Category Archives: drugs are bad

The Needle And The Damage Done, or, “Objects In The Rear View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear”

The first person that I ever watched shoot drugs was actually my boss at the time. My mother and a friend of hers had helped me get a part-time gig, working in a small print shop in a really shitty part of Phoenix.

Actually — when I think about it now, this was also when I was going to night school. I had been removed from the regular high school I was going to, because I was skipping classes and being nothing more than a hurricane of disruption for my teachers. Not fully my fault — they were boring me to tears. I was banished to the “alternative” high school.

Basically, this guy, who I will call Don, ran this print shop that my mother’s friend used to print programs and stuff for her baton twirling competitions and newsletters and such. My sister was a baton twirler — a damn fine one, too. World Champion.

Anyway — they hooked me up with this Don guy and hoped I would “learn a trade,” since the betting pool on whether or not I was going to actually finish high school was growing daily. I was just this kid who felt like he was too fucking smart to play the games that schools wanted me to play, and by doing the whole learning of a trade thing they hoped to cut me off at the pass so that I wouldn’t spiral down into some weird world of working construction, pounding beers, and living in a trailer on the West Side of town by the time I was nineteen.

I often wonder how they would have felt about the trade I really learned.

Because my classes at school didn’t start until three in the afternoon, the plan was that I would work for Don from around half-past seven in the morning, until around two. My father would drop me off on his way to work, since his office was only a couple of miles away. My mother would pick me up in the afternoon, and then drop me off at school. The routine wasn’t so bad, actually.

For the first week or so, Don was definitely on his best behavior. He was very patient and kind as he taught me about all of my responsibilities at his shop. The way old school printing used to work, an image would be photographed with a really huge camera that was inside of a dark room [they used to call this “line photography“]. You would use certain chemicals and solvents to burn that image to a printing plate, which would then have to cure before being able to be used to print whatever it was that needed printing. Negatives were also used in a very mechanical cut and paste fashion, which used to be called “stripping.”

Don told me it would be a long time before he taught me how to do the stripping part. I had regular old grunt work like running to the greasy burger stand to get lunch, folding brochures, taking those line shots, cleaning the shop and other things to master first.

Part of me was really excited to learn all of this shit, because this was the industry my father worked in — I felt like maybe we would finally have something to talk about other than him being disappointed in my grades, or him being sick of me pulling the ball when I should have been raking it to every part of the field. I found myself, in those first few days, growing to like this odd little man who was teaching me all about his business. The first day I showed up I was wearing a shirt and a tie, and he mocked me, saying “You some sorta rich kid, Sean? You might wanna just wear jeans and a t-shirt working here — you’re gonna get dirty.”

After that, I would just show up wearing whatever fucked up punk rock t-shirts I had.

*****

I arrived to work one morning in the middle of my second week to find the doors locked. My father had just driven off. I stood around by the front door of the shop, pacing back and forth, smoking cigarette after cigarette. Every now and then I would rap on the door, thinking that maybe Don was inside and working already — the last thing in the world I wanted to do was be late for work. Whatever little money I was making at this gig was paying for my smokes, weed, guitar strings, and pitching in on half-racks of cheap beer on the weekends with the guys in my band.

Obviously, this liquid income was very important to me.

I thought about going around to the back door of the shop and breaking into the place, but then my weed-addled brain remembered that Don had a Doberman he kept in the back room. One of my other responsibilities at this gig was to take the dog out into the parking lot twice per day and let him go to the bathroom. The dog, Alejandro, was really sweet-natured, but kind of dumb. No sense in me trying to break in and get my hand or face chewed off.

I didn’t wear a watch, so I really had no idea how much time had passed — it could have been an hour or it could have been ten minutes. All I knew was that I really wanted to be inside and not out on the street where some Cholo could up and rob my monkey ass [I was in South Phoenix — Cholos kind of ran things around that part of town at this point in history]. Every time a car slowed down and looked like it was going to turn into the tiny lot/driveway in front of the shop, I felt nervous and kind of ducked into the recessed part of the doorway.

Then a really beat-up looking conversion van pulled up right in front of me. I could see Don sitting in the passenger seat, looking like he had just risen from the dead. There was a much older woman driving the van, and as she parked I could hear her admonishing Don for something in a very stern and mothering way. Don slowly worked himself out of the van and stepped toward the front door, muttering something to himself while shaking his head. The old woman followed, looked me up and down slowly and then said “You must be my Donny’s little helper. I’m Dot — Donny’s mother.”

Great.

*****

After following “Donny” and his mother inside, I proceeded to go about my regular routine — I checked through the outstanding work orders to see what I had to do that day, and got myself organized. Normally, I would have had my little cassette Walkman blaring some Black Flag into my ears, but I could tell from the tension in the room that I would miss out on something. I tried very hard not to make my eavesdropping obvious, and went to work in the camera room taking shots of shit to burn to plates.

I could hear Don and his mother arguing. She kept on saying things like “you have to stay clean,” and “I can’t afford to keep bailing you out,” while Don would mumble something incoherent and then shout things at her that made no sense. After about twenty minutes or so of this, Don’s mother told him she was leaving, and that she would pick him up in the morning to take him “to the clinic.”

Right as the door closed behind her, Don flipped the fuck on out — he threw his coffee mug against the wall, screaming at the top of his lungs. He kicked over his light table. Alejandro started to bark. Don went into the back room and started rough-housing with the dog — possibly trying to release some frustration and lighten up a bit.

“Goddamn it, kid! You get your ass back here and clean up this fucking dog shit, will you? I’M NOT PAYING YOU TO FUCK AROUND!”

As weird as Don was, this was the first time I had ever heard him yell. I felt awkward and a little scared, what with his explosion of emotions and everything. I took my time getting back there, making sure to snap on some rubber gloves.

As I worked my way around the corner into the back room, I saw Don standing on top of a step-ladder, his arm craned up and into some of the ceiling tiles. Alejandro was wagging his little stumpy tail at me as I reached down and picked up huge chunks of his waste and put them into a plastic bag. Don didn’t even pay attention or notice that I was there — he just kept on grunting and moving his arm back and forth, popping up ceiling tiles to try and find something.

I didn’t really give it another thought as I went outside to dispose of the dog shit.

*****

Later on that day, I was folding boxes of brochures with my headphones on when a very large Mexican biker came through the front door. Not only did he not acknowledge my presence, he just walked his way on in to the back of the shop where Don was working. I lowered the volume on my Walkman, and could hear Don and this dude bantering back and forth, making small talk. I heard Don mention something about his mother, and then something about him being “good for it.”

The Mexican biker left five minutes later, and as he walked by me on his way out he gave me a little head nod.

“Kid — you got a lighter? All I got are matches — come on back here and gimme your lighter, can you?”

As I walked into the room, I could see that Don was up to something I had only read about before. On the light table in front of him was an unfolded foil wrap that had two twist-tied baggies in the middle of it. Next to that was a spoon, a torn-off filter from a cigarette, and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. Clamped between Don’s teeth was a hypodermic needle.

Fuck me.

Now everything that had happened throughout the course of the morning made sense to me. Hell — everything that had happened since I started working there made sense to me — the weirded-out Doberman watch dog, the telephone calls where people would hang up, the multiple chains on the doors, his mother talking about “the clinic,” and “staying clean” — everything just fell right in line.

This motherfucker was a goddamn junkie.

I tried not to act too freaked out when I slid my lighter across the table to Don. He just sort of grunted at me, and started playing with the instruments of his addiction right there in front of me. I acted as if this was no big deal to me — like I had seen all of this before.

“You gotta get just the right mix of coca and chiva, otherwise you’re wasting good shit.”

Don was now cooking up his little mixture in the spoon, holding my lighter underneath to boil and bubble his drugs the way he liked them. There was a smell in the air that I couldn’t identify — it blurred out the ever-present scents of cigarette smoke, solvents, dog shit and mold that were in the shop. I watched Don take the cotton from the cigarette filter and stick it in his still-bubbling spoon, drawing the hot fluids into the syringe, which he then set on the light table in front of him.

