Epidemic- Chapter 34
Day three. That dreaded day of withdrawal has happened upon me. With the exception of raiding my father’s freezer for fruit bars and the occasional trip to the bathroom, I have been in and out of consciousness. The dope sick demon taunts me. Tightness spreads throughout my joints and causes my hands to ball into fists. The smell of old perspiration catches my nose with each movement I make. My armpits are damp. My hair is matted with sweat. My feminine parts are six days un-showered and I cannot find the strength to stand up long enough to take one. The annoying tickle of feet falling asleep is radiating throughout my restless legs. The spasm in my right shoulder jerks my body every thirty seconds. I imagine it looks like I am having a seizure each time my body convulses with the spasms in my back. Sometimes the convulsions accompanied with complete exhaustion, are so bad, I will wake up with bruises on my elbows and items from the table next to me are on the floor. I don’t remember even awakening to the pain of the impact or thuds to the floor.
I can’t take it anymore. I have to get well, (get high). After two hours of knowing this and thinking about the hot water streaming down my seasoned body, I finally get off the couch. My body is unable to stand fully erect. Like a caveman, I am hunched over. Like a slug, I move slowly towards the linen closet and find a towel. The shower starts and I sit down on the toilet while it warms up. Standing requires too much energy. Once inside the shower, I lean against the wall. My arms are heavy and I can’t lift them above my head to shampoo my hair. The idea of sitting on the bathtub floor while the water runs over me seems easier than leaning on the wall, so I slump down onto my knees. Moving my knees out from under me to sit criss cross applesauce, (Indian style) is the desired position, but it takes me several minutes to achieve it. The water feels good on my aching muscles.
Because my hands are balled into fists it makes opening the shampoo bottle nearly impossible. I cry out in agony at how difficult even the simplest tasks have become. The shampoo falls from my grip and hits the base of the tub. A puddle pools below it, before I am able to pick it back up again. My hair is mid-back in length. I manage to get some shampoo in my hair and rub it into a lather. When it has rinsed as best as I can get it, I apply conditioner. Taking soap to my entire body proves difficult in this position, so I force myself to stand up. It feels so good to cleanse the stinky parts and wash the suds away. The water begins to run cold, as I rush to get the conditioner rinsed from my hair before it is freezing.
As I make my way to the room to get dressed, my father passes me in the hall. He notes that I don’t look good and I tell him I am not and I need to go get well. He detests that saying. To him it is not getting well to continue to be sick. Getting well in a literal sense has nothing to do with plugging a vein and he is a stickler for literal definitions. I close the door on him lecturing me about this. My mind is made up. I am getting dressed and going out to get high. Natty comes into the room. Her face is concerned and she can tell I am leaving her again. Tears form in her eyes and I instruct her to be brave and strong, promising her that I will be back. She tells me it’s too hard without me and that she misses me too much when I am gone. It kills me to hear her and see her like this, but it’s not enough to deter me from leaving. I am too sick. I’m not strong enough to kick dope cold turkey like this.
When I come out of the room my dad tells me I can’t go. He insists that he pays my car insurance and car payment, as I have been fucking off and not paying my bills. It’s not fair for me to leave him with those responsibilities. In addition, his name is on the car. This makes him liable if something should happen and he doesn’t think I am in any condition to drive. We argue until both our voices have escalated. I begin screaming that he doesn’t know anything and that there is a fucking demon inside of me. I reiterate in a demonic tone that there is a demon dwelling within me. He puts his arms around me and his eyes begin to weep. I accuse him of tricking me into coming home. I threaten him with the idea of me having to sell my body for dope money and a place to sleep if he doesn’t let me take my car. Through tears and screams, I reiterate that by taking my car he is forcing me into prostitution because I will never stop doing dope! He has me in his arms and I am pushing at him to break free. Colleen races over and tells my dad he has to let me go. It’s not good for Natalia to be witnessing or hearing any of this and the greater good for Natalia’s sake is, letting me go.
