Epidemic- Chapter 31
Holy shit! I just pocketed a gram of free dope! My mind begins to speculate the odds of me finding it. What if this was all an elaborate trap to test my loyalty to Angie? After all, she did just tell me about how she had misplaced her dope and now, here it is. Mere moments later and I stumble upon it? Why was it on the floor? What if Rex had gotten to it? So many questions are flooding my brain and I can’t process them before Angie asks why it is taking me so long to feed her dog. Quickly, I make my way back to the room. She has a scale pulled out. She has already split the dope into two pieces and is showing me that they are equal. Of course they are. That doesn’t mean she didn’t pocket a piece before I made it back here. The joke is on her, however, as I just hijacked her gram. An evil laugh stirs inside of me, but I hold it in.
Suddenly, my phone rings. It is Eric. Immediately, he thanks me for putting money on his books. He doesn’t yell at me for being absent all week. There is no anger or hostility, detected in his tone. He sounds good and sincerely grateful. Before I can explain why I haven’t been there, he interrupts to tell me he is clean and never wants to use again. He elaborates that the jail gave him Suboxone to treat his withdrawal symptoms, so it wasn’t even difficult to kick, (detox). He apologizes for all of the lies, abuse and verbal assaults he has ever put me through. There was a time that I attempted to convince him to visit the Suboxone clinic with me. I tried to persuade him that together we could quit. He wanted no part of it. Although, he encouraged me to do so. Now, he is adamant on his decision to visit the clinic, once released and begs me to do it with him. In fact, he begs me to go do it now, so that I will already be sober when he is released.
He continues to flatter me. Apologizing for every introducing me to needles. Insisting that he truly loves me and has taken me for granted. He tells me of the dope demon inside of him that causes him to treat me so poorly, and how badly he tried to resist the rage and abuse, but his demon took over. He explains, that I have never been anything but perfect for him and acknowledges that he never deserved me. He wants more than anything for the two of us to work together with NA meetings, Suboxone clinic visits and honesty with one another. The idea is that we would hold each other accountable. This all sounds too good to be true. My heart is fluttering at the idea of this becoming our reality. When you are in this dark place of complete desolation and despair, you never want to do it alone. It’s like going to the gym, everyone wants a work out buddy. Only, in this instance, everyone wants a sober buddy. Someone to go through all of it with. It’s not going to be easy. It’s that lingering element of codependency that leaves you fearful of doing it alone.
Eric informs me he doesn’t have much time left to talk. I tell him that I waited around forever when the sirens were wailing and he was running. He cuts off my explanation and tells me he doesn’t need me to explain. He insists it is alright and he understands. He wants me to know that he left his money and everything else in the car because he knew he was in trouble and he wanted me to be alright. Again, he apologizes. Adding that he wishes he would have never gotten me into any of this. He reminds me of who I use to be. The girl he use to know. Funny, beautiful, spiritual and most importantly, a loving mother. He speaks my daughter’s name and begs me to remember how much I love her and how much she needs me to get clean to be healthy. He promises that we will get our shit together not only for ourselves, but for her. He wants to go to church and expresses a grand desire to know the Lord. Every time I attempt to discuss what happened that day, he cuts me off. He won’t let me get a word out. Of course, they most likely record all of this conversation. Or, at least, listen in on the calls? He is really trying to protect me. He didn’t snitch on me. There was no concocted story placing false blame on me. He hasn’t sold me out, or thrown me under the bus. He is falling on the sword for the both of us. Eric sounds real good, sober. I’ve never heard him sound this way before.
Before he goes, he tells me his court date is in two days and asks me to please be there. It is likely that he will be out soon. He is facing several felony charges. However, the jails are overcrowded and drug related criminals are being released sooner than violent offenders. I assure him I will be at his hearing. He reminds me it is at 9:00 in the morning, knowing I hate mornings. He makes me promise that I will be there. He needs me. He repeats how badly, he needs me, multiple times. After I promise him, he reiterates how sorry he is and how much he loves me, before blowing kisses to me and hanging up the phone. My entire being is buzzing with the excitement of this conversation. My mind is blown. What does this mean? He just blew freaking kisses at me through the phone! Is he serious? Wow. I am rendered speechless. Angie repeatedly asks what he said, but I am in complete shock. Talking to Eric today, was like speaking to an entirely different person. This conversation has stirred a familiar feeling inside of me. That feeling, is hope.
