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Thankful and Lucky, but Completley Unaware

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  • PTPEET@cs.com
    Hey all, I write a monthly column in the New York Waste, www.newyorkwaste.com (best punkrock paper in NYC, according to the NY Press, another free weekly,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1 7:05 AM
      Hey all,
      I write a monthly column in the New York Waste, www.newyorkwaste.com (best
      punkrock paper in NYC, according to the NY Press, another free weekly, which
      publishes Alexander Cockburn, and David Cron, among others), along with the
      other publications I publish in, and felt like sharing this one for some
      reason. It is a bit different than what I usually post here. It is my
      Thanksgiving contribution to the paper, for the November issue.
      An afternoon in the life of a hard core junky.


      October 31, 2000
      Thankful and Lucky, but Completely Unaware
      by Preston Peet
      There isn't anyone out anywhere. Thomas has been to all the spots. The
      Man pub, the bus stop, the old shabby apartment he'd been taken to on one
      there isn’t anyone or any dope, anywhere. But as he’s heading back home, he
      one more stop he can make, one of the Jamaican dealers who he’d hoped to find
      on the
      street, who happens to live just blocks from the squat where Thomas is
      living, halfway
      between the Kennington tube station and the squat. Though he doesn’t expect
      to catch
      him there, he decides it can’t hurt to try.
      Ringing the bell gets an answer fast, the dealer’s girlfriend, who lets
      him up with
      hardly a word through the intercom, just a “who’s that,” a click of the
      door, and he’s in
      and climbing the stairs. He’s sick, the lack of dope making him feel
      exhausted, worn out,
      making the climb more difficult than it should be, especially since he has
      his guitar with
      him, fresh out of the tube from busking. The door is open when he arrives,
      but going in
      he finds her alone.
      “He’ll be right back, he just went to pick up,” she tells him, “ Have a
      He rests his caseless guitar against the arm of the sofa, and sits,
      making small talk,
      trying to ignore the nausea he feels, not wanting to throw up on the living
      room floor in
      front of his hostess, who is being very nice. She gives him a glass of water,
      and seeing
      how ill he appears offers him some of her filters, the now-dried bits of
      cotton she’s been
      drawing her gear through when she cooks up a shot in her spoon. He’s about to
      when the dealer arrives.
      “Check this out,” the dealer tells the two of them, as he opens up a
      packet of
      white, floury powder. “China White, fucking fantastic stuff.” His own eyes
      are already
      pinpoints, almost no pupil whatsoever. “Don’t need lemon, don’t need heat,
      just put it in
      the spoon, stir, and stick it right in your vein,” he says, and gives them
      both a wicked
      Just looking at it sitting there, at least a quarter ounce of dope, as
      sick as he feels,
      makes him break into a sweat, and he wants to yell at the guy, “Hurry the
      fuck up,” but it
      doesn’t pay to yell at one’s dealer, so he bites his lip, and waits. “The
      first thing that you
      learn is that you always gotta wait,” as Lou Reed once so eloquently put it,
      and it is one of
      those natural laws that is the same all over the world, everywhere Thomas has
      It doesn’t take the dealer long to measure Thomas out twenty quid worth
      of dope,
      two-tenths of a gram, weighing it on his triple-beam scale right in front of
      Thomas, which
      he really appreciates, as most pushers just sell their shit pre-wrapped, so
      one never knows
      exactly what, nor how much, one might be buying.
      “Could you put half of it in a paper for me, and just give me the other
      half to do
      now please?” The dealer agrees and hands him the one half wrapped and folded
      closed in
      a square of paper, the other in an open square, and a spoon with the other
      Thomas wastes no time sitting back down on the sofa, pulling glass of
      water the
      dealer’s girlfriend had given him earlier closer to him. He puts the spoon
      down, and pours
      the dope right in. Next comes his water, and sure enough, the dealer wasn‘t
      lying. As
      soon as the water hits it, the dope begins to melt, breaking down
      immediately. Usually he
      has to drop a couple drops of lemon juice into it, and cook it hot to break
      the dope down,
      to get it to mix with the water, and get him high. This is very different.
      He’s only done
      China White, real China White once or twice before, and never in his arm,
      only up his
      nose, or smoking it, ‘chasing the dragon.’ His mouth is watering as he draws
      it up into his
      rig, getting every drop, wiping the bit of cigerette filter around and around
      in the spoon
      soaking up every bit of moisture, then pushing the needle’s tip sideways down
      onto the
      cotton as he draws the last bit of fluid into the rig, watching the filter
      turn white as the
      fluid leaves it, becoming bone dry.
      “Oi, watch it with that stuff, it’s really, really fucking good. I’m
      telling you mate,
      watch it.” The dealer is watching Thomas as he finishes tying his arm off
      above his elbow
      to get the vein to rise. “Put it in slow.”
      Thomas looks up at him as he finds the vein and registers, looking back
      down just
      long enough to see the ribbon of bright red blood twirling and swirling up
      into the clear
      plastic tube, clearly visible in the solution inside, then he pushes it all
      in one slamming
      rush, never one to tarry once prepared, he has to go all the way, as fast as
      he possibly can,
      every time.
      Takes a lot to kill the pain he carries inside.
      Then he hears what the dealer said, at the exact same moment he smiles,
      managing to slur out, “Holy shit, this IS good,” before he falls back
      towards the back of
      the sofa, into another place, never feeling himself land.
