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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...

Friday, January 1, 2016

Corned Beef, Cabbage, and Crystal Meth

“Oh fuck, it’s tomorrow!”

Not just any tomorrow, either. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day. I promised my family I’d go to my parents’ house for corned beef and cabbage. Even if it wasn’t cooked by Irish people, corned beef and cabbage would still suck. But I’m an asshole that never sees his family enough, and I’ve run out of excuses for skipping family gatherings. My family is made up of good people, me being one of the few exceptions.

I tend to overthink these kinds of things. Getting together with my family really isn’t all that bad, especially since alcohol is always involved. A lot of ball-busting and jokes, dinner, and then you get to leave. But this particular gathering is a bit different, because I have been up for two days high on crystal meth.

Two weeks ago, I ordered some meth on the internet. What a time to be alive. I only ordered a half gram to spend a weekend with, but the homie sent me two grams instead. I don’t know if it was just a fuck-up on his part or a slick move to get me strung out and hooked. If it was the latter, it worked. Very well.

Which brings us to now. It’s 6 AM, I’m tweaking, and trying to drink myself to sleep. I want off of the ride. But in order to get off, I need (at least) two days to catch up on sleep, eat, and cry to myself about how things got to this point. I don’t have two days. I barely have a few hours. I elect to chug the rest of this whiskey and set an alarm for 10 AM. Sleep is a necessity, as I’d rather my mother not have to learn what stimulant psychosis is at the dinner table.

When I awaken I’m so strung out and weak that I can’t even keep my eyes open. My chest hurts and my tongue is stuck to the roof of my very dry mouth. I remember this feeling from my nights of heavy drinking and MDMA use. I’m still pretty drunk, too. I know that my only means of escape from this bed is a shot of meth. Here we go…

I never should’ve started shooting this toxic shit. I’ve tried my best to keep the vein damage and track marks to a minimum these last two weeks, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re injecting meth. Even though I used a fresh spike every time, my arms are covered in grotesque track marks and huge black and blue bruises. Shockingly enough, tweakers don’t have the steadiest of hands, and I’ve missed more than a few times. I do my shot. The rush isn’t even pleasurable anymore. My heart races and my palms sweat. How my body still has any liquid inside of it after all this is beyond me.

Good Lord, I look like shit. Almost like a person that’s been tweaking for two weeks straight. I’m sickly looking, with bags under my eyes. My face is even paler than usual and I’ve lost five to ten pounds. My pupils are huge too. Fuck, man. No amount of cold showers and black coffee can level me out of this one. But I try anyway.

All I can do is try to act natural, which is easier said than done. I can barely focus on the road as I drive, since all I can think about is what a piece of shit I am. Driving to go see my family drunk and on crystal meth. There seems to be no low that I won’t stoop to. Thankfully I make it to my parents’ house in one piece and without ruining anyone else’s life.

Everyone is already here. I don’t think anyone is on to me yet, except for my Dad. He knew something was up the second he saw my strung-out ass. You can’t bullshit a bullshitter, and my Dad is a master bullshitter. He’s been clean for years now, but he still knows every trick in the god damn book. “You ok, son?” He whispers to me sympathetically as I walk into the living room. God damn it, this is brutal already. That “I’m genuinely concerned for you as a friend or family member and am scared you’re going to die” inflection is the worst. I’ve had a lot of “we need to talk about your drug use” talks over the years, and the angry “WHY CAN’T YOU JUST STOP BEING SUCH A FUCK-UP!?!” ones are so much easier than the supportive, calm, ones. “Yeah, Dad. I’m fine.”

I make myself a very stiff Jameson and coke and have a seat at the table. My younger sister sits next to me. I’m proud of her. She’s the exact opposite of me. She works hard and does well in school. She doesn’t use her rough upbringing as an excuse to use drugs and wallow in self-pity like I do. “You look like you lost weight.” She mentions as she stares at the mess that is her older brother. “Yeah I’ve just been…” Everything stops. I cannot do words right now. Yup, I’m having a brain zap. These are common with stimulant drug abuse. You’re sitting there, having an inane and illogical conversation, and then… nothing. The crystal took the words right out of my mouth. I snap my fingers, say a lot of “um’s” and “fuckin’s” to start my brain up again. “…Eating less shitty food. Sorry, I was out late last night…”

I barely say a word while my relatives talk amongst themselves at the table. Mentally, I checked out days ago. I am on auto-pilot and every time I open my mouth this becomes more and more apparent. My mother brings out the corned beef and cabbage. I have never been this unhappy to see food in my entire life. The thought of eating nauseates me, despite not having done so in two days. But I can’t just not eat. That would blow what little cover I have left, if any.

