Waiting for the Man

by Kris Khatchikian

“Is that him”?

“No,” I whispered in an aggressive tone, “don’t point!” slapping his hand down with a quick flash. “Do you know how to act, goddamnit”

This was strange territory, unfamiliar faces, a stench of previous crimes and an electricity that something illegal and possibly evil will prevail again in the night. It usually does in this area. I thought my comrade had known that, and we stood out like a crooked thumb. Pointing at shady characters while waiting for drugs isn’t particularly the way to go about things here, or anywhere for that matter, but especially not in this area.  A few anxious minutes passed. We didn’t talk to each other as the car filled with cigarette smoke, waiting for our shady, mysterious character to get in the car and provide my friend with what he needed.

Heroin was what he needed. Myself being on methadone and having a long track record (and some receded veins), I’d lost the taste for dealing with bullshit. I’ll stick to my pharmaceutical reliable synthetic heroin. It’s a great tool and saved my ass and life, but it’s a huge bitch, commitment and fucking miserable. Let’s say you also lose your freedom.

Anyway, that was my poison, and I’ve been sticking to it. But I had an arrangement with my friend to give him a ride in return for some money. When an opiate addict is sick and has no way of getting what they need, they will almost do anything. I was once one of those people, very easy to get taken advantage of. a sad, sad thing. That was not my intent though. This was a friend and he was just paying for some gas and time. I think I asked for $10 and it took at least an hour, so in no way was I taking advantage, but if I did have any evil intent it would be as easy as telling him no and have him wait until he has no choice. You wouldn’t believe the price I used to be willing to pay. That is why I choose methadone.

The back door swung open and surprised me. It was snowing pretty bad, and I couldn’t see all the way through my windows. I continued smoking my cigarette while my friend tended to his business. Over the years I’ve learned how to deal with these characters. If it’s not me buying, keep quite. Never ask for someone else’s connect is also in the junkie code. Being a middle man is a valuable thing. A junkie with a good dealer could go a whole day without having to buy drugs if he played things right and just took tips or the usual “give me some and I’ll bring you to my guy.”

I’ll say it again, being a middle man in this dark, twisted, cruel, selfish world is key to the survival of this game. I have to look at it as a game for I was on the other team. Were my actions justified? Hell no, but I had to do what I had to do, and panhandling or selling my body was never an option. So I chose to hustle and it worked. Those were hard, long years that stole more joy then any drug could provide, and for that I will never forgive myself.

Buying drugs from an unreliable source is beyond sketchy, but when a junkie needs a fix it is his life. Water, food. nothing else matters or could matter. “Food, ah whats the point? I’ll just end up throwing it back up if I cant score. Water, yeah I need that, but only because I’ve been sweating like my room’s a desert with cold sweats and poor circulation making my floor feel like an ice rink.”  It’s a different hunger, one that could only be cured with a swift shot in the mainline or a strong Fentanyl toke off foil.

I was listening to them talk when my friend said “Goddammit”  in a hopeless, angry, desperate way. From experience I instantly knew what was wrong. It was the right drug, Fentanyl, but in a different kind of patch than expected. Basically shit and hard to abuse. I knew what he was thinking. He got this guy’s number from his dealer who was out of the “normal” patches that are thicker and have a thicker gel substance so they can be smoked or mainlined with some simple chemistry.

I felt his anxiety in the car earlier. Meeting a new dealer, you never know what you’ll get. He also knew that the dealer knew he was desperate and getting dopesick so he could charge anything, but it was the normal $200. My friend tried to gather himself up the best he could as if he would walk away from the patch, but he knew the dealer had him by the balls.

“Man I don’t know if I want it, This is the wrong kind.” The shady dealer was silent,  looked at my friend and grabbed the patch back, “What the fuck man I came all the way out here.” My friend now knew he had the upper hand and said casually, as though he was unsatisfied, “Fine man, ill take it for $160”.

The shady dealer bought it. You got some H asked my friend. “Yeah 15 a bag.” “I’ll take 10,” said my friend. Suddenly he didn’t seem so shady, after all my friend just copped him out of 40 bucks when he could have charged $300 and he’d still be kissing his ass. We’ve dealt with all kinds, from bikers, to junkies, to homeless, to damn grandparents. Even doctors have been a reliable source. It was crazy and we’d seen it all. This was just some inexperienced raver kid who got into his grandparent’s cabinet. Staying in the car, fumbling around with money, if we had any evil intent we could’ve left the guy in his socks, but my friend was dopesick and just wanted to get the stuff in him.

