Rob Kaniuk - matchbox from Vegas - image for Part 2.jpg

Through the Keyhole: an Addict’s Account (Part 2)

by Rob Kaniuk

(Four years prior) Yavapai County, Arizona

I wake on a bunk, in a room with another man. The cell is 120 inches long, 78 inches wide. It is cold, filthy—I am dope-sick behind bars.

As the morning headcount commenced in the Yavapai County Detention Center, I looked out the thin sliver of a window above my concrete bunk.

It was the peaceful time of day in here, just as the sun shone against the sky prior to rising—right before the cacophonous bellow of my peers ensued. This came to be my 5 minutes of peace every morning.

Transfixed with an early sky—broad strokes in red and orange of every shade, inlaid with thin ribbons of purple, pink, and silver. Stark land specked with ornery and rugged plants defying arid soil, like the pockmarks of a face that has known a lifetime of suffering.

I sat for a while in this solitude and thought; “How the hell did I end up here?”

I was spending my honeymoon behind bars, trying to secure my release. One minor detail—I needed the sum of $25,000 cash to post bond.

After Living  and growing pot in a California compound for the previous 18 months, I came to Arizona intending to pass through.

At the end of my time in California, I was getting my shit together to head back east. Betty was flying out to meet me in San Fran, so we could spend a few days in the city for her birthday. Then we would head to Vegas to make an honest woman of her.

Red and Harlan were ready to leave the Mendocino compound for Lincoln, Nebraska. I had helped them get a job with us a few months before the harvest. I knew Red from back east. He had spent all of his money limping his busted-ass van from Philly to Garberville, CA to take part in the modern gold rush—almost legal weed. That van made it, but wouldn't take Red another mile. He pushed it into an alley behind the place he found work, and it would serve as his home for the next eight months.

Red met Harlan washing dishes at the Gypsy Rose Cafe and before long Red had himself a van-mate. Harlan was just glad not to be on the streets any longer and Red was happy to help. They were different cheeks of the same ass—acting like they’d known each other for years. The boys had experience in making high quality hash from the waste produced during harvest.

Through connections I made in my time there, I was able to keep them both busy making hash for some east coast transplants. When it was time to part, these butt buddies owed me a little cash for the startup costs. It wasn't much money and I wasn't looking for any extra, but they had something else in mind. A little thank you for getting them out of the van.

This gesture of kindness came by way of a leftover batch of hash that didn't make weight. The guys had a light brick of 308 grams, stamped with the word “California” from the custom press that I had built from an old license plate, some 2x4’s, and a car jack. A pound weighs 454 grams—-only whole pounds were agreed to be purchased by the buyer in Lincoln and it wasn't worth their risk to bring back anything but cash.

I was glad to take the brick with me, it would fetch 5-10 times what they owed me once I had it back in Philly. Besides, it was not like I had to bring a burlap sack full of pot back east—-this was 8”x3”x2” in size. Very manageable.

We had a less than charming big rig driver with a toothless smile and an overall unkempt appearance named Hamburger Hank. He brought hundreds of pounds back east on a flatbed trailer disguised as an equipment hauler. I didn't have to worry about such a reasonable package as mine, in comparison.

I left the fog-banked hollers of northern Mendocino County and made my way to San Francisco. The plan was to pick up Betty at the airport around 3pm, but I had to stop and see Moog first.


Turk And Leavenworth—deep in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco—was where I first met Moog. If you were looking for drugs or a venereal disease, this was the spot to go. Open air sales, up and down the block. Cars double-parked with fiends being served at their window. Dealers lined the sidewalks, shouting what brand of oblivion they had to offer—-all within sight of the local precinct. I'm not sure if it was tolerance by the bulls or arrogance by the dealers, but there was never any police intervention. It was like there were two blocks surrendered to the city’s affliction—-close enough to the cop shop to be considered a safe place to score. The traffic never stopped. And it was faster than the drive-thru at in-and-out.

