by John Parker
Second Place winner, Fiction, Arlington County Detention Facility/Heard/OAR writing contest, October 2023
(handwritten story follows typed story)
“We’re rich, Sugarbutt”, Johnny said as he lit up a half-smoked Lucky Strike that was found laying on the windowsill along with the rest of the butts. It was early on a Saturday morning and Johnny was wide awake with anticipation. The thought of having sixty thousand dollars come Monday morning had the gears in his junkie mind grinding overtime. Smoking crack pretty much consumed his life on a daily basis since about two weeks into his relationship with Melissa. What began as a typical beach romance quickly turned into Bobby and Whitney reincarnated.
When it came to the drug life, Melissa was greener than Leprechaun piss. A single mom living on an Army pension meets a strung-out ex-con. The closest she had ever come to the world Johnny introduced her to was watching Boyz-in-the-hood. But Johnny managed to fast track her education and in no time, she could have graduated with a masters in rock-o-lo-gy. It was a toxic relationship. But they didn’t just fight hard, they loved hard too. Like a river that runs through the forest … nice to look at but beneath the surface there was a hostile undercurrent that quickly pulled you under and drug you away.
And that’s exactly what happened. There was no telling when or even if they would resurface. “Two more days, Sugar, and we are going on a road trip that’s gonna make National Lampoon’s Vacation look like an episode of the Travel Channel. I say we head down to Florida first and get some of that Pablo Escobar Grade A shit and then head up to see your Dad in Indiana.” Johnny had a way with words and although this adventure wasn’t going to be anything other than a crack house on wheels, he could make it sound like it was all about his Babydoll and what was best for her. “You haven’t seen him in a long time, Sugar, and he’s only gettin’ older. Might be a good idea to pay him a visit just in case you don’t get another chance.” That piece of advice would turn out to be the best advice Johnny would ever give her. One month after their visit to see him, her dad passed away.
“Dammit, Johnny, what sense does it make if we’re leaving South Carolina and going to Indiana, that we drive all the way to Florida first? All you care about is getting high, and I hope you don’t think we are just gonna smoke all that money up? I need to fix our credit that you destroyed and find us a place to live.” said Melissa.
“I destroyed,” Johnny replied. “You mean WE destroyed. You been suckin’ that glass dick like the female version of Rick James.”
Melissa didn’t have a leg to stand on when it came to that point of reason, but at this moment it didn’t matter who was right. It was Melissa who was getting the money and Johnny made sure to remember that.
Melissa stepped out onto the front porch where Johnny was sitting. She lit her cigarette from the short he was smoking and sat down on his lap. The whole situation was bittersweet for her. Though it ended up being a financially good move to sell the house, it was the reasons why she had to sell that hurt. This chapter of their Rockstar Romance was over. Hopefully the next chapter would be better. They had no way of knowing what was in store, but they were ready and had sixty thousand dollars to get there.
Their first stop: the dope man.