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Negative Space VII
Continuation of our Tuesday serial
from the fountain pen of Myra Love
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 Chapter VII

Bob Harmon was blessedly silent, and I closed my eyes, hoping I wouldn't throw up in his car. By the time he got me to my house I was feeling a little less queasy.
"I'd invite you in," I said, carefully extricating myself from the seatbelt, "but I don't think I can face anything but sleep."
"That's fine, Lisa," he replied in a kindly way. "I have to be heading home anyway My wife is waiting for me. I know this probably isn't the best time to tell you, but the pen club is having a small holiday party next Sunday. If you can manage to make it, please do. Everyone will be there, even Jason."
I smiled at him halfheartedly and opened the car door. "If I can, I certainly will," I replied, not at all sure I was telling the truth. Jason would probably have Diana with him at the party. And even if he didn't, I wasn't sure I really wanted to see him.
When I walked through the door to my house, my mother was about to leave for her night shift at the children's home. She glanced at me and said, "You look like hell, Lisa. Go to bed. I'll put dinner on the table before I go."
I didn't argue but headed right upstairs. However, once I was in bed, I couldn't sleep. My head still hurt and my stomach wasn't completely calm. Tossing and turning only made things worse, so I lay rigid for a couple of hours and then gave up. Although I'd followed Mrs. Amos' advice and taken two Tylenol, they hadn't helped at all. I got up and stumbled to the bathroom, hoping to find something that would ease my discomfort and allow me to sleep.
There was aspirin, but I knew better than to take that with an unsettled stomach. I searched through the medicine cabinet, and when I didn't find anything promising, I bent over and began to examine the contents of the cupboard under the sink. Bending over made me feel lightheaded, so I sat down on the cold floor and began to search.
After pushing aside another bottle of aspirin and a great assortment of razor blades, bargain shampoo, soap, and toothpaste, I came to a large-mouthed, brown bottle labeled "Crane's Digestive Salts." It looked old, so I picked it up, wondering if it was still good. It was surprisingly light for something that felt so full. I stood up with the bottle in hand and felt lightheaded all over again. So I sat down on the toilet seat and opened it. It was a good thing I was sitting down. Inside the bottle I found a plastic bag full of marijuana and a handful of rolled joints. I shook my head. Typical of Donald to keep her stash in the bathroom cupboard. When he was younger that's where he'd kept the comic books that he'd shoplifted.
I was ready to close the bottle, when it registered in my tired brain that there was something else in it besides the pot. I pulled out the baggie and my eyes nearly popped out of my head. There was a large roll of bills tucked in against the side of the bottle and a number of packets made of folded aluminum foil stacked in the bottom of the bottle. My first thought was that Donald was silly to be stowing his earnings from the paper route in with his stash, but when I pulled out the roll of bills and saw that all of them were in denominations of twenty dollars or more, I realized that I was not holding his paper route earnings. I placed the money back in the bottle and shook out a couple of the foil packets. The first one I opened contained a pile of powder. There was a scrap of white paper with something written on it in Donald's handwriting. I peered at it and read "Super K." Super K? I thought that was a breakfast cereal! No, that wasn't right either. Special K was the breakfast cereal. What the hell was Super K?
I rolled the packet back up and replaced it in the bottle. The next one I examined contained pills and a scrap of paper as well. This one had "GHB" scrawled on it. All the other packets had pills in them as well, some tablets and some capsules. Most of the names seemed to be in code and were unfamiliar to me, like "Cat" and "X." But then I saw a name I had heard or read somewhere: "Roofies." Roofies? Wasn't that the date rape drug? I felt my skin prickle and the hair stand up at the base of my skull. What was Donald up to?
Shivering I replaced all the aluminum packets in the bottle, covered them with the marijuana bag, put the top back on, and returned the bottle to its hiding place. Then I went back into my room and sat down on my bed.
It was almost midnight. I knew my father was asleep. I wouldn't have confided my find in him anyway. He was having a hard enough time with Donald's arrest for possession. There was an emergency phone number for the children's home, but I knew that this didn't qualify as that sort of emergency. Anyway, what could mom do if she knew? Race home and confront Donald? He never listened to her anyway. He barely paid any attention to dad. I thought hard for a few minutes, trying to come up with someone he did listen to but couldn't identify a solitary soul. Of course, since his arrest he'd been less blatantly rebellious, but his threat to shoot dad came back to me, and I wondered if it were time to call in the police.
The idea shocked me. Call the cops on my own brother? What was I thinking of? I stood up and paced. Maybe I should go into Donald's room and confront him myself. Wake him up if he was sleeping and show him the evidence.
I stood up and walked to the bathroom. The door was closed. I knocked, and Donald's voice called out, "Just a minute."
I waited far longer than a minute, but eventually he came out and brushed past me. I hesitated, trying to decide whether to follow him to his room or not. Confronting him, I thought, would do little good, unless I had the goods in hand. So I went into the bathroom and dug the bottle out from cupboard. Then I walked over to his room and knocked softly on the door.
"Hey, Donald," I whispered, "open up. We have to talk."
There was no response for the longest time. Then he opened the door and stuck his head through it. "I'm beat. Can't it wait?"
I held up the bottle, and he opened the door.
"What do you want?" he asked as soon as he'd shut the door behind me.
"What's going on, Donald? What is all this stuff? Are you using it?"
He snorted derisively. "What stuff?"
"All these pills and the powder in here."
"How should I know?" he countered.
"The packets are labeled in your handwriting," I snapped at him. "That's how you should know."
He glared at me. "Well, if the packets are labeled, why are you asking me what the stuff is. You can read."
I opened the bottle and poured the contents onto the floor. "If these aren't yours, you won't mind if I stomp on them and then sweep them into the trash, will you?" I stepped hard on one of the packets.
"Hey! Are you nuts?" he yelled and immediately fell to his hands and knees and started to pick up the packets. "This stuff is worth a lot of money."
He shoved the packets back into the bottle and then counted the money. "Well, at least you didn't take my cash," he mumbled, putting the money back in the bottle. "Or raid my stash of weed." He added the baggie to the bottle and closed it.
"Donald, what are you doing with those drugs?"
"Selling them," he said, glaring at me. "What about it?"
"You're a drug dealer?" I squealed.
He grabbed me and put his hand over my mouth. "Shut up, Lisa! If you want to talk with me, talk quietly."
I nodded and he let me go.
"I'm not a drug dealer," he whispered. "Drug dealers are guys who stand around on street corners and entice little kids to try heroin. I'm a middleman. Some of the really cool guys in my class get their stuff through me. It's not like I'm enticing anyone. I'm providing a service."
I snorted. "You're a drug dealer," I repeated, but more quietly. "And you're selling the date rape drug."
He rolled his eyes and shook his head. "You are so naïve. I am allowing people to buy substances that will help them relax and lower their inhibitions. That's all."
He sounded as if her were quoting someone.
"So who sold you that line And who's selling you the drugs?" I demanded.
"Look, Lisa," he said calmly, but I could see that his fists were balled. "I need to earn some money so I can have a decent time until I get out of here. And it wouldn't hurt if I could salt some of the green away to pay my way once I leave."
"You have your paper route. And you could get a job once you're a little older," I replied.
He shook his head. "Yeah, right. Do you know how many months it would take me to be earn from my paper route what I make selling this stuff in one week?" he demanded. "And I need to keep working to be able to afford my weed."
I shook my head. "You won't be able to smoke that in jail."
"I'm not going to jail," he growled. "I only got busted for smoking and for possession of a couple of jays. You don't go to jail for that."
He looked at me as if I were a complete moron. "Don't you know anything?"
"I know that you'll get busted for dealing sooner or later. And then you will go to jail."
He laughed. "Well, I'm not going to do this forever. Just until I finish school."
"But you're only in tenth grade!" I protested.
"Shh!" he ordered me. "Keep your goddamned voice down."
"Look, Donald," I whispered, "I can't let you keep dealing now that I know."
He smiled. "You can't stop me."
"I can turn you in."
"Yeah, that would go over really well with mom and dad."
"I could tell them what you're doing."
His smile got bigger. "Don't you think they already know?"
I shook my head. "That's impossible."
He giggled. "That bottle has been under there for about eight months. Do you really think you're the first person who's ever opened it?"
"Dad doesn't know," I insisted.
He shrugged. "Maybe not. Maybe he'd have a heart attack if he found out. Do you want to take that risk?"
"If you don't get rid of that stuff and stop dealing, I'm turning you in," I said as firmly as I could.
"Sure," he said. "Go ahead. Turn me in and ruin our family. I dare you. I double dare you."
I stared at him.
"Close the door behind you when you leave, Lisa," he said softly, putting the bottle under his pillow and lying down in bed. "I need my beauty sleep."

