The wait was long. Making it unbearable was the Ritalin bottle posing as a searing seductress on the desk. Corklin turned to YouTube to help him distract himself from the growing compulsion to start using without Rolemn. None of the Youtube videos he watched proved effective enough.. He slumped back into his chair swiveled around to take a look at the room, it was a mess. He figured something active,like cleaning the room,would be a perfect distraction – something guaranteed to put a smile on Rolemn. That would surely coax him into a very favourable mood.
With a zealous smile, Corklin jumped off his chair and started cleaning. He began by taking as many beer bottles as he could at a time and dumping them in the rubbish bin down the hallway, it took him five trips to clear the room of all beer bottles. After that he emptied the room’s dustbin, returned and picked up all the litter on the floor including used straws, cut paper, empty capsules and cleared the ashtray. After filling the dustbin twice and emptying it. He organized everything on the desk and made Rolemn’s bed. The floor still had dirt , dust, traces of powder, ash and scattered weed seeds and twigs. He found one of the dorms’ vacuum cleaners on the main floor , carried the archaic thing to the fourth floor and vacuumed. Happy with the job he’d done, he slumped into his chair. The room was clean now, and organized too, it even smelled better. In a sweeping gaze his eyes slipped to the bookcase, dusty. He couldn’t resist dusting it. He got up and wiped the bookcase with toilet paper. He went to the basin to get a glass of water. There he was confronted by the grime and dirt that had accumulated on the basin. Disgusting. He grabbed Rolemn’s wash cloth from the rack and scrubbed it off with force. He used the washing powder on the dressing table to wash the dirty wash cloth and hung it on the rack. Leaning in to pour himself a glass of water he saw the toothbrush, it had a broken handle and withered bristles.
I should get him a new toothbrush, he made a mental note.
He poured himself a glass of water and returned to his seat where he mentally gave himself a huge pat on the back. He swiveled back to the desk, and his eyes were immediately tugged back to where he had put the Ritalin bottle, next to the laptop. This time he felt more in control of his urges. He folded his arms and had a staring match with the bottle, taunting it to try anything funny. With each second it cowered into obscurity. Triumphant, he went back to the laptop.
Not long, the door opened and Rolemn entered. “Wow. You cleaned my room?”
Corklin turned, smiling. “Yeah, you took so long I thought I should keep myself busy. Besides we can’t keep getting wasted in wasted place. Thought I should help you out a little.”
Rolemn looked bewildered, he slowly shut the door behind him as if nervous. “Wow. Thanks, man.”
“C’mon, where is that smile?”
Rolemn laughed, in the split second he went from surprised to laughing there was a flicker of smile. “What smile?”
“That’s what I’m talking about.” Corklin put up his hand for a high five.
Rolemn struck it. “I’m sorry I took so long. I had supper with Sandy again. That guy is creepy,huh?”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” Corklin shrugged.
“Cool.” Rolemn took his seat and grabbed the bottle of beer he’d opened earlier.
Corklin eagerly watched as he took a refreshing gulp, waiting for him to open the bottle and give him the pills. Rolemn seemed to be reluctant as usual, like he had a scheme under his sleeves. It was something he always considered a quirk of his.
Rolemn met his gaze, he nodded and planted a cigarette between his lips. He lit it, then exhaled upwards in the area just above Corklin’s head. “So, how many pills should we do first?”
“I just asked for two but it’s really up to you if you want us to do more. I can’t really tell you. It’s your pills.”
He looked away and studied the bottle of pills. It was as if he was counting in his head or working out an algorithm of sorts. “Are you planning on having a big night?”
“If you want to we could.” A smile quivered across his lips.
Rolemn leaned back into his armchair and looked down. Corklin started noticing the build-up of noise outside, it sounded abrupt but honestly he had not been paying attention. Cheerful voices of students going up and down the street as they went to fix arrangements for the night. The corridors were also filled with traffic, inter-visiting students bringing booze and girls, party music and excited conversations, muffled by closed doors, coursing through corridors. Every room seemed to have a little party of their own going on, those which were quiet were probably empty as the owners went off somewhere else to party. Then he realized how weak and drained his body started to feel, his shaking limbs and grumbling insides, mind faltering in and out of focus and eye lids beginning to feel a bit heavy. Then a sudden ache in his abdomen.
I just need one hit and I will begin feeling better, he thought. Just one.
“Well, let’s do two now and two more later,” said Rolemn.
Corklin nodded. “Okay.” He started to get paper ready to fold into a temporary envelope with trembling fingers.
“We will see where it takes us from here.” Rolemn opened the bottle and spurt two pills into his hand. He placed them in the tray.
