The Devil’s Drug
In the last ten years the use of methamphetamine, or ice, has risen by over 500%. Ice users, called tweakers, can be found in every major city across America. This is my story. This is my life. This is my hell. I have met the devil and I have tasted his drug. I am a tweaker.
When tweaking, you are never really asleep, but you’re never really awake. You live in an alternate universe where nothing can harm you. I’ve been awake for twelve days now. I am a monster. I am the beast within everyone. I’m not sure where I am. There are four walls, yellow with the stain of smoke, surrounding me. The windows are boarded shut. Slivers of blinding white light slip through the cracks of the broken boards and rest on the crusty brown carpet. The stench of mold and cleaning products assault my nose. Other people are in the room. I’m not sure who they are or what exactly is going on. Realizing I just took a hit of ice I stumble to my feet looking for something to do. My mouth is dry. I don’t think cotton is this dry. Something to drink, that’s what I need. I’ll go to the store, yeah the store, and get something to drink. Slipping my hand in my pocket I notice I have no money. I need money. I need to drink something. I’ll have to go to the bank.
* * *
I think I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start again. I’ll start at the beginning of my story, three years ago. Sitting at the stop light on 4th avenue, I checked my watch. 8:27 am. I just might make it to work on time. My suit hung off my shoulders just right. The crease in the pants was perfect. That was one of the perks of having a loving wife at home. She ironed my suits for me every morning before I left for work. This morning was no different. She woke up earlier than me and when I finally pulled myself from the soft recesses of our bed I found that she had made breakfast. The smell of eggs and bacon wafted up the stairs as if to greet me. The sight of my wife, a full nine months pregnant, always made me smile. She sat at the small wooden table in our dining room nibbling at her eggs.
“Oh look who finally decided to wake up,” she joked with me.
“Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well if you wouldn’t have kept me up so late watching that movie, maybe I wouldn’t have been so tired this morning.”
“Me? I didn’t keep you up. You wanted to watch that movie. Anyway, you need to hurry and eat your breakfast so you can get to work on time.”
“Alright. Thanks for the breakfast by the way. Have I ever told you I love you?”
“Only everyday and you know I never get tired of hearing it.”
I finished my breakfast, grabbed my briefcase and put on my shoes. My wife straightened my tie, and with a good-bye kiss, I walked out of my house to my silver 2003 Honda Accord waiting in the driveway. Sitting at the stoplight at 8:27am I had time to reflect on my life. So far I was pleased with myself. A college education, well paying job, wife, and a house. All at the young age of 29. Life looked good for me. As I pulled into my parking space at work, my cell phone began to ring. It was my sister in-law, and she told me that my wife was in labor at the hospital. I immediately put my car in reverse and pulled back onto the road. I made the ten mile drive through the city with amazing speed. In almost no time at all, I was standing next to my wife with her hand in mine coaching her through the delivery process. A surprisingly quick thirteen hours later, I stood outside the window of the nursery looking at my beautiful baby daughter. This was the happiest time in our lives.
The next few months passed with relative quickness. Days blended together and the nights were broken up with the restless cries of my daughter, Mary. I returned to work a week after Mary was born and was having a tough time. My wife no longer had time to press my suits or to make me breakfast. Our lives revolved solely around our daughter. Still with the added difficulties of having a child, my wife and I would not have changed anything in our lives. We loved Mary with all our hearts. We watched with great pleasure as she grew up over the next two years. As she began to crawl and started to walk, we adjusted the house to continue to make it ‘baby friendly’.
It was a hot Monday in August when my life changed forever. I was back at work and my suits were again ironed. On this particular Monday, I was running later than normal and my wife was doing her best to help me. With her help, I made it out the door only a few minutes late. Before I even made it to work, tragedy struck. My phone rang just as it did the day my wife went into labor, only this time my wife was on the other end of the phone. Her voice was shaking and she spoke in quick unfinished sentences.
