I always thought there was that whole unconditional love thing which went with parenthood, but it looks like I was wrong. Those fuckers aren't having a bar of it. Won't even open the door when I visit. I mean it's not like I took anything major last time. Just an iPod. Turns out an iPod is worth more than their love for their only daughter. I got a good price for it too. And it wouldn't have happened if they'd just lent me the money in the first place. They know I'll pay them back. One day. When I sort myself out, get clean. One day soon, I might add. Ah well. There are some bastards you can live without, and now my own damned parents are going on that ever growing list, I think, walking back down their stupid winding gravel driveway. Its like a medieval fort in here or something. Bourgeois wankers, anyway. Good riddance.
I start to shiver, waiting for the bus. Not sure if its cold shivers, or the withdrawls. Senses have started to blur lately. Its been a day since my last shot, and this winter's been hell. Coldest in twenty years, they're saying.
I don't bother smiling at the bus driver when I get on. I'm sure the greasy old creep is trying to catch a view down my top. Not for free, baby. Call me when your shift's over, maybe, if I'm desperate.
All of these well-painted houses, with their new fences, the leafy parks and the occupied shops over this side of town, rushing past out the window, remind me of how far from home this all is. So fake. So sterile. Christ, I need dope something real too. Not that fucked up homebake cut with shit knows what Anton's been selling either. I can almost taste that chemical fuck-up, and it's making me wanna spit.
I'm off the bus in town, thinking maybe I should eat. Getting too thin. I could be a model, though! A life of glamour, cocaine instead of the dope, maybe. Dreams are free. I'm in that bakery, where for some reason the rolls are opposite the cash register, outta sight. Its like an unintentional soup kitchen, without all the Christians. These rolls have been keeping me alive, I'm pretty sure. Nothing wrong with carbohydrates.
Walking home, I run into someone from school, I think. They know me, anyhow. “What've you been up to?” etc. I don't say sucking old man dick to get high. I don't say ripping off my parents. I say “not a whole bunch, you know how it is, you?” and listen to some bullshit about marketing out at the University or something, thinking the whole time that I must look like shit, like a role-model for how to fuck yourself up good. I walk away without asking her name.
“I'm worried about her, David. We should have let her in at least, to talk with her”.
“Look, Mary, I know it's hard, but I thought we decided enough was enough. Dr. Robertson said the treatment, the CADS or whatever it was, had to be voluntary. And she won't do it! So what are we supposed to do? Let her steal from us? Buy her drugs?”
“I don't even know here she lives any more. What if she's on the street again? What if something happens? It'd be on us”.
“It wouldn't be on us. It'd kill us, sure, but it wouldn't be our fault. That arsehole boyfriend of hers, those druggies and the ones that make money off them, it'd be their fault. Fuck! I'm sorry for swearing, honey, but it just gets me so mad”.
I arrive at Jason's room without realising I'd been walking there. I'm in a fucked up mood, and being here never seems to help. This giant rotting house, with its tiny rooms and smaller kitchens attached, somehow justifying the almost extortion-level rent. The smell of cat piss that never seems to leave, but gets worse when his neighbour passes out in the stairwell. Which is every other day. The fucked up mood part is nothing new. You never get used to feeling like the entire world's about to collapse inwards, squeezing your lungs and choking the life outta you, almost constantly except when I take the needle, the pipe, whatever, the Great Escape from all the bone-cold and surface tension built up in the grey clouds//grey faces of the city. A counsellor once asked me why I 'abuse substances'. I asked him “Why don't you need to get high? Why aren't you running away from all of this?”. “This is about you, Laura, not me”. All of the best questions go unanswered.
I knock on Jason's door, and stare its flaking paint, waiting for him to answer. Part of me is hoping he won't. This part is probably some evolutionary survival instinct, hoping to protect my liver, veins, head, whatever, from abuse. Good luck, instincts. Jason opens the door. Bob is standing behind him. They're almost twitching in unison, which is kinda cute. The more their faces sink and scab, the closer they resemble each other. One day, they'll merge together. I'm sure of it.
