Diego is dead. And I killed him. That was the last favor I gave to my dying friend. Healthy in all discernable aspects, but his mind intent on killing him. What must it be like to find yourself suddenly bound naked in a field covered in honey and unable to move as crows and vultures fly overhead? Diego knew how every muscle in the body screams out and the mind wants to move but there seems to be a disconnect between the nervous system and the rest of the body. No matter how deeply you know that you have to move, your body will not obey. It is going to do what it knows. The mind will soon lapse and follow. Nothing can be done, but to be still and hope not to be seen by the birds. Hope is all there is. There cannot be a God or god or Supreme Being. There can’t be. If something were out there to watch over me, how could it let me get into this situation? There will be no Deus ex Machina.
Diego wanted freedom. He chased it and only it, negating all else that came his way. He said “No” to so much, to everything until eventually he was chained to his freedom. We all make choices. Sure. But how do you see this coming? How can anyone see the future? It’s not possible.
Diego said, “I’m looking for a lifestyle change. I’m not so thirsty now. I moved out of my living situation and into hell.” This is not the time for the thirst or old lifestyles or other living situations. That’s all another story. This is only about the HELL.
Diego’s lifestyle, the one that is about to explained, is not assumed, as say, the first day of school is thrust upon a child. Instead, it’s eased into. He flushed himself out of New York City and into the not quite New England, not so Southern, not quite Mid-western crossroads of the Americana town of Pittsburgh. We are also beginning another relationship with Crystal.
Crystal Methamphetamine. I had used a lot of Ecstasy and Mollie…MDMA, ok, methyl dioxin methamphetamine in the past, so I didn’t figure this was a huge leap. What took me by surprise were the new sleeping patterns. My first encounter kept me awake for 3 days. I then slept 10 hours. Next encounter 4 days. I then slept 14 hours. This went on–5 days 18 hours, 3 days 15 hours, 4 days 24 hours, 7 days 30 hours, 8 days, 48 hours, 3 days 12 hours. 90% of the awake time I ingested nothing but Meth. The final 10% was spent trying to come down by not doing any more and eating ice cream and Gatorade. The final day or days were pretty much filled with desperation.
Cletus and I tried to sell. He was from West Virginia; therefore, Cletus. Diego and Cletus ran hard. We ran real hard, selling, buying, smoking it, snorting it and trying to get with women. But, we were too much in the pursuit of the next high to do many women. I had my woman, the divorcee, so there was not much reason to pursue others. Or, so I thought. Shit was going wrong on that front too. She was married. She was one of those married people that didn’t wear a ring. She confronted me suddenly with her husband wanting to meet me. A whole tirade ensued and we split, her unwillingly and me out of my mind.
I was up for 4 or 5 days this time. A lot of ecstasy had been floating around along with acid. Cletus and I had gotten our hands on about 50 pills of different varieties and a couple of 10 strips of acid. I had probably taken a hit of acid along with pills on top of a shit load of Meth, but the acid had little effect. I’d say it was a short trip. We had enough pills and Crystal to subdue what acid does, even though it is normally a dominant mind alerter. We had run into a couple of groups of young people looking for ecstasy. It’s usually really popular among the college kids, and that’s where we were finding ourselves. I know that in the middle of this mind bender I met an ex-hooker turned stripper/squatter who ended up at my apartment for a week or two. After meeting her, about day 3, we continued on, snorting, selling, this being our pathetic excuse for partying. I know that it was a Sunday. It must have been the fifth day without sleep when we arrived at a house rented by a few college girls.
Sleep, the need to sleep and the lack of sleep has been the subject of many studies. With sleep deprivation, shadows begin to move on the edge of visibility. I hear that this is due to tired eye muscles. All I know for sure is that coupled with the paranoia of amphetamine use, this phenomenon becomes personified into a spy-like network of special agents called “The Shadow People.” They appear at the edge of normal consciousness, at one of the far outposts on the road leading away from reality.
