Depressed is how she felt. She wasn’t clinically depressed; never had been. Moody, yes, but not depressed. Come to think of it, how could she know what depressed felt like. She was just down, sad. Her life had changed so much since Lila and Ryan had started dating. She was still their friend and she loved hanging out with them individually, but life was different now. The possibility that she might end up with Ryan had been snatched away from her; removed from play, if you will. Sure there were times when she thought about going into bitch mode and doing whatever she could to steal him away from Lila, or to at least break them up, but when it came right down do it she didn’t have it in her. She loved them both and was trying to find her own happiness in the world so as to not be so negatively affected by their happiness. And why would she waste the time trying to convince Ryan to love her when he clearly didn’t? It was such a waste of energy.
She knew she was a bitch. She played the game “How Much Of A Bitch Can I Be Before Lila Gets Mad At Me?” all the time. If this were her parents’ favorite game show, $25,000 Pyramid, and they were in the Winner’s Circle, she would always be giving while Lila sat on the receiving end. She always pushed it to its limits, but ultimately she would do anything for Lila and it would kill her if their friendship ended.
It was summertime. She should be happy. She had just completed her junior year at Brown. She was home for the summer, living a life of leisure, yet she was moping around the house. Then she saw her dad’s briefcase. It peaked her interest immediately. She hadn’t seen her dad or her mom around, but that didn’t mean they weren’t home. Why would her dad’s briefcase be at home if he weren’t?
“Dad?” she called out then listened.
No reply. No sound.
“Dad?” She paused. “Mom?” Again there was no answer and no sound.
She looked around the room just to make sure that her dad wasn’t asleep on the sofa or in the chair. No one was there. She went straight to the briefcase and opened it. She was hoping to find something inside that might help her take the edge off of her mood and lift it just a bit at the same time. At this below sea level elevation in Downerville she was ready to chew a couple of Pamprin just for the mood elevators. The contents of her dad’s briefcase did not disappoint.
There amongst the paper work was a black pouch. Out of curiosity Cordelia opened the pouch and saw five vials of clear liquid inside. She wondered what they contained. She put the pouch down and looked through the paperwork, searching for the answer.
Cordelia’s father worked in the research and development lab at Wynstat Pharmaceutical, located just outside of Thornclyffe. He didn’t often talk with her about what was in development at Wynstat, but she had ways of finding out. She had heard him mention the word “Lazarus” to her mom in conversation once. She had gleaned another word from that same conversation— antidepressant—and filed it away in the back of her mind.
She searched the paperwork for any information on what the clear contents of the vials might be. There were notes and FDA papers containing information that she didn’t understand—or if she was honest, didn’t want to read—and then she saw it—Laztripol, nickname Lazarus. This was it, the antidepressant her dad had been developing.
Scanning the papers quickly she saw that it did not have FDA approval yet…blah, blah, blah…there was a list of the same side effects that accompanied other antidepressants: nausea, insomnia – but there seemed to be no sexual side effects (That’s a plus Cordelia thought to herself)…blah, blah, blah…she continued scanning down the page. Another thing that leapt off the page was the unknown side effects the drug might have on a person who actually doesn’t suffer from severe depression. All of the test patients had been those diagnosed with severe depression and had been suffering from it for at least a year.
Cordelia had no fear when it came to untested side effects; she loved a good drug. Any effect, adverse or otherwise, was good for her. If the side effect was negative she knew not to take that one again. She removed one of the vials from the black pouch and took it upstairs to her bathroom. She furiously searched her medicine cabinet for something she could transfer the contents into. She found an aspirin bottle with a screw top. She didn’t even know companies still made aspirin bottles with a screw top. She didn’t even know that aspirin bottle was in her medicine cabinet, let alone how long it had been there. She wondered what else was in that cabinet as she stared at the bottle.
