If you get a few plastic bottles, some batteries, a little fertilizer and lye, and a pack of Sudafed, and you can cook yourself a pile of crystal meth in your own home. Snort it or smoke it, get that high you’re chasing. Wash out the containers, steal more supplies, and do it again.
How bad do you want it? How deep is your need? Do you trust yourself enough to not mess up the recipe? Are you sober and steady enough to get it right? Was the information you found on Google accurate? Did you read each ingredient on the list and imagine ingesting it, consider it flowing up your nose and racing through your bloodstream? Are you sure about this?
No, you’re not, but you don’t care. You’re sure you need a hit, and that you need it soon and that you don’t have the money to keep paying that guy your cousin knows to cook for you. You’re sure that willpower is the bedrock of achievement because this is America, by God–the land of dreams made real through work and creativity, of problems solved with sweat and duct tape. You aren’t a chemist, but you could have been if school had been your thing, just like you could run the company that just fired you if you had been lucky enough to be born the son of the owner rather than the son of a mechanic. You can be President one day, remember, if you just believe hard enough.
People would judge you if they knew what you were doing. They always have, starting when you were a kid and your mom bought you those off-brand tennis shoes from Hills when everyone else had Reeboks and British Knights. And then you begged her to buy you a Starter jacket because those were so cool the kids in Pittsburgh were literally killing for them but by the time she could afford one for you they weren’t cool anymore and your place was still Down There. You started smoking then, stealing cigs from your mom’s purse because if you’re going to be an outsider at least you could be badass, but that turned out to be just another strike against you, another signifier what you’d always be: a degraded photo negative of what it means to matter.
You’re trying really hard to follow this recipe, to make sure you get the amounts just right, that you don’t pull the wrong lithium strip out of the battery. You’re trying really hard not to breathe too deeply because there are toxic fumes, and you’ve got the fan on and the windows open just in case because you’ve heard about people who’ve done it wrong and didn’t even get to go out high. You don’t want to be like them, but you’re sweating, and you can feel your eyelids twitching involuntarily, and this recipe isn’t all that clearly written because of course it isn’t–it’s from a tweaker with Internet access and a GED.
You graduated, at least, and you had a friend who knew a guy who stocked vending machines, and you thought that sounded like a nice way to make nine dollars an hour, but then you got that DUI and lost your license, and they couldn’t keep you on if you couldn’t drive all over the county to put their stale Herr’s chips into those turning mechanical metal spirals. Your old man was pissed about that, said you were a bum like your uncle who was on food stamps because he had no pride in himself and spent his time pounding Keystone Lights and never was worth a damn.
So you moved in with your girlfriend and her family and you had a great time with them because they didn’t care if you worked or not as long as you shared whatever you were eating or drinking or smoking or snorting with them. That’s when you first tried meth, and for the first time ever nobody judged you.
You went back to work, of course, because your girlfriend got pregnant and a man needs to take care of his family even if his woman doesn’t want to make it official and only promises to cut back on the dope because she doesn’t want to lie and say she’ll go cold turkey. You’re not sure if she’s dialed it down or not, because it still seems pretty regular but it’ll probably be okay because not every smoke fiend’s kid comes out messed up–that’s just hype. You have bills to pay and you were trying, mowing median strips along the highway, but you failed a piss test and that ended that.
And now you’ve taped the rubber hose between the two bottles and you’re pouring and there’s smoke filling up the clear plastic and little flakes of dope falling are on the inside and you can smell it with those shallow breaths and everything is going to be okay in about twenty minutes.
And you shake the mixture to speed it up, because maybe it’ll be ready in eighteen minutes instead. Not a hard shake, you’re certain, just enough to be an encouragement, and it seems to work because there’s more smoke and the plastic feels warmer and you’re excited but now it feels hot, like you’ll-have-to-put-it-down hot, and you sit it on the counter and step back. The smoke is thicker and you can hear a hissing sound muffled in the bottle and then it blows and the mixture is in your eyes and your nose and your mouth and everything feels like melting plastic as you drop to the filthy linoleum floor and you can hear the beeping of the smoke alarm. You want it to stop–the burning and the choking and the beeping–because it all hurts so much that you’ve forgotten who you are and it keeps going and going and getting worse and it will not end until finally–
It does end.