My anxiety increases to a growing fear resulting in a bottled rage. My hands are balled in fists, waiting to connect with Red’s face. Red has never been to my old house, so I know the only way she can possibly know about its location is from an old so-called friend I met at rehab. Clarissa and I did 30 days together in a state-funded, piece of shit, joke of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. This was a mere few months ago. She was one of the only girls who wasn’t a complete drama queen or catty bitch, so we bonded pretty quickly. There was no real treatment going on at that rehab. We basically sat in a room for 10 hours with other drug addicts and read some materials and talked.
In fact, rehab is where I learned that by smoking heroin I was wasting it. I was one of the only people there who didn’t use needles. The way they went on and on about how wonderful it was to bang, sparked my curiosity. There was no drug counselor running the program because they were understaffed. It was basically just a place to dry out. Needless to say, after we left, we relapsed together four days later. She introduced me to crystal meth. I had gone to rehab for heroin, so I rationalized it would be alright because I didn’t have a problem with meth. Of course, a drug is a drug and it only took about six weeks of resistance before I started using heroin again. In addition to meth. She is also the one who introduced me to Chris, (who is now with Red). Chris is Jason’s best friend and Jason is Clarissa’s love. Clarissa and I parted ways when she got real heavy into car prowling with Red and the boys. Car prowling is breaking into cars and robbing them.
She had also started using heroin again and I was trying to stay away from it. Once you are out on the streets, it doesn’t take long to jump from circle to circle of people. Circumstances, don’t permit you to remain in one place with the same people for too long. Julie still has Red on speaker phone and mutes her to tell me she will invite her over if I want her to. I concur. I park my vehicle behind a heap of garbage on the property, to conceal it from her vision from the road. My sister still lives in the house Red is talking about robbing and if the stories about her are true, she won’t go unarmed. I am not going to allow this to happen.
Red shows up and not surprisingly, she is not alone. Clarissa, Jason, and Chris are with her. Julie hands me a lead pipe and tells me she has my back if shit hits the fan. A lead pipe? I can’t hit someone with a lead pipe. That could kill them! I set it on the bench questioning myself about what else that pipe has been used for, knowing I will need to return to it and wipe my fingerprints from it. Clarissa runs up to me and gives me a bear hug. With a sideways, one armed approach. I reluctantly return her hug. Is this a trap? Am I being set up? Or maybe I am just paranoid? I have been awake for a few days and I am tweaking balls. Chris won’t make eye contact with me. However, Red’s eyes are wide and are locked on mine.
Red doesn’t know what is going on here either. It is possible that Eric and I stopped by to get high and didn’t hear the call but she wonders if she too, is being set up. I can see it on her face. This supposed badass bitch is a little frightened and unsure. Clarissa asks to talk to me inside the trailer alone. I agree to it. I don’t have any reason to suspect Clarissa would attempt anything, besides I know I can kick her ass. Once inside, Clarissa tells me she is terrified of Red and that Red is holding her captive. I look at her suspicious and unconvinced of her allegations. She elaborates that she is crazy and has hit her a few times and made her do things she didn’t want to do, sexually. She has my attention now. When I was a little girl, about my daughter’s age, I was sexually abused by a sick fuck and I do not take lightly to accusations of sexual abuse. Clarissa is crying as she explains that Red has made her turn a couple tricks for drugs. Turning tricks means prostitution. She continues to elaborate that her boyfriend Jason is angry about it but doesn’t stop it because they are planning to rob Red, as retaliation. I question her fear now. After all the stories about gang affiliations, home invasions, and automatic weapons, why would they be willing to jeopardize their safety by jacking Red? Jacking means robbing.