She dumped the aspirin into the toilet and flushed them. She then washed the bottle clean of the aspirin dust, shaking as much water as she could from it. A little water never hurt anything she thought to herself. She opened the vial and smelled it. No odor. She then poured the liquid contents of the vial into the aspirin bottle and tightened the cap. She took the repurposed aspirin bottle into her bedroom and promptly put it into her purse.
She then took the vial back into the bathroom, filled it with water and replaced the cap. She took it downstairs and placed it back inside the black pouch in her dad’s briefcase. She knew he would find out quickly enough that one vial was not filled with Laztripol. So using her sneaky, conniving brain she made sure to not completely tighten the cap before putting it back in the pouch. She tried to replace the pouch as she’d found it. The water was already starting to leak out of the vial before she closed the briefcase. She smiled a purely cunning, diabolical smile at the thought of her deception. As the Laztripol had no odor, her father would be none the wiser as to the fact that it was merely water, not the Laztripol that caused his papers to wrinkle as it dried. He would be pissed at himself, or an assistant, for not placing the cap on tight enough. She didn’t care about that.
She ran back upstairs with the vague memory of a former ear infection flicking in snap shots through her mind. The medicine was administered in her ear via dropper. She remembered her mom buying a set of droppers but they had used only one of them. She thought she must still have the other one somewhere.
She got down on her knees and began to search through the contents in the cabinet under her sink. There was toilet paper, tampons, half-empty lotion bottles, mouthwash, air deodorizer, cleaning products, a bottle of vodka in the back (I forgot all about this) and a small zip travel bag containing extraneous make up utensils and an unused dropper. She smiled and bit her bottom lip as she looked at. She all but threw everything back into the cabinet and shut the door.
She ran to her bed, grabbed her bag and pulled the aspirin bottle out of it. She unscrewed the cap and inserted the dropper. She squeezed the rubber tip and watch as the Laztripol was sucked up into the plastic tube. She opened her mouth and lifted up her tongue. She let one-drop fall under it then closed her mouth. Her father had always told her that any drug in liquid form, or tablet form that is chewed, enters the blood stream faster. All that was left was to wait and see what would happen, if anything.
No more than 20 minutes later, maybe even 15, she began to feel the tingle. It was like a slow blush creeping from her head downward—the thrill of inhaling Poppers while having a major orgasm at the same time. Even without having done so herself, she’d heard enough stories to know this was different, longer lasting; this was building with intensity. Her heart rate began to increase, but not excessively. Heat coursed through her body creating a euphoric sensation. Definitely different than what she’d heard about poppers.
Lazarus the person, rose from the dead, hence the nickname. Laztripol was to help people get back to living; people who heretofore had been walking through life almost zombie-like due to debilitating depression so severe that it was painful. If all the drug did for depressed people was help their neurotransmitter’s function better so they could actually function then they would never know what they were missing. Cordelia’s brainwaves were feeling anything but down. She was experiencing the smoothest high she had ever experienced. She felt like she was gliding every time she took a step. She was also very aware of her body. Her faculties were completely in tact; hence she didn’t think she could fly. She had all the euphoric feelings of being high, without feeling out of control—every nerve ending felt alive. She knew exactly what was happening. It was amazing. She was high and aware at the same time. Her thoughts were clear. At that moment she couldn’t imagine there being another drug that would be any better than this one. The problem: how to keep a supply? She couldn’t worry about that. She just wanted to enjoy what she was feeling.
Her mood had lifted. She was better than ever. She wondered how long it was going to last. She wanted to call Lila and tell her about it, but thought better of it. All it would take was one of Lila’s less-than-happy judgmental looks and it would kill her buzz. Even over the phone she would hear that look. She wasn’t about to let Lila infringe upon her enjoyment. She would find a way to slip the experience into a conversation, but at the moment all she wanted was to go outside in her parents backyard and lie in the grass and feel the warmth of the sun on her face. She didn’t need anything else: food, water, music, or companionship. She was perfectly content with her own thoughts fusing with the feel of the grass and the warmth of the sun on her skin.
