From Junkie Stories: White Ship

White ship arrived in sudden waves that night
My body became like a channel
of fast moving water
flowing outward,
and emptying into a mouth of a much larger sea . . .
It was like riding on a perfect ferry during the sunrise:
Colors open the horizon
The body livens
And powdery grains switch into little submarines,
which surge throughout my bloodstream

The only problem with a trip like this
is the price I didn’t know I’d have to pay
. . . or the interest that came along with it~

I crossed an imaginary line and stood on the other side of experience. After I split away from the usual crowds and went off in my own direction with a different intention, all that remained was a bitter numbness that spilled down the back of my throat. I was just at the threshold, —I was a newbie at the doorway of an obsession, which I had yet to fully understand. I felt so alive and perfectly numb, weightless, and above all; I felt so perfectly high.
I could feel it in my lungs, as if I were truly atmospheric. I felt the effects of my adrenaline trigger with the sound of a ring in my ear, which was high-pitched and steady. Suddenly, my troubles were gone. Every twitch I had or any insecurity I felt was suspended or glossed-over like an ant caught in the sap from a tree  —only this was no sap; no, this was a powder that coated me in a shroud of anesthesia. Or better, I was covered in a coating of a welcomed frost  (at least for a while) and exalted in an extraordinary high that I never thought possible.

My chest was numb after I exhaled the smoke from a glass pipe and my heartbeat sped faster once the drug moved through my system. How do you forget something like this? Whether sniffed or smoked; how do you forget that trick that makes everything vanish  —even if it’s only for a minute or two, how can you erase an experience from the brain, or worse, how can you turn off a memory that does nothing else but remind you of what it feels like to be totally and completely weightless?

I was too young and small to fend for myself, so I had to depend on the older kids from my town to cop something halfway decent. This meant I had to accept the occasional rip-offs and beat bags of coke that wouldn’t come back if I tried to cook them up as freebase. But in the end, I didn’t care. As I saw it, I was just part of the food chain. And I understood that. I understood my place in the cycle of life. This was me, or so I thought, and I accepted my position in the underbelly of life’s cycle without argument. Eventually, at some point, I would move to the next level and pass this infection down to someone younger than myself. This way I could have a chance to rip someone else off.

At first, it was the quick $20 bags of what some people called bubble gum. More speed and cut-in additives than anything pure, but it provided a quick entry into the sickness. I knew there was a better market somewhere, but I was just learning and besides, these were the early days of my experience.
I remember the first time I sniffed. I was at an unthinkably young age. Before I sniffed, I had decided to swallow one of my last hits of mescaline. The only problem was I had dosed a few nights before and the hit I took did nothing but leave me feeling shaky. I felt the fringes of a strange high, but nothing too steady or extremely mind changing.

At that point, I hung around with my fellow knuckleheads at a local arcade. We stood away from the older kids, but close enough to say that we hung around them. They were much bigger than we were. They talked about different bands and different music than we did. At times, the talked about  when they drank too much. Occasionally, some of the neighborhood drunks would head into the liquor store, which was next to the arcade, and the older kids would make fun of them (or get them to buy us booze).

I heard talk about someone coming from Brooklyn with a few bags. And I’m not sure how, but my crew ended up with a couple.
If I’m being honest, I have to say that I was scared. But while I’m being honest, I have to say that my fear was overrun by strong curiosity and my adrenaline began to churn.

“Don’t do it,” someone told me. “It’s stupid because if you do it once, then you’re gonna do it again.”
I laughed this off but as I laughed I thought about that saying about the devil which goes, “The devil made me do it—but after that, I acted on my own.”

The news often flooded with reports of cocaine abuse and famous overdose victims. However, I was not deterred or warned. Instead, this touched my interest. How good is this stuff that people are willing to lose their life for it? What does it feel like? And how high could one person get?

I wanted to find out . . .

I recall the small mirror passed to me with a series of powdery lines all flaky and organized. At first, I thought to myself, “Is this really going to work?” I looked around and watched the faces of my small crowd and noticed their eyes. They were no longer kids and we were no longer innocent. We were in a vacant lot, located in the middle of our town, and huddled around a small fire. I guess this place was as good as any other. It was a landmark to me—it was the place where I learned how to erase things from my mind. And how could anyone ever forget something like that?

Some neighborhood kids prove their toughness in different ways. There is always a hazing, or some form of initiation with any crowd. And in ours, we would allow the flame from a lighter to burn in order to heat the surrounding metal. Then we turned it, pressed it into our skin and called it a “Smiley Face.” The name, of course, was simple because the burn mark, in fact, looked like a smiley face.
Yet there were different levels of initiations. There were different ways that we proved ourselves, and this was only one of them.

Getting high . . .

It was my turn now. As I put the straw into one of my nostrils, I heard someone say, “Make sure you do it right…. Don’t Fuckin blow out your nose or anything stupid.”
In quick strides, I sniffed deep and hard, watching my reflection in the mirror as the white trails vanished through the straw.

I passed my initiation.

I crossed a line and entered into a new version of life. My jaw clenched, my heartbeat ran on, and there was no such thing as sleep that night. After all was said and done, I just laid there, stirring beneath the covers as my heartbeat echoed through the bed and pillows.
My stomach turned and the white ship ran through my body for the very first time.

It’s hard to erase these things from memory. I know it is. It’s hard to forget that magic button we could push and have it all just . . .go away. We always remember the high. What we fail to recall is the terrible crash that comes afterwards. We forget where it takes us and what it does. I used to think back on this night and the way all of my longhaired friends looked while the small fire’s light danced in their faces. I often wondered what my life would have been like if this night never happened. I’m sure there would have been other opportunities. Besides, a social virus like addiction is highly contagious. And once you’re in, it’s too late now because you’re already in too deep.

Hell, I remember watching someone get shot at some corner by Atlantic Avenue near The Old man’s shop. And what did I do? Nothing. I just went around the block to buy from someone else . . .

What else could I do

It was too late and I was part of the virus now


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