Public Key (xciv)

Nobody came to disturb me. Not the police, or what passed as police, but not Oakley either. I was alone, the rustling of seven-leaved plants my only company.

I didn’t boot my computer. I didn’t know if a running laptop produced emanations that could be picked up by an interested party. Perhaps I was being paranoid. Since I was still shaking from my last brush with everybody-out-to-get-me I didn’t much care.

I was jumping at every little noise. I was jumping at shadows. I found myself trying to hide among the plants. I will call it what it was: I found myself cowering, even though I was alone and the danger had passed. The ceiling seemed very low. The walls seemed very near. My breath seemed very fast. I wasn’t doing very well.

I covered myself in a blanket and closed my eyes and managed to get myself under control. Then I decided to take an excuse when it was presented to me. I liberated a cherry-sized nugget from Oakley’s curing box, and after spending half an hour failing to understand the functioning of a vaporizer I packed it into a pipe and gave it a lighter’s flame.

I have many clear memories of the next few hours. I’m quite sure none of them are true. Some of them are quite pleasant. But those especially I will keep to myself.

Suffice to say that I slept well that night. If it was night.

I woke up with a very dry and a very sore mouth. The former came about through simple alkaloid causality; I’m pretty sure the latter had something to do with the fact that I’d been chewing on my own cheeks for fun. I was lying naked in a pile of blankets and clothing and I’d eaten three boxes of cereal. I was a classic lightweight, had been since high school, but I couldn’t remember ever having been that high.

Oakley, I said aloud, you grow really good shit.

I rode the burnout through the morning, drinking hot-plate instant coffee and resisting the temptation to watch anime into oblivion. I felt relaxed. I felt like shit. I felt like I never wanted to get high again. I felt like that wasn’t too likely.

I heard footsteps upstairs, followed by Oakley’s knock on the vault door. A minute later he came down the stairs and I started breathing again.

He sniffed the air. You’re stoned, he said.

I was.

And?

Oakley, I said, you should really sell this stuff.

He smiled thinly. We had a little problem yesterday.

Cops, I said. Upstairs. I heard them.

He nodded sharply.

Do you want me to leave? I asked.

No. It’s safe. They’re gone.

What happened?

They came into my house, he said. They came into my FUCKING HOME. They rifled my things, they flipped my mattress and tossed my home and THEY CAME INTO MY FUCKING HOME.

I didn’t apologize. It wasn’t enough. Oakley, I said, there might be some time in my life where I’ll be able to repay you for all this. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Don’t worry about it.

No, I think I’ll-

It’s not just about you, he snapped. They came into my house, they interrogated my guests, they…

He sat down, and put his head in his hand.

I’m sorry, I said.

Shut up.

Okay.

I let the silence hang, while he came through.

Then: Sorry, he said.

It’s alright. And: How’s Hannah?

She’s fine. They asked her questions, she lied straight through. They couldn’t get a thing out of her.

I believed that.

We’ve got to get you out of here, Oakley said.

Yeah?

Tiisetso knows a few people in Butha-Buthe. They’ll say they saw you. It will get the heat off of me. While we do that we need to get you somewhere far away. I’m sorry, he said, but you can’t, you can’t stay here anymore.

I knew this was coming, and I told him so. It didn’t make it any easier to hear. But I knew it had to be done, and that made it as easy as it needed to be.

Any ideas? I asked.

A few, he said, not too convincingly. We could try sneaking you out of the country, or set you up under false papers at one of the other lodges. Maseru might be big enough you could get lost there. They’re all risky, he said, but you need-

Oakley, I said, I have an idea.

 

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~ by davekov on 19 March 2011.

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