It’s 10:34am and I’ve now got my hands on a paper bag full of the single drug I can’t use reasonably.
I’m writing this, as I don’t have a better tool of expression to grab the moment.
I made a call at about 9:23am to refresh my pain meds. As you know (though have misspoke without me correcting you), I have Norco prescribed every week. You’ve called them Lortabs, and I just nodded. Subtle difference, but that’s at best, my desire to be right (read: accurate), or at worst, some undiagnosed OCD. Addiction isn’t a question. It’s fairly obvious.
So, as I think about it, I’ve gotten exactly nothing done. All I’m attempting to do is distract myself from the want. I’m trying to not think about 11am, and the time I get that little piece of paper that I get to trade for my personal vice. I’m thinking about the ritual: the arrival at the office, the walk to the desk, that blue, monogrammed, security-protected little sheet that I get handed. Playing cool to the desk receptionist. “Oh, your husband’s name is Dick Johnson? Hilarious.”
She speaks softly, wears scrubs, wears that lingering smile. I notice she’s not wearing her wedding ring. Neither am I, but I have safety reasons. Perhaps her, too. That’s a story for another time.
I take my golden ticket, crease it in half, and slip it into my eternally-occupied denims. It’s a “thank you,” a nonchalant dismissing of this red-headed gatekeeper I’ve kept charmed, and I’m hobbling back to my car, maybe embellished, maybe not. I feign strength more than I feign pain, but I always knew as a kid, pain got sympathy. It took these last few years under the iron and the bar to learn strength gets a certain respect I’ve come to appreciate as well. Maybe I let the leg drag a little more; I wonder if keeping the show going is necessary. Maybe I don’t hurt like this right now, but I will at some point. I’m sure to make them, and if need be the security cameras, aware.
I’m in my car now in this story.
It’s 10:05. Maybe a quick dash to get some coffee. Caffeine only makes the mind race harder, but it’s a motion, an action, to dispel my thoughts for a few minutes.
That didn’t go as fast as I hoped. I took a few moments to think about this as I walked away.
I’m driving towards my pharmacy. I’ve got my comfort blanket creased in two in my back left pocket, opposite my wallet. It sits under my ass, metaphorically propping me up as I pull into the lot. I park, double-check the wallet and script, then lock the doors. They thunk hard as the motors engage, pulling them down. A little light flash and honk confirms all the operations went through without a hitch.
Once inside, I turn the corner, past the workout supplements, protein shakers, and Tylenol. One of the over-fat, under-height women there will take my comfort blanket, unfurl it, and ask what my birthday is, as if they didn’t know. As if we haven’t done this dance weekly, 30, 40 times already. I’ll answer, smiling, and she’ll proffer the question of whether I’m waiting, or coming back later. Woman, I’m addicted to these things: of course I’m waiting.
If she’s new, or one of the not over-fat, under-height techs, but an actual pharmacist, I’m told “at least 30 minutes.” If they know me (and most all of them know me now), it’s 15-20. It’s almost always 15.
I have a pattern of checking the clock about every four minutes during this narrative, but it takes another three to drink my coffee, refresh Facebook, and get around to actually writing this.
If I’m lucky, Sheila will give me my prescription. If Sheila wasn’t 250 to 270lbs, she has a pretty face I’d probably have talked to in the days before my wife. She’s kind, pleasant, and remembers me for my graciousness. I’m always nice to my drug dealers. That’s not to say I wouldn’t be otherwise, but Sheila makes that extra effort to get my prescription out to me a little faster, and if that, in some alternate universe, required a pity fuck, or some sort of friendly getting-to-know her, then hey, what’s the harm in that?