After a lot of preparing in silence and nothing but listening to the booming sounds of the night’s festivities (from residence parties, room pre-drinks sessions to the campus bar two dorms away), Corklin grabbed a fresh straw and leaned in for his first hit of the powder. He pulled back with eyes closed and head wriggling with shock and pleasure. Leaned back into the chair to savour the awakening rippling sensations crawling over his head. When his eyes opened colors struck him, sounds were crisp and his sight was crystal. He knew after using for so long the whole experience would collapse in a few minutes with all the euphoria and alertness. He could only extend the experience the experience with a heavy dose.
“I think we should do two lines a turn,” he said, eagerly cutting another line for himself. When the line was cut neatly into a bulging worm he leaned in and snuffed it out of existence. When he opened his eyes, he asked, “Should I cut you lines?”
Rolemn shook his head. “I will have some after this beer I think.”
He realized Rolemn had been watching with a sidelong gaze as if what he saw sickened him. “What? What’s wrong?”
Rolemn gravely shook his head. “Nothing. I’m just thinking.” He looked away for a second. “ Can I play some grunge please? Just a few songs.”
“Okay, as long as it is nothing too heavy.”
“That super emotional shit.” Corklin attempted studying his face again, there wasn’t any sign of enjoyment in it. He saw an evasive face and something resembling worry in it. “Do you have some work you need to do?”
“Yeah, just an essay but I can do that tomorrow. It is due on Tuesday afternoon so it is chilled.”
“Is it about cash? Your parents can’t send you anything again?”
Rolemn pulled a soft meek smiled. “It’s fine, dude. Don’t worry. I guess I am a bit tired but I am sure once the booze settles and I snort a few lines all will be fine.” He looked at the screen as if there was something to watch, as he always tended to do but this time there was a trace of deflection in his demeanour.
“Don’t worry about the pills,dude. I know you need them, I will sort you out.” Corklin checked his countenance and he could see there wasn’t any change. “This time you should actually use the pills as prescribed, Rolemn. We shouldn’t use them again.”
Rolemn sighed wearily. “It is not the pills. I don’t give a damn about those. Now let’s chill and just enjoy ourselves, dude.”
Corklin wasn’t fazed. “I just don’t like it when I’m up here and you are down there, you know. Makes me feel bad, man. You know I care about you.”
Rolemn nodded. “I know.” Then he started playing music.
Corklin picked a bag of weed from his pocket and laid it on the desk. “I think there is a way we can make some money for ourselves. It might sound risky but there really isn’t any risk involved if you’d do it with me.” Thinking the news would bring him some relief.
“Think about it.” He opened the bag and spilled the contents on an exam pad. “You could stop to worry about any school expenses, clothes, toiletries and more. You can even start going on dates for once, being able to afford it. If that is not your kinda shit you could start going out more because you’d be able to afford it.” He paused, slowly separating the twigs from the buds with his trembling fingers. “All you have to promise me is even if you say no. You won’t ever tell Erica that I brought this up or I am doing it. Just the like the Ritalin, she wouldn’t wanna hear a thing. She would probably just break up with me on the spot. But I think we need the money and you will agree that it is not that bad what I am proposing. People like Erica are quite close minded, they don’t think like we do, you now.”
“I have this friend of mine. When he came to Scarleton he was just like you. Now he is renting a house on his own. You know how the property market is in this town, freaking expensive. It is like the only other way the natives can make money is to rent property or sell booze to students. So he basically pays five people’s rent and on top of that he bought a car. A really good one. If you didn’t know him you would think he is one of the privileged kids that populated this campus. He is living the life , man. I thought maybe being a commerce students he has gotten a job somewhere on the side and started making cash you know. Or trading or something or that sort. But guess what he is doing?”
“He is selling.” Corklin paused, raised his eye brows. “Weed, MDMA and it’s variations, speed, coke, mushrooms and whatever he can get his hands on. Sometimes he makes over ten thousand bucks in a day. Easily.”
“You can make five hundred bucks from two or three clients. Just chilling. It won’t even take much of your time at all. You practically get paid a ton to do nothing. The profit margin is like ninety percent, man.” He shook his head. “It is better than any job you can get in Scarleton as a student, hands down. Am I wrong?”
“No. It’s true.”
“Some clubs basically call you to come deal. You can deal openly and everyone who goes there uses in one way or the other. You could probably sell Ritalin there and anyone would buy it. It’s like these crowds of high junkies just fill them. Like Chruch.”
“The club Church. You know it.”
“I have heard of it.”
“Yeah, man, imagine. I’ve been thinking about it.” He began packing the herb grinder with weed. Closed it and started shredding.
“Isn’t it a big deal getting caught?” Rolemn asked, his countenance had changed to that of a shrewdly curious man. The way he sat in his armchair was marked by a certain agenda. A peculiar and controlled eagerness in the movement of his eyes.