“Mary, oh god, it was an accident! I should have been watching, I wasn’t. I’m so sorry.”
“What are you talking about? What about Mary? Is she ok, are you ok?” My heart skipped a beat as I thought about the possibilities.
“NO! DAMN IT! I’m taking her to the hospital meet me there.” Then abruptly she hung up the phone. I was mortified. I had no idea what was going on. I changed lanes like a race car driver, and sped through town once again on my way to the hospital.
I flew into the parking lot and into the closest spot. I slammed the car in park, jumped out, not worrying about locking the doors, and took off at full sprint into the hospital. I rushed into the emergency room and saw my wife sitting in the waiting room lobby crying. Immediately I rushed to her side trying to calm her down and to figure out what had happened.
“It’s going to be ok honey. Just tell me what happened.”
“I…I…I dunno. I was only out of the room for a second. I didn’t know it was still on, I thought I had turned it off.”
“Turned what off?”
“The iron. Mary got a hold of the cord for the iron and pulled it onto her head. Oh God I’m sorry. There was so much blood and I didn’t know what to do. I’m so sorry.”
Soon I then realized what had happened. My two year old daughter had been in the down stairs living room where my wife had ironed my suit earlier that morning. Mary had pulled the cord to the iron and it fell, point first, onto her head, splitting it open. The doctors had said that she lost a lot of blood and that there was a possibility of brain damage. They were working as hard as they could to save her.
My wife and I sat in silence for the next two hours. Neither of us knew what to say, we just sat holding each other and praying. Finally after the longest period in my life the doctor came out.
“Mr. and Mrs. Couture?”
“Yes doctor, how is my baby? How is Mary?” The words seemed muffled. I knew I spoke them but they seemed to come from some far off, distant place.
“When your daughter arrived she had lost a lot of blood, and had a serious head trauma. We did everything we could but...” I heard nothing else. My wife collapsed to the floor beside me. My one and only daughter, the love of my life, had just been ripped from existence. Her life ended so early. She had so much potential that we never got to see. Without her existence, mine seemed pointless.
My mother in-law took charge of organizing the funeral. My wife and I couldn’t bear to bring ourselves to it. My wife had the worst time with it. She blamed herself for Mary’s death. She didn't see it as an accident, but instead, as some punishment by God for something bad she had done. The funeral was held three days later. The out pouring of emotion overwhelmed my senses. Cries and moans escaped every mouth in attendance. After the funeral I wish I could say that things eventually got back to normal, but that just isn’t the case. My wife never looked at me the same again. The sparkle in her eye that I had fallen in love with was no longer there. I never returned to work and my wife rarely left the house. We didn’t talk. I mean we talked somewhat, small talk mostly and we never brought up Mary’s name. I could tell my wife was slowly dying inside, but I just couldn’t help her. Maybe I didn’t know what to do or say. Maybe inside I felt she was responsible for Mary’s death. I didn't know how to talk to her, so I didn't. I was like an outside observer to the slow demise of my wife. I watched as if I was an observer to a surgery that went wrong, and was helpless as I watched the patient die.
On the one year anniversary of Mary’s death I had made a trip to the store to buy groceries. I was trying my hardest not to think about the lost of my daughter, but it was hard. Seeing the diapers would make my stomach ache and seeing baby clothes made me cry. I couldn’t help myself and, after an hour of trying, I left the store with nothing. On the drive home, I convinced myself to rekindle the relationship I had with my wife. To assure her, as I knew, that Mary’s death was an accident and was not her fault. I knew that if we both were going to make it through our lives without Mary, that we needed each other. I pumped myself up for the difficult talk, and was ready to go when I pulled in the driveway. As I walked up the stairs to our front door something was pulling at the back of my stomach. Something didn’t feel right but I wrote it off as a feeling of mourning for Mary. It would all be better once I was able to talk to my wife. I mean really talk, not this false “Hi, how are you,” talk that had grown to become the normal conversations. We never had serious conversations anymore, it was always the same emotionless drivel that poured out of us.