Moog saw me make a buy and whispered out of the side of his mouth to follow him. I turned to see a white man who looked at home in the dark side of town. He was dressed in an impeccably matched sweat-suit, wearing gold rimmed sunglasses and gold Figaro chain. He looked like fat Elvis dragging a three-legged pit bull by the collar—-intrigue alone made me follow. He brought me to his surprisingly well-kept second floor apartment around the corner. It felt much safer than dealing with the dregs of Turk and Leavenworth.

I detoured from my route to the airport, met Moog and made as big a buy as he could accommodate. Then I went to scoop up Betty. She was there waiting. I was so glad to see her. It had been too long.

My tour was over. It was great to finally be in each other’s company. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, loneliness and misery made my heart cry for a familiar touch. We checked into a hotel on the Wharf and headed out on the town.

After a few days in the Golden Gate city, it was time to hit the road. The night before we left for Vegas, I contacted Moog for some road drugs. He said it was safe to stop by and I told Betty that I had to drop something off to my friend in the city before we left town. She knew I sold drugs, so it didn't seem out of the ordinary. Betty was just glad to think that I was getting rid of whatever I had brought from up north.

Betty was a good girl from a farm-town in central Illinois and hadn't known anything of the life I was living. Even the way we met was steeped in mystery to her. The secretive life was something of a novelty to this point, but she didn't want any parts of dealing drugs, let alone smuggling hash across the country.


With Betty Asleep  in the hotel, I went to meet Moog around midnight as we had planned. There was a little trouble finding his apartment. I never met him at night before, and it was a different world after dark. After crisscrossing the entire Tenderloin, I got nervous that I’d have to give up the mission and make the trip across our nation without the proper rations. Dope-sick and wild mood swings was not part of the honeymoon brochure I had presented to Betty. At this point, my body needed drugs just to get out of bed and combat sickness.

I began to panic. Moog wasn't answering the phone.

This is before everyone had a GPS on their smartphone, and could simply type in the address. I didn't even have an address to look for. Siri, take me to my drug dealer’s house, in the tenderloin. That wasn't an option.

Finding my bearings, I finally made it to the apartment. I rang the bell and waited.

A gravelly voice came over the intercom, “Yo, who dis?”

“It’s Rob—-from Philly. You said it was cool to meet.”

“You late, Slim—-come on, hurry up.” The lock buzzed, and I was in.

Success! I thought to myself, as I ran up the flight of stairs to his flat.

He opened the door in his usual white tee shirt, gold chain, and designer sweatpants. As I walked in, I was surprised by a crowd in his little apartment. They all looked at me in predatory silence. It was the first time I was nervous in the company of my San Francisco connection.

He asked how many I wanted this time and I was apprehensive to respond—-at the risk of being robbed and beaten by the strangers. I wasn't here for a nickel bag of weed—-there was a wad of cash on me for the buy.

My eyes fixed on Moog, to hide my fear from the rest of the room. “How many can you do?” He could sense I was nervous with the crowd and escorted me to the kitchen. “They cool, Slim. You good in my spot. They just acting hard—-I got you.”

Money and drugs exchanged hands. We spoke about a deal by mail, at the midway point of my trip—St. Louis. It was just one of the many chemical induced conversations people have on drugs. I never intended on mailing him any cash and he didn't think I was dumb enough to do so. In these situations, it’s just our way of being cordial. The small talk of two people with only one thing in common.

As it was our final meeting, we did the thing where you shake hands and bro hug. I took a hit of the dose he prepared during our exchange of pleasantries and I never saw him again.


The Next Morning,  Betty and I checked out of the hotel. This would be the first time I didn't have to pay the $300 deep cleaning fee for smoking pot in my room on my many visits here. After the first time this happened, I decided not to smoke in the room anymore to avoid the charge. But the pot I had with me on my second visit stunk so bad I was charged anyway. That meant I had to smoke every time, on principal. It got to the point in the past few visits that I offered to pay the fee up front. I didn't give a shit, and they loved taking my money. Betty was a stickler for following rules and very frugal, so I had to refrain from my exercise of “principles.” Next stop Vegas, and wedded bliss.

On our way to Vegas, we drove through Steinbeck Country—-lush valleys surrounded by dreary brown mountains—-I couldn't help but think of the migrant workers, Woody Guthrie, the old black and white photos of post-depression America, and The Lonesome LA Cowboy “hanging out and hanging on.”