'Hi Lauuuraaa', goes Jason, in his messed up queer-junkie slur.
'Hi Jase. Looking good! What's new?'
'Oh the saame old, y'knoww?'. I know.
'Bit of a problem, Jase. I'm sorry to ask. I need sorted out. But I'm broke. Temporarily at least. Wondered if you could sort me out if I pay you back tomorrow or something, after I get some more work done tonight?'
'Uhhhhhhm. Suure, I guess. But chuuu gotta pay me back, cos I'm no ch-charity, right?'.
I must have come at the right time, because Bob's too outta it to object. Usually, he knows the chances of payback are slim at the best. Jase would know too, if he hadn't fucked his memory doing god knows what. They're good people.
The foil wrap's in my pocket and I'm thanking him before leaving. I'm thinking about friends and co-dependence and co-defendants and this wonderful sense of community and commonality that springs up because of the opiates. And how false it is. How every single guy I know would pimp me for a fix if I hadn't got there first, and how every girl'd rob their man just as easy. Bleakness, weakness, humanity and all of that. 'What a wonderful world' is playing in my head as I push through my own front door. So cold. So small. Single bedroom condensation hell. There's black mould on the roof. What kind of fucked up City Council builds houses from cinder blocks? Black mould covers the roof. Probably somehow toxic, and killing me slowly. I lie back in the bed, with my pipe. No more needles, I promised myself. I'm soon enough forgetting about cold and toxic moulds and enjoying the sweet relief of no thought at all.
'Maybe we could do one of those intervention things, you know? They have them on that TV show. Show how much we care, how much we want her better?'
'If she doesn't know how much people care by now, that's not gonna change. We gave her everything. All of those toys. That damned dog. The schools. $10,000 a year. For what? Its not like we were hard on her. And we were always there! Not alcoholics, not molesters, not gang members. I can't figure her out! Its like she's doing it outta spite or something, I think sometimes'.
'The doctor said you need to watch your stress, honey'.
I'm waking up in a weird clogging sweat and it's already dark. I don't have a clock and so the only way to tell the time is by the traffic volume. I never can get it right though. It doesn't matter. 'Night' is enough. Soon enough I'm dressed and out the door. Cold, so cold, but always it pays off. Walking out for work like this I'm only glad for the fact my parents don't go out at night any more. They'd die if they saw me. Maybe even literally. I talk to Tony, who's in his car watching the girls. Keeping An Eye Out, for a reasonable fee. Quiet night, he tells me, absentmindedly twirling an axe-handle, the modern pimp. Hourly rates, rather than commission. Income security. I stand by the Church, on the corner. Usually the spot's free. These girls know its mine, even if I'm late, and Tony'll sort out the ones who don't get it. The headlights are blinding, and sometimes I wish I could wear my glasses. I guess then I'd make out their faces, though. Greasy, sweaty white faces – like the school principle or the priest or the mail man or your father. The nights are easier when they're not much more than a dribbling pink blur.
I take my first guy behind the church, and he's cumming in minutes. Blowjob, $50. “A religious experience”, maybe that should be the slogan. He pays up, shuffling off away from the city. You never know the regulars if you can't see the faces. Maybe his cock tastes familiar. Fuck him. Exploiter. I'm shivering again and walking back over the bark to the street. Roadside, in the dirt, there's a golden light shining. Reflecting the headlights of a passing car, or something. I go to look. Maybe someone's dropped their watch, or something. Straight to the pawn shop. Maybe I'll get the night off! You spend enough time kicking around in the dirt, you're bound to strike gold eventually, I'm thinking. All that glitters isn't gold, I'm thinking.
Getting over there, its certainly golden but it isn't no watch. At first I'm not even sure what it is, and almost stick myself in the finger from the needle's spike. A golden needle, full of some kinda something. One of those reusable types, from old movies and stuff, with the double loops on the plunger. As tempting as it is, I'm not about to jam it into my vein and fire it home. How do you know what's inside? Could be rat poison. Maybe some asshole's tossing out golden needles full of rat poison to take out a few junkies. Thinks he's doing society a favour. Removing our sort from the gene pool, for God or for Darwin or for whoever. This all starts me thinking on science and evolution and how my brain's wired and why it just makes me 'fuck up' every day, why my body feels so god damned sick every morning I'm trying to quit, and it must be a strange sight for all the punters, a messed up junkie whore looking like she's trying to solve Fermat or something.
