The War on Drugs Beneath the Border
Matthew Dexter

Waxing Gibbous Tangerine Taketh Away:

Mesmerized by the green gasoline attendant cleaning our windshield, like a massage, deep tissue -- better than youthful fantasy of a machine that would give interminable shiatsus, orgiastic it is; as memories often are.

Mr. Rest in Peace:

Go back to second grade, (when it was repeated because private school is much nicer and edificatory than being dragged down the hall to the principal's office by a sweaty obese teacher) holding your ankle with the hands of Australopithecus: puffy pink fingers covered with colored chalk and the smell of her homemade sandwiches stuffed with Oreos and chocolate peanut cookies. Her lunch drifts into your bald nostrils as her unkempt knuckles cover your lips, obscenities shouting, black hairs curling out of her nose like a dragon, breathing fire and full of hate -- this is the Tenafly, New Jersey public school system at work -- back in 1988 -- when teachers slapped students on their asses and crack made its way into the suburbs from the boroughs in the City. The homeless were piled like pyramids on the sidewalks shivering in the freezing snowfall of every class trip to The Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vanilla Ice and Marky Mark on the radio, no seatbelts; smoking permitted in almost every restaurant and especially bars.

New Laws:

Now one cannot light up a cigarette in a cigar bar -- not even in Mexico. What the hell is the world coming to when minors can use fake IDs to buy a sixth of vodka from any liquor store in the United States, but a man cannot use tobacco inside this early secular tabernacle of a mad Draconian world; yet he can drink enough alcohol to kill a bear and bunch of women on his way home from the pub?

The Private Morning Math Class:

Before the girls and boys enter, she sat with you (the best teacher in the world with the voice of God she spoke and taught you advanced; too smart for the other students; in a class of one's own). Numbers, fractions, shapes, imaginations; waking up early has never been so sweet. An eight year old has no idea about Mary Kay Letourneau. (All we knew was that the girls' white underwear showed up in the front and the boys' tidy-whities crept down the back.)

Mr. Moneybags:

Every grade thereafter you were dropped to an exponentially lower level math class, until finally four years later you were near the bottom; where in that ethereal degenerate semicircle one blessed Autumn day: you saw black pubic hairs peeking from the transparent panties of the sweet eleven year old fox with legs wide open that rode your lap and grinded every afternoon on the yellow school bus. Half the room saw it (the boys' side anyway), but you prayed Mr. Moneybags would not discover the hidden treasure sunken so deep. No need to use the tape measure to ascertain if the girls' skirts were too short that forty minutes in heaven. She must have worn her silk lingerie and picked that desk for a reason.

Dr. Jackass:

The aroma in the small messy office was full of gas, fruit files hovering like the moons of Jupiter above fresh banana peels sprawled like an octopus across the edges of the tin garbage bin; the principal's mustache was more reminiscent of a clown than an authority figure, certainly not an educator. Slimy like an atavistic reptile amphibian, his prophecies were more ludicrous than Pulpo Paul. He was done before he got in that yellow Volkswagen bug twenty-one years earlier, when the Twin Towers stood tall and perfect, when the war on terror was only in comic books, devoured the skyline like a majestic cumulonimbus testament to the greatest nation, the dreams we could climb if we worked hard enough. Skyscrapers were ineffable irreligious Gods. For two years his whiskers were full of Rogaine, an accomplishment more coal than Adolph Hitler and full of hatred against Christians, degenerates, and aspiring juvenile delinquents. The hungry teacher savors that last pickle caught between her legs, an obstinate chunk of lettuce wedged between her front teeth: wolf-like, bespeckled; an owl with those eyes of a salary that denies her dreams -- though she could have chased them like heroine -- made them run through her veins -- if she had an eighth of the ambitions of her students. Some of them slammed their ways to an early grave. Have you ever heard of Ritalin? Half of them cooked base before the millennium. A quarter of us smoked it every night during the summer of 1999, after fulfilling our day jobs as service agents at International airports, cleaning cars and stealing personal possession: cameras, sunglasses, tins full of weed. We were Hoover vacuums. We watched it rise to the top of the spoon after our nostrils were mostly incapable of blowing anymore powder. Twenty years later they would not remember her imprints on their flesh, the spankings that reddened their butt cheeks decades earlier. The pain has diminished, the tears have dried, the orbit denied, pilasus dust, ether, cocaine, and baking soda; the butterflies that burned their wings.