What was it like?
“Don’t use that needle after me”, I say “ I think I got that shit”
She smiles and continues “If you go, I want to go too!”
I snap out of a nod and snatch the needle from her hand. She is nineteen and traveling from
Oregon or . I get them all confused. I am letting her crash with me a few days. She thinks she is in love with me because I am nice to her. She will leave me soon. She just does not know it yet. A pimp might snatch her up. He will sniff out that she left home because she was being molested by her step father. She is eager to please with no boundaries. Or she will hop the next freight train and run off with some squatter boy named Spike that promises better times ahead in the next city. New Orleans
“You cannot use my rig.” I pat her head like a child “ use this one.”
I check the cap to see if it is sealed and hand her a new syringe. She thinks she is in love with me. She thinks she is hooked on heroin yet gets high off my cottons. I cannot afford to keep her if she gets a real habit. My sugar daddy will not approve unless she is willing to pull another double with me. The dude got to watch her for a split second. It was mostly smoke a mirrors. I cannot let this girl become like me. Because I half way care for her.
I live in the era of AIDS. There is no HIV it seems because It takes people so quickly. No cure no meds. People dying all around me. The coroner is picking a new person up daily. There are three floors of death here. I got a room on the third floor. I moved in after the last hotel forced me to move after 28 days so I would not get renters' rights. I had my cash in hand provided by my seventy year old benefactor.
On this floor, one room has a hospital bed. I can see the young Puerto Rican man in there when his dead bolt is on and the door is propped open. After his care giver leaves, the roaches crawl in at night. The bring him crack that I suppose he begs for since he cannot get out of bed. A few rooms down is the mother with her two boys. Well the room is hers but she is out somewhere turning tricks. The boys are eating her donated meals and eating cereal with no milk. I will see the boys again five years later outside on this same block selling crack and her hanging on to one sleeve begging for a hit.
I venture down the hall. The drag queen is half dressed in his nightgown with some type of crusted stain on the satin in the back. She is tweaking through the garbage cans looking to see what treasures are to be had in them. She is always friendly to me and gives me her extra AIDS meals so at least I can eat something. She lives with her part time lover part time hustler. He is a gay for pay bag boy that tricks with the dealer down the hall. He disappears for days at a time but claims to lover her/him whatever identity miss thang has going that day. My next door neighbor is a sex offender with a long rap sheet. I found this out from the couple across the hall. They are married with a young child they will eventually lose to Child protective services.
And her I am. With her. In my room. I made the mistake of sharing needles with my neighbors. I was from
. I was young and naïve. I never head about HIV in the Regan Era except to learn that I was immune because my family was Republican and not gay. That was a disease that happened to “other people”. Yet here I am. And I think I got that shit. And she is so stupid, she says she doesn’t care. Ohio
“Will you cuddle with me” she mumbles.
I can tell she is high because she is scratching her face.
I whisper to her “Of course I will” as I pull her on the bed.
I ended up testing negative for HIV and the pimp found her. She died of an OD in 1999.