I could not believe I was witnessing this — at this point in my fledgling little life, I had already read everything I could get my hands on by Burroughs, and was slowly working my way into Selby — but seeing Don’s face as he sunk that rig into the top of his hand was one of the most intense things I would ever see in my life. His face, which up until that moment had looked like he was in agony with every movement, suddenly filled with warmth, all of the hard and angular lines smoothing out. His eyes went from beady to glazed in half a second. Even his posture changed immediately as he slid down into himself in his chair, every muscle gone slack.

“You want some of this, kid? I can cook you up your own shot if you want.”

“No, Don. I’m cool. Thank you, though.”

*****

Almost every morning was a repeat of that day — me showing up to find the place locked-down, and Don’s mother dropping him off around a half an hour later. His mother started feeling sorry for me, and would make sure she had coffee and donuts for us — kind of her way of apologizing for her son, I think. I also realized that it was her I was really working for. She really owned the shop, and this was her way of making sure her son had something to do with his time other than shooting dope into dead veins every day.

Don started to get very comfortable with shooting dope in front of me. I soon learned that the big Mexican biker’s name was Ruben, and that Ruben had given Don the dog as a gift for not ratting him out to the police when he got arrested for holding a bunch of dope that belonged to Ruben a couple of years earlier.

Don and Ruben would sometimes ask me to come into the room where they were, and would start asking me about my friends’ drug habits — trying to get me to sell stuff for them in my neighborhood. They knew that the neighborhood I lived in was full of kids with disposable income at the ready, and would often make jokes about how “white” I was. I would always be respectful and decline, even when Ruben would tell me that he would give me a fair split on the money.

After they would make more jokes at my expense, I would usually just put my headphones back on and get back to work. As much as I was fascinated to see these aspects of the drug trade right in front of me, it made me nervous as hell. I was just a kid who liked smoking pot — I’d tried cocaine a few times and found it to be a little crazy for me, and I had already had my battles eating diet pills being sold as speed. I certainly wasn’t about to start selling heroin and cocaine to the kids I ran with. The thought of that was far too much for my adolescent brain to handle. I had no idea what they meant when they were talking about “weight,” or when they would rattle off dollar amounts.

I just knew they were part of a world that I did not belong to.

*****

As my father drove away one morning, I noticed the front door to the shop was open a crack. Instead of just walking right in, I walked around to the back door — something about the way the front door looked didn’t feel right to me.

Coming around the side of the building to head toward the back door, I saw a car idling near the dumpster that I used to throw Alejandro’s shit into. There was nobody in the car, and the driver’s side door was wide open. Looking toward the back door, I could see that it was open as well. I took my time walking toward the door, keeping my eye on the idling car as I crept slowly along the wall.

That’s when I saw the blood.

There was a streak of red on the wall next to the door to the shop, and a trail of it that went all the way across the lot to the idling car. On the ground in front of the doorway there was a massive puddle of it, and a pair of bolt-cutters laying in it. I tried to angle myself so I could see inside the open door, but I wouldn’t be able to do so without exposing myself if someone was still inside.

The sweat running down my back felt like ice water.

Looking back over toward the car and the dumpster, I could see two legs and a torso sticking out from behind the car. I tried not to make a sound but I must have gasped loud enough, because a very bloodied Don came stumbling out the back door. He was holding on to his side with one hand, and in the other was a very bloody pair of industrial scissors.

“Motherfuckers killed my dog! They killed Alejandro, those motherfuckers!”

Don was screaming, wild-eyed and obviously in shock. I had no idea what the fuck to do. I asked him if he wanted me to call him an ambulance, and he shot me a glare that would have melted steel.

“Ambulance? An ambulance will bring the fucking cops, you fucking moron. I’m waiting for Ruben to get here to help us get rid of that fucking dead motherfucker over behind that goddamn car.”

“Us?”

“Yes, us! Go the fuck over there and turn off that goddamn car — if there is a gun in there, bring it back over here to me.”

I just stood there staring at Don. Us? Me? What the fuck did any of this have to do with me — I was just some kid who was working for him part-time, not some fucking dope lackey hanger-on.

“Goddamn it, kid — GO TURN OFF THAT FUCKING CAR, NOW!”

As soon as he yelled at me my fight or flight response kicked into gear. I didn’t even think — I just acted. I marched right over to the idling car and yanked the keys out of the ignition, putting them into my back pocket. There was nothing in the car other than a pack of cigarettes on the passenger seat and some empty coffee cups on the floorboard. No guns to be found.

Stepping back out of the door of the car and closing it, I looked down at the blood trail that led to the body laying in the parking lot. I gingerly took a few steps toward the body, looking back toward the shop to see Don staring at me intently.

“Is that motherfucker dead?”

I looked down at the body — there were huge chunks of flesh missing from his forearms and bloody holes in his pants, obviously from Alejandro. The man was Mexican. There were large cuts in his throat and face, probably from where Don attacked him with the scissors. Three feet away from him, nearest the dumpster, was a small revolver. I pretended not to notice it. I did not want to touch it. I did not want to touch anything.

I turned back to Don and shook my head to indicate that the man was dead.

I am seventeen years old.

*****

The inside of the shop looks like Beirut. Boxes and paperwork littered all over the place. File cabinets overturned. There is even more blood inside the back doorway than there is outside — I quickly realize most of it is Alejandro’s. The dog is dead in the middle of the room in a puddle of his blood, three gunshot wounds that I can clearly see from a distance.

Don was in the bathroom, pouring rubbing alcohol into his open wounds — apparently he managed to stab the attacker after getting shot in the side, but his hands were all cut up from the struggle with the scissors. It was a fucking horrorshow. I felt so nauseated. I had never seen so much blood before in my life.

“Don? I’m going to go over to that 7-11 over on the corner and get a cup of coffee — you want one?”

Don stopped what he was doing and put his hands on the sides of the sink, locking his elbows as his shoulders try to slump in on themselves. Head bowed with chin to chest, he takes a deep breath.

“Yeah, kid. If they’ll sell you a beer, get me a tallboy, too.”

*****

At first I started walking at a regular pace, but with each passing car I felt a sense of dread building inside of me. What if more people were coming to get Don? What if they had been watching the shop for a while, and because I worked there decided that I had to go, too? I could feel my heart beating inside of my brain as I picked up the pace — first walking briskly, and then breaking into a dead run.

I was ten blocks away out of breath at a bus stop when I realized I still had the keys to the dead man’s car in my back pocket.

I didn’t panic as much as I wanted to just throw those keys out into the middle of the street. When the bus pulled up, I knew it was going to take me a long time to get home — but home was where I was headed. About an hour into my ride, I took the keys out of my pocket and shoved them into an air-conditioning vent next to my seat. I got off at the next stop and walked for a while, using my transfer to get on a different bus.

I called my mother at work when I got home, and told her that Don had closed the shop for the day, and that I took the bus all the way home.

*****

I never went back to work for Don.

I told my mother that Don was using heroin in front of me, but I didn’t go into all of the crazy details. At first she didn’t believe me and thought it was just another one of my stories to get out of working. She stopped thinking I was up to no good when I quickly found another job, working at an Arby’s near the mall.

I kept on poring over the newspaper for a few days after the incident, looking for a report about a burglary/murder on McDowell Road — but there never was one.

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Filed under drugs are bad, fun at work, i used to be stupid

Jump Around, or "This One Is About That Time I Was A Chickenshit And I Am Still Repulsed By Myself Fifteen Years Later(And You Will Be, Too)"

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.

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.

Awesome.

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.

ANYWAYS…

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.

Fuckers.

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.

He wasn’t.

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?

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Filed under drugs are bad, i used to be stupid, jealous insecurities, nuggets of infinite wisdom, racism, who is sean?

Changes, or "It’s Not That I’m Throwing Out The Baby With The Bath Water – I’m Just Throwing Out The Babies."


In keeping with the spirit of my last post, I’ve been doing a lot of culling and a lot of changing. I do not feel bad about either of them. If anything, I feel better than I have for as long as I can remember. Looking back over the arc of my life – I’m hard-pressed to find myself in better alignment between mind and body than where I am rightfuckingnow.

Let me break it down for you –

I’m in the throes of a fucking massive overhaul.


