“I don’t want to go with you – I shouldn’t know where ‘The Jew’ lives.”
In my long and sometimes ridiculous life, I have always managed to somehow put myself into situations that most people never have to deal with. I’m not sure if this is because I have always been a free spirit who was willing to float along with whatever came my way, or if I was just a moron who was incapable of seeing that my inability to say no to things that were going to excite me was going to put my life in jeopardy.
Drugs always put me into these types of situations. Well – drugs and women. But mostly drugs. When I was in High School, my experimentation with marijuana led me into some sketchy situations, but that’s to be expected when your balls haven’t dropped yet. Meeting up with some kid you’ve never met before to buy a dime bag of Mexican dirt weed near some racquetball courts at a school a few miles away was rough at the time – but I had no idea that it was just a precursor to much rougher connects in my future. I once bought around one thousand White Crosses(Benzedrine) off of this guy I was working with at an ice cream parlor – well, I didn’t buy them as much as he fronted the money to get them and then he started showing up at my house at odd hours asking me for “the fucking money,” or he was going to kick my ass. You know – I still feel kind of bad about that whole situation. I mean – dude could have totally whooped my ass, no problem – he was an angry motherfucker who used to smash sheet-pans on his head at work for fun. But the time he showed up and rapped on my window at 3AM with a baseball bat? That was a bit much for a hundred bucks‘ worth of pills.
I rummaged around in my sock drawer for whatever money I had stashed in there, and shoved it all through the screen into his hand – I just didn‘t feel up to going outside and having a bat-fight with anyone at 3AM.
Fast-forward to around late 1994 or so. I had just got out of the military, and was living in an apartment complex that my father was managing(so his rent would be cheaper) with his new wife. I was working at a record store. I was reconnecting with people I hadn’t seen in ages – people I used to party with in High School and all that. A lot of them were in college – milking their parental units for not just tuition money, but rent, food, all of that important shit that people sometimes take for granted when they’re young. And a lot of the kids that I was friends with were kids that came from money – and that‘s no lie. I had met the majority of them through the punk rock scene in Phoenix, which, in the 1980s, was chock full of privileged kids who were acting out. I mean – who the fuck can scream “Kill The Poor” by the Dead Kennedys while driving around in a Mercedes? Kids in Phoenix. In the 1980s. Usually with me in the back seat, stoned out of my mind and wondering why I didn’t get a Mercedes, and then remembering that both of my parents worked their asses of for what little we had.
One night at the record store, an old friend of mine named Michelle* was suddenly standing in front of me with a huge grin on her face. We’d hung out here and then since I got back to Phoenix, but at the end of my High School years we hung out all the time. She was a great girl – full of life and always happy. Back in the day, I never saw her take so much as a sip of alcohol. She was always responsible and hated the fact that the majority of us boys were always getting loaded and ingesting whatever drugs we could get our hands on. She had already told me that she had been smoking pot a bit – which was a little shocking to me – I just never saw that one coming, not from her.
“I met this really awesome boy and I want you to meet him.” – she was practically bouncing like Tigger. It was almost embarrassing.
“Really? Does he like House Of Pain?” I was then holding up a House Of Pain CD, and couldn’t believe what a dipshit I had turned out to be. Really? This is what I say to my lady-friends when they meet a boy and they’re excited about it? Jesus, I am an asshole.
Michelle said that he did, in fact, like House Of Pain. She also told me that I should let her come and pick me up after work to go over to her place in Tempe to hang out, and meet this boy. She then mentioned his name – which struck a bell in my head.
If this was the same dude that I thought it was, another girl I knew had briefly dated him, and this guy was supposedly a White Power Skinhead. And if it was the same guy – I knew he hated me already, because the other girl had brought my name up to him and he went ballistic.
Driving out to Michelle’s place, I asked her if this was indeed the same person. I mean – far be it for me to judge anyone on their taste in love interests – at that time in my life, most of the women I was interested in were completely insane. It was almost as if I was somehow able to sniff out the women who were bi-polar and had decided that going off of their medication was not only a good idea – but the best choice they had ever made.
“He used to be a Nazi, but he grew out of it. Just give him a chance – he’s really sweet and nice. People change, Sean. You know?”