Thinking that if I had money in my pocket and we got married, the man I had become would be forced out and forgotten. But addiction is a wound that cuts deep. In time it can be healed, but the scars always remain.

Through Bakersfield and into Nevada, we were both looking forward to the unknown madness of Las Vegas. It's the first time I gave thought to the 308 gram gorilla I had stashed in the back. Very few states on our way home would be as understanding of such a parcel as California.

I wouldn't share the knowledge of the package with Betty. It would ruin the trip with anxiety. Another reason was trying to protect myself from her nervous behavior, in the event we were pulled over. We found Vegas as the low autumn sun swept toward California. Excited for the future and very much in love, we checked into the honeymoon suite.

I got the room key and sent Betty and the bags to the room with the porter. I drove the Toyota to the parking garage and got high. There was always a scheme running about how I could get a little distance from the one whom I had spent so much time away from—-just to satisfy my lust for another hit.

She knew I had a small stash of pot for the road trip, but had no idea about my meetings with Moog. As far as she knew, I was off the shit. That was the unspoken reason I left Philly for California in the first place—to get off the shit. The spoken reason was to make a ton of cash.

Getting high was not as difficult to hide on the road as one would think. Something was always in my pocket that I could toss down the gullet while she was distracted with sightseeing. It was actually more difficult to hide in the hotel, as I preferred to ingest these drugs nasally. I had to figure out a way to prepare a dose ahead of time that could be snorted quickly.

It took approximately two to three minutes to prepare the drugs for ingestion, but only three seconds to snort. This was the problem. I could only use the bathroom excuse once or twice a day before it was obvious. How would I get away with it?

When I got to the room, the answer was sitting on the coffee table: a box of wooden matches placed by the maid. The box was emptied of its matches and I prepared my next hit inside. Then I returned the box with prepared dose on the coffee table, in plain sight. I had a technique of rolling a dollar bill with one hand inside my pocket. As Betty went to the kitchen, or bathroom, or to answer the phone, I would pull the rolled bill out and I’m fixed. Her blind trust for the man she loved would be betrayed again and again.

We did some gambling, and I won. I won a lot. Looking back, it was like our relationship to this point—I took wild risks and my luck held-fast. Betty took measured risks and lost every time. She was always the one who paid the price for my irresponsible behaviors. Meanwhile, I walked away satisfied and relatively unscathed.

We walked around the strip and neither of us were very amused at the tawdry nature of it all. Everything had a thin facade in this town. Behind all of the flashing lights and fancy restaurants, there was no real substance to be found. Nothing that spoke to any deep part of the soul. If you weren't here to lose your money or your mind, it was a waste of time.

We came to Vegas for two reasons—-witness the madness and get married. Disenchanted with the spectacle, we took the winnings from my long night of drugs and baccarat to buy a ring and get ourselves a marriage certificate from the courthouse. All of the pertinents in hand, we found the most ridiculous name we could in the yellow pages—The Hollywood Wedding Chapel. Choices for officiating this sacred moment in our lives included Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. We chose for a “traditional service” and had to rent a witness named Manuel (who doubled as our limo driver).


The Morning Sun  brought us to wake as a married couple, at the beginning of our new life together. I ordered room service—fresh squeezed orange juice, an arrangement of fruit, and scrambled eggs. After breakfast we made our way to the cage to cash in the rest of my winnings, then checked out of the hotel and Las Vegas.

The Grand Canyon would be the first stop of many on the honeymoon. There was a loose itinerary that included: the Grand Canyon, southeast to Austin, TX, northeast to Memphis, due north to St. Louis, then east to Central Illinois for Thanksgiving with Betty’s parents.

November in the southwest is windy but warm in the afternoon—warm enough to have worn shorts as we left the strip. It took only an hour to get to The Hoover Dam, and we stopped to take pictures and walk across the time zone. The area was suffering from a drought and Lake Mead had a ring of calcium all around the edges, marking the pre-drought waterline. It made me sad to see this measured retreat. There was no denying the situation when the bright white ring stood shining in your face.

