Byline: Chelle LaFleur — The Corner Pharmacy


Note from Susan:

Usually, when I write a piece of fiction based on headlines, I try to mask it as thoroughly as possible. I haven’t done that here, although I have twisted the facts in order to make the absurd even more exaggerated, and the sad even more pathetic. Savvy music fans will by now have heard the story of Coheed and Cambria’s Michael Todd and will undoubtedly know where my inspiration came from. Please know this piece isn’t meant to be my take on what happened. It’s not. It is fiction, inspired by a real life event but fiction nonetheless. I am also most definitely not trying to make light of the tragedy that is addiction. But for the grace of God, the saying goes…

So while I’m playing with the stupid things one desperate man did, I’m also sending out healing vibes to his real-life counterpart, Michael Todd, who’s had a long-going struggle with drugs. Get clean, dude. Get healthy. Don’t let this lick you; the world needs your musical talents.

And in the meantime, have some fictional fun with Chelle LaFleur, everyone’s favorite rock reporter.

Now, I been hearin’ stories of stupid folk for my entire life. Chelle here may not be as old as some-a you out there, but she’s heard more stories than any one woman ought to.

This one oughta win some sort of Darwin award or some such.

Gary Westin, whose band West in Dawn, went and got hisself busted a good two hours before he was supposed to take the stage, warmin’ it up for my favorite band in the whole wide world, ShapeShifter.

You know my boyfriend Mitchell Voss weren’t so keen to get the early word on what went down.

Seems that Gary character — and word around town goes along the lines of Gary bein’ somethin’ more than a character — decided to take a walk. That ain’t so unusual. Hangin’ backstage gets borin’ for these boys. They wanna be up on that stage, playin’ their hearts out and listenin’ to us fans scream. So they up and take a walk. Most of ’em, though, most of ’em stay inside. Stay nearby. Chelle ain’t the first journalist who’s showed up for an interview only to hear the guy she’s lookin’ for has up and took off, so the choices are either go home or take the nearest available band member.

Gary up and took off, all right. He took hisself down to the corner pharmacy. Just strolled on it, the stories go. So does the video tape. Casual as anythin’, as anyone else.

Until he leaned over the pharmacy counter and whispered somethin’ that the pharmacist swears has to do with bombs and explosions and dyin’ right there, two hours before the show, ‘less Gary can get his hands on some quality drugs.

Chelle ain’t talkin’ ’bout no Midol, boys and girls. Chelle’s talkin’ ’bout oxy.

Yep, Gary Westin, the dude behind West in Dawn, is an addict.

The best part-a this story ain’t been told yet, boys and girls. You still with Chelle? Seems that pharmacist believed Gary’s story, so she handed over three bottles of the stuff. Three a-them industrial-sized bottles, the ones the pharmacists get and then pour out and count your drugs from. They’s hundreds and thousands pills in there. Gary walked off with three of ’em. He got hisself a quality heist, all right.

Now, this is where it starts to get good. Gary left that fake bomb in the doorway of the corner pharmacy and started to stroll off, probably back to that place where he’d be playin’ for ShapeShifter in a few. Time was startin’ to get short. The rest of his band was gatherin’ for a pre-show dinner.

But Gary, all he can think about is gettin’ one-a them pills inside, where it’ll do him some good. His nose started runnin’ and he started jonesin’ and the next thing you knew, Gary took a step off the curb in whatever uptight city they was in, and the cop who’s showin’ up to talk to the pharmacist grabs onto Gary. Them pills all go jiggle as he tries to stuff all three bottles down his pants, but the cop? He’s more worried ’bout the fact our man Gary is jaywalkin’ on his way back from the corner pharmacy. It takes the pharmacist to point out how Gary ain’t that well endowed by Mother Nature.

By the time it all gots sorted out and word got back to my ShapeShifter boys, it was one hour to showtime. And the openin’ act went and got hisself thrown in the slammer. I told you Chelle ain’t heard anythin’ so stupid in her entire life.

This story got part of a happy endin’, anyway. My ShapeShifter boys took the rest of West in Dawn and jumped up on that stage and played a whole slew-a cover tunes that had the crowd rockin’ out. Then they turned right on around and played another two hours of ShapeShifter songs.

Last I hear, Gary’s facin’ twenty years for stealin’ that oxy, and two weeks on top-a that for the jaywalkin’.

You heard it first and you heard it here: If you gotta get your fix, don’t jaywalk on your way back from holdin’ up the corner pharmacy. Hear?

Another note from Susan: I’ve been kicking around the idea of how to let Chelle tell this story, so thanks to the wonders at Three Word Wednesday for providing me with three really good words that unlocked the piece.



  1. Sheilagh Lee

    July 20, 2011 7:37 pm

    well written like a real reporter.

  2. Ann (bunnygirl)

    July 20, 2011 8:35 pm

    The drummer of a very popular local band here passed out during a set. From what little I was able to find out afterward, he went into rehab then took a job as a waiter, since the band leader refused to hire him back. I have no idea if he ever was able to get back into music.

    I have very strong opinions on the way we handle drug/alcohol abuse and dependency in this country, but it’s a simple statement of fact that if the life you always dreamed of is falling apart before your eyes, you need to change something.

    May everyone with this problem find a way out.

  3. Old Egg

    July 21, 2011 7:03 pm

    This was a great read, well written, absorbing and funny. OK there are a few messages here but none of them apply to me!!!

  4. carol

    July 25, 2011 11:44 am

    It is a sad story, but I do love how Chelle tells the stories. She’s a great character.

  5. Alice Audrey

    July 27, 2011 1:07 pm

    LOL. I love that extra two weeks you threw in at the end. A sad story indeed, but told so very well.

    Hey, don’t forget to plug this into The Serialists meme.

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