Now I am not sure if Clarissa is in on this and is feeding me stories to install fear so that I won’t step to Red. I tell her I heard the phone call and I want to talk to Red. She acts surprised when I recite verbatim, the conversation that went down mere moments ago. Despite her repeated attempts for me to keep my mouth shut and heed her warning, I open the trailer and ask Red to have a word with me. Red responds with her usual bitchy sarcasm and demands that I announce to the group what this is about before she is willing to come to speak with me. My heart begins pounding again. I can feel my hands begin to clench into balls of fury fists. I meet her demands and announce that I want to talk about the phone conversation between her and Julie. Julie inches closer to Ty as my voice elevates in anger. I scream that I have heard everything and that the house she is talking about robbing is still occupied with my family and all of my daughter’s belongings.
In addition, I inform her that I am aware of the threats she has made to multiple people about kicking my ass and let her know that I am right here and we can do this thing right now. Red avoids eye contact as I continue to get louder and angrier. She pulls out her cell phone and for a brief moment, I am concerned she is calling her alleged connections and that I might end up in a ditch dead tonight. My rage wins and I make my approach towards her. I demand that she put her phone away and man up and acknowledge me. She continues to look at her phone and appears to be texting. I stop about three feet in front of her. I am 4’11 so everyone is taller than me but I have a loud bark and a vicious bite and I am ready for what might ensue. My eyes scan the group around us. No one is moving and all eyes are on me. I can see the lead pipe on the bench in my peripheral vision and the sun beaming on its shaft entices me to grab it. I shake that thought from my head quickly and prepare to defend myself once Red makes her move.
As she finally looks up from her phone at me, a dark seeded smile spreads across her face. I am not fooled. I can see the fear in her eyes. My body is trembling with anticipation when suddenly a loud thud knocks Jason to the ground. Both Red and I turn to see Chris pounding on Jason and screaming at him for lying about using needles. Chris lost both his parents to drug overdoses and detests needles. The entire group starts screaming at Chris to stop and Jason balls up on the ground in the fetal position. Red and Clarissa run over to Chris and beg him to stop hitting Jason, questioning why he has suddenly flipped out on him. They are best friends and have been for years. Eric has been sitting in my car the entire time, angry that we are still here. He wanted to leave immediately following the phone call.
He motions for me to get in the car but I don’t know what is going on. How did this turn from me confronting Red about her plans, to Chris beating the crap out of Jason for using needles and lying about it? Ty pulls Chris off of Jason who stands up and walks up the driveway in tears. Clarissa follows him pleading for him to wait up.
Red turns to me and has the audacity to offer me some shards for a ride for her and Chris back to her house. I am speechless. What kind of world am I living in? Red opens the door to my car and sits in the back seat! Chris refuses her instructions to follow. Eric gets out of the car and starts walking up the driveway, screaming at me for being a dumb bitch. I can’t believe it. Eric is leaving me to defend myself completely. For all he knows I am being set up and he is walking off, leaving me with four people who are about to beat my ass, or worse kill me. Maybe Eric was in on this too? I scream after him to wait but he disappears up the road and around the corner. I turn my attention back to Red who is now sitting in the passenger seat, up front, of my vehicle, waiting for me to get in.
Is the darkness going to finally extinguish my faint light, that is my dim existence? Is the Washington rain going to finally wash away my soul? I am in over my head. I would be a fool to get behind the wheel with Red in my car. If I refuse her, I don’t know what will happen. Chris pulls me aside and I can feel Red’s eyes following us. I miss Chris. He was so silly and fun. He would sing along to Adele with me when our group wasn’t around, read my poetry and admitted I was the first nerd he liked. He used to stare at me with a look of enchantment like he was captivated by my beauty. In fact, he often professed that to be the reason. Now his face is angry and his stare is cold. He grabs my shoulders firmly and shakes me as if attempting to knock some sense into me. He pleads with me to go home. He never wanted me out on the streets. He swears he thought by leaving me that I would go home to my daughter and resume a normal life.
