It was wintertime in the year 1989. I found myself underneath a bridge that stretched over the Meadowbrook Parkway. My skin was a greener shade of pale and I was painfully thin.
I had no idea of what time it was or how long I had been sitting beneath the bridge. The gray sky was losing sunlight, and soon enough the blustery cold day would become a blustery cold night.
I was sitting on south side of the Parkway, situated up at the top of a concrete hill beneath the green, structural beams that made up the underside of the bridge. I was far enough away from the speeding cards that drove along and far enough away from prying eyes. More importantly, I was far enough from anyone that could interrupt me and keep me from my mission.
Daylight was fading and I had no idea what would come next. All I knew was that I could hardly stand up. I knew the cold wet patch in my jeans was because I urinated down my leg, and the remnants of a chemical reaction, dangled in a thin string of vomit and swayed in the cold breeze from the bottom of my lip.
As crazy as this may seem, I signed up for this trip. See, the cocaine bugs are a crazy thing. I had to find a way to counteract their bite because when they burrow in, the cocaine bugs burrow in deep and they feast upon the ability of our better judgement.
The result is an ongoing twitchiness; the ends of each nerve in my body were frayed like an old, unraveled rope and split apart.
My jaw would grind back and forth. Then there was the terrible feeling of lowliness; there was a sense desperateness—or that which leaves a man contemplating the unthinkable. At this point, the cocaine bugs are in too deep and a man would do anything to regain a hint of salvation. Once the bugs have dug their way in, a junkie will do anything just to, “Get right” again.
I could not stop the urges or pretend to control myself while in this position. All I wanted was more, but more would only postpone the inevitable hell that comes with the fall. No matter how I tried, I could not stop the emptiness inside me. I could not suspend the chemical reaction, which at first, spread through my nervous system like a beautiful explosion, which was gentle in the beginning; however, the toxic part of this reaction comes in the aftermath; it comes when tremors hit from the aftershock. And that’s when the it all falls down.
The aftershock is the crash. This is the reentry point where the high meets the downfall and the downfall sends us much lower than ground level. we are worse than we were at the starting point. Everything is amplified and so goddamn intense. It’s too bright this way. The world, I mean. There is too much impulse and despair with no way to satisfy the anguish or desire. This is it. This is when crazy thoughts begin. The paranoia creates whispers and the strangest thing is we begin to think we see the voices we’ve been hearing.
The crash is an evil pitch of an adrenaline rush gone wrong; it is the unraveling effect that gives the soul a feeling of an unending fall. And through this, nothing, nothing at all could set the mind straight except for another dose. There is no stopping a reaction like this. At least, not the way I used. I couldn’t do anything else but try and find my way out of this terribly dark hole.
And with me, it was always the same plea.
All I wanted was just one more hit . . .
Just one more. That’s all . . .
When it came to narcotics, as I saw it, the distance between earth and heaven was relatively short. What began as a surge from the top of my spine, detonated into these beautiful bursts that coursed through my bloodstream. This feeling moved through me like a soft cool breeze, flushing through my body, and washing away all that seemed unnecessary.
My hearing changed; my ears clogged as if I changed levels of atmospheres and the pressures of gravity reversed its grip.
I heard a high pitched sound ringing in my ears. This was it. This was the high that I came looking for.
This was the thing—this untouchable, pain-free thing; this is what I wanted. I wanted this feeling of weightlessness—this overall heightened sense of awareness while at the same time, I was aware of nothing at all. This is exactly what I came for.
This is the feeling that brings junkies to their knees. This is what we are slaved to. We are slaved to this high but afraid to feel the low. We are afraid of the absence of this security that allows us a moment of mindlessness and helps us to forget. We’re afraid of the downfall and the return to atmosphere. And painfully, we are afraid of the crash and the terrible sick feelings that comes with it.
No one asks for this part. It just comes with the territory. Everyone wants to see the show but no one wants to pay the price of admission. When it comes to the cocaine bugs, all we see are the empty lies and hope that we can avoid the downfall.
We lie to ourselves (or at least we try) so we can get through the gate without paying the price. The only problem is the demons we dance with are smarter than we expect. And the demons are always willing to dance. In the end, they put us on a payment plan because demons are always willing to negotiate.
