The Candy Flip
BY: Milburn Ross
The following events may or may not have happened.
The names and places have been changed to protect
those dead, alive, and /or in prison.
The story does begin inKansas City…
FOLIE A DEUX: The sharing of delusional ideas by two people who are closely related. A condition in which symptoms of a mental disorder, such as delusive beliefs or ideas, occur simultaneously in two individuals who share a close relationship or association.
- Webster’s Dictionary
“Even though my nose don’t work, I smell trouble.”
“Where’s the cocaine?”
He liked to say the whole name whenever he was in a good mood, other times it might be simply “the coke” or early in the morning “where’s the shit?” Either way I wasn’t trying to understand him; I was still sleeping, or trying.
“Wake up, it’s now Tuesday….where’s the cocaine?”
I opened my eyes and knew the answer, of course.
He went to the other room, turning on the music. Fixing a drink.
“Sometimes you’re better off dead”
I start to get up, alcohol and music will do that to me, and he knows that.
“There’s a gun in your hand, pointing at your head”
The clock says8:45. I assume its morning; I got maybe four hours of sleep since we went out. This was our third hotel room. We went out Sunday night.
“You think you’re mad…too unstable”
“Kicking down chairs, knocking over tables”
“In a restaurant, in a west end town”
I’m not tired; I think I still feel the ecstasy. I know things are too foggy, but I like foggy right now. The room is dark and cold; he comes back with two drinks. Smiles.
“Call up the police, there’s a madman around”
He just got out of the shower, thinking he looks pretty good. I will say no different. We are in this thing together, eternal rave. He always has clothes with him in the car, always knows we will disappear. At least his clothes look good, I wonder if he has been to sleep.
I get the cocaine and hand him the marker. I use a credit card to separate two piles on the nightstand, in doing so I snort some of my pile. Dizzy then focus. Got that over with. He’s making our mark behind the art-deco building block picture; we don’t discriminate about that. We always leave that behind. He replaces the picture and approaches the table with determination.
“Where was it?”
I don’t answer but motion for him. He bends and snorts, powder falling on the ground and up his nose. It’s not a waste. It’s all part of a carefully choreographed ceremony. We throw cocaine on the floor all the time. Sometimes out the window. Its part of the show we have been performing for almost fifteen years now. It’s the ritual sometimes more than the use. It’s the how you do it, where you do it.
The room has gone from foggy to sharp now. Cold to hot. Just like magic.
Now I need to hurry up and eat. There is a small window of opportunity when I wake up, after that not much can be eaten. It’s possible, I’ve done cocaine on a grilled cheese sandwich but that was performance art. Generally hunger is reserved for those days in which my body is shutting down, man can not live on chemicals alone, I’ve tried.
I order room service.
“I’ve got to go to the office, I’ll be back later. Keep your phone on.”
When he leaves I make sure the anti-maid sign is on the door and secure it with the dead bolt. I turn my phone on and it starts beeping. I’ve got 17 messages. I do a line and open the shades. It’s strange but I haven’t given much thought to where I was, but now I smile. The Ritz-Carlton has one of the best views of, The Plaza, complete with its own waterfall entrance. If your waking up out of a chemical stupor it’s nice to see that atleast you ended up somewhere expensive. I’ve woken up at the E-Z Inn and it’s not a very validating experience.
According to the visitor information in the room, The Plaza, isKansasCity’s ‘premiere attraction’. Fourteen blocks designed asAmerica’s first shopping center. Most known for its elegant fountains and Spanish architecture, The Plaza has withheld its dignity. People who can afford to buy things they don’t need have their drivers take them to the doors ofSaks Fifth Avenue, Ralph Lauren or maybe one of the many art dealers. Many more others dress up and hide their cars in underground garages, to walk with the adventure of wealth.
The best time to see The Plaza starts in a few days, during theHolidaylight festival, which is between Thanksgiving and Christmas. A wide assortment of colorful lights are draped throughout the area, giving the impression of an old Christmas movie, (it is a very big deal.) Warm and fuzzy. It’s truly Norman Rockwell if you can afford it.
Today the Plaza is beneath me, looking down I see scattered limousines and horse carriages. I see the people walking. Bags in hand. I’m wondering what it must be like, to have the solitude and confidence of wealth. Of course my daydreaming doesn’t go far without the intrusion of drugs; even here in my imagination comes the spider. Of course I would just have a bigger production of what I’m doing now; maybe I could afford someone else to take the risks for me. But, even if I had a mansion, I would end up in hotel rooms like this because I like the feeling of an anonymous moment.
My cell phone is ringing. The caller ID is flashing “Victor”.
“Victor, how’s your world?”
“Hey..Where are you? You haven’t been home in a week, She’s pissed.”
“I’m still up by the airport.” I lie.
“Just call The Girl, tell Her your okay.”
“Allright, what’s up with you?”
“I met this girl last night; I want to introduce you to her.”
“What’s she look like?”
“A lot like the girl I had last month, except she doesn’t have any tattoos”
“She was incredible, was she alone?”
“I knew you would ask. Three friends and her, tomorrow.
“That’s too late, let’s do it at eleven”
“Eleven thirty, call me when you are ready.”
We both hang-up. That’s Victor, he’s inMiami. We just arranged for me to send money for four hundred hits of ecstasy, agreeing to $11.50 a hit. Plain tablets. Now I’m getting psyched. I do another line. Fix another drink.
I see my reflection. My nose is bleeding. Good morning.
After taking a shower I check my messages, mostly people wanting to know where I am, when we can meet, and several from Mindy who says that she really enjoyed meeting me and hopes that I will call. Then another one later asking why I haven’t called. She sounds somewhat desperate, concerned. I can’t remember a girl named Mindy. She answers on the second ring.
“Hello”. Soft, attractive.
“No, this is David”
“Is Mark with you?”
“No, he had to go do some things; I’ll have him call you.”
“Uhm..What are you doing?”
“Getting ready, waiting for room service.”
“Are you still at the Embassy Suites? I went by and they said you had checked out, I was worried I wouldn’t see you again.”
“No, we had to leave; I’m up by the airport now.”
“Do you think I could come bye, I need to see you.”
I let her wait about five long seconds.
“Meet me atCaesersGardenfor a drink at2:30this afternoon.”
“I’ll be there, don’t forget me, and would you-“
I interrupt, “I’ll be there, goodbye now.” I hang up.
Obviously anxious to come back to the roller coaster, she’s probably already searching for her keys. It’s always amusing to meet people as they enter an amusement park, excited with the aspect of adventure. At the end of the day they go home tired and broke. A lot of people come to this world I’m in the same way. It costs a lot more and in many more ways, but they are looking for a distraction. It starts that way.
There is a knock at the door.
The room service waiter seems irritated that I’m obviously not letting him in the room or willing to exchange pleasantries. The bill is $32.50; I give him two twenties and get the tray from him. Maybe he wasn’t irritated as much as curious about who orders a salad and a six pack of Michelob Dry for breakfast. Either way he isn’t coming in, no one does. Some rooms I get for entertainment but the one I sleep in is all about privacy, my fortress of solitude. This is the only way I can find some peace of mind.
The salad doesn’t give me much of a problem. With enough salt I can eat almost anything, and of course I’m also entertaining the thought that this could somehow balance the rest of my diet.
I remember intentions of getting food last night with Mark. We had smoked some pot with the intentions of forcing hunger, which we did. It was too late for room service. So hungry and stoned-stuck in the room we needed motivation. So we did some coke.
We made it to the store via another miraculous car drive but only returned with beer and Tylenol PM. I must have fallen asleep sometime during our return, I assumed I made it in the room by myself but woke up today with my hands stained blue from the pills, apparently they didn’t make it into my mouth. I didn’t receive a comment from him about this, as I mentioned we have an understanding. We are in this together.
It’s what we do to keep this thing going. Being this insane requires a great deal of conspiracy; we have a comfort level we must maintain. We are brothers in this; there is no one I trust more in regards to this than him. I know when we are together that nothing is going to stop us from our shared intentions. We have grown to depend on each other to keep us afloat in our personal traveling amusement park. It’s not that we only have the addiction between us, we have much more than that, but it comes first.
I make a call to Brian and agree to Caesar’s as well. He’s obviously relieved. I guess he was anxious why I haven’t called him back. People needing to reach me have my voice mail box number; people I need to hear from have my pager number. But just because you leave a message doesn’t mean I’ll call. This way I check messages, no one knows when. No one knows if I’m really ignoring them or just haven’t checked. It’s polite politics for my world.
He was just confused why I wouldn’t respond; after all he owes me money. The thing is I know he will pay me, whenever I call. Brian is a junky, just like me. We are season ticket holders.
Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all time.
I’m finishing breakfast as I look out the window. I pinch some coke out of the pile, pouring it onto my hand. I snort. I don’t have to wait long, then warmth. My head seems to straighten up and then I feel the drainage. Good morning, indeed.
I left the room confident that everything was hidden and that I was prepared for my adventure. That’s one thing I can say about this whole thing that it is always at least that. I demand that, create it.
The room is being held on a credit card and I left instructions that it was not to be disturbed. The credit card given to me by a friend, Doug, I’ll pay the bill in cash before I check out. Then I’ll give him something for his trouble, usually when he decides to visit. He’s one of the people who can do that, just visit. He has a really good job, an incredible girlfriend, and a dog. The things I can’t seem to hold on to, I can visit my girl and my dog but I can’t stay long. Anyhow every once in awhile he just joins our parade for a few days, usually a weekend, then back to the good guy. I envy him.
He tells me he wishes he could stay, I hope he doesn’t. Once you make that decision, once you stay too long, you loose your ability to choose. Or maybe you decide to forget your choices. It’s all about participation.
As I’m leaving the concierge makes his way to me. I’ve dealt with him before; he’s excited to see me.
“David, I did not know you checked in.” He pronounces ‘Dah-Ved’
“Yes, yesterday. I need a taxi and make sure no one disturbs room 9516, my fiancé is sleeping.”
“I have a rental available, Lincoln Town Car.” Almost insisting.
“Thank you, but a taxi will be fine.”
“Of course, but let me at least help you with your dinner reservations for you and your young lady?” then he adds, “It’s the least I can do.”
“Thank-you, we will eat late, make it9:00 P.M.and Italian.
“Enjoy your afternoon, I’ll leave a message here for you about the reservations, no one will disturb the young lady.”
I hand him a fifty-dollar bill. It’s kind of a tax you could say. The concierge deals with a lot of unusual people and requests. He knows mostly what is going on in the hotel, he is the tour guide of what can and can not happen. I trust him enough to stay out of the room, but an extra reason helps. Fiancé? Just in case he gets curious. Who would blame him? Last time I saw him I gave him five hundred dollars to get me a video camera, bottle of Crown Royal, and some body paints. It was3:30 A.M.It took him about thirty minutes.
The taxi is waiting outside. The driver is asking where I need to go.
“I need to go grocery shopping.”
He’s probably not surprised by any destination anymore, looks like he’s maybe more interested in the QuikTrip hot-dog he’s holding with two fingers as he turns the meter on. The other three fingers hold a lighter and a cigarette. We pull into traffic with the other hand.
The radio is grumbling about finding a new career as a dental assistant as I count money in the back seat. I just can’t go in using the counter to separate money while people are trying to buy produce items or cashing checks. I have to be in and out as quickly as possible.
I’m whistling. I like to whistle when I count money.
On the way we pass theCommunityBloodCenteronMain Streetand I notice the people standing in line to get paid for their plasma.
Homeless people selling blood for crack.
When we pull up to the FoodMart I pay the fare and hand him twenty dollars to wait for me. He smiles ketchup and all. He assures me it’s no problem. Offers to wait at the curb for me but I ask him to park. Discretion when possible during this phase. I can be rolling around on the ground barking at people later, but now it’s all secret agent mode.
I walk straight to the service-counter behind a lady holding a package of opened batteries and she’s not pleased. Not leaving until she gets a refund or replacement.
My phone vibrates in my pocket and I see it’s flashing ‘Jedi’ which is the latest name I use for Mark. He’s the second biggest Star Wars fan in the world. I am the first. Subject of debates since we were sixteen.
“Yes?” I have to be civil; I’m in public.
“I’m free of the bonds of employment for the day, it’s been decided that I am to drink heavily and take pills.” As if a memo has been handed down.
“I’m at the grocery store, where are you?”
“Heading south, I already did my shopping.”
“Okay, meet me at Caesers at2:30, Brian will be there and a girl. Bye.”
We disconnect. I don’t mention that it’s Mindy yet. Maybe it’s because I am remembering a little more now. I remember she looked sad in the middle of all that confusion Monday. I guess it’s not healthy but looking sad is a turn on for me. Challenge.
The batteries are finally exchanged for in store credit. I ask for two money orders, each one for $450 dollars. The clerk doesn’t look up at me, counts the money. No identification or signature needed if under one thousand dollars. Types a few strokes into a keypad. Hands me two money orders. I pick up four boxes of assorted chocolate, two bottles of Tylenol PM, and a bottle of Crown Royal on the way out.
The driver asks me where to and we head to another grocery store a few blocks away. I make a comment about needing a certain styling mousse; I even add my best lisp. I repeat everything inside the next store, except no phone calls and this time it’s just Average Joe cashing his check. I grab some mousse and some cigarettes. It’s all part of the secret agent thing. That’s me, secret agent man. I don’t have any secret bank accounts in theCayman Islandsor high-powered accountants. I use grocery stores.
The driver heads back towards the hotel. A billboard looms over a building asking the question, “Choose life?” It shows a pregnant teen. Someone has answered the question in spray paint and the response is a simple, “No.”
I get my vial. Pour some coke on my hand.
It’s aboutone O’clockas I’m making my way through the lobby. People checking in and out. Sometimes I forget that these places are filled with all sorts of characters who live normal lives. People generally get rooms for sleeping, not for temporary chaos strongholds. I’m feeling like I need to get into the room soon, I’m afraid I might have to talk to some traveler and my head is going to explode if I don’t have a drink. Maybe it’s the Pavlov thing but the closer I get to my sanctuary I get more jittery. Jittery is a kind word for strung out.
