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Page 5



reached for the razor blade and chopped it into a fine powder. Standing at my shoulder, Sebastian handed me a furled one hundred dollar bill. Using this as a straw, I snorted the cocaine- stinging sharply- into my nose.

As my mucous membranes went to work at dissolving and absorbing the poison, my nerves began to sing like a high tension wire. Ask anybody that knows me, I’m high strung as it is. I talk too much. I don’t always make sense, and I’m always on the move. With a line of cocaine at work in me, I must have sounded insane.

Soon I was demonstrating martial arts high kicks. My breathing came easy and I was jumping and kicking higher than I ever had before, my foot spinning six inches over the head of six-foot two-inch Sam.

The next day I woke up about thirty minutes before my 6 o’ clock shift was to start at Redd’s. My breath came in ragged, lung tearing efforts. I spent ten minutes in the bathroom hacking up globs of phlegm into the toilet. My strength was sapped and it was all I could do to make myself presentable and get to work. My body had been burnt to the ground in a few hours of super intense flameout. An average person might have been dragging a little the next day- having cystic fibrosis, the affect was intensified ten fold.

The evening dragged by slowly. Each customer request was a drain on my barely existing reserves. Finally the bar closed. I did clean-up as quickly as I could. There were no after hour parties for me tonight. I went home where I disintegrated. I slept for nearly fifteen hours. That night I went to a party. . .but I stuck to alcohol. I had preferred methods of destroying myself. . .cocaine wasn’t going to be the weapon that I did myself in with.

Sebastian continued to show up at Redd's for drinks. I’d party with him once and a while, but stayed away from the drugs despite the constant insistence of he and his flunkies that I sample the latest and greatest batch that they had managed to put their hands on.

In the following months, I became a popular fixture at Redd's and raked in tip money hand over fist. One of the other bartenders who I often worked shifts with, Serena, who’d been working there for seven years, was nonplussed at the amount of cash I took home with me. With her sour face and glum demeanor, it didn’t take a genius to realize why she didn’t bring in as much tip money as I did. A little civility and cordiality went along way in the bartending business, but apparently that was beyond the scope of Serena’s personality. One night as we were closing up, I caught her hunched furtively over my tip jar, working her wrinkled hand out of its mouth with a fistful of dollars.

“What the hell are you doing with my tips?,” I bellowed, rarely one to mince words.

She started, then turned to see me standing behind her. She brushed a lock of limp black hair away from her face and, biting her lip, stammered out a nervous reply. “I just needed to make change.”

“Then ask me,” I said. “No one touches my tip jar.” She dutifully went through with the charade of giving me a large bill that she pretended to want change for. I could see the resentment festering in her eyes. For some reason she was jealous of me. . .a cocksure, skinny twenty five year old with cystic fibrosis who would be lucky to live out the year, let alone the forty some odd years that she had graced the earth.

I shrugged off the incident, but thereafter, kept a close eye on my tip jar. Unfortunately, my reticence to leave Serena alone with my money wasn’t the only result of our little encounter that evening. Her unfounded, unreasoning, and totally ludicrous jealousy had


     
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