I punch the steering wheel, sigh, and start texting Middle-Man Mike, asking what this dude’s coke prices are like. Seconds later he calls me, informing me that this guy will sell me half a ball of fire coke for $80, or a full ball for $160. Tempting to say the least. The voice of reason in my head makes a final attempt to dissuade me when I open my wallet and see I only have $70. “I don’t know if I can swing it, man, I could only spend like 50 bucks max.” I tell him. But Middle-Man Mike assures me this is not an issue, and that he can accommodate me as long as I accommodate him. He tells me he’ll be at my house in 10 minutes to take me to meet the new connect.
As I get in Middle-Man Mike’s car I’m tempted to ask him if this dude sells heroin, but I resist. Middle-Man Mike is a former dope fiend himself, and I know he won’t judge me, but you know how people talk. The label of “heroin addict” is a scarlet letter, even amongst fellow drug users. Middle-Man Mike exchanged his daily dope injections with monthly Vivitrol shots years ago, but he is still incredibly well connected and can get you pretty much anything you want, as long as you make it worth his while. Hence why everyone calls him Middle-Man Mike. As we leave my house Middle-Man Mike informs me that the coke dealer is just 30 minutes away, or several hours in drug dealer time. In the meantime I accompany Middle-Man Mike as he gets an alcohol run for some high school kids and arranges a few more coke deals for other people. Middle-Man Mike is a true professional. He’ll arrange the meeting with his dealer, take his portion of the drugs or a cash tip, and then give you the dealer’s number. No bullshit, no hidden fees, just the way I like it.
We pick up a kid named Kevin and head back to Middle-Man Mike’s parents’ house to wait for the coke man. Surprisingly he shows up on time and introduces himself as Brandon. I can’t help but stare as the duffel bag of drugs he’s brought in with him. There must be at least a pound of weed in there, along with a bunch of shatter and a couple of ounces of coke. He offers to sell me a half ball of coke for $70, and I accept. Two more kids come and go to pick up from Brandon before he gives me his number and takes off. “I gotta stop making plays in the house, good thing my Mom’s asleep!” Middle-Man Mike whispers as Kevin and I follow him upstairs to his bedroom.
Upstairs, Middle-Man Mike puts Blue Mountain State on Netflix and pulls a plastic Walgreen’s bag out from under his bed. He pulls out a spoon and a fresh syringe and I instantly become jealous. “You can put my share on that piece of paper.” He says, pointing to a “Keeping your kids off drugs” pamphlet that sits on a table littered with drug paraphernalia. I give him a generous chunk of coke and begin to cut myself a line on my smart phone. Middle-Man Mike eagerly undoes his belt and wraps it around his bicep, flexing until the big vein on his forearm makes its presence known. I can’t help but stare as he mixes up his shot of coke. God damn needle fetish, I swear it’ll haunt me for the rest of my fucking life. My breathing gets heavy as I watch the barrel of the rig flush with blood and the plunger slowly pump Middle-Man Mike’s vein with some of that Paris Hilton. Hnnnngggg…. I might as well be watching porn. The needle craving is like being horny or thirsty or hungry, maybe even worse. Middle-Man Mike quickly takes his belt off his arm as a giddy but tense smile creeps across his face. I wanna ask him for a clean spike, but I resist as I look down at the scars on my forearm from my last IV coke binge. “Just snort it you junky fuck, you know what’ll happen if you start banging that shit again.” My conscience barks at me. I listen, albeit reluctantly.
The coke is good, really good. Middle-Man Mike gives me a valium in exchange for another shot. I am now happy as a pig in shit since I won’t have to endure the early morning post-coke comedown in which I drink myself to sleep while making empty promises to myself about how I need to change. Kevin tells us he’s going over to his friend Jorge’s house to chill, and invites Middle-Man Mike and I to join him. I take a moment to ponder my options. I can go home and sniff coke by myself, say some regrettable things to strangers on the internet, and make several fruitless attempts at masturbation. Or I can accompany Kevin and Middle-Man Mike to Jorge’s where there are other human beings. We can snort coke and talk at one another about how we need to “grow up and get our shit together” and how we can “do coke here and there, because at least we aren’t shooting dope.” That sounds splendid. We all get into Kevin’s car and head out.
“Nas is the best rapper ever. What do you think about that?” Kevin asks Middle-Man Mike as we drive. Middle-Man Mike shrugs. “I don’t really listen to Nas.” I’m highly tempted to interject and politely inform Kevin that while highly influential, Nas’ body of work is wildly inconsistent, and while he is a gifted lyricist, his beat selection skills leave much to be desired. Takeover was better than Ether, and The Black Album is better than anything Nas ever wrote, even Illmatic. But I know better than to start a debate when Cocaine is involved. Not to mention the fact that I’ve hardly known Kevin for two hours and he’s already told me several stories about him being arrested for a plethora of charges, one of which was assault with a deadly weapon. His two missing teeth seem imply that he isn’t full of shit, and not someone I’d want to antagonize. “Dude, listen to this song, he raps as a gun in this one.” He says. The valium is burning a hole in my pocket. I know I’m supposed to save it for the comedown, but I rarely get to indulge in benzos, and I’m anxious about meeting new people. I’ll gladly stick a needle full of dirty cotton water into my veins, but God forbid I branch out and meet some new fucking people. Ugh. I disgust me.
