I knew what a speedball was, but that was as far as my speedball experience went. I hate needles. I can understand the “uh, huh.” That I may be getting from you but it’s true. I really hate needles. I used to get extremely lightheaded at the just the sight of them, but all it takes is one low moment, or in my case a series of perpetually low moments and any escape from that is welcomed with open arms. Big pun.
“We have to do this quick and silent so that Tracy doesn’t find out. She doesn’t like me doing this.”
“Steven, have you ever shot up before?”
“No, first time caller.”
“Ok. We’ll do you first then. You don’t have any diseases, do you?”
(I look at Jason)
“I only have one rig.”
“We have to share a needle. Hold my belt like this.”
Remember that “we got to keep it down, guys” speech? Ha, throw that shit out of the fucking window. I’m not sure what the fuck happened or went wrong, but now I belt around my arm, a needle sticking out of that arm, that we want to be careful with because it’s “needle sharing day” at the drug den next door. I start violently projectile vomiting and it’s not stopping. No shit, “wafer thin mint” vomiting and just all over the place. Jason grabs me by the back of the head and points my head toward the sink. I knock over the dishes that were on a drying rack with my left hand. I go to grab a towel and knock over a spice rack. Paprika problems now.
Tracy is now in the kitchen wondering why the fuck I’m covered in barf, on her kitchen floor, with what turns out to be her new belt around my arm, with a needle sticking out of it.
Me: “Tracy, I got the smokes for you.”
I’m out and I wake up on my couch back at my apartment the next morning…no fucking idea how I got back there.
It’s hard to describe the shame that I felt that morning or afternoon when I woke up on the old, blue, twin-recliner that was in our huge living room at the apartment that John and I shared 20 years ago. I woke up and my arm hurt. I looked down and I saw that it was bruised and then it hit me.
I had injected a mixture of heroin and cocaine into my arm. Wait, no I didn’t. That’s stupid. A really fucked up guy that was trying to do round house kicks near my face shot me up. Oh, yeah. The other guy had awkwardly asked me, “You don’t have hep, right?” Then Jason looked at me and clarified. “We only have one rig”, so then I figured that meant that we were all going to share the hypodermic needle. Yep, that’s right. We shared a needle, but at least I went first. Oh, God, what the fuck did I do? Did I really cross that line? How? I hate needles. It’s fascinating how I could go from hating needles to shooting heroin and cocaine within a span of a binge, but I guess that participating in over 12 hours of freebasing, doing lines, shrooms, and assorted pills will do that to you. I must have stared at my bruised arm that next day for half an hour and I might have even cried. A lot of emotions, thoughts, the now almost certainty of a scary future, were all racing through my mind at a breakneck speed. I was a junkie now, right?
I sat on the couch, trying to remember the details of the night, before I remember having the needle in my arm, Jason was whispering everything he said as to not wake up his girlfriend Tracy. Tracy was fine with smoking crack, but she wasn’t cool with black tar and hypodermics.
“Dude, we’ve got some tar, so we’re doing speedballs, have you ever shot up?” whispering the entire time. It’s funny but for one of the first times and perhaps for the first time I was honest regarding my previous drug use when confronted or asked about it. You see, I would usually exaggerate or flat out lie regarding my drug consumption in order to make it sound like I was more experienced than I actually was, but not this time. I wanted to make sure that they knew that I was a needle virgin. “No, man. I’ve never shot up.” Then Jason gave me the opportunity to just leave. “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was asked. I paused for just a second. Of course, I did. I’m a drug addict. That’s what I did for fun and now I was stepping it up a notch. Fuck it. Live fast, die young, all that bullshit that a young, depressed mind can think of that completely rationalizes the approaching regrettable behavior.
Why didn’t I just walk out? Because, fuck it. I wasn’t necessarily suicidal anymore, but the ongoing depression can be this weird variable that can seem so limiting in some ways, but then so relaxing or liberating in other ways, or at least for me. I’m going to try to explain what I mean by that. Depression for me, with the accompanying anxiety, can sometimes feel like a prison where I just want to be in a small space or almost in a corner somewhere. I usually like corner booths, etc. if given the option when seating in a public place. Other times depression can be the exact opposite. Depression can be extremely liberating and almost powerful, but only in the sense that there is freedom and power in not giving a fucking shit if you live or die. If you don’t care about if you live or die, but you’re not actively suicidal, it’s this fun purgatory state of “I’m not jumping in front of the train on purpose, but I’m not running like crazy to avoid it either.” Make sense? No, of course not, but that’s the way it was for me at that time in my life. If I’m depressed as fuck, I might as well expand my mind and kiss the fucking sky. There were worse ways to die than to die like a partier, I figured. So, what was my experience like when I shot up a speedball? Well, remember that I was told, by a whispering Jason to keep it down, because of Tracy? I wasn’t very good at that. I’m standing in the kitchen with the karate kid roundhouse guy and Jason, while they got my hypo and shot ready. They are both discussing the spoon, how much dope to use, how to split it up, God knows what else, I’m just mentally numb, it’s been a really long party already and now the belt gets tight around my arm and I feel a pinch.
