Sunday, December 07, 2008

Drug Wars

No explanation necessary.  Some of you will recognize this, and if you came late or not at all, then you can read it now.

The music makes the coffee table vibrate it’s so loud. We learned about this in Physics—it’s called resonance. That’s when one object is so powerful that it causes other objects to be sucked into its frequency. Jimmy has resonance—he approached us at school, gave us a taste of his attitude, and sucked us in. We resonate at whatever frequency he sets. Tonight it’s soft rock and a bit of country, which I think is supposed to be ironic. I can’t tell because I’m not thinking so clearly right now.

“Jimmy Jimm√≠”, I say with a Portuguese accent (not that I speak Portuguese), “What was in those brownies?” Jimmy smiles and his teeth gleam in the dimmed lights.

“It’s our new product,” he sells. “What do you think?”

There is only one answer: “I love it! But what is it?”

Jimmy starts to answer (or evade the question) but Zweig interrupts. Zweig’s a big guy from Southwest D.C., with the number 14 tattooed on the small of his neck. His real name’s Sheldon. I suspect he calls himself ‘Zweig’ because he thinks it sounds more German. I don’t know where Jimmy met him, and I understand even less why Jimmy lets him hang around. We’re interested in one thing only, and that thing is not neo-Nazi supremacy.

“Hey, man! Can I get you anything?” Jimmy offers. “I just got a new shipment in from Mexicali, it’s supposed to be really pure—” The word ‘pure’ does something to Zweig, and Jimmy, seeing Zweig’s interest, continues his advertising campaign. “Yeah, a bunch of Nicaraguans brought it up from Colombia in swallowed condoms. We lost two grams when one of the rubbers broke. Yeah, I know, isn’t that horrible?” Jimmy asks, misreading the revulsion creasing Zweig’s forehead. I pet Jimmy’s arm—I don’t think Zweig wants any. If it doesn’t involve a heil Hitler, Zweig’s probably not interested. Jimmy may act dense when he’s high, but he’s a genius. We all say he could have paid his way through junior college and gone on to a career in advertising or marketing. Instead he fell in love with chemistry and recruited a group of us to test out his experiments. It’s probably not a smart idea to ingest something invented in a chem lab, but Jimmy’s really smart and I’m sure he wouldn’t get any of us hurt.

“Someone’s at the door,” Zweig reports. Jimmy shrugs.

“So let them in.”

“They knocked funny,” Zweig argues. He stares Jimmy in the face, communicating in a way I can’t understand. Jimmy’s eyes get big, and he nods. He starts weaving his way through the crowd, passing people sprawled on lovesaks, fondling on the couch, swaying to the music. I follow him, unhappy to be left alone with Zweig.

“What’s going on, Jimmy?” I know he’ll tell me—our gang trusts each other unconditionally.

“Just something I may have to take care of,” he says casually, but his lips tighten. He opens a drawer and adds a round into a sleek, polished handgun. His thumb and fingers grip the trigger tenderly. The temperature in the room rises fifteen degrees and I’m perspiring, wetting my disco shirt. It was ridiculously expensive, vintage, and now I’m staining the silk. I don’t want to be here anymore but I don’t want to leave Jimmy. He turns to me with his hand on the doorknob, “Mike, do me a favor and grab those eye drops, will you? Damn dry eyes—“

BAM. BAM. The door is open and Jimmy’s down and he’s got one in the leg, one in the stomach. Screeching tires leave black streaks in the driveway and I see five purple bandanas in a Honda halfway to the intersection. My reflexes are slow, thanks to Jimmy’s brownies, and everything seems to go down faster than in reality. I put my arms out to catch Jimmy but he’s already bleeding over the carpet, fallen in a contorted position, quiet.

“Freeze! Everybody freeze where you are, nobody move!” Zweig’s knees are bent and he’s waving a gun in one hand and a badge in the other. I freeze. Jimmy lets out a little moan. I moan with him. I sink to the floor and mop up some of Jimmy’s blood with my disco shirt.

“Zweig…Zweig, we gotta take him to the hospital, we gotta get him fixed up or he’s gonna die!” Zweig looks me in the eye, his bald head reflecting all the light in the room, and slowly and deliberately he calls 9-1-1 on his cellphone. Then he puts his cellphone and badge in his back pocket and we wait.

Moral of my story: Don’t do drugs if there’s a chance in hell your best friend might get shot by a rival drug gang. Because you’ll want to be lucid so you can save his life, and not the neo-Nazi undercover cop.

No comments: