As soon as I’m back home, I sag against the inside of my door, the coke bottles clutched to my chest. It’s only then that I realize that I forgot to pick up some food, as the hole in my midsection reminds me.
Fuck it. I have work to do. I can always go grab some breakfast when I’m done.
It’s not easy to concentrate, even with my bubbly, caffeinated prize to urge me on, but by 5:55 all files are uploaded and I’m done! Accomplishment never felt so sweet.
Since my window—singular—faces the street, I look outside, down the road toward the deli, but whatever shit went down there is resolved now, the early morning leaving the sidewalk deserted except for joggers and the first commuters. Everything still seems quiet, peaceful. That freaks me out to the point where I consider going downtown to get swept up in the bustle of traffic and exhaust that is, without a doubt, already plaguing most of the city.
Instead, I do what’s second nature to me: I hop online.
It’s overkill, I know, but before I do the obligatory “junkie barfing up blood all over the frozen-meals section” search, I load up a series of scripts to hide my identity. I smirk as I slip into one of my oldest aliases—trinity93. Sue me—I was an impressionable teenager once who thought that nonconformity could be expressed by conforming with the other oh-so-special nonconformists. What can I say? We all had a crush on Keanu back then.
I don’t expect to find anything beyond the usual—deep-state conspiracy nuts, maybe with a dash of anti-vaxxer mentality as the flavor of the day? At least that will make me laugh.
The first thread I click on has not one but three videos of junkies exactly like my own, to the point where I try to wrack my brain what clothes he wore because this could just as well be the same guy. Except that the next video is starring an Asian woman, and the one after that an elderly black man.
“Meth heads” and “opioid crisis” are the tag lines getting flung this way and that. Which makes sense. And every single video is tagged with a location of a multi-million-population city except for Detroit, but a quick Google search reveals that the Detroit metro area runs at over 3.5 million people. What is one junkie compared to that? I try to tell myself that, very reasonably.
My gut says something entirely different.
When have I suddenly turned into an expert on anything concerning people, let alone drugs or health-related?
That’s also the argument that’s getting flung around the most all over the forums I check, but the result remains the same: I’m gripped with a pervasive sense of unease that I doubt anything except the passage of time and some good ol’ binge-watching Netflix will cure.
Only that when I—painstakingly—remove all the hoops I just jumped through to avoid leaving a data trail online, the country’s premier streaming service has connection issues. That’s deeply disconcerting as well, but I shrug it off and try alternatives two and three. Also a bust. YouTube’s also taking a minute to load the dashboard let alone a single video, so I give up with an annoyed huff.
Must be the heat. Or fires. Just because the sliver of sky I see from my window shows clear blue doesn’t mean half the state isn’t getting reduced to cinders right now. That very thought should be way more alarming than that junkie.
And yet, I remain sitting at my workstation, staring off into nothing as the wheels and cogs in my mind keep turning.
As a last-ditch effort, I try the local news. The site takes forever to load, but when it eventually does, it’s just the usual entertainment news and political strive.
As an even-laster-ditch effort, I go the website of the CDC.
What a mess. The only thing that loads is a box about some Salmonella outbreak in red onions and E. coli in lettuce. Shitty if you are affected—probably quite literally—but I doubt that will turn you into a blood-barfer with black cracks spreading across your eyeballs.
Just thinking about that makes me shudder and close my browser window.
Too late do I realize that, just maybe, using privacy protection for those last two searches might have been a great idea, but now it’s too late. Being overworked and stressed out will do that to the best of us. I consider scrubbing my workstation, but really, it’s a lot of effort over nothing—and if I did accidentally trigger something, finding my computer squeaky clean will look way too suspicious.
I tell myself to stop obsessing over nothing as I fall into my bed, playing some stupid game on my phone that’s thankfully offline so it still works. Yeah, mobile data is affected as well.
What a shit-show. I must have been really lucky when I uploaded my files to my client’s server just in time before service went out.