Jeff Glinsky has sent you a message on Facebook!
“What’s good bro? You get a new number? I been calling you all week.”
I check my phone. No missed calls. He must’ve been calling my old burner.
“Sorry man, yeah, it’s XXX-XXX-XXXX.”
My cell phone rings and I answer it. I’m pretty sure I can guess what happens next.
“Yo! Harry! What’s good, man? You going to Tribe tonight?”
Shit, that IS tonight, isn’t it?! God fucking damn it, I completely forgot. I NEVER miss STS9…
“Is it sold out? I thought it was next weekend.”
“Yeah it’s sold out, but I got an extra spot on guest list if you want it.”
I haven’t been to a show in months, maybe even a year. I fell out of the scene right around the time the heroin showed up and the money ran out. Funny how that works.
“Uh… Sure, man! I’ll take it. Thanks.”
“No problem bro. Just show your ID at will call and you’ll have a ticket. How’s everything been with you, anyway? I haven’t seen you at any shows lately.”
“Well Jeff, it’s funny you should mention it. A few months ago I made the conscious decision to withdraw from society and devote my life to heroin…”
“I’ve just been really busy with work and shit, man. I’m tryna save money for a new place, y’know?”
“Yeah, I feel you. Hey, you think you could…”
“Here it comes…”
“…Help me out with some party favors for tonight?”
“Hmmm… I’ve actually been out of the game for a little while now, but I still might be able to help you out. What’re you looking for?”
“Aw, really? Well I’m looking for a gram of Molly and a half strip of L if you know anybody.”
“Let me make some calls, I’ll definitely help you out if I find anything.”
“Thanks, bro. Either way I’ll see you tonight!”
“Yup. Later, man.”
My junky instincts tell me that I’ve already won. Jeff’s kindness has been his downfall. He should’ve asked me for the drugs before offering the ticket. I could hear the disappointment in his voice as he hung up. But Jeff is a good person, and I’ve fucked over enough people for this lifetime. I know the crushing disappointment of being blown off by your connect all too well, so I start making calls. It’s harder than I thought. Usually when I want Molly or acid I go through the darknet. I haven’t even bothered with local street dealers in quite a while. The best I can find is some sass, which Jeff accepts out of desperation. I tell him I’ll meet him outside the venue in a few hours.
This will be my fifth time seeing STS9, and the first time without being fried out of my skull on some sort of psychedelic. I thought about maybe grabbing myself some sass for the night but decided against it. Rolling alone kinda sucks, though I guess you’re never truly alone in the jam scene. I don’t know if or how long I’ll be chilling with Jeff tonight, but I guarantee I’ll see plenty of familiar faces. Which kinda sucks. I have no good answers for how and where I’ve been these last few months. I’ll be telling some lies tonight, no doubt.
After my arrest I got drunk and deleted all my dealers’ numbers. Boy did I regret that in the morning. But it worked. A lack of connects, money, and fear of going to the city to cop again has kept me clean for eight weeks. So at least I don’t have tracks to cover up. I still have a few hours before doors. Better get nice and loaded before I head to the venue.
My alcohol tolerance is kinda scary. In my dealing days I could drink a fifth of whiskey in a night and have little to no hangover the next day. I’ve cut down to just the weekends now, but I can still drink a staggering amount of hard liquor before I get sloppy or embarrassing. I grab a fifth of bottom shelf whiskey and kill half of it before I leave. I dump some more into a personal sized coke bottle to keep my buzz going on the bus and train rides to the venue. I’m nice and loose by the time I arrive. As I approach the venue I see a long line of kids in flat brim hats adorned with the headiest of pins. Chicks in those weird yoga pants with the psychedelic and cosmic designs on them. Dilated pupils and smiles for miles.
“Yooo! What’s good!?” Jeff greets me in line with a smile. I dap him up and he subtly hands me the $80 for his gram of sass. We merge into the crowded line and I hand him the goods. “Thanks a lot, bro. For real.” He says as he lights a smoke. “No problem, man. Thanks for the ticket. I totally forgot this was tonight, I’ve been wicked busy lately…” “Yeah it’s gonna be dope for sure. You’ve met my girlfriend, right…?” Jeff motions to the short girl with pink and blue hair next to him. “Suzie, right?” I guess. “Yup! And you’re the molly man!” She replies with a smile. “Hehe, I used to be, not so much anymore… I go by Harry these days.” “What made you get out, if you don’t mind me asking? You didn’t get popped or anything, did you?” Jeff asks. “No, no, nothing like that. It was just… time, you know? You can’t do that shit forever. I had my fun, but you gotta know when to walk away. To tell ya the truth, it’s nice to not have to look over my shoulder anymore.” I lie. Jeff nods. “Definitely. I can’t imagine how much dough you and your boy made at The Bay last summer! You must have a nice little retirement fund set aside, huh?” I grit my teeth and smile. “Yeah, I remember seeing you guys there like every weekend!” Suzie adds. “I did alright.” I say modestly. “You’re right Jeff, I made a lot of money! And I put it all up my nose, in my stomach, and in my arms to make sure nobody steals it!” “Well, we gotta go grab our tickets at will call, thanks again bro. I’m sure I’ll see you inside!” Jeff says. “No problem man, see you in there!” “Bye Molly Man!” Suzie says as she follows Jeff to will call. A random hippie in line overhears her and turns to me. “Are you the molly man?” He asks in a spaced-out, Tommy Chong voice. “Not anymore, man.”
