Ajay opened his palm and the Ether pill fell straight into Mother White gully. He wanted to be somewhere familiar and reassuring until he got tired so walked straight to the cemetery, his second home.
He paused at the entrance and allowed his hearing to decide which section of the May Pen memorial park he would sit that evening. Music from the Amphitheater brought strains of "glory, hallelujah". Brass, keyboards, plucked stringed instruments and percussion meant that a jazz show was on the Rose Garden Bandstand. A one-stroke bounceabout compressor engine and children's laughter said that The Rotunda was booked for a kiddies party.
A group of joggers passed him and mixed with their acrid vapour was a terribly attractive scent.
Ajay's skin pimpled, and he breathed sharp and deep trying to catch every available whiff. The joggers, four middle aged persons, were now many paces away, but this fresh, sharp, eerily intoxicating scent lingered and came in strong, new waves. He stretched his neck, caught the direction and strode across rows of resting plots to get to the source of aromatic beauty.
The rose garden was laid out in the same year he started his apprenticeship. He knew every inch of it well, had nurtured the root balls of most of the strong healthy plants and also sat throughout many concerts hosted there; but until today, always under medication. Being two doses free of Ether had made this wonderful experience available to him.
It was not hard to skip the dosage as his behaviour record had been clean since he was ten years old; the nurses trusted him to take Ether unsupervised.
The Pot Heads told him that he would feel more alive without the pill; that he would be aware of his senses and experience his feelings more acutely. They were right. Now he ate for taste and not for hunger. He arranged his shirt in his trousers a little differently because he liked to see how his jeans fitted. He Deejayed to himself while while he worked, pleased with making a rhythm as he clipped hedges. He was also shocked when anger overwhelmed him. Last week he became upset and forced himself to sit in a quiet place for half an hour while he regained his calm.
Ajay did not want to become a Pot Head. Those were the ones who took the Ether and then forced it out of their bodies by drinking an elixir of powdered metal and selected roots in a heavy bottom pot. The concoction freed up the limbic part of the brain to express emotion as it wanted and gave the Pot Heads the senses that they craved, even as the metals destroyed their renal systems.
Pot Heads made mothers cry twice. They cried once when their sons were certified as having chronic limbic disorders, making them lifelong clients of the Boysave clinic. Now they were crying as their sons' struggle to live beyond the drugs made them renal patients.
Admitted at the Horizon Boysave clinic after a series of violent behaviour and emerging criminal activity, Ajay is an example of the country's admirable 99% success rate for Boysave clients who had no relapses into negative behaviour. They were reknown as docile workers who did not object to manual or repetitive labour. The crime rate was negligible and remand and correctional centres had been re-purposed as Ether clinics.
Ajay searched for the source of the scent among the roses and found it sitting on a beach towel wearing a sexyfloaty dress. He stood downwind from her, enveloped in music and scent. If this was what life without his pill offered, he might be a Pot Head soon, he thought. Living in Ether was no life.