John said no. Thank God John said no. If John would have said yes…holy shit man, there is very little chance that I would be here.
John would occasionally smoke weed, but he never did coke. He drank a decent amount and that is by my standards, but John kept his head on straight for the most part during those days. Thank God that he did, because I was already over the edge and John was still on the cliff. If he jumps off of the edge of that cliff alongside of me, we are both fucked. Someone has to stay on that cliff to help the other one get back up to safety.
I was at Jason’s one day and John had just come home from work. I had been there for a while, smoking some crack, just kind of hanging out and John knocked on the door asking if I had seen his lighter. Bahahahahahaha of course motherfucker. Was it a Bic? Then it’s mine. Here take five of these plastic, free with a pack of cigarettes, pieces of shit lighters in exchange.
John sat down on the couch and started to complain about having a bad day.
“Dude, John. Do you want a bowl?” Jason asked. As I said, John usually didn’t smoke a lot of weed, but this day had been a motherfucker and he was ready to smoke a bowl. Jason hands John the bong and John just kind of stares at it for a minute. I’m not really paying attention, but then I notice that it is really quiet. I look over at John and he is just fixated on the bong. He looks up at me and asks, “Why is the bowl white?” I looked down and Jason had fixed John up with a huge bowl of freebase cocaine. “That’s cocaine.” Jason clarified. John had a really bad day, and smoking crack was an acceptable group norm in Jason’s apartment. He could have easily just hit that bowl of crack, but he didn’t. He looked up and said, “I don’t think that I want to do that.”
John said no. He just said no. As I said, John was no boy scout, we did smoke some weed together and we probably drove intoxicated back and forth from the Velveeta Room on 6th street to our north Austin apartment a hundred times or more, who fucking knows, and then of course all of the fun that we had at the Ritz Lounge, but thank God John didn’t go balls out with me on the coke thing or we…fuck. We’d probably be dead. No shit.
Oh, man, I loved going to the Ritz Lounge on 6th street, which is now the Alamo Draft House I believe. For those who don’t know, Alamo Drafthouse is a chain of movie theaters and the location on 6th street in Austin is housed in a historic movie theater that used to be called The Ritz. Well, the building has the lower, regular street level establishment, but there was also an upper level where the theater balcony used to be, the projector room, etc. Well, they turned that upstairs space into “The Ritz Lounge”. This was during the swing music phase occurring in the late 1990s. The Ritz Lounge had its own separate door next to the regular Ritz club, with a long, skinny set of stairs that would ascend to the top where the Ritz Lounge would be so alive and jumping.
The live band, sometimes The Recliners were playing, girls were dancing behind them, the dance floor was busy, and people were sitting in the booths that were scattered among the elevated, theater-style seating that accompanied the space which normally would have been reserved for the movie patrons, who had been watching movies there from the balcony just decades before. Just picture it in your mind. Picture yourself in the balcony seating of an old theater, with the projector room up at the top, as they traditionally are and then just lower than that the stairs and seating would spill down step by step, all the way down the wood floors of the dancing area with the bar just to the left and the stage to the right. It was a small, intimate, yet busy place. Total occupancy might have been 100 people. It was a small club, but it had one feature that we all loved. The projector room. It was the unofficial VIP room for the Ritz Lounge and only a handful of us knew about it. So, fucking cool. How did we know about it? I knew one of the bar-backs that worked there and then I became friends with one of the bartenders, and that bartender loved coke. I ended up just trading him small amounts of uncut, or at least not cut by me, cocaine for a bar tab. That’s when he showed me the projector room and how to open the door without a key, of course asking me to keep it a secret. Sure, buddy. I’ll keep it a secret for as long as I can. Oops. Just told everyone that I know.
It wasn’t but just a few hours before I noticed that there were only a few people that knew about the projector room and it was motherfucking wild. At the time in Austin there was some amazing opium going around town. It was this beautiful dark red color that would just melt over a bowl of weed in this thick red bubbling mess not unlike the melting and prep of candy apples. The smell and taste of the opium is something that still resonates in my olfactory senses and in my taste buds as if it was just yesterday. There would be a group of between 3-6 people sitting in the projector room on some nights, just smoking these huge joints that have been spiked with opium. It was just so fucking amazing to watch the smoke fill the small, projector room and then to watch the smoke slowly spill out from the hole in the wall that was initially intended for the beaming light from the hot, flickering, movie camera with its reel to reel noise humming away, but instead our bloodshot eyes would gaze out of that small opening in the walls high above the partying crowd, oblivious to the real, opium and cocaine party that was occurring just above them as they danced and drank their apple martinis. I was becoming kind of cool and meeting new people, but this wasn’t me that they liked. I was just a depressed mess of a human being that was being propped up by bumps of cocaine and my alcoholism, that had matured enough by this time that my vomiting feels so normal and so violent in the morning, but stopping this lifestyle isn’t even in cards right now. I can’t stop.
