Marc D. Goldfinger
Spare Change News
(A lot has happened in our story. Everyone has been arrested on a set-up. Dean set up his pharmacist for the police, and now they’ve let Dean go. He went back to the pharmacy, bought 100 morphine shakers and just finished shooting up.)
The wind came up quickly and fingers of ink cast their prints across the sky. The roar was of water out of control and, without looking, Dean knew that the river was rising. How long had it been raining? There was no recent memory of life without the small droplets wetting everything and the mold was green and seemed to move in the cracks of the shingles.
Dean felt for the familiar packet inside his raincoat and shuddered with fear for a moment. He prayed the packet would stay dry. Through the door. Tin foil wallpaper dripping with a seaweed-like substance and there was a blind man sitting in the chair by the fireplace. The blind man was drawing with crayon on the plywood covering the fireplace. Flames. He drew flames and a hand was burning in the fire.
Dean moved through the room, the air so thick it slowed him down and the sound of breath filled the room. His stomach twisted with the sickness and he hoped there was no one using the kitchen. He was twisting his eye dropper and needle out of the encrusted handkerchief as he pushed open the door.
His heartbeat made his chest shake as he saw the children in the kitchen. There were three of them. Spoons filled with white powder littered the table and the boy of about twelve had a rusty spike in his arm and was pushing on the bulb of the dropper. The liquid shimmered in the light and the wind picked up as the blond-haired boy threw his head back with a look of pain that twisted his face and he sighed and his voice sounded like the wind outside.
A young girl was standing with a belt tied around her arm.
“I’m Susie. Please help me. I’ve lost my hit.”
The blood rose into the syringe and flowed out the top and spilled off the tips of her fingers. Dark tears spun webs down her cheeks. The other child stood silently in the corner of the room. His eyes were dark wounds that hypnotized Dean.
“Sleep. I haven’t slept for days. Do you have anything to help me sleep? My dreams have been taken.”
Dean fell to his knees and shook with sobs as he heard the river spray the windows of the house. A small hand gripped his shoulder and a small voice kept saying, “Don’t sleep. Don’t leave me alone without a dream. Wake up. Wake up . . . “
The voice was familiar, and Dean screamed and woke with a start. Brenda was shaking him.
“Wake up. Wake up. The police. The police are on the phone and they want to talk to you.”
“Brenda. They want me to do it again.”
“Do it again? What do you mean?”
“Go back to the pharmacy. Get more pills. A different kind this time.”
“I told them I would let them know tomorrow. They were pissed. But I want to talk to our lawyer and see what to do. That’s all.”
“I don’t know,” Brenda said.
“You don’t have to know.”
Dean called the lawyer.
“You see,” the lawyer said, “there was an error made on the charges. Quaaludes were not declared a ‘controlled dangerous substance’ until five days after the arrests took place. You were charged under the “Controlled Dangerous Substance Act.” The arrest is non-valid and can only be pressed as a disorderly persons charge. They want you to go back in so they have a case.
“Right now, because of their error, they have a minor charge against the four of you. Actually, they can’t do anything to the pharmacist because what he did, in a very technical sense, was not against the law. The way things stand now, we will just do a walk-on in court and the judge will slap you in the face. They have no case at all against the pharmacist.”
Dean could not believe his ears. He whooped into the phone.
“Hold on, hold on,” the lawyer said. “There is another aspect of this that I would like you to pay attention to. I’m going off the record now. I never said what I am about to tell you.”
“Huh,” said Dean. “What?”
“My advice is to leave this area after the proceedings of this case. The Orange Police Department has, uh, what you might call a reputation for not being, ahem, above board.”
Dean was silent, listening to more than just the voice coming over the phone.
“Remember the incident that night as you related it to me, with the planting of the marijuana to get the go-ahead for the search? Their Vice Squad is literally riddled with vice and corruption and I know, through some sources, that some of them actually use drugs themselves. To say that they will be angry at this point would be an understatement. There’s no telling what they will do. I want to say that they are capable of anything.”
Dean listened, hardly believing what he was hearing.
“What? What do you think they will do to us?” Dean asked.
The lawyer replied, “I really can’t say. But I will tell you that if I were you, I would leave the area and I would not feel safe until I did so.”
Dean hung up. Then he and Brenda talked for a long time.
The four of them, Dean, Brenda, Billie & Chrissie had been drinking all evening and they drove out past the apartments where Mickey and Viola lived. Mickey was out walking his Irish Setter and they stopped. As Billie and Dean staggered out of the vehicle Mickey smiled. Then his smile went south. Chrissie and Brenda stayed in the car. Mickey watched them for a moment as Brenda lifted a bottle over the back of the seat and handed it to Chrissie. She put it to her mouth and tipped it up.
“You’re a fucking rat-mother-fucker,” Billie slurred, and Mickey snapped to attention. Hands dangling loosely at his side, Mickey watched Billie carefully, his golden-gloves history dancing in his head. Mickey’s eyes moved like they were attached to Billie as the tall muscular man weaved towards him. (To Be Concluded)