addicts are an unhealthy breed of human yet should be carefully watched and surveyed
| “Do you have any needles on you?” is what these bloated fucks always ask first. My fault, I guess. “No,” I quickly bark out. “But there is a broken vial of flesh eating protozoa that clings to the smell of greasy pig sweat. So watch out.” “I’m not putting my hands in there. You are. Take everything out of your pockets and empty it out onto the stairs.” He quickly commands. These muscle men need this. They need me. How else can they feel superiority after taking commands all the time? Without shit to kick around, there’s no need to get your boots dirty, I guess.|
A metrocard, a five, a broken cigarette,” he manages to crush the Newport beyond any sort of repair. My one Newport. Fucking pig!! He goes on “A wet pack of matches, wet with god knows what, a summons for….. possession. Really threw a curveball there. You know you have to be in court in a week?” He asks. “Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m carrying it around. So I don’t forget.” I answer, looking down at the floor. They had already handcuffed me before even finding anything. “You got any ID?” I reach into my back pocket, with enough struggle. C’mon, do they really expect me to have needles in my BACK pocket? What kind of retarded dope addict do I look like? I can’t really ask this, fearing some sort of demeaning response.
I think that’s why I do most of what I do. Out of fear of the wrong response, with no real idea of what a proper one is.
The Italian cop gives my Non-Driver’s license to the black cop to run my name for any warrants. I sit on the curb, looking down to avoid the glare of the uninviting New York sun. Anywhere else, the sun illuminates and brightens what would otherwise be a dead environment. But in a pit where the filthiest forms of failure show no signs of resistance, the wrong parts are brightened. This is New York. For fuck’s sake, there’s nothing besides wrong parts. And I’m in the thick of the mess.
“He’s got nothing.” Officer….Randall, apparently, tells the Italian one. “That about sums it up, I guess.” The cops show no humor at the joke at my own expense. I wonder how much it costs to keep them here, bothering an addict at the sneaking suspicion that he might have something on them. I wish I had a job that required so little skill. And as if 9/11 didn’t inflate the bloated egos of the NYPD, they always get the chance to wipe a shit-heel like me all over the pavement.
Small towns have residents of the town protecting them. What do we have? Underpaid, trigger-happy failures of our growing working class with a bit too much metal at their fingertips. I realized this ages ago. Anywhere else, cops have some sort of intuition. At least something. Here, they are merely carrying belts that are worth more than they are. Firefighters have a purpose, without the ego. You give one kid a gun, and the other a hose, who do you think will consider himself more powerful.
“I guess you can go,” they unlock the cuffs and I actually see one of them wiping the cuffs with a wet-nap. “Can you at least pick up my things?” I ask, like an asshole. The black one laughs and walks back to the squad car. At least he gave me that. The Italian one kicks my shit towards the stoop. I scramble to get the five. That’s all I really need. Fuck the summons. I rip it into pieces. I’m not going. That little incident made up for it. I’ve never had a warrant in my thirty years so it’s high time I create a paper trail.
I need to get to 151st and Amsterdam. That’s the only weed spot I know that doesn’t also sell hard drugs. I went to 156th a while ago and all that my boy could say was “I’ll give you a gram of this shit we just got for thirty. C’mon, keys,” he called me keys from way back when I used to work for the super of a building where this fuck, Al, hustled. “This is the best you’re gonna get. I got two dimes left and they’re too skimp. Just get some bling.” I’ve gone through too many names for coke. That’s all it is. Coke.
He eventually sold me a half for eighteen bucks, cause that’s all I had. It was for a dime, I six-pack, a blunt and however many loosies I could get for the rest. But he convinced me. Since I had got busted a few weeks ago, I was trying to stay away from coke. Not for me, but to avoid the cops. It finally happened. The fear overwhelmed the addiction. I just can’t walk down the street with drugs on me. Weed is fine. I don’t mind a summons or D.A.T.(desk appearance ticket). But when they find any drugs, you know you’re going to the tombs.
I hate the tombs.
It’s not even jail. It’s a long line of criminals, whose charges don’t even warrant bail, waiting to get to court. Everything in New York is a line. Everything is a wait. Last time I was in central bookings, I had to wait nearly two days to see the judge. That was ten years ago. With Giuliani. Yeah you remember him. We all do. There’s a sign that says that you cannot be held there over seventy two hours, but when I was in there, there were people who had been held there for over five days. It’s even worse in the Brooklyn or Bronx bookings.
