Segment 2: When a Third World Came West

I don’t remember why, but I wanted to try stuff in college.  I felt like there wasn’t a real boundary or a thick line between crossing over to try stuff and being scared.  I felt like nothing would happen to me if I just tried something.  Maybe it was the wave I felt when Robbie started giving me GHB.  He was a chiropractor and he told me he was basically a doctor.  He knew, he said, about health and what someone should or shouldn’t do, how many doses. And, he said when I was getting too into it or wanting it too much, that that’s when he would cut me off.  He always said that.  And besides, nothing did happen with it.  It wasn’t until I was at a Passover sader sitting across the table from a doctor who’d been going on and on for five minutes about the teens he saw who’d almost died from it so many times.  I guess I got lucky.  In this segment, I was meeting Robbie downtown in a club that had just opened, the Red Velvet. Clubs were always opening and closing there and this one had just been built up. 

After parking the car and, listening to Robbie shouting about the lyrics on 92.3, I decided to walk toward the club. Robbie, his roommate, and his roommate’s girlfriend went to the 7-11 to get cigarettes, water to mix the GHB with and some Gatorade. Did I want anything?  “No,” I’d said.  I’d stopped eating so much after I’d taken up smoking; just something to do with my hands, which were always touching things or tapping on tables, fidgeting. I walked up a block and past the courthouse where my dad worked and to where I put out of my head about what he’d say if he knew about me being here, in this way, with these people, doing these things. I walked past a club,Cairo. Passed a few mailbox slots, a cigar shop where the owner got shot, killed, whose case my father tried.  I got to the club after walking past another two or three stores then turned left into it.  Their was a wooden bar with chunky wooden eaves at its corners and a red velour curtain blocking a doorway towards the back.  Bar stools surrounded the bartender in a square shaped u, above which, wine glasses, champagne flutes, pint glasses, and beer mugs hung as upside down bats from a wooden ceiling that was serving as a shelf.  I saw a few people at the back end of the bar and walked down towards it seeing two couches, one to the left and one to the right hand side of the room, a red fake Turkish carpet in between separating them.  There was a guy in the corner holding a glass and talking to a girl who was sitting on the edge of a black, lacquered in-table.  I went up to the guy in the black button down shirt, the bartender, got out a twenty from my  brown change purse, ordered a drink, looking back at the guy I had just seen.

After taking a quick sip from my straw I knew I didn’t have tons of time before I’d spot my friends walking in through the door.  I walked past some stools and up to the start of where the fake Turkish rug was, thinking of what I’d say when I got up to the man with curly hair.  He was sipping his straw, the girl who had been talking to him gone, maybe to the bathroom.  He was looking around the room in a way that made him look alone.

“Hi,” I said.

The man nodded politely and said ‘hi’ back to me.

Without an introduction or a question about how he liked the bar or maybe “How’s the drink,” I whispered to him, “I’m waiting for my friend to get here, but I can’t find him anywhere.  I promised him forty for just two.  Can you believe he stood me up?”

The man looked awkwardly down at the ice in his glass tumbler.  I looked towards the red velour curtain covering the doorway and knew his girlfriend would be back at anytime.  I had to think up an excuse in case she figured me to be some hussy sizing up her boyfriend.  But no girl returned.  I said something more.  “You know anybody,” I said, taking a sip of my drink.  He didn’t make eye contact with me, but he said,  “You really shouldn’t be going up to people asking them for pills.”

“I know.  I know. Do you know anyone though?” I asked.

“Yea, I guess.” He put down his drink and turned around looking towards the red velour curtain from which his girlfriend disappeared.  He put his drink down on a napkin on the table and got up.  He went  down this small empty hallway on the opposite side of the bar, parallel to where his girlfriend, friend, or whatever she was, went to the restroom.  There was a curtain serving as a door to the door less entryway that we’d passed through and a door at the opposite end of the hall.  Other than a couple of boxes and some red paint tested on the wall, the room was empty.  I looked around from side to side and watched what he was going to do next.  He just pulled out some packs of pills in a tinfoil wrapper.  Most of it had been split open, with a knife maybe, to get them out.  I thought twice about paying him for them.  I didn’t wanna go crazy.  But I didn’t have to take them if I didn’t want to.  I was here; I might as well give him the money.  I could change my mind about taking them later.


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