I argue with him, informing him I had a drug problem before we were together and it is not that simple. Chris’s eyes smile at me for the first time in a long time. He softens his voice and reassures me that I am strong and capable, elaborating that I am a good mother and that I don’t belong out here. He warns me again about being trapped in the Valley and that there is nothing here for me and he doesn’t want me to lose myself here. He insists that I am too good for this lifestyle. The Valley is the three towns we run in, (Sedro Woolley, Burlington and Mount Vernon). Chris tells me he hit Jason to detour Red and me from throwing down (fighting). He whispers he doesn’t want to see me get hurt and that he meant it when he told me he loved me. I pause on his words, to reflect if there is truth in their meaning. I ask him if he had any part of the home invasion plan and if so, how could he? He insists that it’s never going to happen because he won’t let it and again instructs me to get in my car and go home.
Home? I haven’t had a home for months. I can’t go back there. I failed my daughter, my family and myself. I am not that person anymore. I need my heroin. I am possessed by its demon. I ask him to get Red out of my car. I want to go find Eric and I am out of tar and I need to get high. Chris yells at Red to get out and she complies.
Before I drive away I warn her that if anything happens to my father’s house or my family, I have taken the liberty of writing a few things down about her over the past month and it will end up in the wrong hands. I embellish my lie to, claiming I also have her police report from when she snitched and I will make sure the people questioning her loyalty to them will find themselves in possession of the report. Her eyes widen, she nods in understanding and I drive off.
Tara’s house is just up the road and I know on foot, that is where Eric has to have gone. I hate Tara. Eric denies it but it is obvious she has a thing for him. They have known each other for a couple years now and she is one of the many places he connects to get dope. As I suspected he is there. Tara comes out and apologetically asks me to please go because Eric doesn’t want to see me right now. I feel so alone. I don’t want any more drama so I drive off and head to the park and ride up the street. I am so angry that Eric left. He just wanted to go get high. He sat in that car stewing at the fact I didn’t get in, so he got out and walked off knowing, Tara would get him high. I pull into the park and ride and pull out my junkie kit. I am desperate to get high. Everyone tells me taking cotton hits is not good and you risk cotton fever but I have at least 20 pieces of cotton with heroin on them and I don’t care at this point.
I also saved a few baggies and desperately scrape the tar residue from them. I get a few cottons that are darker from old dope and push a rig full of water onto them. With the back side of my rig’s plunger, I press on them, forcing any leftover dope and the little bit of water I used to expel from the cotton. I squeeze at them desperately trying to get a small shot so that I can feel better and go hustle some money for more dope.
There is not much there, I know I am not going to get a good shot but with the combined scrapings from the baggies, I will at least not get too sick. I also still have some shards so I crush a piece up into the spoon. I have no new needles and the three rigs I have stored in my junkie kit are so dull, I have to sharpen a point on the back of a matchbook. Having a dull rig is bad. Having a dull rig with my impossible veins is worse.
I jab my needle into my arm and it won’t penetrate the scar tissue. I finally hit a vein after about 45 minutes and several failed attempts. I decide to head over to Angie’s apartment to see if she will get me high. She won’t break me off a piece for a shot because she too, detests needles. However, she usually needs something and I have some shards I can smoke her out with, in exchange for her letting me hit the foil. Hit the foil means smoking heroin.
It’s not the same anymore but it is better than nothing. Eric hates Angie and she can’t stand him. Whenever we are fighting, I make my way to her place. As I turn the ignition, Eric pounds on my window and screams at me to let him into the car. This was not uncommon. In fact, I park at the park and ride often, knowing he will come to find me there. I am so angry that he left me but I don’t want to be alone. Plus he may have scored a piece of tar and I want a real shot. I unlock the doors and Eric gets in and smiles at me, so I know he got high. I ask him if he scored any and he laughs in my face and claims he didn’t get anything for me and he wants me to drop him off at heroin hotel. Heroin hotel is a little motel full of junkies and dealers in Burlington. I tell him I refuse to be used as a taxi and inform him I am fucking furious he left me and on top of that, he didn’t score me any dope. He grabs my hair and pulls my head towards his abruptly and informs me that I am going to take him there or he is going to knock my fucking teeth out. I make my way towards the motel.