Think of it like this – I am a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda. Throaty-as-fuck 426 Hemi under the hood. Lots of miles. Rust. My alignment is off just enough to notice(I veer to the right). Most of me is made up of original parts, but I have some foreign parts as well – lots of scar tissue from “accidents,” a couple of knife wounds, some bullet fragments. One owner. And like I said before – lots of miles.

Now that you have that image burned into your mind, I want to tell you what’s been going on with me over the last week to ten days or so.

Not only am I taking the opportunity to use the beginning of a New Year/Decade to weed out all the malcontents and misery addicted people from my life, I am also using it to get myself closer to something resembling “healthy.” I’ve spent so much of the last decade or so working on getting my mind/spirit “right,” that it would be a shame if I continued to neglect the vessel that contains me as well.


Basically, I don’t want to feel like shit anymore.

I have abused the fuck out of this body. Over twenty years of smoking. A life-long addiction to soda and sugar. Terrible eating habits. Awful sleep patterns. Years of abusing alcohol, narcotics, pills, etc. So sedentary at times that it’s hard for me to even believe that I used to be a pretty good athlete, a Gym Rat who was always hunting for an open gym to play hoops with anyone, any time(and I am sure there are plenty of people out there still in shock that a lumpy, “Elmer Fudd-lookin’ motherfucker” like me schooled their asses from time to time, too).

I took the beginning of a fresh year as a way to start working on getting myself not only back into something resembling the shape I was in when I was in the military, but to try and make it so that I don’t drop dead in the middle of the night standing there bathed in the low-level lighting of the open refrigerator as I’m rooting around for another Coke to chug.


I mean – and as per the usual, we’re on Front Street here – if I was able to quit my fucking drug/alcohol habit(s) in the manner in which I did(I made the decision to stop – and then just fucking stopped), why shouldn’t I be able to make this shift as well? In the long run, this will save me the agony of the early adult onset diabetes I had penciled myself in for, not to mention save my kidneys and liver the trouble of having to filter out all of that crap I’ve been dumping down my throat since childhood.

I made myself an appointment to go and see Gilles Obermayer, who is not only a health magician, but a member of my ever-expanding family(he’s engaged to The Wife’s Aunt, Rosie, who is also a healer – acupuncture wizardry). I was a little bit nervous on my way over to see Gilles, but then I really thought about it, and realized, that for once in my life, I was really doing something good for myself, and that I needed to be forthright and straight up about everything that I felt was wrong with me. Both Gilles & Rosie have come and done work on me in emergency-type situations(me falling down a flight of stairs, or my back locking up on me so badly that I couldn’t stand up straight), and in talking with them, they’ve made it clear that I have a pretty good understanding of my body, and about what is or isn’t working properly. Which is a bonus.

Gilles made me feel right at home immediately, and we got down to business – taking our time talking about every single malady and possible Costanza I had fears about. Talking about my diet, my sleep patterns, the way my body feels when resting – you name it – we covered it. I told him that it felt to me as though my “fire” had gone out, and that anything I felt passionately about was now bordering on being a chore, or a task that I couldn’t bring myself to complete without great and concerted effort. And I told him that throughout most of my life, the one thing that had always been a constant was that “fire.”


I’ve been having problems with my right hip & lower back since I had hernia surgery back in June of ’07 – when the doctors cut me open, they realized the injury was much worse than they originally thought, and that almost the entire abdominal wall on my right side was shredded. They put a bunch of that titanium mesh inside of me, hoping that the musculature would grow through it, like lattice, and become whole again. Because of this, and my irrational fear of re-injuring myself, it has been hard for me to maintain the strength of my lower back. I’ve felt all along that the problems I have with my right hip(it constantly feels as though a tendon needs to “pop over” my hip bone, and like my right leg is a taut line, ready to come unhinged at any time) are related to the surgery/lack of activity as well. As I relayed all of this information to Gilles, he kept on nodding at me, as if to say “You’re not too far off.”


After we finished talking, Gilles went to work on my body. As he was kneading and working on my muscles and joints, he kept on asking me if he was hurting me. I explained to him that I have an almost ridiculous threshold for physical pain, and that he shouldn’t worry about it. I could feel my body loosening throughout his systematic and methodical manipulations – I also felt great relief when I felt my right hip pop into the place where it is supposed to be, so much so, that I teared up a bit.

Validation is such a powerful thing, especially for someone who feels hyper-connected to their instincts like I do.

After the session was over, Gilles and I sat down to talk again. He broke it down pretty simply for me – my liver channel is not functioning properly, causing my body to be in an almost constant state of depression. Without question, my bad habits tax my liver far too much, rendering it unable to do the work it needs to do for me to be and feel healthy. Some of that can also be attributed to the titanium in my abdominal wall – a normally functioning human body will be in a constant state of battle with anything foreign residing within it – which is why some people are not able to heal body piercings, or have trouble holding ink from tattoos(both of which I have obviously never had any problem with).

Gilles then gave me instructions on how to change my lifestyle and diet to help my body heal itself from the damage I have done to it over the years. As he was talking to me, I could feel a Great Weight being lifted off of me – as if me taking just this one tiny little step was the opening of a doorway that was never going to close.

For me, that hardest part of my life has always been conquering that initial fear of the unknown. Once I’ve gone beyond that threshold, I can usually create the necessary drive and discipline to apply the knowledge I’ve gained, move forward with it, and grow.

And that is exactly what I am doing.


I haven’t had a soda, or anything containing refined sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup in almost two weeks. Not only did I power my way right on through that addiction, but I am drinking – wait for it – water – liters of it daily. If you know me at all, you know that for years, as soon as someone offers me a glass of water, I break out the old WC Fields line – “Water? I never touch the stuff – fish fuck in it.” – because for some reason, my body was conditioned to only consume things with sugar in them. Probably because I was a sugar addict, and a terrible one.

Not anymore. Done.

Because I’ve spent years dumping spoonful after spoonful of sugar into my coffee, I gave that up as well. I replaced it with two cups of Yerba Mate’, but I cannot drink anything with caffeine in it after 5PM. No raw foods – everything must be cooked or at room temperature for me to eat it. No cooling foods(foods that cool the blood), like broccoli, cauliflower, or spinach. No turkey or lamb. No eating after 7PM. I’m working really hard on some of his other recommendations, like me being asleep by 11PM(he knows this one will be rough for me – I’ve always been a night-time creature), and getting at least seven hours of sleep per night(I usually sleep no more than five – anything more than that and I feel hungover – which he said was a product of me conditioning my body to need to be awake and continue to consume all of that sugar).

The Wife tells me that I am already losing weight, and that my skin looks a lot better. All I know is that I feel fucking great – I haven’t felt this good in a long time. Most of my usual aches and creaky bones seem to have given up, and I no longer feel their dull throbbing. I haven’t had to slather my lower back and hip with Tiger Balm in two weeks. I don’t feel like I am dying after walking The Gracie for an hour in the evening. I wake up feeling refreshed – and actually hungry, which is totally a new one for me. Breakfast used to consist of one French Press full of coffee, coupled with at least half a pack of smokes* before I felt even remotely human.


All of this is hard fucking work. I know this is not going to be easy, but I also know that this is worth it – I’m not getting any younger, and my chances for reversing or changing all of the damage I have done to myself decreases annually.

This change, this personal revolution, is a necessary one. I have a lot of work to do in this life, and I am not going to be some sloppy, unhappy mess of a man who looks back twenty years from now and laments the fact that I didn’t align the physical me and the mental/spiritual me when I had the chance. I’ve worked far too hard conditioning the latter, while taking the former for granted. I cannot stomach seeing the me in the future that I was headed toward.

Removing a lot of miserable and negative people from my life, no matter how extraneous they might have been, has been a great help for me. I feel like a raw nerve emotionally – incapable of even reading something with a negative or woe-is-me connotation to it, my instant reaction being one of repulsion. And as I said in the beginning of this Ramble, not to mention the previous one – I just cannot roll with misery addicts any longer. I’m done with it.

I’m doing this for me.

*Before anyone starts to yammer on in the comments or in e-mails about me quitting smoking – please understand that this is a long-term goal. If I am making all of these crazy lifestyle changes, eventually I will get to a place, after lots of exercise and creating new habits, where quitting smoking will be as easy as can be. Until then – please leave me be about it. Thanks.