The drugs are killing me in the macro sense, but they are saving me in the micro sense. The drugs help me make it through the day and get through the depression, but they are taking years off of my life. I’m just completely fucked, but the opium is so good and when mixed with cocaine it’s fucking great. So mild and relaxing but with the dopamine rush of the blow. I try to crush some opium up and I mix it with cocaine. Now, I’m snorting pink lines of “fuck this whole thing” and I just want to go harder. I am now going out almost every night and every night is becoming the same thing over and over. Go out, trade coke for drinks and party like crazy. Wake up the next day, go make sure that I didn’t wreck my car, have a shot of vodka or a beer, do a wake-up line of coke, and get ready to go out. I’m meeting some women, because some women like coke, but those relationships don’t even last as long as a gram of coke and they tend to be a lot rockier. There really isn’t any end in sight and my finances are becoming much worse.
I can’t pay rent on time and John is getting really pissed off about it. I just can’t stop and I’ve got my bong at home waiting for me. I’ve already used it once to smoke crack out of, but I just tried it that one night and I woke up the next morning feeling really weird. I haven’t tried it again, but I’m about to go on a two-day binge with an acquaintance that was just trying to kick my ass at a party, not two weeks ago. He’ll never be the same after meeting my bong. Never the same.
I’m 28 and I’m just completely fucked.
“Hey man, do you have any of that cash?”
“No, Jason. I had some shit come up. Can I go ahead and re-up though and I’ll just make it up?”
“No problem, but when I need my money, I’m going to need it quick. You know I have to re-up myself.”
I was not a good drug dealer. I just can’t stress that enough. Like I said in a previous post I made a lot of just fundamental mistakes, but the scale was a big one. That awful scale. I just can’t stress enough how important it is to have a consistent measuring device when working in the drug industry at any level of it. Even my punk-ass level of it. I just was an idiot when it came to that. A nice digital scale was kind of expensive at the time, but I should have just bought one. So stupid. Jason was hooking me up with decent blow at a decent price and I had been selling to just a few people that I knew. It wasn’t enough to offset the amount of blow that I was personally consuming and now I’m starting to have the occasional nose bleed. I haven’t tried to smoke out of that bong of the devil since I became scared of it, but it’s still around, hidden in my closet.
I enjoy going to the Velveeta Room, but I’m not good enough to get weekend gigs and I’m kind of beginning to unravel from the constant drug use. I’m going too fast. The shows at the Velveeta Room end early every night. The bartender is in college, but in his 40’s so he wants to get the fuck out of the doors as soon as he fucking can. Ding! Velveeta joke. The problem with that for me is that I’m drinking way too much and even to the point where I’m starting to get cut off at the Velveeta Room by the bartender and when a comedy club cuts a comic off… So on any given Thursday night, I leave drunk from the Velveeta Room, but I have a few lines worth of green-room key bumps up my nose. I will now hit 6thstreet after midnight and I will either meet fellow drug addicts out at the clubs, or I’ll risk running into the numerous independent, freelance, crack salesmen walking the streets of downtown. The crack-switch in my brain looks just like a light-switch when I try to picture it in with my imagination. It says Crack at the top and No Crack at the bottom and there is a toggle switch in the middle. Once that switch is flipped, look the fuck out. I don’t care what lie I have to tell, what party I have to disappear from, or what illness I have to fake, but I’m accomplishing the mission of smoking crack once that plan is set into motion. That being said, that switch would not get flipped every day, but sometimes it would just get stuck on the Crack setting it seemed, just stuck in the Crack position, where it would just stay for a while.
My parents are obviously wondering what is going on with me. I’ve never told them but I was doing coke around them on visits, right under their noses. (cough) My father works close to my apartment. Way too fucking close. Close enough that he can just pop by if I haven’t called in a week or so. Well, my father knocks on my door one day and I am cooking up some rocks at that exact moment. I was just cooling it down and stirring it up, waiting for the crack rock to form on the end of the butter knife that I had been using to stir my freebase liquid.