Michelle sounded so earnest and convinced, that muttering “shave a zebra – motherfucker’s still a goddamn zebra” under my breath made me feel like a dick. I had a hard time believing that this dude was anything more than a White Power asshole – in my experiences dealing with this type of person, there was no mystical or redemption-bound Derek Vinyard-type of character in any of them – no capacity to change all the way, with most of them who claimed to have changed switching up the Nazi rhetoric for that of a more Libertarian or Right-wing type of conservatism(bitching about immigration and Gay Rights – which sadly, they’re bitching about even louder in the rightfuckingnow of MMX). Hate is hate, and as much as I want to believe a person has the capacity within them to transform and release themselves from their own ignorance – I had just never seen it.
When we arrived at Michelle’s apartment, homeboy called her and said he was on his way over, but would be a little while. She sounded really excited and happy on the phone with him, exclaiming “Sean came! I can’t wait for you to meet him – he’s one of my best friends in the world.” I watched her face change a little bit while he was obviously saying something to her on the other end of the phone – her expression like one of those magnetized little beard faces when you wipe it clean, and then her heard mumble “He’s not like that. Stop it. You’d better be nice to him.”
I was already wishing I had trusted my initial reaction to his name, and not come along.
No sooner did Michelle hang up the phone when she produced a very large mound of methamphetamine from out of nowhere. It was chalky and pink-ish, and piled high across the jewel case of a copy of Helmet’s Meantime. I watched her as she moved the pile back and forth with the skill set of someone who had been playing with this tricky substance for a while – the way she used her ID to cut lines out of the pile and move them to the tiniest edges of the jewel case without dumping any of the larger pile off the sides and onto the table was pretty impressive. I watched her then pull out a little piece of a straw she had obviously cut down, and then she fucking Hoovered up one of the fattest and most ridiculous lines of bathtub drugs I had ever seen such a tiny woman snort before.
My sweet and innocent little Michelle, was no longer my sweet and innocent little Michelle – so far removed from the little Catholic schoolgirl who used to yell at me for drinking too much coffee.
“You should do a line of this. It’s really good.”
I didn’t argue – I just cut myself out a line, and blasted that thing right into the deepest parts of my brain. I had only done meth a few times before – I was the kind of super-retarded drug user who would say things like “if it occurs naturally in the world – I’m going to do it,” and I had always subscribed to the whole “if a biker can make it in his bathtub it can kill you” ethos of junkiedom – but this stuff? GODDAMN. I could immediately feel it burning holes into my brain. All I wanted to do was run into the bathroom and watch my pupils swell and contract. My ears felt like I had just rapidly descended from thirty-thousand feet, the sound of the room whooshing in and out like the ocean.
I’m pretty sure I was on my third or fourth line when homeboy showed up.
I was sitting on the floor with Michelle’s roommate, Erica, and her boyfriend – a Mexican kid with a huge, jagged scar across his left cheek, named Mark. I heard Mark very quietly mumble “Great – here comes Himmler,” as Michelle’s new dude rolled right on through the front door like he owned the place. I could see Erica’s body language immediately shift, like the way someone curls up in the dentist’s chair as soon as they hear the words “root canal.” For a moment, I was glad that I wasn’t alone in feeling uncomfortable – but only just that moment, as Erica and Mark immediately went and hid themselves away in her room, never to be seen again.
I was really fucking high. It took me a moment to actually allow myself to really look at this guy – to take him all in. Roughly my size. Scalp-shorn blonde hair. Jeans. Oxblood boots(with the required red laces – so much for him being in the midst of a “transformation,” right?). A black flight jacket with a Confederate Flag patch on the right arm. A Sepultura t-shirt.
Sepultura? They’re Brazilian. They’re not “white.” Dude has himself some identity some issues, obviously.
“Sean – this is Michael. Michael – this is Sean.”
Michael is staring me down. I slowly get up from the floor, and in doing so notice that he has taken a step back, as if I was going to somehow lunge from my position on the carpet to attack him. I extend my hand out to him, the gentleman that I am, to shake hands after the introduction. I want to draw it back the second he speaks.
“I know who Sean is. You used to hang out with all of those SHARP(Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, for those of you who aren’t up to speed on your gang names and their affiliations) faggots, didn’t you? You‘re a Jew, right?” – he sneers that last bit just enough to get the meth in my body a little closer to boiling, atoms firing all over the place.
I’m not really sure how to respond to him. Part of me does want to pummel him. Part of me wants to just move right by him, and walk out the door. I can feel the humming of impending violence rising off of him, a slow and nasty-looking smirk forming across his face.
“Dude? SEAN? What the fuck, man?”
