Still, I didn't feel as awake as I would have preferred. I was driving okay, talking and singing along with the radio, but I just felt like it was a bit too much of a struggle keeping a firm grip on my consciousness. I didn't feel fully in control, and it frightened me.
When we stopped for gas and another bathroom break, I started looking over the gas station's pharmacy selection. Maybe something that could keep me awake without filling up my bladder? All I found was No-Doze, which wasn't quite what I wanted. I approached the counter and asked vaguely, "Hey, do you have any of those energy pills like some places have?"
He shook his head, reached behind the counter, and pulled out a small plastic package. Three little capsules, all in a row. It caught and held my gaze, as he pushed it toward me. "You mean like this?" I couldn't remove my eyes from it, as I nodded. Stacker IIs. Yes, that was exactly what I wanted, with their combination of caffeine and ephedra.
"No, we don't sell any," he told me. I looked at him, confused, unable to quite formulate the question running through my mind (well where'd that come from?). "But I can give you these, if you want. I already took some this morning. They're great for staying awake, aren't they?"
Startled, I asked him, "You mean for free?" Smiling, he shrugged and said yes. I started justifying my need for the stuff. "It's just that I'm driving, and I can't be tired, y'know? Caffeine just isn't doing the trick." He agreed with me and pushed the little packet toward me. (The first hit's free, you know.) I took it, thanking him profusely, and went on my way.
I felt a little embarrassed about my drug deal, but I didn't have any more trouble staying awake for the rest of the drive, which was a relief.