When I get down, I cook up; and this time I was really down. A few weeks prior, I had the stash sent from a family member who knows drugs well—that’s what happens when you’re 85, you know how and where to get it. Decades of wisdom and experience taught my grandmother the good stuff from the bad stuff, so she went down to the local dealer for me to pick it up and subsequently shipped it to my apartment.

I hadn’t felt this miserable in a long time and I was desperate for a fix. In the low light of a weeknight in my apartment, a nearly empty lighter supplied the necessary heat to cook it up, and I relished in the prospect of normalcy that it promised. Since the time I began using I had set aside a metal spoon from the kitchen drawer, specifically designated for cooking the drug, and I’ve always hid it under the bathroom sink. When you use like I do, you try to refrain from encouraging the possibility that company might spot it out on the table and start asking questions about where your head’s at; I don’t need that, I’m sick enough as it is. Also, this is a particularly good strategy as it obviates the chance of having drugs for breakfast when all I want is cereal.

Anyway, efficiency is key when you’re dealing with a limited amount of fuel and I often dread a scenario that would find me breaking the ritual just to buy a new lighter in mid-action. In this case, honing the skill of accuracy and conservation is imperative as it can determine the difference between a successful session and a complete waste of time.

When you’re desperate for need a fix it can’t seem to happen fast enough, and this time, cooking with a lighter seemed to take forever. After the flame had passed under the spoon about 20 times or so, it was ready. Upon its completion, I immediately I threw down the lighter and hovered over the contents of the spoon to examine its purity; it was perfect.

It’s hard to kick a habit when you’ve been doing it for long. My grandmother showed me when I was young and it stuck with me. When you’re sick your sick and you’ll do anything to remedy the hurt—especially if your company doesn’t allow you to take sick days. Poised over the spook I let the fumes invade my nostrils and go to work on me, breaking down the evil presence that invaded my sinuses and satisfying a long awaited fix of Vick’s.