Looking behind Michael, I see Danny. I have known Danny since I moved to Arizona. We played baseball together. We both went to the same “Alternative” High School. Danny hanging out with this fucking guy makes no sense to me at all – Danny might possibly be the most aloof, most kind-heartedly Spiccoli-esque permanently stoned person I have ever met in my entire life. What the fuck is he doing rolling around with this curb-stomping monstrosity?
Drugs. It is always, about The Drugs.
“Dude – I’ve known Sean FOREVER – he’s cool. Don’t sweat him like that, Michael. He’s cool as fuck.”
With Danny’s Testimonial On The Status Of Sean‘s Coolness, Michael reluctantly shakes my hand and smiles, saying “It’s cool, man. I’m just fucking with you” – which, sadly, would be a refrain that I heard tumbling out of his mouth for the rest of the night and into the early hours of the next day.
Sitting around on the floor like a bunch of kids at a drug-fueled slumber party, the methamphetamine pile was being gone through at an alarming rate. It felt like every ten minutes or so I was snorting more of it into me. The jewel case being passed around between us like a canteen, each person cutting out line after line. Conversations ebbed and flowed from recollections of retardery from the past between Danny and myself, to Michael randomly trying to talk to me about his crazed White Power ideals on Christianity – at one point he tried to explain to me that the reason Jesus was sacrificed was because he was a Jew, and that his supposed resurrection was a Jew magic trick that proved Jews were “of the devil, and never to be trusted.”
My heart was pounding.
Every time he made some crack like this, I noticed that Michelle would instantly look over to me – as if I was somehow going to agree with this asshole. Instead, I did my best to try and stay calm, and try to engage Michael in a way that would not upset him or cause him to fly off the handle. As comfortable as I might have been on the inside of myself with taking him outside and beating him bloody – I knew that the ripples from such a beating would be outlandishly dangerous, considering the fact that most racist skins traveled in packs, so as never to be outnumbered or in danger.
Michael knew this as well.
At one point, as the sun was just starting to rise, I wandered through the apartment to go to the bathroom. As I was walking through the living room, Danny was asleep on the couch, and Michael was trying to quietly mumble into the telephone. He didn’t see me, because as he had the phone cradled between his shoulder and his head, he was playing with the gun he had strapped to his ankle. When I realized what he was mumbling – “Yeah, he’s here. He’s a fucking kike motherfucker with a hook-nose. I can give you the address. How soon can you guys get here?“ – I knew it was time for me to get the fuck out of there. Fast.
Mistakenly, I made the decision to ask Michelle to drive me home.
“Totally. Michael can come with us.”
I tried so hard to give her a look that would translate that this was not what I wanted – I did not want this violent pack animal to know where I laid my head at night – and then I realize that Michael didn‘t want to know either.
“I don’t want to go with you – I shouldn’t know where ‘The Jew’ lives.”
Michelle just looked at him after he said it – first a frown, then a smile, because she thought he was going to say that he was fucking with me again.
As she was gathering her things for the ride, Michael got back on the phone, and spoke more clearly into it for my benefit, describing Michelle’s car for the person on the other end, and telling them the basic route we’d be taking back to central Phoenix – all while glaring at me, trying to gauge whether or not this was the moment when my instincts would take over, and the violence between us could finally be birthed.
I was petrified, just standing there waiting for him to pounce.
The ride to my apartment took a nasty turn, as Michael started to unleash a torrent of racial epithets at me in the back seat, while Michelle kept on screaming at him to leave me alone. Me? I just sat there, my head on a swivel, looking out the windows to try and see if I could spot a car full of bald heads, to spot the executioners Michael had sent my way.
As we got closer to my apartment, I asked Michelle to just let me off on a random corner, begging her to stop the car so that I could make my way through early morning back yards, and escape the beating that was imminent. Michael told her to let me out of the car, suddenly screaming – “Just let ’The Jew’ out, Michelle! Get him the fuck out of this car!” She refused, and actually locked the doors to the car so that I couldn’t jump out. Michael turned to me, his face flushed and red, and said to me – “You brought this on yourself, you know that, right? We never forget. We never forget who The Jews are, and you will never forget who we, the True and Superior White Race, are.”
Michelle pulled her car into the parking area of the complex, and I looked at her face in the rearview mirror. She was sallow. She looked back at me with eyes that were druggy, confused, and hung like a dog that was just caught shitting on the rug. I said nothing as I jumped out of the car – the small eye contact between us, and the terror that I knew was in my own eyes was enough.
