Chapter 1: Orientation Day
Well, I’ve really gotten myself into it this time.
Let me start off by saying... there’s a crazy guy sitting across from me right now named Rudy. He must be in his early 30’s and looks like the homeless double of John Wayne Gacy. His creepy dark eyes are boring into me right now and it’s tripping me out. The guy is about 100 pounds overweight with greasy brown hair, but what’s really putting me off is the odor drifting off him. It’s an unpleasant blend of dirty feet and corpse bile. We all took showers, mind you... This is not a good first impression of what my life’s going to be like over the next 30 days if it continues this way.
Today is Saturday, not just any Saturday, it’s orientation day.
No, this isn’t my first day at college or some fun tech job. That would be cool. I’m being oriented into the drug trial I just signed up for. The good? It’s $300 a day. Awesome, right? Sure, that’s almost ten grand if I make it the full 30 days, which will pay off my bookies and get me square with my bills. The bad? I have no idea what the fuck this mystery drug “Formula 35C” is going to do to me.
Aside from the noxious smelling guy, there’s over a dozen people in here with me. To my right is Randy. He’s hemming and hawing about having to write out his thoughts I think, either that or he’s got to drop a number 2. Oh, wait, he needs my attention. Perfect.
“Wah tuck we posed to rah?” He says almost too fast and aggressively for me to decipher.
I stare at him for a second trying to process the words.
“Well? What the fuck are we supposed to write on this stupid thing?” he rattles again, slower.
“Just what they said a few minutes ago” I reply with the patience of a loving mother, which I never had. “Your thoughts, feelings, and basically anything that pops into your head.”
His face scrunches up and he huffs out a throaty growl. “What the hell for? Just give us the fucking drugs already.” He says before staring back at his laptop. I smile and nod. I feel like I’m at an anger management meeting.
“JACK MCCOY” I hear one of the scientists yell.
“That’s me.” I belt back and see it’s the mean balding one, Dr. Waters, I think.
“Ten more minutes then you will make your way to Dr. Nelson in the staff office.” He yells while checking something off on his clipboard.
“Sir, Yes, Sir!” I reply with a few drips of sarcasm.
“You’ll call me Doctor, do you understand?” he replies with condescending authority.
“Yes, Doctor!” I shoot back with a genuine smile and daggers in my eyes.
I guess I better get back to it.
This wasn’t supposed to be a lone operation for me. It was my buddy Vic who told me about this drug trail while we were at gamblers anonymous last week. He’s not here, so I guess he didn’t make the cut. We’re both degenerate assholes, but he at least has his own place and a vehicle, so I’m not sure how I won the job, and he didn’t. It’s entirely possible, given that this is a drug trial, that they were intentionally seeking the biggest losers they could find and by the looks of these people who also got in, I’d say they did a great job.
Okay, that was mean. Some of these people seem normal. I had to spend the entire morning with them doing all kinds of physical and mental testing. They even put us on a polygraph test just to be sure we weren’t here to disrupt the trials. I’m good with names and with all my years of poker, I can read people pretty well. Not well enough to win, evidently, but good enough.
Aside from Rudy and Randy, there’s a guy named Jeff and he’s…. somewhere in here. He looks like a stoner type who grew up in a small town with hippy parents. Shaggy hair and scruff on his face. We bonded briefly because we both smoke and they’re not letting us smoke while we’re here. I’m not fiending for a cigarette just yet, but its’ coming and it is going to suck. I don’t think Jeff did that well on the mental testing, but he did do the solid 30 minutes on the treadmill. For the record, I bombed both.
There’s also, Ben. A mousy looking redhead. He can’t be more than 20. He hasn’t said much, but I think I heard him crying after the physical testing. I’m not judging. I would have cried too, had I not prematurely jumped off the machine.
Then there’ s Frank, who’s huddled by himself in the far corner of the room right now on his laptop. He’s the only Asian member of our group. He’s got super thick glasses and hasn’t said a word the entire time we’ve been here. I… really can’t read much off him.
Also sitting at the table here is Michael, a mid-30s chef. He’s from Columbia and has a pretty thick accent. He’s very handsome and charismatic. He greeted everyone in the group this morning and promised us that when he got his full payment from the trial that we were all welcome to come to his new restaurant that the money would pay for right on Newbury Street. Count me in!
