Universe W-420: Stoner Problems 1
Wake And Bake
beep. Beep. BEEP!
Chet looks at his alarm clock through cracked lids and burning eyeballs. The screaming lovechild of hard plastic and microchips is shamelessly spazzing out like a toddler whose mom won’t buy him a candy bar, it’s way too early for this shit. Normally he would crush the crow-colored contraption into a nightstandful of broken pieces with his fist, but not today. Instead, Chet calmly presses the snooze button, and with a click the screeching ceases. Painless. Easy.
His eyes slowly close as he drifts back to sleep.
beep. Beep. BEEP!
beep. Beep. BEEP!
Chet’s had about enough. With his dastardly clock vanquished once and for all, the Chetsecutioner slowly drifts back to sleep… again. Eventually, his eyes open to a squint and he wonders why the sun is so bright at only seven o’clock in the morning. Whatever, the sun can do what it wants; Chet sits up and rubs his eyes until the guilty ecstasy of the action turns to pain and he has to stop.
Ya boy Chet doesn’t have to be at work until nine today, giving him plenty of time for the daily wake and bake session. He stands and happens to notice his cell phone before he does his pipe and grinder, so he decides to check if anybody sent him any texts first.
“Ohhhhh fuck me it’s ten’thirty.”
Chet throws on his bowling shirt of a uniform and rushes out his front door, not even bothering to lock it behind him. It’s not like he owns anything that a robber would want; you see, Chet lives in the house equivalent of a dive bar bathroom these days, and this is the wealthier part of town, too.
Car keys in hand, he dives into the driver seat of his Grand PM and throws that plastic bitch in reverse, hitting the main road with a holy fuck am I late tempo. As he put-puts down the main road, a very startling realization hits Chet similarly to how his car hits every pothole it drives in, then out of – this is the first morning in literally four consecutive months that he didn’t smoke right after waking up. The forecast for today: a bare-legged trot through a field of roses.
Chet pulls into the parking lot and parks his car – over the line between two spots, by the way – at 11:04 on the dot.
‘Only one hour late,’ Chet thinks to himself while he enjoys his last moment of Chet time before he walks through the doors. ‘Or is it two? Three? Ah, who knows, late is late to these assholes.’
Chet hatches from his car like a baby dinosaur emerging into the world, releasing a skwakish yawn and slamming the door shut with his keys inside. He won’t realize he’s done this until much later – damn that scrambled brain of his. That’s one of the withdrawal symptoms Chet always feels first, the inability to think in a straight line, or be aware of his surroundings in general. He’s aware of his inclination towards scatter-braindedness, ironically enough, he just never remembers to check himself before he inevitably wrecks himself. Oh well. The first thing Chet sees as he pushes through the doors of the 822 MiniMart is his “boss” (read: assistant manager of the store on Wednesdays and Fridays) standing behind the counter, impatiently slapping the unmopped tile floor with his foot forcefully enough for the zero present customers to hear over their incessant chattering. Chet apologizes for being late and promptly gets chewed out. The irony of being talked down to by a four-foot manchild who unironically wears spandex leggings is almost too much for Chet’s increasingly animistic mind to bear.
The twentysomething, or in the words of Bron, loser punk-ass is very rarely late to work, it happens no more than once every couple months; the assistant to his manager just completely wasted his own youth and has zero chill left in his system, and what’s more, he feels the need to take it out on his subordinates. When enough white stuff has formed in the corners of Bron’s mouth for him to consider his message delivered, he retreats into his office in the back of the back of the store. Chet’s left overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude and the wish to be toasted like a buttered roll right now.
An hour or two pass – or maybe twenty minutes, it’s hard to tell – and the jitters are jittering strong. Chet’s hands won’t stop their trembling, it legitimately feels like the spirit of Parkinson’s disease gripped Chet’s nervous system by the ass as it passed him by on the bus. He checks his watch and sees that it’s just about two-ish, and like clockwork, in stumble the usual customers.
First is Smitty, a morbidly… uh, healthy warehouse worker who builds himself the same meal every day whilst acting, the entire time, like he has noooo idea what he’s about to inhale: a meatball sub with bacon, a bag of extra-grease flavored potato chips that he will pour onto the first meatball sub, a second meatball sub, this one with extra sauce and extra bacon, and a diet Bepis soda. Next come two -agers in the back half of their teens, or as Chet calls them, TLEs (tomorrow’s least educated), who sneak out of school early every day to buy the 822’s shitty garbage food because they don’t want to eat their high school’s shitty garbage food, and they’re followed by a couple of cool stoner dudes that Chet knows. He considers them friends, but they consider him the random dude at the 822 who would give them free food in exchange for bags of bottom-of-the-jar shake.
Until they got caught anyway, which was pretty lame, but it also came with a silver lining: the stoner bois got to see Chet get publicly berated by Bron while they munched on some popcorn they didn’t have to pay for.
