Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ben (revised)


Ben was heroin addled fantasy from a time when I would rather be with someone that barely loved me than be alone. I had just been released from jail after six long months. I had been using in the jail up until the last 45 days. This is did not give me much time to construct any type of recovery. I had spent most my time of planning for things that would never happen. My first week in jail was spent recovering from surgery. When I was arrested, I had four large abcesses. An abcess is a place where bacteria gets under the skin and the flesh starts to rot. I had to have surgery on my arm. When I took of the bandage, I cried. Not because I was in the hospital, not because I was in jail. I cried because they had sliced open my tattoo! The horror of it all. I used to take a sterile needle and cut them open myself. Needless to say, my nickname was the abcess queen.

When I was back on the streets, I felt hopeless. I gave up my homeless encampment living for a hotel with some financial  help of my parents. They traded me some money for the lie that I was not using drugs. Ben was another resident of the West Hotel at the intersection of Mason and Eddy.So close to the tourists and the cable cars yet so far away. His hoodie and cut off Ben Davis pants caught my eye. He looked as if he didn’t belong there. A young junkie living alone was a rarity. People our age generally lived in packs for safety from the elements from the Tenderloin. Not him. He was completely alone in the world. He drew me in from a distance like a planet pulled into a sying star. First we were strangers, then we were friends. We both agreed that we were together as a couple with nothing more in common it seemed than the fact that we were willing to share  a half gram of heroin. No one shared so this must make us compatible. Such high standards.

Ben had the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. He could hold a conversation. We liked to read and write. We did not have a sexual relationship as normal couples do. Drugs were our sex and we had words when we  were our drugs. He had a few friends that would visit. They never understood why he would be with me. I was a “hardcore junkie” by then. His friends always imagined some how he could just return to Campbell. He loved me as we lay dying in our queen sized sheets. He hated me for our disease. We fought but we had our silent agreements. We enjoyed the fantasy of having an other.

The drugs that brought us together tore us apart. That was the end of our endless discourse. We got together because we needed each other. We would lay on the bed with our clothes on. Two skeletons on the bed gasping for air. We clung to each other and wondered how we were transported into the depths of despair. We awoke daily to the pain and the hustle. One day our madness turned to his violence. The trust walked out the door and I went with it.

He called me from jail a few months before he died to apologize for all the pain that had come between us. He had seen "Black Tar Heroin" in the jail. For a split second, I almost did not accept his regrets but I relented. We all made our mistakes. My mistake in relationships always seemed to be that I was willing to settle for less. His mistake was giving up too soon.

15 comments:

  1. From what I saw in BTH and from what you say about Ben, he seemed like a good person and intelligent. And I agree with you about his eyes... piercing x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes. he really loved me too. He just loved the drugs more

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. This is a photograph they took at the time of Black Tar Heroin. Steven gave them to me after Ben died

      Delete
  3. Do you have any other BTH photos of Ben, you, or anyone else? This photo is touching. I always wished there were more photos from the film. Please consider doing another post like this one about other people you knew from BTH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I raffled off another BTH photo. I can write something about Jake. He was the one I knew best

      Delete
    2. Please do. Such a tragic story, it would be nice to read more about his life and recovery, and to know if he found happiness, albeit for a short while.

      Delete
    3. ok the readers have spoken see todays post

      Delete
  4. I'd love to know more about Jake. He seemed so gentle and incredibly vulnerable... in the film when he disappears from the streets and reappears unwilling to talk, any idea what happened to him?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hey Tracey, first of all thanks for writing this blog, these stories are filled with hope and the thought that you are helping people out there really is something special. I read some where on the web that Ben was friends with the guys from the band Rancid and the band wrote the song 'Ben Zanotto' about what drugs did to him, and how they eventually scattered his ashes where they grew up in California. Thanks a lot!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ben was the Ben from the "roots radical" song as well as the song with his name. He grew up with Lars. I never mention it really because I am not into cash in on any interest the Rancid name might bring

      Delete
    2. Yeah I hear that, thanks for clearing it up tho!

      Delete
  6. Ben was a good dude at heart. Before being so succumbed by heroin, he was so hot! I remember Lars as a teen. Always drunk/high and lookin for love too ha. I know the Skunx still today. Some still suffering addiction. The 90's in the Bay were far different from today. The memories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ben and I made peace before he died. He and I had a sweet relationship but crack messed his mind up and life on the streets

      Delete