Sunday, March 16, 2008

Dealing Oxycontin to Pay His Cable Bill

Guy gets on in Sharpsburg. His face looks like it's seen some wear; could be he's in his '40s. His eyes are an odd shade of green in the gray morning half-light. He sits across the aisle from me, snaps his cell phone open like a switchblade, and snarls into it.

His buddy gets on a few stops later, slumps down beside him. The second guy is older, lighter haired, thicker around the middle. He complains about his hand, which was broken in a fight. Everything on his body hurts these days. (Funny, he doesn't look like the kind of guy who gets into brawls – he seems too laid back.)

“You got to go to the pain clinic. They'll set you up,” Cellphone Guy says.

Fighting Guy isn't so sure. “I just take tylenol,” he says.

“They gave me a scrip for Oxycontin for my back,” says Cellphone Guy. “I tell them my back still hurts, they refill it.”

Fighting Guy seems impressed. “Didn't know your back was that bad.”

“It ain't. I take advil and sell the Oxycontin. It pays my cable bill, and I get the Platinum package with On Demand.”

Now there's a man with modest ambitions. No “get rich or die tryin'” for him. He's satisfied with his HBO, pay-per-view boxing, and digital porn.

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