I swallow the bits of corned beef and cabbage like pills. I almost gag and puke right there at the table. “Come on Harry, it’s not that bad!” My uncle jokes. “Hehe, my drink went down the wrong pipe, I guess.” I croak back. “You still working at the pharmacy?” My aunt asks me. “Yup. Still there.” Shit, that’s right, I do still work at the pharmacy. Doing exactly what I was doing when I was 19 years old. I punch the same clock as legitimately retarded people. My job can be performed regardless of having little to no grasp on the English language. It’s funny how real life fades to static when your world revolves around getting high. Then, when you least expect it, it kicks back in, and it’s loud and unnerving as all Hell. My aunt isn’t drunk enough to comment on the severe lack of progress in my life and I’m very thankful for that.

I can barely get half the plate down before I have to tap out. I shouldn’t have drank so much so quickly. Jesus Christ, acting normal is hard. It used to be so easy. Everyone’s talking about TV shows they’re watching or movies that have come out recently. Cable and Netflix cost money, so I have neither of them. “You don’t watch Game of Thrones?!?” My little cousin asks in shocked disbelief. “Nah. Never seen it.” I reply robotically. “I’m going out for a smoke. Care to join me?” My Dad asks. Ah fuck, here it comes…

We smoke on the back deck in tense silence until my Dad finally pipes up. “You sure you’re alright brotha? You look rough.” “Yeah, Dad, I’m fine… really. Just had a rough night, you know?” My Dad reaches into his pocket and pulls out two pills. “Well, you know that if you’re struggling with anything, you need anything, you can call me. I’ve been through it all, I know how it goes.” He dumps a couple of his Ativan out into his palm. “I know that, back when I would have a rough night, I’d pray that a few of these would fall out of the sky. I feel like you could use some of these right now.” I just nod and put them in my pocket. “Thanks, Dad.” “Don’t take them until you’re home and you’ve sobered up a little. And lay off the Jameson, you’re driving.”

Everything comes to a boil as I walk back inside. Free drugs are free drugs, and who wouldn’t be pumped to be handed some benzos after a meth binge? But not when your Dad has to give them to you. He knows I’ve gone off the deep end at this point, and he’ll find out just how badly eventually. My brain has been depleted of serotonin and dopamine. Throw some whiskey and shame over that and you’ve got a recipe for a breakdown. I’m gonna lose it if I don’t level out with more crystal. I head to the bathroom and mix up a shot. There’s a knock at the door while I tie off. “Just a minute!” I snarl with my belt clenched between my teeth.

Of course, I can’t find a fucking vein. Dehydration always constricts my veins. It takes me almost ten minutes to finally hit and my arms are covered in blood. I go to check the medicine cabinet after I wash my arms, but stop just short of opening it. “Really, dude?” I leave the bathroom to find my sister waiting outside. This just gets better and better. I mumble out a “Sorry...” as I walk past her and go to the living room.  

I make up a lie about having to go to work and leave as quickly as possible. “Be safe, remember what I said.” My Dad says as I hurry out. I put my meth in my sock and ditch my needle out of the window as I drive. Only break one law at a time. With my high tolerance to alcohol and the crystal coursing through my veins, I am surprisingly lucid as I drive. But in the eyes of the law, I’m driving drunk. It just dawned on me that it’s Saint Patrick’s Day, the day of drunks, and the cops might be anticipating people doing the same dumb shit that I am doing. But the luck of the Irish prevails, and I make it home safely.

Crystal meth might be the only drug I’ve ever been scared straight with. It’s just too damn powerful for its own good. The first night or two of partying is fun, but god damn does it turn its back on you quickly. I no longer wish to tweak, and debate taking the Ativan. The benzos would put me out of my misery and get me some much needed rest. But the depression and shame compel me to run back into the loving arms of heroin. Yeah, I could really go for some heroin right about now.

I call Slim first. He’s rarely late and is the most professional connect I have. He drives a nice car, but not too nice. He doesn’t dress like a thug, because he doesn’t have to. His eyes do all the intimidation for him. “Sup, bruh. Haven’t seen you in a minute.” He says as he closes the door to my apartment. “Yeah, tried the quitting thing, didn’t work out so good.” I mumble back. “Hehe, heard that before. This new shit’s pretty fucking crazy, though. Take it slow, ‘specially if you been off it for a while.” “I certainly hope you’re not just blowing smoke up my ass here, Slim, and that this heroin is indeed good enough to potentially kill me.” “Thanks, man. I’ll be careful.” “No problem, bruh. You got my number.”

I can barely discern the bruises and my veins at this point. I’m out of fresh needles and have to use an old one, which gets duller and duller with each failed attempt to register. My jaw aches as I bite down harder on my belt in frustration. “FUCK!” I take a moment to compose myself as blood runs down my arms and I try to hold back the tears. After taking a deep breath, I steady my hands, tie off again, and…

An overturned chair, an old needle, drugs everywhere, and a body covered in dried blood. My room looks like a crime scene. “What the fuck happened? It’s 10 PM, have I discovered time travel?” I landed on my chest, apparently, and now have a nice big bruise there to match my arms. “Maybe an angel came down from heaven and beat my chest until I returned to consciousness, saving my life.” This retarded idea makes me giggle childishly as I stumble to bed. I’m way too high for the gravity of the situation to truly sink in. I don’t care, and I love it.

I can finally get some sleep. 

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