay no problem what is his number?’ Her tone became a little bit more composed. She grabbed a piece of paper and a pen off the kitchen bench and began to write, the whole time still oblivious to Edgar’s presence. ‘So who will I ask for? This guy Dominic, he will help me?’ She bit onto her bottom lip, tears filled her eyes once again.
Unable to comprehend the reality of this scene, Edgar watched frozen. His once confident and beautiful friend was falling apart. He had to stop it, make her pain go away. So without much thought he grabbed the cell phone out of her hand and hung up. Then he ripped the piece of paper out of her firm grasp and tore it to shreds. Laura’s knees caved in, she fell onto the tiled floor in an attempt to piece parts of the shredded paper together. ‘No! Edgar, why the fuck did you do that? That was my meal ticket!’ She yelled.
‘Your meal ticket? Look at you, you’re filthy and haven’t eaten all week. I guess it’s a meal in a way by shoving so much shit up your nose.’
Laura was up on her feet again. She pleaded, screamed, cried and hit him with her small fists, all in the while he held her untamed hands down, endured her insults, and opposed all she had to say. Edgar knew Jean Jean’s games too well. He was well aware of this town’s renowned drug dealer, a predator for young desperate women begging for drugs and this fucker wanted to pimp them out.
‘So now he has a guy that he wants you to blow? Dominic? Is that his name?’
‘It was going to be a onetime thing.’
But Edgar didn’t buy what Laura had to say. He had known her longer than most people. Nineteen years to be exact. They had both met when they were five. The one thing he would never forget about her was that she is damn stubborn and usually got her way. The first time he had met her was on their first day at kinder garden. He remembered how she did not give up, but had cried for five hours straight until Senorita Moreno finally contacted her father. It took Laura five long hours to get her way, and as Edgar predicted she was not one to be defeated.
Now looking at her all messed up, so thin and sleep deprived he knew this was a different matter, it was a matter of dignity. In his mind he could still see her so clearly. He could see the ten year old girl running towards him in their neighborhood of Boca del Rio in Veracruz. The joy that was transparent on her face was still imprinted in his mind. She had found a black kitten in between a truck’s wheels and wanted to keep it. ‘I will call him Ruedas.’ She declared. Ruedas meant wheels in Spanish. What Edgar refused to see is this same girl blowing some dirt bag for drugs. But what scared him more was this one fear. Each day before he entered the door into their home, he envisioned that on the other side of the door, he may find his friend’s lifeless body perhaps on her bed, maybe kitchen floor or even worse, naked in the bathtub. The cause of death, of course an overdose.
‘You have a good job now, you just have to be patient before the commission starts rolling in.’
‘You call timeshares a job? Selling timeshares will be the death of me! I haven’t sold in days, I’m practically broke.’
Edgar watched her take short animal breaths in between each word. ‘That son of a bitch Sonny is giving me all the broke clients. I’m sure it would be his pleasure to see me starve. Edgar, I need to get it,’ she collapsed onto her knees and held onto Edgar’s legs. The knot in her stomach grew almost to the point where she wanted to throw up.
‘Please I’m going out of my mind.’
‘Can’t you see what that shit is doing to you? Before you know it you’re gonna end up worse than what you are.’
‘Worse is right here, this moment, feeling this, this hole, this hell. Please make it stop Edgar, help me make it stop.’
Before Edgar had a chance to reply he watched her stand up and run towards the bathroom. In his spot he stood frozen for a few seconds, he could hear objects been thrown onto the tiles. He then made the decision to follow her and when he got there he could see that she was raiding the medicine cabinet, knocking all the plastic bottles of drugs onto the floor. Her hopeless eyes scanned each one, in search for one in particular.
‘Where is the one you take, the valium that the doctor prescribed you? Where is it?’ she couldn’t believe that he was hiding it from her, she had to find it. ‘Tell me where it is!’
Edgar watched dozens of tiny pills been emptied onto the floor. He didn’t know what to do. He could no longer stand watching her in this scene, this madness.
‘Cono, look at you, your acting like a fucking junkie. This is not you! Is a junkie what you wanna be?’
The searching and throwing of the pills stopped. Laura’s composure was gained and she slowly walked towards him. He saw that she was smiling. For all who did not know her, this particular smile would have been mistaken for friendliness. But Edgar could see the rage in her eyes. The smalls of her pupils told of another tale and he sure knew that what was about to come out of her mouth in the seconds to follow was a monologue of condemn.
‘You smug piece of shit! Standing there looking down at me, judging me. Who the hell do you think you are? Take a look in the mirror.’ With all her strength she pushed him towards the bathroom mirror. ‘Take a look. You’re no different than me. Just because a doctor gives you your drugs, does that make you better? You and me, we are the same. Junkies!’ The stench of air coming from her breath overwhelmed Edgar, it was filled with hatred. The last word ‘Junkies’ from her sentence was spoken in a calculated and hostile whisper.
Edgar was forced to look at himself in the mirror. A portrait of a young man with a strong physique, which surely showed good health. A perfectly symmetrical face which drew admiration from both sexes. But the reality of her words were truthful. Edgar did not look like a typical junkie, but he knew without his fix of prescribed daily Valium, his world would freeze. Fuck, was he a hypocrite? Maybe he was. All he wanted was to protect his friend, to help her, but he also knew the effects of withdrawals too well.
‘I’m sorry chiquita. You’re right, I’m no better,’ He pulled her towards him and held her head into his chest. She sensed his hurt, she could tell he felt guilty, and did not resist his embrace but held onto him tight. She dug her face hard into his shirt pressing her nose against his body in an attempt not to breath. Perhaps this was the answer. Not breathing. How long would it take before her breath would stop? But she knew that it was physically impossible to die from holding your breath.
‘You mean so much to me. You’re more than a friend but my sister. I will help you.’ Edgar said. Upon hearing the words ‘Help you’ Laura took a breath again in hope that these words were an assurance that will get her this fix soon.
Edgar was more than confused because he had no idea of what was the right thing to do in this situation. He couldn’t stand the sight of this girl who looked starved. He didn’t know how to stop her madness. But all he was sure of was he wanted to do anything to make her suffering stop. So he took the easy path, and drove down to Jean Jean’s place himself to buy the drugs for her.