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Filed under drugs are bad, husbandly duties, i used to be stupid, laziness, nuggets of infinite wisdom, the wife, who is sean?

Gimme Three Steps, or "I Ain’t Never Told Nobody This Terrible Tale About What Happened To Me When I Was Living Down There In The Ozarks"

I’ve never told anyone this story before, other than my father when he was dying. He had asked me why I had always dated so many “crazy women,” and I had given him some crass-as-fuck answer like – “because they fuck better” – so, late one night when it was just me, him, and the morphine – I told him this tale. He was halfway out the door at that point, but raised an eyebrow and said “Sean, sometimes you are the dumbest motherfucker I have ever known – but I love you anyway. Stop being so stupid” – and then he fell back into Morphine Dreamland.

Running away was always the easiest thing for me.

I was living in a very dark and smoke-filled apartment across the street from the main campus of the University of Arkansas. Fayetteville was an interesting little town, although I very rarely ventured outside of my cave. Smoke runs. Odd-houred journeys to the laundry room of the apartment complex down the hill behind me. One very ill-advised and spontaneous joyride in a running car that was left idling out in front of my tiny apartment building.

I left it at the Denny’s off the highway – I‘m not a fucking savage. I really wanted a Grand Slam and a bottomless coffee. I wanted to see other haggard and restless night-time faces.

Most of my days were spent with me sitting on the floor, either devouring a book or trying to write one, depending on how I was feeling that morning. Some days were Writing Days, others were Consuming Days. Most days were Who Gives A Fuck Days, spent in a haze of discontent and loud music.

When I was leaving Brooklyn to head down that way, I made some sort of deal within myself that I was going to force myself to get well in some way. Being smarter than the average payaso, when I shipped my belongings down ahead of me, I stashed a decent amount of the strain of marijuana I was smoking daily into a few of the boxes – so as not to upset my innermost system. I promised myself that I would not buy more – what was there was what was there, and that would be that.

There were a fistful of reasons as to why I had run down to Fayetteville – a friend and mentor I had just connected with deeply had been killed in an accident, the finalities of my Grandmother’s passing were set into motion, as the home I spent large portions of my youth within was sold to a neighbor, and the tumultuous and terrible relationship I had been in when moving back to Brooklyn from Phoenix had finally imploded into a fireball of deceit and indiscretions that made even the druggiest and sleaziest parts of me shudder.

So I ran away.

A friend of mine from the Internet had lived down there her entire life, and she and I spent a ridiculous amount of time talking about how I just needed to get away from the lunacy of the situation I was living in, so that I could heal and write. She certainly didn’t lie to me about her town – she told me it was small and basically nothing more than a college town. What we did talk about was how low the crime rate was, and how cheap it was to live there. According to her, it was the most liberal town in the entire region – which was a huge selling point for a cat like me.

I stayed with her, her ex-husband, their five year old daughter, and their roommate for about a week to ten days, and then I landed the aforementioned apartment right off the campus. The rent on this place was retardedly cheap – less than four hundred duckets a month. I paid the landlord for three months in advance so I wouldn’t have to worry about anything other than getting my head together. I borrowed a car and went over to the truck yard where all my stuff was at, and started bringing it on over to my new Secret Hideout.

The friendship between my friend and I was already horribly strained – not for any other reason other than the two of us both being very headstrong people who were set deeply into our own roles in our heads. She was a very strict vegetarian who was trying to align her mind and body into some form of healthy, and I was a very strict carnivorous hedonist who was hell bent on self-destruction. It wasn’t good for me to be staying over at their place – my presence was creating a lot of tension within their household, as I found myself really getting along with her ex-husband, which I’m pretty sure wasn’t good for her at the time. She and the roommate and I would go to the gym together, and I’d watch with awe and respect at the level of commitment she had for getting herself healthy.

It almost matched my level of self-loathing that I had brought down to The Ozarks with me.


I think it was my second or third day living there when the police knocked on my screen door in the middle of the afternoon. I was very set on getting myself back on a Spiritual Path of sorts, and had set up an altar on top of my refrigerator – nothing too fancy, but somewhere that I could burn incense and focus during my daily meditation. When I opened the screen door, one of the cops, the younger one, asked me if I was “one of them Satanic-type of people,” which made me laugh in a way that didn’t translate too well. I mean – who thinks a statue of Buddha is Satan?

“Is there something I can help you with, officers?”

The other cop had decided it was okay for him to walk past me and enter into my apartment, and he was walking into the other room where I had music playing. The younger cop was sort of standing in a way where he was blocking the doorway, with one leg jutting across the threshold as he leaned into the door jamb all casual-like.

“We came over here because we got a complaint about loud music. You wanna come on in here and turn this racket off?” – the older cop was obviously not in a playful mood.

I realized in that moment that I probably wasn’t someone these gentlemen were used to – a Yankee covered from head to toe in tattoos, with strange incense burning in front of a statue of what they thought was Satan, blasting Public Enemy in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. As I started to walk into the bedroom, I saw that the older cop was using his baton to lift the flaps to the cardboard boxes that I had yet to unpack, as if casually looking into my belongings was part of the call they had received.

“You looking for something specific there, officer? I just moved in two days ago – I still have plenty of unpacking to do.”

He just gave me a twisted look as I turned the volume down. His younger partner was now standing in the doorway to the bedroom – in the exact same position he was standing in the main doorway to the apartment not two minutes earlier. It must have been part of the Fayetteville PD’s training program to block doorways from possible perps or something.

“Just try not to play your music so loudly – your neighbors will be less likely to call us and complain. If anything, turn down all that bass. My idiot nephew is your downstairs neighbor, and his mother has been calling me since you moved in bitching about some scary guy covered in tattoos who listens to loud rap music upsetting her half-retarded baby boy who’s trying to get a degree in some bullshit. My sister annoys the shit out of me, so can you do me that favor?”

I smiled and told him that I would do my best.

After they left, I looked at the top of my bathroom counter and realized I had left out a pipe with some weed in it, so I took it as a sign that I should be thankful and try and honor what the older cop had asked me. There was no sense in dicking around with fate or jail time any more than I needed to. I also went out of my way to go downstairs and apologize to his mouth-breather of a nephew, who looked like he was going to shit his pants when opening the door wearing his favorite WWE t-shirt – I even shook the kid’s hand and told him if he needed anything to just come on up and ask me.

Because I was all about being neighborly and shit.

After a couple of weeks of hiding out in my cave, I decided to venture out to the main drag and have myself a few cocktails. I figured that since it was a Thursday night in a college town, the odds of me getting into trouble were pretty slim. What I forgot to factor into the equation was that this was The South, and trouble can be found anywhere if you didn’t fit.

I spotted a place that had some Harleys in front of it, and went inside and plopped my ass down on a stool at the bar. The bartender couldn’t have been more than twenty-five. She was pretty in an awkward way – jet-black hair pulled into a side ponytail, pale as fuck, wearing a black tank-top and a schoolgirl skirt, and flashing a couple of really shitty tiny tattoos on her bare shoulders. She was doing that whole I’m-over-here-cleaning-glasses-pretending-you-ain’t-sitting-at-my-bar-even-though-I-keep-on-staring-at-you thing, so I called her over and asked her for a Jack and Coke.

Now – I had developed myself some terrible habits after spending most of my adult life working in the service industry. I was always respectful toward bartenders, servers, and the like – but I’ll be damned if I didn’t say something if something was wonky. I always tried to temper it with a little humor, because I know I always appreciated complaints that were at least presented in a funny light.

“Excuse me, Miss? Would you mind if you actually put some liquor in my glass – I mean, if it’s not too much to ask and all?”

Elvira, the Mistress Of Dickson Street made her way over to where I was sitting, picked up my glass, and then dumped it right into the sink – all while staring me down in a way that I wasn’t able to decipher – it simultaneously said Fuck and Fight. I heard one of the big gruff boys at the end of the bar make some smart-ass comment to her, and she shot him a steely glance. I then watched her as she poured me a Proper Cocktail – again, while she stared at me intently.

“What’s your name?”

“Sean.”

“Where are you from, Sean?”

“Brooklyn.”

“Well, Sean from Brooklyn – my name is Emma. I’m from Little Rock. Came up here to go to college a few years ago, and then I never left. You ever ask me to put liquor in your glass again, and you ain’t gonna leave here neither, okay?”

