‘Drive’ by Stefanos Singelakis

2018.

Rooftops and grey skies. Ash and concrete. I’m a runaway, running from mediocrity, surfing across ocean blues. Riding high on the waves of a chemical octopus. I left behind a heap of fresh wreckage –– the car was buried in the river. Mounds of human waste and bleached blond hair, pimples and the smell of cigarette butts, poorly groomed genital areas…

My neighborhood is being run like an idiot parade. I’m growing disenchanted.

The people I know are people you don’t want to know. Small time. Living miniature adventures. Like busting a safe while sporting black cotton gloves in the parking lot next to the pool. Ten dollars for the effort. Eating acid in economics. Speed too; I’ll take whatever’s in fresh supply. The worst has yet to come.

We don’t know how to do anything really bad, not in this city. Criminal appetites require cultivation.

Looking at the map; now I’m overseas. They have their rules here too. It all depends on who your guide is. I was halfway settled in, feeling unnatural all the time. The locals tried to make nice –– native hospitality has yet to expire. There I was, spoiling for a fight or a drink or something.

We had opened shop. I’d make coffee. A shot of rum to start the day. When we’d get lucky, we’d smoke weed. There’s nothing quite like doing nothing. The hours expire. It’s dark outside and I can hear the street. The sound of cars is hypnotic. Cramped lanes are accompanied by narrow sidewalks. I spotted the junky today at the corner, his junky face would peer up and down the street. He’s waiting for someone and so am I.

I tell X it’s time to go out. He’s young and understands. Two phone calls. One to the girlfriend. He tells her he’s making a late delivery. The second rings the man. “Yes, uh-huh, ok, yeah, ok, alright.” We close the place down.

The truck is parked down the street. Before leaving town, we stop at the gas station. The man at the pump asks, “How much?” and X tells him to fill it up. The clock is ticking. We don’t have a lot of time. Five minutes later we’re tearing down the highway in a grey and green Mitsubishi pickup truck. The radio is on. How do you do a three-hour drive in an hour and a half? Speed is your friend. The truck is burning fuel. I’m burning on the inside, feeling heavy footed.

I’ve been staring straight ahead, looking at the highway signs. Speeding. The truck is eating up the road. X is avoiding checking the phone, too busy focusing on the drive.

When we’re halfway there we see the cops.

They’re on to us. Tearing up our ass. Going fast. Turning my head, I look back and see them getting nearer. A second or two passes. Now they’re alongside us.

Don’t panic. For a minute, I thought we’d get pulled over; stopped for speeding. If they only knew. The cops rip past us on the highway. Completely ignored. Everyone drives fast in this place. Speed limits are just suggestions.

Halfway-there. I can see the coast now. We’re taking the tunnel; the exit is in sight, drawing closer. Almost inside the city. I begin to see a clutter of rundown businesses crowded by dirty apartment buildings. Everything looks dusty and stained by smoke. We drive down a side street that’s littered with trash and animal feces. The smell of garbage perfumes the air. It’s nice, I’m used to it. We park the truck. Nobody walks along this street. Not tonight.

X sends a text.

Waiting.

Taking too long. Grab a bite to eat, waste some time. Munching street food on the curb. Cars drive by. There’s a street walker a hundred meters away. She sees me because I’m young.

We get the call.

Back in the car, we drive down the street. Nice and slow. In the back seat, he hands it over. There’s so much that it came in a shopping bag. The car reeks of it. We’re driving again – I’ve learnt to roll on the move. He’s the driver and I make the smoke. We think, Is it ever enough?

We sit on it for a minute.

“Well might as well since we’re here.”

“It really would be a waste to make the same drive tomorrow.”

“How much money do you have in your wallet?”

“Enough for eighty.”

He makes another call. “Yeah, uh-huh, ok, sure, ok, see you soon.”

Our other guy’s picking up. I feel the hunger. No specific organ. I’m just hungry all the time.

On the road. A five-minute trip from one seedy spot to another. This is a friend of ours, he meets us in the street.

“Well now that we have our stuff.”

A forty-dollar package. A tiny square of cheaply folded paper.

“Might as well stay a while.”

Off the street and down the hall. Back at our buddy’s flat, sitting in a stale apartment. He owns the place. No one is coming. He takes out the brown powder.

I want it.

The first batch wasn’t that good. I could feel it wearing thin real fast.

“Well fuck.”

We need some more. Ten minutes go by. The two of us are sitting in this living room. The TV is off. Our friend steps out. There’s another package. Cutting the lines. It’s convenient – unlike coke. You don’t have to break it up. This is the real stuff. I’m sweating up a poison stick. Something takes me and I begin to feel my face. X’s laughing. The other looks at me running my hands along my sweaty face but he’s too preoccupied to say anything. We’re getting high.

I love brown powder.

After an hour, it’s time to go. Have to open up the shop tomorrow morning.

Tearing down the highway again, I roll a joint as he eyeballs the road. Smoking. He does and I do. Thirty minutes go by. An odd expression takes possession of his face. He looks kind of greenish. He has to stop. Pulling over in a hurry, islanded by the side of the road. Slamming on the breaks in a small rest area. Just a patch of dirt for late night drinkers. Within a minute or two he’s out.

Is he dead?

His chest is moving up and down. Bile spews from his lips. A yellow stink, soiling his sweater. I’ll give him another five.

Alright, I’m bored. I prod him.

“Time to move.”

He’s pissed I let him puke on himself.

It’s my fault.

Back on the road. Back at the shop. I pass out on the couch. What a wonderful night.

Next morning. Our good stuff is done. I produce a snort, hoping to tap the reserves.

Thinking to myself, “Are you in there?”

I feel a rush of residual highness, “Yes.”

Triumphantly, I rise.

He’s in the office. I told him I had a line lodged in my sinus. He’s jealous. After coffee and a smoke, I ask him “So…what are we doing tonight?”

Sitting in his black leather office chair, he lights another cigarette. He’s sweating profusely and the joints in his hands are aching.  He can feel the pain most acutely in his fingers. After a second drag of his smoke he looks up from his crotch, “This time, you drive.”

 


STEFANOS SINGELAKIS is a graduate student at Concordia University. He is interested in writing fiction and creative non-fiction. He is currently working on a novella.

Copyright © 2018 by Stefanos Singelakis. All rights reserved.