I spent most of the day and all of my money on little plastic capsules that contained tiny white flakes and a terrible addiction. The sun had gone down and the roads were wet from a cold winter’s rain. The streetlamps and occasional headlights from passing cars glistened against the black pavement on the street. And when the wind came, the traffic lights swayed with the colors of red, yellow, or green and reflected against the slick pavement near Green Avenue and Front Street.
Front Street is somewhat of a main road in a small Long Island town, which is where I come from. But during the late hours passed midnight, the traffic is quiet and the town was less aware of say, someone like me, lingering on a corner and waiting to make a connection of some kind
The streets here are lined with modest, single family homes, —most of them were only one-story homes, which at this time were all mostly dark with the exception of a front porch light shining over a front stoop. We were a middle income town with the same common, basic dysfunction of any town or any background. No one was overly poor or exceptionally wealthy here. We were the middle of the road families of the mid to late 1980’s. We were comfortable to be ignorant about the world and all that went on around us. We comfortable to be sick and comfortable to be dependent on a system of chemicals, which we used to satisfy the boredom. We were able to bleed and anxious to taste that feeling of freedom; we were anxious to feel the rush, to feel that superb and overwhelming sense of happily abandoned hope.
I had to walk fast because there were people looking to find me over an issue regarding a stolen wedding ring. I had to find someplace to hide. But most importantly, I needed a place where I could finish the last of my batch so I could finalize my journey with the only antidote that made sense. I needed to go someplace where I could ease the horrible aftermath of a long cocaine binge and satisfy myself with the slow withdraw from the fast pace of a dwindling euphoria.
I needed the only cure I could think of . . . heroin.
My jaw was clenched and grinded back and forth. I was cold and wet. My long hair clumped together in soaking wet strands from the heavy rain. I moved quickly but not quick enough to escape the falling raindrops. I was fidgety, twitching, and needing to find someplace dry. I needed to get out of the rain and out of sight. I could hear the sound of my feet dragging against the blacktop streets. Ahead of me, I watched the glowing halo around a red traffic light. I could hear the sound of wind picking up, gusting from behind me, like a cold sharp breath.
My denim jacket was wet and so were my shirts beneath it. My jeans were soaked and so were my sneakers and socks. My stomach was empty and growling but food was the furthest from my mind.
Every so often, a car would come and I hid alongside one of the homes on the street. I tried to hide behind the Mobil Gas station but there was no cover from the rain, which had finally begun to slow down to a slight drizzle.
I checked the cars in the rear of the gas station that were waiting to be serviced. My idea was simple. I figured I could hide in the backseat of one of the cars, stay dry, warm, and complete my night this way.
Unfortunately, none of the doors were unlocked. I considered the bathroom, which was also at the rear of the gas station, but the bathroom was not an option, —not because I was against breaking in. I could have easily broken in anywhere. However, the noise would have disturbed the quiet in my otherwise sleeping town. The only people awake at this hour were people like me.
We were the wild kids. We were the longhaired rejects and misfits. At hours like this, whoever was walking the street was not walking the street with good intentions. It was only hours before daybreak. I could not go home and I could not find a place to stay. I needed to get out of sight and find someplace where I could fix the madness and lay flat for a while.
We used to call this part of the high, “The Fiend.” This is the part everyone warns you about but nobody listens to the warning. This is when anguish floods the system and desperation sets in. There is nothing left to save yourself with. it’s all gone and all you want is more to avoid the echoing sound your heartbeat makes in an empty chest.
There is nothing as emotionally horrible as the cold hooks from this kind of addiction. My nerves were frayed like the end of an old tattered rope. My eyes were wired open, —almost like they were possessed and electrified. My expression was crazed like a man without his soul and every in my body was on high alert.
I continued to frantically check my pockets, hoping for the possible discovery of a missing crack vial or another cocaine packet, but I knew the truth. These searches never seem to end well. There was nothing left. And I knew this was the case. As I saw it, there was only one option
I knew my stash was all gone but the cocaine bugs that weaved through my mind kept forcing me to check one more time. There was nothing left but two small packages with the words, “KING” printed in bluish, purple lettering on the front of small, two-inch sized white envelopes
When the cocaine high was good, I felt a beautiful surge of relief. I felt ultimately weightless and pain or concern was no longer a threat to me. I put the pipe in my mouth and heard the sound of tiny white boulders melting beneath the heat of a small torch against a small glass pipe.
The sensation began with a feeling of numbness in my chest, which became empty or almost hollow from the inhalation of a thick white smoke. In seconds, the high began from its epicenter at the back of my neck. Suddenly, the rest of my body became numb in a whole new way; I was numb to the world and numb to any kind of fear or worry. As I held the smoke in my lungs, my hearing clogged and I was overwhelmed by the steady sound of a continuous ring in my ears. Ah, yes. It was here. It was right here and I would have stayed if I could but gravity always seemed to pull me backwards and the heavens seemed to grow even more distant.
I was perfectly unaffected and overtaken by an incredible rush of unstoppable rush. It was pure to me. It was cool to the touch and fascinating. My heart thumped and I felt pure. My shoulders were absent of weight, and I felt pure. My pockets were empty and my soul had been traded, but at last; I felt pure.
When I exhaled the smoke, I felt myself drift away into a soft imaginary world.