After wandering around, I found myself on 159th and St. Nick. I really needed to smoke. Two blocks away from the spot, I see a bunch of kids in front of a bodega. They probably had shit on them. I wanted to tell the cops. Do my vigilant duty. Just cause they have more money than kids should. I crossed the street to avoid them, but I saw two of them follow me. Even with my tattered clothes, they didn’t believe that I was poor. They probably thought I was just here on a whim, searching, as I am. “Yo, you need?” one of them says behind me. “Nah, I’m good. I’m looking for weed.” I answer, avoiding their glaze. “Whatchu’ need. My boy got dimes of haze.” I keep walking. “I’m good.” I repeat.
“Yeah, aight.” One of them says as the other grabs my coat. “Get the fuck back here!” I try to struggle away but the other one punches me in the back. I collapse quickly, gasping for air. He managed to knock the wind out of me. If you’ve ever had the wind knocked out of you, you know how scary it is. All the air clears out of your lungs and you feel an impending implosion of your pulmonary system. It’s too painful to gasp.
The one who punched me just kept kicking me now while the other one punched my other side. I rolled side to side on my back, going through a violent coughing fit. As the wind rushed out, my throat was irritated and I kept coughing. At this point it was choking. With snot and blood rushing from my nose, they finally stopped. “Get his loot.” One whispered, as if it mattered. He felt through my coat pockets and found the five bucks I had for the nick. “Anything in his pants?” the smaller one asks. “I ain’t touching his pants. You do it.” “Fuck that! All he has is five? Damn. Where’s your fucking money?!?” He asks me. I don’t answer for a second. I spit out some blood. “That was my money.”
They start cracking up. “This ain’t money. Crackheads have more money than this. I can’t believe we wasted our time on him. Give him back his five.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was gonna get my money back. Yes! “Fuck that. Here.” The other one takes the five and rolls it up. He takes out a lighter and lights up one end, and then the other, letting it fall to the ground and roll up. I don’t even react. I kinda saw this coming. They go away, laughing. Real fucking funny. My last five. And they took it away.
I just can’t take this anymore. Insult after insult and I’m still not fully defeated. Fuck. This is pointless. I need some coke. Some false aggression. Synthetic confidence. Controlled, at that. This is what makes sense. Weed makes you comfortable about being immobile. Heroin makes you love it. Acid moves you. Dust enrages. Coke is the only drug that has such a minor effect that the damage is hardly ever noticed until the last moment. With heroin or dust, you realize the problem but just feel no need to stop.
Coke acts on whatever’s there. Without any confidence, coke just creates this empty euphoria. So I must have some. I get to 156th and see Al, drinking a brew in front of the Laundromat. “What’s good, little keys. What happened to your face, kid?” He gives me a pound, looking up and down the block. “These punks from St. Nick fucked me up. They took all my loot.” “Damn. How much they took off you.” “Twenty bucks. I was gonna pick up a half but now, I got shit.” “Word. Where you been at, lately. We just upped.” “I’ve been kinda broke, I’m waiting on this check. Its gonna come by Friday. If you hook me up, you know I got you then.” “I don’t know, key. You usually pay back within days but…. Shit. It’s been kinda slow. You the only one I’ve ever given credit to but I ain’t gonna be able to do it this time. You know I gotchu any other night but not tonight.” What Shit! I knew he gave credit to the more reliable addicts and he just said they were up so I know business is moving.
“Look, Al. This is the last time. I was thinking, I could start running for you guys. You know, lookout, carrying, working, anything. I’m telling you. I’m about to get my severance from the sanitation department and I’ll have some loot to invest, and I’ll hustle it. First ounce, you keep all my profit.” I’m pleading at this point. “Damn, man. You really serious about this. Shit. You’re askin’ too much right now. You wanna work for me,” For him? I wanna work for them. He’s as lowly as they get. Right above lookout. “I can talk to my boy, Ralfie but I ain’t promising anything. But for right now….Shit. I got a gram for myself, so… I’ll give you a half. But you gotta hit me up with thirty on Friday. Fuck all of whatever you wanna get down on, but I’m gonna need thirty.” “Thirty? Fuck, I could get a gram for thirty up by 164th.” This was too frustrating.
