Busy, The Circus Bear
I creep down the stairs and walk right past Charlie. He's leaning against the refrigerator with a carton of fruit punch in his hand. Zooted out again and staring into space, he doesn't even realize that I've come in. I step through the partition that separates the front area from the rest of the basement.
The door to the bathroom doesn't shut all the way. It just wedges closed in the frame. Chuck ripped it off its hinges once during an argument. It's been rehung, but not right. All the doors are like this. I usually jam a sock along the seam while I'm in here. He can still get at me, but at least I'll have a minute to hide my ****.
The cops gave me a phone number the last time Charlie was in jail. A place to call and get the locks changed before he got released.
"You don't understand," I told the lady I spoke with. "The lock works fine. I need somebody to fix the door," I told her. "It's busted clean from the wall."
It was stupid to try and explain. She really couldn't help me. I dropped the charges anyway. Charlie came back and made a few repairs. I cannot keep him out, even if I tried.
I take off my coat and sit on the edge of the bathtub. I have a box of cheap Franzia and two tall boys in a blue plastic bag. Five single packages of Sudafed. Under the sink, there's a little left in last night's bottle, plus two smaller empties. I have to get rid of these. There's no more room under here for all this garbage.
I pour what's left of the wine into a cup that I keep hidden with the rest of my equipment. I take a few big gulps. I wrap the spent bottles in toilet paper so they don't clink together when I place them into the shopping bag. The sound of glass on the tile makes a slight "bong" that I try to avoid. I don't want Charlie or anybody else to suspect that I drink this much. Everything I do is a secret.
I crack open the seal of the bladder bag. Holding the box between my legs, I fill my cup to the top. I store the cardboard suitcase in the back of the cabinet and drape a rag over the front. It makes me feel good to have brand new things, even though this will be gone before the night is over. But it's new right now, and that's what counts.
I pop twelve or so little red pills from their foil and swallow them. I take these around the clock when I am between speed and cocaine. I go to different drug stores to buy them. I stop at Duane Reade before work and Rite Aid at lunchtime. I do not measure my intake, but I always like to have enough, somewhere between 80 and 120 pills a day. They're not expensive if you can find the generic kind. The red ones are the only ones I buy. All the others are crap. At least, these get me up and out - until I can cop.
I rip open the corner of an envelope that I find in my backpack. I load a dozen tabs into it, grinding them up with the heel of my shoe. I fish around for a straw in the outside pocket of my bag. I snort the gravel off the lip of the sink. It makes my nose roar and bleed like a pig, but I need something.
The bathroom is small. Rusty and I painted the whole thing dark blue, nearly black when he still lived here. Right over the tile and mirrors. I thought it would look sharp, like in a magazine. But we were drunk and it's really just awful. It feels like I'm inside an eyeball. Portions are now peeling off in sheets. It looks like a bear is slashing its way out of a miserable tattoo. I turn the water on full blast and quietly pop open a beer. I press several fingers over the hole to disguise the 'pfft' noise.
Charlie has no steady job. He works day labor - moving furniture, laying blacktop and demolition. He and his cousins steal and strip cars. He earns just enough to get high. PCP is his drug of choice, and it makes him crazy. He breaks the things I care about when he is dusted, and he's dusted all the time.
If Charlie has money, it goes toward his dope first. After that, he might get some groceries and only because he is hungry. A carton of eggs, cheese, a box of instant mashed potatoes. He prefers soft food because his teeth are loose. I hear him banging pots around in the kitchen. I smell margarine burning. I know I should eat something, but I have no appetite, really. And when I do, I eat too much. So I make myself throw up.
I press all the pills through the foil, one after the other. I dump a handful more Sudafeds into my mouth and scoop the rest into my pants pocket. I systematically open all the decongestant boxes. I cram the remaining three sheets of reds into one box and slip them back into my knapsack. I fold three empty boxes into the fourth and drop them inside the shopping bag with the empty wine bottles. I like to be neat and organized.
I pee and wash my face. I take some water up my nose. I cover the shopping bag with my coat and open the door.
"I'm here, you know," I mention to Charlie's angry shoulders. He turns around in a daze.
"That's good," he says. "I wish we had some bread."
"I'll go," I tell him.
I'm already on my way outside. I head up the block to try and get what I need. I cross the street and drop my trash into the dumpster behind the Roy Rogers. I hear the bottles break, and I keep walking.