It’s like . . . it’s like being in a different atmosphere that goes high above the concept of clouds. It’s like feeling the soft chill of tiny snowflakes bouncing into your face, and then miraculously, all is forgotten. Everything is wasted and this is exactly what I came for
But there was more to it than this . . .
I loved the ritual. I loved cooking batches of cocaine in a spoon so I could fill my pipe, or otherwise loading it with a hit from one of my vials. True, it was fiendish. It was evil—but to me this was the light; it was the truth, and the way. To me, this was the only way. Once it all began, there was no stopping. Everything was about the high, —everything I did was done to keep myself in that weightless state of nothingness.
At first, I was blinded by an imperfect illusion. I was blinded by the beauty of insanity. But when the bags ran out, the anxiousness crept in. Eventually, the high became less in height and lower in crash. Eventually the high turns from a mixture of adrenaline and euphoria to adrenaline only. Eventually, the drug use is simply to make the madness stop—but it never does. The whispers are louder than anything I could have ever imagined.
No matter how I tried to cover my ears, I couldn’t stop the voices in my head. The soft edges of atmosphere become hard and the kindness of freedom became painfully captive. Once this stared, all I could do was try to keep from the hard crash. But that’s the thing with cocaine, or crack and freebase, —the high only last a few minutes, and the first one is always the best. After that, the high just keeps getting shorter and the crash gets longer. They keep you coming though, which is why they say “The first hit is always free.” Once this happens they have you on the dangle. Once this happens, even the kindest man can be the cruelest of our history.
When the high turns bad, the desperation is incredible. The whispers you hear will appear in shadows or quick visions that disappear when you turn to look to see them. Everyone is looking for you. Everyone wants to take what you have. They want to keep you from yourself. They want to separate you from the one thing that makes you feel good. They want to steal you away from the one and only thing that makes sense to you.
I had to get off the street. I was not only wanted by a previous group of friends. The local cops had been inviting me over to the precinct to answer a few questions. And if they saw me . . . I knew they would bring me in.
I needed to find someplace that was dry. And then it hit me. I decided to hide in a stripped down, stolen car that had been left in the large vacant fields near Glenn Curtis Boulevard.
The car was an old gray Datsun. The windows were all broken, and the windshield was smashed, but the car was still intact. The tires were gone and the rotors were on concrete blocks. The stereo was gone too, along with the battery and any other salvageable part a car thief could sell.
This was not the best place to hide, but it was the best place I could think of. The car was mostly dry and the seats, though filled with cubes of broken glass, were able to lay back. Also, the car was mainly hidden in by a series of bushes and trees.
I made my way through the trails in the vacant lot, which cut through a field of tall half-bent grass. Each minute, I looked over my shoulder to be sure no one could see me.
I looked around to make sure no one was near the old car. Then I dug my hand in the inside pocket of my denim jack and retrieved a plastic bag, which was wrapped around the two small packages.
After getting in the car, I closed the driver’s side door softly, so not to make any noise or cause any attention. I was able to see because of nearby the streetlamps on Glenn Curtis.
Dull light seeped in from the windows as I carefully opened the first of my last two packages.
The contents seemed to glimmer in the somewhat dull yellowish hue given off from the lampposts. I could hear my heart beating as if I had just run as fast as I could for several hours. The fiend was still with me, and it was strong, but in a few minutes, —all of that was about to stop.
To me, getting high or finding the perfect fix was merely a destination. Some people use needles and mainline; some people smoke heroin, or chase the dragon as they say. Some people skin-pop it, and other people sniff it.
And me at the time, I would to sniff it.
I sniffed the last of my two bags and waited for the drug to do its trick. I waited for the heroin to soften the adrenaline and soothe anxiety. I waited for the sudden inertia of a world moving backwards, slowly drifting into a warm, unaffected crawl. And when it hit, the drug took affect and all the worry, all the muscle-tightening, twitches, and jaw clenching, and all the struggles of the fiend subsided to a better stage of weightlessness.
My eyelids lowered like a flag falling down to half-mast and my jaw hung open as if I lacked the motor skills to close it. I felt myself slide between the layers of conscious and unconsciousness, slowly reversing down through a spiral of warm-blooded euphoria, which solved the beautiful riots that ran in and out of my mind. Life and death was suspended in the safe conclusion of a soft gentle cocoon.
What I remember most about this is thinking about the warning I was told.
“This isn’t something you’re gonna do just once because believe me, if you do it once, you’re going to do it again
I was not afraid anymore. I was not angry or concerned with the burns on my mouth or the blood on my hands. I slid into the stages of a nod, and in it, I forgot about the troubles that plagued me or the people that were looking for me. I sank deeper into the nod until I regained consciousness. I was awakened by voices.
They were familiar voices too. They were the voices of people I was hiding from.
Lying flat on my back, looking upwards at the sagging headliner on the ceiling of a stolen car, I listened to a group of people walk passed. And I knew.
I knew if they found me I would have been beaten. I knew I was in no shape to defend myself, nor would I be able to defend myself against any of them. I saw myself as sad. I was frightened. I was lost and friendless, lying flat, and waiting for the nod to take me away.
God, I was so high
Strange . . .
I used to love these trips
But the price I paid was always so misleading