I am the Devil by Laura Pritchett
mixture into the dish. Be real careful. I used to cook with my mom, of course—mainly oatmeal cookies and devil’s food cakes and so on. She was a ranch wife, and I do believe she was actually happy. I use an oven, not a hairdryer. It blows my mind. Happy. Obviously, the fumes from this are gonna make you sick. So wear a painter’s mask, and look in the mirror and see how Devil-crazy you look, because it’s fucking hilarious. Remember how you used to look in the mirror when your mom would stand behind you and curl the back of your hair before races with a hot curling iron.
Me and HIM live in an abandoned trailer high up in the mountains, which is ideal. And if we drive twenty minutes down a dirt road, there is one small grocery store and one restaurant and one post office and one vet clinic and one volunteer fire department and one small schoolhouse called Stove Prairie, which is an actual fact, and it’s the last functioning schoolhouse in Colorado. At first, I did meth only before races. Because I could do anything and I would win. Then I started cooking with HIM. And now I inject a couple grams of my homemade meth every day. I am never not high. But I am never high enough. Which is my point. A never in both directions means that I’m basically fucked, and my life has become a recipe for ruining perfectly good ingredients. I can see that, too. I have always had very good eyes.
At the rodeo, I used to fly around those barrels on Alma, my quarter horse. She was beautiful, and frankly I was too. I would fly and fly and fly. Now my arms, legs, and neck are bruised from the needles, and it’s true my teeth are shit. If I’m not cooking on my stove I’m shopping for ingredients. Violet’s Grocery, which is on this mountain, is not the place to go (except occasionally for Sudafed or coffee filters). We get iodine from the vet. But we have to go off mountain into town for the rest, and the law is in town. I hate that. Because while this mountain is safe, the rest of the world is not—a fact proven to me each day when I watch the birds. I know them because my mom knew them—the crossbill and black-capped chickadees, the broad-tailed hummingbird, the yellow warbler, the yellow-rumped warbler, the slate-colored junco, the saw-whet owl, the wild turkey, the goshawk, and the nighthawk. If birds like that can fly (like I used to fly on Alma) and still choose to live here, well, then I believe this is a safe place to be.
HE shake shake shakes me sometimes. Once you have the pseudoephedrine all by itself, add it to another jar with iodine and red phosphorous and hydrochloric acid. Screw the lid on and shake like hell. This is how you get your exercise. Har har har.
HE leaves me for days with no food, car, or phone. Just me and the lab. Still I’m never high enough.
Once I was scared. I thought I had overdosed because I began bleeding out of my vagina. It simply would not stop. Luckily he was sleeping, because going alone is always better. Right? I drove myself to the doctor. It took forty-five minutes to drive there down this whole mountain, and I thought I was going to die and I should call my mom and at least tell her I was in Colorado. Turns out, the miscarriage I didn’t even know about, which happened months before, wasn’t fully finished. That’s why I was bleeding. I didn’t die, so I didn’t call my mom. I miss Alma more than I miss my mom, and there’s no good reason for that other than me being a fuck. I did ask for birth control, so you can see that perhaps there is a tinge of goodness not yet separated from me yet.
I do keep lists of the birds. Crack. Explosion. Ka-POW.
So let it sit for half an hour. Then open it back up, but try not to breathe the fumes. Add in the sodium hydroxide. Now gently swirl it until it gets cloudy. This means the chemicals are reacting off each other. Ka-POW. Then screw the lid back on and shake it for another ten minutes. Look for a middle layer in the jar.
I am the Devil.
Normal people don’t look out the window at deer and elk and think they might be spies. I saw a fucking bear once, no joke, but she was no spy. Too wild and beautiful. You may think I am not the Devil, because the Devil has power, and I have none. Well. Consider this: I am giving you the power to fuck up your life. And like the Devil, I am my own antagonist. And like the Devil, I had a soul. I quit, once. It lasted an hour. That’s why I’m glad I didn’t have a baby.
Go in with the eyedropper. Be gentle, like with a baby. Start taking the middle layer. Don’t get the bottom layer. Fill up the third jar with water and add ten drops of hydrochloric acid. The bottom layer is what you want to keep. Evaporate it by heating. This leaves crystals, and that’s the crank meth. Simple as that. Some people call this the cold-cook method, but I call it the how-to-make-a-Devil method.
Remember you can’t leave this stuff where the sheriff or one of your weird neighbors will find it. You can go to jail for having the ingredients. You would think I’d care about explosions, that at some point I’d think, Oh, this stuff might blow up, I could be dead in a minute, and I should have called my mom and asked about my horse. But oh well. I am going to live on this mountain forever—which probably won’t be that long, even I can see that—because it is fucking beautiful. And even though I don’t know anybody, I feel that the people up here have good souls. Souls that haven’t evaporated.
Evaporated souls sometimes get caught in purgatory, but other times they get caught in the first circle of hell. Which is where I am. You can’t break past the barrier and move up once you’re caught.
This is my recipe. The world is full of people telling you not to do drugs or your brain will fry like eggs in a skillet. And that’s good—you should listen. Reclaim your mist if you can. But if you are at the gates of hell, I am here to help. Write me if you want, and if someone mentions some detail I forgot, I will probably add it to my recipe. I will also tell you to keep riding horses and going around barrels. Because even though that may seem stupid, it’s not. A figure-eight is better than no movement at all.
Laura Pritchett is the author/editor of seven books, including her newest novel Red Lightning. Her novel Stars Go Blue, published in 2014, received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal, the latter calling it “a brilliant novel, filled with heartache and humor.” She has another novel, The Blue Hour, forthcoming in 2016. Her earlier fiction includes the novels Sky Bridge and Hell's Bottom, Colorado. Her nonfiction includes Great Colorado Bear Stories and three edited anthologies: Pulse of the River, Home Land, and Going Green: True Tales from Gleaners, Scavengers, and Dumpster Divers. More at www.laurapritchett.com.