Windowpayne: Chapter One
by Jason Alan
“You’re under arrest.”
Adam had been standing there by the curb at the bus stop, unaware that he was staring off into space. His feet were firmly in the grass, but his eyes were in the eastern Texas sky. Those blank blue-green sheets that his mother always said were windows to the soul billowed in the gentle breeze. His mind, a satellite, orbiting the earth with no particular trajectory. In that instant, hearing those inevitable words, he knew it was all over. He was only twenty two, a man-child. Who was he kidding? He was still just a child. A scared, pathetic child who was now going to the big house. Thanks to those lovely mandatory minimums, he was sure it would be for a very long time.
Instead of his life flashing before his eyes, his future hell of an existence raced through his fearful mind. Images of open showers and cold metal toilets with no lids. Cell bars, (did they still use bars, or were they all bulletproof glass now?) playing chess with rapists, and a never ending pile of laundry to fold. Maybe if he was lucky he would get solitary confinement. As a free man it was hard enough for him to get laid, in prison it would be impossible. Well, except for… he shuddered at the thought.
I don’t wanna go to prison!
“Hey!” The man behind him spoke again.
He snapped out of his trance and turned around quickly, perhaps too quickly. He breathed a sigh of relief. It was obvious the man was not a policeman. If he was, he was the world’s finest undercover officer. He was missing half his visible teeth, and the other half were rotted out to the point of no return. The clothing he wore seemed to have not seen a washer since the Reagan administration. His longish black and gray (mostly gray) hair, also untouched by cleaning products, resembled a cluster of arachnids attending a meeting on his skull. Alcohol and horrendous body odor permeated his pores, with a slight touch of urine thrown in for good mix. Adam pictured the guy dabbing it on his neck in the mirror like cologne. That disturbing visual brought him all the way back into the real world.
“What?” Adam snapped.
The man looked at him for a few seconds, brow furrowed a little, as if his delicate sensibilities had been offended. “I said you got a cigarette?”
“Oh. Yeah, sure.” Adam replied, reaching for his pocket.
That’s when he realized he had one lit already, and when he moved his hand, the hot cherry bit him on the side of the finger and he dropped the half of the cigarette that was still left. “Damn it!”
Pulling his pack out, he gave Mr. Homeless a cigarette and put another into his mouth. He was wiggling his hand as if the pain would simply fall off and join the smoldering cancer stick.
“Thanks. You gonna smoke that?” He was pointing at the butt on the ground.
Adam just shook his head and the man picked it up, deftly tossing it into his mouth, taking a drag. He put the whole one into a breast pocket, saving it for later. “You got a dollar?”
“Hey, I gave you a cigarette,” Adam said, “you wanna fuck my girlfriend now?”
“Wha’ she look like?” the man responded, looking serious for a brief moment, then started cackling like a hyena. He then walked off, going back and forth between laughing, taking drags, and coughing horrendously.
Adam sat down in the grass, taking the pack off his back with an audible sigh. He should have felt relief that Mr. Homeless wasn’t a cop ready to haul him off, but he had this stifling feeling that wouldn’t go away. Was it more fear, extreme anxiety, or a combination of the two? He didn’t know. Didn’t understand, either. He had done this a dozen times before, and he always kept his cool. There was the understandable worry about getting busted, but the risk was minimal. He didn’t have a car, so there was no chance of getting pulled over, and it was a rare occasion to get stopped on foot or on the bus. Unless, of course, you were acting suspicious.
Just be cool, man. Be cool, be cool.
He recited this in his mind over and over again.
He felt a sheen of sweat, even in the cool October afternoon, and he wiped it away absentmindedly. Looking to his left, he saw the bus coming from two blocks away, and suddenly felt the undeniable urge to not be on it. He stood up and his legs started moving before his mind caught up with him. He had to stop suddenly in the middle of the street. A horn blared at him as a car passed by going thirty, missing him by only a couple feet. Another car followed, but the one after that stopped to let him go. He ran to the other side and sat down again, on the sidewalk.
Maybe the windows to your sould should look both ways. And be cool, man. Be cool.
But it seemed that he couldn’t just be cool. That odd feeling just refused to go away. He was holding his hand up to the lady in the car as a thank you/sorry-I’m-an-idiot gesture, just as she drove by him telling him to watch where the hell he’s going.
“Yeah. Great. Thanks,” he mumbled to himself.
He decided to go ahead and take the two hydrocodone pills he had, even though he was saving them for when he came down. Walking might help to clear his mind as well. He had already decided to do that anyway. That is, if he could manage to not get run over in the process. So he got up, fished around for the pills in his front pants pocket and dry swallowed them. He felt a little better already. As the sun drifted down, Adam walked home with a racing mind, a heavy heart and $1,500 worth of LSD in his backpack.