It must be human nature to look away and protect ourselves. If only Betty could have seen it, and insulated herself from what I had become. Deep in the core, hidden from the world—I had become hollow. Anything tied to me would collapse under the weight of lies and deception. Logic noticed a problem, but love denied it. Soon, it would be too late.


In Kingman, AZ  we stopped for gas and a bite to eat. I smoked a bowl and snorted a dose prepared before we left Vegas. It was about a forty five minute drive to the canyon, and we began to talk of what we’d do. Should we take a burro ride to the bottom? Helicopter tour? Do we dare hike the trail? It was exciting to think of the trip ahead. Along the road I noticed a vehicle, way off in the sagebrush.

“Did you see that?”

“See what?” Betty said, oblivious.

“A cop car, or Border Patrol. It was way off in the bushes back there. Kinda shady looking.”

This caused me to snap out of the warm nod I had going since Kingman. Scanning my rearview, I saw a wall of dust leading from the sagebrush to the road. “Well, looks like we are getting pulled over.”

“What are you talking about? I don't see any cops.”

He was about a minute behind us as he pulled onto the highway, but we were the only car from here to the horizon—-I was sure he was after us.

It turned into a standoff at seventy-five miles an hour. He studied my truck with the tarpaulin carefully fastened to the bed, Pennsylvania tags glaring back at him. I kept darting my eyes from rear-view to road and back again, never moving the position of my head.

Noticeably peering into the rear-view mirror is the look of guilt to any officer, but the passenger turning around to look might as well be a signed confession. With this in mind, I told Betty to follow my lead. “Keep your head forward and do not worry.”

After ten agonizing minutes, the officer changed lanes and began to pass me. A wave of relief came over the two of us when I saw the move to overtake and said to Betty, “We’re good, he’s going to pass us finally.”

It felt like he was behind us for hours. The neat little package, wrapped in vacuum sealed bags was moved from the grenade box mounted to the frame of the truck and planted firmly in the front of my mind.

As he passed I turned to Betty like we were in a conversation, oblivious to who was behind us this whole time. The police SUV got to where he could get a look at me and he rapidly decelerated, dropped behind me once again, and hit the lights.

It's okay I thought, I’ve been through this plenty of times before. Betty was nervous about the little bowl I smoked in Kingman. I was thinking more about the package in the box, the drugs I bought in San Fran, and how utterly destroyed she would be.

I pulled over to the side and the officer approached the passenger side window. Betty was startled as he knocked on the window for her to roll it down, not a good start. License, registration, and proof of insurance was asked for—and provided. He asked if I knew why I was being stopped. I had no clue.

“Suspicion of driving while intoxicated. I was behind you and noticed that your tire hit the white line on the shoulder three times. Do you have anything in the vehicle I should know about? The reason I ask is that I smell a faint odor of marijuana coming from the truck.”

I thought to myself, Yea—-$13,000 cash, three quarters of a pound of hash, thirty 80mg oxycontins (give or take a few), a half ounce of marijuana, and a meticulously dismantled 250-3000 Savage Arms rifle - with scope (that may or may not have a past all its own).

“No officer, I do not.”

He asked where we were coming from, and heading. I explained that I had lived in California for the past two years with work, we just got married less than twenty four hours ago, and were heading back home to Philly.

“I’m just going to run your information and get you out of here.” He went to run my information while we sat and waited.

What happened next flattened my tires to the rim—the officer exited the vehicle and instead of heading to hand me my paperwork, he walked to the back of his SUV and let his dog out.

My peripherals went dark, I could feel my heart pounding, I had to find a way to save Betty before the whole weight of the situation took her down as well.  


I Can't Remember  the name of either officer, but I’ll never forget the name of that damn barking dog—Eliot Ness. I shit you not. Eliot fucking Ness. This dog was going ape-shit—about to have a coronary as he feverishly alerted on every last piece of inventory in the blue Toyota. The four-legged bastard was losing it—barking, scratching the truck, chasing his tail, completely confused of which way to turn. All I could think was; great—now this fucking dog is gonna keel over and I’ll be charged with the death of a law officer.

