The Ritalin Riddle
They needed gasoline to travel across country. Yet once the stolen credit cards were cancelled there was no more cash to turn to. Theft was the only option. It had been so innocuous and easy. Three successful gas runs and nearly a thousand miles of pavement. But now he was drinking whiskey, sitting with the bottle between his legs as she pulled up next to the pump. Perhaps this was simpler earlier in the evening when there were more cars. Three in the morning is not the best time to pull off a gas run. He walked into the convenient store to take a piss. He walked out of the bathroom and the doors were locked. The cashier knew what was happening. He could have taken off his sandals and made a dash through the plate-glass window, if he had any courage. But he didn’t. The cashier opened a pack of smokes and began taking deep drags on the menthol. “Are you gonna pay for that?” she asked. I could have asked you the same thing, he answered in his head. Who the hell gives her the right to steal from the store while calling the police to report a robbery? “You think I’m stupid?” she asked. He was not so smooth when he was drunk and wired.
The cops arrived to the scene and were much friendlier than the bitter cashier working the graveyard shift. The gas only cost about seven dollars and change. The police gave them the opportunity to come up with the money. They would rather have the purchase paid and be done with this ridiculous situation than filling out a report. They gave them plenty of time to search the car. Between the seat cushions and under the seats they found some spare change, but mostly nickels and dimes, certainly not enough quarters to come up with enough. They were short by a few dollars and the police had no other option than to handcuff and arrest them. The cashier was chain smoking. The police were searching the vehicle. They tore the car apart, but failed to search each individual cassette tape where the razor blades and Ritalin were hidden. The searched the trunk and removed the cover to the spare tire, revealing a collection of about a dozen fine bottles of liquor and wine. The police decided to take this for themselves and not report it. That was fine with them anyway. All they cared about was the Ritalin.
The Cop Car
He was trapped like a rat in glass cage from the start. She had a chance to be free. He hoped she would drive away, but noticed that she only kept driving back and forth on the main road up the hill from the gas station. He waited for her to disappear but she couldn’t leave him behind. “When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose,” she always told him. He was her oxygen. The cashier identified the vehicle and one of the cops followed with lights and sirens. If she had any courage or confidence in a late model Volvo with one hundred and forty thousand miles she might have decided to take off. But she used her signal light, pulled over on the shoulder of the road. “Will you step out off the car please?” he told her, but then decided to let her drive back to the gas station. He followed as she slowly returned to the scene of the crime. A glowing orange flicker from a cigarette and the yellow florescent lights of the gas station carousal led the way. A beacon for the garbage can her life had become. Her body was a waste basket, and the pills masked it all in powder. She knew they had jumped the tracks. If she could only devour one white line she knew she could totally feed the police the best white lies of her life.
The Reading of the Miranda Rights
“You have the right to remain silent,” the cop told him. He was too strung-out to talk much anyway. His head did the talking as he smashed it hard against the window of the cop car. “Stop that,” the police said. But he kept banging his head, tears running down his checks because smashing your head against the cop window seems the only thing to do when you’re getting arrested. He didn’t care about himself, but he was supposed to take care of her, protect her and serve her. Now she was staring through the glass of another cop car, her face frozen in time, that livid heartbreaking moment.
Making it all the way to North Carolina from New York was an Odyssey of addiction. She had fat beautiful lines cut up for the exact moment he drove past the highway sign welcoming them into a new state. She held the compact disk case to his face and the wheel with her other hand as he blew the powder into his face. They couldn’t wait for the next state (even though the Mid-Atlantic states are the smallest) and every twenty minutes or so new pills were crushed, new lines cut into the plastic, and white into the fantastic empty cavern of their minds. He coughed and expelled a small cloud of white smoke from his lungs a couple seconds after he inhaled each new line. Her nose bled like clockwork.
The Mecklenburg County Jailhouse is an impressive monstrosity filled with criminals and hicks. He wanted to talk to her, but they kept them separated by gender and the jailhouse officers got very angry when he walked over to the water fountain and gestured words to her. She was crying and within hours would be wearing an orange jumpsuit. He explained why he was in here to the criminals beside him. They couldn’t believe the police locked him up over seven dollars. She couldn’t believe that this was heaven. Running away and getting arrested and neglected by her boyfriend before her eighteenth birthday. One day they’d be free and find the money to get the piece of garbage car out of the junkyard. There was Ritalin inside, and this is what the world is coming to.
Matthew Dexter is an American writer living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He survives on fish tacos, cold cervezas, and warm sunshine.