Three men with nametags hold the elevator for me but I wait and go by myself, I don’t like those awkward elevator moments. Besides I’m not sure how well I would do among them. Conversation has become more difficult with the rest of the world lately. When you are on drugs all the time you tend to form your own language. You may take a lot more risks with communication if it’s someone in that state. Otherwise it seems impossible to relate.
Back in the room I find myself relieved. The light is flashing on the phone near the desk. I check the message and it’s the concierge ‘Darrin’ who reminds me that I have reservations at 9:30at Gazza. He leaves his pager number if I need anything. It’s about 1:30 now and I start weighing out cocaine in different packages. I’m drinking a Crown and Coke and doing coke. Things are more pleasant here in the room. Being alone provides an oasis for me. I have grown tired of most everything lately and it is taking more to keep me together.
I suppose this is all part of the disease. I was given the title of an alcoholic at age sixteen and soon after I earned the title of drug addict as well. All this diagnosed during a court ordered evaluation, by a budding social worker, with the ability to, “Spot one a mile away.”
The people I met at AA told me that it’s my disease telling me I can quit when I want. I am torn. I do not easily challenge the experiences of those people who have found sobriety, but instead I see how it has drained them to submit, to become powerless. Now it is the meetings that consume them, they have a life based one day at a time, to me that seems to scream no future, no dreams, only this battle.
If you look at it like a disease then you’re an addict but if it is your choice to be here then you’re a junky. As usual your thoughts imprison you at each turn.
Three mice face the same mousetrap. The first mouse nibbles some cheese then returns to safety. The second mouse gets caught in the trap and starts struggling resulting in a panic. The third gets caught also but says, “Look at all this cheese….” The first mouse is the user, the second the addict, and the third is the junky.
I take a deep breath. Take a pill.
The Girl answers on the fourth ring.
“What do you want?” Ah! the joys of caller ID.
“I’m almost done.”
“It doesn’t matter, it won’t stop.” She is firm.
“I promise, just let me finish with this, I’ll be home soon.”
“No more promises David, I’m alone, I’m tired of being alone.”
“I have reservations tonight at Gazza, for us,9:30 P.M.”
“And you won’t eat, you’ll leave me there, or maybe you won’t come at all.”
“I will be there, and I’m starving, I love you.”
“Don’t hurt me David.” She hangs up, she always does, and I suppose that to her, it is the last sort of control she may retain. I have taken everything else.
Of course it hasn’t always been this way for us. She came into this thinking that love and good intentions would be enough. I didn’t try to hide this creeping world from her; instead I tried to escape from it.
It wasn’t a lack of effort that failed me, but perhaps a refusal to see how big the problem had become.
I looked for a job. I filled out applications. I had interviews.
“How do you explain your last ten years of unemployment?” Asked the would be hire me guy.
What could I say? “I’m a caterer?” or maybe, “Market analyst specializing in urban trends”, that sounds pretty good.
The problem was I didn’t want to flip burgers. I always like to say that one; “It’s better than flipping burgers.” I wanted a nice job, with an office. I didn’t want to have to work for it. Besides it’s hard to work for minimum wage when you’re already getting paid for getting high.
But I am going to quit all this. I have to figure out how to do that. I have to remember that I want to. But I have to finish the next few days. I can not just stop the wheels today.
But I will soon.
I hear the waterfall behind me as I’m strolling towards the plaza. It’s a matter of a street crossing, then over the bridge into the plaza. Steven would call it the ‘Plah-zah’ most people do. It’s like walking around in a museum for most people. Don’t touch.
The bridge goes over Brush Creek, which with enough money is being made to look likeVenice, boats and such. It’s just eye candy for the rich; they wouldn’t really go down there. I mean after all it is a creek, right?
The ecstasy is starting to play now; the warmth makes it such a pleasure to breathe. I feel my steps are bouncing but to the world I am just another shopping soul. I have learned how to control the creeping chemical smile and my eyes stay a calm blue, resistant to the dilation common to the novice.
As I reach the Plaza I must overcome my urge to sit and stare. I am standing next to Winston Churchill, who is covered in bronze and smiling, sitting at the gateway. He is looking onto the fountains with me. It is each and everything that approaches me; I can’t stop on one thing, as the fluid of my vision takes me to another. My head is only a tool for my eyes. Everything is full of solid beauty.
I’m feeling like an astronaut here, people walking bye looking perfect and happy. Floating along smiling I am one with them, they smile back. Three women with Gucci smiles exchange laughter and glances with me. A man with a fashionable cane smiles at me, revealing a perfect stroll. The lady who has a man carrying packages doesn’t smile but nods with a grin. She has a hat that I would like to touch, I almost do.
Believe me it takes years of experience to not let reflex start petting her hat. Doing ecstasy will do that to you, it breaks everything down, social barriers are the first to go. But you shouldn’t go around assaulting women because they have nice hats. You have to develop a discipline. You must remember that everyone is not rolling on hallucinogens.
I am making my way towards Caesers’ passing more of the happy sober people. It’s a good thing I don’t have time to waste or I might violate one of the Nevers about being in this frame of mind. (Never shop on ecstasy)
Horse drawn carriages saunter on by, the horses are smiling too.
Walking into Caesers I spot a familiar face behind thick glasses walking in at the same time. Brian is wearing what would be best described as a disguise, so he can blend in here. His usual attire is much less than this. His face is still covered in piercing and his hair untamed and pointing like a heavy metal porcupine. I’m sure he is wearing one of his various tour tee shirts underneath this Tommy Hilfiger Christmas gift that his mom probably begs him to wear. He looks like the angry music lover type but in reality he likes to listen to the Cure and drink cheap wine. We have been friends ever since we did LSD together at the Village. The Village was my first treatment center.
“Before you say a word, yes I look ridiculous and yes I’ve destroyed another pair of contacts.” Drug induced telepathy.
“Actually I was going to mention that it’s nice to see you without your entourage or as Mark affectionately calls them,’ the syringe sisters’.”
We are walking past the people waiting, past the new hostess who looks quizzically. I give the raised eyebrow combined with half-smile and she let’s us pass. I don’t see Mindy. We continue towards the rear.
“They don’t shoot and if they are sisters then I’ll be on Springer soon.”
“Today, the topic is lesbian incest menage a trios with freak boy.”
“If they call, I’m not going, I don’t wrestle.”
As we walk he hands me a card-sized envelope that says Happy Birthday on it. It’s not my birthday. I hand him a pack of cigarettes. He doesn’t smoke.
I’m still feeling like things are warm and soft. I’m still walking with this strut reserved for drug use. I’m still debating nothing with Brian, when I see her sitting at the table with Mark. They are both smiling. I sit next to Mark, across from her.
She is different now. She is sparkling and clean. Not that she was dirty when I last saw her but maybe it’s the drugs or maybe the light. Maybe she changed brands of soap. I don’t know, but she is not the lost sheep I remember from Monday. Her eyes dart back and forth from each of us, aware she is the center of attention for the moment.
The waitress asks for our order. I order a shot of Jeager, Michelob Dry, and Crown on the rocks. Brian doesn’t want anything and they both have drinks.
After I order, Mark is looking at me, like he does when something amuses him; it’s the straight face but eyeballs pointing. Of course it’s the fascination Mindy is having with freak boy.
“How do you kiss like that?” She’s not seductive, more like documentary.
“It’s what pleasure is all about, the pursuit of pain.” Gazing and hopeful.
Mark interrupts with, “Do you have de Sade memorized or just the stuff you use to get chicks?”
“It has to get in the way though.” She ignores Mark. She leans forward and tells Brian to kiss her. They are lost in this exchange until the waitress arrives with drinks. Mark and I are clapping opera style on the palms when they finish.
I wash the shot with the beer and am starting on my drink as Brian announces he must leave. Probably someone in the car waiting or more simply he can’t wait any longer. The cocaine I gave him has to be why, but even in this stage of our ever-apparent addictions we try to be polite. If it is just Mark and I then its all-prehistoric ‘Me need dope’. Ugh. Caveman. This is exactly what he whispers into my ear as Brian leaves. He mumbles something about leaving something in his car and they walk out together.
Alone with her I am really starting to roll, I mean the carpet would feel like a waterbed right now, imagining her in it, legs, breasts, lips, -
“Hello? Are you ignoring me today?” She is smiling and looking like this innocent girl, instead of the one I just saw making out with Brian.
I wonder if I made that up, then I Involuntarily shake my head like a chill in my spine. I take a deep breath. I feel the air and taste her perfume in it.
“Excuse me, I was lost in a thought” The truth my mom always said.
“Please, share it with me.” That smile again.
“I was wondering what he left in the car.” Dad told me to be polite.
“I’m not stupid; they went to do lines or whatever.”
With this comment I mentally adjust her score. As I meet people I keep track of how much they know, as to not offend them or embarrass myself. It didn’t take much for her to figure this one out. It will prove more interesting when she understands that he not only went to go snort cocaine but also ketamine then probably take a pill. This isn’t lunch it’s a pit stop.
“Well, it’s probably better than doing it here on the table.” Smooth it out.
“They act like I don’t know and then you go along with them, you were not wondering why he went to the car. What was it?” What a web we weave.
“It was you, it was you kissing Brian.” I’m trying not to look into her eyes.
“Well, don’t be discouraged he wasn’t a good kisser.”
In my brain I imagine a chalkboard, where I take that sentence and draw the most fantastic conclusions. I see the inferences. I have this urge to take this conversation further, but remember that it could just be the pills I’m on. I mean she is sitting there looking at me with those ‘fuck me’ eyes but I decide it’s probably my fried retinas. Besides the thought of tasting freak boy’s spit puts me back a bit.
“So you went looking for us last night?”
Changing the subject.
“Yes, I wanted to talk with you.”
“How can I help you?” Just like the drive thru.
“I think I can help you, I mean it’s that I saw you clearly the other night and I want to be your friend.” She has her hand on mine.
I am taken back by this and scramble for words but Mark appears back and asks, “So now is it my turn to kiss?”
She laughs and takes a drink; of what later I would find is her favorite drink. Gin and Tonic. Removes her hand and glances at me as if some great secret has been revealed. Mark grabs her hand and gives her something then
whispers in her ear. She nods then gets up without a word and heads towards the bathroom. Under the table I unscrew my vial and pour some on my hand. Then I bend and snort in a quick practiced motion. Put the vial back and look at Mark’s grin.
“Should we flip for her or make it a contest?” Assuming my interest.
“Why don’t we just ask her?” My poker face.
“Don’t mistake her intentions for your cocaine confidence.”
“Then let’s have another round and continue this.”
I lower my voice and attempt my drunken English accent, “Oh my brother, drinks and drinks for days shall never allow us to forget such beauty, but we shall try our best.”
The waitress comes with more drinks. We toast.
Mindy walks back but it looks more like a skip to the trained eye, the smile then replaced with a dramatic worried look, “I was worried you boys might leave me again.”
Mark and I look at each other but no recognition. We don’t remember leaving her anywhere but instead of adding insult to injury, we apologize almost in unison. Mark continues on with hopes of making it up to her.
Meanwhile I’m dizzy and think that the table is too low to the ground, the glasses are slippery and I hate the smell of food. I want to get up and go to the bathroom. I feel as if I am floating but the table is anchoring me. This is all happening quickly and also I feel like I want to scream for everyone to stop talking. I mean the whole place is in an uproar.
Mark is trying to get my attention, saying something. I’m trying to focus.
“Your making that noise, stop it.” He looks amused but concerned.
I can’t say anything except, “Shut up.”
“You’re grinding your teeth like Godzilla.” Now he’s enjoying this.
I try to swallow but it feels like I can’t do that and breathe, so I stick to the later of the two. Slowly breathing, In and out. They have to be staring at me. Laughing? Then I realize what is wrong.
“Wrong vial.” I manage.
He starts laughing but she stops him and she is looking at me. I don’t want to worry her or embarrass myself anymore, so I manage an “I’m okay” and a few other reassurances. And I am feeling better; it was just a surprise.
You can not snort ketamine like cocaine, it’s stronger. I grabbed the wrong vial and got momentarily in a K-hole. It’s not the first time.
Mindy is looking at me strangely as she gives reasons to leave but asks me to call her later. Asks ‘me’ not ‘us’. We both ask her to stay but it’s her turn to be polite I suppose. She glides across to the door without effort and is gone.
I get the right vial and correct the mistake and we have a few more drinks while discussing plans for the night. We agree on going to the Zone later and he makes me promise not to blow The Girl off. As we are leaving he hands me an envelope, marked Happy Birthday.
As I walk back towards the room I can’t help but remember the look she gave me. It was the same look the other night. She looked sad. She was watching me in-between smiles.
TheNeptunefountain sparkles more than the rest, could it be the God of the sea demands more attention? Three horses keep him on a chariot, ready to strike with his trident, at any moment.
I sit down on a bench next to a man wearing an Armani suit and sunglasses. He looks as if he dresses from GQ magazine, and he does. In fact the only reason I know its Armani is because he likes to remind me.
He offers me a breath mint.
“Good afternoon David, you’re late.” Always punctual and groomed.
“I was just at Caesers.” Actually I almost forgot our meeting.
“Did you try the chicken pasta? Tuesday is always good for them.” He is squinting behind the shades at me.
“Yes, but it was dry and they had the wrong sauce.” Lying some more.
He takes his sunglasses off and makes his thirty something face look worried by making his eyebrows meet and talking slower.
“You really should take better care of yourself; sometimes I worry about all this. You could be doing anything right now, anything else.” He likes to mix some advice with his felonies.
He takes this moment to hand me a wrapped package, decorated in Happy Birthday paper and with a bow. It’s about the size of a Stephen King book but would keep me up much longer.
I feign surprise, “Should I open it now?” I’m getting louder and people seem to be watching, at least by the look on his face.
“Why must you always play?”
“If I’m going to be an outlaw I might as well enjoy it.”
“This is not a game.”
“How can you say that?”
“I’m not playing a game.”
“It’s not my birthday.”
“It’s about being careful.”
“Hide and go seek?”
This irritates him. He stands but slowly bends to tell me a when and a where for the money. It’s how we have been doing this ever since we met. This way it’s not a transaction. Tomorrow I will finish this but not with him. Smart crooks.
He shakes his head slowly before walking off and tells me that Caesers’ serves the chicken pasta only on the weekend. Then he pops another breath mint and merges into the stream of wealth.
