Chapter 1: The Pharmacy
One moment, it was just an empty pharmacy at 3am. Quiet as a cemetery and just as fucking lonely. Streetlight crept in through the closed shutters and the only things that ever moved were the shadows when cars with probably too-drunk-to-drive bar patrons would pass by.
One moment it was just an empty pharmacy at 3am and then, a fraction of a second later there was me. Hi I’m Dave and I am an alcoholic. Sorry, I’ve had to say that so many times It just winds up slipping out whenever I introduce myself anymore.
So there I stood in all my monochromatic thrift adorned majesty casually smoking a cigarette behind the counter like I’d been standing there the whole time. It happened so fast that your brain would probably add a comedic POP! Sound effect every time you tried to remember seeing it happen. It’s that sudden.
You’re probably wondering what exactly is happening here. Your internal monologue is crying out “Why! Why on earth did Dave just appear out of complete thin air behind the register at a clearly shuttered and empty pill boutique?”
Why? Well because this is what happens when you give a machine capable of teleportation to two highly functioning degenerates.
Yeah, you heard me. We have a Teleporter. We have the means for instant transportation of a human being to anywhere on the planet…sort of.
My phone buzzed. It was Buck, My housemate. He’s generally the one who runs the Machine and the only other person who knows about it besides me. He pushes the buttons. I call him The Pusher.
I’ve known Buck forever, we were drawn together through my desperate delinquent need to consume alcohol and his ability to buy beer due to him being he only person in our social group who happened to be over 21 at the time. Buck was also in this ripper band that, while I have a forum to bring it up, were genuinely before their time and the fact that I’m not currently suckling from the swollen tit of bucks Success both shocks and upsets me.
“Did it work” the screen read.
I looked around the room and let an uncontrollable grin etch its way onto my face and replied, “Dude… yes, yes it fucking worked.”
I was excited, and deservedly so. This was a big win for us, and I think both of us were in need of a win at this point. See, we don’t actually know how this fucking Teleport thing works. That’s the hilarious karmic irony of us having this machine. It’s possesses the ability to take me anywhere I want, whenever I want…as long as we read the instructions. Trouble is, we didn’t actually get any instructions. All we got was a series of numbers and locations frantically scribbled on the back of an envelope during the final breaths of a speed freak we found quietly bleeding out in the alley behind our apartment.
This posed a real problem. It’s nice knowing that you can get to Moscow or North Korea whenever you please, it’s something Buck and me have really taken advantage of since this thing fell into our laps. We’ve even got the coordinates to a Place in Columbia where I was able to use enough kitchen Spanish to talk my way into a relationship with a woman who vends generic Quaaludes. Quaaludes in two thousand fucking seventeen! What a time to be alive! Trouble is, once you get a taste of all that you want more. You can see the possibilities this thing could afford you if only you knew how it worked. We’ve been doing a little experimenting on paper and this particular excursion was the first set of coordinates we’d managed to work out all by ourselves. Well, Buck did mostly all of the math. I would’ve helped but this was all happening around the same time my on again off again girlfriend left me…again, after deciding she felt morally compromised by being a police officer while also being in a romantic relationship with someone who…well, someone whose first thought upon obtaining a device capable of teleportation is to rob a pharmacy. I was preoccupied by gin while buck was working out the math. Whatever. This was a win.
The phone buzzed again and my screen read “10”. That meant I had 10 minutes to stuff as many pills into my bag before he pressed the button and brought me back to my comfy living room with enough drugs to make sure I would never have to deal with allergies ever again!
You didn’t think this was just about getting high did you? Shame!
I’d like to say that I went about looting those shelves with expert precision and the stealth of a ninja, but I didn’t. I pressed play on my “work” playlist and the headphones in my ears boomed with introductory horn blasts of Gloria Estefan’s 1985 smash hit Conga and took to dancing about the place like a delirious man possessed by the spirit of salsa (yes, I know that technically Conga was by The Miami Sound Machine, but technically Gloria Estefan was The Miami Sound Machine!)!
I’d begun emptying whole shelves into my bag without even checking what they were. I was drop kicking bulk sized bottles of pills I knew I had no interest in while at the same time trying to catch mouthfuls of the ones I loved as I sent them flying into the air. I was in narcotic heaven.
In retrospect I probably could’ve shown a little restraint, but this is the curse of the Teleporter, a life without consequence. Hypothetically we could run up $1000 tabs at the cities best restaurants and as long as we knew how to set the machine, we’d blink out of existence and anyone present would be left with no way to explain where the two heathen’s drinking Dom from the bottle had suddenly vanished to. I wasn’t thinking about getting caught because as Conga drew to a close all I could think was that I had 5 minutes and 44 seconds left to steal more drugs.
No consequences was the reason that after I did an 180 degree spin move in the throws of the techno intro to another Estafan classic, Turn The Beat Around, I didn’t immediately shit myself at the sight of four police officers pointing their guns at me demanding I get down on the ground with my hands behind my head. Instead I just smiled at the police and let a long drawn out “hiiiiiiiiii” escape from somewhere within me that lacked the fear of being shot to pieces.