      Instead he finds himself out walking along the sidewalk, no idea what
      time it is,
      nor where he is exactly, only that he is no longer sitting in the living room
      at his dealer’s,
      but out on the street. The traffic is sparse, but loud, unnaturally so. His
      mouth tastes
      funny, both dry, and sticky at the same time, with an overabundance of thick
      Thomas begins to feel like he can’t get his breath around the mouthful of
      spit, so he
      puckers up his lips, leans forward, and spits it all out in front of himself,
      right on the
      carpet at his dealer’s feet.
      That isn’t what brings him back. Although his brain is trying to tell him
      there isn’t
      something quite right about what he’s just done, it is not his own awareness
      that brings
      him to, but rather the disbelieving guffaw, the laughter and cry of “Jesus
      Christ man, you
      are Fucked Up!”
      He opens his already open eyes, and the picture shifts in front of him,
      the street
      loosing focus, and the living room almost instantainiously, but not quite,
      replacing it, the
      dealer’s white-toothed smile and outstretched rag to clean up the spit on the
      floor looming
      before him. “Don’t tell me I just spit...” he trails off. It’s obvious he
      did, that he just
      totally spit a huge gob of spit right at the feet of his dealer, in the
      middle of his dealer’s
      living room floor.
      Thomas almost feels humiliated, but the dealer and his girlfriend seem to
      handling it ok, more glad that he is still alive and not overdosed on their
      sofa than angry
      for his spitting on their carpet. Plus he is so stoned it’d be very hard to
      really feel much of
      anything, much less shame. He manages to clean it up ok, now that he is awake
      again, but
      he is utterly wiped out now. Before he’d felt tired and drained, now he feels
      removed from any sort of caring about anything, and no pain, none at all,
      physical, or
      mental. His cramping muscles have relaxed, his stomach is no longer heaving,
      and he is
      feeling a warm soft glow all over himself, almost like a huge comforting hand
      him close.
      After he gets the spit off the floor, he takes the other envelope of dope
      and puts it
      deep in a picket in his shirt, under his sweater and jacket, and heads back
      out into the cold
      mid-November London street, his bag and guitar over his shoulder. As he heads
      the squat he remembers that Emma is always on the lookout, and lives only
      blocks from
      the dealer’s house as well, just like himself. She’ll be really mad if he
      tells her about this
      dope later, if he doesn’t try to let her know now that it is around. The
      dealer already told
      him he won’t be able to get it for long either, so Thomas stops at the first
      phone box he
      Getting into the damn thing causes him some problems at first, as he
      pulls the
      door open right into his face, almost knocking himself out hitting his
      forehead on the
      door. He finally gets in after a brief argument with the uncooperative door,
      puts down the
      guitar, and picks up the phone. Placing the receiver against his ear, Thomas
      lifts the coin
      towards the coin slot.
      “Hey, wake up mate. You alright?” Thomas opens his eyes. He is in the
      box still, but on the ground, under the phone, the receiver dangling over his
      “What’d you take?” Crouching down over him, wearing one of the tall,
      dome-shaped Bobby hats, is a London Officer of the Law, a cop. Thomas
      struggles to
      wake up. What in the hell happened, he wonders silently to himself. He
      doesn’t remember
      a thing, except getting ready to put the coin into the phone, and now there’s
      this cop he’s
      got to deal with. Gotta think fast.
      “Uh, I didn’t take anything. I’m just really tired. I spent the night
      with a friend and
      not sleeping in two days. just feel asleep.,” Thomas tells him, trying to get
      a grip on the
      shelf above his head to pull himself erect. It isn’t easy. He feels way off
      balance trying to
      explain the situation to this cop while sitting on his ass on the ground.
      The cop gives him a hand up, looking straight into his extremely pinned
      An old girlfriend once told him not to come into the bar where she worked
      Rotterdam due to the fact that his eyes look “like fucking billboards” when
      he’s on dope,
      advertising for all the world, “Hi, I’m on heroin.” It’s no different now
      in front of this
      cop, but for some reason the cop doesn’t tell him he knows Thomas is lying
      though it is
      obvious to Thomas, even as fucked up as he is, that the cop knows.
      While Thomas is getting helped to his feet, a second cop is going through
      shoulder bag, and finds a rig, no, he finds two rigs, one brand new one, and
      one that is
      open and floating around inside his bag without a cap over the tip. Good
      thing the cop
      didn’t stab himself. No cop is ever friendly after that.
      “What’s this then?” The cop holds out both needles in his hand, the
      wrapped and the open-tipped, out in front of the three of them standing there
      facing one
      another on the late-afternoon sidewalk.
      “Uh, those are a friend’s. She gave them to me last night to hold, and I
      forgot to
      give them back to her this morning,” he lamely tries to explain. The cops
      just stare at him
      without a word for a moment.
      Thomas is upright, but his eyelids are only barely the same. He valiantly
      them to remain open, and the cops sense this it seems, and decide to take
      pity on him.
      There is no other explanation for what they do next.
      “Alright, you can go. Go on, get out of here, go home.” The cop stuffs
      his rigs
      back into his bag, and hands the bag to Thomas, who is stunned motionless at
      “What”” he stammers at the cops, who repeat, “Go on, that’s it. You
      sure you’re
      ok, right?” The one cop stares at him some more.
      “Sure.” Thomas takes the hint. Picking up his guitar, he crosses the
      street right
      away, and walks to his squat, just another block up the sidewalk.
      He only manages to get into one of the big ripped-up easy chairs in te
      living room
      in front of the fireplace in the big old Victorian building he and some
      others have
      squatted. The fire passing shadows flickering over his face, he passes out
      again, out to the
      world, thankful and lucky to be alive, but completely unaware at that moment
      of the fact.
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