Appalachian Hope: Chapter 23

Morgantown was different from the hollow. There were stores, restaurants, and apartment buildings crammed onto every spare acre of flat ground. The University sprawled out in every direction. There was public transportation. There were gyms, community centers, museums, and art galleries. But even in the midst of all that opportunity, Morgantown was still in West Virginia. There’s something about West Virginia that feels and looks a certain way, whether you’re talking about Charleston or Crumpler.

But the best part about living in Morgantown was being anonymous. No one knew me, and when you come from a place where you know everyone, and everyone knows you, there’s liberation in anonymity.

Those first weeks in Morgantown Mom called me every day. After a lot of begging, she spaced the phone calls out a little more. I called Daniel and Steven about once a week when I first left for Morgantown, but the phone calls quickly became too awkward to bear. It seemed like I did all the talking. I had fresh and exciting new experiences to share. I was taking classes in literature and art. I was reading mind-blowing books on philosophy. I was learning how to think, how to come up with my own ideas. I was puzzling out what it meant to be me. And that process took the entirety of my mental focus, and neither Daniel or Steven experienced the death and rebirth that is required to tear down all old misconceptions and craft a new belief structure. My vocabulary and my interests were changing. Cars lost their appeal. Partying seemed a terrible waste of time and mental energy.

I slowly let the phone calls die off, and Steven and Daniel never made an effort to keep in touch, so the friendship withered, and sometimes I was regretful of that, but most of the time I didn’t give anyone in the hollow, apart from my family, any thought at all.

But when I saw the sign, “Welcome to Black Hollow,” I couldn’t help but wonder how everyone was doing. The last I’d heard from Steven, he was commuting back and forth to community college. He hated it, but he wanted to please is mother. He really just wanted to go to work so he could move out and get away from his sister. My last call with Daniel, he was working at an auto parts store part time. He hated it.

I would see Sandy at the welcome home party my Mom was throwing. I didn’t really want a party, but Mom insisted. The time from the start of school to the first day of Thanksgiving break was the longest I’d ever been away from home. That was hard for Mom, so I didn’t fight her too hard.

The driveway was full of cars, almost none of which I recognized, but I found an open spot in the yard, and gathered my luggage. There was laughter coming from inside the house, and I could already smell the ham and mashed potatoes.

“Oh my God! Mike is home!” Mom tossed her arms out and ran to the front door. She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed out all of my air. Dad got up from his chair and patted me on the back. Sandy and Jason were sitting by the table nursing their drinks. My Pap was on the couch talking with two of Mom’s friends. The table was mounded over with platters and covered dishes.

I made my way around the room and greeted everyone. I made small talk and everyone asked me how school was. We ate dinner in relative silence. Pap made one or two jokes, and complimented Mom’s cooking. But afterward, we all broke off into little cliques. A couple of Mom’s friends helped do the dishes. Pap went back to the couch, and Dad went back to his chair. I sat at the table with Jason and Sandy.

“Well, I guess you heard that Daniel moved back home for a bit.” Sandy looked like she’d aged a decade since I last saw her. Jason too.

“No. I didn’t. I haven’t heard from Daniel in more than a month.”

“Yep.” Jason took a swig from his cup. “That’s about how long he’s was living with us.”

I looked back and forth between them. Both of them were sour, unhappy.

“I bet you’re glad to have him back home. You didn’t really want him to move out when he did.” I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

Jason scoffed, “It’s been interesting. Had to put up security cameras all over the house.”

“Daniel stole some things from us,” Sandy explained.

“Wow. Shit guys, I’m sorry.” Stealing from family was such a foreign concept to me. At my house, my parents left money laying around out in the open. There was no fear that someone would take something that didn’t belong to them. My dad would beat the hell out of me if I took a nickel that wasn’t mine. As a toddler I once grabbed a candy bar from the register, and when my mom found me eating it in the back seat of the car, she turned the car around in the middle of the road and drove me back to the store. She made me admit to the store manager that I had stolen the candy bar before she paid for it and took me home. But Daniel didn’t have such an aversion to theft, he never did. “Is Daniel still at home?”

“Nope.” Jason answered simply.

“We had to get rid of him.” Sandy added, “for our own sake.” I was shocked at the notion that a mother would reject her son in what appeared to be such a casual way. But Sandy had experienced her home turning into hell, a prison of surveillance and suspicion. “We tried to get him help.”

