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I've been all over the place lately. At the beginning of the summer I was plowing through the Needles, Names, and Numbers drafts, ultima...

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Loser Birds (Part I)


“Dog it’s like I’m fuckin’ 30 years old, I ain’t got no fuckin’ job, I put everything I have into this shit but I still find myself fuckin’ doin’ drugs, drinkin’, all fucked up by myself sittin’ on the couch in somebody’s house that I don’t even know… The loser birds are chirpin’ they’re drivin’ me crazy… This is what comes out of it.” –Skinny Cavallo

Ten two milligram Xanax bars. Genuine ones. No pressies, no sir. Mexican pharmaceutical, to be exact.

An eight ball of quality Cocaine.

Two grams of Molly.

Three grams of Ketamine.

A handle of Jack Daniels.

A handle of Jameson.

Half a strip of LSD.

300 whippets.

Too many packs of smokes to even count. A carton, fuck it, we’ll call it a carton.

Weed.

This is what it’s all come to.

Two years earlier…

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!

My eyes open in slow motion before the nod pulls me under again. My right arm hurts. Oh wow, it really fucking hurts…

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!

Who the fuck is knocking at this hour?!

“HARRY?!!? OPEN THE FUCKIN’ DOOR NOW!”

I vaguely hear my aunt’s voice from deep within the void of the nod. Few things can make me give a fuck about anything when I’m shooting heroin. My aunt flipping the fuck out is one of those things, because she is my landlord.

I’m on the floor. Fuck. There’s an extension cord of some sort wrapped around my bicep. The arm it’s wrapped around is swollen and purple in some spots. The knob to my bedroom door begins to jiggle violently.

“IF YOU DON’T OPEN THIS FUCKIN’ DOOR RIGHT NOW I’M CALLIN’ THE FUCKIN’ COPS, HARRY, YOU UNDERSTAND ME!?!? FIVE…”

I use my good arm to push myself up off the floor and get the cord off my gimp arm. The nod pulls me under again. I just need to get to the chair, so I can do a shot of crank, and straighten myself out…

“TWO…”

“Alright, alright! Jesus Fuckin’ Christ! Gimme a God damn second!” I snap.

“DON’T YOU JESUS FUCKIN’ CHRIST ME, OPEN THE FUCKIN’ DOOR!”

I get up into my computer chair and scan the room. I don’t even know where the fuck to start. There’s Gatorade bottles full of meticulously capped and un-needled needles all over the fucking place. I never got around to throwing them out. I was too busy with some other shit…

Six months earlier…

“Drug usage is increasin’ since the last time, let go awhile and I’ll be back just like the last time…” –Kevin Gates

My sweaty, bare feet push against a stack of books propped up against an old Playstation box underneath my desk as my butt threatens to slip right off my computer chair’s seat and send me flat on my ass. I’ve got a death grip on my cock as I crank, crank, and crank, and a 550 pound woman eats a cake in front of me. She’s young, around my age, and models under the name Sweet Adeline. She’s wearing a pig snout and her big belly is spilling out onto the linoleum floor of her kitchen.

Sunken eyes nearly pop out of their sockets, which are weighed down by ugly, visible bags, the kind only insomniacs and drug addicts ever have. I suppose I’m a mix of both at this point. Crystal Meth will do that to a man.

I grab the same XXL Metallica tour t-shirt I had from when I was a fat teenager and pump a fresh batch of knuckle children inside of it. My heart rattles around in my chest at a thousand miles an hour while the muscles in my calves burn from all the focus and strain it requires to finally bust a nut on Crystal Meth. But when you finally do, God fucking damn when you finally do…

The t-shirt is crusty and somewhat damp from prolonged use. I wipe my hand off like the slob I am as I struggle to catch my breath. Sweat pours down my red face and it dawns on me I’ve been neglecting the basic human necessities of hydration and nutrition for some time now. To my credit, I’ve gotten much better at both while tweaking, but time has a way of getting away from you on this shit.

I wince as I X-out tab after tab of obscene extreme obesity porn. Monstrously overweight women eating and eating and eating, struggling to move afterwards, moaning as they rub their distended bellies, unsure of whether they’re disgusted with themselves or turned on by their own hedonistic gluttony. I like to think most of them fall into the latter camp, because otherwise, it’d be pretty depressing.

Humanizing these women does not make me feel good, especially after I’ve finally gotten my nut off. As I close the last tab I remember I ordered pizza from Domino’s. I haven’t eaten in at least 24 hours, and that’s being conservative. My order is ready for pickup.

Oh yeah, that’s right, I said pickup.

I’m not made of money, after all.

Plus, I much prefer being able to satiate my primal meth sex drive without worrying about the pizza guy showing up to ruin my fun and sending me into a paranoid frenzy.

But there is a problem, well actually, a few. I cannot people right now. For that, I need booze. I let out a grunt as I hoist the handle of Evan Williams from next to my desk and pour myself a double shot. I down it and chase it with a full bottle of Gatorade, because I need to drink my drinks and eat my food in a lump sum. I cannot drink and do something else. I cannot eat and do something else. I have to focus the laser guided missile that is Crystal Meth fully onto whatever task is at hand. Meth has a way of convincing you you’re never thirsty or hungry, even when your stomach is eating away at its inner lining and your body doesn’t have a drop of moisture left inside it.

As the Gatorade fills my stomach and begins to rehydrate me, my heartrate slows down and my entire body relaxes a bit. I take off the sweaty basketball shorts I’ve been cranking my hog in all day and slip into a pair of jeans that used to be pretty tight on me. They’re baggy as shit now. I can barely keep ‘em up without a belt. But my only belt is for shooting up, and I don’t feel like putting it on just to impress some shithead at Domino’s.