Cletus wanted to get with one of those college girls, but that was usually impossible with the drugs totally debilitating him. He didn’t seem like much of a player before getting high, and I thought he was much too passive-aggressive. Regardless, we ended up at this house. We were fully tweaked before we entered. Our main purpose was to unload a bunch of pills and that we did. These kids were so happy with the product (I guess they had done some the night before) that they rolled a few joints. This is what college kids do. I must say that in general the duo of Cletus and Diego didn’t drink alcohol or smoke Marijuana. Both were antipathetic to our goals of speeding out of our minds. We were far beyond such sophomoric activities, which we grouped in with huffing butane from cigarette lighters, holding your breath until you pass out, and taking Ritalin. We were Speed aesthetes. We only did the finest Crystal and could spot cut shit with our eyes closed.
Meth is an honest drug. It puts you down quick and hard. It’ll keep you up for days on end, dreaming of sex, but too obsessed with the next hit to do anything about it. As you continue to snort it or smoke it, the chemical burns your mucus membranes, and your throat won’t let you breathe or swallow. It swells the entire oral cavity. It tells you to go down. It forces you to get a drink of water, to quench an undeniable thirst, to soothe an interminable ache. Yes, it rids you of all the tortures of the consciousness created by it, ironically enough. And it rides you into oblivion. The coating of shit on your teeth after days of smoking hit after hit after hit won’t come off. It feels disgusting and reminds you constantly that you are too. So this marathon of using, dancing, fucking, snorting and smoking turns to obsessing over everything. I would rearrange furniture, files and books over and over. All of this ends with it dropping you. It dropped me time after time. I ran out and I ran out of time, sleeping like a man who hasn’t slept for 5 days. And I would be out of life. You are passed out beyond reckoning. There is no waking from that slumber until the grumblings of hunger outweigh your need for rest.
Marijuana is a dishonest drug. You can smoke it for years and it seems to do nothing bad. It provides focus and release from cares. So, when I smoked, I found I was more capable of getting some things accomplished. What in fact was happening was that I had fewer things that I wanted to accomplish. It is insidious in that it is the most socially acceptable illegal drug. I think that all the really smart people dole it out to their rivals so that they can get the really good green stuff. That’s just conspiracy theory shit that most potheads are fascinated by and talk about to no end. “Did you know this? Can you believe that? George Bush actually flew one of the planes into the World Trade Center. The way pot became illegal was the result of fancy dealings in Congress to grant the patent for the chemical process to make wood pulp into paper to a couple of America’s most famous so they could get rich, well. That’s just deplorable!” Crazy shit like that and most of it based in truth. They should let us smoke it! Seriously though, it surreptitiously made me a somnambulist. I found myself an automaton, ready to smoke, play video games, and watch TV. It took away my drive to go out and get a girl. When they were around it was okay, but try to get me off the couch to get one. That shit stays in you forever. Okay, just like a month. Did I miss that it was making me stupider? Yes, at first, I didn’t get it. Then I read and realized that it was making my neurotransmitters fire on different paths. It made me actually work harder to think with less desire to do so. Ugh. I was forced to quit thanks to the great laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the ultra smooth detective work of the University Park Police. So after two years off, I tried the shit again. Man, it was not fun. I just sat around and did nothing. Sneaky “f-ing” weed.
Anyway, that shit slid right into our good time. It was mid morning. The sun was out, and I had a date with the married one at four o’clock. The Shadow People had stayed with the night where they are comfortable. I had been left alone with Cletus so that we could finish this business and re-up. Out came these blunts. Blunts? I was waiting for 40s of Olde E to come out of the fridge. I was way too good for this, but I imbibed. I didn’t want to offend their offering. I mean I was a professional drug addict. If I couldn’t condescend to smoke a little pot with the amateurs every once in a while, I myself would look like an auteur. So I took a couple hits as these things went around. I didn’t like it, but did my best. The girls and boys seated cross-legged in a circle seemed to get more chatty as they got stoned. They didn’t understand they were going to ruin their MDMA. But it was not my place to help these kids achieve their best high. How the hell were they getting chatty? For me, it seemed like the world stopped moving. Please remember I was on FF x64 and suddenly got put on slow motion. Fuck. Everything was so slow, yet I could hear the words coming out of their mouths at the FF x 64 speed (go check your DVD’s fast forward speeds if you are confused by this). This was messed up. I was suddenly not having a good time. I thought I caught my name here and there and became extremely worried that they were talking about me right in front of my face, because I assumed they knew that I couldn’t actually make out what they were saying.
