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The Real Drug Store Cowboy by Mark Anthony Given

There comes a time in a man's life when to get where he has to go
- if there are no doors or windows, he walks through a wall. -Bernard Malamud


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          I'M RIDING THROUGH Ocean Springs, Mississippi it’s four-am, and sixty-four degrees and the Sun will be up soon.  Tony’s Discount Drugs in a strip mall next to an abandoned grocery store looks like an excellent place to break thru the cinder block wall in the utility closet and tiptoe over to the pharmacist goody drawer.  My buddy from New York living next to me on the beach in Biloxi, the next town over, told me this pharmacy was fat because it was so big and everything on the shelf was stretched out to take up space, they must be doing a booming pill business.   Were they ever!  I cased it a time or two and wound up parking down the road and doubling back to it on foot and behind it, where I quickly scaled up the back of the building's pipes and stuff. 
       I SCANNED THE ENTIRE roof and seen a cinder block, sitting on top of a piece of plywood, sitting on top of an eighteen-inch duct vent with the fan missing and two bare wires showing.    I was expecting to have to break through something, but even the losers get lucky some time.  I remove the stuff, and I’m looking down at a big rack of candy bars, on the floor of the barely lighted store.  I just happened to have my handy twenty foot of soft rope and the Superman pillowcase, off my girlfriends’ kid’s bed stuffed down the front of my pants for just this occasion.  I tied the rope off on a nearby pipe and down I went. Sliding straight down a huge round stainless steel air conditioning vent till I got to the bottom, maneuvered around the rack and just sit there for thirty-forty seconds, waiting to get attacked by dogs with their voice box gone, I didn’t know what to expect.  I thought I’d be at least an hour hacking thru something and it only took a ten-second slide down the shoot, and here I was in wonderland, had me a little surprised, but I still had work to do.  The first thing I seen was a huge aluminum ladder laying down nearby, so it set it up under the hole in the ceiling I had just come out of, grabbed a candy bar and moseyed onto the back….
       I GET BACK TO THE PHARMACY, and it was a little better light, so I was ducking down, pulling open all the drawers until I found one locked,  Bingo, right where the pharmacist stands all day a big 12” deep by 33x18 all fire resistant aluminum.  Didn’t happen to have a pry bar or a cheater pipe, so I just started pulling on that sum bitch, and before I took to all my strength, the levee broke and Payoh!  Pills were flying everywhere.  Holy Shit!  The fucking mother lode:  12 bottles of 4 mg. Dilaudid, 10 vials of 100 mg., of Demerol, Tuinal, Seconal, Percodan, Percoset, you fuck’n name it.  Four Hundred Qualuudes!  There was so much Schedule II stuff there I couldn’t tie the top of my Superman suitcase.  Damn, I better pick up a little Tussionex Suspension cough syrup off the back shelf for this itchy throat.  Grabbed two-quart bottles and stopped by the cash register.  Nothing in the draws, I look all over all over the place, nothing.  I give the back door a quick scan and seen the alarms and slide bolts.  I wanted to just run right out of there the hell with the alarms, but I didn’t.   
I JOG UP TO THE FRONT of the store dragging the load, seeing Highway 90 across the massive empty parking lot and a bust McDonalds across the street.  I get up to the front register; it too is pulled open with the drawers empty.  I bend down to tie my bag to the rope just as a black and white City of Ocean Springs Police Department on routine patrol shining his light into the stores.  Fuck me, I look over to my left, and there’s that rope hanging right there next to the giant ladder, but they kept going, and I sat there rumbling thru the bag for a handful of something if I got caught red-handed and seen them pull into traffic a few minutes later.  I wanted to get on that rope and the hell out of there but seeing that cop go by told me I had another hour, slow down.  There is no sweeter feeling than being in the middle of a real-life heist and seeing the cops go by….
I WALK NORMALLY TO the back of the store in case someone does see me, it’s getting light, and the dark is turning to light gray, I’m looking for the Managers Office and thinking about grabbing a party pack of U-100 Insulin Syringes, and there it is, right past the Pharmacists entrance door.  I walked right into a completely dark room after I kicked open the door with one well-placed boot (This ain’t the first door I kicked open, and I was getting good at it), and turn on the light and sitting right by the door laying down on a file cabinet are two fat bank bags from a local bank.   Are you kidding me?  First I fell down the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland with my Superman Grab Bag and strong-armed almost a Hundred thousand dollars in fresh pharmaceuticals, and now grab the weeks Receipts?  I might want to check my Horoscope when I get home.  Grabbed the bags, hit the lights and headed for my rope.  