My father walks off upset and in tears. Quickly, I grab a bag and toss more things into it. Natty comes running over and wipes my tears from my cheeks. She doesn’t want me to leave and follows me outside. Once outside, she tells me she is sorry that grandpa made me cry by yelling at me and how mean he was for doing it. I kneel down beside her to tell her that grandpa wasn’t wrong or being mean. Oh no. I can’t allow for her to believe that. She probably doesn’t really believe it at all, but is just saying what she thinks might cause me to stay. My hand brushes her face, as I tell her that I lied to grandpa and that is why he is upset. It is all my fault that we were arguing and grandpa only wants me to get better, but I am sick. I make her promise to be good for him and to listen to what he tells her to do. She pinkie swears and wipes another tear from my cheek, elaborating that I am the best mommy in the whole wide world. My heart aches.
After I make sure she is safely in the house, I race to my car and drive off. Desperate to find money quickly, I run back to my old home. It’s a 10 minute drive from here. My sister is not home and my dad never changed the locks. I don’t want to, but I grab my favorite necklace and my dad’s Makita drill to take to the pawn shop. Thus far, I haven’t taken any of my family’s belongings, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I rationalize that it isn’t really stealing because I am not selling it to the pawn shop. I am getting a loan and will pay it off. They give me a quick $120.00 and I am on my way. The idea of driving all the way back north to score dope is exhausting. The dope sickness is coursing throughout me and I am desperate to end it now.
Maggie, the older biker lady that threatened Eric when he beat the shit out of me picks up her phone. After I moan and exacerbate how sick and desperate I am, she tells me to come on over and she will get me well. She insists that she is willing to get me well provided Eric is not with me. Smoking heroin isn’t the same, but it instantly perks me right up. Two hits off the foil and I am able to release my fists. The third hit allows me to sit up straight. My head’s mindless chatter is silenced and I feel normal again. Not high. Normal. We sit and visit for a few hours waiting for her dealer to come through. Because she was willing to get me well and let me connect through her dealer, I break her off a dub, ($20). After all, her dealer is not like the dealers in my circle. He is an older gentleman who is organized and doesn’t fuck around making deals with people he doesn’t know. He has his regular, trusted customers and he survives.
My welcome is worn, once the trade has been made and I make my way to the Tulalip Casino. Not to gamble, but to meet local connects. When you’re a dope fiend, it is easy to spot like minded people. It is too late to get any rigs and all I want to do is bang this shit. Now that I am feeling well enough to mingle, I put my makeup on and get ready to impress. It takes about three minutes before I spot two younger guys who are obviously dope users. Their eyes are pinned, (restricted pupils) and one has track marks on his arms. It’s funny, before I used dope, I walked among these people and never noticed them. Now I walk among the living and they’ve stopped noticing me.
There is a machine open next to the guy with track marks and I put $3.00 in and play the tweaker .10 cent bet, in hopes that might grab his attention. It’s his attention I am craving. He might have a clean rig I can have if I make friends with him. My arms are covered in bruises and it is obvious that I am a junkie. Success, he notices me right away and engages in conversation. He interrogates me about my drug use almost immediately. He claims he has both clear and dark in his truck and asks me if I want to kick it for a little while. This could be dangerous. Shit, I mean, I don’t know him. He could be a rapist or a murderer. I might end up in a ditch. Of course, I don’t really know any of the people I have been associating with these past four months, so what’s one more stranger?
He has $20.00 left on his ticket and my $3.00 is long gone. I bat my eyes and make a comment about being out of money, (of course I am not, but he doesn’t need to know that). He laughs and throws $10.00 into my machine. His name is Johnny.