And it’s easy to sign off on a debt like this. My body was numb and so was my mind; my cares were forgotten and the connection between life and stress unhinged into something I like to call, unobjectionable.
I forgot about my awkwardness. I forgot about you and anything you might have said to me. I was safe here in the distance between you, the solid ground, me, and the entire self-serving world. And I would take trade. I would accept the terms of this deal. And whatever length of time the high could last, I danced with the demons without ever thinking about the price I had to pay. But demons love to do business like this.
In exchange for the feeling of a temporary redemption, I gave away my hopes and dreams to feel secluded and guarded by an invisible membrane that kept a barrier between me and the rest of the world.
When the cocaine pulled its trick, I loved the soft, vacant appeal of cool waves moving though my body. I loved the supercharged feeling, the numbing sensation in my throat, the post-nasal drip that resulted in the harsh bitter cocaine taste. I loved it all. I wasn’t thinking about the soul I had given away. I was thinking about the feeling that moved through my body. I was thinking about my own little world, high above it all, and for a little while, I was fine . . .
I was fine until the drug ran out. That’s when everything changed on me. This is when the demons come to collect. Everything turned desperate and it was time to pay the piper. I felt the rush change from high to low.
At this point, I would have done anything to stop the crash. And the demons know this. The demons know us better than we know ourselves—so they come up with another bargain. I was so desperate, frightened, and paranoid—checking around, looking for the voices I kept hearing. The beauty of euphoria was mirrored by the exact opposite. I hated this part, yet it was unavoidable. This was the price I had to pay and there was no way out. At least, not without negotiating a new price.
All the tension I felt before had come back to haunt me. All of my fears were magnified and the pain from this crash began to scream in little whispers that would never go away. My jaw locked up like a vice. My eyes opened wide. I was possessed and wired. And though the anguish was horrible, I was still drawn to the high. I tell you, I was a slave to this.
I was pulled towards the trance that began with a rush of bells chiming in my ears. I was led by the incredible freedom, or drawn to the sense of emotional anonymity that came with the high and began with the very first hit.
Then again, it is always this way. This is why the demons say, “The first hit is always free.” This is why slaves like me would say, “One is too many and a thousand is never enough.”
I swear this was the deal the demons offered, so help me God.
Be it a line, or cooked in a spoon and free-based, the cocaine bugs had burrowed deep within my brain. My belief in God and humanity vanished.
I felt as if I curled into the corner of the devil’s smile and there was no way out.
There was no way to stop the horrible, speedy feeling util this:
Everyone has their own rituals. Everyone has their own ways to deal with the fiend, same as I had mine. But there are different kinds of users with different kinds of remedies.
There is the weekend warrior. They understand to some degree.
You have the Friday night disco bunnies who think a quick bump and a nose bleed is fashionable. These are the people who think there is style to addiction. These people are also the perfect mark for a street junkie because they have money and plenty of it.
There are those who can use and walk away. I never understood this kind of user.
Then you have the user who sees this as a job: 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year. All they do and all they live for is this.
And lastly, then there was me. I was a suburban kid looking to feel something better than average. I was given emotional labels to analyze my problems and sat across from professionals in white jackets, holding clipboards, and writing down information that was pertinent to my case. I was very much a part of this sickness.
To explain it best, the King James Version of The Bible makes reference to something called Godhead. The meanings change slightly throughout the text, but the basic definition is the feeling of divinity. It describes a spiritual perfection, or overwhelming sense of inner-peace. This why I got high . . .
Unfortunately, I never figured on the lows. Somehow, I always thought there would be an angle or an “Easier, softer way.” I never really knew how the demons worked and how hard their payment plans would be.
One night after a cocaine binge, someone suggested, “Try this. It will help bring you down.”
They handed me a small packet with the word, “KING,” written on it. Next thing I knew, I was banged out on dope, sitting underneath a bridge with piss in my pants, and nothing else mattered.
I can only say this:
Everything you’ve heard about heroin is true. The incredible halt of energy and the wonderful nods are very real. So is the absolute flush of emotion, and the complete withdrawal from reality.
But when the demons said, “Try this. It will help bring you down,” I had no idea how far down this. Then again, this is how the demons negotiate. They lie on the way in. And they tell the truth on the way out.