I let a real slow smirk move across my face and lit up a smoke. Emma smiled and giggled a little bit, and then went back to pouring drinks and polishing glasses. Every now and then I’d look up from the notebook I was scribbling in to see her glaring at me some more. There was a group of extremely drunk kids hanging out over by the pool tables, and a few of the local bikers hanging out at the other end of the bar. They were all taking turns glaring at me, too.

One of these things is not like the others. Obviously.

After downing my fifth Proper Cocktail – which I surreptitiously used to choke down a Lorazepam, I decided it was time to march my crooked ass back down the hill to my cave. I called Emma over to thank her and to settle up the tab. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught one of the bikers giving me the hairiest eyeball I had ever seen, so I decided to keep my flirting to a minimum, so as not to suffer the wrath of the natives.

“So – where do you live, Sean from Brooklyn?”

Emma was giving me the are-you-man-enough eye, while leaning herself over the bar toward my position, lots of exposed and glowing flesh billowing out of her black tank top, like a Siren Call, only without melody.

742 Taylor. The bottom of this hill. Apartment number one.”

She then leaned in even further, reaching with her still-wet hands from washing all of those glasses to grab at the back of my head, kissing me gently in the middle of my forehead.

I really hadn’t planned on this little exercise taking place. Hell – I just then remembered I didn’t even have a bed. Whiskey always made me do dumb shit. This was definitely in my Dumb Shit Sean Does wheelhouse.

Fast forward an hour and a half or so, and I am now not only still buzzed from the benzo/whiskey treat I’d allowed myself, but I have smoked a bowl of my NYC red-haired reefer. I was sitting at my computer, listening to some Miles Fucking Davis(Miles and I had reconnected and our love affair was getting mighty goddamn deep down there in them Ozarks), trying to uncoil some sleeping literary ambitions out from under my nervous system’s warm little blanket of drugs and hooch.

I realized that my intoxicated ass had left my front door open when I felt Emma’s hands rubbing my bald pate as she cooed some ridiculous nonsense at me. I tilted my head back in my chair, and she was leaning down, grinning at me. Things are a little hazy from there, as there was a lot of grunting, pushing, and pulling going on – lust and alcohol always made me an odd beast.

Laying around in a pile of clothes and blankets on the floor, smoking and replaying shit in my head as Emma slept softly – I was watching how her back would rise and fall as she filled her lungs with air when I noticed something shadowy move in the other room near the front door.

I noticed it a little too late, actually.

It only took a matter of a few seconds before the gun was planted firmly in the middle of my forehead. It only took half a second after that for Emma to roll over and start laughing her ass off. It took less time than that for me to realize I’d just been burned something fierce.

“Alright, Sean from Brooklyn – give us everything you got. Money, weed, whatever else kinda drugs you got stashed up in here. You do that, and we won’t kill you, understand?”

Emma was still laughing while she was pulling on her clothes. The big greasy biker guy kept on calling her “Baby,” but she never said his name once. I had about a quarter pound of that marijuana stashed all throughout the apartment, and gave them about half of it. Homeboy rifled through my wallet, and got pissed off when he saw there wasn’t any money in it.

“You’d best cough up some motherfucking cash or I’m gonna put a hole in your head, Sean from Brooklyn. I’m not fucking around here – GIMME THE CASH!”

I stared at him for a good long second – this was the same dude at the bar who had muttered something to Emma – and in that good long second I thought about taking him down. I mean – what good was all that military training if I wasn’t going to use it, right?

“I’m from New York City, man – nobody keeps cash in their wallets unless they’re a fucking tourist or a target. The cash is in my front right pants pocket over there – it’s about three hundred – just take it and get the fuck out of my goddamn house.”

As I watched him pulling the cash out of my jeans, Emma walked over to me all sassy-steppin’, as if this little home invasion/strong-arm was no big deal or anything. I took a step back away from her, and she started to laugh again.

“Oh, Sean from Brooklyn – I ain’t gonna hurt you, honey. This is just your Southern Comeuppance, that’s all. Y’all Yankee motherfuckers always think you’re so fucking smart and slick, but just like we seem like yokels and morons to you – you do to us down here.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. What the fuck else was I supposed to do – she had a point. I let my guard down, thinking that my regular sense of reality would help me out in an alien world. I was goddamn wrong, and I was man enough to laugh at it.

Emma gave me another long and weird kiss as I watched homeboy count the cash he snatched as he put the pistol back in his waistband. Again – a fleeting idea to tackle him and put the gun to his head popped into my head, but I realized that was fucking stupid. No sense in me getting shot or roughed the fuck on up when it was all over now.

“Okay Sean from Brooklyn, we’re gonna leave now – but don’t you ever think about coming into that bar again, you got me? You show up – you disappear out in the woods. And don’t you even think about calling the cops, okay?”

I just stood there like a big dummy.

I watched them walk out the door, Emma looking back at me through the screen door with a look on her face that said “I’m really sorry, honey.” As soon as they were down the front stairs I kind of collapsed on the floor. I was half-laughing, shaking, and half-crying. What the fuck? Nothing like getting set up by some fucking hillbilly motherfuckers – but they were pretty goddamn smart. An old con, one I shouldn’t have fallen for but did. Lesson learned.

After that, I rarely went out while still living down there in Fayetteville. I made nice-nice with the two kids who lived upstairs – I never told anyone what happened, but positioned myself as the neighbor who kept his eye out for everyone – hoping it would be reciprocal.

The one time after that when I did go out was after my father had already been diagnosed with cancer and I was already gearing up to go and take care of him. My friend Carole rolled into town from Louisiana with Fruity Jim and Crazy Wayne.

We had us a hell of a ball – but that’s another tale altogether.

I do still feel guilty about jacking that car to go to Denny’s, though.

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Filed under drugs are bad, i used to be stupid, nuggets of infinite wisdom, who is sean?

"My Arts Is Crafty Darts"

I know I’ve been neglectful, you lovely motherfuckers. I’m not gonna front – I’ve been deep in the recesses of my mind, working on new and twisted magic. It’s not you, it’s me.

BACKSTORY:

Things ’round here have been more than interesting. We pulled up stakes and moved out of Childrensburg, 11211, and into the lovely greenery and Nazi Runes of Little Warsaw, 11222. We’ve been over here since mid-July, and other than one really bizarre and terrible incident – it has been quite nice.

Part of my neglect of this here site, is due to my sudden(and quite alarming) ability to write Real Shit lately. Not that The Rambles aren’t an important part of maintaining my psyche – they totally are. But I’m talking about writing of a Higher Caliber. Like, the type of writing that you feel so empty and spent from coughing it up, that you have to go outside for a long and contemplative walk with just you and your damn self. The kind of shit that flies off the fingers as weight and pain leaves the body. Synergistic and fluid. Magical Work, if you’ll indulge me.


This new and Magical Work was inspired, to a degree, by me finally getting off my ass and taking a little writing course taught by Stephen Elliott a few weeks ago. Now – the class was great on many fronts. On one front, it was good to be in a room with a bunch of other “writers.” I’m not saying anything with a negative connotation when I say this, but I did not feel out of water like I thought I would. If anything, I felt a little bit empowered, listening to the queries and thoughts being brought to the table by my peers in the room, finding myself nodding my head in concert with the wisdom Stephen was kicking out to everyone. I’d say a good 89% of what he was talking about was already in my wheelhouse, and that the majority of what was being shared was confirmation for me that I am “doing it right,” as Ty would say.

It was a good thing for me to do, and I plan on taking some more courses and going to some workshops here in the fall. No sense in messing with momentum, you know?


ANYWAYS…

Last Friday night was a rough one around here.

I had run to the bodega on Manhattan Avenue to go and get us some smokes and some beverages. It was roughly 10:30 or so, and as I was walking back into our building, there was a gang of young and ridiculous-looking kids in their early twenties in the lobby. Most of them actually looked like they could possibly be even younger, maybe even High School age.

I did my polite thing, and excused myself as I dug my keys out to open the door to get into the building. A lot of the kids were holding half-racks of beer, and I could very clearly smell that magically pungent scent of fresh marijuana coming off of one of the kids – he probably had an ounce or so on him, from what my sniffer was telling me.

