The fierceness of the inner addict’s demand shakes me. Kristine’s disembodied voice from the kitchen doesn’t appreciate it either.
“Jesus, settle down, I threw it all on the bed in your junk room.”
Which one was that? They all had stockpiles of assorted junk. Beer, water, tinned food, biscuits, toilet paper, books, magazines. You name it, I’d bulk bought it.
She elbows the kitchen door open and holds it. I’m caught red-faced and totally confused.
She points with a spatula and adds a curious observation.
“You’re not a morning person are you?”
Her guileless face pops a swelling rage bubble leaving a paroxysm of guilt. The last vestiges of my sanity have cotton thin ties that incredibly I’m able to gather together. I hate this feeling of befuddlement. How I long to reattain the emotionless vacuum so blissfully reached before running out of further doses and going on that fateful pharmacy raid. If I can descend so quickly into a murderous rage what’s to stop me losing it altogether.
I’m afraid for Kristine.
The gun presses tightly against my leg. I shift from foot to foot like a naughty schoolboy hiding a pack of cigarettes. She frowns, wondering what I’m up to, and then lets the door go.
It flaps twice before I high-tail it to the room indicated.
Fallen boxes jam the entrance, conspiring to keep me out. I drive a shoulder several times into the door. Something fragile crunches.
I squeeze through a thin corridor. It weaves into this room between randomly stacked boxes, packets and cartons. At the end I find the Holy Grail. My beautiful stash lies on a bare mattress. Lovingly I fondle the pharmacopeia. My hands plunge into the untidy pile and let blister packs dribble through my fingers like a pirate handling gold doubloons. Finding the drugs intact releases a huge pressure point in my head. Now I can dull down this too bright, too loud, too brittle world.
“You starting a clinic or something?” Kristine asks as I come out of the room. She shoves a cup of coffee at me even though I’m laden with packets and bottles. I fumble a hand free to take it.
“Uh, thanks. I’ll just put these in the kitchen.”
I barge through the kitchen door and dump the armful on a side bench. She follows, picking up packets as I drop them. Touching my stuff is against the Rules but I allow her to toss them onto the counter. My arm sweeps them closer to me.
I sip the coffee to placate her pre-menstrual expression.
Pretty good for freeze dried. The cupboards hold a wide selection. I chucked the original bulk tins. Some Government issued powdered crap for the inmates.
Kristine peers knowingly at me, about to add something cutting no doubt. She recoils, cutting short her next words.
“Don't you think you should...?”
She backs off and nervously pushes the half cooked powdered eggs around on the stove. Nice of her to make me breakfast, smells great.
Preoccupied I don’t immediately pick up on her sudden change of demeanour. Sweat builds on my forehead despite the cool air flowing from the vent above me. Sorting the stash is important and occupies me for a few minutes. I don't want to mix Luminal with the Dexedrine some wasted night.
Kristine's sidelong glances distract me. Paranoia tap, tap, taps until the reason finally dawns on me. I let a breath out slowly when realisation hits. She’s seen the crazy man’s pistol stuck in the back of his shorts. Whoops.
I draw the pistol out and place it on the cupboard like a shoplifter returning stolen items under the gaze of a store detective. She watches me carefully. I search for a believable lie and come up short.
“I...ah...just carry it. Habit. You know.”
She nods unconvincingly, and serves up the yellow mess.
“Don’t take too many pills on an empty stomach,” she says, and puts a steaming plate on the table for me. I obey; sitting and scooping cardboard tasting mush into my mouth. I kindly withhold my verdict on Kristine’s cooking abilities until she has better ingredients to work with. Powdered eggs are no substitute for the real thing. Also I haven’t cooked any gourmet meals lately.
The meagre quantity of food merely awakens a raging appetite only a gapingly empty stomach is capable of. I urgently scrape the plate then launch myself at the cupboards for something more substantial. One hand fills my mouth with potato chips while the other throws a bag of popcorn into the microwave. While they’re popping I raid the fridge. Pickled onions and a can of spam dug out with two fingers are washed down with a pitcher of reconstituted orange juice. My cravings plateau. A sense of deportment overrides the cramming/swallowing action and reinstates a biting/chewing policy.
I burp loudly, covering my mouth too late to stop flecks of food spraying out. C’mon, go easy. Polite company man! Damn that stinks. My lips sting from vinegar and salt.
Kristine is appalled. She watches open mouthed, and pushes the rest of her eggs away. I pick up the plate and scrape what’s left into my gob on the way to the sink.
I sigh and pat my stomach.
Crafty eyes slide over to tidied rows of packaged delight. The anticipation of getting high tingle my senses. A packet of Vicodin snaps four tablets into my palm. A mouthful of rum, the first bottle in reach, washes them into a contented stomach. I belch mightily again. Kristine crosses her arms and sucks her teeth reflectively.
She could reflect all she wanted, destination la-la-land beckoned for me.