Hell of a Drug (Excerpt)

The introduction of a story I worked on back in the day. I didn’t do anything with it, but I figured it might be okay to drag it into the light of the world in excerpt form. 


The drive up had been the worst part; 32 hours spent crammed in the back of a ‘67 Chevy would make anyone uncomfortable, but it was twice as bad when you were going through an amphetamine withdraw. Earl Stanwick was an LA police officer who had broken every rule a cop could, and now he was down, out, and exiled from the city of angels to be dumped onto the streets of Rossland, British Columbia, a piss-fuck small mining town tucked away in the middle of a mountain valley. His hands still shook from the assorted feelings of coming off a two week speed binge. He craved a whiskey and a cigarette. And maybe a little speed, to wake him up after the long drive.

The two police officers who’d driven him out here had hardly said a word the whole drive. They’d exchanged glances, eyed Earl with contempt and kept their eyes glued to the road for the most part. Out here in the mountains, there wasn’t even the radio to listen to. When they arrived, Earl hurriedly got out of the car, but then stopped. There was no way he was going to be outrunning his two captors, not in his condition. One of the escort officers, a tall rookie named Pete, stepped out of the passenger seat of the Chevy and tossed Earl a duffle bag.

“A change of clothes. We’ll come back for you in a month,” he smirked.


Earl fished a cigarette out of the breast pocket of his suit jacket and patted himself in search of a lighter.

“Got a match shit-bird?” said Earl with a mouthful of spite directed at Pete.

The rookie pulled a Zippo from his pocket and walked over to Earl. He cranked his thumb down and sparked the lighter, igniting Earl’s smoke.

“You’re staying in a house about 20 blocks from here, on Adams street. Sweet place, lots of charm,” he then handed the lighter over the Earl and muttered, “keep it,” before getting back into the car.

Earl watched the taillights of the Chevy disappear back down main street and could only think to himself how speed was a hell of a drug.


Oh yeah, the place had plenty of “charm.” As much charm as a room with no TV, bad wallpaper and only one chair could have. The first three days Earl was there all he did was make a run to the liquor store to grab two nice big bottles of scotch and a pack of Lucky Strikes, before disappearing into a haze of booze and cigarette smoke. The place at least had a record player, so his late night binges ran in time with the sounds of spinning jazz 45’s.

 He thought about being a cop. The broken bones and the bruised knuckles. The blood and the booze. The badge and the bullets.

By his second week, he’d run out of money and cigarettes. And that’s when the townsfolk found the dead couple. Tortured, then executed in the living room of their house. He saw sirens explode past his window, their lights a thick red and blue smudge through the rain on the glass. He waited for more until he remembered Rossland only had one fucking police car.

In the next few days the town filled with reporters. Beat writers from the crime desk who’d made the long drive and we’re now sleeping in their cars up and down Main- Street because the town’s only motel only had seven rooms. Earl patrolled up and down the road and bummed smokes off them, until he had enough that could retreat back to the flop house to count the ceiling tiles.

Then someone found the second body. Tortured, like the couple, and executed in the same manner. The crime reporters on Main-Street tried to look excited about spending an extra week in their cars. The murders even made the headlines in US papers. Rossland police, all seven of them, were baffled; this was the first murder they’d ever seen. It was a far cry from the domestic disputes they were usually called to. Outside help was brought in, and reporters, detectives and city police buzzed around town.

Earl kept his head down though. He knew getting involved wouldn’t help anything. Besides, he only had six days left before the rookie and his buddy would come back and drive him back to good ol’ LA.


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