I let out my tenth and loudest sigh for the day following the web page visage before me stating my EBT benefits had not yet arrived and taunting me with its $0.99 balance. I mean, what the fuck can you buy for that much to hold you over for a whole day? I had no relatives around. At least not the ones I could reach out for help to.
I could count every dollar earned by giving plasma, counting each empty pack of cigarettes scattered across the floor. The chemical mind intruder was already gnawing at nerve endings and thoughts as I glanced at my current pack with only three left to last. I begin tapping the pack and staring at the wall, as if pretending the impending nicotine brain fog wasn’t stopping my thoughts.
It’s all fucking stressful, I think as I light one of three up.
I feel somewhat motivated after the chemically created barriers begin to temporarily unlock in my mind. I start trying to think positive. The first clear thought in mind was to go see my ex. She still owed me about twenty bucks. That’s enough for a couple double cheeseburgers and smokes to last a few days, you know?
There was no need to ring her in advance. After all, behind a phone they have time to make excuses. So without any notice I began walking out the front door of my apartment, heading down the stairwell to my car. In the car, I had to crank the motor over a few times to get it to start.
The gas gauge read E, but that’s nothing different from any other week of late. I still use it as a good enough reason to treat myself though. Besides I like a good smoke while I drive, it wards off the starting symptoms of road rage. Or at least that’s what I think as I pull out number two of three.
The drive was mundane and boring. The radio station cut in and out with static due to my broken antenna. The worst part was the red lights though. Today was just one of those days where they stopped me every chance they could. I kept calm though, keeping my focus on today’s score.
My drive ended at an apartment complex roughly twenty minutes from my original location. I exit the car and begin walking up to her house. The stress was already kicking in. That feeling of an elevated heart rate, the flashing of memories that could be the reason things don’t work out as they plan, the usual self-doubt, the curiosity of if she’s even home, and of course the single cylinder of tobacco jangling around the pack tucked inside my pants pocket.
Some of these worries fade out as my knock at the door is greeted by my ex’s face.
“What the hell do you want?” She says.
“I’m here about the twenty bucks you still owe me, Tina.”
She laughs, “Are you kidding me?”
I begin to say no as some irate hoodlum comes through the door.
“YOU GOT A PROB–,” he begins to say before eating a few teeth.
“As a matter of fact, I sure as shit do.” I return sarcastically, shaking blood off my knuckles.
Tina tries to slam the door to lock it quickly, but it is met my foot driving it back open.
I walk into the house, “Tina, you goddamn cunt – where is my money?”
“I…I…don’t have it,” she pleas.
After some investigation dumping out her purse, I found she wasn’t lying. So after a couple stupid bitches and cunts I found my way out the door before the 5-0’s possible arrival.
The drive was boring again. Hitting every red light until the car sputtered out as the carburetor inhaled the last fume. This time, I couldn’t help losing my shit. I began blasting the steering wheel with fists, sounding the horn with every melee.
I light my final smoke to collect some thoughts.
I sigh for the eleventh and loudest time today and reach into the glove box for my .45.
Across the street a suburban bank sat with an almost empty parking lot.