I was at the tail end of a crazy night.
All of the powder was nearly gone and my usual running partner was missing for some reason. This had altered my usual routine. Instead of commiserating with my partner, I found myself home alone with a substantially large amount of cocaine that was either shoved up my nose or cooked and smoked in a glass-tube pipe. This was early summer, 1989.
June if I’m not mistaken.
I was several hours into a long binge when the drug turned against me.
I swore they were out there.
Someone was out there. I knew they were, which is why I pushed all of my furniture against my bedroom door.
I shoved the smaller dresser in front of the door. Then I pushed my desk in front of the dresser. Then pushed my large dresser drawer in front of my desk with some chairs to go behind this to block anyone from coming into my room.
This is the part no one talks about.
Romanticized at best, this is the dark part of addiction. This is the truth and the desperation. This is where willpower vanishes to impulse. This is where the the whispers take over and the cocaine demons smile as they have their way.
The paranoia was incredible. The hour was late and passed the switch of midnight. I swore I was going to die.
I swore “They” were out there because I swore I heard “Them.”
I heard police radios. I heard voices. I heard cars approaching.
I manned both windows in my bedroom.
The front window faced the Merrick Avenue.
Merrick Avenue was a main street so if they came from the front, I would have to run through the back.
The side window led to the side of my home. This was my emergency exit. The side window led out onto the garage, which if need be, I could climb down and escape through my backyard.
At the time, my street was not very busy. Since the hour was late, at worst, the traffic was none to sporadic at most.
But still, I heard them out there.
I swore I heard them out there.
Someone was looking for me.
I knew it.
Someone was coming.
know there was someone coming because I could hear them coming to get me. I could hear my heart beating in my chest. I could feel the blood shooting through my veins. I could literally hear and feel everything.
Aside from the crazy fits of paranoia, and aside from the nausea; aside from the residual empty-chest feeling of numbness and thumping heartbeat, I entered the stage of desperation.
I was at the end.
I finished the last of my batch and herein lays the problem. Initially, the first hit is always the most incredible. The first line or the first blast from a pipe is always the best.
The ears ring as you blast off. The numbness runs down your chest and throat with the most unique cocaine flavor. You can taste it. You can feel it. And once the powder turns to bloodstream, suddenly, it’s blast off.
Upon lift off, I found myself weightless and coated and totally removed.
There was no tension. Upon lift off, I felt a rush move through my body.
Suddenly, all of my attention and all of my devotion was diverted away from the life as I knew it.
I was no longer thinking about me or how I looked. I was no longer thinking about you or if you cared. I was mentally orgasmic and completely separated from the world around me.
This was my way
This was my light
This was my way to emerge from darkness.
I was fine for the moment. I was fine to be free. I was fine to feel pure. I was fine to feel high, to feel my breath become taken, to feel the rush move through me like the source of beautiful light that shoots faster than blood through my veins.
Upon lift off, I paid the cost of admission, and now it was my turn. Now it was my turn to take the ride and find myself cloaked in a temporary version of synthetic paradise.
I was frantic and mad like a shark in a feeding frenzy. Nothing else mattered and no one else existed.
I was content to be crazy and content to forfeit all of my value, and free to devote all of my paycheck, all of what I stole or what I scrounged in exchange for this, —My Euphoria.
However, upon the initial lift off, my height was only at its best until my decline, which came quickly.
And no high is like the first high.
But I had to get back to it.
I had to feel that way again so to reach the heights of my previous blast.
I had to re-up and go at it again.
However, the second blast, although still comforting and numb, although still weightless and beautiful, and still good enough to defy my gravity, and although the second is still good, no high is ever as purest as the first hit.
This is why they say the first hit is always free.
Once tasted and once the mind leaves atmosphere; once the body turns numb and the once the mental struggle becomes quiet, the world settles down like a gentle snowfall.
Once the powder tastes the bloodstream, the fear is gone and the stress is forgotten. Next the mind explodes and the tension is finally suspended.
The world is beneath and the sky above is lofty. The feeling is untouchable. The high itself is breathtaking.
