We headed straight for the pharmacy down the street, which was only about twelve blocks away from the apartment. Liam said he had been standing there when someone threw a brick through the window. He went in after them, grabbing whatever he could with his limited knowledge of pharmaceuticals and their mysterious names. We had to hurry back there because it would not be long before the pharmacy’s shelves were bare.
When we got to the pharmacy, it was dark inside, like all the other buildings. This pharmacy had intrigued me since I moved to New Orleans. I always thought it looked like a place where you could get a fake prescription for anything you wanted.
I had been into this pharmacy many times in the past few years since I moved to the Treme. I often met the dope man a block from there, and I always stopped and called him from the payphone that stood on the side of the pharmacy. I went inside any day that I had an extra dollar or two and bought a cold Coca-Cola. There is nothing quite like a cold Coca-Cola on a humid New Orleans day. The pharmacy was raised up from the rest of the store, behind Plexiglas in the back. In the front was a convenience store big enough to have couple of aisles of groceries as well as a couple of well-stocked tall coolers with sliding glass doors. It always smelled funny in there, like old chemicals, like stale medicine. Sterile, yet rotten to the core.
We cautiously looked both ways, making sure no one saw us as we pulled open the door, forcing its weight against the resistance of the water. It was really dark when the door shut behind us, and I groped around, unaware of what lay directly in front of me. We floated a large, empty plastic cooler on top of the water. We had not thought to bring a flashlight, but Liam found a box with a couple of lighters that was still dry. He held one up to light our way with the flame flickering only slightly in the still air. All kinds of trash floated around. It looked like people had been devouring snacks and drinks in here, discarding the wrappers and bottles in their haste.
We climbed up, almost out of the water, and onto the platform that held the pharmacy. The raised floor behind the Plexiglas still had at least two inches of water. The water sloshed under our feet as we tried to be quiet. Slish, slosh. Slish, slosh. Slish, slosh. Several rows of those cheap, white metal shelves held pills, and liquids, and powders sitting neatly in lines. Bottles floated in those inches of water, but I did not bother with those.
Liam held the open flame up so I could read the labels. Quickly, I turned the bottles around to see what sweet treat hid inside. Making quick decisions, I pulled nearly every third bottle into the cooler. Still it seemed like an eternity, I nervously searched through those shelves. If any authorities came in, we would be cornered. Not that we had seen any authorities, but this was New Orleans…there had to be some cops somewhere doing some fucked-up shit!
With the he cooler was nearly full of drugs, we began our escape. Just before we stepped down from the pharmacy, I noticed some bottles and boxes below the empty open cash register. I just pulled them all into the cooler without looking. I retrieved a big one from the water that had fallen out of the overflowing cooler. I held it tightly in my hand. No one was in sight, so Liam and I ducked out.
Back in the sun’s light, I looked down at my hand. I held a huge bottle of Tylenol with Codeine, quantity 1000 count. It felt mostly full. We made a beeline back to the apartment to sort through the stolen treasure in the dark before our friends saw the pirated booty. A junky always keeps most for himself.
The cooler overflowed with bottles and boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Fentanyl patches in 100mg, 50 mg, and 25mg. Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin. Haloperidol in liquid and pills; 2mg, 4mg, 10mg, and 25 mg. Seroquel, Trazedone, Thorazine, and Lamictal. Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Dilaudid, and Phenergan with Codeine Cough Syrup. It truly was a glorious sight. I thought with this shit, I would never be dope sick again.
We stashed pills all over and then proceeded to get high. We covered our legs with little Fentanyl patches, ate handfuls of pills, and cut open the big Fentanyl patches shooting up the gel-like liquid that lay waiting inside. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin. Oh my fucking god. I had an orgasm right there; shaking and twisting from involuntary pleasure before I could even take the needle out of my arm.