“My dog has alerted on multiple sections of the truck. With this being a heavy drug-trafficking corridor, I’ll be searching the truck and its contents.”

“Oh, you don't say?” I thought.

Backup arrived and the truck was being torn apart. Every detail of my past two years in California was being meticulously inventoried by two officers and a K9. Golf clubs, work tools, winter clothes, summer clothes, souvenirs from the places I've been, books, CDs, DVDs. When you live on a pot farm for two years—handling, processing, harvesting, and of course smoking pot—everything gets corrupted with the skunk-like scent of marijuana.

With the threat of a crowbar to dismantle the truck and Betty’s freedom at stake, I relented and gave up the package. Eliot went back to the SUV to have a victory bark and the two officers retrieved the Vietnam-era grenade box, fixed to the chassis. In it, they found the brick.

Cuffed and sitting on the side of the road, Betty was removed for questioning. She told the truth—she knew nothing of any package, or the origins of the package. The attention came to me and I assured them she had absolutely no knowledge of any drugs. I was asked if I wanted to cooperate and I agreed.

“Where did this come from?”

“I made it.”

“If you aren’t going to cooperate, you leave me no choice but to take you and your wife to jail.”

The “california” stamp was a thing that I found amusing upon inception, but the officers now thought I was part of some California marijuana cartel. I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculous claim—my dismissive laughter was not well-received by the boys in blue.

“I’m the guy you're looking for. She has nothing to do with this. You caught the guy who made the drugs, there's nobody to give up—you got him. I’m the head of your “California cartel.”

I was placed in the backseat of the SUV, where Eliot had been barking himself silly for the past hour. This was part of my punishment for being “uncooperative.” Now that the target of his assault was in the same car, the barking grew louder and without pause. 3/16 inch plexiglass with round air holes on six inch centers is not a comfortable barrier between man and beast. I never wanted to fight a dog before or since, but I would’ve choked the eyes out of Eliot Ness if it meant just one minute of silence.


My Right Ear  was about to bleed as Mr. Ness continued his incessant barking when I saw everything I listed in my head, laid out on the tailgate of my truck—the cash, the drugs, and the gun. The officer approached and I hoped it was to tell Eliot to shut the fuck up, or to open a window and let the clamor dissipate into the night air.

“You're lucky you know how to break down a gun and store it properly, or you’d be charged with a firearm too. Do you have any more cash in the vehicle?”

“No sir, that’d be all of it.”

“Okay, the amount of drugs together with that much cash—we are going to take possession of the vehicle and property in it.”

With that, a call was made to the impound lot to dispatch a tow truck. We had been on the side of the road long enough that the warm sun had set and the southwesterly winds picked up to a sustained gale—I was freezing cold in my shorts and tee. Six hours searching my truck was enough for these officers, so when the dispatcher for the tow company informed them it would be a two hour wait, they were not happy.

“You just got a big break. I’m not waiting two hours for a tow truck, so I have decided to release the truck and property to your wife.’’

I didn't imagine when we got married an overweight, self-satisfied, arresting officer would be the first person to describe Betty as my wife. I was relieved that she wasn't going to jail, but she would have to now learn the temperament of the blue Toyota’s manual gearbox—in Arizona—all by herself—on our honeymoon.

Eliot was still barking at me from top to bottom when I observed a thirty second tutorial administered to Betty on how to drive stick-shift. She asked if it was possible to follow the officer to jail in Prescott. He said, “You can try.” With that, Mr. Personality came back and got into the driver seat and took off like a flash—leaving Betty perfectly lost.

We made it to jail in the wild west town of Prescott, Arizona in time for lights out. An old timey jail with bars and about 10 men in each of the four cells that surrounded a common area filled with stainless steel dining benches. I had been in jail before, but this was totally different. It felt like I was in the movies; all I needed was a tin cup to drag along the bars in lament.

I was able to call Betty the next day, and she was crying the whole time. I asked her to leave me there but she wouldn't. She was willing to stay as long as it would take to get me out. I called the next day and she was still crying. Betty wouldn't leave. I explained to her that I admired her fierce loyalty, but she would have to get back to Philly to begin working on my release.