The liquor and the Gatorade vie for supremacy within my stomach, and the liquor seems to be winning. I open my desk drawer and pick up the ten gram bag of shards, studying as if I don’t have enough shit to last me three lifetimes over right here. It’s 10:30 PM. Domino’s won’t mind if I’m a bit late getting myself together…

My jaw aches as I sink my teeth deep into the leather and saliva runs down my belt’s weathered strap. I flex my fingers and make a fist, smacking the top of my arm and running my free hand’s fingers up and down the surface to find a good spot to hit in. The tops of my arms are most advantageous for shooting up, as nobody else knows I’m back on meth, and I’d prefer to keep it that way. The freckles that line the tops of my arms, in addition to some concealer, make great camouflage for track marks. 

Luckily for me, I have a lot of options as far as veins are concerned. There’s a mole that rests almost directly on top of one of my best ones, and I position the tip of the needle just behind it before digging it into my flesh and pulling back on the plunger.

My eyes open even wider as the barrel flushes red and I slowly push the plunger down, taking meticulous care not to slip out and give myself an abscess. Meth is arguably the least forgiving of all IV drugs when it comes to abscesses, and I’ve spent many, many, a night pushing white-hot wash cloths down on inflamed injection sites praying and wishing and hoping that I hadn’t fucked up enough to require medical attention.

I been lucky.

So far.

Success.

I pull the needle out and wipe the fat droplet of blood from my arm as the rush takes over and my horniness is reignited. This is gonna ruffle some feathers, but fuck it, I’m gonna say it.

IV meth has a better rush than IV heroin.

My pupils are as big as those fuckin’ things cats drink out of as I get into my car and drive to Domino’s. When your pupils are this big, everyone looks like they have their high beams on.

“What’s with the fuckin’ high beams, cocksucka, you tryina’ kill me?!” I shout as I ash my cigarette out the window.

Thankfully for not only me, but all the unfortunate motorists driving alongside me, Domino’s is but a short drive from my apartment. Paranoid by Black Sabbath roars through my speakers as I whip down the road with no regard for the speed limit, seatbelts, or DUI laws. I take a last haul off my cigarette as I pull into the Asian strip mall, the last place you’d ever expect to see a fucking Domino’s…

Fuck me, there’s a line. I should not have done that shot. Nothing, and I mean nothing is worse than waiting in line when you’re tweaking. I would rather grind up an ounce of the stickiest weed on planet earth by hand while peaking off a ten strip of LSD than wait in line on meth for more than five minutes.

There’s a family in front of me as I glue my sleepless eyes to my phone and use my free hand to hold my pants up. All I want, all I fucking want, is to get my food and go home. Centering my laser-focus on my cellphone is all I can do right now, or I will literally go crazy.

WHYAREN’TWEMOVINGWHYAREN’TWEMOVINGWHYAREN’TWEMOVINGWHYAREN’TWEMOVING…

“Sir?”

My head whips up from my phone and I jam it into my pocket, almost hard enough to send my jeans around my ankles. I awkwardly pull the waistband up like an old man, only for it to slide down again, dangerously close to my dick.

“Harry Miller. I uh… I fuckin’ did an order…” I stammer.

I’ve been up for a while. Two days, I think? I don’t fucking know anymore.

“SMOKIN’ WEED, SIPPIN’ SYRUP, LATELY I BEEN GETTIN’ SWERVED…” –Jelly Roll

I speed home with my medium cheese pizza and order of cheesy bread. I have a lot of masturbation to do, and all this food nonsense is beginning to irritate me. I throw an episode of Uninformed With Bill Burr and Joe Derosa on as I choke down two slices of pizza and the end piece of the cheesy bread, which when combined with the stomach bile I’ve been sustaining myself with for the last day or so, is enough to sustain me and turn my attention to more important matters…

Like porn.

“Yeah I’m 26 years old and I ain’t done a god damn thing but fuckin’ sell dope and go to bars…”

Suddenly, it’s 5 AM. I know because I can hear my aunt upstairs getting ready to go to work. My skin is red and my dick is shriveled in my hand. I’ve been taking shots of Evan Williams and shooting more crank intermittently, but I haven’t cum. I was supposed to write tonight, but all that’s on my screen is…

Well…

“…Lisa let out a long sigh as her belly pinned her to the couch, helpless to her own gluttony as it sat in front of and around her in the form of empty soda bottles and takeout boxes, as if to mock her. ‘How had she ever let it get this bad?’ Were her last thoughts as she entered the food coma…”

Jesus fucking Christ. I got fifty pages of shit like this written.

And what the fuck am I supposed to do with it!? What publisher or website would see this horrid, embarrassing, erotic fat fiction and think “HMM, THIS GUY SEEMS STABLE!”

My room smells like a chimpanzee exhibit as disgust washes over me and the unmerciful light of the sun begins to seep through the blanket and curtain I stuffed into my basement apartment window precisely to prevent realizations like this.

I can’t. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. I need to stop. I’m all done, I wanna get off.

I put my dick back in my shorts and take a few swigs of Gatorade. I open my drawer again.

No benzos, fuck…

Fent it is then…

I started this whole thing under the impression that I could function on meth far better than on heroin. For some reason, one substance or the other just has to be in my life. I cannot live without them. I mean, c’mon, you see how much fun I’m having here…

I had some money left over from my last meth pickup and stumbled upon someone with Fentanyl mixed with some inactive cuts, essentially making it Sam’s Club heroin. You can fill in the blanks, I’m sure. If you can’t, it’s not that important…

Poke.

Pull.

Nothing.

“FUCK!”

Poke.

Pull.

Nothing.

“FUCK!”

Poke.

Pull.

Nothing.

“FUCK!”