Cletus caught my eye and he knew something was wrong. I pulled out a cigarette and looked like I was going to light it, though that rarely ever happened with Speed. More often than not we’d just sit with them in our hands for hours, not lighting them, being satisfied to have something in our hands. Cletus knew this trick of ours, but what must have concerned him was my inability to register that someone was talking directly to me, telling me I couldn’t smoke that in here.
“What do you want, Cletus?”
I can’t hear his answer. I get up and go to the kitchen. I can still hear them talking at this unbelievable volume, yet I can’t make out any of the words except for snatches of my name. Cletus follows a bit behind me and asks me what’s wrong. I tell him I just didn’t hear that guy and I was a little upset that they were talking about me even though I was right there. He said they weren’t. I mentioned that I had heard my name. He looked at me strangely. Then I definitely heard my name from the other room.
“There,” I said, “she said it.”
He was like, “Yeah well you are acting pretty fucking strange.”
“Whatever dude, I’m going outside to smoke this. Tell them not to talk about me.”
I look at him blankly. He tells me to never mind and go smoke my cigarette. I go outside.
I can still hear them. I hear them at the same volume now– outside, two rooms away, with a door closed between us–as I did when I was sitting right next to them. Something is wrong. Something is really wrong. I light the cigarette and don’t smoke it. I just hold it in my hand. I know the feeling well. I am prepared to curl in a ball and soothe my stomach as the sickness rises to my throat, because I have gotten myself in over my head.
But the feeling doesn’t come. I stand there. The voices continue. I still can’t make out what they are saying. They know my name. I can hear parts of it. I listen harder. I don’t know what I looked like at that moment. I probably resembled a very still, very strange human being. Inside my head was turmoil and in my gut was fear. I couldn’t stop this. I can’t stop it. I don’t like it and still I listen intently.
The wooden and glass back door slams shut. Cletus is walking towards me. He looks like hell in broad daylight, pale with dark circles under his eyes. He is thin. He is so thin he looks like he can break walking towards me. I look at myself. I can tell the clothes I wear don’t fit anymore. I am thin. I am wasting away and going insane. I hear voices. I am a college graduate. I am not a drug addict. Yes, I am. I am fucked. I am a drug addict. I hear voices. I hear a voice. I am insane. No. It’s Cletus.
“Diego, they are freaked out,” he says quietly.
“I’m freaked out,” I tell him, exasperated. “I can hear them talking about me and I am 100 feet away.”
“Supersonic hearing?” he says knowingly.
“You got it. You can hear shit the others can’t. It’s from the Crystal you’re tweaking.”
“I’m a paranoid shit. I’m fucking scared.”
“It’ll stop. It must be from the blunt. How much did you smoke?”
“I don’t know. A couple hits I guess. How much did you smoke?”
“Nothing.” the ever-wise Cletus remarks matter-of-factly. “I’ve been up for 5 days. I can’t smoke now. I’ll hear voices.”
He is joking. I am not. I am shit scared. No one else is on this trip. Those kids inside are a bunch of innocent potheads, the most annoying and boring of wanna-be bad asses. My judgment against pot may be justified by this strange confluence of sensations.
“Cletus. It’s the Shadow people.”
“They’re talking to me and I can’t make out what they are saying.”
He mumbles something.
“I can’t make you out over them.”
“They are loud. I’m telling you this is crazy. It’s like white noise blocking out everything. I’m fucking scared.”
As worried as I had ever seen him, he said, “You got to get home.”
“No shit. I gotta get out of here.”
We leave the house. My apartment is not that far away. I am earnestly still ready to go do what we have to do, but it seems as if there are not more sales to make. I find comfort in the banal chatter. Figuring out what we are going to do now. The voices won’t stop. Maybe I’m going to be stuck like this. Is this what they mean by “hearing voices”? Have I permanently damaged myself? What? I obsess over my situation. Suddenly we are at my apartment. Cletus is going to sleep at his place. He says I should do the same. I am too shit scared to think about sleep.
I obsess. I find a solution. My woman, my married woman. She is coming to see me at four and she will be on time. She is desperate to find love with me. This seems to be a strange phenomenon of married women in undesirable situations. She doesn’t care if I am out of my mind on Meth or whatever chemical I am putting into my system. Perhaps I am just a ticket out for her. I don’t really care if she is using me or even just using my apartment. Whatever the situation is today I will take full advantage of all she offers.
