Let’s get one thing straight. You cannot declare war on an idea, a concept, or an inanimate object. You cannot declare war on Christmas, or terror, or drugs. You declare war on people. There’s no way around this. It’s not some abstract concept that you can justify by jumping to the second definition in the dictionary. War is a state of armed conflict, usually between nations, or groups of people within nations.
As a person who does drugs, war was declared on me at an early age. It was one I would choose to fight, and my method of combat consists of ingesting staggering amounts of narcotics and then lashing out at every cop that tries to arrest me for.. whatever. I have had my head bounced off of a patrol car while handcuffed and been told not to bleed on the hood. I have been shackled to the wall like a fucking dog, and I have been pepper-sprayed in the back of a transport van. Statistically, though, it’s safe to say I’m winning. So far I’ve been arrested five times, out of about 37 million attempts.
This is the story of one night in the war.
The lights are awful and my skin looks like chewed up jellyfish under the fluorescence. I am smoking a cigarette and there is mucus in the back of my throat that I can’t swallow down. The aisles all look the same and all the shit on the shelves is begging to be touched in the grocery store glare. I’m not wearing shoes and the floor is freezing.
I can’t find Lindsay anywhere.
I have walked from one side of this store to the other, and now I am deep in the corner, farthest from the door. I have no idea why we came in here. I am walking around tables and bread racks and I am looking underneath and behind everything. Somewhere on aisle six I stopped and stared at the tile beneath my feet until the flecks of dirt began to swim around and rise into the air and now I don’t look at the tiles anymore.
The cigarette starts to burn my fingers and I drop it on the floor and stick them in my mouth. They taste like something died. I step on the butt with my foot and the pain is concentrated and immediate. I take them out of my mouth and bare my teeth, hopping up and down beside rows of pastries and pies.
“There you are,” she says from somewhere nearby.
I still don’t see her but put my foot back down on the floor. I move toward the sound of her voice but it was coming from nowhere and now I am up against the glass display case and peering into the darkened bakery. It closed hours ago and the ovens are all cold. I back away from the case and begin to turn away, then stop and stare.
For the past few days I have been reading about feral children, and this is what Lindsay looks like on her hands and knees behind the case. The Wolf Girl from Devil River. She has slid the back of it open and is glowing through the glass. Her face is covered in icing and she is not looking at me. She slides sideways to the next cake, picks the candies off the top and pops them into her mouth.
“Get. The fuck. Out of there,” I say.
“Come back here,” she says. She's not eating the cakes, just the candy, but every time she pulls one off it brings icing with it. Three of them are ruined and now she is sliding down to the fourth.
“Lindsay. Get your ass out here,” I say.
I glance up and there is no one around.
“Oh, come on,” she says, spitting out the words through a mouthful of half chewed gumdrops. I slip around the back of the case and duck down. “Here. Eat it,” she says. She is holding out a miniature chocolate bar and there is frosting hanging off the bottom.
“I don’t want that,” I say. I am lighting another cigarette and the smoke is rising above us and drifting out into the store.
“You can’t smoke in here,” she says, “and anyway, we aren’t leaving till you eat it.” She is lit up in the glow from the case and her pupils are so dilated that they are no longer green.
“Lindsay. I’ve been out of jail three fucking days. We’ve got to go,” I say.
She doesn’t say anything and we stay that way, her on her knees with icing all over her face and me squatting with smoke floating above my head. I take the chocolate bar and put it in my mouth, instantly regret it, and my guts start to churn somewhere below my throat. The bottom of my foot is throbbing and the chocolate is glued to the sandpaper that is my tongue. I begin to chew and the chocolate breaks up and spreads around in my mouth. I swallow what I can and put the rest in my cheek.
Lindsay starts clapping and making a high pitched squealing noise that can be heard all over the store. I grab her hand and pull her to her feet. I am dragging her down the aisle and she is laughing and using the index finger of her free hand to scrape the icing from around her mouth and sling it to the floor.
“Sir, you can’t smoke in here,” I hear someone say, but we are already out the door and stumbling to the car. I turn around to yell at Lindsay but she looks happier than I have ever seen anyone look, ever, and I start to laugh.
We get in the car and drive away.
I have been about to throw up for half a mile, and there is nowhere to pull over. It is going to happen any second and I am just about to stop in the road and hang myself out of the car when I look up into the rearview mirror and see the cop. I don’t know how much time you get for eating chocolate but I know how much you get for eating LSD and before I can decide whether to punch it or just go ahead and stop, I am spraying vomit and thick chocolate all over the windshield. Lindsay bursts out laughing and we can’t see a goddamn thing and if I stop we go to jail and if I don’t we probably still go to jail. I put on my blinker and pull to the side of the road.
The cop has slowed down behind us but he still hasn’t put on his lights, and as I’m reaching for the handle to jump out and run I turn to Lindsay and shrug. He creeps around us and then drives on past. When I finally get the door open I fall out of the car and watch his taillights disappear into the dark, the sound of Lindsay's laughter lighting up the night.