Usually in an undertaking such as this I’d be much more careful of avoiding track marks. But it’s the end of day three (?) of a meth binge, and I just wanna get off. That’s all I wanna do man, I just wanna stop. I just wanna go to sleep. That’s all I wanna do, is go to sleep.

My Meth-induced determination prevents me from changing spikes or picking more strategic spots. The needle gets duller and duller as I stab it in and out of my arm. It should be easy, but I’m so dehydrated that getting a hit is very difficult. Blood trickles down the litany of puncture wounds lining each arm as tears form in my eyes and I nearly bite through my belt.

“FUCK! FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!”

The idea of snorting the Fentanyl doesn’t even occur to me. It simply isn’t an option. I’m not even strung out on this shit, it’s more of a novelty to keep me from getting strung out on benzos, my other go-to drug when it’s time to sleep on meth. My heart continues to race around my chest as I put the blood-stained, battle-tested rig down on my desk and wipe my arms with wet wipes. Some of them have already begun to bruise, brown and ugly.

I take another swig of whiskey and tie off again, finding a decent vein in my hand and sinking the worn needle into it. Blood surges into the barrel, much more quickly than usual, the sign I’ve hit an artery.

But arteries are still veins.

And I’m still a junky.

Like a get out of jail free card, my anxiety and overstimulation are replaced with comfort and serenity. My eyes close and I take a deep breath through my nose before awkwardly staggering to my feet and going to the bathroom. My white t-shirt looks like the tarp from American Psycho, and my black shorts are stained with a deep, ugly, maroon. I turn the water on and calmly lather up my arms with soap and water, cleaning the caked up blood plastered on both of them. As the red slowly fades into clean running water, I dry off my arms, and go to bed.

**

“HARRY, I’M NOT SHITTIN’ YOU, OPEN THE FUCKIN’ DOOR RIGHT NOW!!!”

This is my Tony Montana moment, I suppose. My Bonnie and Clyde final shoot-out. One last shot, one last drink, one last drag of one last cigarette.

I ignore my aunt and try to prep a shot of meth. I get as far as mixing it up before I hear the keys jingling and the door swings open.

“WHAT?! I… HOW THE FUCK… I DO NOT FUCKIN’ BELIEVE YOU… I DON’T FUCKIN’ BELIEVE YOU. YOU MOTHAFUCKA. I PUT YOU UP HERE, I COULDA BEEN CHARGIN’ YOU DOUBLE, TRIPLE, WHAT YA PAYIN’ NOW. AND YOU THROW IT IN MY FUCKIN’ FACE WITH THIS SHIT!?!”

I start nodding off again as she struggles to process what she’s witnessing. She grabs me by the collar and smacks me in the face.

“WAKE UP! WAKE THE FUCK UP RIGHT NOW OR I’M CALLIN’ A FUCKIN’ AMBULANCE! YOUR GETTIN’ FUCKIN’ SECTIONED, HARRY, I SWEAR TO GOD.”

Being sectioned is no joke. Basically, there’s this law in Massachusetts that allows anyone to tell on anyone for excessive drug or alcohol use, and they will be forced into treatment or jail, depending on what you’re addicted to. There’s some kinda time limit for it, I think they call it the Baker Act somewhere else, but honestly? You want my honest opinion? I think it’s a crock of shit.

Yeah, lock a guy up for having drugs on him. Take his license away. Fuck it, y’know what? Plaster his face in the paper, too. Make him pay for a lawyer he could never afford to begin with, and whatever you do, make damn sure he loses his job, if he even has one, that junky degenerate piece of shit.

You could put a rehab on every street corner in America, every suburb and every ghetto, and give a scholarship (I always thought that was a funny way to describe it, since every drug addict I know was a major fuck-up in school, myself included) to every junky in the country. You could do that, but what you and nobody else on planet earth can ever do, is talk a junky outta using. I’m pretty sure I just plaigerized the shit outta Drugstore Cowboy. Sorry Mr. Van Sant, no disrespect intended.

So, with all that in mind, it does seem a bit silly to think you can force someone into treatment and magically make it take. But I get it. Watching someone destroy themselves so willingly is something non-addicts can never wrap their head around. Because it defies logic.

“HARRY, LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME YOU LITTLE SHIT!”

“Sup?” I ask, barely able to keep my eyes open.

“ARE YOU GONNA FUCKIN’ DIE OR WHAT?! LOOK AT ME, HARRY, KNOCK THIS SHIT THE FUCK OFF, RIGHT NOW! I GET YOU THAT JOB, I GET YOU THIS PLACE, AND ALL YOU DO, ALL YOU FUCKIN’ EVER DO, IS GIVE ME FUCKIN’ TROUBLE. WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?!”

My aunt raises valid points. For such a small woman, she can put the fear of God in me, at least when I’m not nodding out on heroin. She looks like she coulda been an extra in a Def Leppard video thirty years ago. The kinda lady who never got the memo that sniffing coke and smoking cigarettes wasn’t cool anymore. Not that I’m in any position to criticize anyone for their vices…

**

Two days earlier…

“Aye bruh. Hmu. Got something to tell u bout.” Slim texts me.

I roll my eyes. This is interrupting valuable masturbation time. I haven’t seen Slim in damn near a year, since I got on subs, rediscovered meth, and got off subs to pursue a career as a tweaker full time. I can maintain a functional meth habit, at least that’s what I tell myself. Heroin is too hard to hide. I just can’t do it.

I thought I made this abundantly clear to Slim, but I can’t knock the man’s hustle.

So I call him.

“’Sup?” I ask.

“How you doin’ bro? Haven’t seen you in a minute.” He replies.

“’Sup?”

The meth had emboldened me as I pound a shot of whiskey.

“Right to the chase, I feel you. Anyhow, my man just got back from Cali, and he brought over some things you might have an interest in…”

“I’m listenin’…”

“He got them fuckin’ shards you told me about. That Tina.”