I call her from a payphone down the street, since I have dropped my last cell phone in a toilet while reaching for drugs in my hoodie pocket. My mind is still reeling and I am still hearing voices. Paranoia has taken over the greater part of my consciousness.
“Hi, what’s up? I’m kinda busy but I will see you soon.” she says into her cell.
“I need you.”
“Oh, do you? Well you are going to have to wait a little while. I’m at Janice’s Cheerleading competition,” she says.
This makes no difference to me. I need comfort. I need to be held through this situation. She is all that I can find, she is all that I have. She’s my only hope.
“Please just get here.”
“I will, baby”, she says as she hangs up the phone.
She arrives, as scheduled, and does for me what I need. The voices eventually stop and I fall asleep. But, to my detriment, this situation cements into the very fabric of our lives, the symbiotic need we have for each other. This brings great passion, hell, joy, terror, bewilderment, broken hearts, broken minds and broken bodies.
A day or so after this episode I got a call from Susan’s husband. That accomplished a small respite for me. He was putting his foot down, but his edict only gave her more determination to be with me. I decided to stop using meth and went to visit my friend Pedro. He supplied me with two bags of heroin. I sniffed them, and the habit took it from there. Sick in the morning, off sick with one, high with 2-6 bags, then maintain for the rest of the day.
I am in the sunlight. It is beating on me, though not harshly. There is no humidity, just comfortable heat. I sit on a tongue and groove porch painted grey. It is low to the ground. There is a wooden railing around the edge and the porch surrounds three sides of a white house. The ground is flat around the porch, lush and green. There are large bushes rising two feet above the railing. They bear many small dark green leaves. They lie mostly in the shade of several enormous Maple trees, which have spread their branches far, blocking most of the sun. I can feel the rays hit my face. There must be a clearing in the branches. And it soothes me. I am sitting on a gray rocking chair, moving effortlessly back and forth. I seem not to shift my weight, yet I am rocking back and forth. This speaks to me. It speaks softly, nicely informing without words. I am at peace. All is well.
I am looking at a picturesque scene. I can almost match it with the artist. I remember him from the Saturday Evening Post. I don’t remember the actual publication. I remember calendars. What was his name? He painted idyllic America. He painted a fantasy. He painted my childhood. I lived a fantasy. I relive it now. I live it well. I lived it well. Norman Rockwell. This looks like something out of one of those calendars. An elderly man, thin, with healthy eyes that speak of hard work and satisfaction, sits on a porch at peace with himself and the world around him. I can see a general store, the dusty window with a hand scrawled sign marking the day’s best buy. But I am leaving it, willingly. I don’t mind. I can’t go to someplace bad, not from here. Not from these beginnings. But somehow growing up in one of the “perfect” places to raise a family in America became a torture as adolescence waned to young adulthood. I grew up in the Poconos, where every location, wooded with streams, offered boundless opportunity for imaginative play, where I play-acted many different Daniel Boone/Davy Crockett characters, where one summer was spent collecting young trees that had fallen, using them to construct a fort, deep in the woods, though the area was surrounded by country roads on all sides. On the days of extreme heat and humidity, in late July and August, we would ride our mountain bikes to the reservoir where an old bridge, long ago burned out, still spanned the body of water. It was a steel skeleton, providing a launching pad for our young bodies to fly to the cool water. In late February and March, my two friends and I, along with our fathers, would tap local Maple trees. We collected hundreds of gallons of sap and spent hours and hours cooking it down. This was made into 40 gallons of Maple syrup annually, spoiling our three families terribly. We used it as a sugar substitute, on ice cream, pancakes, waffles, peanut butter sandwiches, in baked beans, cakes, rice pudding, anywhere brown or white sugar was called for in a recipe.
It’s no surprise that I am hallucinating Maple trees. As I separate from the scene, I still do not feel fear. I am rising upward. The trunks disappear beneath a canopy of leaves, their 5 points so familiar to me. I see the gray-shingled roof and green lawn surrounding the house where I just rocked on the porch. I roll over and the sun blinds me. I open my eyes.
