Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Fernando and Jesus 2: Darlene

Fernando beat upon his front door til the TV was blotted out and the door was opened by a rather obese and unpleasant looking girl, who was introduced as Fernando's wife. As Fernando intruduced us, I could feel his eyes boring into me--watching for any signs that I was interested in his wife. Which I was not--her hand (daintily offered, as if she were half expecting me to kiss it) was sweaty and spongy, and her eyes were cold and calculating. Or maybe it was just the glint of the television.

"Hi," she said, after he'd introduced her as his wife, "I'm Darlene."

I immediately knew what the whole thing could turn into, and it wasn't pleasant in the least.

Darlene had married a hot tempered Latin number who had all sorts of access to cocaine and spent a lot of time at work. She found out shortly after marriage that he was an extremely paranoid, jealous husband, and he didn't like her to go out at all. She was unhappy and bored, and hated Fernando enough that she flirted with me constantly.

Now, I understood this. I also understood that this was a sort of game for them--she would flirt until I made some sort of error in man etiquette and gave Fernando an excuse to (quite literally) attack me and defend his territory. And, although this would make her unhappy, she would no doubt be flattered that her man cared so much about her honor. From what I found out about her in the next few hours, she was perfectly capable of playing the role of some sort of rancid Rapunzel while simultaneously feeling beseiged by rabid men who were just out to demean her.

But forewarned is forearmed, and I had all of my radar pinging in every direction I could, for several very good reasons. I've also done quite a bit of walking that flirtin' line over the years, albeit never in such a dangerous situation.

First rule: Never, ever be alone with her. And by alone I don't mean the two of you alone in a room; I mean never let HIM out of your sight, when she's with you. Even if nothing happens, you open yourself up to either his paranoid fantasies or her sly insinuations later. Remember, these are evil, unhappy people we're talking about. They'll turn on you in a second.

Second rule: Never volunteer to do anything for her before making damn sure he thinks it's OK. I went one step farther and if she asked for something that was close to me, I'd hand it to him to give to her.

Third rule: Little or no direct eye contact, and no wandering off into conversational asides with her. Anything can be construed as flirtation, if the dude's crazy enough. And he definitely was that.

This went on for some time, as we settled into the dark house to watch the rest of the boxing match and discussed the events the evening would hold. Darlene made several attempts to act knowledgeable about drugs, but always shut up when Fernando glared at her. Eventually we got down to the nut cuttin', when Jim pulled out some of the pills and distributed them to us. It was kind of touching, for a brief second: Fernando was about five four, a hundred thirty pounds. Darlene was five ten, two twenty or forty. Yet they discussed briefly (in english, which I thought was kind of them til I realized that she didn't understand spanish) how they were going to dose themselves, then he broke the pill in half and split it with her. This was wise for him, since he didn't know the effects. With her bulk, though, I was iffy as to whether she'd even catch anything off of it.

Jim and I each downed a pill with our beers, then he busted out his stash of white powder to "help get things started." This actually works, although it's not really necessary, and in my view more trouble than it's worth. Unless you can combine those two with some nitrous and maybe a few amyl nitrate...but I digress.

Fernando and Darlene both were non-drinkers at this time, so Jim and I just grabbed beers out of the case when we felt like it. No one had invited either of us to leave the room, and I was beginning to get the feeling there were booby traps out there in the rest of the house. Which was doubly frustrating because as our beer got warm, my eyes were repeatedly drawn back to the only other light in the house: the refrigerator light in the kitchen. Jim told me later that Fernando wouldn't turn on any other lights at night, for fear of giving "them" a floorplan of the house.

After a bit, the drug began to kick in for me, and a quick glance at Jim confirmed that he felt it too. We both attempted to explain to Fernando what he should be listening down inside for, but were interrupted by Darlene, who whined to Fernando that "she wasn't feeling anything." Well, of course you're not feeling anything yet, I thought. You won't shut up long enough to feel it.

Darlene had an ulterior motive, though--which was why she was talking to Fernando. Shortly he got up and staggered back towards the refrigerator light, where he cut left and disappeared from sight. Darlene moved closer to me. I got up and got a beer, then sat down at an appropriate distance. Jim's eyes widened slightly when he noticed the byplay, but nothing was said.

Fernando returned presently with a solid pyramid of cocaine, which he'd obviously knocked off of one corner of a brick of the same substance. MY eyes widened a bit when I figured this out, and Fernando began chopping it up and making these crazy Cheech and Chong lookin' rails. Not being an expert in this, I was kind of worried about having a freakin' heart attack, so I hung back and ultimately did my line in two goes, prompting gibes and mean laughter from the couple. My eyes watered, but the coke and ecstasy began their evil work.

Ecstasy, as most of you know, has its high points and low points. Picture, if this isn't too trite, a rollercoaster. MDMA doesn't put you on a peak that last for hours--it'll swing you up and down three or four or five times over the course of the trip.

Cocaine produces a similar feeling as MDMA, only it's one quick ride up and down one hill. Then you want more, but you can't ever get as high as you did that first quick trip. What's insidious is that the drug also disables the parts of your brain that say "this is stupid behavior," so you keep chasing that elusive feeling til you run out of money and coke, at which point you either start robbing liquor stores or get some sleep and try not to think about what an asshole you are.

But if you can catch your (e) on an upswing, at just the right time, you can triple or quadruple your "uptime" by zapping it with a shot of cocaine. It's analagous to strapping a rocket engine onto the back of your rollercoaster and shooting it into the air after it's reached the apex of the track. This sort of behavior can be sort of dangerous, as you can imagine, but it's hard to resist once you realize how fucking cool it can be.

So that's the feeling three of the four of us were on, the exception being Darlene. She kept yammering about wanting more, which was a bit problematic because Fernando had decided to leave his remaining three pills at Jim's place. It soon became obvious, though, that Darlene wasn't going to shut the fuck up until she got more, so in short order Jim volunteered to go get the stash. Fernando plainly wanted to go too, but neither of us wanted me to be left alone with Darlene, and for some reason Jim didn't want me to come with him. I think he still harbored some hopes that Fernando and I would become friends.

After another improbably large line of cocaine, as a sort of send off, Jim left. I very quickly became aware of my situation and how dangerous it really was. I was in the house of a cocaine dealer who had bricks of the shit lying around, and was convinced people were out to get him. I was willing to believe this, after a short period of time watching the ant races on TV and listening to them talk.

Within a few minutes, though, my uneasiness became a genuine worry when Fernando put his head down on the album cover that held all the cocaine and went to sleep.


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