He wants me to know that he knows. I still feel it necessary to appear stable to him. It’s important not to screw this up, Mark keeps telling me. So I lied about some stupid noodles, thanks for the present.
This is all going on in my head as twin strollers with twin babies roll by, pushing them along is a woman who smiles and says, “Happy Birthday.”
You can’t hide a kilogram of cocaine. You can wrap it up like a birthday present but you can’t hide it, at least here in the room. So for now it sits on top of the oak desk, next to the visitor information and bottle of Tylenol PM. It hasn’t always been like this. I used to hide under the bed. I used to hear voices and flush all the dope down the toilet. Now I can generally control my paranoia, I take enough pills to flatten out the psychosis following too much cocaine.
A lot of things changed when the good MDMA, ecstasy, came back around, it started with the Mitsubishi’s. The pills heard around the world. About the size of an aspirin, with the symbol of the carmaker imprinted on it. Everybody wanted those pills, and we had them.
Everyone came out of this huge coke stupor; everybody wanted to get happy. It took sometime to convince people that buying a pill for twenty dollars was better than snorting the same twenty dollars. But it helped watching people; it’s not like seeing people on powder. People on coke always end up having a horrible time, maybe not the first hour but at the end it’s a crash. It starts out as this great social endeavor but ends up being alone staring out windows.
You’re never alone on the pills. It’s like the ‘free love’ advertised from the sixties but without the ‘thinking you can fly’ of LSD. The story passed around is that a German scientist created it for his wife, on Christmas Eve in 1913. I assure you it couldn’t have been the typical mad scientist. I don’t imagine any pounding thunderstorms and lightning, no hunchbacks. It had to be a nice day outside whenever ecstasy was born.
The story continues that it was somehow forgotten for almost sixty years until the military tried to develop it as a weapon, but unless they wanted to make the whole world smile it was useless. Next came the chemical utopia in the eighties, where people inTexasbought pills out of gumball machines. But the truly ‘Loch Ness’ of the stories is the 900 kilograms of ecstasy buried somewhere inSouth Africa. Where the renegade African leader, Wouter Basson, produced and hid the pills to one day be used for world domination, or so the story goes about Basson’s Brownies.
The best thing about ecstasy is also the worse thing about ecstasy; it comes in a pill. For those of us growing up with the AIDS scare of infected needles it seems sensible to take a pill. After all most everyone has been taking a pill for something all of our lives, it is a safe thing to do. There is a dangerous assumption that since it is a pill then it is made more safely. Ecstasy makes you feel really good and it is a pill, so it doesn’t have the stigma of the ‘dirty’ drugs. No bloody cotton balls, no pipe to light, and no razor blades. The perfect drug.
Another thing about it is the name; I mean who would want to do ‘crack’ when they could feel like ‘ecstasy’? Marketing. The word ecstasy is always going to imply the idea of an orgasm; therefore, it’s not surprising that the drug is continually referred to as the ‘love drug’. Although the description falls short it remains the closest thing that the public may get to understanding the experience. It should also be noted that although many magazines devoted their covers to ‘crack babies’ in the eighties, there will be far more ecstasy babies. It is a known truth that you’re most likely to find crack users incapable of sex, (although cocaine is generally advertised as an aphrodisiac, it doesn’t perform as one.) On the other hand the pill popping MDMA user is known to mate frequently and without regard to the condom. This is not to say that ecstasy is an aphrodisiac- that would be too simple. For example, the standard litmus test for pill quality can be described as the convenience store test. A good pill can make a trip to QuickTrip seem to be meaningful, exciting, and at times breathtaking. So sex on ecstasy can be, well, you do the math.
For a long time ecstasy was enough for me, but I got uncomfortable with bliss. I started to dislike it because I knew I didn’t deserve it. I’m not the addict trying to feel good all the time, even that tends to be too much for me. I just stay fucked up. That is the real point of it all, to stay in a state of chaos. That’s why I snort cocaine before, during, and after I take pills. That initial rush is all I really want, so I keep feeding myself different combinations. It just doesn’t make sense to those people hugging each other and playing with glow sticks.
Maybe it’s not as much chaos that I’m looking for but warm confusion.
I’m warm and a little confused as I sit in the terrace bar waiting for Scott to arrive. I smile as the waitress smiles, not sure if we have met or it’s just the Ritz-Carlton hospitality. Either way she brings me the liquid I require. I give an extra ‘nod’ to let her know I don’t expect money back. I always tip very well; I suppose that would be part of my modus operandi. My eventual spot on whatever find-em and catch-em television show would be as follows:
America we need your help, David R. Shaw is a white male, age 27. He is six foot one inches and weighs 185 pounds. He has shoulder length blonde hair with blue eyes. He has no known tattoo’s but it is rumored he draws on himself frequently. He is wanted in regards to the chemical inducement of happiness to chronic drug users in the Kansas City area. He is known to have a fascination for cheese products and tips very well. If you see this man, do not approach him. Call us immediately and one of our field agents will apprehend this fugitive. Let’s take this vermin off the streets tonight America!!
(Cut to: car alarm / personal weaponry commercials)
I am caught gazing into my drink by Scott. As he walks into the terrace he waves the waitress towards us then orders for us both. He sits across from me and smiles.
He is wearing one of his various sweat suits with ball cap combinations, gold chain, gold rings, short hair, white teeth, blue eyes and carrying a gym bag. He has been living the hip-hop life through an umbilical cord of rap music since he was thirteen; he refers to KRS One as “The Great One” and will proudly display his tattoo of ‘Thug Life’ across his chest to anyone asking.
All of this strange considering his first encounter with a gang was probably watching the movie ‘Colors’ on a big screen television in his bedroom at his parents house. He isn’t a junky in a chemical sense but a cultural one. Both of us unsatisfied with the cards dealt to us.
It’s simple really; it’s that his rebels without a cause are in rap videos, while mine are dead poets and overdosed musicians.
Two cliché’s walk into a bar…
He stops me from further mental biography with, “So what’s your crystal ball tell you today?”
I stare into my glass and reply, “You will save the ghetto through chemical intervention but, alas! You will remain forever white.”
“And, what will become of you, oh wise one?” Young grasshopper replies.
I finish the Zen and barley moment with, “I will find the perfect drug and I will find time to smile in a crowd.”
Both of us pleased with ourselves turn to half smiles and nod as the drinks are brought to the table. We shift our attention to the body packaged in the waitress uniform, she gives us the tourist smile and vanishes with the empty glasses.
“I saw Kristin and Tara last night at Fallout, they kept asking for pills but you wouldn’t answer your phone, I could have gotten French.” He gives a frustrated smile.
“My body gave up, I think I passed out in the car, woke up at the Ritz.”
“Yes, impeccably dressed to impress and made it to work.”
We both give a sigh, signifying our distrust of things such as paychecks.
He starts on his minute by minute of the scene; I listen with no intent. He seems positive that this was better than that, but someone named Randy has the best, but he doesn’t like someone named Roland and they don’t go to the clubs anyhow, of course his girlfriend sleeps around, but doesn’t everyone?
I’m staring at my napkin trying to listen.
“Tony said you wouldn’t be back in town for another two-weeks.” He is looking at me, and I am looking at the napkin.
“I told him that because he needed something to believe, he wouldn’t listen when I told him that I was done with everything.”
He takes a drink, tries to look sympathetic and asks,” Why did you tell him something like that?”
“I told you I don’t trust Tony, I gave him my number because it’s better to have him thinking we are still friends.” I’m looking for the waitress. The napkin is disintegrating. Then I add, “Besides, I think maybe I am done.”
“Done? Sure let’s get jobs. It’s going to take awhile for us to pass a drug test, maybe they grade on the curve.”
He is checking his pager, gives me the necessary shrug and I slide him some cocaine cleverly disguised inside a box of assorted chocolates.
(Whom would this elaborate ruse fool? Would the authorities fall short because of our attention to detail? Will this crime spree continue, relentlessly until some poor fool happens upon the wrong box of sweets? Until then will the police somehow overlook this? It would seem that this pageantry is more for the waitress than the police, more for us than for them. )
The chocolates disappear into his Starter jacket, but he is still dismayed and pleads. “I need to be happy, when will I be happy?” This is not a search for personal joy, pills are being requested. I remove two from my pocket.
We swallow, blink, and breathe.
“More Friday, but I need thirty two for the chocolate tomorrow.”
He nods and suggests Haskin’s tomorrow afternoon, I agree. The waitress returns and we both give her too much money; she smiles and walks away. I wait until he has left before heading towards the elevators.
The orange November sun fills the room as I open the curtains. The afternoon has brought a steady flow of shopping to the Plaza. People are finding use for the money that plagues them. The siege of those without will not bother them; for they have made the area free of such people.
It is the absence of anything ‘city’ that makes the area surreal. It is as you have entered a painting. No city traffic, buildings, noises or hurries. Only dining and shopping. I believe it would be safe to say that it wasAmerica’s first strip mall, but don’t ever call it that, that would be sacrilege to the patrons of this museum.
I can’t escape feeling a connection to this area; it’s the beauty of it and the need that it satisfies. The need to escape.
J.C. Nichols designed the area after his trips toSpain. He started with a vision and carved it out of a cow town. I still can see his hunger, power, and grace at every turn and shape. I might be alone in describing his dream surreal, but to me it is obvious. It’s the dilemma of the square peg and round hole; however he simply created a square hole.
When you don’t like your world, change it. Of course I took the Timothy Leary approach.
All of this, as my palms grows wet and my head pulses with a familiar dizziness, I sit on the bed and I let go of myself.
Crawling up my body is a wave of oxygen, I yawn to keep my focus. This is the overwhelming of all my senses; all that gives me compass to reality. I grip the bed with fingers and toes, mind and then my soul.
It is hot and cold in the room. I am comfortable but searching for more comfort, in doing so I destroy the bed. I stare into the mirror and then stand on the chair. I sit on the floor and lay on the desk. I dance in the shower and laugh as my phone beeps. No part of the room lays unexplored as I test my chemical tether to pleasure. I am swimming.
It’s a spin into my mind and I love the way I am thinking. It is moments of intensity with sharp clarity; it is foggy madness with a smile.
I put the perfect album in the CD player, and wait for the sounds, hiding under the covers. The slow piano comes into the room and I am covered in chills as my skin scrambles to stay together. I know what is coming but it still brings a shock to my ears. It is like an echo as the notes explode into my body. The voices follow and it is a musical circus.
I’m a writer, a poet, a genius, I know it.
I finally notice the time; I must come in now.
People always trying to get next to me.
I snort some cocaine and it brings me swimming back to shore. It’s always good to bring me back from too much fun. Although cocaine was thought to be a cure for heroin at one time, its help in hallucination rescue has been somewhat overlooked.
Time to go to back to work. I call for a taxi.
I approach the door in a deliberate way, giving the slow horizontal then vertical caution to cameras and however else big brother could be watching me. The door seems to be a vacuum of cool air as I enter. Two people stand in line in front of the desk, and behind the desk an employee stares at a computer screen barking instructions with a smile to the first customer in line.
The pay phone takes one dollar for one minute anywhere in the country, which is how long I need. I call the number left on my pager earlier, the one with the *1475 after it. The number is a voice mailbox; the password is always the same. Only one message is waiting and it is a female voice, “Susan”, who leaves her new address. I delete the message and hang up.
I make my way over to the Next Day service counter. I find an envelope and begin addressing it to a random name; today I’m sending a package to William James. I am staring at the paper, listening to the monotone voice of the clerk and the steady requests of customer number one as I fill in the information. No return address. I put the blank money orders in the envelope and seal it.
When I hand the clerk thirty dollars and the envelope he simply scans it and hands me a receipt with my tracking number and then my change, no words, just commerce. I don’t know if it is the second or the third pill but I really want to start a conversation, instead I smile and float out the door.
Once back inside the taxi I delete the number from my pager, the mailbox will be gone tomorrow. I call Mark and he is having “drinks with his next wife” which means he just met a girl at a bar; he is the worse at cheese like that. It works for him though, most of the time. I relay the message that I finished with that “paperwork at the office” and he offers to pick me up for drinks.
“I am going to dinner tonight at Gazza.” I try to sound convincing.
“Do I need to make a rescue?” I know he is smiling.
I pause, three long seconds, wanting to give myself a way out “No, I can do this, I will call you later.”
I hang up and focus my attention on the passing automobiles. The closer I get to the hotel the nicer the cars get, the nicer the people, even the street lights look better. You get all this and more for just twenty dollars? It’s easier than trying to sell vacuum cleaners.
I ask the driver to take me to BJ’s and he gives me a glance.
“You sure you don’t wantWestport, Buddy?”
You should never make the mistake of telling a sixteen-year-old that they are powerless. That word rang in my ears as a challenge. I remember distinctly when I first understood what they were telling me, that I was an addict. At the time I didn’t think you could be an addict until you were at least thirty, and then you had to be a serious degenerate. All that was changed when I sat through my first NA meeting.
It was held on church grounds, which rang warning bells in my head, in a building used for youth group and Sunday school. It was quite an assortment of people sitting in chairs and couches, as if it was story time. And it soon was.
As you may know it starts with the greetings and admission of being an addict and then a collective response. When it came my turn as newcomer, I was required to initiate myself. I dove headfirst.
“Hello, my name is David and I’m a drug addict.”
“HELLO DAVID!” They seemed a bit too excited about this part.
Then person after person related a tale about their ‘relapses’. A relapse is a nice way of saying, “I got fucked up”.
It was strange to hear so many different confessions. It struck me very odd that not only should we have to admit we have a disease, but that it was necessary to do so. (I think, therefore, I am?)
While admitting to having the disease is the first of the twelve steps required in reaching sobriety, it is not a guarantee of it. Many people told of the ‘relapses’ back into drinking. But these failures are used as proof positive of the disease. Why else would someone continually destroy their life?
The man sitting next to me drank cologne during his last binge and told the room about leaving his family. A woman said she breast-fed her infant cocaine while she was a prostitute. Another man had been drinking and throwing up since eight years old. Some had robbed their own families of everything. The tales included needles, guns, money, sex for crack and it would seem that everyone wrecked at least one car. All of this because the disease is cunning, baffling, and powerful.
