The squat on Market
I have had this blog space for 8 or so years now. We have done a lot together. Two books of collected stories, one of which was published, hundreds of thousands of words, and almost two million views. I have not been that active here because honestly I have been in an artistic slum for a few years. I have a collection of 4 stories- ten thousand words- I am releasing in pieces. You can backread the last two entries if you want to catch up.
Fentanyl and Fent analogues are currently ravaging the US. Having lived through the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s as a person who was using drugs, it has been traumatizing to have waves of friends die when I thought the worst was over. I assumed, as a middle aged woman, that the next round of losses in my life would be related to natural causes. I was wrong. Instead, I was blindsided by the current state of the poisoned drug supply plus a pandemic. So the word get stuck in my mind, never to reach the virtual page.
When I was young, I truly believed that using drugs was a release from a type of prison. My body was a prison. My thoughts were a prison. The social and societal expectations of me were a type of prison. Until I actually went to prison. Then I realized I had been free the entire time. I wasn't broken, I was sick. Not the disease model of addiction sick. I don't believe addiction is a disease. A condition, yes, but not a disease. Addiction is adaptation to deal with a fucked up world that ends up being more painful that the place you were trying to escape. Not everyone that uses drugs becomes addicted. A big fuck you to those people (half kidding). I did cross that line into addiction. I languished in a state halfway between reality and the outskirts of sanity. The drugs, the violence, the laughs, the tears, the freedom to make my own poor decisions was tantamount to my existence. I felt alive in those moments of chaos. It felt safe to be nodded out, exposed, at risk. And poof- one day I felt closer to death. I needed to change- but how?
There were exposed bricks in the building. It made the place look like the interior of a medieval castle. The guts of the old retail space had been torn out. Instead of drywall, there was big open spaces with a few old display cases pushed to the side. I imagine this as an old department store. Instead of a service elevator, there was a conveyor belt system that would've been used to be deployed to move items from floor to floor. I imagined women in fur trimmed coats coming in here to buy gloves and fill their purses with the newest form of "diet pills" to help them stay trim after pushing out ungrateful children. They would be chain smoking underneath their fancy hats while the merchant seamen from the docks sized them up and down them as they passed by on their way to seedier parts of town. A few blocks from here is the remnants of an "opium den". It was a windowless basement that was covered in red paint. Faded dragons decorated the poles in the center of where cushions would've been strewn about the floor. The upstanding citizens of the city breeze through this part of downtown without knowing what is going on right under there nose. Despite being on Market Street and in the center of the city, the building had been abandoned for years.
My friend had a set of bolt cutters- the keys to any building. A new lock was put on the slide gate at the entrance so no one would be tipped off to the new inhabitants inside. I couldn't go out and I couldn't stay in, for long anyway. My habits would pull me away from any time of nesting space. I was generally propped by against a vertical surface or layed out with my backpack as a pillow. I saw graffiti on one of the walls here. I was dated 1967. There had been dirty hippies and maybe earlier hobos in this spot. A resting place for travelers who needed shelter from the world that existed on the other side of these bricks.
He brought enough heroin for both of us. This was a happy accident. I had not been part of the purchasing equation. But if I am here and you are here, I am getting in the bag. I had planned it this way. The solitude of the warehouse was a backdrop to my thoughts. I wanted to hear no one, to see no one. I did not want to engage in the chi chat that goes on when one user is trying to communicate with another. We see you. He just wanted to get fucked up. Heroin wasn't his drug. It was mine, I just did not know it yet. We were still in the first quarter of a long long game.
It was hot. The kind of hot where you can instantly smell yourself. Two weeks of sleeping outside and pissing between two cars had made me extra fragrant. No shower- just a whore's bath with baby wipes and the occasional dab of deodordant. My tights are solidy stuck to my leg. A scab has formed where I got drunk and tore up my knee. I fell upwards on the stairs of the train station. I had done a tiny bit of dope that day. I was qutting, I told myself. I was quitting until the next time. It is easy to quit if you have no money. But that "quit" was over because here he was. I knew there would be zero fucking because he couldn't fight. That's how I picked him. He cried when he drank so no one wanted to be around him when the bottle was almost gone. I did not mind.
When he overdosed, that was a shock to me. How much did you drink? I said as i pounded on his chest. I barely gave him any. We were using each other. He needed me to inject him, to assist him, to keep him from the wolves that would've ran through his pockets and MAYBE called 911. I had not even done by piece yet. I began pounding on his chest. I flashed by to high school CPR lesssons. I had seen the older fiends do this before. I knew but I had not tried it. One last breath when I felt movement, he turned to his side and puked. A sigh of relief, really.
You feel more high after you puke, I told him. I was on an adrenaline high from panic. Would I have left him? No of course not. But really? I don't think so. But really? We were both locked in there so I just kept thinking motherfucker, you gotta live.
Why are you on top of me, he asked. Oh! It must seem awkward to have a hear stranger straddling you in an empty warehouse, in a strange city, in the middle of the day, whose last name you do not know. Like, are we dating now? Are we in love? Do you love me? Are we besties now that I pulled you from the jaws of death?
Bro- you died.
No romance. There were no bright lights, no flashes, no colors. The only thing that man saw was my sweaty face hanging over him. "You owe me one," I let him know. So I took even more of his dope than I had planned while we sat in silence. The only noise was the screeching of the streetcar out front. We put our backs against each other and nodded out despite having six floors of real estate on which to spread out. I think we just wanted assurance that another person would always be there.
Follow me on twitter, tik tok, and instagram @traceyh415
Such evocative, honest writing. Thank you.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for reading. I need to put content on here again.Delete