I stopped looking at the world through rose colored glasses many years ago. After the first time you see a 13 year old girl/boy turning tricks for drugs, you world view is never the same. In the early stages, I would ask questions. What happened to you? Who did this to you? Who created this monster? In the later years, I bore witness to it. I bit my tongue in silence as the warm blood pooled in my mouth.
I knew how things like this happened. When I was first getting introduced to drugs, just some weed and booze laced with the occasional T3, I had a friend who introduced me to the darker side. No, not substances but a world that existed beyond the world in which I lived a comfortable existence. I remember his mom telling him "I need my Kools and my 40z. I don't care how you get it". She meant that literally. She did not care. In fact, she must have known her youngest son sometimes turned to prostitution. How else does a 13 year old come home with $40 and a cartoon of cigarettes. She drank herself into a foamy glass of denial while her son sat on hard benches waiting for men to approach him. Teachers, bus drivers, lawyers, and coaches cruised by looking at him, wondering if they should approach. I never went with him. I only knew what happened when he relayed the stories a few years later while we passed the pipe. I only knew that there would be no food in the house that night unless he found someone to buy it for them. I only knew that a family cannot live on nicotine and alcohol alone.
As the cars breeze by, I see the faces. I see the dreams destroyed. The car seats that get brushed aside for a quick blowjob in the car. I see the shadow of the wife in the passenger seat. Her hair brush sits next to the stick shift, waiting for the next time the wind catches her curls the wrong way. I see the sweaty faces of men, their eyes like high beams as the scan the side of the road for a willing, yet inexpensive companion.
"This is the life I chose," he tells me "I get as grimey as I need to be, sweetheart." He counts his money as he walk into the store to get a pack of smokes for his mother.
I shake my head. No. I am not one of these people. I have morals. I won't do x,y,z. Until I do them.
There is a saying among old dope fiends- are you dedicated to the cause? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get the things you need? Are you will to trade your self respect in for powders, rocks, and dollars. Self respect is a vague concept out here. Powders, rocks, and dollars- these are things I can hold in my hand. What is a few moments of agony in exchange for a night filled with blurry glory? I am not sure I can pay all these prices. When I see the working girl with her arm abscessed to the bone, I wonder to myself what is really sold here? Is it sex or the illusion of normalcy? How does one wake up for work at 6:00am and say to oneself "I think I am going to roll down to the sketchiest part of town to get sex. This one, anyone will do".
Seventeen years clean. How can I forget all the things I have seen? How can I bleach my memories to forget about the minister who picked up teenage boys off the street? He would ask them to pray before he paid to suck their cock. How can I forget about the mother who sold her daughter or the father who used to come shoot dope with me and his son. I just don't know, readers. Seventeen years clean and I just can't forget. So I write. I reflect. I remember the moral ambiguity and the depravity that was my daily life.