What happens when you stick a syringe in your neck? Do you go downwards or upwards? Do you hold your breath? How deep do I go? These I things I didn’t ask that day. I was out in a parking lot area a few blocks from where people would sneak off between two cars to “cook” and hopefully inject their drugs before someone called the police. Many mornings, I was too sick to even bother with the cute ritual of heating up the tar. I would simply add whatever contaminated water I had to white cap that attached to the back of a syringe. I would stir it forcefully with the plunger of my syringe. On a good day I *might* use a cotton to filter the wide variety of adulterants and bacteria. On a bad day, I would draw this up and jab it straight through my pants leg. Finding a vein was becoming an impossibility, a vague hope.
One morning, I made what could have been a fatal mistake. This morning was like any other morning. I woke up covered in sweat that smelled like vinegar, cemented between two sticky wool blankets. They had been given to me by some minister who handed out food on random evenings. He had hot spaghetti in a large pot served directly out of the trunk of his car. He seemed like an actual man of God as opposed to some of the others I had met over the years. There was one who “outreached” to young men by bringing them over to his apartment. He would ask them to get down on their knees to join him in prayer. After a few words invoking his love of the Holy Spirit, he would unzip their pants and introduce them to his love of frequently unwashed penis. From all accounts, this man was creepy but mostly harmless. The men were aptly compensated for their prayer circle jerk. We all speculated the person involved was closeted and ashamed of his own sexuality. This was in contrast to another man who called himself a minister. He would invite underage boys over his house to “rest”. While they were passed out on this or that, many disclosed to me waking up to his hand on their unsuspecting privates. A violation in the disguise of assistance was far more treacherous.
Why did I let her stick a needle in my neck? I can’t answer that question. Why did I just eat those crackers when I just had dinner? Why did I cross a four lane street in the middle of an intersection? Why do I do anything. I just can’t tell you. I wish I could put my mind into words. Some days I am half past fuck it. Other days, I am afraid of my own shadow.
She was dirty. Not just her clothes- SHE was dirty. She was the type of person you couldn’t really turn your back on. Her face was full of MRSA from her constant picking at scabs. They never truly got a chance to heal before she was back at them again. The crack made her talkative. The dope made her scandalous. She was the type of person everyone used as a mental example of a dope fiend, someone quite different than themselves. Yet, in many ways, we were all the same. She told me someone had raped her out here in a doorway. Raped her dirty snatch next to her broken pipe. It seemed hard to believe yet I knew it was the truth. We used to swap horror stories as we wasted time in between the hits that might take our lives- if we were lucky. She had a grown daughter somewhere, somewhere far away from this life.
“Blow” she commanded.
What the fuck is she talking about?!
“Put your lips together and blow into your mouth…” she repeated.
When she demonstrated this technique I swear to sweet baby jesus it looked as if one of her sores cracked open. This is a bad fucking idea, I told myself.
We were looking into the mirror of a parked car, searching for the bullseye. I had spent a few hours hustling up money for these bags. I needed a hit, not a fishing expedition. Lord help me as I saw her dirty hand reach towards my neck with that uncapped needle.
As I “blew”, I saw my life flash before my eyes. My high school graduation, the years I had spent as a girl school, the purple laced comforter that used to cover my bed. I felt the blood rush to my face. I wondered if this was the end of my life. Right here, in a parking lot, next to some dirty newspapers and a used condom. No, nope. I am still alive. I felt the warm syrup burn through my extremities telling me I could live again.As the tiny bit of blood got wiped up in my napkin from Taco Bell, I wasn’t sure if I should say thank you or fuck you. She had held my hand, helped me take one more step in my race to the bottom.