Thinking about the punters, though, reminds me of this story an old dero once told me and Tony, in the Square on night. One of those guys that somehow, after twenty years on the streets, has been left alone by Death. Alone to wander with lank hair, torn up jeans and a jacket held together more by grease than the tiny-handed stitches of Chinese children, or whatever. Anyway, I remember the story this guy told us, because it seemed so ridiculous. Far out, even for an old dero, which is stupidly wide—in normal terms. He reckoned that some time back in the day, which probably means the 80s, there was this rumor about a golden needle. He swore to God that his mate's ex wife's brother had this golden needle. And, no matter what, it was always full. Always the best stuff you ever had. A golden needle, full of magic and wonder. Like something out of a Walt Disney movie, if he'd traded his hatred of the Jews for a love of junk. Me and Tony, we were laughing around with the old guy. About his story, and about the fact that it'd taken six cops to get him down from the bridge he was threatening to throw himself off the week before. The drop from that bridge was about two meters. I spent a few nights thinking about that story. How it was that we were building our own mythologies, just like the Greeks back in Classics, maybe to give us hope. Salvation through golden needles. How the story couldn't be true, because Hume killed miracles and Science stabbed magic right in the god damned back. We have to above all be Rational, and there just isn't anything rational about the magic golden needle in my bag being a magic golden needle.
After finishing the shift and paying Tony, I'm walking home. Done 'selling myself' (as if everyone else who ever worked a job hasn't lowered themselves just as much), and ready to run some tests on the needle. Rigorous science, not magic, will facilitate explanations. At home, I've got the needle off the tube and I'm scraping it out. I'm knocking the bottom off a wine bottle in the sink, and the tinfoil and butane lighter are ready. Small doses. Lighting up, feeling fire, feeling fine. Shit. Maybe there is a magic in these humble streets, because oh man. Right before my eyes, the needle's bubbling back. Instant refill. There is no way. I might be high. I don't hallucinate, much, usually. Give it half an hour. Somewhere in my mind I know that in fifteen minutes it'll be sticking outta my leg, no matter what promises I've made to myself about needles or veins or anything, and I'll be outta here, maybe for good.
But certainly this is a bad thing because who the hell leaves their house when all they've ever needed is sitting right next to you when you sleep and when you wake up. Maybe this is Love. What some other jerks get from spending time with their best gal, or something. Three days later and all I'm left with is a view of the ceiling and an overactive brain and a Golden Ticket to oblivion. No more surprises, and no need to believe in the passage of time or the metaphysics of history. I feel each day seeping out of me, but it feels just like every other day and comes rushing in again in the morning. The same lifeless faces. The same dealers and the same tricks. The only things changing are the veins we're shooting off into. These are our calendars. The only marker of the 'time' I can't believe in, a reminder of days stretching backwards forever, and probably forwards too. I'm part way around the circle, with no way of knowing where it starts and ends. Maybe that's deja vu. Maybe the return to the beginning comes in an overdose or a hanging. All I know is that I've got a ticket out of this place, and away from the feeling that you're just another face in an endless guilt parade before God, and the lucky ones, the chosen ones, get to live it forever and eternally. Over and over. Total oblivion is a grand gesture in the face of it all – a penultimate expression of self and agency. People would care, though. Mum and dad, they'd want someone to blame. Its all they've ever wanted. Plus I owe Jason $20. Shit. My mind is jumping from practicalities to the metaphysics and possibilities of life's destruction and its on fiiire, baby and in the end it's 4am and I'm meditating on 'I Wanna be Sedated' and sleep seems far far off, as far away as God, and there's nothing to do and no where to go and I wanna be sedated over and over forever.