When I left California, I took a partial payment of cash and the rest of my earnings were sent with Hamburger Hank back to Philly in the form of product. I needed to get word to my man back east to liquidate the product as soon as possible.

Betty made some calls from the busted down motel located across the street from the courthouse. One call was to her father—explaining her honeymoon and the urgent need for a lawyer; another was made to Jack—my guy in Philly who had the product.


By The Third Night  it was time to move a group of us from the quaint comfort of the courthouse basement to the Yavapai County Detention Center. YCDC felt more appropriate for the full weight of my situation. The charge for hash is a bit more severe than a simple marijuana conviction—it's considered a “manufactured/dangerous drug” and carries the same penalties as heroin in Arizona—the same penalties as having three quarters of a pound of crack-cocaine.  I was in deep shit. This is where people in deep shit end up; and there was nothing misdemeanor or quaint about this setting.

Once I made it into a cell block and my bunk, the worst withdrawal I would ever endure was  peaking. It's one thing to perform the daily constitutional with company in your cell; it is quite another to be pissing out your ass with little or no warning. Take the toilet issues—add night sweats, body aches, and constant migraines—my time there was less than copacetic.

Withdrawal symptoms and the obsession to get high had part of my mind consumed at all times. Another part was constantly running over schemes and plans to raise the 25K it would take to post bond. But there was a part of my mind—my conscience—that I was trying my best to suppress.

Betty and the disappointment I had caused, the pain in her trembling voice over the jailhouse phone, her commitment to stand by her man no matter what—those thoughts crept in and destroyed me each time. I had to keep focused and not appear weak in my present company.

Observation is the best tool to have when trying to toe the line in jailhouse hierarchy. It is mostly all posturing and bravado, but the most dangerous guys are quiet and prickly. I took the first three days to get off the toilet and keep quiet while I kept an eye out for who was given the most respect in the common area.

Who picks what we watch on TV? Who gets donations of hard boiled eggs every morning, before so much as a fork touches a tray? Who are the guys at each table the others look to for a smile of approval when a joke is made? These are the guys who run their respective crews. Where does each crew sit? Which crew is friendly with the other? These are all answers that you would find out, but it was important that I found out on my own—without any “help.”

Don't ever ask for favors, but definitely do ask about house rules (shower schedules, race relations, chores and the such). Again, not something you want to find out after the fact. If you have to fight, punch first—as hard as you can—right in the fucking throat (thanks Jeremy). Keeping my head down for the first week and not speaking to anyone unless I was invited to a conversation, I didn't have to punch any throats. Thank god for that. My stature would not be able to sustain very much physical battle—my home field was of the mind.

I noticed that the clear leader of this cell block was an older white man from my home state. We were the only guys there from PA, and he wasn't going to let anything bad happen to me—unless I deserved it. That, and the fact that I had such a high secured bond, earned a certain amount of respect.

As for the bond I had to post; a secured bond must be met in full. This means no bail bondsmen, no ten percent—it would take either $25,000 cash or equivalent collateral. I didn't have a house to put up, but I had a few good friends who tried to offer theirs. But we were in the midst of the mortgage crisis, so it wouldn't work out—everyone had already refinanced. I had to come up with the cash.

 Jack Was A Friend  that I grew up with and trusted very much. One problem I had was that Jack had a seasonal business he was funding with the profits of my package from ‘ol Hamburger. The money was tied up until the season was over and neither of us expected to need it so soon. It was time to make the call. The call was to an “employer.”

I had a lot of information that could be used to completely drop all charges against me—and my employer knew it. I directed Betty to call my sister and relay the message that I needed to borrow the 25K until I got out. The call was made. The money was delivered.

Murph would act as courier, and go my bail. Murph is a frail, nervous, out-of-his-element alcoholic, that loves his son. He got a one-way ticket to Phoenix, where he would meet Betty’s step-brother, Chaz, who was living there at the time.

This big bastard stood six foot four—two hundred sixty lbs. He picked Betty up weeks earlier and drove the blue Toyota the ninety miles to Phoenix with his knees up around his chin. Chaz lived in a foreclosed home he bought when the bubble popped, with the plan to flip it. The garage would be the perfect location to park the Toyota.

