Petrolandia – A Mighty Combination
“I am on a mighty combination of heroin and speed,” the kid said, licking his lips as an older guy walked in past him and made a beeline for the coffee. “And I need Prime Time.”
Prime Time was a cheap brand of flavored cigarillos that someone somewhere had sponsored, making them all the rage among pseudo-rebellious white, Persian, and native teens and kids in their early twenties. As cheap cigars go, I appreciated the way the stench of them drowned out the body spray so many of those kids drenched themselves in.
“You have ID?”
“You can trust me,” he said, words slurring and eyes watery, his smile like an oil spill as his wallet slithered out of his jeans. “It’s people who smoke Belmont you can’t trust.”
I checked his identification, staring at him, curiosity getting the better of me.
“They’re called Belmont Mild,” he said, grin exposing yellow teeth in a conspiratorial whisper. “But is there any other kind?”
There was not.
“I think it’s supposed to advertise their flavor,” someone else said. “Like, it goes down smooth.”
“The smoke?” the kid said, then laughed. “Yeah, like, if you want flavor you smoke what I’m smoking. It’s just another way they’re lying to you.”
“Or it only gives you mild cancer,” I said.
“Yeah,” the kid’s nod was a tidal movement, overdone and slow. “Who doesn’t want to choose a flavor for their cancer?”
“Flavored cancer is the best cancer,” I agreed. “What flavor you want?”
He considered his options with more care than I would have thought him capable of, but finally settled on grape. He bought four of them, offering one to me and the other to the other guy.
“Thanks, but I don’t smoke,” I said.
“You might change your mind,” he said, “This is the kind of shit that makes you change your mind.”
“Is that the heroin or the speed talking?” I asked.
“It is Prime Time, baby, yeah,” the kid drawled.
The other guy looked at his and then put it on the counter.
“I’d like to return this, then use the money to nab a pack of king-size Belmont,” quoth he, looking at the kid.
“Why you gotta go and do that for?” the kid asked.
“Because I’m an adult,” the other guy answered, “not a child.”
I got his cigarettes and charged him for his coffee and smokes.
“Also, heroin and speed?” the other guy said. “What are you, five?”
“The heroin takes the edge off,” the kid whined. “Why? What do you do?”
“Cocaine when I’m working, weed when I’m not,” the other guy said. “Coffee and cigarettes to transition. Nice and smooth. You might even call it mild.”
“Yeah, maybe, but that’s why you look so old,” the kid said.
“I,” I said, followed by, “What?”
“Heroin and speed have a lower calorie count,” the kid explained, then flexed his arms. “I bench one-twenty. What’re your gains?”
“Twelve percent last quarter,” the guy snapped. The kid looked clueless.
“I think you’re talking about different things,” I said. The man left the store, lit a cigarette on the way to his car and then headed west. The kid left a couple minutes later, asking only that I light his Prime Time before he hopped back in his car and headed north.
After they left I went back to my book. Eventually, despite myself, I checked the box of both Belmont and Prime Time for calorie information.
There was nothing to be found.