“Help for what?” It was a stupid question to ask, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. I wanted Sandy to say it first.

She rolled her eyes. “The drugs Mike. After you left, Dan started doing heroin.”

“High’s better, and it’s cheaper, he says.” Jason took a drink. He’d gained some weight. His belly pushed against his shirt and his face had grown red. “There’s a whole smuggling ring running from here to Baltimore, that’s what I heard from some of the guys at work.”

“Is he still working? At the auto parts store?”

“He did for a while.” Sandy disappeared in her thoughts, it seemed like she was remembering a time where there was still hope. “He was doing so good there. He seemed to like it. They made him an assistant manager and everything. Gave him a key to the place. Let him open and close.”

“That’s good!” I interrupted.

Jason chuckled. “Story ain’t over yet, man. He was takin’ money from the register.”

“I don’t know what the fuck he was thinking Mikey.” Sandy shook her head with disgust.

“Wow. How much did he steal? What did they do to him when they found out?” I leaned closer.

Jason explained, “Well, he got almost five grand before they caught him. He was going in and ringing up returns. Pretending like people returned stuff they bought. He’d process the return and take the money. But they did an inventory and a bunch of shit was missing. That’s when they checked all the logs, and they caught him red handed.”

“They called the cops,” Sandy continued. “Took him to jail. He’s out on bail now. He says he owed money to some pretty scary people. He was afraid of them, so that’s why he was stealing. To pay them off. That’s what he says.”

I thought back to my pair of sunglasses that Daniel tried to steal when we were kids. I thought back to his excuse the night we got pulled over on dual highway. I believed that Daniel owed some drug dealers money or favors, but to say that it took much threatening to drive Daniel to lying or stealing was a farce. He was my friend, but nothing I’d heard so far was beyond the pale for Daniel.

“So where’s he at now that he’s out on bail?”

“He stayed with us at the house until day before yesterday. I had to tell him to get out. We couldn’t have him at the house anymore. I bought him a five hundred dollar car. Put all of his shit in it, and changed all the locks. He’s back at Del and Grey’s. He’s their problem now I guess.” Sandy’s shoulders sagged. She was filled with regret. Even though Daniel had done so much harm to her, and even though she spoke as if she were finished with Daniel, she wasn’t. She would never be. “We paid his bail and we wiped our hands,” she said finally.

“I’ll have to go see him.”

“You should.” She said solemnly.

“You ought be prepared though. He looks a lot different.” Jason added. “Here’s his new number.”

After the party, I considered my life as it was now, and as it had been then. The world had changed so much even in the short time I’d been out of the hollow. My knowledge expanded greatly. I had been exposed to new people and radical new ideas and philosophies. I was always a voracious reader, but now I was interacting with people who had knowledge of the great works of literature. I was reading Thoreau and Melville, Lord Byron and Dostoevsky. My frame of reference was so broad compared to my loved ones that I sometimes struggled to communicate. Though we came from the same place,  we were living two lives and speaking two languages.

I looked at the folded paper with Daniel’s phone number on it, written in Jason’s boxy scrawl, and I wasn’t sure whether or not I should actually make that call. I thought of my mom’s advice. Things would be different. The past wasn’t that distant, but did I really want to dig it up? Would it be better for me to disregard a friendship and forget where I’d come from? I wasn’t sure. I trudged up the stairs to my childhood bedroom and tossed the folded paper on my night stand. I would think about it in the morning.

Overnight my sleep was filled with nightmares. I dreamt that I was back at Del and Grey’s trailer the night that Doddy came to sell pills. The trailer was twisted, broken, and rotten. Grey, Del, Doddy, Daniel, and Steven were all sitting in a circle, and I was in the middle. They had their arms linked like chains, and a pile of pills crunched under my feet. Their eyes were pure white and evil. They chanted, “just one, just one, we’ll let you leave if you try just one.” I reached down and held a pill in my hand, and just before I put it in my mouth I woke up in a cold sweat, heaving for breath.

The dream was a warning, it reminded me that I wasn’t any different than my friends. We’d walked the same path, but I’d been spared the hopelessness. But I couldn’t shake the desire to see what life looked like for Daniel, if anything to see what could’ve been had I made different choices.

So I called the number that Sandy gave me. It rang to voicemail, but before I could put the phone back in my pocket it rang back. “Hello? Who is this?”

