IN THE SAME VEIN (trigger warning: drugs, sharp things, no sex. A little rock and roll)

play me..(sometime in the early ’90s…)

I’m needing to cut loose, to borrow a telecaster, plug it in, turn it up and thump out a kicking cover of Lorraine. “She got straight, she understand, aw she wanna die, but now she got plans, she wanna live, she wanna start her band…Go Lorraine!” Jim wrote the ultimate speedball song, she took that white light, she said hey later to the morphine, and Burroughsian has no gimmicks, no U100s, she just slits open that white vein and pours in that white light and that black flower and you just know she was feeling better…..Jim saw her walking down to Market. The banging of the drum gets faster and louder. Lorraine might be feeling better, but I sure ain’t.

I’m walking into the kitchen, Hat-Man walks in, he has a U100 in his hand. Now your usual reaction to a man walking towards you with a ready loaded rig, shockingly filled to the brim – can’t fit another unit in there, and it looking weirdly yellow is one of vague interest but certainly no more than that. Especially when it’s Hat Man. He was a scuzzy individual, who belonged somehow to the woman who wore gloves on her feet and drove a bread truck. He was not someone I trusted with my life.

Billy was on a massive speed run, and spent most of his time trying to straighten himself out with booze and adjust the fine tuning with speed. He hadn’t slept in over a week, and was showing no signs of calming down, nor slowing down, and I was starting to get irritated. When he wanted to play and I was otherwise occupied he would burn holes in my clothes with cigarette butts, he once tried to wire his friend to the mains via a standard lamp, after cutting the plug off and intricately hooking up this junkie’s big toe to the current. He almost succeeded when I realized what was happening and saved the guy from a painful awakening. “Just bringing ya back to life. Call it a hillbilly heart restart machine,” he laughed. No one who wasn’t speeding found it funny, especially not he guy who was moments away from a major shock and whose pant leg was filleted and flapping amusingly. “Man, you didn’t have to cut my pants,’ he moaned fuzzily. I stood there holding a live wire with my eyes wide open. I felt like shoving it up Billy’s ass, or at least down his pants. That would teach him.

Yeah, the things speed freaks try to do to alleviate the boredom of never sleeping. Bastards.

Hat man could see I had had enough. He knew instinctively I was about to blow a fuse. Just that morning I had been nodded out peacefully in a chair in a corner, while one of the many cats that pissed and shit everywhere in that hole, made itself comfortable on my lap, when Billy had decided that I was having just a bit too much fun or something, and threw a frozen burrito at me along with a quart of freezing cold juice over me and the cat, sending the feline into a clawing frenzy of fury at my leg. Yeah, I was not happy either. Lorraine was playing loudly over the stereo. Man, that place had a good system, the treble was so clear, the bottom nice and low. I bet the person that it had been stolen from really missed it, but nothing to do with me, I just got high there.

Hat Man walked towards me with the over filled syringe, cap on. Yeah, I thought, he is coming over to me. “Let me go splash some water on my face, and I’ll help you out,” I offered. “Nah, nah, P, it’s a present. Ta dahhhh! He bowed slightly in an almost cute dance of supplication. He shoved his hands out towards me. “It’s for you.” I can’t say my sensible head didn’t scream at me that I had no idea where that U100 had been, I can’t say that I didn’t think that I had no idea he was clean when he mixed up that medicine….and then there was the all important question: what the fuck WAS this shit.

“Just try it,” he offered. Somehow the rig was in my paws now, not his. Civilians might not understand the unwiseness of this, but you really don’t want to drown the drugs, you don’t want a lot of water in that shot, really you want to err on the side of less not more, so a barrel absolutely full to bursting is a reason for concern, or at least a few questions. Then there was the color.