I was at the meeting because I had been pulled over and a joint found in my father’s car. I was released to my parents who tortured me with silence. Later in court, the judge told my parents that I must find NA or I would seemingly perish into a world of crime!
At the end of each story I was told that this fate was promised to me. But I could avoid it all and they gave me my only hope. The hope was that I could stop my drinking and drugs by living one day at a time, that’s all? This may seem a simple mantra to the wise but for a teenager?
The meeting was very much a ceremony, with traditions and prayer. It would seem this clubhouse was not much different than the boy scouts, which I had retired from years earlier. They had a good time discussing their new lives abstaining from addiction, as they drank pots of coffee and smoked cigarette after cigarette. I had youthful cynicism on my side. I listened for one hour and had my probation card signed.
Although the thought of my problems being inherited had a nice angle I couldn’t think of how to blame this on my parents. After all neither of them smoked pot nor drank. Maybe there was an uncle or a cousin riddled with addiction, if so, it was kept quiet.
I returned to the world convinced that I was not an addict.
BJ’s Lounge is on Broadway next to the Western Auto and an all night checking place. It has two doors, one after the other, as to buffer the outside world from its view or maybe vice-versa. You can come at about anytime and see the same people in the place, doing the same things.
A mist of tobacco greets me as I enter. I’m careful as I look around, this is a drinking joint not a happy hour. I quickly find my way to one of the empty seats and plenty of them exist. This place is afloat from the regulars, people who cash their paychecks here.
As I am sitting my drinks are brought to the table. Chris has been the bartender here as long as I have been coming, it is said he came long ago and may even know whoever “BJ” might be. It’s been a year since I started coming in here, which still makes me a new face. But I have conversations with some of the regulars here, which includes buying them drinks, and they have slowly tolerated my presence.
I hand him two twenties as I do the shot, his response is always the same. “God bless you.” Irish words without effort.
“And you.” My reply is standard as well.
I am almost done with my Crown and Coke asTarasits down at my table. She is excited, takes my beer and starts drinking.
Tarais not gorgeous anymore. She still has more than enough left to stop anyone in a bar, but that may be the extent of her magic. Her body beckons to be seen but her smile has faded. I can still remember her as a cheerleader but try not to, because then I have to remember high school.
Our class reunion was more than unlikely, but maybe you should always be surprised when you find people from your glee club naked. It was another party at Brian’s, about twenty people bobbing to music and trading drugs. I’m not sure about the time, but two escorts showed up, Tara was one of them.
They entered, nodded to Brian and started disrobing, it was apparent this was planned. People gathered on the futons, I found a chair. The guys enthused yet patient, staring at the remaining girls watching to see either if this interested or frightened them. Some would later protest for the mortified, and others would counsel those curious. It was really a win-win situation.
So there I was jaw dropped and chemically mummified, staring at my pubescent heroine engaging another woman in my high-school fantasy.
It was seemingly hours of that. No one could know how my mind was bending in that chair. The X demanded every breath and limited my blinking. But, it wasn’t simply the drugs anymore it was this huge addition of reality, this lending of thought. I wasn’t prepared. No drug could help me with this, I simply watched.
No amount of pornography could prepare a person for something like that; it simply can’t be described here with body positions.
It ended not with applause but a collective sigh of relief. Money appeared and was handed towards them from all corners of the room. Lots of money.
Smiling and naked Tara slowly made her way to me.
To my horror she called me, “Davey!!”
“I’m so glad to see you!” Breasts perfect.
“Tara? I didn’t recognize you, how are you?” Mark McGwire 54 Home runs, Sammy Sosa 54 Home runs, Roger Maris 52 Home runs, don’t look her in the eyes or stand up too quickly, Babe Ruth 52.
“Davey, didn’t you like the show?” Demanding attention.
“Strange.” Man of a thousand words.
She looked at me for a moment, turned and walked slowly to the pile of clothes. After putting some on she returned and her first question was predictable, “Where’s the cocaine?” That was six months ago.
Her cool hand, upon my forehead, interrupts this memory.
“What’s wrong with you?” Each word splashes on me, sticky.
My head must be about one thousand degrees, and my stomach agrees.
I muster, “I am sorry”, and start towards the bathroom.
Another good thing about BJ’s is that the bathroom has a lock. This is because people shoot, snort, and smoke in here.
After cleaning myself up I leave the bathroom with a smile. Any junky will tell you that throwing up is always a good sign.
I ride a wave all the way back to the table.
“Where were we?” I am so suave.
Her look of concern fades to a smile, “You were about to tell me why I’m so beautiful.”
“Another product of public schooling.”
Drinks arrive. We tilt shot glasses, “To the end of the world!” She declares.
“How many days left?”
“Thirty nine days and a wake up.”
The millennium bug has inspired some drama for those in the drug trade. Bread and water is not all that is being bought up “just in case”. I’m not sure if she really believes that this will spark chaos, a biblical end, or if it is just another junky holiday.
We celebrate everything.
It’s been the theme for her since she surfaced into my chaos. We exchanged numbers that night, and we started meeting and having drinks. It’s been mostly here but a few other spots on my dive-bar list.
She surprised me with apocalyptic literature almost immediately, warning me. But her cautions have come with smiles. I’m not sure if it is for real for her or just something to grab on to. I don’t see how something like that could affect either of us.
The end of that world all ready happened years ago for both of us.
These are not business calls; neither of us needs the other. I can usually find a naked girl because I always have drugs and she can always find drugs because she is usually naked. That leaves us like two super-powers in this world of sin, discussing the weather over cocktails.
A familiar number vibrates my pager and I dial Mark’s phone.
“Why was your phone off?” I can hear music and traffic.
“I didn’t know it was off.”
“Liar, where are you?”
“Having a drink at Harry’s.” Another one of our code-names to thwart ‘Them’.
“I just got a call from the dynamic duo, searching for you; I have the location of their secret hideout.” He is pronouncing each word like a Monster Truck commercial.
“We won’t miss your dinner date.” He sounds convincing.
I look at my watch. It is seven O’ clock.
“Stop by the office and pick up George, then come pick me up.”
“Is he ready to go out?”
“Yes, he was at his desk when I left.”
“Tell Mark I said hello!”Tarainsists.
“Ask her how much for an hour.”
“See you soon.” I hang up.
“What did he say?” She asks.
“He said to tell you, ‘Hello’.” I give a straight face.
“Whatever.” She knows better.
She was the girl no one got in high school so Mark seems to enjoy her new bartering status. Neither of us has made a purchase. I have kept it to public places so I don’t have to make that decision.
We spend the next hour exchanging filler. My phone rings and Mark tells me he is pulling up. I leave money on the table and say good-bye to Chris.
“God bless you.” He replies.
Tarawalks me outside giving me a small kiss before walking towards her car.
The Historic Suites provides a home away from home for the traveling executive. Mark informs me on the way over that Allen and Matt have taken refuge here in a two- bedroom condo complete with hot tub. As he drives I snort coke off a CD case, then hold the wheel, as he does the same.
Allen opens the door revealing the remains of a party. Bottles and glasses clutter the tables. Two girls stare hopeful at a table with a small pile of coke while another lays topless on a couch next to Matt, who smiles like James Bond as we enter.
“Ladies, this is the elusive Mr. Smith and his cohort John Doe.” Matt tilts his glass to indicate a path to the rear.
“Hi.” Is the collective response from females.
Allen wears his trademarked loosened tie with button up shirt, (See a J-Crew catalog for details). Matt looks more like a surfer with a failing tan. Both look healthier than last I saw them, when they suffered from ‘food poisoning’. Of course this is just another way to describe a crash.
Me? My allergies are always bothering me.
I am ushered into the back room with Allen, leaving Mark and Matt with the cocaine girls.
The bedroom is huge. A king bed sits next to a huge window, the view obstructed by lavish curtains. An entertainment center sits opposite wall, filled with every conceivable stereo item. A slow drum and bass comes from the speakers, which remain to be seen. A desk and two chairs sit between the back wall and an entrance to the bathroom.
From a drawer he places a mirror on the desk. I pour some coke on it and roll a bill. We both inhale the powder, allowing a large breath as we sit down in the chairs.
“Peruvian?” He asks.
“Yes.” I respond.
This is just part of the ritual. For me to claim this information is a stretch. I can hardly claim to know its origin. It has passed many hands before reaching this country let alone the ones from that point to me.
I hand him a box of assorted chocolates. Inside I have managed to squeeze nine ounces,ALA’ George.
He places the box in the top drawer of the desk.
“Steven was out last night, he had some more smurfs.” He informs me.
“Same as the last?” These pill updates are essential.
“No, these are baby-domes, darker blue. Everyone seemed to like them, but right now they could eat aspirins and giggle. When are we going to have more?” He pleads.
“I should be ready for this weekend.”
I hand him an inconspicuous Tylenol PM bottle and he shakes it to his ear.
“This should last me.” He smiles.
I make my way back to Mark as he is doing his best to convince the remaining girls that he is a professional photographer. I have heard this one maybe a hundred times, and I must admit that it is getting better.
“Come on Marcus, we can’t be late for first runway.” I decide to help.
“Yes, but can we take these lovelies?” He smiles with his entire face.
“No, but perhaps this weekend they could help.” I play the bad guy.
They each give a hopeful look, as if the entire night before now made more sense.
Cocaine dreams are easily sealed with promises from strangers.
He gets phone numbers as he makes promises. Both Matt and Allen laugh but not to ruin his façade, only to witness it. The girls seem happier now that they know someone who knows someone. But even a modeling career wouldn’t get them away from Matt or Allen right now; after all they have the dope.
They think we are just customers here.
As Mark drives, he hands me a thick envelope marked Happy Birthday. It is complete with an imposingGarfield, smiling for the occasion.
“The girls wanted me to read the card.”
“I’m sure they would have been impressed.”
“They sang Happy Birthday.”
I place the envelope in the glove compartment then check my watch. I dial a number on my phone. It answers on the third ring.
“Gorby’s, this is Brad.”
“Brad, its David how are you?”
“I’m so glad you called, listen you need to stop by.” Excited.
“I need some things for tonight, but I have to make it somewhere right now, Mark will stop bye for me.”
“Oh good, tell him to bring me some love.” Some people like drugs, some people love them.
“I need everything; do you still have what you showed me Saturday?”
“David, that was over two weeks ago, are you okay?”
When you’re high everyday, a day is longer than a week.
“I’m fine, do you still have that?”
“I’ll find something for you, don’t forget my love.”
“I’m not going to see him.” He asserts.
“It’s a nice outfit.” If all else fails, make a plea for fashion.
“Okay, but he really gets on my nerves.”
“I think he likes you.”
“I know he does.”
Clothing for pills demonstrates the bartering world you enter with addiction. It obeys the laws of capitalism but dope becomes the universal currency. Everything from sex to stereos is negotiable. It’s hedonistic monopoly for the junky.
I make two lines and we both snort.
He drops me off at Gazza.
A soft light fills the lobby as I find my way to the hostess.
“Yes, I have a table for9:30, Shaw.”
Looking at a list, “Yes, please come this way.”
I am taken to a table that overlooks the dinning area; it is accessible for service yet remains secluded. (Note to self: Nice job Darrin.)
“I am expecting someone.”
“Yes, sir, reservations for two.”
The hostess walks away as a waiter finds me very thirsty.
“Yes, I need a Pepsi please; I’ll wait to order until my guest arrives.”
“Of course.” And he disappears.
It has to be a Pepsi; She won’t stay if I am drinking.
My jaw is tight and my brain is lava, while the rest of me is becoming damp. My body seems as confused as my mind.
I wait for Her.
The late dinner crowd is talking with a combined laugh, as if they all have the same message to tell me.
I see couples holding hands and I see couples kissing lips.
I wonder what they talk about.
How can I have it?
My drink arrives and I swallow a pill.
A buzz in my ear holds me to the table as I grip my side. It is the organ that has been screaming at me lately. Which one I do not know. I assume my kidney has finally revolted against me.
No one notices this because I handle it like a yawn. I’m a real pro.
Sometimes it leaves a dark bruise were it hurts, sometimes I pass out.
I can tell that this time will just be a bruise.
A couple smiling at each other, unaware of the entire world.
I remember being like that.
It is this memory that meets me at each and every corner. It demands my attention. I try to drink it away only to have it come louder and brighter the next time. I try to destroy it with pills and cocaine only to find myself alone, staring at my eyelids, saying Her name over and over as if magical words begging for sleep.
How can I explain this thing I am inside of?
Being an ecstasy junky means I can feel love like an exposed nerve. It is like a hundred blinding suns. It was as if the entirety of love perfect was revealed to me with that first pill. Love is real inside that cloud, solid and even weighty, I have touched it.
That is why I can whisper about love better than the others.
I haven’t been able to transfer this into my other life because I am an impostor in the world of love. I have entered through a back door looking to loot the place for whatever I can use. It is stolen, therefore how could I ever really share it with anyone? Instead I demand all the energy my lover has then spend it in on myself. It’s like winning the lottery only to be destroyed by greed.
You should never look directly into the sun. Once you have been blinded it is hard to compromise with mere mortals. Let’s try the moon. If you go to the moon you feel that you have this great strength because of zero gravity. You cannot bring that back with you. Sure, you will remember how it felt, and you will try to use that to find your way back, but it only works there. You can’t bring that strength back with you no matter how hard you try.
The pills give you ‘free love’ but you cannot bring it back with you when the pill wears off. Instead you have a vision of what love could be. With each pill you will try to recreate that vision. If you’re involved with someone then you will expect them to live up to those same expectations you found on the pill. It is the same something for nothing expectations that provide the foundation of all participants in this world. But just as zero gravity doesn’t really make you any stronger, the pills don’t make you a better lover- unless you stay in space. (At this time feel free to stop reading and listen to “Rocket Man” by Elton John)
This is why relationships must fail. But I do have the pills. I know they can not bring me the same satisfaction. It’s like comparing masturbation to sex. It feels really great until you are done, but then you are all alone and sticky. The pills do give me access to this love. I’m not convinced about romance but I do believe in ecstasy.
The Waiter returns.
“Sir, the kitchen will be closing in thirty minutes.”
He eyes me with a knowing look and promises to return with another drink. He suggests alcohol. I agree.
I call Mark.