A bucket’s worth of customers come in after the rush, but they didn’t leave much of an impression on Chet, so they may as well have never came in. Lunch passes without a hitch and the number of customers in the store dies back down to an overwhelming zero, just in time for Chet to get the sweats! These are no normal sweats though; these are the Chetsweats, the unrelenting cold sweats that don’t stop until the armpits of Chet’s uniform, which nobody let him know was inside-out this entire time, are an entirely different color than they were when he walked in. He checks his watch – only hours until his shift is over and he can go home and quell his symptoms.
With the Chetsweats comes a rush of irritability, mostly because of the feeling of frigidity in his pits makes our buddyboy hate his life just a little bit more. Just a teensy bit, like, the size of a droplet of sweat after it’s assumed its final form in your armpit and it flows down your side like a raindrop on a waxed windshield. Chet wishes he wasn’t such an idiot, that he would’ve just smoked this morning. He totally could have, too, rushing here was pointless; coming in at 9:01 would have ordered Chet the same verbal slaughtering that was delivered for coming in hours late. The daily mental processes of the asinine humans he’s forced to work under must be a carnival sideshow. He feels bad for them, really. They should just smoke some pot. It would probably fix a lot of their problems.
In an attempt to not think about weed more than he already is, Chet reminisces about the last time he ventured into the ‘22 without taking his wake and bake. He politely told a customer to, and I quote, “Fuck off and play in traffic, harlot,” and the guy totally deserved it, too; nobody gets to steal a box of honey buns unless Chet gets some free bud out of it. Shortly after Chet’s inappropriate outburst, Bron let the thief get away with the buns. The bastard then went on to write a bad review for the store on Holler! Despicable; Mundon is as Mundon does, at the end of the day. Chet normally doesn’t give a shit about little petty stuff like that, he’s usually a pretty chill guy. But when he doesn’t take his holistic medicine, well… connect the dots.
Suddenly, a pain reminiscent of getting hit with a baseball bat swings into Chet’s cranium – the headache has officially arrived. His vision even goes blurry for a few seconds, so he does the only reasonable thing he can think to do in this situation – he curls up in a little ball on the floor and closes his eyes. With the departure of one sensory input, another one arrives in the form of a high-pitched ringing in both of his ears.
It’s times like these where his cravings for the holy plant are the strongest. Chet doesn’t want to get high at this point, it’s far beyond that; he needs relief. His body is literally attacking him from the inside and he simply cannot deal with it, not here at work.
After a few minutes the headache subsides and his hands stop trembling, but the tropical rain forests that are his armpits are still precipitating, and he can’t concentrate on anything besides his own yearning for hot, thick, yellow-white smoke filling his lungs, taking him airborne…
“Um… hello? Is anyone here?”
Attention passengers, brace for turbulence! Chet peers over the counter and sees a young lass who could accurately be described as a beautiful blonde bombshell by anybody other than Chet, and she’s looking around for a cashier. In a flurry of panic and spasmodic jives, Chet ducks back down and discretely crawlwalks into the employee’s lounge, the swinging doors hitting him on the ass on the way in. He checks his appearance in the mirror and is relieved that he doesn’t look like a total wreck and/or nutcase, which is a good sign. Maybe today isn’t so bad after all. He lets a bang drop over his left eye because reasons and walks back out to the counter, ready to face his next challenge.
“Hello, welcome to the eight’twenty-two! How can I help you, miss?”
“Hi, can I get a pack of Marlburrow Reds? I need my herbal fix.”
Chet, about to fulminate over the sheer misuse of those words, calmly turns and grabs a pack of cancer sticks. He tries to make conversation a few times whilst he rings the Sheila, up but stutters because his mind is more scrambled than the alleged egg product that Charlie’s placing between two halves of bagel in the back.
Chet drops the cigarettes in a bag and finally manages to squeak out, “You know, you’re smoking the wrong plant there, chick.”
Chick laughs and explains that she tried left-handed cigarettes with her brother a few times, but her parents found out and forced her to take a drug test twice a week for an entire year. ‘Yeah, that sounds about right.’ Aside from the stoner dudes, friends and family are both F words to Chet, so he usually avoids the dramas of living with other humans… but he does have Bron, so… he guesses he can understand having a way of life forced upon oneself.
Our boy– sorry, man hasn’t spoken to his parents since the day they found out he tried smoking cigarettes; when this happened, they tried to administer further punishment to their twenty-three-year-old first born son who was already banished to the basement, kicked off the family’s health insurance, and forced to pay the house’s electric and gas bills out of his own pockets, so that night he took it upon himself to disappear from their lives forever. The sad truth about the matter is that his parents drank as much – if not more – alcohol than Chet smoked when he was still living at home, tobacco and weed combined. And they both chain smoked cigarettes in their youth, and weed, so really they were hypocrites. Oh well, Chet’s much happier now; he can get high whenever he wants, and the rent he’s paying isn’t going to the reasonlessly spiteful humans that made him. Win-win situation.