“It’s Mike. I’m home from school wanted to get into some trouble.”

“Hey Mike, holy shit man. I was wondering if I was gonna hear from you.” Daniel clapped his hand over the phone, “It’s Mike. Yeah, Mike.” Daniel removed his hand from the mic, “Del and Grey said hey.”

“How’s everyone getting along?” I asked.

“Well, Del and Grey are still working for their pops. We are still out here in the trailer on the ridge. You oughta stop out. It’d be good to see you.” Daniel’s voice sounded artificially enthusiastic. He sounded tired, old. His voice was different.

“That’s cool. I’ll call Stevie and bring him out.”

“Mike, you’ve missed a lot.” His tone changed. “I don’t want that piece of shit out here.”

“Wow. Ok. Sorry man.”

“It’s alright, you didn’t know. I’ll fill you in when I see you.”

“It’ll be a little after lunch. I have a couple other people I wanna see, then I’ll be out.”

“Ok. Later.”

I hung up and called Stevie. He picked up on the first ring.

“Mikey, what’s up ya fuck?”

“Not much man, just making my plans for the next day or two. Wanna hang out?”

“I’m home, waking and baking. Come on out.”

“Well ,what am I supposed to do? I don’t smoke that jazz cabbage.”

“Hey man,” he wheeze-laughed into the receiver, “that sounds like a you problem. One way to solve it. Open up them lungs. Expand your horizons. You might like it.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I chuckled. “You know I got an addictive personality.”

“Weed’s not addictive man. I can quit any time.”

“That’s what you all said about cigarettes.”

“Psh. This is totally different.”

“Uh huh.”

“Just shut up and get your dumb ass out here. Just let yourself in.”

I walked down the stairs and was greeted with the smell and crackle of frying bacon. Soft country music drifted from the radio by the stove. Dad watched TV on the couch. I grabbed two pieces of crispy bacon from a plate on the counter. “What are you getting into today Mike?”

“Well, I’m gonna ride out the ridge and see Steve and Daniel.”

Mom turned on her heel. “You sure that’s a good idea honey?”

“I can’t see much reason why it wouldn’t be. You know something I don’t?”

“A lot’s changed since you’ve been gone. Even though it’s only been a little while, things change quick after people graduate high school. Young men find themselves with all kinds of extra time.”

“You know, everyone keeps telling me how much everything’s changed. But when I want to know what I’m missing out on, not a damn person will tell me.”

“Well, honey. Daniel’s addicted to heroin. That changes a person. They get desperate. They start robbing people.”

I was taken aback. It was in Mom’s nature to come right out and say what she meant, and I knew she was right. “You mean like Daniel stole from Sandy?”

“Yep. Just like that. Don’t think for a minute your childhood friend won’t steal your wallet when you’re not looking. If he did it to his own mother. If you gotta go, then go. But don’t think for a second everyone isn’t out for themselves round here.”

“I know. I just feel like I need to see for myself, ya know?”

“I understand.” Mom walked across the kitchen and hugged me. “Let me know how it goes.”

When I got to Steven’s house, I let myself in and walked upstairs. Steven was sitting on the futon in his room, half dressed, a bong on the nightstand and a controller in his hand. The room reeked of weed, and there were large, circular stains all over the carpet. There were holes scattered over the walls. “Mikey! Hold on, I gotta finish this round.” Steven shouted over his shoulder and gripped the controller tightly.

“I haven’t seen this game in a long time. Is that a Playstation, like, the first one?”

“Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater man. Best game ever made.” Steven’s brow furrowed and his bottom lip stuck out. He steered a low-resolution polygonal man around a virtual skatepark.

The time limit at the top of the screen flashed red and blinked its way down to zero; Steven threw the controller across the room, “Goddamnit. Can you believe that shit. One hundred more points and I could’ve beaten the level. I’ve been trying all morning.”

“Were you feeling nostalgic?” I asked. “That game came out when we were kids.”

“Yeah, I don’t know man, I just felt like playin’ it.” Steven shifted sideways to face me on the couch.

“It is one of the best games ever.” I nodded in agreement and pointed to one of the holes in the wall, “you been throwing that controller at the wall?”

Steven smiled, “Mom has been riding my ass really hard here lately.”

“About what.”

