Pulling up outside the windows, I give them time to note my car. Otherwise they won't open the door. A girl walks by sucking a cigarette. Gnomish beanie, lurid skirt and bad deportment.
I bro-shake Kango in the tiny hallway of the system-built house.
"Seven pm as promised!"
"Yeah man. I said to Chelsea, who the fuck? She's like, it's yourself! Go on through, brother."
The living room is cluttered like the vestibule. Mad junk and salvage. I sit next to a small generator unit. Spark-plug ceramic gleams like exposed bone.
"How are you, Chelsea? You look better."
She doesn't, especially with that old-lady lap-blanket. I tune out the latest health report while nodding in sympathy. Kango sits and lights a joint. In under a minute he hands it on and leaps to his feet, swigging a beer and moving around.
I tell them I was in town and how hard it was not to score heroin.
"Supermarket asked, want cash-back on your card? I'm like, errr...better not. You know?"
"Good for you!"
We're all mostly clean but they're patients with crazy scripts. I'm here because I'm not.
We talk about things. Kango returns from the kitchen with a foot-long skewer. He has an empty plastic Coke bottle, explaining it's going to be a fuel tank for the ravaged generator. Goes into complicated technical details. Suddenly he jumps up swearing. The skewer went through the lid and into his hand. Was anything more predictable?
He accepts commiserations then asks what I want. I try various ways of pronouncing 'Lyrica'.
"The ones you gave me last week. Like gabapentin?"
"Pregabalin! Yeah, let's see if any's left."
Kango scoots upstairs, returning with a huge drawer filled with boxes and blister-packs and pill-bottles. Rummaging through it, he recites names and effects of the stuff. An anecdote about Mogadon, ending with Chelsea being carried home. No pregabalin.
"Nevermind, we'll get more. Dude's got so much. Bags of tablets, temazepam and shit. Tells me help myself. Get his number, Chelsea."
Kango leaves the room to phone, then returns mocking the fellow's feeble voice. But it's on. Glugging down his beer, Kango explains we should leave soon. The supplier may suffer delirium tremens and forget we're coming. He could pass out again. As we leave, the couple kiss. She embraces him like a hero going to battle, not popping out to leech some wretch.
Music plays when I start up the car. Kango blurts something about Johnny Cash.
"Mark Lanegan. But yeah, junkies make good songs."
"Oh man, you got music. Could you get me some sounds?"
"Sure. Give me an MP3 player sometime."
Never happen. Kango starts singing The Needle and the Damage Done. I help with the lyrics.
"Neil Young! Do you have it, man?"
"Only on tape. Fuck that."
Kango's a fabulist. Pitiful kid, loves unfocused lies, incoherent fantasy narratives. During the journey, a bizarre story meanders like a drunk's piss-trail, pure unfiltered nonsense. Something about a motorbike lent by the pill-man, or repo'd, or traded for pills. A Honda CBR 600 racer becomes a 1000cc tourer. Stripped and rebuilt, lighter bolts reducing weight. Crazy quick, beyond fucked-up. Kango went joyriding, pulled a wheelie going sixty. Rear tyre burned down to rims. Other characters joined the action, motorcycle pros who couldn't watch. The police were called but Kango fooled them. They checked the wheel and it wasn't hot. The brake shoes were cunningly removed.
I had to approve, although it didn't happen. Whatever. It's like being back in the school playground. At least enduring this shit now serves a higher purpose. The purpose of higher.
Kango goes in and returns clutching a handful of capsule strips. Lyrica 100s, all chopped up in seemingly random ways. I nod.
"Nice, more than I thought."
"Told you. Good stuff regular. Mazies, Co-cos, zolps, whatever. Had to leave the Libriums, he needs them."
"Coming off booze?"
"Yeah, wrecked. I look after him, like. He was with my mother. She fucked him up, so I feel responsible."
After a long story about being wasted and mistaken for suicidal, Kango talks med tech.
"What you do is mix the pregabalin with Tramadol hundred-milligram slow-release. I'll give you some."
"It's cool, I've got Tram fifties."
"Naw, you need the hundreds. The interaction defeats the slow-release. Our drug counsellor told us."
I know the counsellor. We at least agree he's a dick.
We discuss neuro-pharmacology. Neither knows what he's talking about but we're soon back. Kango counts the capsules twice.
"Seventy-three. Ah, what will you give us for 'em, man?"
"I'll drive to mine for some diazepam fives, okay? See you soon."
Back home, I just want to chill and take pills. But I set to stash stock-sorting. As I thought, Cargo under-counted the Lyrica. Also, the street price is like half the official pharmacy price. Nobody pays for meds here, they don't care. So I'm quite happy. I read that pregabalin is like gabapentin with the side effects left in. Fair description.
Outside their house, Kango bounds out when I sound the horn. I forget how many downers were promised. I give him whatever, saying keep the change. He smiles, delighted, then abruptly leaves the car.
Returning from the house, he drops four white capsules in my hand. They're stamped T100SL like a Mercedes Benz.