(I was dope-sick, trying to cop from a doctor; my wife was in detox.)
I really wanted to smoke a cigarette to calm down, but I didn’t want to walk in there stinking of tobacco. So, I just took some deep breaths and listened to the phlegm in my chest rattle. It sounded great. When she put the stethoscope to my chest, she was going to hear all the right noises.
I walked into the office. There was an old woman sitting there. Doctors that treat old people sometimes are easier to make an appointment with than others. I nodded to the old lady when she looked up at me and then sat down and picked up a magazine. I flipped through the pages and saw a couple of articles that looked interesting, but I couldn’t keep my mind on them because I was always thinking of what to say to the doctor in order to get the drugs. My stomach was all nervous and I could feel it gnawing at itself. I had to urinate and I looked around for a bathroom. I didn’t see one and I hoped it wouldn’t be too long before I could go in.
The door opened and the doctor came out. She looked to be in her late thirties and wore brown glasses. Her hair was brown and hung loosely onto her shoulders with a little wisp over her glasses. The thought crossed my mind that I was glad that her hair wasn’t tied up in a bun. An old gent followed her out of the office and the old woman sitting near me smiled at him and stood up as he walked over to her. My heart leaped in my chest. They were together and I was next. The old woman was just waiting for her husband to come out of the office. I saw the scripts in his hand and I wondered what the doctor had given him.
They all talked for a few minutes and then the doctor motioned me in. Good, no nurse. I chatted with her as she took my weight, my blood pressure, and my respiration and pulse. I looked as she charted my blood pressure and I was happy to see that it was elevated. That always helped me get the pills.
She got up and left the room for a minute and I looked around to see if there was anything worth taking. Then she quickly returned. I told her how my chest was all congested and I had trouble sleeping at night with all the coughing.
“This happens to me every winter. Maybe I should move south. I don’t know. I just like the change of seasons.”
“Maybe you should quit smoking,” she said.
“Well, I’ve cut down a lot. I only smoke a few cigarettes a day.”
“You should quit altogether.”
“I’m planning on it soon. I haven’t smoked yet today.”
“I smell cigarettes on your clothes.”
“Oh, yeah. My wife is a heavy smoker. It would be easier for me to quit if she didn’t smoke so much.”
“I see. Well—-“ she paused.
I held my breath. My props were in front of her. My heart felt like it would pound out of my chest and it felt like I had ice-cold water in my stomach.
She pulled the prescription pad out and I watched the pen move. Yes. Yes. Yes. She wrote for the Tussionex, only four ounces, but I didn’t have to share it with my wife because she was in treatment, so it would be enough. She wrote for an inhaler. Forget the inhaler, I would trash that script. And she wrote for the Klonopin. The benzo’s are great opiate boosters and my heart was dancing and leaping around in my chest. She pushed the papers to me and I folded them up and put them away quickly. I was afraid the doctor would change her mind at the last minute.
She made out the bill and I paid part of it and told her that I would mail the rest of it in. She took down my address. I always paid part of the bill if I had the money because it was better in case I went back there again. I could pay it off then and owe a whole bill next time. If a doctor kept writing I would keep paying. If they didn’t write, I wouldn’t pay at all.
I left the office and drove over to the pharmacy. I hated this part. Some pharmacists were real jerks who would do their judgment thing and say they didn’t have the drug in stock just because they didn’t want to give it. I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the truck and got out. I took a deep breath and walked into the store.
The pharmacist had grey hair and his glasses rested down on a bump on the middle of his nose. The counter girl came over and I handed her the scripts. She asked me my address and wrote it on the scripts. I hated when they did that because if they didn’t fill the scripts then you had to take it to another pharmacy and the evidence was there that a previous pharmacy had already turned you down.
The counter woman walked the scripts back to the pharmacist and he looked at them for what seemed like an eternity and then he started to type. He walked to the back and I saw the yellow thick liquid in the Tussionex bottle. He shook the bottle. I think I would have said something if he didn’t shake because it says that the active ingredients settle to the bottom and to shake it before you take it on the instructions. As he slowly poured the liquid, I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I heard him shake the pills into the dispenser and then he finished typing and he handed the two packages to the girl.
She called my name. (To Be Continued)
—Marc D. Goldfinger