Cough syrup


On my way home I decide to buy a bottle of cough syrup. An old woman taught me this trick. She’s 78, one of the old beats, but there is still a sparkle in her eye and mischief in her smile. She still likes adventures even though age has limited them. Says, the syrup puts her in a kind of trance which makes the long ago seem now. Well, God bless her.

I stop at a CVS go in and find the cough syrup section under a sign that reads Cough. What I am looking for will have a high content of antihistamines which results in a long, nod factor. Drink a bottle, smoke some good weed on top of it and you go on a nod of 2 -4 hours. It is a hypnotic groove. Head bobbing on my chest, eyes heavy lidded. That state between wakefulness and sleep that allows you to float between reality and dreams. I pick up a bottle and read the label, a contentious consumer. No, this will not do because it contains acetaminophen might blow my liver at the dosage I am going to take. I rummage about the shelves until I see what I want. It is my lucky day; there is a two for the price of one sale. Outstanding, I saunter with my purchase to the check-out, a senior intent on buying medicine for his night time cough.

There is a mother and child ahead of me. The little boy clutches at the front of her jeans and looks back at me. Something about me must amuse him because he starts to giggle and drool into his mother’s shirt tails. The mother turns back to see what is holding her son so rapt. She looks me over.

“You remind him of his grandfather, he’s lean like you,” she says. Pavlov’s dog, I think, cute kid though.

”Cute kid.” I say.

“Ya right.” She says.

“Really, kids are great,” I say and they are. She is in one of the best times in her life and she does not see it. It is a time of beginnings and flexibility. She pays and drags her son toward the doors in a bubble of seemingly endless time.

I place my stuff on the counter in front of one of those generic, short and perky girls. There must be factory somewhere where they turn them out according to need.

“Sir…I need your birth date.”

Birth date. She needs my birth date?

I say,” What?”

“Your birth date. I have to ask if your over ‘40.”

“To buy a bottle of cough syrup.”

“Kids try to buy it for a cheap high”

Resourceful kids I think. I say, “Jesus. That is really stupid behavior… but thanks for thinking I’m under ’40.”

“Oh, I didn’t think that.” I am a little disappointed at the fact that I still don’t look under 40. Denial is a wonderful thing. I wonder what she would think if she knew I was going to do a bad kid thing, the geezer with the heart of a child. She must see disappointment in my face because she says;” I don’t mean you look old or anything.”


“Tell you what, I’ll just make up a date for you.” she says, giving me her best perky smile. “Would you like a bag for that?”

“Yes please,” One should have some propriety in these matters.

When I get home I roll a fat boy and open the cough syrup. I use the dispenser cup like a shot glass and knock back six quick pours. Then I fire the fat boy and continue in a more leisurely fashion. I finish the bottle and decide to add a valium to the cocktail. By the time I get to my bed I am already a little wobbly. I plump the pillows; put my back against the headboard with my legs stretched out on the bed. The line between sleep and wakeful starts to blur, the head nods, lids droop. I am in a peaceful place. It is the limbo of the in-between; I am part of the warp and weave of time. Actually I am just stoned but in a very pleasant way. It is magical how one is able to swim between wakefulness and sleep.

Like an aging Little Nemo, I set sail through my memories pausing here and there to remember long ago conversations and events. The fact that I am in dire straits financially is forgotten for the moment … it’s all good.






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