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Rated: 13+ · Other · Experience · #1177354
PART 2 Desperation calls for creativity as an addict must feed the habit at any cost.


The constant hassles of chasing heroin were wearing me out. Lies, endless schemes and cover-ups filled each day. There wasn’t much time for eating or sleeping, and it showed through sunken eyes and jeans that no longer fit. The scraping for dollars, the waiting on corners, the getting ripped-off, the risks of buying poor quality or tainted heroin and the constant threats of violence were taking their toll. I had to find another way to get what I had to have.

The potentially fatal incident with Barry left me vowing that I’d never use another weapon to get my drugs. Desperation, as it always did, gave birth to a new idea. I picked up the phone and called a local chapter of the American Cancer Society and volunteered my services. The organization was glad to hear from me and set up an appointment for me to come by later that afternoon to fill out the necessary paperwork.

Dirty windshield darkening the route, Mick Jaggar warning, “Ooh, a storm is threatening my very life today,” I headed for the American Cancer Society’s office. Walking in, I was pleased to learn that the only information I needed to give was my name, address, phone number, and an explanation of why I wanted to do volunteer work. “My mother died from cancer, and I want to help others with this dreaded disease,” began a series of lies. “I’d prefer working with the hopeless cases, the ones with no chance of recovery,” I added, knowing that the hopeless cases would be where the best drugs would be found. The American Cancer Society was delighted to have me come aboard as a volunteer.

A week hadn’t passed before I received my first call, a request to visit a cancer patient in Anne Arundel County, MD. During the next few months I’d get many similar calls, the caller always providing me with the patient’s name, address, and phone number.

I’d feel uncomfortable as I drove toward the homes of the dying, but I knew the feeling wouldn’t last. It would vanish within minutes of stealing the cancer patient’s medicine. When I arrived at the person’s home, I always sat and talked with them for a few minutes in order to win their trust. Then, when the time was right, I changed the topic to the pain they were experiencing. Cancer patients were always willing to talk about their pain. Already scanning the room for pill bottles, I’d ask, “What are you taking for it?” It was easy to persuade the person to show me the medication and even hand me the bottle. Once they did that, I knew my problems were over. At the patient’s first distraction, I'd grab a handful, sometimes fighting the temptation to take them all. I knew they could always get more, but I had a good thing going and didn’t want any complaints getting back to the Cancer Society. I usually walked away with enough to hold me over for a few days. Once in a while I would get lucky and call upon a patient who was in the final stage of the disease, and I’d come away with something special like Morphine Sulfate.

A few months after putting my plan into action there was an incident that ended my relationship with the American Cancer Society. I was asked to call upon a very ill woman who lived alone in an apartment just off West Street in Annapolis. Mrs. Keefer was thrilled when I phoned and asked if I could stop by that evening. She probably doesn’t get much company, I thought.
She opened her door to, “Hi. I’m Skip from the American Cancer Society, the guy you spoke to on the phone.”

“Oh yes, come on in, honey. Excuse the mess. I’m too sick to do much of anything these days.”

“I understand,” I lied, thinking of my grandmother, as I looked the woman over. Skinny, wrinkled, gray hair with matching skin, yellow and red eyes hung below hairless brows. A lint-covered faded black robe ended at swollen feet in slippers that were too small. Watching how slowly the woman moved across the floor, I thought, this should be easy. Using both hands for support, she lowered herself onto the couch.

“So, tell me,” she said with a half smile. “Is your hair naturally curly or do you have it permed?” I smacked my head with both hands and answered, “No, I was born with this stuff. I have always hated it. In fact, when I was younger I used to have it straightened.”

“Oh honey, you should never do that. Those curls are too pretty. Women spend fortunes trying to get curls like those.” Yeah, yeah, I thought, and then remembered why I was there. I sat down beside her, quickly changed the topic, and we talked for a while. I was getting frustrated because the woman would not let on to where she was keeping her medications. I hadn't had this problem before. I would typically be in and out with the drugs in less than half an hour. Now feeling the beginnings of withdrawal, my stomach was cramping and I was growing increasingly uncomfortable and impatient. I scoped out the living room, but the pills weren’t there. I excused myself and went to search the bathroom, but they weren’t in there. Experience taught me that if the medication wasn't in the bathroom it was usually in the kitchen.

I returned to the couch and listened to the old woman’s complaints a while longer before asking, “May I please have a drink of water?” Before she had time to answer, I jumped up, adding quickly, “That's OK, I can get it.” Once in the kitchen, I started opening cabinets as if looking for a glass. I was sure the medication was in there somewhere, and I opened every cabinet and drawer in an effort to find it. Realizing that I needed more time, I grabbed a glass, filled it with water and sipped it quickly while continuing the hunt, now at a much faster pace. Suddenly something caught my eye and I turned and jumped when I saw the old lady in the mirror on the wall. From her seat in the living room, the poor woman was looking dead at me. It struck me then that she had been watching me the entire time, had seen my every move. She had looked on helplessly as I ran through her kitchen pulling open cabinets and drawers. Even at a distance, the fear in her eyes said she was very concerned about what I was up to. Caught in the act, I now felt my own fear, not to mention embarrassment. The only thing I could do was play it off like it was no big deal, and I went back to sit beside her. I could feel her alarm. Knowing I had blown it, I faked my concern for the dying woman a short while longer before saying I had to go.

Sweating, vomiting and pain exhausted the night.

No more calls ever came from the American Cancer Society.
© Copyright 2006 S. J. Moyer (sjmoyer3 at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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