“You can’t get shit right now, keys. You’re fucking broke. Try to ask them motherfuckers up there for a half on credit and see what they say. You better just wait till Friday. It’s only two days.” “Only two….” I restrained myself. He started getting annoyed. This little fucking kid thought I was wasting his time. He had no idea what I was gonna do. “Look. I’ll give you thirty. Aight? I got you thirty. Fine. But talk to Ralfie about that. Cause I know mad heads that need a good spot in the morning, when nobody’s out. Everyone’s sleeping and they’re all up, looking to cop.” “Word? We can only get rid of krills in the morning. You sayin you know kids who need coke then?” “Hell, yeah. I’m telling you. Fiends are all around. Ones with money. Not like crackheads. My boys got loot.”
“Aight, look, I got you this half, but on Friday, I’m passing by your block for the thirty, then we’ll talk.” He took out a silver tin foil chunk and handed it to me. I finally cracked a smile. “Yo, good…looks, Al. Watch. This is the smartest thing you’ve ever done. We’re gonna make some serious paper on this. I’m telling you” “Yeah, whatever, keys.” He lets me go.
I get home, where my brother is drinking off a six-pack of Beck’s, watching the Eagles playing the Jets. He doesn’t even hear me come in. This is the funny part. The punch-line of my twisted mid-life crisis. My brother is a cop. He works in the thirty third precinct. Rookie lieutenant. He’s the success of the family. Compared to me, anyway. I’ve been sleeping on his couch for three years now. “Hey Bill, I’m taking a shower, ok?” “Fine by me.” He grumbles into his bottle before finishing it off. I go in the bathroom and turn the shower on and open the window.
As I’m crushing the rock against the sink with my zippo. This is the worst part of being a coke addict. You always need a bill to crush it in. You wrap it up this special way. T’s a pathetic ritual but it is one of the few things we have. Once it’s flattened enough, you open it and sift through with a thin card and repeat the whole process if isn’t fine enough yet. If it takes you more than two tries, you got crack on your hands. But only a kid can confuse the two when buying it. And, I’m obviously not a kid anymore.
After I get out, Bill asks “Why is there never any steam in the bathroom after you take a shower?” I instantly answer “I use cold water. It’s better for your skin.” He chuckles. “Dumbass.” “Fuck you.” I go to his room and pull a shirt from my side of the closet. “Look, Kev.” He begins “Me and Janine are going to her parents’ place in Montauk tomorrow. I’ll probably be there till Monday. Shit. I don’t know,” “Damn, what’s up Bill? What’s….” He looks at me, pityingly. “I can’t let you stay here, Kevin. I gotta kick you out.” “What do you mean? C’mon, man, I just lost my job!” I plead. “Just?? That was a month and a half ago. All I see you doing since then is going to the spots all the time. Who the fuck takes cold showers in winter, you dumb shit?!?” He puts his fresh beer down. “I know you can’t stay at mom’s but I can’t help you anymore. It’s been too long and you’re just wasting the little you have on drugs. I can’t shelter a drug addict. It’s disgusting. Janine won’t even stay here. I’m at her house half the time and I want her to move in with me. We’ve been together for years. But you cannot be here when she does.”
“So you’re gonna kick me out cause you want that cunt to mov..” He punches me into the closet and I pull down a bunch of shirts with me. Fucking marines all punch too hard. “Because you’re my brother, and I do love you, I won’t crack your fucking skull open for saying that. Anyone else. Fucking anyone else would be dead but you’re my brother. Never refer to her as a cunt, bitch, slut or whatever else. Now when I get back on Monday, you better be gone. I could give a fuck where you go, but you will be gone, understand?” I nodded, dejectedly and got up. I slinked out of the room and washed the bit of blood that had spurted from my nose.
He left that night for her house in Queens. When he did, he locked the door. Something he would rarely do, despite having a .22 magnum hiding somewhere inside. He always trusted me. I would never touch his stuff, let alone his weapons. He used a .357 at work but had his little pet .22 revolver with a black finish. It had a short barrel, barely two inches. A little more than half a pound. It was a tiny beast. Still, it would blow a hole through Al. And those two fucks that robbed me. Yeah. Some nice bullet wounds. Teach their families that they fucked up. Their spawns had gone too far. Little fucking, drug peddlers. Drop outs. They think that they can push me around just because I’ve always been on the other end.
How could it have taken so long for me to realize this? All this time, all I needed to do was kill Al. Kill those kids. Bill always bullshits around. Arresting them won’t do anything. Having been in bookings, I know all you can hope for is to get back on the streets. Resume the role. What the fuck else do they expect us to do. I can save them. I can clean them off the streets. For good. It’s a start. First thins first, I need that gun.