“Yeah? And how much is that gonna set me back? Considering he came all the way out here and whatnot…”

“You ain’t let me finish, bro. He also got some of that tar. I’m tryna get him to get more. Shit got scooped up real quick. I guess they can’t put that Fentanol shit in it as easy or somethin’. I told him to get me a damn dump truck worth of that shit, ‘cause everything out here dirty as fuck right now. Man I been sellin’ dope damn near twenty years and I ain’t never seen nothin’ like the shit I’m seein’ now. Everybody’s droppin…”

“Tar, huh? I’m pretty good on the shards. No offense or anything, but I don’t think his shit’s gonna be up to snuff for me.”

“Figured as much bro-bro. But the tar is legit, straight fire.”

“Anybody drop from it?”

“Fuck kinda question is that, nigga?”

“What’ll you do a G for?”

“I could let my last one go for seventy. Old time’s sake and all.”

“If I make it a hundo can you come to me?”

“Hell yeah I can do that. You still at the same spot?”

“Yes sir.”

“Ight. I’ll be in touch.”

I step outside on my back porch for a cigarette, excited for the first time in a long time. I haven’t shot dope in a while. Before I can even flick the butt into the coffee can filled with rain water that serves as my cigarette graveyard, I can hear the booming boom-bap hip-hop music blasting from Slim’s Mazda.

I was never much of a car guy. Or an anything but drugs and music guy, really.

I go under my bed to my stash box. It’s been looking dire for a while now. I recently had a brief foray into the Cocaine business. It was not particularly fruitful, but it got me the $300 or so I’d blown on a quarter ounce back, and allowed me to have some fun, and that’s all that really matters, ain’t it folks?

Needless to say, I don’t think a re-up is in Harry’s future any time soon.

Unless, of course, it’s whiskey, heroin, or crystal meth.

“There you are bruh, a 1.1.” Slim says as he tosses me a corner bag of tar.

“I thought this shit came in balloons or whatever.” I reply as I study the bag.

Slim shrugs. “You know you gotta cook it, right?”

“Yeah I’m pretty sure I know how to fuckin’ shoot dope, man. The fuck kinda fiend do you take me for?”

“Man, you won’t believe the amount of mothafuckas that have called me up sayin’ this and that, shit won’t shoot, yadda, yadda, yadda. Once I tell ‘em you gotta cook it, though? They don’t say shit. I even got one guy to start bootin’ it ‘cause I told him you can’t snort the shit.”

I smile. Every once and a while Slim says some shit you gotta hear to believe. I can’t act like I didn’t miss that every now and then.

This fent epidemic has been out of hand for some time now. I often tell people close to me it was one of my primary reasons for getting out and getting “clean.” But to tell you the truth? Nothin’ would make me happier than getting a hot bag right now. Slipping away into the great unknown, not knowing shit but happiness and nothingness.

“I’m bustin’ my ass tryina’ get more of this shit, so lemme know if you need more.”

“Yeah.”

There’s an awkward silence between the two of us. I get up and go to my room, Slim leaves. There’s nothing in my shithole apartment worth stealing that I haven’t stolen already from myself. I pull the spoon from my drawer and dump a few shards of crank into it, along with a big ol’ glob of tar.

I haven’t blinked since I started mixing up my shot. This here, this is a special occasion. I shoot up every day, but it’s rare that I’m ever in the presence of some premium black tar. I believe such a monumentous occasion does not afford me the privilege of searching for a concealable vein. This is going right up ol’ faithful, the crook of my right arm.

Pulling back the plunger, the black mixture gets even darker, not an air bubble to be seen.

Houston, we’re ready for take-off.

“Oh fuck…”

**

“I’M CALLIN’ YA MOTHA AND YA FAHTHA, YOUR ASS IS OUTTA HERE, I SWEAR TO GOD, HARRY, THIS IS IT. NO MORE FUCKIN’ SECOND CHANCES.” My Aunt Mary screams at me as she presses her phone to her ear.

I slip back into the nod.

“JIMMY?!! IT’S MARY. LISTEN, YOU’RE NOT GONNA FUCKIN’ BELIEVE WHAT I JUST FOUND IN YOUR FUCKIN’ SON’S ROOM. BLACK TAR FUCKIN’ HEROIN. SOME SORTA CRYSTAL SHIT, I’M ASSUMIN’ IT’S CRANK, HE’S GOT A BUNCH OF FUCKIN’ PILLS TOO, SUBS, THE WHOLE FUCKIN’ NINE. I WANT HIM OUT, JIMMY, I WANT THIS MOTHAFUCKA OUTTA MY GOD DAMN HOUSE RIGHT NOW!”

Good thing I’m high as fuck, otherwise the gravity of this situation might drive me to jump out the window and run into oncoming traffic. I grab my smokes and light one up, as if I’m trying to top the level of disrespect I’ve already shown my Aunt.

“AH YOU OUTTA YA FUCKIN’ MIND?!?! PUT THAT FUCKIN’ THING OUT! THE FUCK IS THE MATTA WITH YOU, HARRY?! HUH?!!? YOU KNOW WHAT YA GONNA PUT YOUR FUCKIN’ MOTHA AND FAHTHA THROUGH WITH THIS SHIT!?! I THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE. YOUR FUCKIN’ FAHTHA TOLD ME YOU WERE DONE WITH THIS SHIT. BUT I GUESS NOT, HUH?! I GUESS FUCKIN’ NOT. THE APPLE DON’T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE, I’M TELLIN’ YA…”

An undisclosed amount of time passes and I regain consciousness. My aunt is still on the phone as she rifles through all my shit.

“WHERE THE FUCK AH YOU, JIMMY!? YOU DON’T SHOW UP IN FIVE MINUTES I’M CALLIN’ THE FUCKIN’ COPS.”