By the luck of the draw I saw the kid fumbling with something else. I thought the bag he held was see-through in the dark and only saw the light shine off the glitter design baggie. I asked him, “What’s that?” He grinned at me mysteriously, “And now i have your attention?” I wanted to punch the guy in the face, but he just smiled and held up the bag. It was very small, could probably only fit about a gram of weed.

He started talking about it, while I listened with deaf ears as every dealer has “the best stuff.” When i heard him mention 2c that caught my attention. “2c what?”

“Its 2c-e” he said as I gave him an up and down trying to read the raver kid. Get into his eyes, that’s the door to someone’s brain. Once you have successfully mind fucked someone, it can be quite fun and easy to manipulate and do horrible things to that person, but that wasn’t our intention. We were good people tonight. As I looked at the baggy i knew if the dam kid was telling the truth it’d be striking psychedelic gold. I wanted the kid’s name.

“Now that we’re acquainted, that better be good heroin you sold my friend or he’ll chop your balls clean off. Hes a crazy bastard. Oh yeah whats your name?” Giving an intimidating smile, like i was joking, but we both knew i wasn’t. (Of course my friend knew my mannerisms quite well and I realized this poor bastard next to me just wanted to get home and get his medicine in him and I was having a conversation. But even he was staring at the kid now waiting for the answer to my “joke”.) My friend and I were no longer intimidated. We stared at the dealer who was shrinking.

“My, ugh. name’s James.”

“Nice to meet you James,” my friend said sarcastically. “But how’s the heroin?” The kid was sitting as close to the door as possible and you could feel he was intimidated.

“Oh, ugh, yeah. It’s good.” My friend and I were quite good at reading people, and we knew he was for real or deserved an academy. He was shook up enough already, just by us. I asked to see the baggie.

Inside was potent alkaloids. How pure? Not sure. Is it even real. I guess I’ll have to try, I thought to myself. It was glistening white, almost like cocaine or snow but with a weird shine coming of it. I took the bag and put it to my nose, but it got pushed away by (ah whats his fucking name?…James). I got mad and was about to scream, “What’s your deal!”

“Don’t even smell it, dude, or you’ll think your on a 3-lane highway when really you’re stopped at a red light,” said my new travel agent. Apparently this shit provided quite the trip. At this point my friend was getting mad and I had to tell him to calm down. He was starting to sweat real bad so I apologized and told him we’d be out of there in no time. We were both taking risks buying mysterious “powders,” but my friend’s situation was different. He knew what the drug should be and its affects, plus the dealer had already given him the bag and he was chasing a tiny bit of powder off of tin foil. I knew about 2c-b but have never heard of 2c-e. I asked, “Hey buddy did you confuse this stuff with 2c-b?”

“No man,” he said. “This stuff will blow you sky high. Don’t touch it till ya get home. And ya see what your buddy’s doing there? You can do that with a bit of this but not too much man, not too much”

“What?” I looked at him confused.

“You can chase the dragon with that shit or snort it but don’t do much in a line.” he said. I asked how much was in the bag and how much it cost. “Its .3mgs and hell man a line will take your soul from ya and throw it back in.”

I was getting excited. The drug fiend in me was taking over. I grabbed the bag.

“How much”


“30 bucks, ya kidding me, what is this pure cocaine?”

“Trust me,” he said, and I went with my gut. I grabbed 3 of the 10 bags of H my buddy had and measured my baggy against them. “Looks ’bout the same,” my buddy says. As I held them up to the light, I suddenly realized I was holding illegal drugs in plain sight. I put them down and grabbed my wallet, tossed my friend back his bags. There was no going back now.

All i could think of was a cultural hero and amazing journalist’s quote, “Buy the ticket, take the ride.” I thought to myself, that bastard Hunter S. Thompson really knew what was going on. I pulled out the cash and tossed it to the kid. “Thanks buddy.” Somewhat mimicking my hero now.

“Thanks,” said the raver dealer. The kid started fumbling around as he was getting out, looking for something pretty much on all fours. I started signaling my friend with a pushing motion and started whispering to him. That bastard went flying out the car onto a patch of grass as we drove off in my newly acquired BMW.

But nothing was left behind and it was all in good fun. Now all we both could think about was getting home. We were going separate ways after that so all I could think was “drive fast” and “speed home”. We ended up hitting 115 mph on the way back and it was quite the trip, but nothing would ever come close again to the “trip” my travel agent gave me. I had to give him 5 stars.