A work in progress.
When Ecstasy was big, back in the late 90’s, he dealt it to an impressive clientele of bored teenagers and sleepy slackers. I remember the colors and the inscription upon each pill, designating strength and potency. One by one, people would make the climb to the elevated front porch whose height disguised this clandestine errand.
Often, the first thing customers saw upon arrival was the latest love offering by three hunter cats. We learned to avoid being grossed out by the corpses of headless, bloody chipmunks, which was usually what greeted us on the welcome mat every day after school was over. It looked like a rodent guillotine had been hard at work.
I can see him now. Such a pretty boy, but blessed with little more than physical beauty. He always carried with him a large ziploc bag, bulging with antidepressants. From my own experience, I knew them to be mostly Prozac, but never revealed to anyone what they were and that I knew the exact dosage. Those who wanted to avoid the depressing, claustrophobic come down from E could ease the pain that way, or at least that was what many believed. I never rolled, knowing that I was short on brain chemicals already. I needed all I could get and could ill afford to sacrifice it for the sake of one hyperactive evening.
In memories, I see him squeezed into one corner of the front porch. He always took the rocking chair, and nervously kept time and rhythm. Back and forth. Back and forth. Look, he wasn’t exactly the sharpest crayon in the box, granted, but he meant well. Drug dealers can be ruthless venture capitalists, or none-too-bright kids making easy money. He was the latter.
As I said, I’m more familiar with the dopey variety. His name was Ben, I think. He always came over to see his ex-girlfriend, who still thought fondly of him. Romantic feelings between the two had never ceased and, as is true for old lovers, they retained a kind of sentimental fondness for each other. I always found it sweet, hoping that someday I’d have a string of prior lovers who called or e-mailed every now and again to let me know that they were thinking of me.
He never stayed for very long, because business was good. He had long ago dropped out of school and dealing full-time kept him busy. At the time, he had rationalized leaving school because of the money he made and how lucrative the trade was. It sounded almost responsible, until one examined it more closely and realized it was supremely risky. In our alternate universe, we acted like drugs were legal, which was the only way to manage the underlying tensions that rarely broke to the surface but were always present.
If we thought it should be legal, then it was legal. None of us had been caught. Ben was the only one really in trouble of being detected, or incriminating the rest of us. I may have known those who were intimately involved in the black market, but I always made sure to give myself plausibility denial. I was sneaky, and far too paranoid to be drawn into anyone’s trap. The ones who convinced themselves that they were above the law and could never get caught took foolish risks. With a father in law enforcement, I knew the system much too well, and predicted the demise of many.