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Dr. Pender’s eyes burned as he drove down the post rush hour Fifteenth Avenue. The posh and mature Encanto area of Phoenix drifted past him and his racing green Jaguar XJ-12.
Pender knew that he needed some real sleep and not the kind that lay in the pharmacy vial next to him. That sort of Dr. Fox induced deep-down sleep came hard and fast through one of Pender’s many collapsing veins. It always came with the highest price. A price he’d been more than willing to pay of late. Pender knew he couldn’t keep on like this, so he just stopped thinking about it.
The four door Jag turned easily into one of the older and more distinguished of the area neighborhoods. The subtle mix of adobe, red brick, unique shapes and designs of the various custom bungalows and ranch-style homes winked pleasantly as Pender drove by. The glass bricks, ceramic tiles, tasteful fountains and deep, sculptured lawns of dark winter grasses hinted of quiet wealth.
With a sloppy turn, Pender was in the driveway of his own little slice of heaven. He got out of the car, twisting his knee for the millionth fucking time. He cursed and grabbed his pharmaceutical that had dropped. Bending over to retrieve his salvation in a bottle elicited another jolt of fire in his knee. Pender wanted to cry from the frustration. This really blows.
He stood upright, wiped the bitch tears from his face and hobbled up the cobbled pathway to the front door of the main house. Pender’s home was every bit as stunning in it’s muted display of taste and elegance as the rest of the neighborhood, but he hardly ever noticed anymore. And when he did, the opulence just made him angry and sad.
Pender had been able to buy both the big house and the studio guest cottage from the DesMartin estate. The old folks sure liked the quiet Dr. Jon Pender. Their family gave him a very fair price, to keep the beloved place in good hands.
Pender disarmed the alarm system and turned the key in the lock. He entered the foyer. On the other side he could peer easily into the spacious and superbly decorated formal living room. It always stayed clean because of the maid service and the fact he never stepped foot in the room.
It was a lovely room though. The decorator set the mood of the room by painting it in a light cheery yellow. Pender couldn’t recall the name of the shade. It was something ridiculous like ‘Harvest Morning’, or something equally pointless. Waverly window treatments unified the inwardly opening white painted French doors. There were Armstrong moldings just below the white painted ceiling to add what the decorator called ‘presence’.
On the side wall to the right of Pender stood a baker’s rack filled with plants that were maximizing the sunny space. An off-white Berber carpet covered the original wood flooring nicely, keeping the precious wood safe for future surfacing and polishing. Pender doubted he’d ever get around to it. On top of the carpet several richly hued pieces of upholstered sitting furniture stood sentinel. A Kincaid entertainment center dominated the main wall. Inside the closed doors a large, powerful Sony sound and audio system hid.
It would have been a perfect room for Pender to entertain guests, but he would never consider such a thing. He had no friends to speak of, besides the lab animals. Interestingly Pender regarded them as colleagues too. Regardless, his home spoke too loudly of his newly found mega-wealth that Pender felt so guilty about.
Good old reliable ViraStat, he mused, the ever-producing cash cow.
Pender made his still painful way as quick as he could manage through the rest of the house and out the back door. Security lights flooded the lush garden courtyard, a pre-recorded Cujo barking to beat the band.
“Fuck,” Pender muttered, “Stop!” and the alarm ceased. “Jesus.”
Pender went to his old studio guest house. It was re-decorated as a study, but Pender was resting on his laurels. There wasn’t anything left to study. He liked the comfort of the small space. It made him feel a little nostalgic. Pender hauled the thrift store shit back in and made it mimic the old days as close as he could.
Pender opened the door and entered. All the shabby chic décor was even more frayed than before, but it was Pender’s favorite spot on Earth right now. It was his tiny little cave. He kept the shades drawn, rarely taking the time to air it out. Pender’s mind was also beginning to fray like the furniture, so he didn’t mind his funk so much.
Pender dropped himself onto the couch, a dust cloud poofing out. He placed the pharmacy bag on top of a loose pile of un-cashed ViraStat profit sharing checks from Hudson-Smythe. He brought out the mortar and pestle from beneath the table. He opened the bottle and placed two pills in the stone bowl.
Pender remembered vividly the way Hannah Bergh had looked as she spoke of the riches they would make. He crushed the pills into a finely ground soluble powder. Pender also vividly recalled the face of the baby he experimented on. He recalled how he rationalized its use.
I heard it cry, he thought. His own tears fell and mixed with the powdered pills and some saline he squirted on it. It was not supposed to be able to cry. Pender rolled up his sleeve. He stirred the mixture around until it thinned enough to draw up into his syringe.
Pender’s eyes bleared with the memory of it and the only way to silence his demons are the pills and the needle. For a time, they will get him stoned out of his mind. Then Dr. Jon Pender won’t have to remember anything at all.
At least my father is proud of me, Pender thought, because he sees nothing beneath the mask. He was gamely hunting for a usable vein, a tourniquet clamped in his teeth. Maybe, Pender realized, there is nothing under the mask. Perhaps this loaded syringe is all there is.
A bump was targeted, the needle inserted, blood drawn. Mixed with the liquid pain pills, Pender pushed the drawn blood and its new companion back into the vein from whence it came. When the meds hit, they hit hard. Pender’s eyes fluttered and his chin hit his chest. When his airway closed enough to lower his oxygen critically, his body forced him to slump over on his side. The airway reopened and Pender breathed in enough oxygen to keep him both alive and asleep.
Sweet blessed oblivion.



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This is it, the last posting for 'PHARMACIDE'....Enjoy!!