Back in my room I sat on the bed and realized I was shivering so I pulled the covers over my shoulders. I was sure that Donald had lied about our parents' knowing he was dealing drugs, but it shocked me that he had tried to intimidate me by saying that. Once again I remembered that he didn't know how much dad had changed over the years. His threat was laughable. Dad would not have a heart attack if he found out about Donald's drug dealing, but he might very well lose control and put Donald in the hospital. Dad had worked hard at learning to be a non-violent parent, and I was not about to put him in a situation where he'd be so sorely tested. I was even more certain that mom had no idea that Donald was dealing. She'd had trouble believing that he'd been caught smoking pot, insisting, though he'd been caught in the act, that there must be some mistake.
I was still shivering, so I pulled my legs into the bed and crawled under the covers. What to do? I couldn't let him go on selling drugs, especially not drugs that would put innocent people at risk. I had no idea how Donald had turned into what he'd become. Was he really spoiled, as Miss Carswell had insisted? I couldn't believe that. None of us was spoiled. We were hard-working farm kids. I knew as I began to drift off to sleep that I had to do something. At the same moment I realized my headache and stomach discomfort were completely gone and I hadn't thought about Jason and Diana or wondered how much Amanda knew ever since I'd found that bottle under the sink.
I was amazed at how much better I felt physically, even if my thoughts were a blur. As my mind shut off and I felt myself sink into silence, I wondered why.

 


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