A Dopeman's Grocery List

By GHXSTORIES 09/14/18

The reality and gravity of the entire situation was this: if I don’t steal this shit, I’m not getting high. If I’m not getting high, I’m dying. That’s how bad I was strung out on opioids; that’s how much of a slave I was to the drugs.

An empty shopping cart being pushed by a blurry person in a blurry supermarket.
Are they watching you? Is there an undercover loss prevention guy following you?

The following story is based on actual events. In an effort to protect anonymity as well as keep people out of potential legal trouble; names, places and identifying characteristics have been modified. I hope you enjoy these stories. Whatever you do. DO NOT try this at home.

What happens when you run out of money and need a fix bad?

What happens when you just don’t have it in you to stick someone up on that particular day?

What happens when you run out of shit to pawn?

What happens when there’s nothing left to post on OfferUp, LetGo and Craigslist?

You can always go grocery shopping for your drug dealer like I did. I mean, I didn’t have any money at the time and I already traded my food stamps for dope that month but I knew there were a few items that “D” needed me to pick up from one of those big-box-retail-stores. If I could get the items he needed, he would trade me 50% of whatever it cost in cash or trade me 75% of what it cost in dope. This was a no brainer. Get the grocery list, steal the items, get the dope and get high.

I’ve always been a fan of “heist” movies. Mission Impossible, Ocean’s Eleven and Catch Me If You Can come to mind when I think about the excitement I felt when the “bad guys” got away with whatever it was that they were taking. Sometimes rooting for the bad guy feels good. Every time I received one of these lists via text message from D, I felt like Ethan Hunt accepting some kind of grand mission that was of the utmost importance. The reality and gravity of the entire situation was this: if I don’t steal this shit, I’m not getting high. If I’m not getting high, I’m dying. That’s how bad I was strung out on opioids; that’s how much of a slave I was to the drugs. When opioids told me to jump, my response was always: how high?

It’s been four and a half hours since I last shot up. My stomach is beginning to turn like that sensation you get when a roller coaster takes its first plunge, except it felt like it was my life that was diving into utter oblivion. My palms have begun to get clammy. I got the cold-sweats and it’s pissing me off. It’s 73 degrees in my room but I’m soaking wet like “Dollar Debbie” taking a stroll down MLK in the middle of August. Life sucks and I need to get “one” in me… like yesterday.

BEEP! BEEP! A text comes in. God I hope it’s D. I unlock my phone and see the good news I’ve been waiting for:

1 bottle of Pine-Sol
2 boxes of Huggies
Peanut Butter and Jelly - not that shit with the peanuts in it
1 Mop
1 Case of Ramen Noodles
5-10 assorted girl’s tees
1 pair of white sneakers, size 6 - I don’t care what the brand is

Oh, I also need a new Bluetooth speaker, some crackhead stole mine last night. See if you can get one of those dope ass Dyson vacuums too.

And hurry the fuck up, I’m trying to go to the casino. You got one hour!

Finally! I got the grocery list! Now I have to find a ride. That means I have to cut somebody in on the payoff, which means fewer drugs for me. Fuck it, I’m hurting bad. At this point, I’m not going to argue over whose half of a dilaudid is bigger. It doesn’t matter anymore.

I scroll through my contacts and find the guy I’m looking for. I just hope he’s awake. It’s three in the afternoon, a little early for Tony. He usually gets up around four or five because he’s been up all morning trying to come down from the “shards” he shot up the night before. I know an offer to score some dope to come down off the shit will lure him into my latest scheme.

“But what color vacuum does he want?” Tony asked, dazed.

“Does it fucking matter?!” I yelled back. Tony had a way of asking questions that didn’t matter. He was slow, he was sloppy, and he smelled like a piece of toasted Chore Boy. It’s mind boggling to me that this guy was ever successful at pickpocketing when he lived in New York. He had been down here in Florida for only six years and had already visited the local jail well over 12 times. Thing is, he always stayed high, had a car, and was just as sick as I was.

“I’ll be there in five minutes.” he murmured. “Meet me two streets over by the bando,” he instructed before hanging up.

Twenty-five minutes later, Tony pulls up in a hurry, looking annoyed like I’m the asshole who’s twenty minutes late. I’m livid. He always does that; he’s worse than a drug dealer and I hate waiting. I need a fix bad. My nose is beginning to run and I’m getting these random sensations in my stomach. Feels like someone is taking a blade and stabbing me erratically. My body is telling me that I’m supposed to eat but the appetite isn’t there. The worst symptom I get when withdrawing is when I smoke a cigarette: I gag every time I hit it and they don’t taste the way they normally do. It doesn’t help that the cigarettes I’m smoking are the ones I’ve collected from all the public ashtrays around town. They already taste bad. This life sucks. I need a pill, now.

“Here’s the plan,” I say to Tony as I get in the passenger seat. “We have a half hour to grab the shit and meet D at his place before he leaves for the casino.” Tony is already driving to the store. Like me, he knows which one to go to at any particular time of day. We know when loss prevention does their shift change, we know which side of the store the greeters are on, we know which store we hit last time and that dictates which store we hit next.

“Five minutes or less!” I say assertively. “If it takes longer than that, we’re going to the other store.” I know that if I have to come up with a story to buy more time with D, it shouldn’t be a problem.

“Flip a coin to see who’s building the cart this time?” Tony asks.

“Run it,” I reply.

“Heads!” He yells as I flip the coin. “Yes!” He screams. He gets to build the cart. I’m getting excited. As we near the store, the symptoms of my withdrawal seem to lessen. I’m getting turned on over the idea of committing a crime. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Not only am I addicted to drugs, I’m in love with the crazy and dangerous lifestyle that comes along with it.

Let me break down the lick for you.