“Oops” …Ralph Macchio said. I really didn’t like hearing the word oops from a weird round house kicking motherfucker while he’s shooting me up with a speedball for the first time and then, I slowly looked down and I began to get kind of lightheaded, but sick also. I then began to projectile vomit almost uncontrollably. I could aim my spewing face, but the vomiting was fast and violent. I hit the sink with perfect aim…eventually. I made a huge mess just vomiting, but then to make it even worse I knocked over the dishes that were on the drying rack, sending them crashing to the floor, waking up Tracy in the process, and now we have a mad Tracy. Her boyfriend and the karate kid are trying to keep me from slumping onto the floor, while I’m vomiting, needle sticking out of my arm, and then I am on the floor. Yes, the floor. Couch, though. Wait, what? Now, I am on my couch. The big blue dual recliner couch. What day is it? Is there a show? Where did she go? Oh, yeah. Why does my arm hurt so bad? Oh, fuck. I’m an idiot. And that’s when I realize that I had partied like a dying Rockstar and I couldn’t remember anything cool at all. No one else knew how I ended up back on that big blue couch. I couldn’t figure out how I got from Jason’s kitchen to my couch.
Perhaps my priorities are completely fucked up, but I am more ashamed that I walked away without a good heroin / cocaine speedball story than I am of the fact that I shot up. I can’t believe that I just passed the fuck out and that I don’t remember it, but that’s the fucking truth. Bill Clinton junkie.
I mentioned Survivor’s Guilt in a previous post and I want to mention it again, because it happened in my life recently, so it’s very fresh. Matter of fact, I am currently experiencing it.
I saw the pictures first, then the words of the post. The pictures were of a familiar face, one that I had seen 20 years ago around the coffee table at Jason’s apartment. The words of the post then attracted my attention. It was the usual type of phrasing, something like “it is with a heavy heart…” type of prelude where you don’t even need to finish reading before you already know the ending. I just sat there and wondered. Why am I alive and he is dead? I was around the same coffee table that he was around, but somehow, I made it out. It just doesn’t seem fair. Survivor’s Guilt. I like the first part of that. The survivor part.
“Two for twenty.”
What did this guy just mumble to me? I thought. Then I ran those words back through my head and I realized that he was probably talking about crack. That also wasn’t a bad price if the rocks were of decent size. I turned around and had a brief business meeting with the freelance cocaine salesmen that happened to be working while I was leaving the Velveeta Room that night and of course I was wasted. I remember that I was almost out of coke and Jason had been out camping with his friends, but he was expected back really soon. This crack salesman found me just in the nick of time and he had that great low-ball sales approach. We exchange common pleasantries and briefly discuss his merchandise, and with my money folded in a single fold, both bills together, the crack salesman feels the $20 bills ever so slightly until his calloused fingers detect the rough section on the face of the bill. Those rough patches let him know that the money is real. No thank you, no, please come again and no exchange of business cards, but a respectful transaction nonetheless. That was really easy, plus as I was searching for my cash, I found a lighter that I accidently ganked. It’s almost brand new and it’s a Bic. Coming up Milhouse.
So, I just scored some cheap crack and now I’m walking back to my Toyota Tercel. I get in the car and I’m a nervous wreck. That was always the most nervous time for me when I was trying to score crack. The time frame where I had just bought it, I’m walking back to my car, looking around for cops, friends, associates, etc. I have it and I’m really excited to get home to smoke my crack, but I have to be really careful. I don’t want to drive around while I’m drunk with crack on me, while also driving like a jonesin’ crack head trying to race home to smoke his crack. What a lesson in self-control. I just drive nice and easy all the way back to the apartment. Just follow those bright red brake light in front of you and stay between those yellow lines. Just like a video game, just make it home. My hands grip the steering wheel and I begin to go over my story and what to do if I get pulled over. I then practice in my head and sometimes the random audible word or sentence pops out of my mouth, while I’m learning the potential script to my hypothetical police encounter. This game of role play lasts until I pull into my parking space at the apartment complex. Now, after driving fast, but not too fast, following taillights home and rehearsing the one-act play that never saw a curtain, I sit in my 1983 Toyota Tercel SR-5 and I just look around the parking lot and sit complexly still, I’m not sure what this is accomplishing but it has the overall feeling of being cautious. Am I looking for cops, neighbors, friends? Yes, no, probably, I’m not really sure why, but now I feel safe to go to my apartment.
