The Man Who Sold Sugar Cubes
by Ásgrímur Hartmannsson
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
In the morning he woke up from fuzzy dreams in a rather fuzzy state. He felt almost as if he were full of cotton. He looked at the clock. It had five minuted before the buzzer went off. But, fuzzy as he was, Dave was still wide awake.
He couldn’t taste his breakfast. That was no problem. Everything was painless now. Even his parasite. He checked it before he put his pants on, and it was still there, writhing as usual. That thing had stopped creeping him out as it used to.
So off he went to work. The bus dropped him off, as usual, near the place, and he walked in as casually as he could.
The receptionist noticed him. “Hello again. You’re early. Oh... you look awful. Are sure you’re quite well again?”
“Oh yes,” said Dave, truthfully as far as he could tell, as he was feeling fantastic.
“But you are so pale.”
“I’ll be fine after my morning cup.”
“Oh! You’ll have to make some, they didn’t ready the maker when they left yesterday.”
“I know,” said Dave.
He knew. They never readied the coffee-maker. That was why he was early. He got the machine, and put the spiked sugar cubes into the container, then just went about it as usual, making some morning coffee.
And he had hardly started it going when the next co-worker showed up.
“Ah, you’re here,” he said when he saw Dave.
“I’m just making the coffee.”
The man gave Dave a look, like there was something about Dave he didn’t like, but didn’t want to say anything.
Dave knew full well how he looked. He wasn’t blind. He’d seen he was rather grey and haggard, but he did feel fine. So he represented his well-being with a polite smile.
More of his co-workers arrived before the coffee had finished brewing, and the day was formally started. When twenty minutes had passed, everybody had come into touch with the divinity.
“Wow, man, this coffee is great!” said one.
“Have you noticed how vivid the colours are today?” said another.
“I feel this is the greatest day in months,” said the third.
Dave smiled to himself as he heard these reviews. Now he knew the stuff worked even when diluted in coffee. Now he knew it could be soaked in warm stuff. Now, for him, it was just a question of finding a dealer.
The next pot of coffee was nowhere near as awesome as the first one, but it didn’t matter; the high lasted for a long time. The day was easy, and Dave returned home reasonably happy, if somewhat less fuzzy than he had been when he woke up. He figured the fuzzy feeling must be withdrawal symptoms. If that was all, he had stumbled upon the best drug in the world.
* * *
Finding a dealer, now that was a bit of an issue. He didn’t know any drug users, which he could then politely ask about this. A friend of his had told him once that just politely asking about these things would work.
But how to work that into a conversation? “Hey Bob, I’ve noticed that you’re a drug user. Could you take me to your dealer, I’d much like to meet him.”
Dave figured that would lead to some awkward staring. He gave it some more thought. The only knowledge about drug addicts and their behavior came from the media, and that one friend of his, and what his friend told him was completely at odds with what the media said at all points.
They did agree on one point: musicians liked their dope. Dave figured that all he needed to do was to find a musician, and either ask him outright or hang out with him a while. That should be easy enough.
So he made a plan to go out next Friday, and find some place that had live music, and have a chat with the performers. In the meantime. he could gather more of that stuff that kept leaking from him.
The very next weekend, Dave took to the town. He was roaming around, looking for a live performance, when he happened to spot a couple of shady-looking fellows in an alley. He approached them. They saw him coming, but didn’t run. Dave’s very unpoliceman-like limp gave him away at first. When he was within visible range, one of them addressed him:
“Hey man. You new here, aren’t you?”
Dave was a bit surprised and gave him a sideways look but kept closing in.
“Who sent you?” he asked Dave.
“How you know?”
“I just know. You interested in some?”
“Man, I only got this stuff,” said the man, and flashed him a small bag full of something that looked like it had been randomly cut off a tree.
Dave grinned. He’d stumbled upon what he needed. The other guy quietly made his exit.
“No man, you misunderstand. I’m selling.”
“Man, my turf man. We can’t both occupy the same area...”
“No, you misunderstand again. I want to sell to you specifically. Or better yet, the guy you are working for.”
“Do we really want to talk about that here?”
“Okay man. But still, we need to sample whatever it is you are making.”
“It’s no problem,” said Dave, and produced a sugarcube he had wrapped into a caramel wrapper.
The dealer took it.
“Is this acid?”
“Tell you the absolute truth I have no idea what it is. But have a lot of it, and it is very potent.”
“And you just go around selling stuff you have no idea what is?”