“School mostly. I hate it so bad. I was never a good student, but now that she’s paying that bill, she keeps the pressure on. ‘Steve how’s your grades? Steve why aren’t you at school? Goddamnit Steven I am paying for you to go to that school.’ It never ends.”

“Why don’t you like it?” I enjoyed school. It offered distance and freedom, unique experiences. There were interesting people everywhere. I had unlimited access to new ideas, information was abundant, and even though I was only there a short time, I experienced a lot of personal growth. I knew school wasn’t for everyone, but Steven seemed to resent having to go. I didn’t get it.

Steven sighed, “I just want out of here Mike. My mom and my sister are driving me insane. Money has been tight since the social security ran out. My sister and I are both eighteen now.”

“I thought your mom was making a killing selling houses?”

“She keeps talking about how the bottom fell out of the market. Hasn’t sold a house in a long time.”

“And your mom’s always been a spender.”

“Heh,” Steven laughed. “She didn’t save a penny with all that money she was making. Don’t even have enough money to fix Sally.”

“Your van is broken down?”

“Has been for a while. Can’t afford to fix it.” Steven’s face was drawn and tired. “Mom and I have been sharing her car. Makes the fighting even worse. She thinks she has the right to boss me around because ‘she’s sacrificing her money and her car.’ She doesn’t get it. I want to work to help her pay the bills here.”

“Jesus man, I wish there was something I could do.” I tossed out the platitude without thinking.

“Well, Mike there was something I wanted to talk to you about.”


“Well, if I had a car, then Mom couldn’t keep me from working. I would have my own wheels, and I could work when I’m not in school.”

“How do you expect me to help you get a car? You all have more money than I do.”

“I checked with the bank that Mom uses. They said that I could get money if I had someone with a long work history co-sign on the loan.”

“Whoa, hold up,” I put my hands up, I didn’t like where this was going.

“Wait, wait just hear me out. I found a car online. I got the guy down to four thousand for it. If you co-sign, we will take the loan out for five thousand. I’ll buy the car and give you the rest. When I’m working, I’ll pay off the loan. I’m sure you could use a thousand bucks.”

Steven and I sat in silence for what seemed like forever. He stared at me as if all of his hopes hung on my answer. Steven wasn’t lying to me. He had every intention on paying that money if I agreed to his scheme. But Steven was also terribly unreliable. He barely went to school. He bounced between jobs throughout high school. I was pretty sure he owed me some money already. “I can’t cosign a loan for you Steven.”

“What? I don’t. Mike, it’s an easy thousand bucks for you.”

“If you pay it.”

“You don’t think I’ll pay it?” Steven put his hand over his heart as if I’d wounded him.

“It doesn’t matter. Reality is if you don’t pay it, then I have to pay it. That’s not a risk I’m taking.” I was trying to be diplomatic.

“That’s fine Mike.” Steven walked forward and picked up the controller from the floor. He restarted the game, and music started playing from the TV. Steven turned the volume up until it blared and caused distortion in the speakers.

“So it’s like that?”

Steven didn’t respond.

I stood up and grabbed my jacket from where it hung near the door. I turned, “If you decide to stop being a petty bitch, then give me a call.”

Steven threw the controller and jumped from the couch. “Get the fuck out of my house! Just take your superior know-it-all bullshit and leave. Get out!”

I grabbed the doorknob and pulled the door open. “I don’t need this shit.”

My hands shook as I climbed back into the car. I lit a cigarette and rolled down the window. I knew that my time with Daniel would be awkward, but I hoped that my relationship with Steven would remain unchanged. I drove across the top of the ridge toward Del and Grey’s trailer, listening to the sound of the wind whipping by the window, coming to take the loose ashes from the end of my cigarette. The mountains on the other side of the hollow stood without color, except where the sand mine left behind white and red scars. The north end mountains were only skeletons now, the outer layers removed years ago. Now they stood naked.

There were rumors that the mine was running out of sand, but those rumors popped up once every other year for as long as I’d been alive. Used to be that most of the men in the hollow worked the mine, but over the last year, they’d laid a lot of people off because of automation. That was going to continue.

The hollow was growing and shrinking at the same time. We had new businesses popping up, a new auto parts store, an outdoor retailer, a music store, but none of them paid a living. All the jobs where you could work and pay your bills were moving out. Unless you were a teacher, a miner, a nurse, or a doctor, you couldn’t afford to work in the hollow. I understood why it was so hard for Steven to get any traction. He lived in the middle of the woods. He couldn’t work without a car because he had no way to get to where the work was. He couldn’t afford a car without working. So he was trapped, and I sympathized, but I couldn’t be the answer. He would either understand that or he wouldn’t.