“Jesus Christ, he’s got fuckin’ cancer and you’re botherin’ him with this shit…” I say, the walls of heroin so high they’re impenetrable by such things as reason and logic.

Aunt Mary stops going through my shit and trains her gaze on me.

“You got no idea…. You got no fuckin’ idea… How bad you just fucked up… I went through this horseshit with ya fahtha, you’re outta ya fuckin’ mind you think I’m doin’ it again. Outta ya fuckin’ mind…”

**

Present day, y’know, the one I started this shit at.

“Name dropping no-names, glamorized Cocaine, puppets with strings of gold!!!!” –Vince Neil

Come to think of it, it does seem excessive when you look at it all together like this.

I’m about halfway through the eight ball. This has been day four of my detox week off from Subs. I’ve yet to encounter the insufferable, Hellish, withdrawal symptoms described to me from junkies in real life and on the internet alike. Maybe because I tapered down to practically nothing and jumped off right. No disrespect I just don’t like being lied to…

“Dear Slim, I wrote you but you still ain’t callin’…”

Eminem, live at Comerica Park in Jersey, summer 2014 plays over the living room TV as I sniff line after line, smoke smoke after smoke, and pound shot after shot. I was there in person for this shit. Me and Jack. Sniffin’ coke and getting money without a care in the fuckin’ world. Riding through life at 90 MPH with no seatbelt, no conscience.

“I can relate to what you’re sayin’ in your songs, so when I have a shitty day, I drift away and put ‘em on…”

These days my life is a lot more stable. I work full time. I have my own car, my own place to live, a roommate that doesn’t care about the hard drug bender I’m going on. I got a fucking savings account, I started investing money…

It’s almost…

Almost…

As if I have my shit together…  

But here it is, the million dollar question…

Why the fuck am I not happy?

(TO BE CONTINUED…)


Sunday, June 16, 2019

South Shore Sober


“The way I see it…” I begin to tell Isaac.

I’ve been seeing this fucking guy for almost three years, and I still can’t maintain eye contact when I talk to him. I still take the same pauses, it still takes everything in me to expel the poisonous shit festering in my stomach and purge it to him, and only him, because God knows I don’t disclose this kinda shit to anyone else.

He must have child clients. His walls are adorned with various certificates, his social worker certification diploma, or whatever the fuck it’s called, is chief among them. He’s ran several different meetings over the years, and has been sober damn near 30 years now. Probably more. I don’t get much out of him when I ask about his past.

“I appreciate and understand your curiosity, Harry, and while I’m willing to disclose certain elements of my past to you, I don’t feel it’s very constructive to spend time talking about me. This is about you.” He tells me.

It’s the kid stuff that my eyes always end up settling on. That, or the carpet. There’s an episode of the The Sopranos that sums up my feelings well regarding therapy. The one after Tony’s cousin Tony B gets out of prison, and through the following episodes, we slowly learn about the circumstances surrounding Tony B’s arrest and subsequent sentencing to 20 years…

You can get the fucking summary on Wikipedia, but the gist of it is this: Tony Soprano was supposed to be on a major hijacking run with his cousin, but on the night of the job, Tony S gets into a fight with his mother. He proceeds to have a panic attack, and cracks his head open on the driveway as he’s leaving his mother’s house. Tony S concocted a story about a couple black guys that tried to steal his shoes, and his racist goombah cronies bought it. But that residual guilt haunted Tony all 20 of those years…

Anyways, he comes clean about this to Dr. Melfi. Even for a fictional sociopath like Tony Soprano, you can tell a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. He still carries substantial guilt about the whole thing, but you can tell, in that moment, there’s a slight sense of hard won relief.

“Y’know sometimes, this feels like taking a shit.” Tony S says.

“I prefer to think of it like childbirth.” Melfi replies.

I always thought Tony’s version made more sense.

Isaac’s got Connect Four, a Finding Nemo branded deck of Uno cards, puzzles, and other board games on a shelf in his room. I’ve stared at that fucking deck of cards every time I’ve come in there. Isaac is not a scary or imposing man by any stretch of the imagination. But I still can’t bring myself to meet his eyes for more than a few seconds when I’m talking to him.

It makes sense for a piece of shit like me to be here.

Boo hoo, I’m a fuckin’ drug addict.

Boo hoo, I can’t stop shootin’ dope.

Boo hoo, I’m always nervous.

Boo hoo, I’m obsessed with ruining my life.

Boo hoo, I don’t deserve anything good and I hate myself.

Lather, rinse, repeat. I make myself fucking sick. But for a junky, degenerate, career fuck-up like me, this is exactly what I deserve. I have my weekly pity party, Isaac helps me as best I can, and I try. I try my damndest not to do what 99.9% of the population had the common fucking sense not to do in the first place.

And somehow, some way, I have the balls to think it’s some sort of accomplishment. The nerve.
It makes sense for me to be here. I put myself here. But a child? A fucking kid?

**

It’s 2003. I’m 11 years old. My Mom and Dad are fighting a lot. More than usual. I mean, they fight every night, but this time it’s more volatile. It’s starting earlier. The words we’re not supposed to say, ever supposed to say, are being thrown around the room like super balls at each other.

“I CAN’T KEEP FUCKING DOING THIS, JIMMY! YOU AND THOSE FUCKING PILLS…” My mother screamed.

“GO TO YOUR FUCKIN’ BROTHERS YOU DON’T LIKE IT, YOU FUCKIN’ CUNT.” My Dad roared back.

I never saw either of them raise a hand to one another, but I had heard them hurl every slur, insult, or searing remark towards one another for as long as I could remember.