I close the car door and start walking to the apartment. Wait, did I really lock it? I go back to my car and see that it’s locked. I start walking back to my apartment. Wait. I checked the one door, but what about the emergency brake? If it pops out of gear and then the cops come? Fuck that shit. I better check. I walk back to the car. Everything is fine. I start walking back to the apartment. Wait. Did I make sure to lock it after I checked my emergency brake? Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I walk back to the car. It is locked. I check every door with a lock on it. Twice. Ok, one more time. I then am satisfied that everything is secure. It just doesn’t make sense to do that. 1983 Tercel, factory stereo. Oh, well. I begin to walk to my apartment. I walk very fast, but I don’t run, and I’m consciously trying to not talk to myself, which I sometimes do when I’m really excited about something. This low mumbling to my inner self, which I’ve always just assumed that others do this as well. My hand grabs the green metal railing of the stairs as I almost glide with each eager step up the staircase, and I already have the keys to my apartment in my other hand ready, in order to shave seconds off of the time that it will take for me to fill my lungs with the viscous, yellow smoke that my body craves. Moments after the money for crack exchange was made, I had shoved my purchase in the top pocket of my jeans, you know that one pocket, the crack is in that tiny “coke pocket” in my Levis. I get into the apartment and I’m trying to find my stem, but then I remember that my stem is at Jason’s house, because he was using it in his bong. Fuck, that was stupid. Oh, but then I remember that I have a stem in my bong. I can use that stem. (Pause for effect) I have a bong. (Another pause) I could just use my bong like Jason uses his bong. (you get the idea) I could just use my bong the same way that Jason uses his bong. I can use my shotgun like bong… in order to blast huge amounts of crack smoke into my body. The bong that makes motherfuckers ask if weed is laced…I had never even considered it before, but now I was a fucking genius.
I’m sure that you remember the bong that I had built during that time in my life. It was a simple design that was amazingly effective and efficient when it came to trapping a lot of smoke and then shot-gunning that smoke into your lungs with an unusual amount of force for a bong. I’ll go over it again briefly for those who haven’t read that post. It was built from a recycled, glass liquor decanter that I had purchased at Goodwill in Austin. It had a long, clear, vinyl tube that ran several feet from where it was connected to a brass tube, that was attached to the glass decanter itself. How were they connected? Meaning, how was the brass tube and hose connected to the decanter? A modified, plastic Nyquil shot glass. The decanter was oddly shaped, very large at the bottom, so it held a lot of water, but there was also a lot of room for smoke and when that long tube was added, it turned it into something reminiscent of the force when using a beer bong. It was almost like an inverted beer bong. This was the bong where people would ask me if my weed was laced. I never had people ask me that before, but motherfuckers would after they used this bong. I eventually ended up smashing the fuck out of this bong. I had to. It was too good when it came to free-basing. It had to die. This bong had a certain bite to it and it needed to be killed just like Old Yeller. I smashed it myself and it hurt me to do so, but like I said, it had to be done.
I had only used that bong for smoking weed as it just hadn’t occurred to me before that to even use a bong to smoke crack with, but that is what Jason used. He just used one of those cheap, plastic, kind of see-through plastic bongs and for some reason it was usually red and always without any water in the bong at all. Just dry bonging it. But he’d get a new one every once in a while, after discarding the pervious one in a post binge, come-down, vain attempt at getting clean. “I’m never smoking crack again.” Two days later… “Is that a new bong?”
My bong was a completely different animal. I emptied the stale, bong water out of my homemade water-pipe, but the smell of stale bong water doesn’t just dissipate quickly as you probably are aware. I didn’t have enough screens and so I was trying to improvise and before you start yelling at me through the computer screen to just go grab the faucet screens out of the bathrooms and kitchen, just stop. C’mon motherfucker, you know those screens had the life expectancy of a Valium pill at a coke party. Those screens had long been ripped out of their intended faucet homes and shoved into a pipe or bong. Once again, why are the screens so important? When using a metal stem, it is best to use stainless steel screens, but you have to use a lot of them, like 6-8 if I remember correctly, you’ll have to excuse my brain. It’s been fried by Graduate-level mathematics lately, but them it was the crack. Crack doesn’t smoke like weed. It turns into an oil and that oil has to go somewhere so you use the screens to trap the oil.. then as the pipe (stem) cools down, you turn the stem (pipe) upside down so that the crack oil drips back into the screens, thus making each hit really good and each hit lasting longer. In theory.
The almost ritualistic preparation of the crack smoking device is ready after I bend up some larger screens in order to make the bong work better. The crack rocks seem to be of good size and the consistency is good, meaning that they break up nicely, not too firm, but not too soft.
I fill the bowl and then I begin to slowly dance the flame from the newly acquisitioned Bic lighter over the small, yellow rocks as they slowly melt away, filling the dry bong with smoke, with almost no smoke escaping. I pause and blow out, oh my God that’s nice, and I haven’t even cleared the bong. I exhale as hard as I can and then shotgun the entire contents of the bong.
Just by typing these words down I can feel chemical changes happening in my body, just by thinking of that evening and how high I got. I was barely using any crack, but I was getting so motherfucking high and I wasn’t losing much smoke at all.
I’m 28 and I’ve just created a death machine.