Eventually, we are both out of money and make our way back to his truck with his friend. He asks if I want to go to the motel him and his friends are staying at. It is a rat hole in Marysville and I agree to follow them, after exchanging numbers in case we get separated. When we arrive to the motel, there is a chick who is anything but welcoming on the bed. She might as well be naked. I can see through her white tank top. She is bra-less and wearing a thong. Awkward! She doesn’t want me here, but Johnny insists that I won’t be here long and to chill out. She complains that she wants to draw and has no markers that work. What a coincidence. I actually have a bag of Sharpee fine tip markers of all different colors in the trunk of my car. This excites her.
Johnny and I go into the bathroom and he produces what I have wanted all along. A brand new rig. In fact, he has a bag of them and tosses me two new ones. My mouth salivates. I don’t volunteer that I have any dope on me. He cooks up two shots worth in his spoon. He can see it is difficult for me to hit. Homegirl has grown tired of us being in the bathroom and insists I have to go. Johnny offers to help me. I inform him he should have no problem hitting my neck. Here we go again. A total stranger, a syringe full of heroin and the right side of my neck. I draw in a deep breath to bulge it out, stretch my neck forward and close my eyes. He gasps, causing me to open them again. His eyes are wide and frightened. He tells me not to panic, but he thinks he may have hit my artery and pulls the rig from my neck without pushing the shot in.
My artery? Despite his instruction not to panic, I race to the mirror. There is no blood pouring from my neck. What the hell is he tripping about? He hasn’t hit my artery at all. He admits he wasn’t comfortable hitting my neck. Now there is blood in the rig and I tell him to man the fuck up before the shot is wasted. How stupid am I? He tells me isn’t comfortable and I tell him to do it again? Surely, I must be nearing my rock bottom. Homegirl out on the bed is getting agitated by my still being here. At least I have made a new, local connect, (person to get dope from) with Johnny. He apologizes and wonders if I have a place we can go. In truth, I am done with him now. He spotted, (gave) me two fresh rigs and a free shot of dope. Fuck him. I don’t give two shits about getting to know him at all. He tries to kiss me before I go and I blush and play coy, promising to be in touch with him soon.
After I get into my vehicle, I realize that I don’t know where I am going. I’ve exhausted my stay with Angie. Eric is in jail. I haven’t put any money on his books, so I don’t get phone calls anymore. There are a few places I could crash in the Valley, but that would involve seeing old faces that I have no desire to see anymore. It is late and going to my father’s house would be disruptive. Besides, I am higher than a kite. There is a kid named Travis that lives a block up the road from my old place. He is only 22 years old and has a huge crush on me. I am 34 and it feels icky to think about. Still, I opt to call him. He picks up right away and expresses how dope sick he is. He’s in luck, I have the cure. He welcomes me, (and my dope I’m sure) to come by. Once there, I express that I really don’t have a place to crash tonight. He is more than willing to accommodate my stay. After all, I have dope. Travis is very charming. He greets me with a comment about how beautiful I look. While it is flattering, I acknowledge the comment as just that, flattery.
As I pull out my junkie kit, Travis notices I have a bubble, (meth pipe) among the items I am pulling out. He inquires as to whether or not I have any shards. I do have quite a bit left, resonating in the bubble and tell him to help himself. There is a baggie with two crystals in my kit that I had completely forgotten I possessed, but I hold off on offering them. I’m alone now. I’ve broken free from the Valley’s hold and don’t want to go back. I’ve got a couple dope connects here, but I don’t know anyone here that sells meth. Meth has become a background drug for me. Meaning, it’s fun to fuck with but when given a choice, heroin rules all. In order to maintain my habit and avoid being sick, I choose heroin. Travis only hits the bubble twice. Massive amounts of smoke fill the air. Blowing meth clouds use to be an addiction in itself. The way that IV drug users crave the needle, meth smokers delight in the clouds. It becomes a fascination to watch big, billowing clouds of smoke pour from your lips. The bigger the cloud, the more intense the euphoria.
