Pants McDonovan keeps a small box hidden in the closet. It sits under a row of hanging clothes, on top of four brown boxes. The small box is white and shinny and has the number 8 written in black paint on the top. Inside the white box is a purple crystal – egg shaped and darker around the outer half inch, the center a white glow purple – which Pants shaves slivers off with a sharpened spoon and places under his tongue.
The trick is to cut a piece about the size of a fingernail and to make sure there’s a sharp edge so that it will cut your mouth.
Pants does this sitting on his bed, a crust of purple crystal floating on a thin layer of saliva beneath his tongue. His legs are crossed, and his head falls back, thuds against the wooden headboard shaped like twisted antlers. The white box rests on his stomach, kind of pulsating and wobbling with his breathing that rattles. He presses his tongue down against the crystal until he feels it rip into his gum just below a bottom tooth. Needles runs his jaw-line before a flash of heat spreads down his throat and across his chest. Pants sits back up and takes a monster breath through his nose while moving the white box now on his crotch to the bed. His hands and feet go numb for a second before he leans over the bed and spits out a gob of blood with a few specks of purple crystal. In almost a fluid motion, the strand of goo detaches from his mouth and he falls to the floor and immediately does 50 pushups – the end of his ponytail wrapped around his neck and hitting the floor before the thud of chest. The muscles tighten into ropes and turning his head he spit-sprays the wall with blood that sparkles. Then Pants springs to his feet and inspects the heat inside his forearms by running his lips over his veins. His shirt is now covered in sweat and a little goo-blood, and he pulls it off and whips it a few times around his head before helicoptering it across the room into a corner near the bars. For the next hour he jogs in place imagining a tropical sunset at his back, a white dog at his side. Pants runs his hand through the top of his buzz-cut hair before feeling the rubber-band that holds the ponytail together. Once pulled through, he shakes his head and now there’s this flap of blonde hair bouncing up and down with the pumping of his legs. He only stops once during the hour – to close the white box and put it away – then he’s back to running.
At the end of the hour there’s a guard on the PA saying it’s lights out and Pants leaps onto the bed and is asleep within seconds.