madness, bookended with humor

The crazies were out this weekend and, according to the local police, they weren't just at my store.

I have noticed lately that every other Friday - my payday, as it happens - the meth addicts are partying harder than they normally do. This weekend was the worst yet. I wondered where all the cops were, and they later told me that they were busy all over with similar madness.

One of the meth-heads won almost $3K at our store on Thursday, and I'm sure she hasn't slept yet. She was there during the day on Friday, and for most of that night. She was back in the store before noon on Sunday; when I arrived at 11 PM she was still there. She didn't leave until the cops ran her off, a few minutes before 7 AM.

Over the several days that she was around, she kept locking herself in the one-hole ladies' room for an hour or more at a time. When she came out, she would have fresh wounds on her face and arms from picking at her skin. Last night I went into the ladies' room to check the toilet paper, soap, etc. after she went back to the games, and while in there I looked into the trash can.

There were a number of pieces of folded tinfoil with some kind of burnt residue, and there was a hypodermic needle in an otherwise empty cigarette pack. I brought the trash can out and told our local cop to look inside. He told me to save it, and he'd consult his chief about getting a biohazard bag for it.

Earlier in the day, I was told, there had been a lot of foot traffic coming into the store, back to that woman at the games, and back out. An incriminating conversation was overheard by a cop. But nothing concrete could be pinned on anybody.

As a recovering addict, I know the signs. These people - nice, polite people, believe it or not, despite their hyperactive states - were almost all high on methamphetamine and/or other hard drugs. The real problem for me and the police, so far, is that nobody has done anything blatantly illegal. They come in, they buy smokes, they buy gas, they buy munchies, they buy scratch-off lotto tickets, they gamble on the video games. They spend money, and Money is Good!

But they have been hanging around too much and for too long. When you are high on amphetamines, you do not sleep, so they have to keep busy. Lately they seem to have discovered that video gambling not only allows them to use some of that extra energy, it occasionally pays off well enough that you can go see your man for some more dope. Maybe even well enough to get a hotel room and have drugs delivered for a bender in a safe place.

I've seen that happen. Last winter one guy won several thousand dollars, got a room at the casino in Cherokee and brought along all his friends. He got good and high on something(s) and eventually passed out. When he awoke, his "friends" were gone, along with his couple-thousand remaining dollars, his drugs, and his car.

I joked to the cops, before leaving this morning, that this weekend our store was the "Clyde Casino and Meth Market." We both managed a sad chuckle.

The weekend wasn't all bad, though. On Friday night, amid all the madness, there was some entertainment; on Monday morning, as I drove off toward home, there was a light moment at a bend on a country road.

Friday's entertainment was the saga of a meth-head who couldn't get his motor scooter started. That wasn't the fun part. The fun part came when a woman with a subcompact sedan offered to help him get his scooter home. First they opened the comically small trunk, and Dog bless the boy, he actually lifted the front wheel up to the trunk and thought a while before seeing the futility of that operation.

Did they give up? No! The good samaritan lady opened the back door of her car. The subcompact car. You guessed it: they tried to get the scooter into the back seat. Again, only the front wheel would go, but they tried for a few minutes. It was truly comical, and they were laughing too by the end. Especially when he gave the scooter one more kick and the engine started, to everyone's relief.

And finally, as I left town on Monday morning on the country road that lets me escape from the four-lane road, I saw the cop from the store stopped in the road ahead. A cow ran out of the woods on one side of the road and down a gully on the other side. The cop got back in his car and we all headed off, in a slightly better mood, into the misty morning mountains.

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