A party.

Not only a party, but the kids throwing this shindig live right underneath us.

Good times.


You see, part of why we moved over here, and into this specific building, was to get away from this type of dickery. Motherfucking kids these days have this false sense of entitlement, and think they can just do whatever the fuck they want with no regard to anyone within their surrounding vicinity. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking – “What the fuck, Sean? You used to party like a lunatic when you were younger, you hypocritical bastard!” – and you’re not wrong about the partying part. What you’re wrong about is lumping me in with these little nogoodniks. I was always respectful. We always let our neighbors know if we were going to have a few people over. And usually, they were much more apt to not get bugged out by some loud music and pot smoke if we let them know beforehand.

It’s just the right thing to do. Period.

But that’s just not how these New Jack Fuckstains roll at all. They tune out the rest of the world much in the same manner they tune out everything else when they’re high in their room, dicking around on a fucking gaming system until daybreak. As the artist formerly known as Blognigger so verily pointed out this week(and I gotta be honest and say that I fucking HATE linking to SBTVC and all the mouthbreathing “I’M SO MUCH COOLER THAN YOU!” bullshit that goes on over there, but BN is my friend, and I liked this post a lot, so fuck it) – kids are just fucking terrible nowadays.


MMMMMMMMMMM-BA!

Fast forward about an hour and a half. I’m sitting right here at this very desk, trying to get some Magical Work done. All of a sudden I hear a bunch of shit from up on the roof. Little bastards were up there, getting their drink on.

Goddamn it, I was pissed the fuck off.

See, the OTHER reason we liked this place so much, was because nobody was going to be living above us. We’re on the top floor, and for good reason. At our last place, there were these fucking junkie slobs who lived over us.

Now – when I say junkie slobs, please erase the picture of gutter punks or Robert Downey Jr in Less Than Zero out of your pretty little mind. The kind of junkie slob I am referring to here is a breed of junkie that would fascinate Larry Fucking Clark. I’m talking about the kind of junkie that will be outside in subzero temperatures at 2:17AM, trying to put on new brake pads on a car that has no business whatsoever being on the road to begin with. I’m talking about the kind of junkie who goes out and buys a used portable clothes washing machine, because they’re too fucking lazy to go do laundry like a respectable Brooklynite, and said washer floods their apartment. On Christmas Eve. And then causes the people below them to have their ceiling collapse and rain down upon them in bed. That’s the kind of junkie slob I’m riffing on here.

Oh, hello – why yes, it DID rain on my head on Christmas Eve!

So – that’s a big part of why we loved this new spot so much. A quieter hood for sure, but also a lack of disrespectful assholes surrounding us. This building is full of families and older Polish people. Hell, when we first moved in, everyone was eyeballing us, hoping we weren’t crazed Party People.

I decided to go out into the hallway, and let these kids know they just shouldn’t be up on the roof. It was bad enough that they were running around the halls, slamming doors and being loud as fuck. I wasn’t going to sit in here and listen to them stomping around over my head all night. I pay far too much rent for that shit.

As I walked out into the hall, a group of them were heading up the stairs to the roof. This is the exchange that followed, pretty much verbatim:

Me: “Hey. Hey! Y’all should not be up on that roof.”
Some random fuck of a kid: “Is there going to be a problem?”
Me: Cold stare.
Kid: “Are you serious? We shouldn’t be on the roof?”
Me: “Five stories is a long drop, ain’t it? There are families that live under the roof. Kids. Little ones. Please be respectful, or I won’t be.”
Some random drunk girl: “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE. WE CAN DO WHAT WE WANT!”
Kid: “Look – we don’t want any trouble. We’ll get off the roof. Sorry.”
Me: A grin and a wink.

After that, I heard them all scurrying back down to the third floor, where the party was. I could hear them yelling in the apartment about “some asshole covered in tattoos made us get off the roof,” and I felt somewhat better about myself in that moment. They continued to be loud and ridiculous, and I continued to sit here, trying to get some Magical Work done.

I could hear them up on the roof again, maybe around 1:30AM. I figured I’d already said what I needed to, and kind of hoped that one of the older residents in the building would call the police soon, to break up the stupidity.

Around 1:45 or so I heard what sounded like the loudest slam of a door since my terrible teen years.

Less than ten minutes later, I could hear the police, admonishing kids left and right. I even pulled a total Old Man Move, and looked out the peephole in our front door, and could see cops walking kids down the stairs from the roof.

I felt pretty vindicated and went to sleep.

The next afternoon, after we had brunch with a friend, we came walking back over to the building and noticed a lot of our neighbors standing out front in a group, talking. As we walked up to them, we were informed that a 22 year old kid had fallen off the roof to his death.

At 1:45AM.

What I thought was a door slamming, was this poor fucking kid.

He basically fell six stories. From the roof, which would be the fifth floor, all the way down into the courtyard, which is recessed from the street level. He was dead on impact – a beer can was found less than two feet from his body. The superintendent of our building was in the courtyard, trying to wash away all of the blood from the scene. It was terrible. There was still brain matter on the ground and some of it was spattered on the outer wall of the building. I asked him for some bleach, and I helped him wash away the stains.

I have never before in my life felt more terrible about an “I told you so,” as this one.

This building has been as quiet as tomb ever since.

MESSAGE FROM BEYOND:

Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.”

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Filed under childrensburg 11211, drugs are bad, jealous insecurities, little warsaw 11222, true stories from nyc

A Proclamation.

This rainy weather shit has me down a little bit.

It was so nice to have a few days of natural warmth and some sunshine that didn’t have wind or gloom attached to it. Don’t get me wrong here – I like the gloom, and I love Winter – but enough is enough. My body craves the warmth. And after getting to soak in it for a couple of weekends, I now feel like I’m 14 again, and I’ve been making out with some girl that has been rubbing her hand up against my crotch through my 501s, and then her older sister showed up at the park to take her home.

Typical.

Spring-time will always bring the Blue Balls, just like those little Catholic Schoolgirls that used to love pissing off their parents by fucking around with a Jewish punk rock kid like me. Not that I’m complaining about it, because I certainly have some fond memories of making out in the backseat of some girl’s Jetta, roaming my hands up underneath that plaid skirt and getting told “NO.”

Summer, on the other hand, is the dirty fucking College girl who just moved out of her house and came to realize The Power of Pussy. Summer is like that girl who was sort of an awkward duck in 7th Grade who suddenly realized that rocking a tanktop and getting some contacts would bring all the dogs sniffing around her ass. Summer is The Grime. Summer is The Sweat. Summer is like a Raekwon album – just enough nasty to keep your head bobbing along.

The Ice Cream Man is coming!

I sure could use me some Summer right about now.

My creative juices flow a lot differently with the seasons, which I’m sure happens to a lot of people. My choices in what I listen to shift as well – Summer is much more apt to have me reaching for Hip-Hop or old ’80s Hardcore, whereas Winter is definitely all about Metal & Jazz endeavors (undertakings, really – think HUGE BOX SETS of shit that is just “Out There,” and you’re rolling with me). Spring is a mess, just like those Catholic schoolgirls, and Fall is usually all about breaking out the Miles & Coltrane, getting my head into the proper space for the seclusion and heady nature Winter usually holds for my psyche.

I could probably break all of this down Astrologically, but that might go too far over the edge of reason, even for my shit.

ANYWAYS…

All this shit about seasons & weather is funny to me, because I never had to deal with this when I was living out in The Desert. That wasteland didn’t have any seasons – it just had varying degrees of the same thing, kind of like putting on any Top 40 radio station and letting it play for four hours – you’ll eventually hear the same twelve cuts at least three times, and all of them will suck.

Moving back up here, to The City, was the inevitable Truth for me. If I had stayed out there any longer, I’d surely be dead by now. I mean, after all the stupid shit I’d done over the years out there, I’m surprised homelessness and being a drug addict were the worst things that happened to me. Sure, I avoided jail time, but that’s only by the grace of The Universe. There were plenty of times my ass could have been locked down, and I can only imagine what that shit would have done to me.

