Let’s Do a “Tales of a Junkie,” Shall We?

Tales of a Junkie, Part 8?:  Intro to Law Enforcement.  (And yes, I reserve the right to re-number these at a future date.)

Apologies for writing these out of order.  Eventually, they will be fleshed out and collected, to be read with continuity.  For now, I will deal with subjects as I wish.  Once again, if you’re only here for the snark, feel free to skip away.

I also want to make this disclaimer.  I study memory (on the level of a layperson at the least).  It fascinates me.  It also makes me question many of my own memories, now that I understand how our brain works to a certain extent.  None of this is intended to be fictional.  Every single thing I write about in these Tales of a Junkie come from my memories.  I will not take stories from other people I know and weave them in as my own for dramatic effect.  I will not lie, or fictionalize accounts.  But,(and there always is a but, isn’t there?) I used drugs in some form from the time I was 12.  I have many memories that I am honestly not sure if they ever happened.  Some memories that the details are hazy, and others that I am certain of, and even those could be suspect.  So if you know who I actually am and possibly know of a situation I write of that I get wrong, remember that memory is fluid.  This is not A Million Little Pieces; anything I get wrong is not intentional.  Other than fictionalizing names and locations to protect the guilty, I will always try to be as accurate as possible.

We begin after the jump:

It was in 2002, I believe, that they came for me.

I had hit what I then believed was “rock bottom” months previous.  I bounced from job to job for a while, each until the chance to get well trumped the desire to show up at work.  Finally, I had lost the ability to hold a job or even care about employment.  I realized that I needed to get off the needle and to pick the pieces back up.  I sat at my house daily, hoping someone would need a ride to score, giving me the opportunity to extract payment for the service.  For weeks I got well only from what other junkies gave me for rides.  My parents, although they still let me live under their roof, had finally cut me off on money.  My scams had been worn out.  Many bridges nuked into cinders.  Every single thing of value sold.

I was at a distinct disadvantage to many other junkies.  Some sold drugs to support their habits; I was a miserable failure at drug dealing.  Every time I tried, I’d get ripped off, or do all my product, leaving myself either broke or worse, owing scary people money.  I once actually had a dealer hand me a bullet that he had written my name on in sharpie, as he told me “fuck me again, and they will pull the next one out of your head.”  I kept that bullet for years, but it never motivated me to do anything but not rip scary people off.  Lesson partially learned.  Some stole to support their habit.  I’d like to claim that my morals prevented me from this, but the truth is, I was a chicken shit.  I had been caught shoplifting when I was 13 or 14 from a local pawn shop, and the owner scared the figurative piss out of me to the point that I never tried it again.  I would loan my car to other junkies for”snatch and dash” trips, but would always sit at their house and hope they returned.  (Snatch and Dash: Going into a local big box store like Wal-Mart, filling a shopping cart with re-sell worthy electronics and DVD’s, then just walking out of the store with the cart.  Yes, it worked amazingly well at the time.)  Some junkies, mainly female junkies, would sell themselves to support their habits.  I would never do that.  (Which is as big of a lie as I’ll ever tell here.  To be blunt, I would have been on my knees with the cock in my mouth before the offer was completed, if the opportunity ever would have presented itself.)

No, I worked to support my habit, and now I was unemployable.  So I lived off the needs of other junkies.  I had a car, they didn’t.  That got me high.

But at this point in time, even that well had just about run dry.  The main person I played taxi for went to jail, and the phone calls for my assistance were few and far between.  I fell into a cycle of being sick for a day, then getting well, then being sick for two days, then getting well.  It was painful, it was horrifying, it nearly killed my mother, it caused me to contemplate suicide on more than one occasion, and……it got me off heroin.