I toss Travis a decent chunk of tar. He has his own junkie kit, but requests a fresh cotton. I’m exhausted already. After three days of restless sleep, I welcome happy nods, (heroin induced nods). There is no need for me to prepare another shot, as I have just had one shot up in my neck. However, watching him cook down the dope causes me to want one, if only to partake in the dope cooking ritual. I watch as Travis sways the lighter back and forth below his seasoned spoon. He tosses the cotton inside and immediately the heroin pool absorbs, causing the cotton to expand. He takes the tip of the needle and sticks it into the center of the cotton. Slowly, he retracts the plunger on the rig to bring up the dope. The look in his eyes, matches the sensation radiating throughout my body. It’s nearly orgasmic. After he has pulled up the dope, he sets his spoon on the night table beside the bed. He slowly pushes the dope up the barrel and gives his rig two flicks to ensure there are no air pockets.
Travis’s arms are filled with veins like those of Eric’s. I envy men with bulging veins. It takes him no time to hit. I watch as the blood mixes with the demon inside the barrel of the syringe. He pushes the dope in and I feel tingling between my thighs. This is exciting me. I lick my lips. He can see it is exciting me and he blushes. As he gets up to go rinse the syringe out for future use, he leans over and kisses me very softly on the lips before thanking me and acknowledging me as his dope sickness salvation. He even goes as far as calling me an angel. The kiss feels good. Very tender and innocent. It’s been a long time since I can remember a kiss feeling like this. I want more. He senses it, as my head pulls in his direction while he’s getting up from the bed to rinse the rig. He winks. I’m blushing now.
While he is in the bathroom, I think to myself about what I am doing. He is only 22 years old. That means I am 12 years older than him and know better than to participate in any sexual activity with him. He is just a boy. He’s vulnerable. I’m vulnerable. This is wrong, but it feels so good. I want more. I need to be kissed like that again. I’m so tired. I’m overwhelmingly lonely and afraid. My body is exhausted and abused. It craves to be loved again. It’s been forever since it’s experienced any sensual touch. He returns from the bathroom and asks what I want to watch on TV. It is already on, but he had muted it upon my arrival. I look at the screen to discover he is watching a historical documentary about World War 2. There are moments of black and white footage. He expresses how much he enjoys all documentaries, but that history is a passion of his. I’m surprised by this. I don’t know why, but it matures him and suddenly he isn’t just some 22 year old boy. There is something more to him. It intrigues me and I suggest he can watch whatever he chooses. After all, I am his guest.
He inquiries as to what show I might be watching if I were at home, alone and in bed. This is new. Someone asking about my personal likes and interests. Moreover, with sincerity in their tone. I’m blushing again and turn my head from his enchanting smile. I think back to what shows I watched when I had a place I called home and was laying dope sick in my bed. Forensic Shows, True Crime, Hoarders, My Strange Addiction and Intervention, were usually playing. I realize how it looks. Torturing myself with addiction and intervention series while being dope sick, but in a weird way it helped me realize I wasn’t alone and gave me some hope. I remember weeping through several of the Intervention episodes. Especially the ones that updated the stories and showed addicts truly in recovery, months later. I share this information with Travis and begin to explain how I stupid I must sound with this admission, but he interrupts me to admit he watches it too and experiences that same reaction.
Usually if the show is on, there are marathons of it playing. As luck may have it, Intervention is in marathon mode as we speak. He clicks on it and asks me if I want to cuddle, promising no funny stuff. In all my days, I don’t think I have ever met a female who wouldn’t want to hear that. Just cuddling? Hello, we love to cuddle. Quite literally, I welcome it with open arms. My head rests nicely in his right armpit/chest area. I have an armpit fetish. I realize how disgusting it may sound, but the smell of man’s deodorant mixed with just a hint of their sweat is like instant pheromones and a huge turn on to me. His deodorant smells like one of the Axe or Old Spice scents and immediately, I am turned on.
