Highday Friday

Friday’s are all about drug addiction, my favorite topic. Well, I’d rather talk about other things, like writing and spirituality, but because of experience, I know way too much about addiction.

It sucks sometimes!

Talking to people in public can be difficult at times. If they’re talking about something, I’m supposed to reply with something back, but the only things that come to mind are drug related. I’ve spent such a long time being in and out of addiction, it’s all I have to talk about. The only people I can have a decent conversation over two minutes with are other writers and addicts. But God help me if I wind up in a relationship with another addict—

… and that’s what I’ll be boring you with today.

This is from my memoir. After the first stay in rehab, I stayed in a halfway, or sober, house in Kerrville, TX. I stayed there for a few months working on my recovery until my priorities drastically changed. I met a girl named Scarlett (Not her real name, but if you look up the name Scarlett, it’s more than appropriate. And I’m not speaking of the color or flower.)

Against warnings from friends and my AA sponsor not to date in the first few months of sobriety, Scarlett and I began a relationship. She was an indie-punk, bass playing, down-to-earth chick. Perfect in my eyes, except for one tiny thing:

She was also a heroin addict.

We moved back to Austin where we got a little drunk. The five-months I had sober were instantly thrown down the shitter. While drinking, she had the idea of going to Houston to get heroin. In rehab, I had hung out with the junky kids because they were the only ones my age and they shared the same personality, wit, and humor as I. Rehab is a gateway drug.

In rehab, there grew a subconscious desire to try it out.

So her, a friend, Owen, and I drove down to Houston. And so our story begins…

December 2006

Houston, TX

We waited in the car until my girlfriend came back with the proper paraphernalia we needed for the night, which would be a night never to forget. We would find out what it was like to do what Kurt Cobain, Sid Vicious, Jimi Hendrix, and many others, had loved, but also died doing. I had never smoked it, nor snorted it. So this would be the first time I tried heroin. And we were going to do it the right way too, by shooting it.

The Houston heat hammered down on the car like a deep breath from hell. It bounced off the streets, causing an illusion of flickering images. It was one of those days where a hat or bandana wasn’t a bad idea — a day when the perspiration leaked from every pore in my forehead, cheeks and bridge of my nose. I regretted not rolling the window down before she ran into the store. Owen and I sat in her mint-colored Honda Civic, while my girlfriend, Scarlett, was in Walgreens grabbing syringes — or rigs, as she called them.

This wasn’t her first taste with what we were getting into. She had years under her belt of coming to this same Walgreens and buying the infamous ritual supplies.

Scarlett and I had met each other in Kerrville, Texas, while living in halfway houses, or sober living. I had been out of rehab for two months, living in my men’s sober house, when she came from the same treatment center and moved into the Women’s house, next door. It wasn’t long after hanging with my friends and myself; we had started dating.

Owen was a long-time friend I had known since middle school, who had a Xanax problem. My sponsor and I had given him an intervention which brought him to rehab. Initially, he wasn’t supposed to be with us, but we needed him.

Back then, when I had been sober for five months, I’d never thought I’d be doing what we were about to do. I would throw all of what I had worked hard for away. It was worth it, I felt, because I would bring me closer to my darling and beautiful, Scarlett.

After leaving the drugstore, she was phone in hand, talking to her dealer. She had called him earlier on the three-hour trip driving here from my hometown of Austin, Texas to make sure he was available and ready.

Many other dealers would make you wait for hours, or were so geeked out, they made you drive to a dozen different places before you finally met with them.

Not this guy.

You called him, gave him an estimated time of arrival, and then you met him on his street, while he was “taking a walk” or “walking the dog.”

You were in and out.

I loved dealers like that.

I couldn’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent solely playing the waiting game.

I’ve heard for every ten years one spends using dope, seven of those years are spent waiting.

I believe it.

With some dealers, if they tell you they’ll be there in five minutes, that meant they’ll be there in about an hour.

If the dealer doesn’t know you well enough, they could leave you waiting all night, never meeting up with you.

While you’re getting sicker by the minute, cursing the dealer for making you wait so long, leading to tears being shed because you know they possess the one thing that will ease all the pain and suffering you’re feeling.

Waiting, while you are dope sick, is not fun.

At all.

It’s good to have a go-to guy or girl who knows and trusts you. Even though in this game, you can’t trust anybody.

Not even yourself.

Outside, there was a lack of night sky due to Houston’s pollution floating stagnant in midair. However, the temperature had dropped, putting out a nice chill. Goosebumps littered my arms.

Scarlett silently pulled the car over in a dark, secluded spot. Ever since we met with her dealer, making the quick exchange, my heart had been pulsating to a quick cadence like I was preparing for a war behind the gates of my ribcage, not knowing what I was in for.

I watched with careful eyes as she stuck a piece of the sticky, black tar onto the spoon we had stolen from a pizza buffet. Scarlett’s eyes were in complete concentration while adding water to the spoon then using a pink lighter to light the bottom like a mini-stove.

I recognized the sound of popping bubbles as it put out an odorous smell of vinegar.

I had loved and missed that smell.

She only lit the bottom of the spoon for a few seconds before she stirred the mixture with the end of the syringe, making sure all the dope melted. I couldn’t tell if it was, or not, until she spoke.

“This is it, guys. Just gotta suck it up into the rig first,” she said as she threw a tiny cotton ball into the brown mix then sucked it into the syringe after placing the needle on the cotton.

The cotton acted like a filter, so nothing else got into the rig. She held it up, eyes fixated, with a smile across her face, and pushed the air out, then flicked it twice.

“Okay,… who’s first?” she asked in her cute voice she would use with me when we called each by our pet names.

She flashed her eyes at mine and raised her eyebrows.

I smiled, feeling giddy then looked back at Owen in the back seat.

“Go ahead, man,” he said, being just as nervous and excited as I was.

I turned back to face Scarlett, heart pounding, and not saying a word, she did.

“Let me see your arm.”


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