The Flaming Gorge Dam by Matthew Dexter
There was an eight-ball of cocaine in my trunk and an elephantine Utah State Trooper poking his hairy nostrils through my window. I reflected upon suicide by cop. How it feels to be murdered by the law.
"Why do you look so nervous?" he asked.
A safari of Blackheads and conjunctivitis oozed from bleeding sclerae. What do you say to a pig pulling you over when you're smuggling drugs? Not one hundred and six kilos or running with the Sinaloa Cartel like Leo Sharp. I had no connections to El Chapo. Just a trunk with some schwag weed and an eight-ball in a backpack.
"See, backpacks and jackets," I said.
I let him search the trunk. If I refused he would have called for canines. Put me in the zoo. It was the only option. He was satisfied with the backpacks and jackets line.
Hypnagogia is the experience of the transitional state from wakefulness to sleep. The hypnagogic state of consciousness, during the onset of sleep. This is the tribal bone through the nose of the driver under the tiresome burden of daunting exhaustion. That last magic wand spanking before drifting toward the ditch and dying in an avalanche of flames and obscenities. In opposition, hypnopompia denotes the onset of wakefulness. I was hypnopompic, blood gushing through hardened arteries, the butterfly on the windshield of fledgling arteriosclerosis. The backseat was a labyrinthine wasteland of waxed paper sculpted into snowballs—charbroiled patties on toasted sesame seeded buns from McDonald's drive-throughs.
Cognitive dissonance and mosquitoes dissipated into shards. Sheriff Joe Arpaio in the rearview with the pink socks and broken capillaries.
Nobody is worse than Jay-Z. Fuck him. He'll take every classic song and ruin it with his hubris as a braggart. But 99 Problems, his horrible song, had been released in 2004. Cool head prevails. Sheriff Joe would lock up DMX. The Utah Trooper was shaved and crew-cut and this was the northern fringe of his jurisdiction: a common drug route across The Flaming Gorge Dam. Yada-yada-yada.
"The guy in front of me was going faster," I said. "Thought I was driving the speed limit."
My tone was polite—though I struggled to get the words out—to remain composed.
"I pulled you over because of the tinted windows," said the trooper.
"It's legal in Arizona," I said.
It was the darkest tint the cheapest Mexicans could do: the limousine tint on the rear windows. It was so dark it took some getting used to. It definitely deterred vision at night. I tinted during one of my weekly excursions to Tucson to pick up a half pound of marijuana. I drove the one hundred miles between Tucson and Tempe a thousand occasions. Sometimes I passed police officers in arroyos on I-10 with the humongous baggie beneath my seat. They never pulled me over. I did my best to keep to the limit. Drugs always made me a better driver. I could travel after an eighteen pack and an eighth of Mexican dirt weed and a couple grams of blow. I was a professional. No pink socks and underpants for me, Sheriff Joe.
"Where are you going?" the trooper asked.
"To Jackson Hole," I said, "to visit my friend. He lives there."
"What's your friend's name?" the trooper asked.
"James McClure," I said without hesitation.
It was the truth and that lack of reluctance gave the trooper faith. He started to trust me. It was a brilliant tactic on his part to ascertain what I was doing in Utah. If I was lying, I would have likely frozen and not been able to come up with a name in time. It would have sealed my fate.
"This is a known drug route," said the trooper.
"What do you do in Arizona?" asked the trooper.
"This is a known drug route," echoed in my skull.
I could see the prison cell. My head smashing against the window of the SUV.
"I'm a law student," I said. "I go to ASU."
The trooper camouflaged his cruiser into the brush of a rest area. He knew his procedure. I was white. Not black. Not Hispanic. Not Indian. Not Martian.
How can anybody hide it? Those fuckers said Leo Sharp had a jugular twitching so bad because he was nervous. These dumbasses could not comprehend that he always twitched. He was 88 years old! He twitched while he ate sushi in his favorite restaurant and while he took fluorescent bowel movements and while whores who spoke no English offered exorbitant blowjobs and spiked boner medicine in milkshakes in mansions.
There was nothing to hide. If I was dark-skinned, I would have had my trunk searched. I probably would not have gotten so far north without being stopped. I might have been shot in the head.
My vacation was pleasant. I tried to climb a mountain and almost died. When it ended, my friend headed to work. I headed to McDonald's and filled my belly. I drove a thousand miles in twenty hours. I pulled onto the dirt shoulder without braking on one occasion after midnight because the taillights and headlights were playing tricks with my eyes.
That was the last time I smuggled cocaine. It wasn't even for me. It was for my friend. I was doing him a favor. Talking to the trooper was wonderful as freebasing with a wizard.