To cook the white drug that dictates their lives, the haggard, frenzied denizens of the methamphetamine world need assorted materials that go together only in the context of a meth lab: paint thinner and coffee filters, drain cleaner and tubing, fertilizer and cold medicine. And when these amateur chemists are done — that is, if they have not set themselves on fire — they dump their hazardous and potentially explosive waste in the Dumpster of a Piggly Wiggly supermarket, say, or in the woods.
December 2, 2007
Caught Up in a Storm, With His Eyes Wide Open
By DAN BARRY
A boy named Isaiah Polk went off one day to see what he could see. He scaled a chain-link fence at the back of his tired FEMA trailer park, where fetid water gathers, and escaped into woods declared off-limits by his mother after reports of poisonous snakes.
On that hot July afternoon, Isaiah and two friends hunted for tiny crabs, threw dirt bombs and visited the cemetery across the creek where his grandfather, who used to give him firecrackers, is buried. They also found treasure: a mysterious black duffel bag that came with them on their return climb over the wobbly fence separating the forbidden from the forgotten.
The bag was jostled, kicked, and finally opened to reveal strange things, including a pair of pliers, some tubing, nail clippers and a two-liter plastic bottle filled with a milky liquid. Isaiah waved a younger boy away from the bag, then bent over to zip it up. He heard a hiss and then BAM!
The bottle exploded in his searching brown eyes. Eyes that had danced upon strings of joyous Seussian words, followed spiraling footballs into outstretched hands, hunted creeks for crabs. Eyes that had taken in the absence of a long-gone father, the struggles of a stretched-thin mother, the bruises given her by a violent boyfriend, the Gulf Coast rot of Hurricane Katrina. Eyes of a boy just being a boy, and not yet 10.