As I entered the house, I was met by a still calm like one felt in a graveyard. My wife was not in the living room or the kitchen, but then I truly didn’t expect her to be anywhere but the bedroom. As I entered the bedroom I could see that the door to the bathroom was left ajar, and the light was on. Not seeing my wife in bed, I stepped to the bathroom door and called out her name. I got no response. I slowly nudged the door open, the feeling in my stomach practically ripping my insides apart now. With the door open I stood in the shock of the gruesome sight. My wife lay in the tub, the water stained red with the blood that still flowed from her wrist. She was limp. Running to her side I placed my fingers to her neck and felt for a pulse. She had a weak pulse, but it was still a there. Rushing back into the bedroom I grabbed the phone and dialed 911.
Within thirty minutes I found myself sitting in the same waiting room I had been one year prior. This time I was alone, and the silence felt even more overwhelming. Seconds crept into minutes which turned into hours. The hands on the clock seemed revolve around the center with increasing speed. I grew nauseous staring at the clock and quickly looked for something else to focus on. I was still looking when the doctor came out.
“Uh, yes doctor. How is my wife?”
“Well as you know your wife had lost a lot of blood when she arrived. We did everything we could but…” Those words again. I can’t believe I’m hearing those words again.
I walked out of the hospital in a zombie-like state. I don’t remember making it home. Everything was a blur. Lights blended together and colors mixed. I felt like I was on drugs. Walking into my empty house I dropped my keys on the floor. I felt dead. I wanted to be dead. With my wife and daughter gone, I had nothing else to live for. I stumbled up the stairs and into the bedroom again. Staring at the bloody floor of the bathroom I decided to end my life. I picked up the kitchen knife my wife had used to slit her wrist and tried to muster the courage to drag the blade across my own. I couldn’t do it. I was too weak to end my life. I let the knife slip from my hand and dropped face first onto the bed. I lay motionless until I finally passed out from exhaustion.
I awoke several hours later feeling as bad as I had before. I rolled over and picked up the phone. I sat staring at the inconsistencies of the ceiling debating whether to dial my younger brother’s number or not. My younger brother had never been a good brother. He wasn’t too concerned with what was best for other people, only himself. He was not the most reputable person. He was heavy into crime and drugs, more specifically meth. I wasn’t sure exactly what caused me to call him but I found the phone to my ear with my brother’s voice echoing through it.
“Hello? Hello? Who’s there?”
“Um…hey Joseph…its me….your brother.”
“Hey man. You ok? You sound like shit.”
“Rebecca is dead.” There was no response for a second. Then my brothers voice came back on the phone.
“Serious? Shit dude…..I’m sorry. Are you ok? What happened?"
“Listen I don't want to talk about it. I guess I was thinking you could give me something to take away the pain,” the question slipped out of my mouth as if it was uttered by someone else. Again the phone lay silent for short time.
“Uh yeah man, if that’s what you really want I can hook you up with all you need. Why don’t you come over and I’ll give you the stuff.”
“Alright, sounds good. I’ll be there in a half hour. Thanks.”
“Yea ok brother. See you.”
I made my way back downstairs and out to my car. As I drove across town to my brother’s house I thought about what I was going to do. I had never used drugs in my life, but then again I had never known this kind of pain either. My mind wandered as I drove and without realizing it I found myself sitting in my brothers drive way. He lived in a run down house. The blue paint was flaking off in most places and the porch was missing a step. The yard, if you could call it that, was a small flat square of dirt with some sporadic patches of weeds. The planks of wood that boarded up the windows hung loosely to wood siding. The house was in major disrepair and probably should have been condemned. If my brother hadn’t been able to pay the rent I’m sure it would have been demolished a long time ago.
My brother didn’t have a real job. He made his money from cooking and selling methamphetamine. The smell of household cleaning products and lighter fluid seeped out of every orifice of the house. It was amazing that the house had not blown up with the amount of highly explosive material inside. For every pound of ice he made there were five pounds of highly explosive toxic waste made. This would account for the lack of life in the yard.