I did get a feeling similar to that of shitting ones self when I noticed that one of the officers was my now ex-girlfriend Nina. It was dark enough and I was under my hood enough to where she hadn’t recognized me yet, though her persistent orders of “get on the ground you piece of shit” made it seem a lot like we were still living together at the house.
I figured that as long as I didn’t do anything that might be construed as threatening and kept hold of my bag all I’d have to do is keep the cops at bay for a minute or two and buck would have me home, leaving Nina to explain to her superiors how The Pharmacy Bandit vanished without a trace as they were shoving him into the back of a squad car.
I slung my bag over my shoulder hearing the last few seconds of Turn The Beat Around ebb away knowing that it was a matter of seconds before I’d be out of this predicament.
Nina hopped the counter and started coming towards me, gun drawn in one hand, cuffs in the other. I turned around so she couldn’t see my face, putting my arms out behind me allowing her to cuff me with ease. This really was starting to feel like old times.
A mental countdown started in my head as she approached.
5 – One cuff goes on
4 – and the next one. She hasn’t taken off my bag. There is now a pharmacies worth of drugs literally hand cuffed to my person.
3 – I start to think that getting out of these cuffs back home might actually be somewhat of a hassle. I wonder if Buck still has those bolt cutters in the garage at home…or does CJ still have those?
2 – She’s reading me my rights and I have a frivolous thought about whether or not she’s going to be able to finish before I’m gone.
1 – who gives a shit? I’m about to be higher than horse pussy!
0 – …
“…and if you are unable to afford an attorney one will be provided to you by the state…” my body gets that tingling feeling and it feels like my eyes are sweating. I snap my head around and make eye contact with Nina who is pointing her gun at my face.
“Dave!?” she yells with surprise.
“You know this asshole?” one of the other officers asks, but it sounds like it’s far away, like he’s saying it in another room and the plasterboard is cheap.
“Zero” I mutter. As if saying the number again will make whatever didn’t work start working but it’s no good. Panic is setting in and everything looks like I’m staring at it through a telescope. It’s all so far away.
“Will you ever stop being such a fucking embarrassment!?” I think I hear Nina say before my heart starts to beat out of my chest and it all goes black as I faint into a crumpled heap on the floor.
Back at home Buck was entering a similar state of panic, though scorned lovers were the furthest things from his mind. He was frantically trying to make sense of the long meaningless string of numbers and letters the screen on the Teleporter has started displaying when he pressed the button to bring me back.
It was nearly 2 minutes passed the mark; he knew something had to have gone wrong, but how could it? He entered numbers just like we always did. The only difference was that this time it was our numbers, not the ones the dying guy in the alley had given us.
Buck mashed every possible button on the console and got nothing, the machine was unresponsive and apparently in free fall. Just as he was about to reach for his phone to call me and apologize for the delay it all stopped. The screen turned dark and just flashed the words “REBOOT NEEDED”.
Buck quickly made work of unplugging the four power cables necessary to run the machine in hopes of bringing it back to normal upon the restart. As he unplugged and then re-plugged the last cable the machine beeped it’s two beeps and once again displayed its usual T:/ prompt on the screen. Buck immediately pressed the return button but instead of bringing me back it just screeched like an ensemble of faulty 56k dial up modems “FUCKING C’MON!” Buck growled at the device and as he hammered his fist down onto the table in frustration the noise ceased and Buck pressed the button again.
Back at the pharmacy I was regaining consciousness. I’d been propped up against the counter with my legs straight out in front of me, my hands still cuffed behind my back. All of the police officers had stepped outside leaving me alone. I tried to stand but as I attempted to get my feet under me a pain shot through my head, like it was coming from the center of my brain. I suddenly felt like my whole body was being pulled in every direction by a force that seemed like it could, if it wanted, rip me in two.
I screamed out, the pain was almost unbearable. The pulling switched up and then felt like a push, like I was being crushed. My screaming got Nina’s attention and she began to make her way back inside to check on me. She peered over the counter and saw me writhing on the floor.
I glared up at her, eyes bulging out of my head, trying to say words but no words could make it past the feeling of simultaneously being crushed and torn apart. I felt a cracking, or a tearing somewhere behind my eyes and the world took on a crimson hue. Nina’s expression twisted with confusion, she had no idea what was happening and was as fearful as she was skeptical.
“I don’t know what’s happening Dave, I need you to…” POP! I was gone.
I appeared about 3 feet off the ground in the middle of the kitchen and let gravity pull me down with a thud onto my ass.
“ohhhh, fuck! ohhhhhhh Fuck!” I whined, “What the fuck happened man?” I was trying to get to my feet but my hands were still cuffed behind my back.
“I don’t know man, everything was fine then the machine just went crazy. Why the fuck are you in handcuffs?” Buck aided me in sitting up but backed up in shock as his eyes met mine “Whoa!” he said.
“What?” I asked, “What’s wrong? Not my face!? That thing better not’ve made me ugly man!”
“No dude, it’s your eyes…look” Buck grabbed his phone and held the black screen up to my face and showed me. Both of my eyes were completely red. Not a hint of white remained in either of them. I looked like some sort of other worldly demon, but one who really knew how to put an outfit together.
I shook my head and said, “Ok, that was fun, lets never do that again”.
To be continued…