Angie snaps at me. She is frustrated by my refusal to answer her questions. I explain how dumbfounded I am and detail our conversation for her. She smiles and replies with a snark remark about her being right. She knew he would be sober, but hadn’t realized how different a completely sober Eric, would be. In truth, I would have wagered and lost a million dollars on the bet that I would never hear Eric say any of those things. We both sit, staring in silence. My mind reflects back onto the phone call, replaying it, word for word. This is surreal. Angie reminds me of the dope we have in front of us and suggests we smoke out. This won’t last us long and we need to discuss how we are going to come up with money today.
She wants to match foils and is angry that I refuse. There is no need to match shit. I have my own dope now and I want to bang it. She complains how unfair it is that smoking requires more dope. She even goes as far as suggesting that because I shoot it, it is only fair that I give her more than half on our next score. This would balance it equally in her mind. What a fucking bitch. No. Hell no! We argue about this for the better part of twenty minutes. She continues to explain her reasoning, in a plethora of ways and is frustrated that I can’t grasp her logic. It is not that I cannot grasp her logic. However, it is that her logic is flawed. It is not my fault that smoking dope wastes it and she doesn’t use needles. How can she honestly expect me to rationalize giving her a larger chunk to compensate for her method of getting high versus my conservative own? Is she really that retarded? When she sees that I am unwilling to budge from my stance that fair is to split things equally, she resorts to screaming. As if somehow, this will intimidate me into agreeing with her. She is psycho. I am certain this has worked for her before, but I remain unmoved. The thing is, if we were to get busted boosting and returning the boosts, we would both be slapped with the same criminal charges. With my record and freedom at risk, it is only fair that we split the dope right down the fucking middle.
She really is crazy. My logic is lost on her. She attempts to convince me that she would take the fall and I wouldn’t be charged with anything. Pledging her undying, loyalty to me and pleading my belief in her not being a snitch. The truth is, that’s bullshit. When your back’s against the wall, you don’t go down for junkies. You get the hell out of it. Of course, not everyone snitches. I didn’t. I ended up with a misdemeanor on my record, last month. Initially, I had been charged with a felony identity theft. I had used a stolen credit card at a local gas station and was caught on camera. The thing is, I signed my own name to the card. If I had been trying to steal someone’s identity, don’t you think I would have forged the cardholder’s name? This reasoning, dropped my charge to a misdemeanor, but, the police had asked me twice to come to the station and write up statements on who gave me the card and who else was in my vehicle, prior. The only reason they charged me with anything, I believe, is because I had not complied with their requests. I live on the streets now. After seeing the papers on Red and incidentally, on Angie, I know better. After the failed home invasion attempt on my dad’s house, the Honda’s following me, my goodbye calls to my family from that dreadful motel room and the fact some of the same people were involved, there was no fucking way I was snitching and having a paper trail recording that offense. I cried when I was charged. Up until that moment, I had no criminal record. The fact I had to plead guilty to a lesser charge, only upset me further, as I stated, I didn’t sign the cardholder’s name. How can that be identity theft?
Still, most of the time, people save their own asses, when the pressure is put on them. Now, here Angie is, trying to get me to believe that if we were ever busted she would own up to all of it. I’ve seen papers on her. I already know she is a snitch. Her papers involved a drug dealer. She gave a full statement on who they were and were they were hiding. In fact, those people are in the same jail as Eric is in, as we speak, in part, because of her statement. Of course, I don’t let her know I have seen these papers. Admitting that, would betray the confidentiality pact made with the person who shared them with me. This conversation is going nowhere. She is relentless with her attack, but I will not be swayed. Finally, I throw up my hands in a fit of annoyance and anger and tell her I want no part in her endeavors. If she can’t see my side of things, then I will go get my own shit. Put in my own work. After all, unknown to her, I have a gram of dope in my pocket anyways so I don’t need her at all right now.