Corklin nodded unfavourably, grimacing. “I mean if you get caught with a small amount of weed on campus you can get like a hundred hours. If they think you are at risk they might make you see a therapist. If the amount is pretty serious you can get arrested or simply expelled.” Corklin shook his head, narrowing his eyes. “But it rarely happens. The campus security do not care, my dealer sells in front of them. They might as well sell weed themselves. The people that you should worry about on campus here are the wardens. Look at us, man. How many times have we been smoking in here and basically breaking the rules, even one of the sub-wardens has knocked on the door and came in but they did nothing? Lots of times, dude. The sub-wardens are students like us. They really don’t give a damn what we do to have fun as long as we are hush about it.”
“What about the police?”
Corklin snickered through his overly confident malicious grin. “Some racist motherfuckers, right there. Or is it classism? I don’t care. But here is the bottom line, if you are a student you are not their problem. You see, they are under a lot of pressure from the university to ensure that students are safe when their out in town because of the rise in theft and overall violent crime by the hooligans and the poor village natives from over the northern hill. They come here to beg, mug, steal form us and attack us. When they see a student they see a walkling ATM they could blow up. Obviously the attacks have gone down and things are far from where they were a few years back, but the police still use that very same profiling mentality. Villagers; criminal. Student; innocent. Therefore, if you are a student they are not interested in you. You’re not their problem at all. So dealing daylight and drug trafficking in this town has gotten super easy. They probably don’t care if there is a drug problem.” Corklin shrugged his shoulders excitedly, the words still vanilla to his ears. Killian had showed him the light. It was incredible, the things that went down right before every body’s eyes but couldn’t see. It felt like stealing a pyramid and getting away with it. “A bulk of the police force comes from the village. So, when you get caught you just offer them a few hundred bucks and they let you go. So corrupt. They have huge extended families, the salary they get is crap and they barely scrape through a month so they are thankful for the few bucks they get.” Corklin shifted his gaze to Rolemn to find he had been drawn in. The bottle in his hand was empty now but he didn’t seem to have noticed, totally captivated. He lifted the bottle to his lips. “There’s nothing in there. Grab another beer.”
“Oh, thanks. I didn’t realize.” Rolemn laughed.
“That is exactly how I was when I heard. I understand.”
Rolemn reached for another bottle and before opening it he remembered. “Cut me a line. I finished my beer now.”
“You mean two lines.” Corklin dropped the herb grinder on the desk, picked up the bank card and started cutting the powder into two lines. He handed the tray over to Rolemn with his fresh cut paper straw on it.
Without a wisp of hesitation Rolemn put the beer down and dived in for his share. When he came back up he was saturated with a lively and an impatient eager will. “What about other dealers? Won’t we get in trouble with them? You know, territories and that sort of stuff.”
Corklin packed bowl of the bong with fine weed, stacking the tube to its brim. “I used to think so.Then I found out virtually every dealer here is a student. You know how people like us here think. We think of everything as fair game, you know. Competition is competition. There aren’t gangs or any other shit like that. The dealers here seem to be in good terms with each other. Scarleton is a very harmonious town and the students of this university have tribal mentality. It is more than just a school. It is like family. Supplying drugs to the people here is appreciated, it’s a little town with little to do.” He grabbed a lighter from the table and stood, a bong in his hand. His finger settled on the hole on the side of the bong, lit the bong and started filling the chamber with smoke. Then by lifting his finger off the hole and sharply pulling in the air he cleared the chamber of all smoke. Having inhaled he walked to the window and exhaled. Then he coughed. Rolemn silently watched him as he returned to his seat. “You see. This is a perfect town to be dealer. A perfect storm of ingredients. Everything has come together perfectly here to make dealing a lucrative business. Experimental privileged youth, corrupt cops, managers looking the other way, drug dealing managers, international connections from an influx of international students and a student body that does not care. We came here at the right time. Oh, there is even this one botany professor who grows some sick mushrooms, man. Can you believe it?”
Rolemn nodded, more to his own thoughts than to the question. “So where do you get stuff to sell?”
He cut two lines for himself. “Erica and I get tons of grass from this hermit down in Blue Meadow. You drive over the mountains, through a dirt road and into some moist territory up in the hills. This guy lives there alone far from the city or any human contact really, except from people who come take the weed off his hands. We can get real quality weed from him. All he does is battering. He does not want your money because money is virtually useless where he stays. So you bring him stuff he might need. Blankets, pots, clothes, cigarettes and those kind of goods and then he gives you tons of weed. I don’t know how much exactly, but it is easily five kilos.” He grabbed the straw and snorted his lines. After setting his eyes to the ceiling and doing a thorough job clearing his nostril of the soggy powder on its walls, he continued, “Most of the stuff my friend can give us to sell. He does not mind.”
