Burning Bridges

May 19, 2016 at 10:05 pm (Cosmic Encounters, That's not funny...)

Friends. There are many levels of friendship. From casual to business to love to necessity, we seek friends and cultivate friendships to enrich our lives.

I sat in the front yard under a full moon, smoking a joint and listening to the Mariners game. I thought of Dr T. The Mariners have a pitcher named Joaquin Benoit. I almost hurt my head trying to make a “Benoit balls” pun in text-form to hurl at Dr T. Since my phone was inside, I’d save it for a rain-out.

Morphine PillsThen I thought of another friend, a troublesome one. Maverick, the wheelchair-bound ex-Marine/ex-convict. His friendship has become disposable, and it’s to my advantage. He’s not much for conversation, we share little in common, but he does like money, and he has a huge monthly supply of morphine. We have had arrangements off and on for a couple years. He’s disappeared a couple times, but returns with a good story and a great deal on pills. Of course I forgive you. There’s always a misunderstanding, and it’s always resolved.

This time it’s not going to be resolved.

Maverick called me. “Hey man, I have a problem. They’re giving me a food box at TPI tomorrow, but I don’t want to ride the bus down there and haul all that shit home in a wheelchair. If I gave you a couple sixties, would you pick it up for me?”

Friday was a workday, but I could get going early and pull it off. Besides, two 60 mg morphine capsules equaled two pain-free work days. “Sure, I’ll do it.” We set a time-coordination with his caseworker, and I left early, just in case.

Bless Transition Projects for what they do, but I hate going there. When Rain was shelter-crashing, I would go there to visit. Land of the lost. After a 45 minute wait I had a giant cardboard box full of food. I dispatched that into two cloth shopping bags, and trundled five blocks through Old Town to the bus stop. Next stop: cheap motel in Northeast.

After signing in, I hauled Maverick’s groceries to the room. He’d texted me, asking to bring him cigarettes as well. Not stopping to fetch, I waited until I got to the room. “Thanks man, I appreciate this. Did you get cigarettes?”

“Not yet,” I said. “I was thinking, I will buy you a pack if you give me three sixties for everything?”

“Sure! You’re awesome. Thank you for doing all this.” He seemed genuinely grateful.

“I appreciate the pills. It gets me through the week. I’ll be right back with your cigs. I have to hurry, I still have to get to work.”

“I’ll have everything ready for you when you get back,” said Maverick.

It was more of a challenge finding cigarettes in Northeast than I remembered, but ten blocks later I returned with a pack of Camels. I set them on his bed, and he held out his hand and dropped three white pills into my hand. “Here ya go, three fifties.” He grinned like he was doing me the biggest favor in the world.

“Um, these aren’t fifties, they’re 30 milligrams each, and we said sixties. Three of them.” I kept my voice calm, but I could feel the frustration rising. Here comes the bullshit.

“But that’s ridiculous. I can get ten bucks apiece for sixties,” said Maverick.

“I can get more than that for sixties, but I DON’T. I have never sold any of what I get from you. I take it all. The only reason I do this at all is because I can afford what you charge me.”

“You really expect me to give you three sixties?” He seemed incredulous.

“Yes, seeings how that’s what we agreed to twenty minutes ago.” I put the three 30 mg tablets on the bed next to the cigs.

“Here! Fuck it!” He threw three 60 mg caplets on the bed. “I need money! That’s all I have for the month!”

“I know,” I said. “I’m trying to stash away as much as I can. I plan on getting that other ten as soon as I get paid. That way we’ll both be covered in a week.” We’d made arrangements for me to buy ten of his sixties, but I found it best to snatch them up ASAP. He can be flaky.

“I don’t mean to be an asshole, sorry about that. We did agree on sixties. I’m sorry.” He offered his hand. I shook it.

I got on the bus, and halfway to work I got a text from Maverick. “Sorry, but I found someone who will pay me $15 apiece for the 60s, so I am selling them to him. Don’t bother calling or texting. I’ll call you when, or if, I get any more. Later.”

Wow. Games people play.

The next morning I got a call at 10 AM, it was Maverick. “I have some friends taking me to get another food box, we need gas money. You want to buy two sixties for ten bucks? I feel bad for all the shit I said yesterday. We’ll even come to you.”

“Sure! No hard feelings.” Two more morphine pills would cover the whole work week, and I still had money!

We met up, everything was fine. I wasn’t sure how many pills of the ten he had left, so I called, then texted him. “Hey bud, I’d like to talk to you.”

I didn’t expect a quick response. He loves drawing things out when he has something you want. He complains that no one ever talks with him, but when I text a howdy, instead of saying howdy back he writes “Stop asking for pills, I don’t have any!” So I stick to only texting for business reasons, which leaves him equally butt-hurt. Grow…the…fuck…up.

After a couple hours I got a text. “Have a nice day Charles. I found someone who pays rite, and doesnt screw me over. You know you screwed me over so Im done doing business with you. Dont bother calling or texting. Goodbye.”

I texted back, “Really? Okay.” And with that, we are done.

I’ve been tiring of the whole junkie/meth/pill-head scene. I am immersed in it while working, and have been living with it until recently. Now that Rain is gone, I have been stabilizing my emotional side. Now to work on that whole drug thing.

It’s just like alcohol, or smoking, or any of the million other things I could obsess to death over. I’ve had a glorious run with opiates, but the next step is either up or away. Up would be heroin, and Daddy ain’t ready to go there yet. So away is the way. Unlike alcohol, I don’t have to forego pills forever. They have a way of drying up on their own, and I’ve been living on the Fat Freddy’s Cat motto: “Eat as much as you can today, we never know when we’re going to get any more!” The drugs haven’t been cutting it, and the accompanying depression isn’t worth it. I will be 55 in a couple weeks, and it seems as good a time as any to hit the reset button. Rain is busy doing her thing across town, and I’m developing a gardening habit. Welcome to Modern Maturity.

And distancing myself from people who are less than good for me? Check. But I’m not giving up on the many good friends I have. Dr T for example. He and Harry Caray’s Ghost are keeping me up to date on the Cubbies this season. And he’s also offered me a writing assignment. Jem and the good Dr are getting married in a year or so, and have asked me to perform the ceremony. Of course I’m honored to accept, and will try to come up with something not-too-cringe-inducing for the doctor’s lovely bride.

As to Maverick? Easy come, easy go. Liars and fast-buck artists are a dime a dozen, and while we all deserve a chance at redemption, playing me for a fool when I try to make your life better only inspires me to retreat inward. Later gator.

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