Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kicking Dope at The Empress

Been thinking a lot the past few days about dope sickness...thinking about that god awful feeling, the fucking pure hell that the sickness really is. Puking, cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and of course the entire mental anguish of it all.

My son had a stomach virus, and as it is taking care of a sick child with a stomach ailment, I was literally up to my elbows is puke and shit....memories flooding back onto me, with totality of the smell... I remember kicking in the Empress once, kicking for a few days at least, until something turned around, or turned back up, or whatever the case may be. So many days I spent kicking in the Empress....

And this particular time, I think the room was on the first floor, down the main hall to the left. We got there right before the sickness set in...the next few days spent in a living bile hell. We tried to flush the toilet, but when we pushed down on the handle...nothing. I remember laying my head over that toilet after two days of its ejected poisonous bile from both puke and shit, smelling it all as I layed there, puking up my broken and burned guts. My feet on the wet floor, and my head rested on the lid of this toilet that was unflushed, broke, for two days of withdrawal and hell, smelling all the piss and shit and puke, strong and acidic, still could not bring up enough bile in this barren and empty stomach of mine to really make a dent in the madness.

Too sick to call anyone to fix it. Too sick to do anything except puke and shit, cry and whimper. One the third day, he rose again from the dead, as the call came ringing through...money, dope...and the sweet, sweet combination thereof. I gathered myself together, pulling and tugging at my matty and dreaded hair back into a semblance of a ponytail, and shuffling through all the clothes on the ground, searching fro something dry. Brushing my teeth, and trying to pull it together...to go out into the bright Louisiana sun, and wait on the corner for the man. God only knows how long I could be waiting...but, I tell you...I know, it ain't gonna be long now.

After scoring, I came back to the Empress, and I stood up front, chatting with Bob for a moment, trying to feel normal...as I knew normal was sitting right there in my pocket. Then, he tells me..."Oh, I forgot to tell you, that handle on that toilet goes up to flush, not down. I guess you figured that out, though!"

Damn, I went into the bathroom as soon as I returned, and the whole bathroom had that distinct odor of rotten, nasty bile and all that was once inside that has been ejected out, poisonous landfill, disgusting human secretion...and I pulled up on the handle...and it all swirled down, leaving us with a clean and sparkling toilet. I filled a cup with water, and went to make everything better.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Person in Need

Just encountered a girl, reeking of withdrawal. I spotted her from a mile away, ambling slowly towards me...looking like so many friends of mine, looking like myself. I recognized the smell right away, as she stumbled slightly towards me, muttering something incoherent about the weather. I recognized that desperate smell of need and addiction. I recognized the face in anguish, the pain and the need. And I wonder what she is doing on a college campus...is she holding it together that well? Or is her whole world about to crumble. Smells like the need has already taken over...and the streets are calling her name. I know....because I have been there.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Short Story About Long Ago...

Once upon a time, many, many years ago…I was in love with a boy. Yeah, yeah, I know it seems crazy to some of you for me to be in love with a boy…but, I was. Like I said, it was many, many years ago.

Rob was my first love. And we all know about first loves, shrouded in mystery of all things new. Passionate, and undying. Blinding and bursting into flames. All the rest of the world seems to stop when you fall I love for the first time…and your perspective is forever changed.

Looking back on those innocent days of long ago, I see the world stop still, once more. And those memories are also stopped, locked in time, without the slight taint from the adult world I know now. Some of those memories, so pure and innocent. Those few stories that remain from those days live on, pure and unsoiled….an anecdote for the past. This is one of those stories.

This particular boy was from Baton Rouge, Louisiana…and unbeknownst to me at the time, a second love affair came to fruition in these days…the love of Louisiana. And that love for Louisiana would one day take me on a journey that would carry me farther from home than I ever imagined. But, back in those days, the love affair with Louisiana was still innocent to, as her rivers and greenery enchanted me, enveloping me in her stories and tales, and enthralling me by her mysterious demeanor. It all resides back in those early days in Baton Rouge….

Rob and I visited his family several times in Louisiana, travelling by van as the large deciduous trees of North Carolina faded into plants more tropical, bursting forth with bright greens and fruit. The land flattened, as we got further south, to where you could see for miles along the horizon. The moisture began to cling tightly to the air, and your skin bathed in the humidity.

Upon arriving in Baton Rouge, the elegant appearance of old slashed against my face. Trees overhanging the streets, and the rich, dark soil spotted the more barren areas. Rivers, rolling through the corners of the city with a levee to provide cover from the rest. I remember sitting quietly on that side of the levee outside of the city, just watching the river roll past. The river is much different here than it is in the busy, polluted city of New Orleans. It seems gentler, and here, in its natural element it is not such an anomaly.

