Cassius sat on the dirt stained carpet inside his one-bedroom apartment, his back propped up against the wall. His eyes rolled back down from his head and the blurriness faded back into focus. He groggily looked around at his dingy living situation and choked back tears. Cassius looked at his left forearm and peeled back a yellow tinted square patch about the size of a postage stamp from his skin. He examined the red burned patch of skin it left behind and tossed it on to the floor next to him atop a pile of old patches.
Cassius reached into his jeans pockets, pulled out a small metallic box and opened it. Empty. Cassius threw the box across the room and let out an anger filled scream. He rose to his feet, tears running down his cheeks and ran over to his dresser. He searched through tattered clothes until he pulled out a couple of crumpled bills. A smile flashed across his face.
“Twenty-two dollars. Perfect, just enough for one more hit until I get paid,” said Cassius out loud.
These small, yellow tinted tabs went by the street name “Meen” and were becoming the number one narcotic choice of both the rich and poor alike. The small tab was peeled from its adhesive backing and placed upon the user’s skin. The bottom layer of the tab would stick to the skin and dissolve through the pores and enter the bloodstream. This is when the synthetic dopamine would rush through every one of the user’s senses and create a state of euphoria, a state of ignorant bliss. The problem with this was that the more you used Meen, the less your body would produce it naturally leaving the user needing more and more hits to feel anything resembling happiness.
Cassius ran downstairs and jumped on of his bicycle. 4 minutes later and 2 blocks over he was knocking on the window of his current dealer.
“Who the hell is there?!” asked Dank, the friendly neighborhood Meen dealer.
“Hey man, it’s me Cassius. Let me get one tab and I’ll get out of here,” said Cassius.
“I told you don’t come around this house this late. It’s 1 in the morning! Are you crazy?! You didn’t hit me up on the phone before either. Get your ass out of here. You pull this shit again, I’m cutting you off,” said Dank.
“I’m already here just let me buy one and I’ll leave man. C’mon!” pleaded Cassius while he tried fighting back tears.
Dank closed the curtain and silenced followed. Cassius crouched down and placed his arms around his knees. He started to cry uncontrollably as he felt sadness flooding through his veins. Cassius was coming down harder than he ever had. He just wanted to be happy, why was that so hard for Dank to understand?
Cassius got rose to his feet and slapped an open palm against Dank’s window repeatedly.
“Open the window Dank! I have money!” screamed Cassius.
An arm slowly reached through the closed curtain, opened the window, and went back through the curtain.
“Thank you Dank!” said Cassius feeling hope within reach.
The arm quickly reappeared with a pistol pointed at Cassius. “I told you to get the hell out of here. If I ever see you again you’re done,” said Dank.
Cassius quickly turned around to run away and stumbled to the ground trying to catch his footing as the pistol disappeared back into the open window. Cassius made it back to his bicycle and pedaled away furiously. He couldn’t believe Dank was being so unreasonable. Cassius made it back to his apartment and slammed the door. He would have to wait until morning to get his fix.
An hour had gone by as Cassius paced back and forth inside his cramped apartment nervously contemplating his next move. A musky white tee shirt clung to his sweat kissed skin. He muttered nonsense to himself out loud as every second that passed by he felt himself slip deeper into an unwanted state of depression. He raised his right hand to slap the side of his face in order to snap out of this sober induced state. Cassius knew if he didn’t concentrate his mind on something else this feeling of emptiness would consume him whole until he acquired his next fix.
As he pulled his right hand away from his throbbing cheek he noticed blood covered his fingertips.
“Damn it not again!” he screamed in a fit of rage.
Cassius walked over to the bathroom mirror to see if he had cut his lip, like he had done on several occasions before, while being too generous with the slap he gave himself. As he reached up with his left hand to close the medicine cabinet door in order to access the mirror he saw where the blood had originated from. He had been scratching away at all the burned Meen patches that had taken over his left arm to the point where he was bleeding. In his obsession with attaining another hit he had subconsciously been scratching away at the itch that lived within each burn left behind by the patches. He needed another fix. Now. Dank was going to have to deal with it.
Cassius made his way over to Dank’s house determined not to take no for an answer this time. He ran up to Dank’s window and softly knocked on it.
“Hey Dank it’s me again. I can’t sleep man, I can’t even think. I promise this is the last time I pull this stunt, just let me get one hit. Please Dank,” said Cassius. Cassius heard someone moving just beyond the closed curtain and window.
“BRO! I TOLD YOU TO GO AWAY!” screamed Dank as he ripped open the window.
Dank aimed the pistol at Cassius who closed his eyes and lunged towards Dank’s extended arm. Cassius grabbed a hold of Dank’s arm and with his momentum fell forward into Dank’s bedroom through the open window. A struggle could be heard from outside the house walls. Two gunshots pierced through the quiet neighborhood.
A light in Dank’s neighbors house turned on and an older woman in a bathrobe peeked through the window adjacent to Dank’s open window. She was on the phone as she cautiously looked over to the window across from hers. There was no longer any noise, any movement at all coming from the bedroom beyond the open window.
A short time later the front walls of Dank’s house danced between flashes of red and blue. The cops knocked on the front door but no one answered or acknowledged them. They carefully paired off and went around opposite sides of the house. Orlando and Rucks were the ones that made contact with the open window first.
“Hello? Is there anyone in the house? We need you to come out with your hands out!” shouted Orlando.
There was no response from inside the pitch black bedroom. Orlando and Rucks looked at each other nervously. Rucks motioned for Orlando to cover him while he entered the residence first. Rucks placed one leg over the windowsill after the other and aimed his flashlight and gun around the room scanning the immediate area.
“Orlando, get in here now!” shouted Rucks while frozen in place.
Orlando rushed through the open window and looked towards where Ruck’s flashlight was trained. They saw Dank laying in a pool of blood in the middle of the bedroom with a gunshot wound to the neck. Sitting on the floor against the far side of the bedroom was Cassius with a bullet wound to his abdomen, a giant smile plastered across his face, eyes rolled into his head, and an arm covered in Meen patches.
“I guess some people would do anything for a hit of happiness,” said Rucks.