After what felt like an hour of feathers and fingers running up and down her body, she sat up and spied the pool. She threw caution to the wind and undressed completely; jumped in nude. She didn’t care that it was the middle of the day. No one was home that she could tell, and no one could see her over the fence. She didn’t think it would matter to her even if they could. Her body was hot and she knew it. If someone could see her and wanted to look, so be it. The guttural sound that exploded from her mouth as she emerged to the surface of the water was almost inhuman. The cold water had never felt so good. She had tried other drugs before, but none of them had excited her body quite like Laztripol.
What luck to have stumbled upon her dad’s briefcase and to actually have found something in it worth finding. It was like the drug gods had planted it there for her and laid the path for her to find it, unobstructed.
Laztripol. Lila remembered the first time she’d experienced it. Nothing had happened to her. Cordelia was so excited about it. It was her latest discovery, this drug in liquid form; like finding an unknown designer with the perfect one-shouldered dress.
Lila was not one for drugs. Ryan wasn’t either. That’s what had surprised her so much when he said yes. He had smoked marijuana before and the two of them together had once tried ecstasy, but for the most part they didn’t partake in illegal substances. Lila was too freaked out about affecting her brain and Ryan just didn’t like the way they made him feel. Cordelia was the one; she enjoyed the mellow high of smoking marijuana and the neon-rave rolling sensitivity of being high on ecstasy. She was never afraid to try something new. Her mother’s medicine cabinet was a treasure trove of light blue topaz-colored Valium and Percocet, carnation pink sapphire-colored Xanax and opal-colored Vicodin and Ativan. Her father was always bringing some new drug home. The minute it was FDA approved and he thought his wife might benefit from it, he would bring home a sample; usually a bottle’s worth.
Ryan was an art history major at Brown. He wanted to open an auction house like Christie’s. The opportunity arose for him to actually tour Christie’s in New York City. It wasn’t so much that an opportunity arose as his father made a considerable donation to the auction house’s educational arm – Christie’s Education. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Brown, Ryan hoped to complete a Master’s Degree at the New York branch of Christie’s Education. He wanted to eventually work for Christie’s so that he could take his education and first-hand knowledge and open a venture of his own.
He invited Lila and Cordelia to go to New York City with him when he went to tour the facility. It would be a chance for the three of them to spend some time together away from Thornclyffe and from campus life at Brown. He thought they could all use some time away. He hoped that they could reconnect as friends.
His family owned a penthouse on New York’s Upper East Side at 1212 Fifth Avenue. Actually they owned half of the 15th floor, in a 15 floor pre-war building. It had beautiful views of Central Park at 102nd Street and while the renovations had kept all of the charm of the pre-war structure, it was modern in every other way. With his mom and dad not using the penthouse, there would be no need for them to stay in a hotel. There would be no need for them to worry about anything. Ryan’s father had paid for the entire trip for the three of them.
It was the summer before their senior year at Brown. Their last summer before life in the real world. This was only a weekend trip to New York City, but with all expenses paid, they wanted to have a good time…within reason.
Aside from the 2 hours it took Ryan to tour Christie’s and meet with members of the educational department, the weekend was theirs. They shopped on Madison Avenue spending most of their time in Crafton’s-on-Madison, an upscale boutique department store bringing together designer merchandise both current and vintage; they took in a Broadway matinee of the hit show Pine Valley, The All My Children Musical; they ate at fabulous restaurants like SpinCycle and Sakiloo. It felt like the old days again. They were laughing and having fun together. Cordelia and Lila were actually walking arm-in-arm. Lila remembered feeling a sense of happiness that she hadn’t felt in a long time. All cares in the world seemed to be nonexistent; all hurt feelings forgiven or at least pushed aside.