Etiquette is actually a big thing in the world of druggie scum. Someone offers you free shit, you do it then and there, and you don’t save it for later. Big no no. You also don’t look a gift rig in the …er…. contents, whatever, but that wasn’t going in my arm without a few questions. White light. Black flower. Speedball in the interests of relationship peace and quiet and ‘family’ relations. He was also grateful for my editing my own little freaks behavior and saving D— from electrocution in his front room. It was a thank you. It was like looking at a pharmaceutical Mount Everest. A junk Niagara Falls, and I had already decided it would be impolite to say no.

“It’s a clean rig. Got it from Glove-Foot-Woman.” That sealed it. I was going to have to do it. There was no choice, not without extreme offense being taken at rejecting this apology and gratitude. My own Angel in my pocket was busy breaking mirrors and making appointments to have her hair done once she had accompanied me to the afterlife. Fuck it. This might not go too well.

He looked at me expectantly. I was clearly not going to get away with taking myself off to the bathroom either. No good deed goes unpunished in my world. Not ever.

I sat down at the table, pulled my jacket off, and twisted my sleeve tightly around my arm. He still stood there, indecently. I was not a performance junkie, more my own little world kinda grrrl. I had my own little rituals, my own space that I shut off from the mundane cat shit of the people around me, with headphones and junk. My heart started to beat faster in anticipation. Of course I slid in first attempt, I could barely flag, there was no room to pull that plunger back to see that comforting red flash telling you that you were in the right place. I was not a speedballer. I had never touched this kind of mix before. My Angel protested as I didn’t test a little before I pressed that plunger down as fast as the liquid and pressure allowed, all in one go. Down it went and so did I.

After I scraped myself off the ceiling and started to gather up the pieces of myself that had exploded into concrete feathers that got sucked down that whirlpool sinkhole of blackness, it all made perfect sense. Everything made sense. From the cats to the electrocution attempt masquerading as life saving, from Sally and the blood on the floor, to the alley and the beauty parlor getting robbed two nights in a row. They were selling postcards of enlightenment, and for one perfect second the doors of perception were not just opened, they were blown right bloody off and into the next dimension – and so was I.

There was no way I would bring myself out of this one in one piece. The white light and the flower fought for dominance. I had no body. I had no pain. There was no chair, no house, no table, no Hat Man. I had wings, flying out of the roof and tumbling through the hole in the bottom of the universe in turns. You can’t stay up there for long, but time has no meaning on the top of one of Hat Man’s speedballs. Any trouble I might have been in with someone else dosing my smack was taken care of by the speed. Through the ether at the end of a radio made out of tin cans and manned by Uriel himself I head a man’s voice say “oh yeah, there is a bit of coke in there too…” My eyes were bouncing together, and I became aware of a smile writing itself across my sky. I wasn’t just feeling better, I was feeling Angelic…I swear I was at the right hand of something vast, smiling down at the hugeness benevolently, pityingly. Coke inflated ego. Nice.

Billy came in, just as I was about to attempt to try reality on for size. He grabbed me by my hair and let my head fall back down against the table. SMACK. “Don’t kill the bitch, Hat Man,” he hissed. Fuck, I thought, if this is the way I go out it really isn’t so bad. He was always so delightful around day ten of a run.

I became slowly aware that I was not going to puke. This was both glorious and a bad bad omen, if the medicine fixed the puke bucket issue, I was in big trouble.

As the light faded out into black and a pair of gloved feet walked up with a bucket of ice, I felt a pair of dry rough hands smooth my hair out. “Get the FUCK outta here, you vultures,” she Hecate-hissed. “It’s gonna be ok, baby,” she whispered as she melted ice against my forehead, “it’s gonna be ok, you are gonna feel better.” A dull prick, a bolt of lightning up my spine ending in ultra lit synapse floodlight in my medulla, and I gave up even trying. “It’s ok, Glove-Foot, I’m ready,” I whispered. Or at least I think I did. Who knows.

I woke up burnt to the soul, deconstituted and kicking harder than I knew possible. I was ready, eternity was not.

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