“Yes. I knew you’d understand,” Dave said and grinned.
“And you have been taking this yourself?” said the dealer, now looking at Dave more closely, examining him, and Dave became very aware of how he looked the last time he saw himself in the mirror: grey, haggard and sickly.
“Yes. For my pain. I have some... something. Flu or cancer or whatever. I need it.”
The dealer chuckled. “I’ll call someone who’s into this sort of thing. Me, I stick with grass. Because it’s herbal, you know. Good for you.”
Dave chuckled. The dealer got out his cell and sent a message. He got a reply a few seconds later.
“We’ll have to go to another location. It’s not far. And try to look casual, we’re not doing anything illegal, you know.”
Dave nodded, and they walked off, but slowly. The next place was an open square where some people were milling about. There was a van there serving waffles to those interested in such things. They decided to have a waffle while they waited.
“So that stuff doesn’t interfere with your appetite?” asked the dealer.
“No. It just makes the world look all shiny and hi-def.”
Soon a man appeared and made himself noticed.
“Ah! Pete!” said the dealer, “This is Dave, he has something for you to try out.”
Pete looked kind of skittish and uneasy, but he forced a grin at Dave, who calmly smiled back.
“Pete here tries all new products that happen our way,” explained the dealer, “most of the time it’s the same old, but often we get stuff that doesn’t do anything, and we wouldn’t want to go around selling that, now would we?”
“I guess not,” said Dave, and dug the sugarcube from his pocket.
“What is it this time?” asked Pete.
“Something brand new, the man says,” answered the dealer, and Dave handed him the cube, all nice and wrapped.
Pete picked it up fom Dave’s hand and examined it.
“Looks like a coloured sugar cube.”
He licked it, then put the whole thing in his mouth. It began taking effect almost immediately. Pete stopped fidgeting, and took on a very calm demeanor.
“How is it?” asked the dealer.
“Wow, man...” said Pete, looking at him like he was far away himself.
“Ohh, but better.”
“Do you have some more of that stuff?” the dealer asked Dave.
Dave grinned and handed him another sugar cube, wrapped in paper. The dealer bit it in half and wrapped the rest in again.
“Wow, you are right, this is the stuff, man...” He looked at Dave, “how much do you have of this?”
“Enough, for now.”
“I can sell this. I’ll give you 2K for each cube like that.”
“Give me your number and I’ll be in touch tomorrow.”
And Dave watched as the dealer and Pete as if floated away on a pink cloud, slow, at ease, seeing things more than they had seen them before. He contended himself with licking one of the cubes a little, to stave away the pain.
* * *
He could feel tendrils wriggling about around his thigh bone, boring into it, through it, into the marrow. At times he felt as if his thigh was filled with writhing spaghetti. There were tendrils in his pelvis, exploring. But he cared little about such trifles.
He went home. Home to sleep, home to gather some more black gunk. The black gunk went into a cup, covered with cellophane and into the refrigerator.
He spent a half hour after breakfast in having some sugar cubes absorb the stuff, and wrapping the cubes in cellophane. Then he called the dealer.
When he was off the phone with him, the thought struck him that he really needed a car. He found an old Skoda Octavia for cheap on the Internet, and bought that later that day for the cash he got for the spiked sugar cubes. Well... some of it. He got a lot of cash, and it was a cheap car.
Dave dropped the clutch when he was test-driving it. “Sorry, I’ve had an automatic for five years. Out of practice...”
The seller was a bit surprised, but let it slide. This guy had cash, and he needed to get rid of that car.
The car was basically solid, although not all the windows could roll down. Some rust issue, the seller told him. And the brakes would need to be checked at some not too distant future date. Nothing to worry about at low speed, but the car did veer a bit to the left when braked hard at higher speeds.
Still, you get what you pay for, and for what he paid for it, it was great.
* * *
He next day his co-workers were surprised to see him show up in a car. “You have a car? I didn’t even know you had a license,” said one.
“You don’t need a licence to buy a car,” said Dave.
“But you do have a licence, don’t you?”
Dave grinned. He didn’t. He hadn’t even bothered insuring the thing. “Sure I do,” he lied. He figured he’d just drive very carefully. And not much at night. The police are fond of randomly stopping cars at night to see if the driver is drunk. And he was a bit out of it these days.
Dave found himself wondering wether the worm-gunk could be tested for. He knew nothing about it but where it came from and what short-term effect it had on him. That could be a well-known substance for all he knew.
* * *
Copyright © 2016 by Asgrimur Hartmannsson