“How is that gonna work? Obviously, we gonna owe him something.”
“We will share the profit. For an example for each bag we sell we will give him fifty, so we cannot sell it at less than fifty but we can always sell it above eighty. So we can sell at a hundred for each gram of weed. Then a bit of the same with the other stuff. It will depend on the product. Weed is the bestseller, so we gonna need a lot of that.” He paused and looked down at the tray, “Do you want your two lines, now?”
Rolemn quickly shook his head as if to dismiss the entire question. He shifted in his chair and held his hands together. “This guy has been your entire source of information?”
“How long has he been doing this?”
“Three years with no incident.”
Rolemn sighed, his face slightly contorting. “Why do you trust him so much?”
Corklin reclined in his swiveling chair and slightly moved his chair so he could look Rolemn directly in the face. Rolemn turned in his armchair, allowing himself to face Corklin directly. “We used to be friends. Like best friends. We went to the same high school and grew up in the same neighbourhood. Then we came here and I met Erica , then I basically neglected him and our friendship basically died because we never hang out. Even though all this is true, I know he has got my back and he cares for me.” He paused as if searching for the correct words to describe it, he made to snap his fingers but they only shuffled. He stopped gesticulating then an expression on his face appeared, a light bulb moment. “He is like you.”
“Like me?” Rolemn’s forehead wrinkled.
“Yeah,” Corklin said, frowning as if to stop the idea from fluttering away. “In the respect that I can completely trust you. I know that you would never do anything to hurt me. Like you, just plain and transparent. Predictable. You are not an ill spirited person and you really aren’t out to harm anyone. Thoughtful, loyal and reliable. It is both a thing you can discern and arrive in a few minutes of meeting you. I sit here and I realize I wasn’t wrong. You just demand the simple things from people, companionship and respect.”
There was blank look on Rolemn’s face while he processed what he’d said. Then that charming smile crept up from the side of his face. Something about what Corklin had said seemed to have rubbed him the right way. “I think I am only as good as circumstances allows me but I will accept your view. Things look a whole lot appetising from there.”
“Yeah,” Corklin looked down, “just remember that when we do this we will have to sneak around Erica. She can’t even suspect anything.”
“Sure, dude. I think we already good at that.”
Corklin laughed. “Yeah. You know there is a lot of things that I have lost because of the relationship. I mean now that I look at it.”
Corklin nodded. “I used to be a drinker, dude. You know, like people our age drink.”
“Really? I can’t actually picture it.”
“Yeah. I am telling you. She somehow got into my head or wriggled her way through everything and I stopped.”
“Do you miss it?”
Corklin frowned. “You know,” he shifted in his seat. “Not really. She doesn’t give me a chance to think about such I guess.”
“So what do you think?”
“Should we do it? The dealing thing.”
Rolemn took a sip from the beer bottle. “Let me think about it.”
Corklin cowered into his seat as not to agitate him or stir him the wrong path. “Alright. Cool, man. Take as much time as you need.”
“Okay” Rolemn nodded.
“I mean it. Don’t get feel pressured or rush it.” Corklin looked away. “I don’t think I have set my eyes on it completely either. But it is very tempting though. I mean, the money is…” The more he spoke the more he felt like he was pressuring him so he stopped, changing the topic, “Did you know I used to smoke too?”
Rolemn sniggerd. “I’m so sorry, dude,” he teased. “Tell me this though.”
“Looking back at where you are now and everything, was it all worth it?”
Corklin laughed. “I’m sorry I won’t answer that. It is too deep and profound for the moment.”
“Alright. What else has she made you give up?”
“It’s sounds really wrong when you put it like – “
“Meat?” Rolemn mocked before he could finish the sentence.
Corklin snorted. “I didn’t really give up on meat, you know that.”
“To be honest I can’t remember the last time I saw you chow meat.”
“Honesty man, she never really demanded me to be a certain way. I guess shit just happened. I actually like vegetarian food.”
“Seriously though, be honest with me. What else has changed?”
Corklin looked away for a while, thinking. “I guess, I lost a lot friends and got exclusive for the first time in my life.”
“She must be really special to you then.”
Corklin smirked, a trace of ambiguity in his expression. “I guess so.”
Rolemn glanced at the laptop. “My playlist is finished. Anything you wanna play?”
Corklin shook his head. “You can keep playing. I don’t know what to play yet.”
A long satisfying chapter, thanks for reading folks.
The story continues next week.
As always, if you are new it’s not too late to start the previous chapters are just as awesome.
See you next week.