I followed Adam out of the drug store and stumbled back onto State. St. People quickly crossed my blurred vision, all busy in their routines. No one saw me behind my sunglasses except for my friend, the only other person on the street who knew what to do with the tin foil and baking soda he just bought from Walgreen’s.
It's never been clear whether Adam is serious. He's an ambiguous caricature of himself, crafted through hundreds of half-sarcastic quips and asides that began as funny in-jokes among our friends but now seem more and more real. So it never really fazed me when he joked about crack, something he had done countless times since I met him.
I had seen him do some pretty crazy things, but crack is just too silly. People who smoke crack live in trailer parks, not in Statesider. It carries such an intense stigma that it seems like a universal line that no one can cross, even the most adventurous. I never thought he was serious.
Giggling, he clutched his plastic shopping bag like it was a new puppy and I tried to keep up with him as we rushed through the pedestrian traffic. I had begun to figure out what this field trip was really about.
“Dude, what the hell are you doing?” I yelled, grabbing his shoulder and spinning him around. With a menthol cigarette dangling from his mouth, holding his pants up with one had and squeezing the shopping bag to his chest with the other, he stared blankly at me. I was now shouting loudly on the sidewalk in front of his building, normal people enjoying the summer weather and the sun beating down on us.
Adam shook me off and ran up the stairs to his apartment, slammed the door and locked it. He had just moved in so it was empty except for a few boxes, a stereo and an overflowing ashtray. It now seemed like an ideal environment for deviant behavior.
He had been hanging on by a thread for the past couple years, barely maintaining sanity. The day’s activity did not seem like a positive development for him and I did my best to voice my disapproval. But as he prepared, his excitement filled the room. It was like watching a child unwrap presents at his birthday party.
He laughed and excitedly bounced around his tiny kitchen building some sort of deranged contraption. He explained every detail as he followed the directions he had found by Googling the words “making crack.”
I felt depraved and twisted knowing that I was in a room that would shortly become a crack house, but I was having a hard time containing my laughter. I stared with rapt attention and my hand covering my open mouth, the way I would probably gawk at a freak show. This felt more like rubbernecking after a bad accident on the highway, though.
When Adam finally lowered the torch lighter over the foil, I stopped pacing and pulling at my hair to peer over his shoulder. The bubbling powder spilled over the sides of the measuring cup. That’s when I knew we both had finally lost it.