But upon re-entry to reality, everyone gives in. No one wants to land once they’ve learned how it feels to defy gravity.
This is why everyone re-ups and everyone comes back for me.
Case in point; this is why the first hit is always free.
After the first hit comes the second. Then the third one comes and then so on. However, each hit comes with a shorter half-life. Each height is halfway up to its previous but each low plummets lower than the one before it.
Each time the high descends, it falls lower and lower and deeper into despair. All of the insecurities come back. All of life’s painful realizations come back.Everything is painfully magnified and even the tiniest whisper is like a loud and horrible scream.
This is the frantic part. The high is more job-like now. The flavor in the mouth is the same and the heartbeat is equally pounding; however, the ultimate soar is gone. There is nothing left but desperateness.
Now the tension is more than incredible. Now the price is of admission clear, which is why the price of admission is so cheap in the beginning. The demons are always happy to make it up in the back-end. They are eager to make a deal because they know above anything, you’ll always keep coming back.
Previously, the high was without regret. Previously, all was forgotten and numbed away. Now all I could do is think of how I needed more just to keep myself from ripping through my skin.
The chest was hollow like a beating drum and my heartbeat was the drummer to bang it out like, thump-thump, and thump-thump.
Previously, I had forgotten about everything But now that the high had depleted and now that my high was not a high, all I could do was remember how I fucked up and keep me from falling further.
At this point, nothing was euphoric.
At this point, it was only a brief exit from a terrible state of despair.
I heard voices. I had needs.
I needed more but I had no way to get it. Inevitably, the high turned against me and all I had was the fiend in me.
All I had was the crazy desperation. I took to the floor, crawling on hands and knees while trying to find some flakes of cocaine that might have fallen, which, if I could gather enough, hopefully, maybe this could help me from my despair.
I was pale white, nearly green skinned. I was scrawny and thin with dark rings beneath my eyes. I looked possessed. I looked sick.
I looked like the devil himself stole my soul, which I would have gladly given if only for one more hit.
In times like this the addict is most dangerous. In times like this the addict is most dangerous because this is when the addict is compromised the most.
This is when stealing happens. This is where people sell or give themselves away. This is when the panic and despair is so intense that anything, anything at all, which could help me for at least a half-second would be worth doing.
Believe me . . .
I was crawling around on my floor and checking to see if I could find more. I searched every piece and every crevice of the hardwood flooring. I checked my pockets at least a thousand times, hoping to find a magic package.
I had moved my bed away from the wall so I could hide if I needed to. I would hear the imaginary voices outside so I moved to the window and looked through the blinds to see who this was.
I was halfway out my side window every 15 seconds because I thought I would have to run.
I swore they were in my house and I swore they were coming to get me. They were coming to take me away but the crazy thing is I never saw who “They” were. I just heard them.
God, I was so crazed.
I was so frantic.
I swore I would never do this again.
I swore I was going to kick all this shit.
I promised to be a good boy from now on. I promised myself I would get away. I would never do this again. I swore once I got through this terrible feeling and once I survived (if I survived) I would never do it again.
There were times like this when I contemplated digging the corner of the razor blade across my wrist or throat just to end it all and get the demons out of me. But I knew if I could just score that I would be alright. I would be fine if I could just placate the demons and pay my way.
I was not afraid to die whatsoever. I was more afraid to live. I was more afraid that I would never feel that way again, euphoric and high, and untouchable but more than anything, I just wanted to be weightless..
I saw the corner of my blade touch skin. Sometimes I would slice just to test it, just to see me bleed. And sometimes, I would test it just to prove that if I chose to, I could do it.
Never again, I swore it
I’ would never get high again.
Next morning, Mike called me. Turns out him and Randy were locked up over in Rockaway.
He asked if I wanted to make a run with him.
So I said yes…
Of course, I said yes.
Why wouldn’t I say yes
Besides . . .
The first hit is always free
I get it thought.
This was a long time ago.
I get it. Times change
But the game is still the same.
Keep in mind, it ain’t just opiates that are killing people.
Believe me when I tell you.
The game is still the same.