Seemingly awake, bathed in the not-so-late afternoon sun, I am naked. The heat through the window and closed blinds feels good on my shoulders. I hold myself up with my hands and someone is beneath me. It’s Susan. My god, I am inside her. Reality flies back in my face. I am doing this act because there is nothing left to do. We just finished the last bag. I have no hope of finishing what I’ve started with her. No hope, dope does that to you. It did it to me. I had gotten the respite that this bag, this last bag would give me. It was time to get up off the dirty carpet of my apartment, put clothes on and figure out how to scam money to get what we needed to make it through the night. Heroin demands that it be taken regularly. Its main threats are intolerable total body pain of the most horrendous nature, something along the lines of passing a kidney stone; histamine action that causes incessant watering of the eyes, running of the nose and ear canal blockage; and your insides coming out, either through your mouth, anus or both usually resulting in hemorrhoids and ulcers. So there was no question. Get more stuff.
Detox from dope accomplished.
“Babe, we still owe EL NINO for the last bundle.” Susan says.
“But I know from rehab that if we are quitting drugs we don’t have to pay the drug dealers we owe.”
“I really feel like we owe him, he’s been very good to us.” she reasons.
“Okay, whatever…what do you say we get an eight-ball to take the edge off.”
“Sure that sounds like fun,” she says. Like anything was fun at that point.
We get hooked on coke shortly after that, the kind of coke you smoke, ‘cause that’s all EL NINO has that day.
We change up scenery, get out of my apartment. Then, when Susan and I have just entered her bedroom–a safe place because her husband has taken the kids to the cabin for the weekend, supposedly– he’s all of a sudden pulling up the driveway.
“Shit!” she says.
I’m ushered into one of the other bedrooms and the thought of being caught brings on an extreme case of geeking out. I am left to hide among stuffed animals in a young girl’s bedroom. I’m so scared. The only solace I can find is smoking hit after hit of the ready rock. I can only imagine how pissed Susan is going to be after she finds out how much I have smoked. But that doesn’t matter as I hit the pipe again and again.
She meets him downstairs, and he does some moving around the house. Then they settle on the front porch. I can only hear these actions and that’s tough to do. I get up from my position amongst the Care Bears and edge toward the door. I peek out and can hear muffled voiced outside. I am apprehensive but can no longer wait to be released from my plush prison. I stealthily creep outside of the room and can see the front porch from my position on the top floor of a loft-like house. I move as silently as possible down the stairs and around to the back door. It’s a sliding glass door. You have to understand that I’m a sitting duck the entire time I’m moving. All Susan’s husband has to do is turn his head, which I can see clearly through the large front windows, and he would see me. The house is open from the first floor to the roof for most of the structure and that’s what I have to navigate without being seen to make my escape.
I felt almost like James Bond in my movements. I assure you I was not. My skin was hanging off me because my muscles had atrophied so much. My clothes didn’t fit properly and most likely hadn’t been washed in months. But I made it outside, around the pool and into the woods that bordered their property. I believed I had made it to safety. I leaned against a tree and breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the road was only a few hundred yards beyond.
I didn’t realize the hell that was to ensue. It was all encapsulated in my mind. I know that now. Yet at the time…
At this point Diego falls silent. Seated with his elbows on his knees his face falls to his hands. He weeps.
Fuck it dude. I was in the woods and started to make my way to the road. This was especially hard going. I thought Susan’s husband was going to be able to hear every twig cracking and every step I took into the dried and crunchy leaves. I was certain that he had followed me into the woods, though I had no evidence of this. It was what my mind told me. I took some solace in another hit here and there. And this only complicated the problem. The more coke I got into my body, the faster my brain went. My imagination took off. I had hidden the coke in the band around the inside of my baseball cap. I had taken it off to get another large hit and packed it into the pipe. I left the bag in the hat and lit up.
Just as I am getting ready to exhale, a helicopter comes over the horizon. The noise is deafening. It is flying so low. I am scared. I know they can see me through the canopy of leaves, because I am sure the husband has informed the police and they have readied the most sophisticated observation techniques in the world, though I am in rural Pennsylvania. I cover the glass pipe with my hand and burn myself. I drop it in the leaves and drop to find it. I can’t, I am panicking and I know they’ve seen the hat. Then the helicopter leaves. I stop. I look around and it seems as if I am alone. I don’t feel alone. I feel like I am being watched. I pick up the hat. I must have kicked it and lost some of the coke. I find the pipe. What shit!