I opened the door to my car and stood next to it, surveying the scene. Deep in my mind I knew drugs weren’t the answer, but by now I didn’t care. The pain was too much to handle and I needed something to dull it. I walked to the front porch and gently stepped up the dilapidated steps. I knocked on the door half expecting it to fall in. In just a few moments the door slid open just enough for me to squeeze through. I stood in total darkness waiting for my eyes to adjust to the lack of light. My pupils finally dilated letting in the traces of light. I saw that the inside reflected the lack of care of the outside. The walls were a dingy yellow while stains and streaks flowed from ceiling to floor. The carpet was littered with burn marks and trash. The house clearly had never been cleaned.
“Welcome. Me casa es su casa.” The sound of my brothers voice hit my ear from somewhere off to my left.
“Hey. I don’t want to talk just give me some ice and a place to smoke it. I just need to kill this pain man. I can’t handle it.”
By now my voice was a soft mumble in the distance. If I hadn’t felt my mouth move I don’t think I would have realized I had said anything. My brother understood my pain. He was involved in a car crash and his fiancé died. He had been driving home from a vacation and fell asleep behind the wheel. He drove his car off the highway and onto the shoulder. When he woke up he panicked and jerked the steering wheel causing the car to flip. The car rolled five times coming to rest on its side. His fiance was in a coma for a two weeks before she finally passed away. Ever since then he had been on a downward spiral of self destructive behavior. Manufacturing and selling meth was his way of making money in order to use it. He used ice to dull the pain so when I had asked him for some he knew exactly what I was going through.
“Alright man. Here is enough ice to last you awhile. Don’t do it all at once, you won’t be able to handle it. Here start with this amount. Smoke that and then when the high starts to wear off, probably in about fifteen to twenty hours, smoke some more. If your high ends sooner, then smoke a little more the next time. As for a place to smoke it, its really up to you. You can smoke anywhere but the basement. You walk down there with a lit joint and you’ll blow the whole fucking house sky high. If you need anything else just find me man. Enjoy the ride and if you see the devil, tell him I said hi.”
“The devil? What’s that mean?”
“Your going to start seeing shit when your high man. Most people see fucked up shit. I saw the devil my first time. So if you see him, tell him I said hi.”
I took the ice that my brother gave me, and walked into a back room. Like the rest of the house, this room was completely dark. My eyes had adjusted to the lack of light however, and I was able to make my way to a broken yellow couch against the far wall. I laid the ice on the stained table in the middle of the room. My brother had rolled me about a dozen joints and I took the first one in the line. I put it to my lips and felt the thin paper soak up what little moisture that remained on my lips. Holding the flame of my lighter to the end of the joint I took my first drag of ice. The end of the joint lit up a bright red color reminiscent of a Christmas light. The smoke pulled from the front of the joint to the back of my throat and down into my lungs. I felt an instant burning sensation and began to cough. It burned much more then I thought it would. Quickly the burning stopped, and I continued to take drag after drag until the red cherry on the end of the joint burnt my fingertips. I put the joint out on the table and laid back on the couch.
The rush was almost instantaneous. My head began to spin and my body felt light. I had a nagging itch on the right side of my neck that wouldn’t seem to go away. I began to get restless and wandered the ten by ten cube in quick strides. The shadows of the room grew and shrank, and soon I heard the sound of voices. It wasn’t my brother or someone else in the house. This voice was darker and deeper. It came from the deep pit in my soul. I couldn’t make out what he was saying but I knew it wasn’t good. As I continued to pace around this cell I caught my first glimpse of him, Lucifer, Satan, the devil. He was standing in the corner masked by the shadows. I stopped dead in my tracks less then five feet from the figure.