Let me explain.  Eventually in this cycle, I would end up going sick for three days.  True, sometimes it was only one day, or two days, but sometimes it was three days.  And once every three days is no longer a physical opiate addiction.  Sure, it was hell, and it lasted over a month, but eventually, I actually fell asleep one night while sick, and woke up only sort of feeling like shit.  I probably celebrated that fact by somehow finding money and getting high as hell, but I saw my ticket out.  The next time I fell asleep sick and woke not hating my existence, I couldn’t get money to get high, and no one called.  And that night, after a day of semi-hell, I once again fell asleep, to wake feeling halfway decent.  I had beat the addiction!  By no means was I out of the proverbial woods, but I knew I could fall asleep at night, and I knew each day would be a little bit better.  It was the fifth day when someone finally called and asked for a ride, and one of my proudest moments when I told them I was busy and couldn’t help them.

No lies.  I wasn’t drug free.  Post-acute withdrawals are a bitch, and I was smoking marijuana to help me get to sleep, and to calm my nerves during cravings.  But I wasn’t sticking a needle in my arm anymore, and I started to see the light at the …….no, it’s too much of a cliche, I am not going to write “end of the tunnel.  Fuck that.  I had started to reach out to non-heroin using friends again, the ones who hadn’t already written me off, and look into ways to pick up the pieces.  Yes, I threw a lot away for heroin, but I was still relatively young, intelligent, and my only criminal record had been expunged years previously.  I made contact with Naval recruiters, and began to make plans to follow my father’s path into the Navy.  I even stopped smoking anything to clean up my lungs and my urine.

I was clean off heroin for three months, and marijuana for two weeks when they kicked in my door.

Kicked in my door is a bit of an overstatement.  They didn’t actually kick anything in.  But they did pound on the door at 7am in the morning, push past my mother when she opened it, threatened to shoot my (little, non-vicious) dog if she didn’t restrain him, storm 4 deep into my upstairs room with guns drawn, and slam me to the ground out of bed with guns pointed at my head while they cuffed me.  Once they dragged me downstairs, they allowed me to sit down as they read me the arrest warrant.  As they read, I knew I was forever fucked, and as my mother looked at me with tears running down her face, all I could vocalize was a name.


My mom choked back a tear, and with genuine rage spat out “that bitch.”


Flashback:  1982.  My best friend, Hastur’s (Yes, my best friend was He Who Is Not To Be Named.  Shout out to my fellow Lovecraft fans!) parents just had a baby girl, and I was spending the night, more than likely to play way too much Nintendo with Hastur and his brother Duke.  I held baby Shannon that night.

Flashback: 1988.  Hastur and I walking Shannon to the penny candy store, bribing her with a whole dollars worth of red fish not to tell her parents we were smoking.  (And yes, my hometown had a penny candy store when I was 13.  I practically grew up in Mayberry.)

Flashback: 1999.  Hastur and his wife (Rlim Shaikorth?  I know Hastur would get a kick out of that if he’s reading) were out somewhere, and I’m hanging out with Shannon and Nicole, drinking 40’s.  We got kinda sloppy, and I ended up holding Nicole’s hair while she threw up.  Then holding much more of Nicole once she sobered up enough to jump on me.  Seems Shannon was just playing matchmaker for “her other big brother.”

Flashback: 2000.  I’m in Shannon’s apartment watching her baby daughter while she scores us dope.  I was there daily, since I lived all of 1 block from her place.  She practically was my sister.  I remember that day vividly, because she had trouble hitting herself.  I was holding her purse strap tight on her arm, trying to tie her off, while blood from the injection site ran down her arm, onto mine, onto my jeans, onto the kitchen floor.  We were blood.

Flashback: 2001.  Jon called me and asked if I could score anything.  My problem at the time was money, not connections, so I made a quick phone call and called him right back.  He told me to meet him at a local convenience store.  20 minutes later, I pull in the lot, sick as fuck, and see Jon and Shannon waiting at her car.

Before I continue this last flashback, let me say one thing.  I should have known.  Everything about the situation screamed set-up, and not of me.  If Shannon needed something, she would have called me before Jon.  The people I was scoring from had been serving Shannon the week before this day.  She knew every number I knew, every dealer I knew.  For a solid year, I kicked myself daily over this decision, for not seeing what was happening, for not walking away.  Yet even now, knowing the choice that day was to be sick or follow through, I’m still not sure I would have done anything differently.