“You have anything to drink tonight, pal?” The man distributing wristbands asks me as I show my ID. My speech isn’t slurred, I’m not stumbling, but my breath stinks of whiskey. “No sir.” I say, making direct eye contact with him. “You sure?” “Yes.” “You really sure? You can tell me, you know.” This guy really thinks he’s a fucking cop. “I haven’t had anything to drink, sir.” Paul Blart gives me the up-and-down look as if that’s any indication of whether I’ve been drinking and reluctantly gives me a wristband. I’ve stumbled into this club hundreds of times on several different narcotics without security batting an eye. Figures the one time I go in legally intoxicated they decide to bust my balls.
Holy shit, everyone is fucked up. But that’s to be expected at an STS9 show. I go to the bar and buy a single shot of crown royal. “Ten dollars.” The bartender says flatly. I wince as I hand her my card to start a tab. I remember when I’d go out with $250 as my nightly drinking budget and still come out of the club having made money. After this shot I’ll be stuck drinking PBR all night. Suddenly, a sweaty hand slams down on my shoulder. I nearly choke on my shot. “Can I help you?!” I ask, annoyed as I turn to face my attacker. “Hey man!” A kid with gigantic pupils and a big smile says to me. He pulls me in for a great big hug, sponsored by Ecstasy. “Hey, man…” I reply with uncertainty. “Let me the fuck go right now, you’re covered in sweat.” He lets go, as if to read my mind. “I haven’t seen you around in so long! You remember me, right?” I don’t remember him at all, but this isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. “Oh, fuck! What’s good, dude! Sorry, I’ve had a lot to drink, I had no idea who you were at first. I was like ‘who the fuck is this guy hugging me’?” Lie number three. “Then what’s my name?” He asks. “Uh….” “I was trying to be nice, now you’re just pissing me off…” “Ah, I’m just fucking with you, man!! Hey, I got a couple friends looking for some…” “I’m outta the game, man. I wish I could help you out. Enjoy the show though, alright!” I turn my back to him and bolt into the crowd.
As the opening act leaves the stage, a herd of hippies spills out into the smoking section. That’s when I saw him. The Butcher. “Oh shit!” I hear him yell as he approaches me with a smile. He calls himself The Butcher ‘cause it’s his actual job. Anticlimactic, I know. Our paths had crossed a few times at various shows where I’d sold him tabs and Molly. One night out I was snorting coke with him and he asked me if I fucked with brown. That’s when I decided to keep my distance from him. I already thought he was a sketchy dude to begin with, and the fact that he did heroin skeeved me out even more. But much has changed in the last year, and for the first time ever, I’m happy to see him.
“Butcher! What’s up, brotha!” “Where the fuck have you been, man!? You never answer your fuckin’ phone, you get locked up or something?” He asks. The “I shoot dope face” is a tough thing to describe if you’ve never seen it before. Visible cheekbones, a grey complexion, pinned eyes, The Butcher has it all. I can’t see his arms under his sweatshirt, but I’d bet money he isn’t just “snorting the shit on and off” anymore. “You’re like the billionth person to say that shit to me tonight. I been out of the game for a minute now. I tossed my burner, that’s probably the number you’ve been calling.” The Butcher lights a smoke. “Fuck. So you’re not holding?” I shake my head. “’Fraid not. You look like you’re having fun, though.” I motion to my eyes. The Butcher smirks and takes a pull from his cigarette. “Yeah, I’m feeling alright.” “Between you and I…” I begin, lowering my voice. I pause for a moment. “Don’t you fucking dare, you junky bastard. Eight weeks. Eight god damn weeks!” The Butcher looks at me in confusion. “…Do you still fuck with brown?” No sense beating around the bush. The Butcher chuckles and exhales a plume of smoke. A smart-ass grin creeps across his face. “So that’s what happened to you.” I nod and light another cigarette. “I fell off big time. But my connect got popped a couple weeks ago. Think you could help me get on your level? I’ll make it worth your while.” “Yeah, man. I can help you out. I don’t think I can do it tonight, but if you’ll be around tomorrow I can definitely make it happen.” “Yeah, I’ll be around tomorrow. Let me get your number…”“Fuck…”
\Mercifully, no one else recognizes me for the rest of the show. I still miss being a drug dealer, but I forget about that as Tribe takes the stage. I fucking love live music. Somewhere along the line I started loving drugs more. In a rare display of self-control, I cut myself off after a few beers. I thought seeing a jam band without hallucinogens might get boring, but I’m loving every minute of this set. The average age of those in the crowd varies wildly, but the younger kids rolling and tripping their faces off give me a rush of nostalgia. They remind me that drugs used to be fun, and that I’m getting older. Damn.
