okay, i've never chased the dragon but i've done my share of heroin in my life. my first exposure to it was at an early age when my mother locked my stepfather out of the house for a week because he was injecting smack into his arms. even at nine i knew what this was. i lived in willimantic, connecticut. the third largest location for heroin in the northeast.
you see, i grew up in the cocaine-fueled 80's and my parents were riding the wave. i sat at the kitchen table drawing pictures in a marijuana fog-bank as grownups snorted rails as long as my pinky. i hated it. as a result, i never touched drugs until i was 18, when i took my first dose of mushrooms. of course i experimented with everything from then on, but i adamantly swore off the spike. it just seemed too creepy.
then one day when i was 23 a couple of old friends appeared in the copy shop that i worked at in northampton, massachusetts. a pair of sisters. we had gone to school together all of our lives. we were the only punks in our school and we got hassled by the same rednecks. when we were younger we would make fake spy movies and play with their pet hedgehog. erica seemed healthy but hannah seemed a little off. i took a smoke break and talked with them outside. after a while, hannah told me that she was a junkie. her boyfriend was her dealer and he beats her up. erica just stared at the ground. hannah was wearing sleeves because she had been shooting in the same location and her arm was turning black from infection. later, a doctor said that if she had gone to the hospital a day later the arm would have to be amputated. after a while we said some parting words and decided to stay in touch.
a month later my girlfriend of 9 months left me and i was on a serious bender. it was bad. it was also at this time that hannah called me and asked if i wanted to come down to connecticut and hang out. i said yes. understand that this was not in any way some kind of rebound move- hannah is the closest thing to being my sister that i may ever know.
she left her boyfriend and was staying at her parents' house. they knew what was going on with her. she never had a good relationship with her mother so i had to endure several screaming matches throughout my stay over. the night i crashed there i slept on a couch that the family dog had recently christened with piss and the mosquitos ate me alive. the next morning sitting on the floor of hannah's room, she asked me; "do you wanna get high?" i immediately knew what she meant. i thought for a minute. and then i said; "maybe." she picked up the phone and began to dial. through a shark's grin she said; "i like the sound of that maybe."
we had to go to new london to get it. this girl that we had gone to high school with was the driver. i vaguely remembered her. kinda one of those hippie/preppy types. she put in a live cd of The Band as we headed towards the highway.
driving through a slum, hannah flagged down a crew of puertoricans sitting on a stoop. she went behind the building with the dealer to get a taste and bought ten bags. i'd never seen a bag of dope before. it was like a small chinese food bag but it had this little "great job!" star on it, like they'd give you in special ed. inside was a browninsh powder. as we drove away, hannah laid out my first line of dope on a cd case and i sniffed it. "cripple creek" was easing out of the speakers when i tasted the drip. kind of musty and bitter. and then the first wave came over me as hannah continued to snort more of my dope. what a feeling. i was euphoric. my body felt great. i was at ease. i was nauseous. we pulled over to a taco bell so hannah could shoot up. i ordered a water and a seven layer burrito. preppy girl stayed in the car sniffing her bag.
when she came out of the bathroom, hannah's eyes were glazed and her arm was flushed below the area that she had tied off. we hopped into the car and headed back to storrs. preppy girl is talking about how she would love to shoot but she's afraid of it but "just look at my veins! they're perfect!" we came to a stop sign and she opened the door and threw up. we pulled over in the country and walked out to a river bank to stand around and do more dope. people talked but i couldn't hear them. i just stared at the water rushing over the rocks. i was sweating.
they dropped me off at a gas station where my mother worked but she wasn't working. stranded in the middle of nowhere, at roughly 4 in the afternoon i bought two 24 ounce coronas and crossed the street to the industrial park to soak up some summer. i stopped in the bushes and did another bump. i was high. i made my way to a picnic table and opened a beer. college kids were playing frisbee, real bro types. they gave me a "what's up" and walked up the path to buy beer, which was fine by me because the second i took a drag of my newly light cigarette i puked my guts up in the bushes. i'd seen sid and nancy. i knew heroin will make you sick. i had never puked so hard in my life. i finished my beer and walked back to the gas station and called my aunt in hope of getting a ride to my mother's house. when she picked me up i was on the nod. i tried to stay awake and maintain conversation but i kept fading out. i made it back to massachusetts with a bag and a half in my pocket.