“I am Lucifer.” The voice was clear and the face of the figure appeared at about eye level with me. The face was dark and featureless. The nose blended into the cheeks which blended into the chin. There were no distinguishing features except for the eyes. The eyes sat just above the middle of the face. They reflected the emptiness of my soul. There was no color at all in the eyes. They were the darkest things I had ever seen. They seemed to consume me and read into my soul.
“I am Lucifer, and I know your pain. God no longer loves you. He has turned his back on you and your family. He has cast his eyes away from you, but where he left you, I am here to comfort you. I know your pain. I see inside your soul. You will find comfort in me. I can reunite you with your wife and daughter if only you ask.” With these last words still ringing in my ear the figure dissolved back into the shadows. It was official. My mind was blown. I continued the cycle of taking ice, wandering the house, and then taking more ice.
Time was irrelevant. It no longer mattered if it was day or night or if it was Monday or Thursday. None of that mattered. The only thing that mattered was the high that the ice gave me. The pain of the death of my daughter and the suicide of my wife lingered but the ice helped to dull it. It had been twelve straight days now. I had continued to see the devil but he had not spoken to me since the first night.
* * *
This time I found myself in the living room standing up looking for something. I believe this is where we came in. I can’t remember what I was looking for. All I can think about is how damn thirsty I am. Walking to the fridge I pull out a gallon of water and with the coordination of a three year old pour some into a glass. The water disappeared from the glass and my lips felt wet but my thirst was as strong as ever. I poured myself three more glasses before my thirst was finally quenched. I walked through the living room, down the hall, and into the back room. Almost immediately upon entering the room I saw the devil again, standing in the corner I had first seen him in.
He stared at me just as he had done every time since my first vision of him. I’m not sure what compelled me to speak, but I found myself talking.
“Joseph told me to tell you hi.” The words seemed foreign to me. They slipped from my mouth without conscience thought.
“I’m not here to talk about him. I am here for you. To help you. All you have to do is ask.”
Ask…ask what? I wanted more than anything to be back with my wife and daughter, but how was I suppose to ask? I found my mouth moving again as if it knew exactly what I was to do.
“How….how do I see Mary and Rebecca again.”
“The answer is simple. Through me. Trust your soul to me and I will reunite you with your family. Give me your life, your soul, and in return I will give you your family.” I watched as the empty eyes faded back into the shadow and I was alone in the room.
My feet moved with a purpose. I knew, finally, what needed to be done. With motivation, I moved out of the room and back down the hall coming to stop at the top of the basement steps. Lightly I floated down the stairs. Each step drew me closer to my final fate. Standing above the highly flammable ingredients of the meth making process my hands began to shake. I had come this far and I couldn’t turn back now. Reaching into my pocket I withdrew my yellow Bic lighter. Striking the lighter I raised my hand.
“Mary! Susan! I am coming. Lucifer my soul is yours. Take it and give me my family.”
As my hand lowered slowly the shadow figure appeared again. The dark hallow eyes were different this time. They were replaced by a burning light, bright and blinding. The featureless face was distinguished and a smile was clearly visible. My hand dropped down and released the lighter. The figure lunged, headfirst, at me and a blinding white light consumed my whole being. I felt warm and a surreal sense of happiness. There in the distance was Mary, my daughter, and Rebecca, my wife. I felt my body thrown backwards as the figures of my wife and daughter were yanked from my view. My daughter seemed to float upward, toward Heaven, and my wife plunged down, into the depths of Hell. Laying on the ground I saw the figure standing above me. His smile was a glaring reminder of what I then knew, that I had made a mistake. My daughter was in Heaven and I would never again see her. My wife suffered in Hell, the punishment for suicide. That was where my soul was going. The devil had won. I had given him my soul and I got to see my family, but only see them. I had wanted to be with them, only I never stated that. The loop-hole was utterly obvious now. I should have known not to trust the devil. The devil doesn’t lie, but he always wins. The devil faded away and I closed my eyes. My soul is his. I am no longer a tweaker.