“WHAT THE FUCK AM I GONNA DO IF YOU GET FUCKIN’ LOCKED UP, HUH, JIMMY?! WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT ME TO DO!? YOU’RE DRIVING US FUCKIN’ CRAZY WITH THIS SHIT. I CAN’T FUCKIN’ DO THIS ANYMORE.” My mother kept on.

My Dad always scared me. When I was real young, he’d get drunk, and practice karate moves on me. He never hurt me or used even half his actual strength, but just practicing with him was enough to teach me I did not want to see him on 100%. My mother never had that problem. She’d get right in his face, and never back down, no matter how much he yelled and screamed.

“Get outta my house.” My Dad’s voice lowered as he poured himself a drink.

“I’M NOT GOIN’ FUCKIN’ ANYWHERE, JIMMY, FUCK YOU!”

“Maggie, I’m fuckin’ serious. Get. Out. Of. My. House. Go to your brother’s, wherever the fuck, just get the fuck outta here.”

My sister and I just sat on the couch, our stomachs in knots, more than usual. It was early afternoon, and they usually didn’t start fighting until six or seven, at least.

“YOUR FUCKIN’ SON FOUND A PISTOL AND A FREEZER BAG OF FUCKIN’ PILLS, YOU PROUD OF YOURSELF!? YOU THINK YOU’RE FUCKIN’ HOT SHIT!?!!? HUH?!”

My Dad took a deep breath and picked up one of the dining room chairs, his teeth grinding and the rage boiling over inside him. He was only about 5’9, with glasses that gave him a bookish appearance, but the worst thing you could ever do to my old man was underestimate him.

He picked the heavy, wooden, chair up like it was a fucking lawn chair.

“GET.”

BOOM!

“OUTTA.”

BOOM!

“MY.”

BOOM!

“FUCKIN’!”

BOOM!

“HOUSE!!!”

He swung rhythmically, on each word, reducing the entire chair to splinters with each slam against the threshold.

“Get in the car. Now. Both of you.” My mother said.

We stayed at grandma’s after that. It was there that I found out my Dad had been diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma a few years prior. My parents had hid it from us because they didn’t want us to worry.

I don’t know how social services got involved. I was a fucking kid.

“Listen to me, Harry, and listen good. You don’t talk to anyone about this.” My grandma told me.

She was an old Dorchester lady through and through, and even though my family had moved to the suburbs shortly after I was born, she maintained her principles. You don’t say shit to nobody about nothing that isn’t their business.

“Harry, sweetie, listen to me…” My mother said after we’d moved back in.

“What, Mama?” I replied.

“There’s gonna be a lady coming over. And she’s going to talk to you.”

“Am I in trouble?”

“No, sweetie, no, you’re fine. You’ve done such a good job. But it’s very important you tell her exactly what I say. OK?”

“OK, Mama.”

I did as I was told, and the lady left satisfied. Things at home did not get better, until my Dad went to jail several years later.

**

I genuinely believe my parents had good intentions when they had my sister and I. Both came from fucked up homes, full of addiction and abuse and tragedy, and swore they wouldn’t carry that shit over and hand it to their kids.

But shit just don’t work that way.

But I don’t want your sympathy. Stick it up your ass. I grew up with a firsthand account of what addiction is. Dope fiends coming to my porch, asking for my father, sweaty and sick as dogs, only to get cussed out by my mother and thrown out. There was no reason for me to end up a derelict like my Dad, only somehow even more of a fuckin’ failure. Yet here we are.

Then you have my sister. I think it’s true what they say, that girls mature faster than boys. My sister knew from time she understood that her Dad was a drug addict that she didn’t wanna be that. She had to have something better. To me, my upbringing and circumstances left me no choice but to start selling drugs. The fuck else was I gonna do? I’m a fuckin’ idiot, I suck with my hands, my only skill, the only thing I ever gave myself credit for, was putting words on a sheet.

And that’s not exactly a solid career path. Especially when everything you write is ugly, vulgar, sexually charged and loaded with Cocaine and fuck words.

I do not envy my sister. I’m proud of her. I’m thankful my grandparents have her, because without her, they’d be left with me. A 27 year old fuck-up with all my Dad’s bad traits and none of the balls or charm that helped mask those less desirable aspects of his personality.

There I go, rambling again. It really fucks me up to see children here. Some of them are accompanied by single Moms, just trying their best, others are the children of junkies one bad day away from losing custody.

The Suboxone clinic I used to go to had a similar vibe. Every fucking week I went in there to drop urine and get my script, and every fucking week the doctor was late, and I’d have to sit in that God damn waiting room listening to other junkies swap war stories and parents trying to keep their kids busy. There was a basket full of toys in the corner, under the table with the magazines. Every one of them had a story about a strung out mother that wanted nothing to do with the kid, or a deadbeat Dad with identical symptoms.

It’s funny, I’m such a jaded, miserable, fuck that nothing should surprise me or disappoint me anymore. But the fucking kids, man. I look at them and I see myself. I see them growing up to be teenagers, becoming aware of their parents’ drug habits, swearing up and down it’ll never happen to them.

“How the fuck can someone do that to their children? Put that shit before their own flesh and blood?”

“That’ll never be me. With my kid, it’ll be different.”

Then, one day, they wake up, and they’re in their mid-20’s, and they got a spike prepped with a wake up shot waiting for them. Or maybe they’re not so lucky. They wake up stone sober, Hellishly dopesick, and it dawns on them.

“I’m just like my Dad.”

“I’m just like my Mom.”

What makes it even more fucked up is that I can’t stand kids. They’re annoying and I can’t relate to them on any level. But when I see one of them in the waiting room at the clinic or my therapist’s office, it breaks my heart.

I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in karma. But I think there’s something human about believing in that shit. A sense of checks and balances that ensures the bad people have bad things happen to them when bad things happen to their good counterparts.