I put everything away, light a cigarette, and start on my way again, when the helicopter comes back. I hit the deck. I try to cover myself in leaves. It’s not working. I know they can see me. It hovers over me. It hovers. Not over me, but I am convinced it is looking for me. It hovers for what seems like an eternity. I make the decision that I should leave the pipes by the tree. I can come back and get them when the coast is clear, but for now my mind tells me it is better to be caught without paraphernalia. I imagine it won’t make much of a difference really, as I also assume there are dog teams out looking for me, taking my scent from a stuffed plush animal. I run through the barren branches of early spring trees. I scrape my face, my arms. I run holding my hat onto my head. What is inside is more important to me than the FBI chasing me.
Now I can see the road. It is ahead of me. Like most American country roads, it has little traffic. There is a steep hill leading down to it and a more tightly growing cluster of shrubs bordering it. I lower my shoulder and rip through it. I pay no attention to what is actually in there. I do not think of the steep hill on the other side. I must get away from the dogs and helicopters. Somehow my mind assumes that the road is a safe place. If I can make it there, I will be safe. I put all my effort into getting there.
Shrubbery does not have a mind of its own. I assume most clear- minded people would go around the shrubbery I went through. I’d like to think I would have were I not being chased by a team of snarling German Shepherd’s leashed by unsavory law enforcement agents and helicopters issuing numerous swat team members rappelling from ropes to pursue me. I am sure I would have gone around the shrubbery if it wasn’t so imperative that I get to the safety of the open air.
I didn’t go around, I went through. I went through ridiculously! I wasn’t able to burst through as I thought I could. Immediately I ran into a tangle of branches that held me back. It felt as if I’d hit a rubber band wall. I forged ahead only to be shot back again, but this time I had made more progress. Again! Finally I could see clear to the road for a split second. As the tangle of branches closed behind me, my fears subsided, but the ground gave way. Actually, there was no ground, just a steep incline covered by grass. My feet went first and my ass hit the ground. Gravity pulled me straight to the rain gutter on the side of the road. With my hands on my hat, covered in brambles, briars, brush and branch scratches, suavely, or so I thought, I emerged safely. I had just turned onto the road back towards the house to find a phone, when I saw the compact white car with Susan’s husband driving it coming directly towards me.
I stood there paralyzed with fear. He saw me. We made eye contact. My pupils dilated, he passed me. He must have been laughing to himself. I ran as fast as I could to the nearest house that had a Gazebo in the crushed stone driveway. I felt a bit safer. It seemed as if the sudden jolt of terror, the white compact car, had stripped away the delusional fantasies of being chased by highly armed authorities.
The front door of the house opened, and an elderly gentleman came out. I made my way over to him, asked to use the phone and called Susan’s cell.
“Hello,” she answered.
She was way too calm for me, Mr. Paranoia.
“Hey, did you notice I was gone?” I asked.
“Yes, where are you?” she asked.
“I’m at the nursery down the street; I will be waiting in the gazebo.” I whispered.
“The Gazebo?” she asked.
“Yes, please just get here fast.”
It seemed like I waited there all afternoon. But it was only a half hour in which I managed to unpack cigarettes to use them to smoke crack, which was wildly unsuccessful, so I gave up on it and waited. She arrived and we headed back to my apartment, making stops to get more pipes and more coke.
Several hours later, safely ensconced in my pitiful apartment, night fell. What once was a simply decorated bachelor’s home had devolved into a stopping post for drug addicts and a haven for my married woman. We re-entered and I looked at an unfamiliar sight. It was the apartment I had rented, but it had turned it into a crack house. Dirty dishes had taken over the modest counter space. My desk and kitchen table were covered with papers and shit to no end. She and I rarely used that room. So we made our way to living room, to our place in front of the sleeper sofa, behind which was located a large alcove that I used as a closet. Back there dirty clothes covered the floor, two feet deep. I had none that were clean. Most of my other possessions had been sold.