“Maybe something happened.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
I meet him outside.
I do a line.
Back in the room the darkness has descended upon the plaza as we watch through open curtains. Mark weighs the packages and prepares our personal vials.
“Call Her.” This standard best friend advice applies even to junkies.
That is exactly what She wishes. Hoping that I will feel some of the loneliness that I have provided Her with. Assuming I am still human.
“It’s not like Her to not show up, that’s more your style, maybe something happened.”
“She didn’t say She would be there, I did.”
“She didn’t say no.”
Perhaps in a normal world this could be a lesson learned but here it fuels me. Tough Love doesn’t work on a junky anymore than tears. That is because when it comes down to it I am not looking to ‘make’ love with anyone, I prefer mine instant. But you cannot put sand in a microwave and expect a pearl. That lump in my throat is the love I can taste but not swallow.
I smell the ketamine as Mark makes two large lines. Special K is for anesthesia; physicians use it for physical pain, while the junky strategy is for the emotional stuff.
It immediately hits me. It feels like a molten-rod as it pierces my brain delivering a debate of pleasure and pain which results in an instant uncontrollable smile. My mouth fills with saliva as I chew on my lips, frantic to eat the moment.
I must close my eyes to keep any vision, as the spinning continues to shake words from my mouth.
Mark is staring out the window singing as his hands crawl for alcohol.
I am suddenly above us both. It is furious.
Slowly madness is replaced with confusion. Cloudy thoughts remind me that this is all a dream. I am reminded of differences, looking for them. Crawling back first is memory, establishing a lifeline.
I could stay here. Sometimes I am sure of it.
But I always choose ego over escape. Padded brain over padded room. It would seem I lack the courage to abandon myself completely. Time will tell.
Mark is staring at me. He looks deranged, happy about it.
I head to the bathroom stopping to grab three bags with the Gorby symbol on them. I grab two beers and turn the stereo loud. Perfect CD.
I turn the shower on hot as I peel my clothes off. I pour cocaine onto the marble counter.
Steam is building. I open a beer and drink slowly.
The water is incredible. A cocaine shower is one of the best parts of any junky day. My skin is pulsing. My heart is pounding.
I am finally dizzy and step out of the shower. I sit naked while drinking the second beer as the hypnotic music grabs the air around me.
The soft fabric of new clothes gives me a certain confidence as I make my way out of the bathroom. I find Mark staring out the window, back to me with his palm outstretched and anticipating.
His hand is displaying two pills. They are off white with brown speckles, to most they may appear rather average, but make no mistake these are no ordinary pills.
“I thought those were all gone.” Inquiring minds.
“Don’t ask, don’t tell.” A look of practiced innocence.
“Indeed.” And the matter is settled.
We both have stashes, just in case.
I make two drinks and join his view of the plaza. The shopping day ended hours ago. Only scattered window shoppers remain.
The horses have gone home. (Note: Stables?)
I finish the preparations as Mark watches television.
“MaybeTarais right.” Responding to his media update.
“Sure, maybe the bug will win.”
We toast glasses and pills, “To the bug.”
It’s nowmidnight. Ready for the bars.
Please keep your hands and feet inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop, and please, have a nice day!
Now the party starts.
Westportis the bar district of Kansas City. Several streets filled only with bar after bar leaves little question on the intent of this neighborhood, as it provides a melting pot for every flavor of drunkard. Country bars, rock-n-roll bars, jazz and techno bars each demand attention from all. It is choose your own adventure.
While it provides an anticipated oasis for those paycheck drinkers it is only part of the ritual for the addict. The weekend warrior tries to play catch up as the addict advertises chaos. One is finding something to do while the other is doing something while finding.
Westportprovides a hub of commerce to dealers with many brands of pleasure; it serves as a gateway for the user while the addict lurks as a predator. The junky watches them both.
Keep in mind that all of these labels are for this moment only. They may appear to contradict, as much as a poem might, but are just as true. As usual, the level of difficulty to define is equal to the level that you need the definition. Words fail, sentences help, but paragraphs will destroy.
It works like this. The user still functions in the world so most likely still has a job; he represents the bottom of this food chain. The addict collects money from users to purchase drugs. An addict may sell drugs but does so as part of his attempt to balance his needs; it isn’t a reflection of his true role. Although the addict is involved in the distribution it is solely to supply his habit; he remains torn between two worlds. Both the addict and the junky rely heavily on the money from users to supply their habit.
If the user is fortunate enough to find a junky to purchase from he usually will remain loyal to him. This is because although the addict may come and go the junky remains a fixture in this community. Addicts move back and forth between two worlds as they battle to balance drugs with barbecue grills, mini-vans, and house payments.
The junky has the luxury of having his leisure and employment being one in the same. He watches addicts come, burn brightly, and then fade. Sometimes they return after a stint in prison or treatment- cured. And he watches them bright eyed and bushy tailed returning to the honeymoon of drug use. This doesn’t last long as the addict returns to his disease; it is ironic that this choice ends his ability to truly enjoy himself. The junky remains free of this because he has decided that this is his life- in doing so he chooses not to have the disease.
The other outlet for users to purchase drugs is the criminal. This person is a different creature all together as he only seeks profit. All participants commit crimes but for different reasons. The user requires the crime to provide his recreation; the addict needs crime to supply drug use, the junky needs crime to supply his lifestyle, while the criminal survives on crime itself. The criminal is apt to rob or steal from you just as easily as he will sell to you; he owes no allegiance to the participants of this particular drama.
Remember: Never trust a skinny chef.
The criminal doesn’t hold or value anything important to the others involved in this world, he is an opportunist. Although an addict may associate with him the junky does his best to avoid him. They are competitors.
The Fallout is on the edge of all this. It is a building to itself humming and vibrating noise as it attracts people; like a moth to a disco ball. People come here because it may be the closest they will ever get to ‘that life’ that they feel they are missing.
The entrance is covered in tinted glass. You can see the shadows of lights playing against the walls as hidden sounds cause vibrations from whatever is within. A velvet rope holds a crowd of hopefuls near the entrance.
We avoid the line and enter from the side as security checks a list that neither of us is on. He nods us inside as Mark gives him a token of our appreciation along with a practiced handshake. As we make our way inside the club more security waves us past the pay window.
We are immediately assaulted with brilliant lights as we walk into a room that separates the club from the rest of the world; a reality airlock that is covered with symbols of apocalypse. Fallout shelter signs hang loosely as graffiti helps to cover a wall predicting the end of the world. Destroyed cities are depicted in newspapers that cover another wall; they are all dated the first day of next year.
As we exit this area we notice a digital clock counting down the minutes until the next millennium.
“Idiots, don’t they know the millennium doesn’t end until after next year?”
“You believed in Santa Claus until you were twelve.”
“Add one to my score.”
We make our way onto a descending marble staircase of perhaps five steps pouring us straight ahead into a large dance floor. A cage stands in the middle of the floor inhabited by two female dancers, hired guns with perfect bodies, who ignore everything but the beat. Nothing quite gets a man worked up like girls in a cage.
“No those are definitely tits.”
“Be nice, Mark.”
“I have tried to explain this to you, once they get implants they become tits, and they weren’t born with those brother.”
Both sides of the dance floor begin to slightly rise making the floor a pit of sorts as each side offers a bar to the patrons along with various booths. On the far wall two large video screens displaying a kaleidoscope of images separate a large glass window. The window gives a view to the DJ booth, which seems more of a pulpit. Directly underneath a dark entryway leads to an unseen area.
Midway between the vaulted ceiling and floor a series of balconies circle the entire floor as refuge for demanding voyeurs. This all climaxes into being able to look side to side, up and down, and finding bodies dancing. It is a breathing music video.
As we make our way through the dance floor I feel the low hum of the bass coming from the speakers, a pounding rhythm that can be felt before it is heard. Mark separates towards the left bar as I head towards the far wall. As I approach the entryway I can now see the stairs leading upwards. A sign beckons for VIP cards to be shown for entrance to this area. Two security men stand at the bottom.
“Tell Artris that I am here.”
As I walk up the stairs I take a pill and chew it. The chalky bitter taste reminds me that I have some things I would like to forget. Or is it the things I would like to forget remind me how to forget? I always have an explanation available for taking another pill. It could be a memory or lack of memory. It could be being in love or not being in love. It could be that everything is perfect or it could be that nothing is perfect. It has nothing to do with these explanations or reasons; instead, I keep them for other people. They need a reason to get high. They even need a reason for me to get a high. But for me it’s simple. I like to be high. I like to get high for no reason as much as I like to get high for a reason. It’s not about that, it’s about participation, and participation is a must.
At the top of the stairs a large neon sign mentions in an almost casual way, “Abandon all hope, you who enter here.” That this could be made warm and fuzzy tells more about the mood than anything else does. Dante displayed in neon seems to confirm the apocalypse but also makes you smile, that is, of course, if you read dead Italian poets.
I make my way to the right. A hallway takes me pass the DJ booth and onto the balcony. You can see directly across to the other-side of the club and down onto the dance-floor. The balcony surrounds the dance floor but itself is a dance floor, separated by couches and small bars that circle this level.
The beautiful people are everywhere. They are dressed alike as they represent whatever is for the moment. Some chase advertisements others follow trends. It’s competition of fabric and worship of curves.
I make my way to the balcony and peer at the sea of bodies below. I can feel the dance as it disperses its energy upwards. Looking down gives the feeling of power as I watch others on the balcony pointing to hopefuls, picking those to come up to VIP. It’s supposed to give the feeling ofOlympusbut reminds me more of the cool table in high school.
I feel someone next to me and when I turn I find long blonde hair covering measurements typical for VIP. She has everything just where it should be. I manage a head tilt but I can tell she expects more. She expects to be remembered.
“Hi.” Says the perfect blonde as she waits recognition.
“Hello” I give a smile with nod.
“How have you been doing?” She asks.
When was the last time I saw this person? Was it recently? (What is recently?) How do I know her? Is Mark sleeping with her? Have I? Do I want to? Does she want drugs? Which one’s? Maybe she’s from the past? Which past?
“I’m about the same, and you?” Answer with a question, I’m clever.
“I’m great, home for Thanksgiving. What’s going on?”
What’s going on? What does this mean? Does this mean what drugs do I have? What drugs’ am I on? Or does this mean only, ‘What’s going on?’ I don’t know where to go with this. The lights are too bright and I need a drink. Besides, I am fixated on her body, she is wearing a skirt and a bra. They call it something else, something fashionable, but it’s a bra. Her eyes follow my eyes and she smiles at me, waiting.
“What’s going on with you?” I go for the reversal.
“I’m out by myself, supposed to meet some friends.”
“Are you having a good time?” I put italic’s on the ‘good’.
“I could be better.”
Could? What does this mean? It seems I have come to an impasse, then I see Mark coming from behind her, he gives me a shrug and I respond with an indiscernible shoulder movement with raised eyebrow, this indicating my apparent memory loss.
“Hi, I’m Mark.” Hand extended.
“Hello, I’mSharon.” Hand accepted.
Sharon? The name gives a flash of light, something, but not enough to help. I need more. I indicate this with a quick frown-smile.
“So, how long have you known David?”
“It’s been about a year.”
Nothing, I decide to excuse myself. “I’ll be back in a minute”, Then I add, “Don’t flirt with my girl.”
She smiles. He smiles. They smile.
There are two VIP bathrooms, unisex; both of them are located in a hallway that is accessible through a door across from the DJ booth. As I enter the hallway I see three people leaving the bathroom, as they pass me, I give the proper polite gestures and throw in a smile. I pass that bathroom and open the next one with a key. The bathroom is equipped with a lock because it is designed for the handicapped. Keys are given to any customers who are wheel chair bound. There is some sort of ordinance that requires this for most places of business. Ignore the flight of stairs that is required to reach this level; the only handicap in this bathroom is frequent drug use.
I make a large line on the counter as I listen to the music being siphoned through speakers into this den. Two sniffs and then I am checking my nose for evidence in the mirror; finding myself looking better than I should.
The lock is part of the understood agreement between the establishment and the junky. Both need each other. Although drug use may not be openly encouraged it is understood that the drug culture needs to be present for the success of the club.
I find Mark standing outside the DJ booth as I make my way out of the hallway. He hands me a drink and laughs knowingly.
“And?” I admit my defeat.
“Sharonmet you last summer at Starz. She wouldn’t call it dating but whatever you two did she wants more.”
“I don’t think so, she mentioned knowing Steven, and so I don’t think it’s about the dope.”
“She knows him?”
“Yeah, something about her-friend-got-something-and-they-all-did-some-but-she-doesn’t-do-it-all-the-time-you-know-what-I-mean-THANG.”
“So we won’t hold that against her?”
“I guess. Anyway, she is beautiful, plus she likes to wear almost nothing and will do almost anything.”
“Anything? Where did you get that?”
“Well, if she met you when Starz was open then it was during your, ‘reckless artist phase’, and if she partied with you then, I can assume she will do anything.”
“I thought you liked Starz.”
“The club was another Edge wanna be, besides, writing poems on napkins doesn’t make you an author.”
Mark compares every club to the Edge, a now closed, yet mythical, bar that broke us both into the scene. He also compares each girl to Pamela Lee and every band to the Beatles. It’s a mixed up value center that makes up Mark.
“I had good intentions.” I stand moral.
“So does the model agency story.” He reminds me.
“Don’t compare me to your get-laid-quick schemes; it is two completely different things.”
“Let’s find Artris.”
“He’s on the back balcony, couching with Steven, and three more perfect blondes.”
“I’m not messing with those people tonight; I found a health professional in a short skirt that needs advice on buying a home.” Get-laid-quick #23.
He disappears down the stairs as I make my way back onto the balconies, the drink brings me a certain comfort but alcohol lost it’s punch years ago, it’s background music. I seeSharonsitting with some people near the first bar and I give her the universal ‘I’ll be back in a minute sign’. She smiles.
Artris has skin that is a caramel color that won’t be brown and won’t be white but his thick braids solve any questions. He has emerald eyes that never blink and smiles with his teeth when he sees me. You would guess him to be younger than he is, but many of us get that, it is the drugs- the stopping of time will either reward or punish you. I would guess him to be at the beginning of his thirties but know that he must be further along because of the comments he makes, he refers to the eighties like it was a long weekend- as if he has, he must, have been doing this for twenty years. On either side of him a perfect blonde sits with a drink and a perpetual smile.