Chet bids the girl a neutral farewell and she just kind of looks at him for a second, as if she was looking at someone who she knew for a long time. The moment passes and she leaves. She lights up a cigarette as she climbs into her car.‘What a shame.’
Chet interrogates his watch again and learns that only a couple of minutes have passed since he last checked the time, his inner voice proclaiming a resounding, ‘Ffffffuuuuuuuucccccccckkkkkkkk.’ On the bright side, there’s only an hour and… an hour and multiple minutes left of his shift. Math was never Chet’s strong point, okay? So what? Anyway, the headaches come and go in tumultuous waves over the next hour and x minutes, a stellar, salty sensation of spins accompanying the swell every so often. Lots of high-school-aged TLEs come and go steadily through five o’clock, most of them buying their daily rations of chips and Creature energy drinks, and whatever other food product their smelly, hormone-driven existence is craving this particular day. As he rings up literally seven slushies for a single skinny kid, Chet can’t help but think about how good a slush and a bowl would be right now. Gar.
The after-school rush makes Chet lose track of the eternally slow passage of time, and by the time the last snot-machine grabs his backpack from the front of the store and dips out, it’s half past five. Great, Chet’s co-worker is late! This is exactly what he needs right now, Chet definitely isn’t vividly contemplating suicide! Feelings of anxiety and nausea rush through his intestines, as does the need to fucking smoke some fucking reefer already. Somehow our THC-less tetrahedron survives until half-six and Geoff, his most uppity of co-workers, strolls in, his pristinely shined shoes clicking against the still unmopped tile floor. Chet, attempting to sound as diplomatic as possible while at the same time coming off as a neurotic lunatic, asks Geoff where the fuck he’s been all day.
“Well you see, Mister Skylark, Bron gave me a ringy earlier on in the day and requested that I not come in until seven o’clock. I’m actually early, thank you very little.”
‘Oh for fUCK’S SAKE!!!!!!!!!’ is what Chet thinks, but he says, “Oh okay, no worries man. Have a good night,” as he turns to finally get out from behind the front counter. While he’s flipping the false countertop up, he sees Bron leaning against the back wall of the deli, hands folded tight under his armpits, thumbs twiddling his nipples through his shirt, face exhibiting a very ape-like grin of satisfaction. This is me saying this, not Chet: fuck that guy. Geoff tells Chet how awful he looks and offers to take over now if he wants to go home, to which Chet responds with a mental ‘Fucking duh,’ and a verbal, “Thank you very much!” Our internally conflicted stoner has just enough time to get outside to his car and try the still locked handle of the driver’s side door one single time before a husky Bron gallops up behind him.
In a voice with more nasal influence than a nerd with a sinus infection and one functioning nostril, Bron unleashes his finishing move. “That’ll teach you to be late again, kid,” extra emphasis on the kid. “Now get on outta’ here.”
Chet tries to explain to Bron that he can’t quite get on outta’ here because he accidentally locked his keys in his car in his mad rush to get to work this morning, but Bron ignores his words and walks back inside.
Chet’s had a very long day. His body, which is used to an hourly intake of a very specific plant-based, medicinal, naturally occurring chemical, has been waging war against itself in an attempt to make Chet come to his senses and smoke right this second already. His boss was a douche, the customers were customers, and now he has to ask His Prissyness for a ride home.
No no no no NNOOOO!
Chet’s symptoms all come at him at once, the splitting headache, the sweat that puts the rain in rain forest, the dizziness, the mental fog that you could cut a donut out of, everything. If life was bad all day, he just entered an internal dimension of hell that he never knew existed – he can’t fucking deal. He snaps, snaps I say! Snaps like a jazzy finger-thumb combo! Rapidly turning his head back and forth to assess his surroundings, he finds a perfect tool for the job – a large hunk of pavement. Chet dives for his asphalt salvation, picking it up and using it as a chair in the wrestling cage match of the century – impatience versus unfortunate coincidence.
In the plot twist of the millennium, the two decide to team up. Chet smashes his car window.
The drive home is a cold one; the sharp evening air (occasionally carrying with it small splinters of window glass) blows into Chet’s face and eyes and ears the entire drive. He gets home to find his driveway stark empty, devoid of the landlord’s spiffy sportscar that sometimes comes to check in on him (read: request an early rent payment). Chet considers this lack of upcoming human contact to be the first good thing that’s happened to him all day.
Chet gets out of his car and pulls out his cell phone to order a pizza for delivery before he walks inside. He meant to call as he was leaving work but, you know, unbridled rage and all that. Once his dinner (a buffchick pizza) is on the way, Chet runs inside and takes himself a hot shower, oddly enough without smoking first. This is the extent of his mental cloudiness.
