I had to call George to bail me out because he was the only person I knew besides my parents who still had a landline. He agreed to put up the $5000 as long as I promised the let him take me to court. George was a good guy, despite his weird spanking fetish, and I would eventually end up living with him the last month and a half I was in Richmond. “Just wait until I tell you what happened” I said to George before hanging up the greasy pay phone and being escorted back to the holding cell. Two hours later I was free, and I made George take me to Rite Aid so I could pick up my Xanax refill.
The night before my early morning arrest had been spent with Charlie at the Crowne Plaza hotel in downtown Richmond. Paul and I had stayed there several times years ago, and I remembered liking their pillows. I couldn’t tell you exactly why Charlie chose that night come out to me as a closet meth smoker, but my assumption is that he had grown tired of having to hide it from me. It didn’t really matter because I already knew that he smoked meth. The first time I’d been in his house I had accused him of being on Adderall because of the way he was grinding his teeth and rummaging through drawers. He denied any drug use and told me I was being offensive, so I dropped it, but I knew I was right. Well, partially right, the “phetamine” part at least. My suspicions were confirmed the afternoon he went to see his mom at the hospital and I ransacked his bedroom. Under the bed I found a black luggage case that held at least 10 glass pipes that I quickly identified as meth smoking devices, even though I’d never done the drug, let alone seen it. If I’d seen it I would have done it, even though as a general rule I wasn’t a fan of uppers. I just never ran into meth.
I put the luggage back where I found it and kept the discovery on file in case I needed to win an argument with Charlie in the future. Nothing is more valuable than information, especially when it has the power to damage ego and reputation. I had almost forgotten about the information in my mental arsenal of weapons until that night at the Crowne Plaza. Once we were in the room and the drinks were poured he pulled two plastic rings from his pocket and put one in the palm of my artificially tanned hand. I studied it for a moment before slipping it on my finger, a habit that would prove dangerous a couple of months later. The ring featured a quartz crystal looking stone (made of plastic of course) that lit up in various neon colors when a switch was flipped on the back. “I’m going to let you try ice tonight” Charlie said in his irritating voice “and I wanted to get you something to remember it by”.
God, did he have to be so gay all of the time? I’m tempted to say “this is why I hate you”. Well, one of the reasons on a list that seemed to be growing each time we hung out, but I’m much too excited about getting to try methamphetamine to ruin the moment with irrelevant truth. “Thanks” I say brightly “let’s do it now”. Charlie makes a big show of showing me how to load the pipe and where to hold the flame. “Yeah, I get it” I say impatiently “drugs are kind of my thing remember?”. He hands me the pipe and I suck on it while holding the Bic to the glass. When I exhale, the smoke tastes acrid and burns my tongue. I feel a little sped up, but not amazing like I was expecting. Maybe I just need more. We both take a couple of more hits before Charlie lays back on the bed looking blissed out and content. Again, I think I have to be missing something, so I tell Charlie I’m going to take a few more hits so I can “get the full experience”. A few more heads turns into 50 , and Charlie, true to his proclivity for bizarre behavior, falls asleep with a smile on his face. I find where he stashed the bag of meth crystals and keep hitting the pipe even though I can no longer tell if I’m getting any higher.
I can’t stop looking out of the peephole in the door. I should have never started because I can only pull myself away for a few minutes before the need to perform hallways surveillance takes over. It looks like someone is slowly positioning a gun at the door from around the corner.It’s the police, I know it. When I see a similar gun emerge from another corner, I fall to the carpet and crawl on my hands and knees to the bathroom and curl into my a ball under the sink. I shut the bathroom door as quietly as I can and try not to breathe.Maybe the police won’t know I’m here, and they will just take Charlie. This is all his fault anyway. I rock slowly back-and-forth trying to comfort myself but it’s no use and the back of my T-shirt is drenched in sweat. I hear the hotel room door splinter as it’s cracked open and I can hear two men run past the bathroom door. Then I hear two gunshots, some yelling, and the sound of the people running back out of the room.
That couldn’t have been cops. Why the fuck would someone want to shoot an old businessman? I wait as long as my anxiety will let me before I emerge from the bathroom to check on Charlie in case the shooters hadn’t really left. I open the door slowly and peer towards the beds. No gunmen, and all I can see is Charlie’s bare feet. I shouldn’t look, I should just leave, but it’s 4:00 in the morning and my pills are in Charlie’s car.I walk out of the bathroom, treating the carpet like hot coals, cognizant of the barely perceptible sound of the bristles hitting my feet. I can finally see the bed where Charlie is lying. At first, I think he’s just asleep, but then I see the blood. The sheets look ty-died. There is so much blood. I open my mouth to yell but start gagging instead. I stumble-run-fall back to the bathroom, slam the door, and get back in my spot under the sink. I can’t believe he’s dead. Why is this happening to me? I’m in shock and I start crying. I have to call my mom. Fuck she’s not talking to me. I should call the police, I have to. I pick up my Galaxy and dial 911.
Operator: “what’s your emergency?”
“My friends been shot… I think he’s dead…you have to come help me.”
I start crying harder as the reality of of the situations sets in.
Operator: “Calm down sir, where are you at?”
I give her the hotel name and room number and press “end call” while she is still talking. What else does she need to know? Someone is dead.
I replay the bloody bed scene on a loop in my head while I cry and cry. “What if they think I killed him?”. Luckily, I’m far too paranoid to leave the safety of under the sink. It feels like hours, but in reality is probably 15 minutes, given the severity of my description to the 911 operator, before I hear pounding at the door and yelling. I then listen as someone fumbles with the chain from inside the room. “Oh my God, no, the shooters never left!”. There is going to be a shootout with the police, and I’m going to die. I try to cry as silently as possible, but little noises keep escaping. Then I hear Charlie’s voice, which has to just be the drugs, because Charlie is dead. Then the door opens to the bathroom and Charlie and two uniforms with guns stare down at me, sobbing beneath the sink. “Oh no, this is going to be bad”, I think, as the realization of what happened appears crystal clear in my giant pupils. I hallucinated the entire thing, obviously, since Charlie is standing half naked before me looking confused and furious.
They make me come out from under the sink, and I sit on the bed. I am in disbelief over what I’ve done and try to say as little as possible. Somehow Charlie convinces the police to leave without citing me for a fake 911 call. God only knows what he said to them because I’m barely listening, trapped in the loop of Charlie’s bloody body wrapped in stained sheets.How could that not have been real? He probably tells the officers that I am mentally unstable. Whatever, I’m just elated that he gets some to leave. Although, they do make me produce my Virginia ID, apparently to verify that I’m a real person. Alone with Charlie, I try to explain what happened, but hearing myself say it aloud, I realize how fucking crazy I sound. Charlie vacillates between being worried and being mad that I didn’t just wake him up. Eventually he agrees to forgive me if I just go to bed, so I lay in the second double bed and squeeze my vibrating limbs, trying to just breathe.
I’ve almost tricked myself into sleep when there is a banging on the door again. I can hear Charlie cursing as he gets up to answer it. It’s probably the hotel manager telling us we have to leave. Fuck, I can’t deal with anyone else tonight. When I see the uniforms back in the room I wish it was just a low level hotel employee. This can’t be good. They tell me to stand up and one of the uniforms handcuffs me while the other explains that I have a warrant in D.C. for a failure to appear. They actually apologize to me as they walk me downstairs. They must still think I’m insane because I’ve never had policemen treat me so cordially.