As I stand up to leave, she stops me and laughs off the argument. The truth is, she needs me. Her car is barely running and she needs me to be her errand girl. While part of me is relieved by her compliance and my ability to have a shower and place to chill, another part of me was ready to bounce, (leave) so that I could taste that gram burning a hole in my pocket! Still, it is what it is and I retreat to her bathroom to prep another shot.
Time blurs when you are stuck in this vicious cycle. Another week has passed by. Angie and I have pulled off boosting and returning schemes and managed to chase bags successfully. The gram of dope I found, was pure shit. In fact, I wonder if she set me up with that story to test my integrity. The shit curbed being sick, but it didn’t get me high. Because we have been scoring dope, I still have half the gram leftover. We have been arguing constantly and I wish I had another place to go. Eric was disappointed that I didn’t come to his court hearing. He is still sober and calling me everyday, to check the progress I have made towards getting clean. Of course, I’ve done nothing to accomplish sobriety. He didn’t need me to explain why I wasn’t there. I was nodded out, between binges.
Today, Angie and I are visiting the jail to put more money on her boyfriend and Eric’s books. Tension is high, as she orders me around. She is not only a bossy little bitch, but also a loud bitch, who favors screaming as her method of communication. This angers me and causes me to yell back at her. When I don’t comply with her bossy instructions, she becomes infuriated, but I am not one to be bossed around. In fact, I’ve been known to be a little bossy myself. We need time apart. All we do is butt heads and I have grown tired of her antics. I stay because she is the one who boosts things, she has a couch for me to nod on and a shower for me to stay hygienic. Junkyard Justin is at the door and has no place to go. We suggest that he can ride with us to the jail. He looks exhausted. While he agrees to our outing, his face expresses a reluctance not to go.
Before we go, we need to get high. Justin bangs his dope too and this disgusts Angie. We are low on resources. We only have one working Bic (which is mine) and she is recycling old foils, as she is out of Reynold’s Wrap. This poses an issue. Justin and I need the Bic to cook our dope, but Angie needs it to chase the dragon (smoke heroin off foil). Justin suggests we light the bathroom candle and surrender the Bic to Angie’s possession. Junkies can maneuver the spoon over the flame the candle produces, so this offers a viable solution. It is awkward prepping a shot with Justin beside me prepping his own. Shooting heroin is a closet behavior, not a group activity. He doesn’t appear shy about it. Perhaps, he doesn’t share my shame. Most likely, he has been doing this for much longer than I have, and has grown accustom to having an audience? He hits without fail, as I struggle to connect. Dehydration has caused my veins to disappear beneath old scar tissue and bruises. He witnesses my struggle.
Justin asks if I would like him to help me hit. He suggests that the vein in my breast might work. At first, I am skeptical of his intentions. Is he just trying to cop a feel? He insists that is not it and won’t handle my breast at all. He instructs me on how to force the vein to the surface and attempts to connect three times, without success. Fuck! Needle in the boob, equals painful and not fun! I inform him that my neck has a throbbing vein, but that I can’t hit it myself. He smiles and agrees to hit it for me. As he prepares to stick the needle into my neck, I hesitate briefly. How desperate am I, to allow for a stranger to be doing this? He senses my hesitation and assures me it will be alright.
Angie screams out at us from the bedroom. She calls me a pathetic junkie and a fucking stupid one for putting a needle in my neck. She elaborates, how retarded I really must be, to allow for someone else to stick a needle in my neck, outlining the danger of it. She sounds just like Eric. Justin calls out for her to shut the fuck up, as this requires concentration. As if this statement was meant to coerce her to make this more difficult, she comes to the bathroom door. She taunts him and I with insults. Her head is swinging around, her finger is in the air, as she tells us what she thinks. Her bouncing all around us, is pissing me off. I scream at her that this is going to happen, regardless of her attempts to stop it, but if she moves on, we can leave sooner. Angie punches at a hole already punched into the door, before walking off. It causes it to open up further. Nothing is funny about this situation, however, Justin is fighting back laughter. My eyes connect with his and I too, am trying not to giggle. Angie is freaking psycho!
