Chris was a foot soldier in the Coke Wars of ’97, but when he enlisted he was already a three-time loser. Surfing, selling, and stealing had already bested him, so by the Fall of 1996, he had long since laced up his Doc Martens, packed up his Social Distortion collection, and rolled up and over for the proverbial Tour. They were happy to have him. He had always been the most promising of their group, and when he, too, failed, it was a triumph of sorts, a tacit endorsement of their way of life, whether Chris would acknowledge it as such or not.
Battling valiantly against the post-apocalyptic backdrop of the spare living space of somebody’s mother’s house in Lotophagi, a realm beyond the reach of time, ambition, moral development, and fiscal responsibility, Chris held his own in a quest for? death? destruction? the results were hazy. Lotophagi was no kind of place. More of a sleepy stupor than a real location, Lotophagi was most notable for a group of inhabitants who had vowed, silently, unconsciously, never to leave it. And though it boasted the kind of natural beauty that one might see on a postcard, the vows were not made because of these attractions, but rather because they had become unwitting slaves to it–out of apathy, lethargy, the tendency never to move again once ensconced within its foggy confines.
Like any ragamuffin rebellion, the Coke Wars were fought with whatever improvised weapons could be procured at a reasonable price, which is to say free, or next-to-free, compliments of the kinds of shady connections you develop as part of the underbelly of a small town when you have never thought to leave it. Necessarily, video games were played, King Cobra malt liquor was drunk, and whatever illicit substances they could procure from the guys at Pizza King were ingested. Few lines were drawn. Everyone pooled their resources, but nobody turned up their noses: the appellation of “Coke Wars” was, therefore–like many historical events–constructed after-the-fact, and merely the romanticizing of a shared past by those who had lived through it and needed it to mean more than it ever could.
The plain fact was that cocaine had outclassed Lotophagi. They would never be the kind of glamorously debauched people you meet in a Bret Easton Ellis novel, or more especially the movie based on a Bret Easton Ellis novel: they were a decade late, a couple hundred thousand short, haphazardly clothed in whatever free swag they could pilfer from so-and-so’s cousin, who was sponsored by Rip Curl. It is a strange thing to class people by their ability to afford and procure illicit drugs, but then Lotophagi had seen worse. And how else could you think of them?