**

“Where do your thoughts go?” Isaac asks.

I realize I haven’t spoken in a while.

“I’m sorry, the fuck was I saying?” I ask.

“You said, the way you see it, and then you trailed off.”

“Right. Um… Yeah… This shit is basically carrot and the stick.”

“Explain.”

“Y’know, the thing where the guy’s riding the horse and he’s got the fuckin’ carrot dangling in the horse’s face. Only reason the horse is cooperating is because of the carrot, but he’s never gonna get the carrot, because then he’d have no incentive to keep going. That’s what this shit feels like.”

“Go on.”

I sigh in frustration. It’s really remarkable how much I suck at communicating verbally.

“Any time I wanna go out and get a bag of dope, or crank, I think ‘Just stick it out for today.’”

“Yes, one day at a time, Harry.”

“Yeah. But I don’t know. Isn’t that doing it for the wrong reasons? I should not wanna get high because it’s the right thing to do. I know shooting dope and crank ruins my life and puts everyone I love through Hell. And yet here I am, dangling the shit over my face day fuckin’ in and out.”

I look back up at Isaac, my cue that it’s his turn to start talking. Sometimes he doesn’t let me off the hook. He’s damn good at telling when I’m withholding shit and just trying to pass time. But this time his expression changes and I know he’s thinking about what I’m saying.

“Y’know, Harry, I can’t promise you anything. I can’t promise you’re gonna live happily ever after. I certainly wish that for you. You’re a very bright young man, very insightful…”

My hands tighten around the armrests of the chair I’m sitting in. Compliments never sit well with me. No matter how genuine they are, my brain will filter it as mere patronizing, a pity party on my behalf. There’s no way he actually thinks I’m intelligent. I’ve made it abundantly clear to him that my life has been a series of fuck-ups and bad decisions. No one that behaves like me could ever be intelligent, or insightful, it’s just not objectively true.

“…But one thing that I’m fairly certain will happen, provided you stay straight and keep doing what you’re doing, is that one day the idea of using will make you sick. You’ll look at it and think ‘Why on earth would I ever wanna do that?’”

I sigh. “All due respect, it’s just tough for me to ever see a day I don’t wanna get high. Even now. I’m gonna have two years off dope in a couple days, two off meth in a couple months. I’m back living on my own. I’m working full time. Paying all my bills. I got a car. I earned all that shit. So why the fuck would it even occur to me to throw it all away?”

“Because you want relief.”

**

I gack up a fat line of pink Cocaine, sucking it into my mucus membrane greedily as I pass the straw to my new roommate, Alex. Why the Coke is pink instead of white I couldn’t tell you, but it’s good, and that’s all that really matters.

“Aye, can I ask you something?” Alex asks, his long black hair obscuring his narrow, thin, face as he plays with the coke the way a child would their mashed potatoes at dinner time.

“Shoot.” I reply, pouring myself a shot of Jameson.

“You said your Dad was a dealer, right?”

I nod as I slug the whiskey down, beating my chest and resisting my gag reflex.

“What was that like?”

I smile. “It, uh… It made for a pretty… Turbulent home environment.”

“What was he slingin’?”

“OC’s, Xanax, Adderall, Subs, whatever he wanted, really. He had a cancer diagnosis and access to multiple doctors. Shit was different back then.”

“Right…”

“One time, right? I was like… 12 years old. It was right when I started fucking up bad in school. Until then I had really just coasted. It was easy for me to pull A’s and B’s without studying anything. But once school got actually challenging, my grades fell in everything but English. So my mother started punishing me. Y’know, stupid shit, grounding me, taking away my Game Boy…”

Alex nodded and finally sniffed a line of the pink powder.

“And we had this chair in the front hall of the house, we called it the time out chair, because if we ever had a time out…”

Alex nodded again.

“Anyways, the time out chair had a false bottom under the seat. You lift the cushion up and there’s a little stash spot. That was where my Mom used to hide my Game Boy. I knew that’s where she kept it, but she kept an eye on me enough so that I couldn’t sneak it anything like that.”

I could tell Alex was growing bored with my story, so I picked things up a bit.

“So, my Mom, she says ‘OK, Harry, you can have your Game Boy back. It’s under the seat in the time out chair. So I go and lift it…”

Alex’s interest was reignited, I could see it in his glassy eyes as they stay trained on me while his hands subconsciously played with the pile of coke in front of him.

The whiskey has been flowing all night. Emotions are running high. I would never tell this story sober. I would never verbalize my feelings, all the horseshit I’ve been through, ever, in a million years, sober. But that’s the thing about drugs. They say a drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts. I don’t know about all that. When I was deep into crank, I waged a war on a colony of mice in my bedroom that didn’t even fuckin’ exist…

My heart begins to race as the Cocaine does its thing within my system. This is my house warming gift to Alex, a sign of goodwill that not only am I a good roommate, but a cool roommate, one that won’t go ape shit when he sees a bag of hard drugs on the countertop.

It’s funny. I love Cocaine. I fucking love Cocaine. I mean, it is an illicit drug, after all. But more than that, it’s a stimulant. All my bullshit, the whole reason I’m a derelict drug addicted scumbag without a single marketable skill or anything to contribute meaningfully to society, is because of self-esteem.

I do not like who I am.

Cocaine gives me confidence. It gives me the strength I need to bear my soul. Only problem is, the last thing another Cokehead wants to hear, is someone else talking, let alone someone else killing their high with their woe is me horseshit. So I have to be careful.

But when someone asks me directly to air my dirty laundry…

Who am I to deny them?

My heart’s racing, anxiety is beginning to overshadow the euphoria. I fling open the freezer door, nearly whipping Alex in the head as I grab the bottle of Jameson and pour myself a shot, slamming it, without so much as a water bottle as a chaser. Like the tried and true drunk I am.