Staying with parents always came with a few difficulties, even with parents as cool as the Pickens. We had to be respectful, after all…we really were just kids. So, we would sneak off to have a little time to ourselves.

One night, we left his parent’s house late. We both had on pajama bottoms and slippers. We drove around a little, as I sat on the ground of the van, between the captain’s chairs, petting and kissing my first love. Rob looked for a place to park the van, and eventually we took refuge behind an old gas station.

The station was still in business, although it was closed for the night. Rob worked there in high school, and he knew the lay of the land well. We climbed in to the back of the van.

Although, I cannot really remember much about the interior of the van that night, I do remember my view out the window. Out the window, the bright fluorescent light from an old, long streetlight glowed, humming and bright. Bright artificial light, spreading a glittery glow across the metal of the station. The fence lit up in the bright light of the night. A large white awning, hanging partly over the van, made me feel like we were pulling up for gas from the full service station, while we fucked in the back. Glittery light, and glittery love, along with sweat and touch and emotion, surrounded by tools and parts and explosive gasoline. Heavy breathing fogged up the windows, and the glow of the gas station faded, as I closed my eyes in ecstasy.

Afterword, we sat and talked, as our warm breath fogged up the nighttime windows even more. Eventually, we climbed into the front seat. This time I sat in my own captain’s chair, and my body hummed with both love and pleasure. Back in those days those two went hand in hand. It is sad sometimes to see how time has jaded me…

We pulled out of the gas station onto a main road, then turning down a small street. The next thing I know…blue lights are flashing behind us.

My heart pounding, as it always pounds at the sign of police. I watch the flashing lights in the mirror, splashing intermittent and blinding blue light throughout the van. Rob and I exchanged an anxious glance, as he reached for the registration. Thank goodness we brought our wallets, even though we were wearing pajamas.

“Get out of the car, please,” a voice bellowed from a microphone, seeming to echo into the night.

A sheepish look crossed Rob’s face, as his face flushed to red. He smiled slightly, shrugging his shoulders, and he opened the door. He was wearing these dark green bedroom slippers that looked like soft boots, booties, if you will. He had on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. Embarrassed, he walks towards the police.

I watched in the rear view mirror, taking note of how silly he looked standing on the side of the road with the interment blue lights illuminating his baby cheeks and upturned lips. I watched the cop gesture towards the foggy windows, and then he gestured towards me. The two of them walk towards the van, disappearing out of the view of the rear view mirror.

The cop’s face emerges in driver’s side window, shining the flashlight towards my eyes, adding another spray of white light to the already blue flashing atmosphere. He shines the light around in the can, and the light splashes past my bare legs.

“Ma’am, I am going to need to see your ID.”

My heart is racing, and I am too young to realize that this is really no big deal. I fumble around for my wallet, fearful of being in trouble for something. I was too nervous to realize he was probably just checking that I was over 18. My shaky hand reaches out to hand him the driver’s license. He looks it over and smiles.

He hands my license back, and then he motions for Rob to get back in the car. I guess he is going to spare him the embarrassment of his parent’s neighbors driving by to see him on the side of the road in his boxers. The cop then rests his arm on the side of the window, and begins his lecture.

The reason he pulled us over was because we were pulling out of a gas station that has been closed for hours. He was worried we could have been robbing the place. Upon seeing the foggy windows, his whole perspective of the issue became clear to him. He laughed, off handedly commented about our driving around with the fogged up windows. He pointed his finger at us, as if he were lecturing a couple of toddlers about sharing their toys.

We pulled away, laughing as we swore to be more careful about where we parked.

The Addict, "Poor, poor soul."

We were given an assignment to read an article about opium trade in Afghanistan in my Journalism class last week. My professor showed some pictures that accompanied the article, and there was one picture of a man, staring out from a darkened building. My professor said, "Oh, and this guy, he is a heroin addict, poor, poor soul. Well, I am sure you can tell, just look at him."

And I did not see anything about this man that would identify him as an addict. No track marks in the picture. He had on a collared shirt for god sakes! And he looked clean cut. There was NOTHING that would identify that man as a heroin addict. (The poor, poor soul.)

And then I asked myself....well, what does a heroin addict look like anyway? And I thought of all the addicts I have known, and they all look very different. Some are fat, and some are skinny. Some are battered and bruised, and some hold down regular jobs wearing a suit. Some are old, and others are young. Some are dirty and homeless, while others live in a mansion on the hill. Some are men, and others are women. Some have children, while others have no one. Anyone can be a heroin addict.

It just illustrates the stereotypes I will always face, as an addict. The stigma will always be attached to heroin addiction.

Friday, April 1, 2011


My Little Man is Two Today...Happy Birthday to my Little April Fool.