This is a two man job. Park near the front and keep the car running. Pop the trunk but leave it down so it looks shut. Leave all the doors unlocked. First man goes inside alone to “build the cart.” Building the cart is the easy part, that’s why we flipped a coin for it. You basically go in the store, acquire the items on the list, and place them inside a shopping cart. This must be done in five minutes or less. The other man, the one in the car, is on the phone with you, the cart builder, talking in your ear while he looks through the store window, informing you on what the employees are doing. Are they watching you? Is there an undercover loss prevention guy following you? These are things that must be known.

General rule of thumb when building a cart: look like you belong there. Just go shopping. Smile; say hi to an employee; maybe ask them where you can find a particular item. You’re the customer, act like one.

Tony gets everything on the list in less than five minutes. His slow ass must really need a pill as bad as I do. If he’s hurting, he’s not showing it. I think he’s as excited as I am.

Once the cart is built, head to an aisle that runs along the cash register that’s nearest to the exit. Ditch the cart. Leave it in the aisle and get the fuck out. Once you get back in the car, look your partner in the eye, wish him luck, light a cigarette, sit back and relax. Your work is almost done.

Here’s the dicey part. It’s the driver’s turn to enter the store. I exit the whip and walk to the entrance. Tony keeps his earpiece in and puts the car in drive while he keeps his foot on the brake. I almost forgot to mention, never pull into a parking space. Back in, so when it’s time to make the getaway, you just let off the brake and get the hell out. No one is trying to get into a little fender-bender while trying to elude potential law enforcement. I mean seriously, if my ass goes to jail over a fucking bottle of Pine-Sol, I’m killing somebody.

I’m in the store. My heart is racing! Do I look like I belong? Do I look like a junkie? I know I showered. My shirt is wrinkled but my shoe game is on point. I don’t look homeless but I feel like shit. Do the employees notice? Keep walking. Eyes forward. Listen for Tony on the phone. It’s going to be okay.

I find the cart. My palms are sweaty as I grab it and head towards the exit. I dig into my pocket and pull out an old receipt from the gas station. This is what I’m going to use as I walk out the door with my head down. I’m going to make it look like I’m going over the items I “just purchased” as I walk out; never mind the fact that nothing is bagged up.

“How’s my back, T?” I ask nervously.

“I don’t see anyone behind you, bro. Just keep coming. The trunk is already open.”

We chose the correct side. As I near the exit, I notice there aren’t any greeters, AKA receipt checkers. This is expected but I still don’t get it. There are two entrances, spaced out on either end of this store, but they keep a greeter on only one side. Idiots. I’m about to walk out; just a few more steps.

“Excuse me, Sir!” I hear behind me. I ignore it and keep on walking.

“Sir! Excuse me, hey sir!” I hear again. She sounds cute. I stop and begin to turn around. I got to be honest, my heart is racing and I’m extremely turned on at this point. Why does crime excite me so much?! I can hear Tony screaming and yelling expletives in my ear.

“What’s up?” I casually ask while making eye contact with this cute employee. She can’t be older than 22 and she looks perfect, like those black pants and blue vest were custom made to wrap around her beautiful figure. I wish I wasn’t a junkie. She seems like a good girl. If I wasn’t so concerned with getting high, maybe I’d ask a woman like her out. I don’t have time for women. They get in the way of my using. Just give me a crack-whore that wants to fuck before or after we get loaded. That’s all I have time for.

Shit. I forgot what’s happening here. My ADHD gets the best of me sometimes. I’m supposed to be walking out of a store with a shopping cart full of stolen goods.

“Sir, are you forgetting something?” She asks. I stare blankly back at her. I don’t have a response and I kind of just want to stare at her before she calls the authorities and I have to turn around and make a break for it. The only thing I can muster up to answer her question is “I don’t know, am I forgetting something?”

She raises a fist and begins open to up her cute little hand. I quickly picture her cute fingers with the chipped nail polish dancing all over my body. Focus!

“Get the fuck out of there!” I hear Tony screaming in my ear.

She opens her fist. “You dropped your lighter, Sir,” she says as she hands it back to me. Tony can hear her on his end and I hear him let out a sigh of relief.

“Okay we’re good” I hear him say as I thank her and head out the door.

I throw the items in the trunk and we head over to meet up with D. We’re in a hurry to get high; he’s in a hurry to get to the casino. Both parties are bitching at each other. We engage in the usual small talk that really is just a load of bullshit. D doesn’t care about me or my well-being, and I could give a shit about him and his family. I just want my dope and I want to go home. He just wants his shit and wants me to leave. We do the same shit every day. Act like we’re family. Like there’s some “street code” of honor or something. The truth is, nobody cares. Everyone is out to get theirs and theirs only.

Tony and I head home and split the shit we scored. As soon as I get mine in me, all in the world is right again. For those brief ten seconds of numbness and euphoria, as the opioids flow into my bloodstream, I forget that I am a slave. I forget that just ten seconds ago, my body was writhing in pain. I forget that I was almost stopped inside of a store for shoplifting while on probation. I forget that if I violate, I’m going up-the-road for at least five years. I forget about that girl that broke my heart. I forget that I’m a lying piece of shit that steals from my mother every time she goes to sleep. For ten seconds, I’m free…

And in four hours, I’m doing it all over again.

If no one told you today that they love you, fuck it, there’s always tomorrow. ;)

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

GHXSTORIES is a recovering junkie and musical artist from Clearwater, FL who recklessly dances on the fringe of insanity. He currently resides in the Tampa Bay Area, where you'll most likely find him around town trying to gain some traction in sobriety. Fresh on the writing scene, his "Ghost Stories" aim to provoke and arouse through witty, raw, and sarcastic musings. Listen to him on SoundCloud and find him on Instagram and Facebook.