We were in my wretched apartment. My stinking festering abode. Home. Night had fallen and the college students up the block were having a party. The windows were opened behind closed blinds, letting in what little breeze existed, along with the heat, noise and coal dust. The dust came from north and south, east and west. Wretched, like I said. Other college students were arriving and walking up the street. I could hear their conversations, their yelling and general merriment. But it seemed as if they were calling for Susan.
Here it comes again. I can see it now. It was as if a tsunami forty feet high, seen a mile out from the beach, was heading inexorably, descending to reek havoc on the normal existence of defenseless creatures. I could see it coming, so I did what any addict would do. I took the largest hit I could, trying my best cowardly defense against what my twisted little mind could foresee. However, instead of doing what I wanted, instead of wiping the slate clean, instead of bringing me the nescience I desired, it only amplified what was going on in my brain.
Susan made a movement towards the window. I thought she was making a signal to the men waiting for her. I heard a noise down below. Suddenly I was convinced that her pimp had taken up residence in the abandoned first floor apartment. I was delusional. I was cowering in fright. Susan closed the window. In doing so she had to lift the blind. I believe I see a gathering of young men on the hill waiting patiently for me to fall out. Little do they know how high I am. I know what I have to do. I tell Susan to take a hit. She gladly does so. We fuck. I get her in front of the window and open the blind. We are standing in the small alcove in front of the window. Her back it to me, her hands stretched high onto the wall, her waist and knees bent slightly. I am behind her, gripping her waist hard with my hands.
“What are you doing?” she says with such ease.
“Giving them a look at what they want,” I reply knowing what she is planning to do.
“What are you talking about?” she asks, becoming concerned.
“The guys who are waiting out there for you.”
“There’s no one out there waiting for me. I’m here with you.” she ways with that dripping sanguine liar’s tone.
“Susan, I know about Jerry downstairs.” I dropped the bomb.
“Jerry? What the hell are you talking about?”
“I don’t talk to him unless you are with me.
“Isn’t he selling you for more rock?”
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing.” I try to cover. “I’m sorry. Can we just do this?”
So we begin. And after months and months of superb performance, where I was never left with a wilting phallus, it finally happened to me. It often does so with addicts. We often get so high that most bodily functions are rendered moot. I have always prided myself on my virility. But now, when it mattered most, when I needed to show the goods to the buyer to up the price, I was left limp.
Susan sees me looking out the window from her knees in front of me. I am caught. I can’t help myself. I am convinced that she is the center of a large prostitution ring and that somehow between fulfilling my needs, her husband’s, and her five children’s’, she has time to entertain thirty to forty men simultaneously. We disengage. She screams.
I can’t remember the fight. I only know that she left to go home and came back. This was the beginning of a short but ruthless breakup.
And that is a story for another time. That was 5 years ago. Diego is dead. I excised him from me. I lifted his weight off of my brain, removed his spindly fingers from my throat, washed the clamminess he left on my skin, and I wept. In poetic terminology not suitable for Hallmark cards, I was driven to madness by his incessant need for more. It was like taking the wrong turn into a desolate land over and over again. It was a desolate land where chemically induced paranoid schizophrenia existed side by side with reality. Diego was frightened of it. I’ve never seen him scared of anything else.
I’ve mourned the loss of Diego. I miss his swagger, rapier wit, and sugary tongue. I don’t miss his headlong pursuit of death. He loved with no thought of being hurt. He wept without fear of repeating it. And he laughed with impunity. But, as I said, Diego is dead.
David Barrett is currently a writer living in Philadelphia. He graduated from Penn State University a couple weeks before September 11 2001. He went on a self destructive bender for a few years but has since returned to tell many stories in many formats. He has had “Single Cell” and “Menage a Trois”, two one act plays performed in a staged reading in New York City. Most recently his one man show “More Better Life” had a successful run in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. At the urging of a theatrical producer he has endeavored to tell the story of his recovery from addiction. “Hallucinations” is the first attempt and subsequent chapter in that story.
“Hallucinations” is a short memoir in which I deal with my past addictions through the eyes of my alter ego Diego. It takes us through my twenty-fifth year of my life which I spent in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The three hallucinations serve as markers for both my self-destructive spiral and growing co-dependency. I’ve written this story four years after I stopped using to purge my demons, and share my story with friends.