Fairfield Ridge Road paralleled the main highway through the hollow. At the north side, the road dipped down toward the river and the railroad tracks. At the end of the road, a left turn takes you to the highway, a right takes you along the river where Del, Grey, and Daniel lived.

The railroad yard along the river was a rusted out pile of old signals and warehouses with broken windows. I heard stories at school about people climbing up in the old loading dock houses, looting for copper pipes and wires. Some people just snuck in to the snake infested buildings to have sex or smoke weed or break things. Down river from the rail yard there was the old airport. The sand mine used to operate private jets for their executives out of there. The old mine president was a hobbyist pilot and had the place built so he could more easily oversee the company’s expansion. But he died and the company changed hands a half dozen times. Each time some major firm bought the mine, they laid off workers and hacked off parts to get back their investment before selling off whatever husk they left behind. The airport was the first thing to go. It sat along the river, decaying and overgrown, littered with potholes. It wasn’t anything more than a drag strip for people who had trucks big enough to navigate the washed out access road.

The railroad and the airport stood as symbols of the hollow’s former opulence.

I turned right just passed the airport toward Del and Grey’s where the road snaked back up the hill and into the woods. There were old, broken down houses on both rides of the road. The further you got from the train tracks, the nicer the houses got. Del and Grey’s trailer was where true poverty bumped up against and mingled with the middle class.

I turned left to enter Del and Grey’s property. Nothing had changed, if anything a new layer of mud and dirt had grown up and spread itself over everything. The Fiero sat under a tarp on the border of the property. It never did run right for very long. Pop’s work van sat in the driveway along with a beat up Honda Civic that I presumed was Daniel’s. I flashed my headlights into the front window to announce my presence. Before I made it to the door Grey came out to greet me.

“Mikey! Holy shit.” He put his arms up in excitement. “Haven’t seen you in forever!”

“Grey!” I sped up my stride and put my hand out. He took it and he pulled me in for a quick bro hug. I didn’t expect Grey to be so happy to see me. He was running interference. Daniel and the others must not want me to see inside yet. I pulled back and took stock of my friend’s condition. “Have you lost weight?”

“Eh. A few pounds. I needed to. I was getting so fat I couldn’t hardly see my pecker.”

I laughed, “took a flashlight a tweezers to find it last time you needed it?”

“Now, you’ve put on a few pounds there old boy.”

“You wouldn’t believe the buffet that they serve up at college. All you can eat every day, three times a day. It ain’t right truly that they feed us the way they do. Everything’s deep fat fried.” I pulled a cigarette from my front shirt pocket and offered one to Grey. We stood outside making small talk, catching up until Del opened the door and invited me in.

The inside of the house had deteriorated. There was a leak in the roof above the kitchen, and nothing had been done to address or fix it. The walls were stained with the tar from months of lingering cigarette smoke. The carpet below the couch had dozens of cigarette burns in it where someone had passed out with a cigarette in their hand and dropped it on the floor. The place was only superficially clean.

I took my usual seat in the chair near the door. Del, Grey, and Daniel sat opposite me on the couch. Daniel had changed dramatically. His face was gaunt and drawn. His teeth were cracked and broken black stubs. His torso hung loose and he had excess skin swinging from his upper arms. I shook off my initial shock and tried my best to treat him like my old friend.

“So you just came from Steven’s huh?” Del kicked the conversation off with his usual shit stirring.

“Yeah. So you guys had a falling out while I was gone huh?”

“You could say that.” Daniel chuckled. “I hit him.”

“You punched Steven?” Daniel wasn’t a fighter. He liked to argue, but he was never the physical kind, and he was in such poor physical shape that violence wouldn’t ever be a successful strategy. “What brought that on?”

“Well, he accused me of stealing his camera.”

“What? What camera?”

“He bought this digital camera, and we went over there for something. Happened long enough ago that I don’t even remember for what. But anyway, we went over there. He was high as a kite.”

“Probably paranoid,” Grey chimed in.

“Yeah, so anyway. We come back here, and we’re here for an hour or so, then Steven shows up pounding on the door yelling about ‘you all stole my camera.’ He thought we stole his camera. I guess he thought I’d pawn it to buy drugs or some shit. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not a thief.”