I am trying to stay so quiet, but I’m so ashamed at my actions. Knock. Knock. Knock. Tears start to roll down my face and one hits the spoon that I’m cooking the cocaine in, I move away from the stove and kneel down in the kitchen, on the floor, as if that will add more layers between my father and my crack face smeared with a little bit of black soot from the underneath of the spoon that I’m cooking the coke in, and the middle of my lips are slightly blistered from an ongoing binge and the repeated motion of a hot crack pipe burning my lips. I’m blowing on the mixture and the rock is forming.
Knock! Knock! Knock! My father keeps knocking at the front door and with every knock I feel this immense guilt just resonate inside of me like this kick bass drum just pounding with every loud knock. Then it’s gone with my father as he walks to his truck and rushes to grab some lunch without his son, who has disappointed him, yet again.
I smoke my crack while crying on my kitchen floor. I wake up the next day and I’m on the floor in the adjacent laundry room. I don’t have to worry too much about John finding me on the floor as he has been staying with his girlfriend more now and so I’m all alone. I actually kind of like being alone while I’m smoking crack or freebasing, whichever term you prefer as I’m sure that you’ve noticed that I used them interchangeably. I really liked the isolation while I was freebasing, it was nice and private and no one judging me or looking at me weird. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Jason just fine, but I never really fit in and that weird guy that karate kicks towards my face has been there a lot. He has a really pretty girlfriend whose hair is getting really thin from what one would guess would be contributed to her escalating use of hypodermics but that’s just a guess. They were the ones that brought the needles around or in my case he brought the one needle that we all shared. I don’t really feel comfortable around him and he seems to like kicking the air around my face too much. And as I stated I just don’t fit in with them, but I have to see them occasionally to pick up blow, such as now, when I’m running out. I smoked too much the night before and I’ve got to sell some at a party later.
I knock on Jason’s door and he opens the door. Karate kid is there and so are some new people that actually live in the same building just one flight of stairs over. They are two guys that live together as roommates and they ask Jason if I’m cool. I don’t think that I have to explain this, but I will. When the guy asked Jason if I was cool, he was asking if I also did drugs etc., not if I was just a good guy. He was basically asking Jason if he would vouch for me. Jason looked at him and says “Yeah, he’s cool.” As simple as that they invite me over to see their place.
When I open the door of the apartment it kind of smelled a little like weed, but not too bad. Apparently, they had turned their bedroom into a grow room and they were waiting for their big pay day. The set-up was about as basic and old-school as you could get. It was basically plywood, plastic tarp type material, a water pump, and these really cool lights that were on a track. I remember wondering if they were going to be able to actually harvest or if the smell was going to get them busted.
Neither one of those guys freebased and only one of them did any coke at all. They were really into heroin and special k. I didn’t even know what special k was, but at that point in my life if something was supposed to knock me out enough to forget that I’m Steven Kendrick I’ll take it. I just hate being me that much when I’m not using. The come down is so psychologically painful that I’m learning how to do smaller amounts of blow, just much more often. I start to go back to carrying a daily supply of cocaine everywhere with me. I experiment with a few different methods, but I always end up going back to the bullet. I mentioned those plastic cocaine bullets in a previous post and they were great for small micro doses of cocaine. By doing small amounts of cocaine throughout the day I’m able to avoid the come downs and pills help me sleep. If I can’t get good pills, I’ll just take a lot of over the counter sleeping pills and knock myself out. I’m also starting to make myself pass out during crack hits. That’s right, I hold in a crack hit and play the pass-out game. And I say that I’m not suicidal anymore, just depressed. Wow, how crazy that sounds when I’m 47. What did I hate about myself so much? It’s almost baffling to me know, but back then it was so real and so deep. It hurt. John’s the lucky one. He gets to escape this. He gets to begin planning his wedding soon. I’m stuck here alone, and when John finds out that he hasn’t been paying rent he’s going to really be pissed off. Yeah, John has been staying with his girlfriend so much that he just paid me his rent directly instead of giving it to the apartment complex office.
You are fucking hilarious John and thank you for the trust and support, but at the age of 47, I have to ask…What the fuck were you thinking? You were handing hundreds of dollars to a crack head. Oh, yeah. You were treating me with respect, and I fucked that up. I’m so sorry John. I truly am. I used all of your money on drugs and you’ll never know how bad that makes an individual feel. (cough)
I’m 28 and I’m breaking the bong out of retirement after I sling at this party.