Steven is standing next to the couch with the third perfect blonde. He has the typical ponytail / steroid body, complete with tribal tattoos. He is wearing something related to spandex, although it may have not been the fabrics intention to look so- such is the advantages of gym in a bottle. He grins a slow toothy gaze in my direction as the attention of the couch heads my way.
“My friend, have a seat, ladies, make room for my best friend.” Artris told me that he calls three people his best friend, one of them is the owner of this club the other remains unknown. I could probably ask but being his best friend makes me nervous.
Two things make dealers paranoid; people who go to jail and people who do not go to jail. Artris fits the later of the two. His longevity is in fierce competition with his flamboyance. I could make more money if I went into business with him but I would get less sleep.
I know one of the girls and I make a space between her and Artris. She looks either amused or bothered; it’s hard to tell on this many pills.
“David, you’re looking better.” Toothpaste smile.
“Of course you don’t even remember. How should I expect you to remember something as trivial, as say, Monday night?”
“Look, Tricia, what are you talking about?” I am borderline memory.
“Baby, let em know what it is.” Baby sounds like ‘Bah-bay’ and it’s more of a pro-noun than an adjective. Artris has a thick New York-Jamaican accent that places him somewhere between Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. It takes serious conditioning to understand, but he seldom has to repeat himself, because people listen to Artris even if they don’t understand him. Artris permeates a certain violence, rarely seen, but vividly retold around the circles of this drama.
Tricia looks at him, smiles, then, “You and Mark both were absolutely frothing Monday night at the Zone. What did you do with Mindy?”
Finally a piece of the puzzle, “Actually she is fine, we had lunch today. I’m supposed to call her.”
“I could see you two together.”
“I didn’t say anything about together.”
“For you, it’s always about getting together, but be careful with her she may prove to be a bit much, even for you.”
“Much?” I’m getting tired of this.
“Well, just keep your heart away from her; she likes to play with boys like you.” Her eyes blink slowly between seductress and bitch.
Artris joins in with, “Jealous!” which makes Tricia smile, but if I’d said it to her, then it would have been a glare, maybe even a slap. Artris still supplies free powder to her but I stopped months ago and she doesn’t find my lack of charity attractive. I’m not concerned about that; it’s her remarks that have me thinking. Mindy is sounding better and better by the moment.
“Go get us some drinks, Baby.”
Artris furnishes a wad of cash and she disappears in a cloud of scented air. Another perfect blonde approaches the couch but is dismissed by Artris with a, “Come back later, Baby.” He opens a small baggy and pours cocaine onto his closed hand then sniffs, he then hands the baggy to me and I do the same. We share silence as the telltale powder drips down our throats and into our lungs.
I immediately know that this is from his personal because of the way my eyes water up, club cocaine might make you gag then cry, but the good stuff just makes you cry. I don’t let these thoughts escape my mouth; don’t want to praise the competition, not during a game.
I’ve known Artris for almost five years and the origin of my best friend status remains somewhat a mystery. I mean he doesn’t know anything about me other than the function I serve here in this world. He doesn’t know where I live, where I am from, or even my dog’s name, (Note: my dog’s name is Whizzo, a small fluffy canine, purchased by Mark and I as a gift to The Girl.) Best friends? And I know far less about him- other than the scattered been up all night stories shared by the participants of this play, urban legend. He is fromNew York, or maybe it’sNew Jersey-he did time inNew Yorkfor something violent, or it turned him violent, matters who you ask (that explains the accent). He doesn’t have any known family and no one has actually seen him sleep. I do know that he has cocaine, lots of cocaine, and that is all that anyone really cares about. We don’t need each other for anything, maybe that is the comfort.
I would like to believe that it has to be my remarkable personality that brought us to this alliance, association, friendship- whatever; but I suppose it was simply chaos that brought us together. Some would call it luck, but I don’t believe in luck- not lately. The word luck has too much implied happiness about it. Whatever it was that brought us together that first time was chaos, the type of random design that needs to happen but requires a certain something sinister to appreciate. Luck is for people who win the lottery not for friendships forged in cocaine.
Drinks are delivered by a rejuvenated Tricia, who sits on my lap, rubbing, then it’s her lips to my ears asking, “Remember how good I feel?” I think she licks her lips at this point- maybe it’s the pills (pills, pills, pills…)
“It was the best thirty minutes of sin I’ve ever spent in a limo.”
She doesn’t know if that was a compliment or not, neither do I, so we both smile as she slides off me and onto the couch. Truth is- yes, of course I remember how her skin bounced to the beat of Fat Boy Slim as I snorted cocaine off her breasts- fucking – but a lot of people share that memory with her. I’m not one to judge – being a whore is rampant here at the end of the millennium, but I’m not one to be conquered either. I like the shy whores.
It’s Artris who notices my nose is bleeding first.
“You need to slow it down.” This ambiguous dealer to dealer advice indicating a need to slow ‘it’ down, although, what ‘it’ is remains in question as we both don’t intend for the coke to slow down. A nosebleed doesn’t seem to make me any less attractive- Tricia is looking at me, I think. I quickly finish my drink then excuse myself.
Tricia gives a smile, “Get some sleep, sometime, David.”
My vision is impaired, in a pleasant way, as I make my way to the nearest bar; so I may do the necessary, practiced, blowing-of-my-nose. Although blowing your nose is a fairly common human function it can be a serious experience for the junky. It is not recommended for bars, it is perhaps only more feared than actually using the bathroom, which is a situation that no one wishes to face in public. The junky doesn’t need to think twice; he will simply go when he has to go-particularly after a line of cocaine (See: Bump and Dump). But the junky will do his best to avoid such a situation, as in all things induced by drugs, going to the bathroom under the influence can be dangerous and/or an exhilarating event. It is an experience that could, but will not, be written about here. Even as a first-person narrator, removed by fiction, I have standards.
Anyways..I blow my nose.
The club happens. I watch people dance. I watch people get high. I also get high and dance. We all drink alcohol and laugh. I am the funniest person ever and obviously the life of the party. It must be, once again, my remarkable personality- not the pills, right? You, go, boy! I am a M-A-N-I-A-C.
Sharongets cozy with some man in a suit- I think she winks? Tricia kisses me and tries her best to look seductive- which she does; mentioning that I need to ‘spend a night in heaven’. I don’t think I have enough coke with me for us both and I couldn’t bring her back to the room to get more anyhow- so, I’ll just see who’s available at the next level. If not then she will be available later.
Artris makes a smile as he exits with his usual entourage of beautiful people. It’s all giggles and stares.
One of us says, “I’ll see you later.”
“Of course.” Says the other.
Nouns become pronouns whenever they act like adjectives too long.
There are levels to this thing. The user, addict, and junky- and they will each become clearer. But once again understand, that they will, at times contradict; but words must do that, eventually, if you use them well enough.
Last call is the end of the beginner level. Those who came to the club for an evening out or maybe those who use drugs on their birthdays, those are the people who pay attention to last call. Those are the people who use last call as a reference point to stop. For the rest, the club, serves as merely a pre-game warm up. You see who is out and who is going to do what after last call. The junky is expected to have information on the whereabouts of the next level, something is usually happening- and that something includes more drugs. It could be a rave or it could be a house party. If it is the later then hopefully it’s an unsuspecting group of users, because addicts don’t throw a good party, but they often do have one- in hopes of attracting users to buy drugs and junkies to buy them from. The addict will spend more time securing his craving than enjoying his high, besides an addicts’ lair isn’t much fun, as he will either be covering his windows in hopes of battling the sun or staring out the windows battling himself, (more on this later.) The junky won’t throw a party where he lives- he knows better.
As things progress from this point on the junky holds an edge. The addict and the user both share a hunger- the user still enjoying the high but feeling the drama of the addict. The drama is the addiction as much as the substance, because, after all it is the diversion they both seek. The addict has replaced the enjoyment of the high with the urge to maintain it- hungry. The addict does so because he enters this level with struggle on his mind. The same struggle that brought him here- the voices telling him he shouldn’t be getting high. The junky has silenced those voices, most of the time. I’m not a full time junky yet. I still allow myself to feel the tether of relationships. Sometimes I still know that things could be different. Sometimes I do not.
Anyhow, I typically find myself hearing those voices until the third pill.
Mark and I make it back to the room. It’s hard to describe how the mere proximity of drugs can change us both. It’s not as if we were glum. But entering the room brings about an instant huzzah. I decide to check out the damage as Mark counts money.
The mirror in the bathroom shows that I have a problem with my right nostril. From time to time it is necessary to remind oneself that the nose is not for inhaling powder. Often I hear the mentioning of, “bad coke” as the reason behind the eventual nosebleed. This is, of course, not the case. The coke cannot take the blame. The explanation is of course, simple, the nose is supposed to keep everything out except air. If you have a nosebleed then your nose is working properly.
After reaching this problem with cocaine a lot of junkies move onto needles. For me I stay afloat mentally by resisting them. I have made a boundary between the syringes and myself. I have convinced myself that as long as I avoid shooting up then I have not reached the bottom. Somehow this helps me ignore things like; I can’t sleep without blacking out first or that have to smoke marijuana to induce hunger. I must not be too bad, because, I don’t use needles.
It is the same as the crack smoker looking down on the powder user because the high is wasted through the nose. Or the needle user claiming a cleaner high because it goes right to the heart. Each branch of this drug war fights with a different weapon. As always the easiest way to feel better about yourself is by putting another down (Playground lessons: Volume 2, pages 274-350.) Each one of us feels we must do this in order to have some sort of semblance in regards to self-esteem. Outsiders would think that esteem left long ago, but the methods of use will re-define this. Although a wanting to ‘fit in’ may have brought the user into this world, being unique is very important to the addict, and remains the core of every junky. Feeling that you’re the only one who can understand or the only one who can truly feel, both of these things are very important to the participants. It culminates into an almost snobbishness, which is felt as a necessary manipulation to survive the ever crowding thoughts of shame, guilt, and other nagging feelings associated with reality.
This uniqueness, however manufactured, brings culture to the drama. It brings a set of secrets, language, and expectations to each group. Rarely do addicts interact with users or addicts outside of their own methods and rituals. The junky may travel between them because he has proven his determination through whichever methods he has chosen. Once you get a Purple Heart everyone must salute you.
I find Mark standing on the balcony talking on his phone. The night air feels crisp and comfortable, dark. A large moon is above us, almost full, almost not- depending on your cup.
“Turn left on Merck, go past the light…” Mark repeats to me.
“Yes, then it’s about three houses down, boat in the driveway?” I offer to him and he waits then nods; I have been there.
“Yes, we will be there.” Mark says then continues to insist our integrity into the phone with a few promises then folds the phone into his pocket.
“It’s one of Matt’s flings. I believe her name is Kathy, but I am sure that he mentioned her”, he nods, “anyhow I am also sure that she has lots of friends there, he probably described them as lonely, aspiring, all niters.”
“He added that they have Willy Wonka on DVD.”
“Matt always knows how to lure us, but certainly he is not concerned with our entertainment. What will be the cost?”
At this we both begin practiced movements. As I remove a bottle of baby powder from my gym bag he uses a hanger to poke small holes into the plastic ice bucket provided by the hotel. One of us puts the perfect album in the CD player. The room quickly fills with music. We meet at the sink in the bathroom.
You’ve got a mailbox on your bumper and a bald front tire…
A cloud of white explodes as I dump the contents of the bottle into the bucket. I sift. I sift some more. Then a few pills appear. I sift some more. A pile appears. I sift some more. A large pile appears. It’s just like gold.
Threw me in the tank with a drunk called Otis…
We wash the powder down the drain. On the marble counter we count twelve piles of ten with four left over. It’s3:00 A.M.on Wednesday morning, which leaves us about thirty-one hours until our next delivery. We split the pills into two piles of sixty and place them in two bottles of Tylenol PM; we each place one in our pocket. That leaves four pills remaining. We each chew two pills while drinking a Crown and coke.
I’m charming, I’m dashing, I’m mental car crashing…
The house at1018 Merck streethas cars in the front yard. We park a street over and walk. On the curb in front of the house sits a person staring straight ahead. The person has long legs leading into a short skirt. The person has large breasts partially covered in a tight leopard blouse. The person appears to have been airbrushed into this world. The person does not look up at us as we approach.
The person is Mindy.
“Hello.” Both of us say.
She stands and smiles evenly at us both, “Where have you boys been?”
“Working.” We smile.
She walks between us as we walk through an open garage and into the house. We walk into a crowded kitchen. A look around the room finds a familiar face. A familiar face but not a recognized one, just enough that you should give a nod but not a conversation. Familiar face smiles and excuses himself from his friends. Then he approaches us with hand extended.
Mark takes the hand. Shakes. “What’s up?” is exchanged between them. Then the inevitable, “Remember me?”
“No” No need to be polite here.
“Sure you do. Matt asked me to look out for you two. He is upstairs. Want something to drink?” He is smiling a lot.
“Sure” One of us says.
With that the Familiar Face wonders over to a makeshift bar on the kitchen counter. He grabs three beers from the refrigerator and returns.
“Follow me.” With this he ushers us up through the kitchen then into another crowded room. The room resembles most homes that open themselves up to these activities. The room contains sparse furniture, worn carpet, and a stereo. I recognize a few people and give the occasional nod, raised eyebrow or tilt of the drink as needed. As we climb the stairs Familiar Face makes another attempt at recognition.
“You two were really fucked up the last time I saw you. I’m glad you’re here. I have been telling Matt that we should all get together and party again.” Familiar Face is now smiling, excited.
Mark and I each have blank stares as we reach the top of the stairs. I have no idea who this guy is. We are here to meet Matt so I will follow him but does he really expect us to remember him?
“Yeah, we were drinking that night, huh?” Mark decides to have fun.
“Yeah, I knew you would remember that night.” He takes the bait.
“Didn’t we get a room that night?” I join in.
“Yes, and that girl. How about her?” Mark forges ahead.
“I took her home!” Familiar Face announces his triumph.
“That was some night.” Someone says.