He gets out just in time not dry himself off before the pizza guy knocks on the door. Dressed only in a towel, and a short one at that, Chet struthops downstairs and opens his front door to find a very surprised delivery boy. The kid’s either in his mid-thirties or he’s seventeen, it’s strangely hard to tell, and he comments on Chet’s house smelling like a few skunks got loose and had an orgy. Chet replies that he has no idea what the kid’s talking about, and when the kid puts his hand out for a tip, Chet smirks and hits him with the following before shutting the door in his face.
“Here’s a tip, chiefy ol’ boss: get a job that’ll pay you full wages. And hold your nose next time.”
The couch poofs dust as Chet sits down.
Inhaling half the pizza without stopping to breathe makes the headache go away, but Chet’s tremblsweating will stop for no ‘za. He turns on the television to Dimelodeon and lays back for a few moments, allowing his stomach to process whatever it is that goes into buffalo sauce, before his eyes damn near pop out of his skull. ‘Chet can smoke now!!’ Chet thinks to himself.
With this realization observed, Chet’s up in his room so fast that he leaves skid marks at the bottom of the stairs.
With his door locked and a mellow lo-fi instrumental playing in the background, it is finally time. Chet pulls his pride and joy out from within his closet – the stash. His cache of supplies includes a bulbous ziplock baggie of herbage, seven pipes, a pack or two of rolling papers, and, a left-handed cigarette rolling contraption. The baggy contains no less than three ounces of pure, green bud, the words Big Daddy Dank chicken-scratched on the plastic. Last time Chet picked up, his dealer told him that he got a really rare, exclusive strain, and therefore, he had to charge a premium, but Chet didn’t really give a shit. At the end of the day, he just wants to burn cabbage, and he’ll pay any price… any price.
As he opens the bag, a very specific aroma wafts into the room, but Chet doesn’t even notice. After smoking for so many years, his olfactory bulb has become totally immune to the skunky scent unless he literally sticks a nug up his nose. Why would he do that, though? Waste of nug.
Chet takes a moment to contemplate whether he should roll a joint or smoke with his bong, but then he comes to his senses and grabs whichever piece is closest to him.
He packs his bud into Aphroditty, named after the goddess of beauty or something like that,’ all the way up to her brim. This is definitely more dank than big daddy needs to be smoking right now, Chet knows this, but Chet also gives an unprecedentedly minuscule fuck about how much he smokes tonight, so yeah. ‘Fill yer pockets, boi.’ The symptoms of withdrawal miraculously drip out of Chet like saliva from the mouth of Pavlov’s dog as soon as he finds his lighter; he takes a moment to enjoy the zen in the air before igniting the fire.
With a flick of his Qic and a crackle of burning plant matter, Chet finally gets what he’s been seeking all day: the holy smokes.
A ghastly plume enters his body and travels down his esophagus, most of it going into his lungs whilst the remainder sneaks into his stomach so he can belch it back up and enjoy it later. The outside world and all of its preconceptions melt away in a matter of seconds, leaving Chet to be alone with his thoughts in the inner sanctum of his mind.
cough. Cough. COUGH!
What was once green is now a blackish-grayish mound of ashes. He presses the butt of his lighter into the open urn and compacts the ash, fiending himself one more hit, this one tasting dramatically less herby than the previous ones. In fact, this hit tastes like somebody bit the end off a cigar, burned it crispy, and pressed it against the back of Chet’s tongue, but Chet ignores it. He lays back and feels as if he was floating while at the same time sinking into the bed.
Chet is one with his blankets, a conduit for the warmth.
Love is everywhere, everything is bliss, and Chet is absolutely digging it, the winds of inner peace lift his being up from the dirty bowels of the 822, up from the rude pizza kid, up into his room and into the lovely realm of Psychedelia, up and up through the sky and past the clouds and the air’s getting thin and up and up and up into spac…
I am alone in The Void.
Then, he appears.
I’m unsure of what to say. He’s sure to say nothing.
Finally, I break.
Look, I appreciate your contribution, I really do. The pamphlet is now a tiny bit fatter. And weirder. And I appreciate it. And you. But I wasn’t being serious, I don’t really know how to–
“I don’t care that you don’t know how, I care that you put me in. I even made it seem like your moksha medicines or whatever name you call your drugs unlocked the Spiraling ability. I did all that for you, so now you owe me. Asshole.”
I… all right, fine. I think I know how to fit you in, um… random question though, totally unrelated: do you happen to own a monkey suit?
“DoIhappento,” sigh “no, I don’t fucking own a monkey suit. I don’t even have the money to buy one.”
Well shit bud, I guess you better go and rob your ass a bank or something! Those cloaks don’t exactly scream Tiny Tim, ya feel me?