months later on a cold and snowy winter morning, a notorious northampton junkie approached me and asked if i was looking for dope. i seized the opportunity and when i got out of work i introduced my roomate to the joys of smack. we continued to use for a while, only sniffing it at the time. i got bad. when i would walk down the street my head would be constantly turning, looking to find a dealer or a junkie. i would duck out the back at work to go score off the street. i had a habit of about two bags a day. a drop in the bucket for most, but i certainly felt hooked. the first time i shot up was in my dark bedroom before going upstairs to my friend's birthday party. i fucked it up and missed my vein and i "skin-popped." i got high but i got a huge red rash around the injection site so i wore long sleeves. also, i once had a bum who i scored with over at these towers offer to suck my dick for a bag. i declined. on my 24th birthday i sat on a wall and snorted heroin while i watched children run around on a playground across the street.
not long after this began to bubble to the surface, my friends started chasing dealers and junkies away from my front door and i was clean for awhile. a year later i received a strange gift from god: a co worker and i were hosting a fake spring break party where everyone dressed like fraternity and sorority losers. i was leaving work dead broke and headed home to get ready for the evening. with only enough money for a 40 and a pack of cigarettes, i walked into the 7-11 and headed for the beer cooler. as i walked down the aisle, i spied something very familiar on the floor. i picked it up quickly and put it in my pocket. my mind raced as i pulled a bottle of old english off of the rack. as i stood in line, my hand figeted in my pocket. rubber band. glassine envelopes. is this what i think it is? i paid for my beer and smokes and quickly walked home.
back at the corner of church and state, i raced up the stairs and in to my room. i pulled the mystery item out of my pocket. someone had dropped three bags of heroin bound together with a purple rubber band on the floor of the 7-11. and not small bags, either. these were huge. i took the rolling stones mirror off of my wall and dished out a line. it was strong. . i did all of it in two days,
i started shooting with this electrician i knew around town. he got the worst dope, and furthermore he used to burn dealers in lowell by grabbing the drugs out of their hands and tearing off in his car. i heard there was great dope in boston so i called up a friend who was quite on the level and headed up to party. they don't sell bags in boston, they sell pieces. like a 20 piece or a 40 piece. my friend hit my arm because i'm bad at it and i have small veins. what a fucking rush. someone once asked me what it feels like to shoot up and my best sum of it was this: do you know that moment when the drums come in on t-rex's "cosmic dancer?" close your eyes.
i got caught in a blizzard while i was in boston. nothing to do but drink and get high. when i made it back to northampton, my arms looked like swiss cheese. i was dirty and had bags under my eyes and i went back to work wearing sleeves until my tracks cleared up. that was the last i'd seen of heroin for a while- i was getting married in the summer and moving to athens, georgia. i took pills and drank but aside from that i played it cool for about four years.
flash forward- i started shooting up with a co-worker who could get decent shit from a white dealer in atlanta. on my first date with my girlfriend i got so high that i was puking on my front lawn ten minutes before she showed up. i stopped again. for a while.
i'm walking home from work in the rain when my friend marc pulls up on my side. he was a recovering addict and we had previously swapped stories. "hey, wanna do some boy?" yes. we stood around in my room while he fixed up. i snorted mine. next time i got a clean rig and he hit me. again, the rush. he'd drive out to alabama to pick up, and i'd throw in.
when we were getting high in my room i would say to him; "don't overdose in my house. watch yourself." well, he was on probation because he nodded out on a golf course with a gram on him in birmingham and had to go there for regular hearings. his last hearing was coming up and we were going to party. the night before he left he had a bunch of methadone and xanax. i warned him not to take them together, to be careful. the next morning i was naively informed that he had an o.d. by someone who didn't know that we were friends.
the two people who were driving him out to birmingham said that he was trying to smoke a cigarette and kept nodding. he'd try to text message and he'd nod. and then he started turning blue and stopped breathing. they drew on his body and face with magic markers. they took pictures of it. and they dumped his body in front of the hospital. he's been gone for a year now. my friend who lived in boston lives in florida and has been clean for three years, subsisting on cigarettes and coffee and making great art. i haven't done dope in a year.