We reach a door at the end of the hallway. The door is locked. We knock and the door is quickly opened by a twenty something male dressed in rave gear (baggy pants / tee shirt with clever slogan.) He informs us that, “If you need the bathroom go downstairs or outside.” He starts to close the door.
“He is busy.”
“Look, just go downstairs. He will be down in a while.”
“Okay, but tell Matt that his cousin Shulgin is here.”
The door closes.
I count to seven and the door opens. An apology is quickly served as we are given entrance into what appears to be the master bedroom. Three girls are on the bed in various positions of comfort. They all yawn in unison as we enter therefore, causing us to yawn. We all yawn.
This yawn should not be mistaken for exhaustion or boredom. The yawn is probably the most visible sign of ecstasy use (falling in second is jaw clenching while the insistent smile falls into a close third.) The yawn is an attempt from the user to focus and swallow the experience. At times the ecstasy experience will go from the plateau feeling, which is best described as ‘happy dizzy’ all the way up to the near climax of the yawn, which can provide what is known as an ‘oxygen orgasm’, all in a matter of seconds. It comes in these waves, sometimes low, sometimes tidal, for hours.
Two of the girls kiss playfully as we enter while the other stares at the wonderment of an otherwise simple ceiling. It is obvious that they could care less that we have arrived.
Matt enters the room from an adjacent bathroom, drink in one hand, girl in the other. Rave boy is still standing at the door looking somewhat stricken as Matt motions towards the door.
“Would you excuse us please?” Matt motions towards Familiar Face and Rave boy. They both nod and exit. Mark locks the door.
Mindy makes her way onto the bed while exchanging a comment with one of the girls, causing them to laugh; therefore, she has been accepted by this tribe. Meanwhile Matt introduces us all to Kathy but not to those remaining on the bed. They don’t mind. Sometimes you get stuck. We could appear to be a movie to them, maybe a short play, but most likely we’ve become scenery to them.
Kathy has a smooth face with long legs. She seems average otherwise but it would be a deception to think so. Kathy shared a hot tub with me once, no sex, just boiling. She has a subtle perfection about her body that doesn’t display itself well while contained in garments. (She looks great naked.)
She speaks slowly, “Which one of you is Schulgin?”
This doesn’t get a response. The name has been our all-purpose password for years. Dr. Alexander Schulgin and his friend Leo Zoff are credited as being the guru and prophet of MDMA, in that order. They were both credited psychologists who felt compelled to spread the word of the new miracle drug that could help break down the barriers of otherwise impossible therapy. Of course, they did not envision how it would all be played out. The well-intentioned doctors had no idea about the glow sticks, pacifiers, and raves. We know all about this because of several late night quests on the Internet concerning the folklore of our favorite pill. Instead of stories passed around campfires we have Pentium II microchips and laser printers.
“Kathy, you’re beautiful.” I mean that.
“Yes, I remember you.”
I choose not to continue this. Instead I give a shrug then request Matt to follow me into the bathroom. We close and lock the door.
The bathroom has a large counter with two sinks. Between them a mirror has been placed with a pile of cocaine on it. I close my eyes as I use a rolled bill to snort with my left nostril. This use of the mirror is part of the contradiction that illustrates addiction. Instead of being used, as a way to look at yourself it becomes an instrument used to distance you from yourself. I think of this and smile.
You have to smile; it’s in the rulebook:
“If / when reality appears to contradict or limit your high you must quickly dismiss it with a smile and or use more substances until said feeling passes.”
(Addictions for Dummies Page 449)
Matt counts money onto the counter as I finish my beer. Seeing the money counted into separate piles gives me more validation. It is the same validation that is ingrained into Americans both young and old. No matter the nosebleed or no matter the length of my binge. As long as I make a profit then I have done ‘something’ right. The money he counts is soon to be mine. Apparently I have done a lot of ‘something’ correctly. I take the money.
“Who’s the girl?” He asks.
“Who is she?”
“I have no idea.”
“Why is she here?”
“Because we invited her.”
“You’re not making any sense.”
“How many pills do you have?”
“Thirty for sale.” I count them into his hand then, “I want thirty five a piece.”
At this point in the evening the drugs become more valuable because of the basic principles of economics, supply and demand. The pills become the primary stock in this market. We will only go through Matt or Allen at this party; it is as much a courtesy as it is safety, ensuring their profit and our privacy. After doing more coke we enter back into the bedroom. Only the girls on the bed remain in the room. The two girls continue with their heavy petting, clothes are being removed, while the third smiles and points at the door.
“You friends went to the music.” She says with no contempt.
We slowly leave the room and head back down the stairs.
Mark gives me a stern look, a warning, as I enter the room adjacent to the main room. The room apparently intended as the dining room, having a long table flanked by chairs along with a cabinet, which might have stored dishes or knickknacks, but now it holds a variety of liquor bottles. The chairs are filled with an assortment of people in various states of drug use. At the end of the table, next to Mindy and Allen, sits Justin slowly converting a pile of what appears to be cocaine, but isn’t, into lines.
Justin is dressed in Versace but looks discount. His skin is yellow and his eyes are red, but neither of those things will stop him from being the life of the party. Everyone loves Justin. He has a desperateness about him that makes him seem comical; which is attractive to most but feared by the rest. Justin and I used to be very close. Now I fear him.
I walk to him and offer my hand, which he takes. One of the pronouns makes a vacancy and I sit next to him. As I do so it’s easier to confirm the powder as Methamphetamine. The smell has a strong, almost gasoline, scent and the powder is dirty yellow in color. He inhales some of it through a makeshift straw then takes a drink. Smiles. It’s going to be a show down.
He gestures to the room then begins loudly, “And what stars have aligned for us to be talking, the great David, and I?” He gives a bow.
“How are you?” I stay cordial.
“Mark introduced me to your new girlfriend, or excuse me, are both of you fucking her?” He smiles. Laughs. Snorts.
Mindy seems un-phased by this, maybe even a laugh. Someone does laugh. Mark gives no reply. Justin always could make him uncomfortable.
“What happened to The Girl? Or do you let Her come out anymore? Has he explained all of that to you yet Mindy?” Justin is in his element.
“Why don’t you slow down, maybe, you’ll stop being such an ass-hole.” I feed into it.
“There we go, holier than thou! Watch in amazement, everyone, as the great David tries to save my soul. Why don’t you explain it to everyone? Save our lives. Explain to them how I have the problem but you don’t.”
I say nothing.
He continues, “Tell them how I have the problem because I can’t seem to ‘control’ myself. Is it because of the money? Does that make you better or just more blinded? What arrogance to think that you have such control. Or is it the pills? Your precious ecstasy. ”
“It’s not about the money Justin, it was never about the money. It has always been about how miserable you want to be and how I’m not going to be a part of it anymore.” I am trying to keep a pleasant tone but it’s starting to get loud.
“You think I choose this? That’s what all of this is about, you think I want this?” He sweeps the remaining meth onto the ground. The audience gives the expected gasp then he speaks slower, louder, “This ain’t shit. But neither of us is going to stop. You think you understand this but how can you teach me how to swim when we are both drowning? Were just in different pools.” He removes a clear plastic tube and a baggy from his shirt pocket, and then puts a piece of meth onto the end.
“Justin, you don’t need to do that.” My drink is empty and I am feeling dizzy. I need another drink, line, pill, something.
He lights the end of the pipe and slowly turns it into the flame. The smell overcomes the room. Most leave. Some stay.
He exhales slowly and licks his lips.
“That stuff never makes you happy.”
“Are you happy, David?”
A natural blonde with very artificial breasts interrupts us. She announces that both the police and the sun have arrived. I manage something polite to Justin as he replies something impolite. He leaves with two girls, a bottle of Barcadi, and a very bad attitude.
The police seem disinterested as Kathy apologizes about the noise. They instead stare at her intentional cleavage as reassurances are made about the ending of the party. It is the end of this shift for both them and us.
We decide it’s time for cocktails.
A typical party at a residence, in this part of town, has a potential life span of 2-3 hours before the police arrive. Which was the amount of time we needed it to last because liquor cannot be sold between the hours of3-6:00 A.M.The laws of the Bible belt regulate this time because some feel they can protect the public by prohibiting twenty-four hour liquor sales. Of course this hasn’t slowed anyone’s drunken habits because if someone wants to drink alcohol, there is very little that will stop him or her, other than poor planning. Running out of alcohol will stop the user, addict, and junky alike from enjoyment because it is the common denominator of all our habits. (If you’re going to go scuba diving you should bring plenty of oxygen.)
For the user, the after-party, will most likely be the climax of the event. For him the coming of the sun will most likely mark the end of use. Sunlight dispels most of the lies that the night may have promised. The user will most likely return home to finish any drugs, or perhaps even save some for the next event that brings him into this world. Either way the sun is typically the finish line for the user.
The addict responds the most severely to the coming of the sun. This is because he still struggles with his addiction; he sees the sun not only as a challenge to his use, but a direct reminder of reality. This usually marks the end of his social use; he generally will go into seclusion at this point, although he may entertain the thought of the next level; if only to secure more drugs. The sunlight becomes a hurdle to his use for he must avoid it if he is to continue.
To the junky the party is simply another stop on the way to something else, somewhere else, and someone else. The coming of the sun no longer affects the junky; he has long since understood that such things must happen, just like nosebleeds. The first sunrise during a binge is similar to breaking the first, ‘wall’ during a marathon. It becomes a confirmation of not only what you have done, but also where you are going.
For the junky this feeds into the idea that no matter where you are; you are missing out on something. Satisfaction is a quality unknown to the players of these events because tolerance is built at each and every turn. Tolerance is the building up of resistance within the body to a drug. It is usually only thought of in a physical sense but the more serious tolerance is the mental state that becomes more and more unsatisfied. The acquirement of this type of tolerance becomes viewed by the participants as reinforcement to the idea that happiness is an external event, which of course, is how users become addicts. They feel as though they are missing something but that something is just around the corner, if only they could stay up long enough to find it. The addiction to this lifestyle is the trap; the drugs merely bait.
The sun is a beautiful orange as Mark, Mindy, and I walk to the car. The three of us are dressed in varying degrees of clubland-black, carrying beer, and grinding our teeth. People are walking from their homes to their cars, dressed for work with suits, ties, and coffee. Cars are driven slowly past us with curious looks. Our car remains where we left it; too close to the curb, dusty, and without shame. Mark produces three cold beers, compliments of the party. We each snort cocaine and swallow pills. I want to do some Special K but I enjoy driving too much while on it. I start the car. Turn the music loud. Drive.
As I drive through the city, at a careful speed, in and out of morning traffic, the cars come in and out of view as quickly as my thoughts. The music is a fast base followed by a female voice whispering, ‘Gonna make you mine’, over and over again, I also think I hear the theme to Miami Vice, a phone ringing, and perhaps a harmonica. (I don’t think I have taken any acid, yet, so some of the sounds must be true.) I must remove myself from the car in order to control it. The conversation around me is a series of requests by Mark along with a few, increasingly attractive, laughs from Mindy. A car is behind me. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. (Warning: This means that both the mirror and my eyes are wrong.) Why can’t they have a mirror that works? (Note: why not just write, ‘Mirror Wrong’ on these defective bastards?) The car is driving it-self as I try to gauge the distance. Why is the car coming so close? Is the car coming close? I think I could fall in love with Mindy. Do I want to fall in love with her? I love The Girl. Also the shirt I am wearing seems too tight and I want to change my shoes. A driver passes me with a glare and several beatings of his horn. I promise myself to only look forward. I yawn.
The thing with Justin is simple. He started doing meth. People on meth do not play well with others. Once he found meth he fell in love with it. That’s how it works with all addictions. You go stumbling around until you find just the right fit. The addiction must accomplish something for the user. Meth gave him a feeling of power that nothing else had. But with all things gained through drug use it was only temporary and it turned on him.
People on meth eventually become meth monsters. They are the Hyenas of this food chain. They are fierce scavengers with horrible laughs. They pack together yet trust no one including themselves. The drug creates a feeling of power that goes unparalleled to other drugs; it cultivates the ego- demands it. When your ego grows you tend to question the intentions of others. To add to this meth keeps you awake much longer than any other drug. Although it is not a hallucinogen, sleep deprivation is, so you typically have a person who not only is paranoid but full of energy. Granted, most meth users find themselves content with cleaning, video games, and the breaking and fixing of appliances but those are merely training grounds for the meth monsters of tomorrow. The meth monster becomes capable of staying up for weeks at a time. To feed his habit he will prove to be the most dangerous of all. This is what happened to Justin. He started robbing people.
Justin keeps saying that he didn’t decide to ‘do this’ and that is what started us to separate. He became more and more convinced that he wasn’t in control. I knew it would only be a matter of time before he came to me with his gun. He became a loose cannon. I stopped calling him. I didn’t return his calls. I couldn’t afford to have him around. He believes he is out of control therefore he is. A hyena is not a lap dog.
Justin’s attitude is not reserved to the meth population. It is shared in all corners of addiction. This mentality has manifested into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because, if you keep telling someone they are powerless or if they keep telling themselves that they are powerless, then they eventually just might believe it. Then you are not only dealing with a person who is addicted and desperate, but one that also now believes he has no control over his own life.
The problem has snowballed because the idea of addiction being a disease has become acceptable without any of the usual standards of evidence. It has even become fashionable to blame drinking too much, using drugs, overeating, shoplifting, and even criminal behavior on some disease. “It’s not your fault” has become the standard reply to all of these types of human behavior.
The supporters of the disease concept have failed to recognize how the idea of powerlessness has led to a lack of responsibility. It is true that by taking the responsibility away from the addicts they have made them, (the addicts) feel much better about themselves. The concept itself can be useful in describing an active addiction but taking it literal, and making it genetic, is causing a widespread attitude of irresponsibility. Feeling sorry for an addict is as useful as supplying him with drugs.
My friends in AA must think about using everyday. If they don’t think about using then they may be heading into relapse. It is part of their daily meetings to rehash their failures and others in hope of saving themselves from future repeat performances. They must remember that they will be forever at risk because of this disease. They live in fear of using because any use will throw them helplessly into a downward spiral, only to be stopped by hitting ‘bottom’ or death. Sometimes I feel the disease. But sometimes I know that it’s my fault. Whatever may be convenient at the time I suppose. If I end up in jail then it’s the disease but if I am inMiamiwith strippers? Well, I chose to do that.