I’m going to try and stay on my game and on point this Summer. I’m going to work hard on my shit, and do what I can to get it out there. I spent a long time woodshedding, honing my “craft,” if you’re so inclined. And it wouldn’t be gentlemanly of me to be spouting off about all these Cornelius Fakers making way if I just sat on my hands and didn’t get some of what’s out there for my very own.

Cat, get the fuck on up out of this bag.

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Filed under drugs are bad, nuggets of infinite wisdom, who is sean?

Something From My Past Life…

*This was originally on my other site – the one that I’m not sure will ever come back from the dead or not.

And The D Train Kept A’Rollin…

“…Even now the details – before, during, and after – make me want to pluck my eyes out and pound dirt in the sockets. There are stories you don’t want to tell, and there are stories that scald your brainpan right down to the tongue at the mere thought of uttering. But you can’t NOT. Even if you wait until your skull is nothing but a charred and smoking husk, the truth will still be in there, squirming. At this point, there’s nothing left to do but let it out.

– Jerry Stahl, Permanent Midnight

That’s pretty much how I feel ninety-nine percent of the time. Like I have no fucking choice in the matter. If I don’t let it out, I’m going to burn from the inside out. A massive conflagration of secrets, lies, deceptive nastiness and horror. Stahl might have been talking about being a junkie, addicted to that nasty tar he pumped into his body for the better part of a decade – but I know what the fuck he’s actually riffing on.

The fucking TRUTH.

You know it’s going to be a difficult period of time in your life when you can’t even look yourself in the eye for a few days. The current feeling in my gut is not one that I am comfortable with at all.

It’s been a long line of totally rough(but obviously necessary) shit, running concurrent with a fucking ton of emotional upheavals, and there really is no dividing wall in sight for me to yank the wheel and smash the car into. Not that I really want to smash anything, it’s just a fleeting thought that pops up from time to time. I think everyone has these moments – little sparkling pieces of despair and frustration come hurtling out of nowhere, and the instinct to destroy yourself kicks into high gear. Ah, destruction. The be all end all. It’s always there, humming it’s incessant little tune into the receiver in my mind, a melody that can be really fucking traitorous and unforgiving.

My self-destructive nature lets me know all sorts of shit way before anyone else is able to see what’s going on with me. I can attribute that to my years of practice at hiding whatever the fuck it is that’s eating away at me from anyone and everything – usually until it’s too late, and nothing anyone says or does will be able to give me anything resembling insight, because I’ve already convinced myself of what’s about to happen. I’m an egomaniacal bastard like that, and I’m not about to make any excuses for it. I am who/what I am, and I am, for the most part, quite okay with me at this moment in time. Yes, there are the usual issues that surround me like a halo of flies – depression, fear, insecurities galore, a precocious teetering on the perch of madness/genius*, and a smattering of delusions that need to be dealt with accordingly. But – sidled right up next to those feelings are a bunch of new and different emotional responses like hope, self-belief, emotional empowerment, and the doozy of all motherfucking doozies – actual patience.

Unfortunately for me, these new sets of feelings are still so new to me that they have a tendency to confound and confuse me when they appear. It’s wild, to tell you the truth – one minute I am eyeballing the D Train rumbling into the station right in front of me, thinking “here you go, son – you can just step right off the fucking platform into oblivion and be done with all this bullshit that’s tearing you the fuck apart inside“, and the next I’m pretty much smiling and taking a deep breath – knowing deep inside of myself that there is nothing in this world that I cannot handle – and handle well. I just wish I knew how to balance these things out, so that the feeling of the earth beneath my feet wasn’t so shocking when it’s there. Being grounded has been a goal for a long fucking time, and now that it is starting to take place on the regular I find myself second-guessing it’s validity more often than not. Actually, it’s more like I second-guess what I already know, because sometimes I just don’t want to believe that I know what the fuck is going on.

This is why I used to use cocaine.

Now – I am not in any way desiring to do such a thing. That kind of self-destruction is dead and buried. But – in previous incarnations of my life, I would already be burning up my mucus membranes with the magical powers of the GNP of most of South America. As bad as I currently feel about my state of affairs, getting high on blow is not a fucking option.

Writing about it, on the other hand, is certainly on today’s menu.

I think the first time I did a line I was around fourteen or fifteen years old. I was friends with this crazy Mormon kid named David, who had an older brother that was the biggest fucking stoner on Planet Earth at the time – Jimmy Williams. This bastard would just show up wherever we were, just to fuck with his little brother and make our lives fucking miserable. He would just randomly start throwing punches at whomever was closest to him, and once he had you on the ground he’d start digging through your pockets for money, smokes, and whatever else he could cold jack from you. Jimmy once took the entire contents of my backpack out on the sidewalk outside the mall, only to start laughing hysterically at me for keeping an extra pair of socks in my bag. Then he broke my nose.

He was the kind of older brother I was fucking thankful I never had.

Jimmy ended up getting locked down during the summer between our freshman and sophomore years of high school, for some attempted robbery thing. I figured he’d probably watched Bad Boys(the one with Sean Penn – not that fucking Fresh Prince/Martin bullshit) too much, and wanted to push the envelope a little further. Either way, we decided that once he was gone, we were totally going to fucking ransack his room. And we did. And then we found the Colombian Marching Powder, hidden away in a corner of his sock drawer, right next to his really shitty collection of porn and a Polaroid of some girl sucking him off. Jimmy Williams enlightened me on many levels, y’all.

That first line felt like I was being let inside of some secret club, the kind where you had to know not only the double-secret handshake, but the kind that only the fucking coolest kids were whispering about – let alone being let in the door. That first line still lingers on in my memory, like a lover that you can’t shake off and find yourself obsessively thinking about when you rub one out. It’s deeper than muscle memory. It’s like some kind of imprint in my body’s chemistry now – stored and hidden away in the fat cells, waiting to spring up at the oddest moment and remind me of the soulless motherfucker I turned into when I was using the shit. Cocaine would be some kind of constant for me, like a niggling feeling in the corners of my mind, for more than a decade.

It was a torrid affair that thankfully had an ending, and I’ve never wanted to get back together to try and rekindle the Sean/cocaine dynamic for one fucking second.

The affair ended about two years after my mother passed away, in July of 1998. I had been using more and more, trying so fucking hard to keep my habit under the radar. I was working my ass off running a restaurant, pulling upwards of seventy hours a week, way over my head but somehow enjoying the ride more than anything I ever had. The co-owners of the joint were both fucking massive cokeheads, and they were both glad-handing me pieces to keep the place running smoothly. It was awesome – neither one of them knew the other was taking care of my habit, so I was getting a lot of blow for free on an almost daily basis. My staff knew, because they were all using, too. We’d be placing bets on who would freak the fuck on out first during Friday night dinner rushes, baiting each other and talking shit the whole time. Taking turns running to the office to do a little blast of god to keep the party atmosphere flowing. Sometimes there would be five or six people crammed into my office, sprawled out and jockeying for position, trying to snort at the lines all over my desk like it was a really fucking bizarre game of Cocaine Twister.

While all of this was going down, one of the co-owners was jacking money left and right to support his(and I guess in a roundabout way – my own as well) habit. We had purveyors cutting us off left and right, and I was spending far too much time on the phone with accountants and at the bank trying to keep them from padlocking us out of the place. I was trying to keep my nasty little secret away from my then-girlfriend and our roommate, and I was pretty successful until the day I was standing in line at the bank with almost ten grand in my pocket.

I had been sent to the bank to make some kind of good-will gesture, to deposit money into the main account in hopes of appeasing the financial institution that wanted to shut us the fuck down. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot, and decided “this is a good time to dip my car key into my stash, and do just a little bump“, thinking that would calm my nerves enough for me not to freak out holding on to that much cash. So, I did my little bump, and wandered into the bank to take care of the business at hand.

