Originally published on Basura Collective

One of the highlights of my year is watching people smoke crack.

The jokes wouldn’t register at first. Bloodshot eyes. Rapid heartbeat. Not being able to swallow. It must be like cotton mouth only there’s nothing funny about it.

While everyone is getting high, I always imagine men in civilian garb busting through the doorway in classic crime movie fashion. Actions slurred, no exchange that would make any sense. Just the noise of holding life by a thread. Everyone, including myself, gets shot in the forehead.

On Novembers and Decembers, weed stops coming in. The trail that marijuana leaves, in small packets, mini ziplocks, coin envelopes, they just vanish. By the turn of the year, the stuff comes back in droves. A miracle in the middle of March.

Last year, it was the same story. As early as October, people could feel it. Then February, April, June, still nothing. Potheads scrambled the streets like overgrown city rats out of used food plastic to chew. People scraped shelves, old containers, that small space in between the car window and the driver’s seat, in the hope that during the supply heydays, somebody was careless enough to drop a bud in there.

A friend of ours once dropped the last minuscule load of hash while smoking up in his mother’s garden. With great strength of the eye, the hash reappeared pinched between somebody’s thumb and index finger. The smell of smoke in the air was unmistakably waif with the hint of wet earth and dog shit.

With great effort on their part, I received messages from people I met only once, having vaguely mentioned knowing a friend who was a buddy to someone who happened to be a dealer. While all this was happening, shabu continued to power BPO agents, taxi drivers, and the rest of this fine, restless city.

Even down here in ground zero, no one is lining up to the sweat-stinking Barangay Hall covered courts to attend condescending, sectarian seminars on illegal drugs.

But when a famously crackhead son of an unwavering politician with the power to veto slips, we all slip. When a pothead daughter of a man in the ivory tower of the north slips, we all slip.

We are all hanging by something even more delicate than thread.