Tribe closes it out with Scheme and everyone goes fucking crazy. I walk out of the venue tired and sweaty, but happy. This show has provided a much-needed release, and tomorrow I get to do heroin! I don’t know how I feel about that last bit, actually. I have been doing well, and it’s not too late to just delete The Butcher’s number….
“Check this shit out, dude. I got fuckin…” The Butcher begins to nod out. I’m in his shitbox of a car on the way to go cop with him. “Yo!” He slowly rises back to consciousness. We haven’t even left his apartment and it’s already looking grim. He just had to kill the last of his stash before he grabbed more. “Shit, sorry. I got fuckin’ STS9’s set from Vibes 2012 on my phone…” The Butcher plugs his phone into one of those ghetto cassette adapters that goes into the tape deck of his car stereo. “I thought they kinda sucked last night, dude. That broad they got playing bass isn’t as good as the old guy. But this set right here, I was there for this shit. Best fucking time I ever seen ‘em, dude.” I nod as we begin driving, clutching a bottled water and trying to mask my paranoia. “You go to any fests this summer?” The Butcher asks. “Nah. Not since I started with this shit…”
As we drive further into the city my surroundings become more and more familiar. We’re heading towards the hood. Not just any hood, but the hood I used to cop at. The last time I was here, I left in cuffs. The Butcher drives slowly down the street I got busted on as if to mock me. He slows down to a complete stop and grabs his phone. My heart is pounding in my chest. I’m scanning each and every parked car we pass for detectives playing a game of “find the white boy.” “Oh, fuck… It’s the next street…” The Butcher mumbles. We turn onto the next street and park at the side of the road. “He doesn’t like me parking outside his spot. You got that bread?” I hand him my money and he goes to meet the man. “You’re a fucking moron, you know that? Forget about the judge showing you any mercy now. You’re done…” I take a deep breath. Panicking will help no one. The Butcher’s shitbox blends in in the ghetto. At least there’s that. None of the other cars seem occupied or look as though they’d be driven by cops. All I can do is pray to junky Jesus…
The Butcher returns a few minutes later. He takes his sweet time walking back to his car, which does little to ease my anxiety. “There you go, man.” He says as he drops my bag of dope in my hand. I immediately put it in my mouth and take the cap off my water bottle. “Jesus, dude. Little paranoid are we?” The Butcher says as he starts his car. “Hehe, never can be too careful.” The Butcher puts his dope inside his glovebox and locks it. I assume he thinks cops can’t look there, since Jay-Z said so in “99 Problems.” But I know that cops can do whatever the fuck they want.
The Butcher brings me back to his apartment. I’m riding on one ass cheek the entire time. When we finally get back to my car I feel safe again. “Alright dude, enjoy that shit, call me whenever you need some.” He says as I dap him up. “Thanks for helping me out, man.” I’m ecstatic as I drive home with my prize stuffed into my sock. “I did it! I fucking did it!! I WIN!!!” I crank The Disco Biscuits as I drive like an old lady all the way home. I have to make a quick stop at Walgreens to grab spikes. My lucky day gets even luckier as I approach the pharmacy counter and see the Asian guy is working tonight. If that frumpy cunt Kathy was working I’d get shot down. But the Asian doesn’t give a fuck. He understands the futility in denying me my spikes. I have to resist the urge not to skip and whistle back to my car as I walk out of the store.
Rip bag open.
Pour in spoon.
Mix with water.
Draw into syringe.
I slump back into my chair and float away. The rush fades, but the nod doesn’t follow. I did a pretty big shot, especially for someone with two months off. “Fuck, two months. Two months down the god damn drain…” This dope isn’t even that good. All that anxiety, all that bullshit, for this…
I know what I have to do.
It’s for the best.
“Delete ‘The Butcher’ from your contacts?”
Time for another shot…