This episode features two junkies. How fucking ironic? They are a couple and it’s one family wanting to send the male to rehab. The female junkie’s family is not featured. In fact, they are blaming her for being the reason the male junkie won’t get clean. Silly family. Complete denial. I can relate. My dad has those same blinders on at times. He refuses to see me as less than his beautiful, baby girl. He makes excuses for my bad behavior that helps to place the blame on influences rather than believing I could be so deceptive, manipulative and rotten. He doesn’t mean to do it, but sadly, he does sometimes and I use it to my manipulating advantage. This family is blaming the female junkie girlfriend for their son being a junkie. They outline the details of the female junkie’s life briefly. She is homeless and her family has completely abandoned and disowned her. It is her fault, they believe, that their son won’t abandon his drug use.
Travis traces his fingers on the skin of my upper arm. He relates to the female junkie. Meaning, his family isn’t involved enough to care. He longs for someone in his family to intervene. He lays out the details of his elaborate daydream of coming home one day to find a group of his loving family and concerned friends gathered there. There is a stranger among them, (the interventionist). They all take turns reading thoughtful and heartfelt letters. His mother begs him to get on a plane to an unknown destination, (rehab out of state).
His feelings range from anger to relief and he agrees to save his life and packs a bag to get on the plane. It’s his own romanticized episode of intervention. Only, it will never be more than a daydream. His mother works for the state. She verbally assaults him over his drug use, but in a tone that is more selfish than that of concern for his life. It is more about the embarrassment he causes her than the fact he is sick and needs help. Her approach to the issue is a constant verbal lashing about what it makes her look like as a mother when he shoots dope, rather than acknowledging that he is near death. He’s been a junkie for 3 years. I’ve been a junkie for 4 months. Maybe my family might end up being like Travis’s if more time passes, but I can’t ever imagine it. My dad loves me like God loves me, unconditionally.
Travis tells me how lucky I am to have that. It is sad, but until this moment, I hadn’t really thought about just how lucky I really am and how ungrateful I have been by not recognizing and acknowledging it. While typically the ending of this show would have me weeping, I am numbed by the dope. Not to mention, I have an audience, (Travis). I tell him about my romanticized Intervention daydream, but I know it will never happen. I’m not going to get as bad as these junkies. I want out now. I’ve already done so many things that are outside of myself and I don’t want to do anymore damage to my daughter. I’m going to tell them that if they can’t find money for a rehab like they feature on the show Intervention then they’re going to have to find about half that amount for my funeral. I’m dying and I need help. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this at my dad’s house with my daughter watching and the freedom to come and go as I please because I will always go back to the dope.
Travis begs me to not just be speaking these words to him, but to actually deliver them to my family. He thinks they will put me on a plane. He tells me not to wait for the Intervention that may never come, but instead, to intervene myself and force the rehab on them. From what little he has heard about my father, he truly believes the unconditional love is real and that he will find a way to save me. He makes me promise to tell my family I need to go to a rehab that is not a state facility only interested in collecting a check. One with programs, education, therapy and amenities and most importantly, one far away from anyone I might call to come rescue me.
He tells me he loves me. Of course, how can this be? He doesn’t really know me. It is the junkie codependency talking. It feels nice and I return the I love you. He taps my shoulder and asks me to lift my head. His lips meet mine again. They are so soft and warm. He kisses me over and over again in the most gentle and loving way I have ever been kissed. His lips barely part to embrace my own. The tip of his tongue only surfaces to wet his lips and trace mine softly. His hands are in my hair and I feel like I am in a Hollywood movie. This is the most romantic and passionate kiss I have ever experienced. Our breathing is heavy. Between each kiss he bestows, he breaks away only to whisper that he loves me and that I am going to survive this. I wasn’t meant to live this life. I’m going to go be the best mother I can be for my little girl. I am going to make something more out of my life and he has faith in my ability to not only overcome this, but to help others along the way.
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”