Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Cost Of A Deluxe Crack Kit

Cost of a Deluxe Crack Kit at the Arco: $3.73, some assembly required.

$1.99 for the Wild Roses automotive air freshener in its decorative glass pipe.

Fifty cents for the disposable lighter.

A buck for the Chore Boy scouring pad. You could save two bucks by substituting a short cardboard Tampax tube for the glass pipe, but that would be tacky. If you're gonna be burnin' it, why not burn it in style?

Dump out the air freshener, wash the pipe. Snip a chunk of the coiled copper from the scouring pad, stuff it into one end of the glass pipe. Lodge a small chunk of the rock into the coiled copper at the end of the glass and you're ready to light 'em up. Burnin' it. Again. And again. Again and again. Until tomorrow, when you'll probably have to buy another crack kit.

The little Vietnamese kid, the one with the orange hair, the one Don calls Ho Chi Minn, the one who leans against the rail over the door of my motel room every night from 2 a.m. til 4 or 5, is a steady Arco crack kit customer.

Twenty years old or thereabouts. Dead eyes. Hair on fire. Wary of me, but not yielding any ground. Tried me once in the courtyard. It was a standoff. Crazy old fat man and wired young crack head. I marked my territory; drew my line. He drew his. Psychologically, of course.

The kid left the store, walking over to the 'Ho Chi Minn Trail' in the Vietnamese Voodoo Cat Sacrificing vacant lot, near the rear of the Arco, where crack heads have torn down the fence to get to their crack kit assembly chores.

"He buys a new one every day," Arco manager Kimmie told me when I had asked, "Says he keeps breaking the glass."

Me too, I thought as I danced a fat man's rumba out the store with my fresh pack of Cancer sticks. Lotsa glass. Psychologically, of course.

I've peeped down the Ho Chi Minn Trail. I know where it ends. Probably the kid does, too. He doesn't care. Why should I? The war is already over. Lost long ago. Nobody cares. Everyone's given up on the MIAs, even the MIAs themselves. Especially the MIAs themselves. I'm just an old soldier In-Country and the enemy's all around me.

I marched back to my hooch, slow cadence. Middle of the day. The enemy is probably still asleep in their spider holes. I'm bivouacked in the ville next to the Ho Chi Minn Trail. Room 118, Motel Marquis. It's Saturday and we're expecting troop movements tonight.

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