If it isn’t in my blood then why am I doing it? Why do I risk my freedom? Am I the addiction or is the addiction me? (Also see chicken and the egg)I know a lot about these ideas because instead of college I went to treatment after treatment. Then prison. Then it was treatment in prison. Then treatment because I was in prison. I have run the gamut. I am treatment smart, which means, I ‘know it’ but don’t ‘get it.’ It means I know what I am doing, understand it, but have not stopped it.
HandyStop has all the things you may need in a hurry. I delegate myself to be the one to enter the store through the process of elimination. Mark has lost the ability to pronounce words that begin or end with the letter ‘S’ and is also claiming a fear of anyone not on drugs. Mindy shouldn’t leave the car without escort, less we lose her to the romance of a stock boy. So, with the recent drive giving me confidence, I feel that I am the one most likely to complete the transaction and exit without alerting the employees, citizens, or authorities to our malicious intent and / or our unreasonable need of dairy products.
The store is full of chatter when I enter. I have a strong dislike for chatter at this point but manage a ‘good morning’ to the clerk as he gives me the same practiced, yet cheerful, ‘good morning’. I make a left at the front counter and head towards the refrigerator doors. In doing so I pass three perky work force members as they gather around the great coffee dispensers. (For those playing at home coffee combines caffeine and sugar which both are highly addictive.) I take a left down the bread aisle and find myself in front of a cold beer sign. (Beer is also obviously addictive and has been proven responsible for more deaths than all illegal drugs combined yet will remain legal because among other things it is manufactured on American soil.)
Three people are waiting for the unlocking of the beer section. A man dressed in a faded brown suit with a crooked smile informs me that I am behind him in line. Meanwhile the first two in line have struck up a conversation about the importance of better bus routes when suddenly an employee arrives with a key to unlock the door at the stroke of6 A.M.A moment of silence as the door is unlocked then it is only moments before I have in my possession a twelve pack of Michelob Dry. I stop a few doors down and get a package of pre-sliced individually wrapped Velvetta slices then head back towards the front of the store. Once again through the bread aisle and past the coffee people who give me a stare, glare, and a frown. Before heading to the register I stop in the candy aisle. Third row at the bottom I grab a box of candy necklaces (30 per box). I make my way to the counter behind a large woman buying a variety of chocolate bars and a large soda. (Chocolate has been found addictive all the way back to the Aztecs, where the Cacao plant was considered sacred, while the soda is just another way to combine caffeine and sugar.)
The clerk looks up as he scans my items, and then asks for ID for the beer. I produce one, (not me but the picture is), he examines it then returns it to me. I pay. The he sends me back off into the world.
“Have a nice day.” He offers me.
“I couldn’t avoid it.”
As I leave I notice that my nose is bleeding again.
I am not surprised to find them both now in the back seat looking slightly confused. It’s the Special K. Mark is finishing another line as I hand him the bags containing my purchase. Mindy looks a bit worried, a bit anxious, but a lot happy. I request Mindy to return to the front lest I look the role of driver but actually it’s more about good old jealousy. She does. As her beautiful legs hit the seat next to me I feel the need for sex, it’s the pills and it’s the coke, but it’s also her damn legs. I am breathing slowly with a pleasant cloudiness all around me. I put the perfect album into the CD player. She smiles and laughs. We all smile and laugh. Music now fills the spaces between us that conversation can not.
I gauge the distance of our next destination and decide it safe to join them in the K-hole. I snort. In moments I am feeling so very good. I put the car into reverse and then exit the parking lot. I hope there isn’t much traffic.
Off39th Street there is a bar named after a certain outlaw skydiver. The place doesn’t look like a place of business from the outside. It has no windows only a door. When I open the door it allows the sun to strike several patrons before I can close it, this causes a brief, yet, audible groan. Inside it is dark and very air-conditioned. The bar is flanked by a pool table on one end and darts in the opposite. About twenty people occupy a variety of tables and booths in-between while a few more sit at the bar. Several men wearing the uniform of a nearby machine shop are using the pool table while the dartboards remain abandoned. No matter your profession or lack of, this is themidnight shift happy hour joint. Two types of people come to a bar at six O’ clock in the morning. One has been up all night and the other has set his alarm clock to make it. Either way you have the crème de la crème of the alcoholics and junkies. A sign above the bar reads, “Welcome to D.B. Coopers.”
I find my way to the bar as the jedi of all bartenders, Tommy, greets me with three shots and a, “Good morning David.”
“Yes, it is.”
“What does the girl want to drink?” Of course remembering what customers drink and their names are the first two rules of all successful bartenders but Tommy became the jedi of all bartenders because he serves the most demanding of all crowds, this one. He not only is capable of making any type of drink as well as finding any drugs but also has been known to perform life saving techniques without the hassle of insurance or the police.
The rumor is that Tommy dropped out of med school to be a junky but Mark argues that he just must watch a lot of ER. (Mark thinks you can learn everything you need to know during prime time television.) Anyhow he became a legend in these circles when he plunged a needle full of steroids into the chest cavity of ‘Little’ Bob, a resident 300+ pound junky, after he stopped breathing during a ten-day cocaine binge, thus saving his life. Story has it that ‘Little’ Bob was up ten minutes later using the same needle to shoot heroin. I think Tommy made that needle up for him also.
“Three beers.” I decide to start slow.
“Out of Michelob.”
He returns with the beers and a tray for the shots. I then make it over to Mark and Mindy who have found a corner couch next to the jukebox.
“To the end of the world.” Mark makes a toast.
A clank of glasses then we each down our shots. A possible biker type man (or maybe he just likes leather in the morning?), who has found the walk over to us a bit of a challenge, challenges Mark to a game of darts. Although I don’t feel comfortable with Mark throwing anything sharp I don’t stop him. Instead I decide to enjoy the reduction of the people between Mindy and I.
“How do you do this everyday?” She asks.
“Are you not having a good time?” I reply.
“Of course, but, I don’t understand how you can do this everyday. What kind of life is this?” She smiles a little bit more than a grin.
“It’s the life I made. There are moments when I remember that I want it to stop. But those moments fly past me then I am high, again, and I do like to be high. I know that there are options but the hole keeps getting deeper for me.”
“So, meanwhile, you’re hoping that your life will just change on its own while your busy getting high? That’s bullshit.”
“Why are you doing this? I don’t want to do this right now.”
“I am not trying to ruin everything if that is what you mean but it’s obvious that you’re not happy. Sure, you smile all the time. But you don’t have to be happy to smile. You and Mark keep really busy and I’m sure that helps but when do you ever just slow down and smell the roses?”
How can you smell anything at all with your nose bleeding all the time?
With this she collects our empty beer bottles and heads to the bar. After a brief exchange with the bartender she returns with fresh beers and a smile. It’s the Mary Tyler Moore / Marilyn Monroe thing again.
“Why the smile?”
“The bartender tells me that I am the most beautiful woman to ever enter this den.”
She is, but I am still a bit upset by her attack, so I offer that, “He tells that to every girl.” I take a triumphant guzzle of said beer.
“So, how is his lie any better than yours?” Not missing a beat.
“When have I lied to you?” I should have changed the subject when I could have. I should have changed the subject when I could have. I should have changed the subject when I could have. I should have changed the subject when I could have.
“Monday night, when you told me that you love me.” She does smile at this point although I don’t understand why, yet.
“I don’t remember saying that but what makes you think it was a lie?” I hope this is a flirt.
She replies, “It’s obvious that nothing means much to you other than all of this. You can’t love anyone unless you love yourself.” Same smile but less grin.
“That’s all bullshit. I hate those feel good catch phrases, as if love is only possible your way, or how you can understand it, on your terms.” I need a line, drink, etc..
“Now hate, hate, you may know something about. Why do you hate yourself so much?”
“How can you say something like that? You don’t know me. You have no idea what I have been through.”
“Does it matter what got you here?”
“Why are you here? What the fuck reason do you have to be getting high with people you don’t know, you have no idea the risks you are taking, right now, do you?” I am angry but it’s not a mad angry because you just cannot get too mad on this many pills. Truth is, even right now, in the middle of this crap, I wouldn’t hurt a fly; unless of course it was some sort of ‘fly-plot’ to steal my pills then I would slaughter those winged bastards.
“Why are you so angry?” She asks.
I decide not to answer this because we are chasing the same squirrel around the same tree. Neither of us sure if it is the squirrel, or us, that is actually moving. I do appreciate what she is trying to do but there is only room for one all- knowing at this table and I have dibs. Instead I focus on the bonding between Mark and the other, yet to be named person, as they laugh and throw darts.
“He seems to have found a friend.” I offer.
She accepts with, “So have you.” Then she leans forward with a kiss. The kiss is on the lips but not in the lips. It is quick, vague, and wonderful. Then she is standing, glowing, floating towards and then into- the bathroom.
I sit alone for forty-four seconds before finding a tug. A tug reminding me that this shouldn’t happen. I shouldn’t be kissing another girl. I do not want to kiss another girl. I must not kiss any other girls. The tug then instructs me to then obtain a vial of powder from my pocket and snort, which I do, while sitting at the table. The tug is The Girl. I love The Girl. There is no doubting that but I cannot involve myself with Her because I will destroy Her world (or is it that She may destroy mine?) I would drag her down with me. I have done so before with others. So, I may love Her, but not have Her. (See also: have your cake and eat it too.)
Did I really tell Mindy that I love her? Probably did. But I am apt to tell the guy pumping gas next to me the same thing. You just never know where the pills may take you. Under the influence of these pills you do not fall in love but rather you love to fall in love. Love becomes a verb rather than a noun. It is the experience that becomes addictive. The excitement of the roller coaster lays in the movement not the structure. Love is much more than the experience but I haven’t been able to stop the ride long enough to make any foundations. The Girl has been kept afloat with ideas rather than substance. Promises to change are bountiful for the addict. The junky doesn’t make promises.
The Girl remains my last tether before I float on into a junky. It seems to bring me back to wanting to change. But I know that I will not change for anyone but myself. The problem is that I don’t really give a damn.
Mindy comes back from the bathroom. She sits. I am finishing my beer when she begins again.
“Who is The Girl?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Doesn’t matter to whom?”
“It doesn’t matter right now.”
“When does She matter to you?”
“I am not going to do this with you anymore.”
She laughs, then predictably, “I love you too.”
“I was drunk when I told you that.” It is a well-known fact that emotional statements said during a binge do not carry a warranty.
“I’m drunk now.” Touché.
Mindy doesn’t understand The Girl and I cannot translate that to her right now, maybe never. Most of The Girl is just an idea but someone does occupy that position right now.
Mark arrives back at the table claiming victory. I am more impressed by his lack of injuries. (Giving intoxicated people sticks and/or pointed objects to THROW, just doesn’t make sense, even right now. I suppose indoor javelin toss is next.)
“Candy Flip?” He asks.
“Yes” we reply.
Mark is all teeth as he produces three small pieces of paper each about the size of a dime with blue peace signs. We all three stare at each other for quick cat-n-the-canary looks, and then we place the paper into our mouths. I quickly wash the bitter taste down with my beer. Mark does the same. Mindy looks confused as she points to the paper still upon her tongue. (She has a great tongue.)
“Swallow it.” Simon says.
She swallows, then replies, “I thought it worked quicker that way?”
“We are not in a hurry.”
This reminds me so I ask, “How much do we have left?”
“Enough for us but we will have a lot of bored suburban hippies soon. Call her.” Mark replies.
I give a nod and make a mental note to call Susie between chapters. I only take mental notes (Prison lesson 515), not actual notes, nothing gets written down except this book and it’s fiction anyhow, right?
The acid hits Mark first, or maybe he’s been on it all along and I just tuned into his station. After all, he did have the acid. He is staring at me attempting communication through a series of facial movemements, or perhaps he has an itch, or still further maybe the acid has hit me first.
“Candy?” A request is made.
I distribute a pill to each of us and we ingest. A grin is shared between us as we await this hallucination ménage.
The candy flip is the end of the century speed ball- Belushi chose heroin and cocaine but now its ecstasy and LSD. One the candy and the other the flip. It’s doing acid with an automatic pilot, only the nice trips. It’s Willy Wonka madness. EZ chair insanity.
And so we are staring at each other. Obvious that we each know not how we found this shared silence. It’s comfortable but unnecessary. No reason to talk but nothing could go wrong if we did. Someone could suggest to us almost anything and we would find it most entertaining, an Etcha-A-Sketch would be the bomb diggity right about now. (So just imagine how good Mindy looks to us.)
I stare at Mindy.
Mark stares at Mindy.
I hear her laughing. She smiles. I turn to find my best friend in a near drool. Both of us always one look from lust.
“We love you.” We chime.
“I love you boys too.”
Somewhere after that Mark interrupts me from describing the merits of casual sex with, “I’m hungry.”
“Cereal?” I agree.
Mark gives a sincere nod of affirmation as Mindy seems to ponder the consideration of Raisin Bran versus Wheaties to herself. I prepare small amounts of Ketamine in front of each of us as she gives a doubtful look to Mark.
“Special K.” He informs with schoolboy grin.
Mindy opens her mouth in protest as Mark and I snort our piles.
“You two have a problem.”
“Yes we do.”
“Is there ever enough?” She pleads.
“We are capitalists.”
She sweeps her pile onto the floor which makes us both giggle, (she is learning) – She stands up looking a happier shade than irritated.
“I have to go now.”
Later, Mark will say that the acid was all my bad idea.
The Candy Flip is killing me. I have a lot of fear about the damage that I am doing to my brain. My memory is being torn from me- there are rumors about ecstasy and Alzheimer’s. I have horrible terrors about losing myself completely that way. All of these years ingesting pills to forget the past, and its working- too good. I am destroying whoever I am to obtain who I am not. One day will I lose myself completely? Will I swim around- frantic and drowning in the now that I worship? Will anyone know that I am lost or will my insanity become part of the show? Will they feed me and change my diapers? Will She cry over me- begging me to come back?
Mark imagines us together in wheel chairs, both of us completely lost. We will be taken to various “Just say No” gatherings- educating children with fear. “This could be you!” Mark adds that we of course, will think, that we are at a rave.
I fear the future.
I do a line.
After a short debate over who should drive we choose a taxi.