It’s 6pm and purple hue is about to grasp the horizon, in some ways closing the door on the day and hurrying your exploits. Your blood pumps painfully sober around your body, made all the more unbearable by the familiar loneliness that punctuates these times. You try not to think about those better prepared, already enjoying the hazy embrace of lemon-tinted herb to the tones of their favourite mixtape. Others have different vices – bodies better cushioned by belated bevvies or the simple hypnotism of Hollyoaks. Unburdened by the grind of which you’re subject, it’s best to not consider them at all.
In fact, you’ve already tried Moz and Raz, and both of them are out – the equivalent of a newsagents being woefully unable to provide news. Waved off with a sighing “no probs”, you move to pastures potentially greener; maybe Kenno, the American illegal immigrant, is still available. A fair trek from your homestead, you remember it’s often worth it. His home cooking always smells as appetising as his wares after all, a sign of culture and appreciation not present in his British street-brethren (to whom a reheated “chinky” would often suffice). Alas, his phone’s on silent and the search continues – now intensified by the paranoid entropy of uncertainty.
Onto social media it is then, as the aimless reams of your brain consider its similarity to the Borg.
“EH LADS!” you scream into the abyss, broken up into multiple messages to appropriate recipients, “ANY TOKE ABOUT THEN?”
The majority of them croon back a meek groan in the negative, annoyed yet understanding of your plight. Two stay silent, only increasing the bubbling worry within. Some YouTube clicking around ensues, but you don’t take in a single second of it as life becomes killing time. Finally,
“wat u after m8?” and all of your anxiety is lifted to a peak before dissipating into frantic typing and hoping.
It’s colder than it should be, but you rushed out without adequate clothing in fear of a lateness practically impossible to achieve. Being early is desirable at these times and you’re not even really sure where the Londis is, let alone what this bloke looks like. Google Maps has you on track, but you’ll have to remember the way you came – your battery’s at a sphincter-tightening 8% and you still need to receive his “here fella” text.
Ah! You came this way once when you were fifteen and following a clique. It escapes you why, but the roads have stood etched in your memory regardless. Sod the bloody phone then, you think, pocketing it with a smile and added bounce to your step. By the time you make it to the somehow warming lights of Londis, it becomes clear that you’ll have ten minutes to spare. That’s not too long a time for many things, but this instance is one of those situations where a single minute slows to an impossible crawl. Thinking the same idle missives about time being an illusion that you have for years, they fizzle into insignificance as your hand independently scans a pocket for treasure.
As usual, there’s nowhere comfortable to sit so it’s best to ride out the blisters and old shoes, pacing instead with genuine belief that it will hasten the digits on your phone’s clock. It’s now on 3% battery and he’s two minutes late. The anxiety returns, and you pace harder. People on the street know what you’re doing. Security watching the CCTV in Londis are probably finding you hilarious, but your mind whirrs worries that quickly build on one another and get louder. Five minutes late and you’re trying to play the beat to Idioteque on your thigh nervously. Eight minutes late and you start needing a piss. You check your phone. 1%. As you put it in your pocket you feel it vibrate and you just know,
The deal’s utter shite, but you prepared for that. It smells nice though, so at least you won’t have to spend the night convincing yourself of its quality. Of course, he couldn’t tick you another ten but you had to ask. The singular sixteenth of an ounce sits motionless in your inside pocket, but you still check with every other footstep that it’s still there. Half way through the journey its scent starts to permeate your jacket, surrounding you in an aura you’re sure passers-by can sense. The same double-edged sword as before strikes, but bigger – the genuine fear of lawful retribution hitting with the same power as your confidence in it being bangin’ bud.
Your phone’s life is well gone, but your own is back. Jolted by the thought of a crystalline evening ahead, the walk home is a more pleasurable one. It won’t be until you sit down and skin up that the disappointment will hit. Obliterating your short-term memory with a well-aimed bifta should alleviate that concern, however. The kettle boils as you unwrap it and survey its contents. Your nose is still pleased, but your eyes only count four joints at best. Conservation and rationing tactics kick in as you stir, planning what popular culture you’ll ingest first.
It feels almost as good to crumble into a well-constructed frame as it does to smoke, but your thoughts do flicker on and off point with some shame. How much of a problem is the dependency? Can it really be found in everyone, just at times expressed in healthier ways? You close up the bag with that satisfying click beneath your thumb and fingertip, and the first crutch of the night is ready. The lighter’s flame dances its way over to crackle the tip of your masterwork. It’ll all be gone by the end of the night, and you’ll have the same path ahead after a sprawled out sleep on filthy sheets. It’d be easier if it were legal, you tell yourself. Instantly questioning the truth of the statement, you reside to push it to the back of your mind. Everyone needs a structure. Everybody has a perspective.
It takes ten seconds for the active chemical to reach the correct receptors. When they do, in sufficient qualities, your perspective warps. Maybe it changes, perhaps it evolves. In any event, you push the pedal once more on the cycle with a puff and a wheeze. With dreams of a longer loop like the lucky, what true differences lie in the length of our circumferences, or the depth of our feedbags?