Heroin: No Postcards From Portugal
“You may like reading, The Freaky Fungal Family Tree,” I told one of the two waitresses attending my table who’d noticed I was reading, and then had asked for book recommendations on that sun-splashed afternoon. That’s the explanation any of us three shared when strangers encountered us thereafter and inquired how we’d first met. After all, and because of our age differences, we were a curiosity. The two, who at first, became muses for my literary work. Eventually, well, what can I say? Legally, we were all adults…
My former cell phone number was 201-484-9631. As of today, I closed my Verizon account which provided mobile access for that number. The $600 smartphone, also provided by Verizon, I’ll donate to the local homeless shelter to do with as they may, once someone else gets suckered into signing up again for G5 mobile service. I only got the freaking thing because I needed to go back and forth for a series of eye surgery operations at a hospital several cities away from where I live. The final of those cut and paste procedures took place last Thursday. Health insurance and cell phones suck, but they’re necessary evils you need every now and then to survive in today’s world. Today’s world: What a joke. It ain’t any better than the world of yesterday – today’s world simply and endlessly drills that little lie into your brain that it is. I’m done!
I got a call on the cell from my girls now out in Los Angeles last night. Other than a business colleague and a guitar-playing friend who helped me set up my now disconnected phone, I’ve never given anyone the number I just shared with everyone reading this. Needing the device to only book Uber car rides for the hospital appointments, no one else besides my girls ever phoned me on my mobile number. They even helped me pick it out on the Verizon online store site so they could call me as soon as I got out of surgery to check on how I was doing. The joke’s on all of us I guess, what I knew about surgical procedures was equal to what I knew about smartphones. Because before the operation it was required I leave all personal effects, including the phone, in a locker until I was released from the facility’s care. Today’s world!
So, during the call from my muses the other evening, they dropped the big one. They’d met someone. Not sure if it was a man or woman, and that doesn’t matter to me. Full disclosure: I’ve been in a throuple with my girls for nearly a year now – and monogamy was never a concern. In fact, it was an exhilarating sense of freedom not having to be concerned about it. What I am concerned with concerning the person they just met is that person’s profession: dealing heroin. You see, their new acquaintance just introduced the two of them to the product pushers pushed. And according to my girls, it was GREAT!
Great – I’ve heard that before. I’ve even had a few personal experiences with junkies during my tenure in yesterday’s world, and they all think the first hit is great. I’ve watched from the sidelines how it just always goes south and downhill thereafter. There goes your better judgment. There goes your health, dreams, career, family, goals, plans, ambitions, reputation, integrity, and practically everything else. And for an unlucky number of heroin addicts, oops, there goes your life! This is the point where I’ll choose to digress and tell you about an experience I had with one junkie in yesterday’s world – so read on if you will...
I’d been in a relationship with that addict from my former life for nearly as long as I’ve been in this throuple I just told you about. I knew she was using. She even tried to turn me on to it a few times, but I was never interested. Heroin scared me shitless. I accepted that smack would get the best of me. I was weak – but I wasn’t stupid. For a relatively uneducated person I acknowledged my own limitations rather well, and that I lacked the strength and fortitude to master the evil opiate. Yet, I was absent of intelligence, or perhaps the experience, in how to handle life with an addict. Instead, I told her to not only get out of the apartment we shared on the Lower Eastside of Manhattan but to leave my world as well. And she did, albeit with having not revealed she was pregnant with a child. Our child. My child; at the time of her exile.
Damn, I’d not known I even had a son until the call from the NYPD to identify their bodies. Apparently, according to the cops, she thought it was a good idea to nurse the child as she lay in bed after shooting up. If you’d known my former girlfriend then you’d surely conclude, especially if you’d ever sampled her attempts at baking, she lacked a talent for measuring the proportions of ingredients required in a recipe. So, can you take a wild guess at what happened? BINGO! She not only ODed but fell unconscious atop the baby she was nursing, our son, and the boy suffocated. A police officer shared the kid’s name with me: Alan. That was the seldom-used middle name my parent had hung on me. Alan – I had a dead son named Alan. Now the jokes on me, and it’s a joke I’m rarely willing to retell to others.
I so vividly can recall what led to my ex’s exile. The deeper she got into heroin the more I felt like I was standing on a seashore as I watched her being dragged further out into the ocean by a riptide. An undertow that was stronger than she realized, and was something never to be mastered. While I stood helplessly as it pulled her down I’d silently think to myself, “Drop me a postcard when you get to Portugal.” But junkies seldom live to see the Portuguese coastline. Nor, do some of their children. It’s just a fact of life. And anyway, I’m done. Now, let’s return to the last tale I’ll ever share with you about my girls in California.
So, they told me all about their newly acquired dope connection. This dealer had turned them on for free. That’s something pushers usually do because they know you’ll be back to pay for the next one, then another hit, and another, and all the future fixes after that. Fixes - well, ain’t that the cutest little moniker! What once was fun becomes a fix to maintain the brief and temporary respite of not succumbing to the dreaded dope sickness when you can’t find a fix. When a junkie is “jonesing” they’ll do anything for a fix. You just name it and call the shots, for a fix; they’ll do whatever someone wants. I remembered; I lived through it a few times in yesterday’s world, and the sickly experience I sadly shared with a user. Take it from me, withdrawal’s sick. I know, I watched that woman I used to love sweat, shake, puke, piss, and even crap herself silly when she couldn’t find a fix. Now, I’m done.
My girls also said when I come to stay with them in LA this summer, as we’d tentatively planned, they’ll turn me on to their newly discovered acquaintance with that amazing product they’re sure I’d love. I said nothing. I only listened in muted silence to their delusions of an inner ability to beat heroin at its own game and not get hooked by the devious and deadly drug. They’d accomplish what those who were destroyed and died from diamorphine addiction failed to do. They’d break, tame, and ride the wild white horse, unlike all the others who’d attempted to bust that bucking bronco before them. They’d be the exception to the rule. Me? I realized quite a while ago I’d live longer by playing by the rules when it came to addictions. I’m weak.
I said nothing as they prattled and rattled on about this new pipedream. Instead, I watched two more people whom I loved being dragged out to a deadly diacetylmorphine sea as I stood upon an imaginary shore. Calling out from the now shifting sands upon which I stood; I did not. For I accepted words were useless when speaking to dopeheads. Attempting to rescue them from their own dead-end device; I did not. For I knew entering the sea that had grasped them they’d only pull me down with them as they slowly sank beneath the waves. So helplessly, wordlessly, I watched.
I watched as the undertow pulled them gradually from view. Watching, as they became ever smaller until only tiny specks far off in the distance; bobbing atop those ever-hungry hydrochloric salty waters. I saw them disappear somewhere near the horizon, a horizon where rainbows never tread, drifting away from me and toward the shores of Portugal’s coastline. I’ll no longer waste what precious moments still remain for me in this world waiting for postcards; postcards from Portugal. Postcards that would never arrive, since somewhere between Portugal and the deep blue sea, those who erroneously believed they could pull free from that soulless riptide I call heroin, have perished. For you see, finally, this time, I’m truly done!