As she backed her car down the driveway to get out, I saw a beat-up Monte Carlo slowly creeping in front of the complex. Somehow, they had found us, and followed Michelle’s car to where I lived. The car looked to have around four or five people in it – each one of them, bald. They were just sitting in the car, watching me as I tried to take my time walking to the back door of my father’s apartment – which was far too close to the position their car was in for my liking.
Inside the kitchen now, I am looking for something – anything I can use to defend myself. The methamphetamine, coursing in my veins, makes everything I hear sound like it’s right in front of me. I hear car doors closing. Footsteps in the gravel. Muttering. Laughter. I am laying on the kitchen floor, with my head and body out of view, wedged between the sink and the oven.
The footsteps stopped at the back door.
I can see the shadowy outline of four people standing outside my back door. I don’t even realize that I have the phone in my hand on the floor until I hear the operator say “911 – what is your emergency?” Quietly, I beg her to send a squad car over to my address, telling her that there are four people outside my back door who want to harm me – telling her that they are driving a maroon Monte Carlo, and are quite possibly armed. I tell her that I know the precinct is close by, and beg her to send a car as quick as she can. I tell her that I am hiding on my kitchen floor with a wooden baseball bat, and that I cannot wait for the police to arrive – I tell her all of this, with the drug-addled tongue that instantly raises a red flag with the Phoenix Police Department. I can hear the shuffling of feet outside as she tells me on the phone that a squad car has arrived, and to just sit tight until the police come and speak to me.
There is a knock on my front door, and through the door I can hear the sounds of the police radio. I can also feel my heart exploding in my chest – because the fuckers that came to hurt me were at the back door. Opening the door, I am greeted by four officers, one of whom is holding what looks like a black-jack in his hand. The policemen all look me up and down, as if they knew in that moment that I was a complete paranoid fueled by bathtub drugs. Quickly, I tell them everything about what happened, other than telling them about the drugs. One of the officers opens the back door and walks around out there, while the youngest one asks me for my identification, which I give to him.
As he is slowly fingering my ID, I realize that it is probably caked in a film of methamphetamine, and in rapid-fire succession, my mind decides that I am probably going to go to jail.
“Well – we did find this black-jack outside, Mr. Doyle. And as we were pulling up, we did see a group of men running away from the Monte Carlo that is still parked outside. Do you have anywhere you can go – it’s probably not safe for you to stay here for a while?”
I tried to call my friend Brian, but I knew he was asleep. I left him a rambling message on his answering machine, and told him to come and get me as soon as he could. As I hung up the phone, I realized that I had the keys to every apartment in the complex, and I could hide out in one of the vacant ones until I saw Brian’s car pull up.
The police asked me multiple times if I was on drugs, and each time I told them that I wasn’t – which they obviously knew was a lie. They told me to call them if there were any more problems, and the young cop handed me back my ID, and gave me a quick squeeze of the arm as if to tell me that everything was going to be okay.
As they left, I saw Helen – the ninety year old mother of the man who owned the apartment complex, as she was gathering up her morning newspaper from her front door. I quickly walked over to her and asked her if she wouldn’t mind my company for a little while – she was a sweet woman who I looked after from time to time for her son, so the request probably wasn’t out of the ordinary for her.
I went back to my father’s apartment and grabbed the cordless phone, and locked the place up.
Back inside of Helen’s apartment, the drugs were still working their way around inside of me. I asked her if she would like for me to make her some coffee, and she said that would be nice – so I did. It wasn’t lost on me in any way that I was in that moment doing what might probably be the most cowardly thing I had ever done in my life – hiding out in the apartment of an elderly woman, while high on drugs and running from a gang of angry racist skinheads who wanted to beat me to death.
I tried so hard to remain in my own body. It took a while for Brian to call, and when he did I could hear him shaking his head at me through the phone – bizarre behavior like this wasn’t so out of the norm for me in those days – my paranoia when using drugs was always the biggest detriment to any friendship. Brian agreed to come and pick me up, but told me that I needed to calm the fuck down.
Hours later, playing darts with Brian in his living room, I felt this wave of disgust wash over me – I was still terrified, and me being terrified was something that was just totally unacceptable to me. I tried to call Michelle and talk to her, but she hung up on me as soon as I started to tell her what her new boyfriend had done.
I never spoke to her again.
*Yes, I changed the names of the parties involved. And yes – it is fifteen years later, and I am still repulsed that I hid out in the apartment of a ninety year old woman. What the fuck would you have done?