It was Saturday night. They had just eaten dinner at the new, hard-to-get-a-reservation French restaurant, Beurre Blanc, and had returned home for a disco nap and change of clothes before heading back out again to the gay club, Safety. Although none of them were gay, Safety was rumored to have the best dance club DJ in New York City. They wanted to blow off some steam. Their junior year had been grueling with classes focusing on their declared majors getting more intense. They weren’t going to have another trip to NYC like this until after they graduated, so they planned to have a good time.
This was the perfect opportunity for Cordelia to enlighten her two friends on the joys of Laztripol. She pulled out the vial and Lila was immediately skeptical.
“What is that?” she asked Cordelia, afraid of the answer.
“It’s called Laztripol. My father helped develop it.”
“So it’s a drug?” asked Lila with that look Cordelia hated so much.
“Yes, it’s a drug,” responded Cordelia.
“Does your father know you have it?” Lila couldn’t just go with the flow.
“No, Lila, he doesn’t know I have it,” answered Cordelia, trying not to let the questions get under her skin, but close to failing. “It’s for depression.”
“If it’s for depression, why do you have it?” Lila was confused, understandably so.
“Well, because if you’re not depressed it works differently in your brain,” Cordelia responded with a smile. “They nicknamed it, Lazarus. You know the saying “high on life”? The other two nodded. “It’s like that in liquid form. It makes all of your nerve endings tingle and it makes you love everything, but it doesn’t make you lose your wits. That’s the coolest thing. You’re completely in control. You don’t want to jump out the window because it doesn’t make you think you can fly. And you don’t want to chill on the sofa because it doesn’t mellow you out to the point of sleep. It also doesn’t affect you negatively in the sexual area.” Cordelia bit her bottom lip. It was a habit she’d picked up when she learned how to flirt.
Lila continued to look skeptical.
“It’s the smoothest high I’ve ever felt and I didn’t feel any strange side effects after. I woke up the next day after I took it the first time and felt like myself. There was no headache, no nausea, nothing. I wanted water, but that’s typical of me in the morning. If that was a side effect it’s no different that ecstasy.” Cordelia was working on the up sale. “I haven’t even felt like I needed it again. That’s not to say that I haven’t wanted it, but I haven’t needed it like an addict. I just wanted to feel the tingle again.”
“Isn’t wanting it just as bad as needing it?” asked Lila. “Aren’t you just substituting words?”
“God, Lila you can be such a bore sometimes. Do you have a hard time finding the granny panties you wear?” Cordelia responded, her fight to stay calm lost. “Try it. Don’t try it. I don’t care.” She was exasperated. “I’m going to use it before we go dancing. I think it’ll be amazing.”
Ryan had been complacent to the point that they’d forgotten he was in the room.
“I’ll try it, Cordelia,” said Ryan.
“Ryan,” said Lila as she turned towards him, her face a mystification of shock, betrayal, and hurt.
“Lila, we’re here in the City tonight. We can take a cab home from the club. I don’t ever do anything like this. I want to give it a try. I’m with my two closest friends. When could there be a better time?” He smiled at her. He would never pressure her to try it, but he hoped that she would.
Lila took a deep breath, exhaled. “Okay.” She took another breath, “Damn it,” and said, “Okay,” as she exhaled. “I’ll try it with you.”
Cordelia’s face erupted into a smile that couldn’t be contained. She actually clapped her hands as she ran for her purse. “Okay, so I only did one drop when I took it the first time. It took about 15-20 minutes for me to feel anything.” She produced the aspirin bottle and dropper. She opened the bottle and inserted the dropper. She was talking very fast, excitement taking over. “I put the drop under my tongue because…I don’t know why, I just did. So lets do it that way again. Are you guys ready?”
Lila looked at Ryan. He gave her his 100-watt reassuring smile and she turned back to Cordelia and both of them nodded their heads. Cordelia placed one drop of Laztripol under each of their tongues.
©2011 Michael Rohrer