Nothing here is up to any question.  I have police documentation for almost every thing I write that follows this.  This memory I am certain of.  Continuing the flashback:

Jon and Shannon got into my car, and we drove to a different area of Altoona to meet my dealers runner.  I was not followed.  Shannon gave me $120 dollars, and I pulled over to the side of the road and parked in a residential neighborhood.  I got out of the car and started walking up the block; I was halfway to the next stop sign when the runner drove past me.  I met him at the stop sign, jumped in the passenger side, and he started driving around the block.  I tossed $100 bucks between the seats, and he handed me a bundle.  (Bundle: 10 bags of dope, wrapped in a little rubber band.  In some locations, a bundle is 12 bags, and some dealers give a “bakers bundle” of 13.  Not to be confused with a “brick.”)  I took 7 of the bags and pocketed them, along with the extra $20 bucks.  (At this time, heroin was going for $40 dollars a bag in Altoona.  Which is fucking insane.  My dealer was getting the stuff in Pittsburgh for less than $3 bucks a bag with volume discounts.  Ever wonder why some people chose to sell drugs?  Do the math.  Even with my “friendship” discount, the dealer was getting $100 bucks for maybe $30 dollars worth of product.  And I was one of the few getting that price.) I told the runner (Runner: person the dealer uses to deliver the drugs, to lessen the chance of the dealer ever getting busted) to drop me off at the same stop sign he picked me up at.  I thought about burning Jon and Shannon.  I even asked the runner if he’d push me out of the car and speed away at the stop sign if I asked him to.  He told me that for the other $20 bucks, he’d even pull up to my car and tell them he just burnt me and to fuck off.  If it just would have been Jon, I probably would have took him up on that offer, but it was Shannon.  She was my little fucking sister, and she looked sick as hell.  So I told him maybe next time, and jumped out of the car.

I walked back to the car, well, floated back really.  Heroin addiction is a funny thing.  As soon as you know you are going to get high, you start to feel better.  I got in my car, tossed the three bags to Shannon and started driving to a local dollar store’s parking lot.  She put one bag in her purse, and asked me for a spoon, which I provided.  Then came the 37th red flag that I ignored, as she asked me to borrow my rig.  (Rig: Needle.  Why is it a red flag?  a) She damn well knew I never shared rigs, and b) confidential informants are searched by the police before they make their buys to make sure they don’t have drugs or paraphernalia on them.)  I told her no, that she knew I never shared, but Jon was ever so helpful to offer his.  She put two bags down, which we split three ways, and once we were all nicely opiated, I drove them back to our original meeting place.

Someday, maybe I’ll give her side of this story.  It isn’t really different, but it makes her look more sympathetic.  But that is for a different day.

End flashbacks.  I’m back to my couch, in cuffs, listening to a Drug Task Force officer read me the general outline of the above story.  The rest of the day is a blur.  Being loaded into the police car, driven to the central processing location, walked past television cameras and print reporters, stuck in a holding cell with 10 other junkies, 7 of who were also victims of Shannon.  The judge setting my bail, being taken to county jail, being processed and put in “the hole” because the jail was overcrowded, being told I’d get my phone call in a day or two, when they got around to it.  I was only incarcerated for 45 minutes that day; my mother had done the leg work to find out where they were taking me, and was going to post my bail.  They took me back to the circuit court where my bail would be posted, and walking in the court to see my mother there, all five foot of her, shaking with anger and shame is one of my bottom five moments in life.  I was home in time to watch the 6 o’clock news, and it was surreal as I watched myself being led in handcuffs into central processing, as they called me “one of the major drug dealers taken down in this bust.”  Thankfully, they chose some other junkie to put on the front page of the paper the next morning.  One indignity I was spared.

They got 47 of us that day.  Only one of us was an actual dealer, and even that is stretching the definition of “dealer.”  Yes, he sold drugs, but only enough to support his own habit.  Every single other arrest was either a runner, or just a junkie.

No one cared that I had been clean for three months.

And now, neither did I.

I was high within 40 minutes of the end of the news.


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