I tied the bag onto the bottom of the rope, flung the bank bags up onto the roof, crawled up the latter to the top of the ceiling, and crawled hand over fist, up about 10-12 feet to the daylight and fresh air.  I will never forget being inside the middle of the lightweight stainless steel air condition vent, being half way up and nearly stuck, hyperventilating, the hot, humid air turning to moisture on my arms and slipping into my hands and I was starting to slip.  Mentally fighting of raging claustrophobia, I had flashes of idiots I seen arrested on COPS TV, caught in chimneys, etc.  My next thought was that fat bag of dope fiend dreams I had tied onto the end of the rope I was climbing.  It was a real gut check time, I couldn’t put any weight on the steel vent itself, it just wasn’t designed to support people, and I could feel it wanting to break away, and I’d be suspended in air in a duct vent at a crime scene. Being in superior physical shape, and have hands like vice grips, I hand over hand muscled my way to the top and laid there staring up at the coming blue sky, and the next chapter in my life flashed across my memory screen; New Orleans nights, new cars, jungle music coming from the Quarter and the smell of Gumbo and people pissing in the streets, and it looked bright and shiny and lots of money green.
       I WAS TOO HYPED UP TO DRIVE back to New Orleans, I had rented a room next to the interstate about 15 miles away.  I dumped the entire contents onto one of the large beds, grabbed the K-4’s (Dilaudid), broke the seal on a little tiny saccharin bottle with exactly 100 pills in it,  worth exactly  $5,000 if I sell them one by one, and started crushing them up in a hotel book of matches.  Busted open the party pack of U-100’s syringes, dumped the now crushed up pill into the syringe, scoop up a little warm water from the sink and cold shake for a minute.  You have to be standing up to get the full bang in the knees of this stuff.  Elvis is reported to have said,
“Son, I have done’em all and Dilaudid is the best!” 
       I think he is right (I think they did something to them and you can’t shoot them anymore).  To me, it is a warm, fuzzy sensation from head to toe concentrating right in the center of your sexuality, and then easing down and into the best pussy you ever had, warm and sensuous and inviting and whispering all the right….
       I laid right on top of all them pills on the big double bed, the air conditioning blasting, I could hear the faint sounds of Jake Brakes on the interstate as the big trucks exited to fast…. I sliced one of the bank bags open, and it was full of checks and paperwork.  The second bag even bigger contained $3,450 cash and a deposit slip.  I tried to remove as much of the identifying marks from the bottles, collected everything and walked it to the dumpster.  I wanted to get going after a quick shower, but my instincts told me to sit tight.  I wanted to pull out of here in about 45 minutes into rush hour traffic and blend in on the interstate over to Biloxi to my apartment on the beach and then to New Orleans where a handful of trusted people awaited good news.  I had been over here once before to rob it but had a premonition about dusk to dawn drug store burglaries.  I always chose them hours because people eyes are changing and they are more forgiving of what they think they saw and…
     It wasn’t even 6:30 in the morning and I was soaking wet with perspiration, it’s like living in a jungle down there.  I knew I had to bury most of this stuff and then only tell a person or two and then I had to keep moving.
       Right at the Mississippi –Louisiana state line is a big rest area at the Stennis Air Space Engineering exit.  Finding a quiet, secluded parking spot way in the back, I grab a backpack and a small Boy Scout shovel and trot off into the woods.  As soon as I get at the perimeter, I stand there and take a piss for a good long time to see who is zooming who and then walked seventy-five feet straight back and buried most of the loot in black plastic bags.
       WHEN I GOT BACK to the city, everywhere I went I would blow up to nonstop traffic, and it was on to the next spot, way the fuck on the other side of town, way out in Slidell, the sixteenth floor of the Marriott in Downtown New Orleans they just kept coming; when you got fresh Pharmaceuticals’ dope fiends will hunt you down, that’s why I have to keep moving.  I got run off from my girlfriends’ houses when people started showing up at 3:30 in the morning with $40 and ten dollars of food stamps.  As soon as the traffic gets back to back it’s time to go.   I am freaking terrified of getting killed for this much drugs.  Even the people directly around me can’t see all this.  After all the Methadone, Desoxyn (the best legal speed),  5 and 15 mg., I realized probably $25,000 cash, and went back and robbed it again just like before and got caught red-handed right inside Tony’s Discount Drugs and got sent to the Mississippi State Prison. 



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1968 Words
Copyright 2014 by Mark Anthony Given
All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746, Invoking 90 Stat. 2541 and
Article 2(4) of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
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