“…And there’s my Gameboy. But there’s some other shit in there, too…” I say, leaning against the green countertop as I stare down into it.

Alex listens to me in silence, hanging on my every word. I love doing this shit, getting fucked up and telling stories. Feeling whoever’s listening hanging on to my every word, taking pregnant pauses to stroke my ego and flex the only thing I’ve ever been good at. It’s the only time I’ve ever felt power, felt control over other people.

“Y’know those freezer bags? The fuckin’ huge ones that hold like, steaks and shit?” I ask him, turning my inebriated gaze towards him.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” He says hurriedly, knowing what’s about to come next but still anticipating me saying it.

“Imagine one of those, but loaded, fuckin’ loaded with orange pill bottles. Suboxone, Xanax, Adderall, OC’s, and I’m talkin’ fuckin’ 80’s here man…”

We migrate to the porch, where we both light up cigarettes. This is where I really ham it up. I light up my smoke, take a nice, long, drag, and close one eye as I exhale the smoke.

“So there’s this big fuckin’ bag of fuckin’ drugs. I’m tellin’ you right now, I sold drugs for fuckin’ years, I never seen a stash this big. And that’s not the only thing that’s down there…”

Alex is all-in by now, leaning forward in his rocking chair, which I think belonged to his grandmother or something at some point. The ash on his cigarette is approaching Syd Barrett levels as he stares at me.

“Layin’ on that bag, right against it, is a loaded nine millimeter pistol. At least, I think it was a fuckin’ nine mill. I don’t know shit about guns. Never had much interest in them. Nothin’ but extra felonies if you ask me. But I remember… I remember it looked like the one the cops carried.”

“Damn…” Alex replies.

“And… Y’know… I’m fuckin’ 12 years old, man. 11 maybe, I don’t fuckin’ know. Old enough to not know what I was looking at, but old enough to know that I wasn’t supposed to see it, y’know what I mean?”

“Well yeah, man, you were just a kid. You barely knew how to human.”

I nod and take another drag. “So… I go… And I tell my mother. I get my fuckin’ Game Boy, and I go and tell my mother. Because I was a fucking kid, man. I didn’t know…”

At this point, the plane I’ve been flying begins to rapidly drop back towards the ground, gathering more and more momentum with each moment. I almost lose it, but I pull back on the throttle just in time. Just like I always do.

“She comes stormin’ over to the fuckin’ chair, and she sees what I found, and her fuckin’ eyes go wider than I ever seen ‘em go before. And then… Fuckin’ all Hell broke loose. Fightin’, yellin’, screamin’, breakin’ furniture… And all I thought… All I could fuckin’ think… Was that it was my fault…”

“It wasn’t, though.”

“Huh?”

“It wasn’t your fault.”

Now, I know it wasn’t my fault my Dad was a drug pusher with an even bigger drug habit. But you need to know what it’s like inside my head. Any time, and I mean any fucking time I can give myself a good beating, I’m gonna take it. No matter how little sense it makes.

**

“You sound very guilty. Why?” Isaac asks.

“Because if I had just kept my fuckin’ mouth shut, and taken my fuckin’ Game Boy, and shut the fuck up, and not told like a little fuckin’ faggot, my Mom and Dad never woulda had that fight.” I reply, my voice quivering.

“But it wasn’t your fault. Help me understand why you think this was all because of you. Your father was a grown man, he made his own decisions, he decided to start selling drugs. He decided to start abusing drugs. You were a child. You had no idea, no concept of what you had seen. You just knew it was wrong. So you did the right thing. You did what had been taught to you, at least I’m assuming…”

“Yeah…”

“So why bear that cross? Why carry that guilt? You had nothing to do with that, Harry. Your parents never punished you for it, right?”

“Nope.”

“Then why put it on yourself? It seems you’re beating yourself up just for the sake of it. I wish you could see yourself objectively. See all the progress you’ve made. But you filter it through this… Sense of self-loathing. I really do hope one day you can step back, outside your own head, and realize what a good job you’ve been doing.”

“Yeah. Welcome to my world…”

“You’re almost two years sober.”

L-O-L…

“Yeah. Yeah, I know.” I lie.

**

“So now, what, you just don’t fuck with meth and dope anymore?” Alex asks me after the awkwardness has marinated long enough.

I nod. “Damn near everything else is still on the table, though.”

“Me and my brother call that South Shore Sober.”

“Haha.”

“Yeah. Drinkin’, smokin’, the occasional line of blow, tab of LSD, cap of Molly. Just doin’ the best we can.”

“I like that. South Shore Sober.”

“Mhm.”  

**

“Y’know what the fucked up part is, though?” I ask Isaac, tears forming in my eyes.

“What?”

“If I were him? If that were me? Stage four cancer diagnoses, two small kids, a wife I’m gonna leave behind too fuckin’ early to ever make sure she was taken care of, they were taken care of, after I’m gone? I woulda done the same shit. To the tee.”

“I’m not sure where you’re going with this.”

“What I’m fuckin’ trying to tell you, Isaac, is that my Dad was a better man than me. He was stronger than me, tougher than me, been through a hundred times more shit than me. And he was a sniveling fuckin’ junky at the end of the day. Just like me. Why the fuck… Why the fuck couldn’t I be more like my sister? She had the common fuckin’ sense to know that life wasn’t for her. And here I am, runnin’ around like I’m hot shit, but I didn’t even have the fuck integrity he had. The integrity to know what he was sellin’, and advertise it as such. The integrity to stare a man in the face, and be honest with them…”

“You’re not your sister. Or your father. You’re you.”

“Fuckin’ tell me about it…”

“We gotta stop for today, Harry.”

“OK. Thanks.”