Murph landed, knuckles and elbows sore from clutching the blue duffel bag like it was the crown jewels of Poland for the past 6 hours. Chaz was about an hour late to pick up Murph and when they arrived at his hovel, Murph slept on the floor for a wink or two before he made the trip to Yavapai County Correctional Facility, in Camp Verde.

It was a day before that I was sitting on my bunk, watching the sunrise over the mountains when I realized there was something missing on my long list of charges. Come to think of it I don't remember seeing it on the tailgate with the rest of my nefarious inventory—the oxy’s. I leapt from the bunk and rifled through all of my paperwork to see if I could find any mention of my precious rations. There was nothing. However, I did notice that the rough sum of $13,000 cash that was seized was written up as $5,820—-those fuckers got must have split the rest. Oh well, what’s gone is gone, no matter what the number on the paper says—I would never get a dollar of that money back.

I had put the score from Moog in an Advil PM bottle because of the similarity in shape, size, and color. The officers must have seen them. They searched that truck for six hours—I know they found them. Was it a charge that would appear later? Yet another felony to the list? Or maybe, just maybe this was gonna be a high time with me in a deep nod, and Murph driving eastbound.

Only someone in my shoes would understand. Getting high didn't get me here, it wasn’t my fault—being pulled over by a cop who didn't have a good reason to stop me got me here. Just bad luck. Just universal luck breaking even for my taking Vegas for over seven thousand big ones. It could be justified in any number of ways. But it was never the fault of my number one fan, my confidant, my mistress—my drug. All I could think about since I found out Murph was on his way was finding that bottle and dipping slowly, back into the void.

Murph got in that truck and it started right up. He couldn't believe how solid that damn Toyota was. I got up that morning and paced around the day room like a lone goldfish kissing the edge of the bowl in never ending circles. I was anxious to be on my way as soon as possible—not sure how long I would be a free man, I wanted to take full advantage of my time before the trial and the prospect of nine years behind bars.

Murph arrived right when he said he would, 8:30 A.M. What he didn't know was that the clerks at the correctional facility were not used to people coming in with a duffel bag—filled with cash. When he began to slip each of the twenty five separate thousand dollar bundles through the slot in the window, they asked him, “Why didn't you just bring a check?”

And what the clerks didn't know was that drug dealers didn't usually write checks.

After miscounting the cash four different times, they had to call the boss into the room to count it herself. It was all there, just as Murph had pleaded several times.

I was growing nervous in the cell block and the guys were starting to tease me a bit.

“Nobody’s coming for you.”

“I knew you didn't have no twenty five stacks, you're full of shit.”

The door buzzed, a guard opened it and said, “Con-e-uck?”

“That's me!”

“Roll your shit up, you made bail.”

I was never so happy to hear some asshole mispronounce my last name. I packed up my shit and gave one last look around—as to say, “told you so, fuckers.”

The shorts I had on when I left the strip were waiting for me in processing. It had snowed the night before, but I didn't care one bit. I walked out of that place with shorts and a t-shirt, hugged Murph, and got on the road.

I called to thank my lawyer on our way out of Arizona and he said, “Whatever you do, do not tell me where you are right now. As a condition of your bail agreement, you still don’t have permission to leave the state. I’ll contact you when the judge signs the papers allowing you to leave. In the meantime, drive safely.”

We stopped for a bite to eat and some gas. I looked in the 50 cal. ammo-box that was my center console and found the bottle with every last oxy 80 still in there. It was on. I took a deep breath and disappointed everyone who fought so hard to get me home as I inhaled a huge dose while Murph was in the bathroom of the restaurant.

I would love to tell you that I learned a lesson in Yavapai County, that I wanted to change, that I was a good husband from that day forward. However, nothing but pure misery would lay beyond the horizon.

The lawyer called me back as I was kissing oblivion, three hours into New Mexico—it was safe to leave.

I was gone.


A Note About The Author: Rob Kaniuk worked in the trades for the past 15 years. He started jotting notes and short poems at work and kept writing.  After coming through a long and tumultuous history of drug use and poor decisions, he began to share what he'd been hiding for years.