Never Starting is Easier Than Quitting

The man on the TV lights up and he draws in the smoke, slow and deliberately. I wince at the scene and think back to my cigarettes on the deck with just the quiet of the morning and the occasional bird fluttering by. It wasn’t the inhale with the accompanying delicious pain, but the exhale, the feeling that all was right on the earth and my eyes close in pleasure ever so slightly. Then I remember I don’t smoke any more and a craving comes over me. I quickly think of the dry mouth, the ashes dropping onto my dress slacks, and the quick brushing them off. The next thought to battle the urge: how I couldn’t get below eight cigs a day for more than one day; then I’d smoke 12 or 13 the next day to get back the minimum level necessary in my body to live.

I look out the window to change the subject and allow the scene in the movie to change. There, out in front of God and everyone, is a man smoking on the sidewalk, knowing I was inside watching him. He makes a great effort to smile and show the pleasure he’s in just to torment me. Someday, I hope he pays for his cruelty.

I look back at the TV; the man is drinking what looks like Bourbon on the rocks-I change channels, but not before the image of a Mai Tai is on the screen. The golden, yellow-orange color with just a hint of cherry juice riding on top of the three, cold, smooth layers of rum floating on top. The Maraschino cherry is gone, of course, always slurped up when the drink is brought to announce the threshold of heaven is upon me. The sip, the swallow, the spread of warmth from the belly out to all the ends of the body, nothing can hurt me now.

Then I remember I quit drinking too. I lost more than one job from seeking heaven using the back door. Now the refrigerator has six beers sit in the vegetable tray from a local microbrewery, there since last summer. Six because that was what it took before I was happy and ready for more.

Next, I turn to public TV hoping for something with a moderator with a monotone voice to wash my mind. It’s a special on the sixties and guys are passing around a short, fat joint at a concert. Now there was an excellent exhale. If the dope was strong enough, one went out of the body while a paralysis took over and blacking out became a real possibility. The smart thing was to relax and not panic, try to focus and whatever you do, don’t try to stand up or bend over for a few seconds; the room’s regular lighting will come back into view. God, did I really finish that BC bud stash I kept hidden in the back of the freezer for three years, when I quit smoking cigarettes. And to make sure the police wouldn’t get me for anything, I even threw the sticky, moist pocket pipe with the inner chamber and screw on lid in the outgoing garbage.

Maybe I could relieve the pain with one of those Vicadin up on the prescription shelf, left over from the root canal when I told the dentist I didn’t want to be in pain for days and he gave me a scrip for 40 500 mg pills after I said, “the bigger ones work better,” as if I didn’t know much about the opiate family of products. No, they were gone too along with the Peradan, Percocet, Oxicontin, and my favorite, Morphinadrone from an urologist. Gees, the poppy has been one of God’s special plants.

I got up went to the kitchen to fix some instant coffee. I put an extra amount in the cup, just short of what would make me have stomach cramps. While I’m waiting for the water to boil, I think about the good old days before 1968 when a guy could call in a prescription for Dexamil, and by using the lingo of the doctor’s office, have a scrip waiting for him under a false name with no written prescription. Damn, now there was a drug that made everything alright with a careful balance of Meth and a lovely barbiturate to smooth it out. Went 10-12 days in a row without sleeping and drew some of the most intricate drawings of my life, while in the Santa de Cristo mountains above Sante Fe.

My life is much easier to control with those things out of it, much less the heroin, cocaine, Belladona, black tar opiated hashish, Darvon, Bezedrine, Peyote buttons from Arizona, Magic mushrooms from cow patties outside of Houston, LSD from God knows where, black mollies, paint thinner, airplane glue, Freon, Ether, morning glory seeds (especially pearly gates and heavenly blue), and countless other wonders of the earth.

I went back to watching TV with my coffee and enjoyed the slightly elevated condition a few minutes later.

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