Twelve Times.

Some kind of ludicrous comment comes out of my mouth,  something like,

‘ Okay, but we’re just going to count it.’ Knowing damn well,  ‘just counting’ this money, would be as likely as saying, ‘ I’m just going to do one line of cocaine.’ It just not realistic. In the same way cocaine shamelessly removes your  inhibitions, money can blind you into over looking the likely-hood of consequences. It’s really hard to ignore the possibilities available to you, when you’re holding a fan of one-hundred dollar bills in your hand. More so, when you’re sixteen years old, homeless, and hungry, sitting in a house you just broke into, so you could do laundry and take a shower.

I casually tell She to chill out and wait a bit, so I can go clean up. As I get up to cross the hall towards the bathroom, she calls out, in a little girl voice..

‘ Angie..please, can we take it?’

I smile as I close the door on her, and turn the shower knobs on, without answering her question. Taking off the worn out clothes I’ve been wearing for three days and stepping into that fresh, steaming hot water.

Showering on the run, is always fast. For some reason or another. Sometimes it’s because you’ve locked yourself in the mall bathroom, washing yourself with paper towels and hand soap in the sink. Other times, it’s because a friend let you come in while her Mom was at the grocery store, and you have to be in and out in twenty minutes. This time, it was because there was fourteen hundred dollars in the near by guest bedroom and I’m suddenly paranoid Mr. Suburban is going to come home any minute, and find us rummaging through his well furnished town house.

After wrapping up in the bathroom, I borrow a t shirt from our kindly home owner, and get dressed. She, repeating the same question as before, as I walk into the smaller bedroom and take the handful of cash. Stuffing it into my pocket. Pick up the sandwich bag full of mushrooms and tell her, it’s time to go. Before rushing out the backdoor, we call a cab to meet us a few streets over. Fifteen minutes later, we’re driving away from the suburban backdrop, and back into the filthy spectacle of downtown. I fumble awkwardly with the bills pushing out of my pocket, as I pay the cab driver and quickly duck into the lower level of the nearby mall. The crowd of  pedestrians camouflaging us, and I feel better. Ironically enough, the first item purchased with the money, was a wallet to hold it in. Next thing on our list, eat the bag of mushrooms. I honestly can’t remember what led us to ingest the entire contents of the bag. Whether it was purely an immature curiosity, or just teenage paranoia. Either way, the shopping center, and the core of downtown, surrounding it, were about to turn into a kaleidoscopic haze of melting faces and  dancing receipts. The mushrooms are chewy and bitter as I forcefully push them down my throat with my tongue. Leaving a rancid poisonous taste in my dry mouth. Hitting the bottom of my stomach with a gurgling burn. My empty gut, devouring the hallucinogenic spores and sending me into a state of sketchy oblivion.

News travels fast downtown, just like high school, every down and out addict, lost teenager, and hustler looking for someone to feed of off. Eyes wide and ears open for a meal ticket. Keeping your business to yourself is recommended, and I know that. Thing is, the mushrooms have made a display of us, and in our psychedelic mirage, we ignorantly step up to the stage available to us. Throwing money this way and that, making a mockery of ourselves, and inviting the manipulation of our peers. Every ones a pimp around here, and if I were to be honest, I’d shamefully add myself to that list.

When I get arrested in the near future, that final moment, the police will interrogate me for three hours, and proceed to tell me, they followed us every moment of that day. They will laugh at me for being so ignorant and blatantly obvious. I’ll think to myself, with my mouth tightly zipped, why they didn’t arrest us then, and why they let it go on for two more weeks. There are three more robberies ahead of me, each one, the police saying, we were there. We were watching you. I’ll laugh when they say this, and ask them why they didn’t do their damn job…and the interrogation ends there, both cops walking out on me with a snicker and the slam of the metal door. I’ll get twelve times the sentence She does. Twelve times.

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