I break the valium in half and pop the smaller chunk, promising myself to save the larger half for the end of the night. Kevin threatens to play some J. Cole after this Nas song. Nas isn’t bad, but I’m coked up and in no mood for him and his “lyrical wizardry.” I wanna hear some ignorant shit. We stop at Kevin’s house to pick up some beer since all the liquor stores are closed. When he gets out of the car, Middle-Man Mike heroically hijacks the auxiliary cord to Kevin’s stereo and puts on some Kevin Gates.
I was tryina get it how I live…
I want them dead presidents…
I wanna pull up…
Get-it-get-fly, I got six jobs, I don’t get tired!
The bass in Kevin’s car is so loud it almost knocks the coke off my car key. I greedily sniff it up before it falls. Fuck yeah, I love this song. As my old heroin dealer Slim used to say, “Listen to my man Gates talk to these niggas, bruh.” The valium/coke combo is lovely, why don’t I do it more often? Kevin and Middle-Man Mike are trading war stories in the front seat. “…That kid Brandon, though, he gets liquid acid. Real acid too, not that fake shit. I’ll do the fake shit, I don’t care, but I hate when people don’t tell you it’s fake. If you sell me fake acid and tell me it’s real, I’m punching you in the fucking face.” I hear Middle-Man Mike say with coked-up confidence. I am glad that Middle-Man Mike seems to have forgotten that I knowingly sold him fake acid as real acid on several occasions.
We arrive at Jorge’s and I’m introduced to him, Jessica, and Tom. Everyone is sniffing coke, their own coke, which makes me very happy since I won’t have to share mine. Jessica is a heavyset Hispanic chick with big tits. Cocaine and fat girls, two of my favorite things. I’ll never know why big girls get me going the way they do. I stopped trying to play armchair psychologist with myself years ago and just accepted it. I dump some coke out on their kitchen counter and do a few big lines while we shoot the shit.
Moments later I find out that Jessica is Jorge’s girlfriend. Fuck it, it’s not like my dick works anyway. I haven’t showered today and my jeans have tell-tale burn holes from nodding out with cigarettes lit. I do not look like an attractive mate by any stretch of the imagination. My eyes hurt from the ancient pair of contact lenses I’m wearing. I keep meaning to order new ones, but y’know, heroin….
Jorge and Jessica run out of coke. Middle-Man Mike calls Brandon and he comes over, once again bringing his duffel bag of fun out with him. Jorge is speechless as Brandon nonchalantly pulls out his big bag of coke and weighs out an 8-ball. “Are you an undercover?” He asks Brandon. At first we think he’s joking, but his coked-out paranoid stare says otherwise. “Nah, man… Are you?” Brandon asks, clearly sketched out as he lifts his shirt up. Seemingly satisfied with his answer, Jorge pulls out some cash. “You got change, man?” Brandon nods and pulls out one of the biggest knots of cash I’ve ever seen. There has to be at least five grand there. “Dude! You gotta be careful! God damn!” Jorge says as he gets his change. Brandon nods, leaves, and we all agree that robbing him would be quite a lucrative endeavor. Not that any of us would ever do something like that, of course.
Kevin is a solid dude. Troubled, sure, but solid. We sniff coke together while he tells me stories of being in jail, halfway houses, and even the psych ward. He generously feeds me cigarettes and beer and I debate asking him for advice regarding my upcoming court date. I try to push the thought out of my head, but it persists. Hearing Kevin’s trials and tribulations, most of which were brought on by heroin, scares me. As I listen to Kevin I can’t help but feel like I’m looking into the future, and the future looks rough. I try to tell myself I won’t get to that point, but I also said I’d never do heroin, so what does my word even mean at this point? “I gotta quit drinking, man. It always leads to me sniffing coke, doing stupid shit. Enough’s enough, time to grow up and quit fucking around.” Kevin says. I do drugs to avoid these kind of talks. Though I’m sure he doesn’t mean to, Kevin is reminding me of what a fuck-up I am, and how I’ve said the same thing so many times. To remedy this, I dump the rest of my coke out and shovel it into my face in four fat lines.
Too much coke. Heart is racing. Must concentrate on not dying. What time is it? 4:30?!?! Fuck. Time flies when you’re doing drugs. Oh shit, I have valium! I swallow the remains of the pill with a swig of beer and within 20 minutes my coke-induced anxiety and looming depression are replaced with complacent serenity. I could get used to these benzo things, too bad I don’t have a consistent connection for them.
At 6 AM Jorge kicks us out and Kevin drives me home. I stumble into my bedroom and collapse into bed. It occurs to me that I have $15 to last me ‘till payday. But that is a problem for future me. Future me is very resourceful, and I have faith that he will find a way to keep my gas tank and stomach full over the next five days. He won’t be happy about it, but he’ll find a way. He always does.