“Nope.” Grey agreed. “We’ve worked for everything we have.”

“So I yelled at him and told him to get the fuck out of here. Go back to his house. I told him he was high and he probably just forgot where he put it. So he shoves me.”

“So now I tell him to get the fuck off our property.” Del jumped in.

“Yeah, but Steven doesn’t listen, he shoves me again. That time I just saw red. I couldn’t control myself, so I punched him as hard a I could.”

“Damn. Sounds like he deserved it, but… it’s still unfortunate.” I didn’t want to imagine my two friends at each others throats, but it had happened, and now the fragmentation in our group of friends was complete. The strain of adult responsibility had destroyed Daniel and Steven. They were now man-children, navigating the world blind and without role models, searching for a way to find meaning inside the life that they had made for themselves. And where could they find meaning? They certainly couldn’t derive meaning from happiness. They weren’t getting it from a career or study. As near as I could tell, the only meaning in Daniel’s life was hunting for his next high. Steven’s life was wrapped up in video games and running from responsibility. “Has everything been good other than that?”

“Yeah, man. We are just working and spending money like everyone else.” Daniel waved around a weak smile.

“Dan’s working with us now part time when we need extra help. He’s learning to lay tile.” Del added.

“Yeah, he’s got a lot of learnin’ to do. But he’ll get it at some point.” Grey chuckled.

“I’m glad that you all are working together. That’s pretty cool.”

“Yeah, I guess you heard about Mom and what all happened there.”

“I spoke with her last night. She was at the house for one of my mom’s parties.”

“You mean the ones where she invites all her friends and none of yours?” Daniel grinned.

“Yep. One of those. She said that you all weren’t on speaking terms.”

“Heh, you could say that. She flipped out on me. I guess you also heard about what happened at the auto parts store.”

“I did.”

“Well, I did that. I stole the money. I owed some money to some bad people. They’re the ones that came up with the idea to scan in the returns and take the money from the register.”

“It was a pretty slick scam,” I admitted.

“Not that slick.” Del laughed and pulled out a cigarette. He tapped the filter on his pant leg before lighting it.

“I wanted to get caught.” Daniel hung his head. “I wanted to go to jail.

“What? Why would you want to do that?”

“I just was tired of owing drug dealers money. They threaten you, ya know? If I’m in jail, then I don’t have to worry about them. Or anything really.”

“Well, don’t the dealers know you’re here?”

“No. As far as they know I’m still in the jail. I go to work in the van with Del and Grey. Pops doesn’t work local. I don’t go into town. I’ll tell you this though Mike, I didn’t steal from Mom.”

“She told me that. I couldn’t hardly believe it.”

“She got me out of jail, and then she just lost her shit. She put those cameras all over the house, and she watched em all the time. I’d get text messages from her any time I even went to the kitchen askin’ me what I was doing, what I was getting, that kind of shit. It was worse than jail, believe me. One time, I went down to the basement to get in the big freezer, hunting for something to eat. You know? Well she leaves work early. Comes home, kicks open the door to my room and starts waving her finger in my face wanting to know why I was in the basement and what I was trying to steal from her and haven’t I put her through enough. Found out, she didn’t have any cameras down there yet. I guess she thought I was gonna tunnel up into her bedroom or some shit.”

“Jesus. That sounds awful.”

“It was. Finally Jason came back one day and told me that I had to get out. I agreed with him. Mom was gonna end up killing me. She was so nuts. So Jason says find a cheap car and I’ll get her to buy it, find a place to live. So that’s what I did. Bought that beater Honda and begged Del and Grey to let me crash here.”

“Sounds like it worked out then,” I nodded.

“And I’m getting clean Mike. We all are.”

“We’re trying, anyway,” Del added.

“Yeah,” Grey agreed.

“It’s hard though. You get dope sick if you don’t have it. We just do enough to keep from getting real dope sick. We push it on the weekends when we ain’t gotta work. Sweating and throwing up.” Daniel looked grimly at the floor, going somewhere else in his mind.

“Smokin’ a lot of weed helps.”Del laughed.

“How does that work with you being out on bail?”

“Don’t really know honestly.” Daniel shrugged. “They didn’t say anything about piss tests. Don’t really matter. I couldn’t go cold turkey if I had to. Guess I’d just go back to jail.”




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