Justin and I refocus our attention. I take a deep breath and extend my neck forward, causing the vein to pop out. Carefully, he puts the needle into my neck and slowly pushes my demon in. Instantly, I can taste it. Sweet, seductive heroin. My mouth salivates. My head is light, as he removes the needle. He hands me my rig, and I wash it out in the sink. Ideally, you should never use the same needle twice. However, when your funds are low (out of money), you do what you have to do. There have been times my needle was so dull, even the back of a match book couldn’t sharpen it (the strip you light matches on is often uses to sharpen the tip of the needle when being reused over and over again). I have resorted to sticking needles that were bent into my arm before. Many times, my rigs have been used so frequently, that the numbers indicating the cc’s, were worn completely off. Not my proudest moments, but being a junkie has no prideful elements.
We are on our way to the jail. Nothing like a little Tech N9ne to drown at Angie’s incessant criticism. Even before I was a junkie driving people around for dope, I was always the driver. In part, because that gives me control of the radio and I am selfish like that. Music is a major part of my enjoyment with driving. Several times, I have had to slap people’s hands away from changing my tunes. Angie attempts to turn the stereo down, so that we would be forced to listen to her rant, but I slap her hand away too. This only further infuriates her. Justin attempts to calm her down, but she is still going off about how she doesn’t understand why we insist on IV use, when it is perfectly acceptable to smoke heroin off of foil. She confesses, it tempts her to want to use needles and that scares her.
Immediately, I turn the radio down. There is no need for her to pick up needle use. It is the biggest regret in my life. I explain that I have no choice but to use them now, only because I have already developed the habit, but it would be foolish for her to start. I continue to liken my need, to her own need, of smoking heroin. It’s the same addiction, the same drug, but if someone where to tell her, that they didn’t understand it and demand for her to stop, she wouldn’t. It is a personal choice. No one, can detour you away from use. Especially, when the dope sickness is so fucking miserable. The thing non-addicts can’t ever seem to fucking understand is that, you don’t continue using heroin to get high and party. It’s not a gay all, jolly ass, good time. You keep using it, to avoid being sick. A sickness, that someone who has never experienced it, could ever understand. There are no words, that are capable of bringing a non-addict’s understanding of this.
Your entire body aches without it. Every single joint is stiff. Your hands curl up into semi-fists from the joint pain. You have a fever, but your body is chilled. Sweat, drenches your clothing. Your legs are restless. Imagine the feeling of your foot being asleep, only it is radiating through both of your legs. You can’t stand up and shake it off. Vomiting is not uncommon, although this is not typically a symptom of my personal withdrawal. Your head aches and if you are able to take headache medicine, it’s a struggle to keep it down. Your back spasms. I get a twitch in my right shoulder blade, that involuntarily jerks my body every 30 seconds. I physically, can not lay still. The restlessness in my legs and back spasms, make sleep impossible. I have even attempted drugging myself with Benadryl and NyQuil to sleep through the withdrawal. All it did, was cause my eyes to be heavier, but I couldn’t sleep through the spasms. Imagine falling asleep every for only 30 seconds at a time, over a 12 hour period. It is hell on earth. I can’t imagine a hotter, fire.
When you have fallen to the bottom of the heroin pit (IV needles), you can’t climb back up by smoking heroin. Smoking it, just doesn’t do the same thing. If you have ever been in a hospital and they pushed morphine or another pain medication through your IV, you know that taking a pill, doesn’t produce that same euphoria. It is a very similar comparison between IV and smoking methods of heroin. The thing is, I can’t convince Angie to understand this, for two reasons. Firstly, she has never used needles, so as I stated, there is no fucking way for her to understand. In fact, after awhile, the needle itself becomes an addiction. As sick as it may sound, and despite all my failed attempts, when I do connect, it excites me. Secondly, by attempting to gain her understanding, it will entice her curiosity of just how much better of a euphoria injecting heroin can bring. I most certainly, do not want to do that.
Finally, we arrive at the jail. Justin doesn’t want to go in, so he waits in the car. After we add the money to the books, we make our way back to the car. Maybe I am being paranoid, but it felt like the guards were watching me. I wonder if Eric, has changed his story, now that I wasn’t at his hearing? I express my concerns to Angie and she agrees there was a funny vibe going in there. Quickly, we get into the car and make our way out of the parking lot. As soon as I turn onto the main street, Justin acknowledges that a cop is following me.