There are a few other men here who I haven’t gotten the names of yet. There’s a guy is in his 50’s, looks gruff and serious, almost like he's upset he's with a bunch of young dumb kids. I see a metal head looking dude with “666” tattooed right on his neck. No wonder he’s out of work. And another guy who looks like he might be a used car salesman or something, big smile and all. He's the polar opposite of Mr. Serious and seems to be laughing at almost everything.
Now, for the women. Let's start with Lynette. Lynette looks like she’s mid-40s. She’s black. The only black person here at the trial. She’s adjacent to me at the moment raising her hand. I wonder what she’s going to ask Doctor Rogaine.
“Yes, ma’am, what is it?” that balding prick asks her.
“How much shit are we supposed to write down?” she says while crossing her arms.
The doctor rubs his balding head and raises his eyebrows. “Just whatever comes to mind. If you’re done, you’re done. Close it up and standby.” He is clearly irritated.
That seemed to satisfy her. She quickly closed her laptop and leaned back in her chair. She looks my way and rolls her eyes.
“I’m ready for this shit to be over and get my money, honey.” She says to me with a grin.
A girl after my own heart. I just smile at her for a moment. She’s cool.
There’s also Stephanie. Young girl, looks like a college chick. She’s on the comfy chair away from the table I’m seated at. She’s pretty and has long brown hair and brown eyes. Hispanic maybe?
Then there’s Emily. Smoking hot blonde girl. Maybe 25. Hasn’t said much but gives out a bad car accident vibe. You want to look, but you know it's bad.
Amanda… Amanda is a not so attractive woman in her 40s with short hair and horn rim glasses. She reeks of 4th wave feminism and a hatred for the patriarchy and will probably get more vocal about it the longer she’s here. I can’t wait for the preaching to begin. I’m all about equality, but I can’t stand militant man-haters.
So that’s it for my fellow subjects. We’re all from the Boston area and it looks like we’re going to be getting to know one another very closely over the next month.
One of the benefits we all have is that while we’re here, it’s all free living. They’re taking care of us by giving us hygiene products, food, and I guess you can call it "room and board," since we each get our own bedroom. It’s also great I won’t have to spend money on stupid shit like toilet paper and toothpaste. You’d be surprised how valuable those things are when you don’t have money. Did I mention that I’m a broke gambling addict who’s being evicted from his apartment? It’s the whole reason I’m here.
They’ve also fed us pretty well so far too. When we got here today there was a long table topped with an assortment of trays containing fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, fish, and a couple different rice dishes. I could get used to eating like this. It beats the ramen noodle and stale donut diet I’ve been on for the past several months.
The bathroom situation, for lack of a better word, sucks. All the dorm rooms are on each side of a long, poorly lit hallway and at the end of the hallway is the bathrooms. There’s a men’s room and a separate women’s room across from each other, and both have two toilets and two showers. The showers run on a timer so that no one can take longer than 5 minutes. Actually, you can, if you sit there like an asshole and wait two minutes for the water to come back on, which kind of sucks. Or you can hop over to the other shower and start that one, but they are set apart in such a way that you would have to run out bare-assed about three feet. I don’t know these people well enough to be flashing my nakedness in front of them, so it’s not really ideal.
We’re seated in the main area right now. It’s a large room about the size of a school cafeteria. I’m hunched over my laptop at this long table that sits 8 people. Right behind us there are two giant bookshelves filled with hundreds of books covering many subjects. I haven’t read a book in 20 years, so not very excited that the books are our only entertainment with exception to the one deck of cards and a chess board. The rest of the room has two big couches and 3 comfy chairs. There’s a water cooler in the corner, but no vending machines or any kind of snacks. I hope that changes, especially since I won’t be smoking. I’ll need something to keep sane.
They took our phones, wallets and keys. We can’t access the outside world the entire time we’re here. I don’t know if that’s standard practice, but it seems a little sus. What have we gotten ourselves into?
I really can’t complain. My shitty little studio doesn’t even have electricity right now -in the dead of winter- and I’m being evicted anyway. So, what I’ve got here will more than suffice. At least It’s warm here.
“JACK MCCOY” shouts the balding asshole doctor.
“Yes, Doctor?” I respond with an over cloying sweetness.
“Ten minutes is up. Let’s go.” He says and doesn’t bother to look at me.
Whelp looks like I’m about to go have a meeting with the big guy. Wish me luck. Talk to you later.
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