Fall 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 4 FictionOctober 1, 2009 |

Melinda

When I first met James, he was a meth chef. This year he doesn't need to cook because he has another guy to do it. The chef has runners—guys who take the city bus from drugstore to drugstore to get antihistamine for our special ingredient, one legal box at a time. Now James is our punisher, our savior, our iron-and-brass man. He gives us our worktable and our tools: pens, tape, change of address cards, Mountain Dew, cell phones, shards, and pipe. When he's not cleaning and cleaning, RJ Dumpster dives and rifles through cans and recycling bins for credit-card bills and bank statements, sometimes just feathers of paper, and then he dumps the pile on our worktable. Ripped to the winds, no problem, James says today, his hand heavy on Little Fry's neck. She bows her head and starts sifting. There's nothing a tweaker can't do if she sets her mind to it, James says. Right, Fritzie? he asks me. It's blue-snow December outside and it stinks of cigarettes inside. Little Fry needs a

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When I first met James, he was a meth chef. This year he doesn't need to cook because he has another guy to do it. The chef has runners—guys who […]

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