Standing in line, I started to feel a little woozy all of a sudden, like when you get up too fast and see all of those little black spots floating around in your peripheral vision – the lack-of-oxygen blues. I must have made some kind of sound, because the woman in line in front of me turned around and made this horrible face at me, like she had seen me dry-humping a statue of Jesus or something. Before I could even smirk at her, the entire room shifted up on me. Everything started to get this hazy, amber-hued look to it, like right after a torrential rain. And less than a second after that, the entire left side of my body started to pound and vibrate. I could feel my balls shriveling up and crawling inside my body, turtling up to get as far away from the scene of the impending crime as testicularly possible. I felt something pop in my head, and then the next thing I knew I was on the floor, frantic and borderline foaming-at-the-mouth. Everyone around me was taking two or three steps away from me, clutching at their purses and wallets like I was suddenly going to spring up with a Glock and shake everyone down on the spot. Me? I was trying to not shit and piss all over myself in public, and gasping for breath and looking for any kind of sign that I was not in the middle of The Big One Fred Sanford was always crying about.

That’s right about the time I felt a hand reach down and grab me by the sleeve.

It was my goofball neighbor, Brian. This kid came out of nowhere to save the fucking day. He just happened to walk into the bank seconds before everything went haywire on me, and was already on his way toward me to see if he could cut in line. He started trying to pull me up off the ground, but it was like there was colostomy bag glue holding me there on the carpet. He gave me this look like “dude, you need to get the fuck up, now“, and that is exactly what I then did – I got the fuck on up and let him brace me a bit so I could right myself. He asked me if I needed to go to the hospital, and I just nodded real slow and tried not to fall down again.

He pretty much carried me to his car, this kid. He was as strong as an ox, a huge fleshy boy, but I was dead fucking weight. He finally asked/screamed at me “what the fuck are you on, man?” and I just immediately evened right out. I became calm and lucid, and told him that I had just done a little bump of blow and this kind of thing has never happened to me before. I told him that taking me to the hospital was of utmost importance, because part of me felt like I was having a fucking heart attack and I was certain death was coming for me. So, we jumped in his car and took off, running mad red lights with me screaming bloody fucking murder at him to get there faster(in retrospect, that kid was a fucking saint). It felt like I was in a really bad Afterschool Special – “Cocaine Will Fucking Kill You, Motherfucker” came to mind, as did “Potential Can Be Wiped The Fuck Out In One Quick Snort“.

I could see the Emergency Room entrance up ahead of us, and told Brian not to fucking stop – barrel on through and get me to the curb, basically. By the time he was twenty feet from the entrance, I was already opening the door to burst out and run inside to my salvation.

I ran up to the Charge/Triage Desk as fast as I could, and yammered at the woman behind the counter:

You have to fucking help me! I’m having a massive fucking heart attack, and I am not ready to die like this, I’m only 27!!!

It felt like ten whole minutes before she looked up from whatever the fuck she was doing. Eternity. I could feel my time slipping away as she slowly lifted her eyes into mine, with this look on her face that was a cross between “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me” and “when you die(and you motherfucking will) I will rifle through your pockets for whatever drugs you have on you, stupid whiteboy“. When she finally did speak, she had this nasty condescending smirk on her grill, and said to me “You are NOT having a heart attack young man, because you would not be able to talk to me if you were. Calm down, take a seat, and we’ll help you in a minute“.

I just stood there, paralyzed, with sweat puddling up in my shoes, my mind bouncing all of this ridiculous drug-addled lunacy off the walls in my head…

How could she dismiss me so easily? Why was she so fucking mean and cruel? Why the fuck did I do that little bump? Why did that little bump set me off when I could sit and do an eightball in a night and be able to go to sleep ten fucking minutes after doing a huge rail? This shit has to be the purest cocaine I’ve ever done for a little bump to make my heart explode in my fucking chest! I’m gonna fucking die here, in this ghetto fucking hospital in a shitty part of Phoenix, Arizona, 27 years old and an entire lifetime ahead of me! I am going to fucking kill the motherfucker who gave me this piece! This is bullshit, and my girlfriend is going to leave me, and hire her mother’s ex-husband and his fucking greasy biker friends to kill me! I am so fucked.

Nurse Meanie McMeanerson saw me standing there freaking out, and came over and took me by the arm, leading me into an exam room. She calmly sat me on the edge of a gurney, and made me take off my shirt so she could slip the blood pressure cuff on my arm. All while this was going on, my mind is rattling around in my head like a cracked-out gerbil in one of those wheels, each thought slamming into the next like comets hitting the Sun. While she’s taking my pressure, she hands me a glass of water, along with three little white pills. I didn’t even need to ask her what the fuck they were, because I know Xanax when I see it.

You want to tell me what you took, because the doctors are going to need to know in case it interacts poorly with whatever they want to give you to calm you down. Your heart rate is 240, and you need to breathe, to relax“.

I told her everything. I told her that I had been using cocaine pretty heavily in the last few months, and that it seemed to somehow even everything out around me, The Great Equalizer – making me feel like I was not in any kind of pain. I told her that since my mother died, I had been hiding all sorts of shit from everyone in my life, from my father, my girlfriend, my boss, my friends, myself. I told her that when I couldn’t find cocaine, I would go out and do horrible and despicable things to procure it. I told her that I would go to gay bars and hustle unsuspecting motherfuckers, because everyone knows gay guys have the best cocaine. I told her that I thought about robbing dealers, because they couldn’t call the cops on me, right? I told her that I didn’t want to die, and that I knew when I was on the floor of the bank, doing The Flounder, that this was the last time I would ever use coke in my life, that my love affair with the little white powder that made everything better – was over.

And somehow, saying all of this shit out loud to some stranger – who ten minutes earlier I wanted to pummel to death – was calming me down. My heart rate was stabilizing. My eyesight seemed to come back into focus. My balls still throbbed, but they dropped back out of my body to their normal place of residence. I could feel the sweat drying all over my body, crystalline and salty. It was as if each confession I made released more of the pressure from my body, and I was freeing myself from whatever it was that had taken hold of me.

The whole time that I am emotionally throwing up all over this woman, there was a social worker standing in the shadows of the room, lurking and observing me. When I finally stopped for a second, grabbing at my temples and starting to let the tears come flowing out, she came out of the shadows. When she put her hand on my arm, I could feel that she knew – this was my fucking grief. This was what I was burying inside of me, and it decided that day to come clawing and crawling out of my psyche once and for all. The cocaine did what it was supposed to do for long enough. My mind could no longer be numbed by what I was putting into my body.

The fucking TRUTH was ready to come into the light.

I’ve never done another line of cocaine, nor have I even had a passing interest in it. For the first couple of years it was hard for me to even watch a movie with blow in it. But now, well, now I can be in a room with people who are doing it and not even have a wistful or lustful thought to join in on their fun. I don’t have any of that nostalgic longing for days gone by. Cocaine and I broke the fuck on up, and we’re both much better off for it. We had a good run, some laughs, and a bunch of fucking hilarious hijinks that would make for some interesting stories if I ever decide to commit myself to writing them. I’m pretty sure the sporadic panic attacks that I suffer are a direct result of the flood of chemicals cocaine used to cause in my brains chemistry, because I never had them before I used it.

I guess they are my souvenir T-Shirt. I Went Crazy On The Cocaine And All I Got Were These Lousy Panic Attacks.

Part of me knows, that writing is now my cocaine. My valve to release all of the shit that boils inside of me, to break loose the parts that won’t break free of their own accord, to pass them out of me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever really be a writer for real, but I am very sure that I’ll never be able to stop writing. Whenever my world starts to fall apart around me, my first instinct now is to write it out of me. To commit feeling to page/document file/server. To make sure that I cut the cadaver open and really examine what’s on the inside.

I’m glad I’m finally starting to realize that, because it sure beats staring down that D Train. Right?

*I’m not saying that I believe that I am some sort of genius in the realm of motherfuckers that create huge and sweeping changes in the path of humanity – I’m not a fucking blowhard moron(*cough* *cough*) that’s completely ruled by my own ego. I’m just saying that everyone is a genius in their own special way, and that is something that I have always believed. There are things that people in this world can do that blow my mind every time it happens, and the only word that comes to mind for me in that moment is genius. I suppose the word genius can be supplanted by unique or brilliant, but being the “150% or zero” kind of cat that I am – genius fits. A neurosurgeon is just as much of a genius as your mechanic, your pot dealer, your friendly neighborhood barista, the Asian massage parlor woman who doesn’t even ask before she stimulates your prostate, and maybe even your fucking shrink. They each do something that most people might not be able to do, and they (hopefully) do it better than anyone you know. To me – that’s pure fucking genius.

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