My dad gave me a ride to Waltham, which was the next town over from Newton. I was going to some boy’s birthday party. Even though I didn’t know the boy whose party it was, I knew Kyle—he was the singer of the band Predictable Chaos, which was just one of the band’s playing tonight. And although the party was at a bar, I promised Kyle that I would not drink because I would always get out of control when I was drunk.
In the car my dad asked me: “Where’s a good place to let you off?”
I shrugged. “Anywhere,” I told him.
He pulled over on the side of the street and I got out.
As I crossed over the bridge, I saw Katie and Seth sitting down by the river. I waved to them, and they waved me over. I darted down the stairs and saw they were drinking straight vodka from the bottle.
Seth held out the bottle to me, but I held out my hands in protest.
I said: “I promised Kyle I wouldn’t drink tonight.”
Katie was sitting on the ground smoking a cigarette with her back against a brick wall.
Seth looked disappointed. “You can’t even have a sip?” he asked me. “Just one sip.”
What the hell! I grabbed the bottle from him, and he stepped back as though I was to chuck it at his head. I lifted it to my mouth and took a swig then immediately passed it back to him.
“You happy?” I said, and lit a cigarette, laughing.
Seth was chuckling; Katie was smiling.
The three of us walked up the stairs together and headed to the show.
Kyle spotted us coming. He came over to us right away.
He must have smelt the vodka because he immediately wrapped his hands around my neck and screamed.
Katie said: “Dude, Kyle!”
Seth said: “Yeah, Kyle, he didn’t drink any.”
“I didn’t?” I murmured, as Kyle’s grip got tighter. “Yeah, I didn’t.”
Katie said: “It was us!”
“Yeah, we were the ones drinking,” Seth added. “It was us, not him.”
I sighed as Kyle released his grip on my neck.
He looked me dead in the eye.
“I swear!” I said.
We went to the show. I was painstakingly sober. Outside the bar I called Andrew and asked if he was coming.
He was on his way. He’d be there soon, he told me.
When he got there, he didn’t even have to get out of his truck. I hopped in and said: “Let’s get outta here!”
I suggested we go back to my house, park there, and then go to Harvard Square and get drunk.
In Harvard Square we hit the bottle hard. I was so tired of people telling me what I can and can’t do. I have rights, too. Who do they think they are? Watch out for the Punk Police!!!
We sat in the Pit and saw others we knew somewhat well, others we didn’t know at all, and those to whom we might have even felt a connection.
Hannah was there too. She was Midget’s girlfriend. Midget was this big squatter we called Midget for irony’s sake, who I’d known since I was 16, and he was one of the first guys I’d come across in Harvard Square and I remember him telling me about a band he liked called Adolf & the Piss Artists. Hannah I didn’t know as well. She had only been coming around since the beginning of the summer. The things I knew about Hannah were: She was a heroin addict, and she was a prostitute. Or, she was a heroin addict, when she was living in New York City, and she still, as in currently, sold her body for money.
She had dark black hair and brown eyes and she always wore this ratty denim vest with a UK Subs backpatch.
While we were sitting there she revealed to us that she and Midget had broken up a few days ago. Andrew and I both nodded.
I said to Andrew: “Hey, man. Wanna go get some blow?”
“Yeah, sure,” Andrew said.
I invited Hannah to join us. She said we could do it at her place. She lived right next to a needle exchange, so she had plenty of clean needles we could use.
Andrew and I exchanged a menacing look.
Andrew said: “We don’t shoot it.”
“We just blow it,” I added it, “and sometimes we smoke it.”
Andrew said: “Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
Midget walked past us and drilled us with his angriest of stares.
I remember this one time when Midget had challenged me to a fight and he said he wouldn’t use his hands at all. He won. He kicked the shit out of me, with his hands tied behind his back. Pretty crazy, right?
This woman in the Pit overheard our conversation and she asked if she could pitch in. We said sure. We’d bring it back to her. She gave us the cash and Andrew, Hannah, and I hopped on the train and headed back to Newton.
On the train I called Greg, asked for soft, and requested a quantity. He said he would meet us at the Newton Highlands park in an hour.
We went back to my house and the three of us sidled into Andrew’s pickup truck and he drove us up the street and pulled into the parking lot of the park. I had many memories of smoking crack with Andrew and Samantha in this lot.
We all got out but Andrew left the truck running and we were listening to Richard Hell & the Voidoids. Still to this day when I hear the song “Down at the Rock & Roll Club” by the Voidoids, I think of Hannah and that night. We danced, talked, laughed, and waited. We waited for much longer than an hour. Possibly two or three hours before Greg showed up with the product. They always make you wait. Good thing we had Andrew’s truck, though, because the trains had already stopped running.
We took the cocaine and Andrew drove us to Central Square where Hannah lived.
It was a fairly nice apartment, all things considered.
Once inside Hannah stripped off her clothes right in front of us and put on something much more comfy.
I remember earlier she had told us she could only cum with a guy if she felt comfortable enough to take a shit in front of him.
She was so hot.
She went into the bathroom and came out with a bottle of caffeine pills. She was going to cut that woman’s portion with caffeine pills so that there would be more for us.
We sat down on the couch and from under the coffee table she came out with a shoe box. She opened it up and there were brand-new, untouched, unused needles inside. Neither of us questioned how she was able to have more than one clean needle in her possession. It was a question that didn’t cross our minds; we didn’t really care.
She took a bottle cap and started mixing coke with saline water and adding a cotton ball and she filled her own needle. On her right arm was a big black hole right on her vein. She always used the same hole to shoot it in, she said. It was gross.
Next, she shot up Andrew.
She said: “Promise me you’ll never shoot it up again unless you’re with me.”
We both promised.
I gave her my arm and she tied a torniquet to my bicep and she tapped my forearm and when a vein popped out she jabbed it with the needle, released the torniquet, and I was set.
I fell back into the couch. I looked over at Andrew and he was staring out the window. It was like I could read his thoughts. I knew what he was thinking. Even though it didn’t make a lick of sense. My own thoughts were exploding, my mind a gleeful mess of broken train tracks. I felt bliss. At the tip of the needle.
When the initial, immediate euphoria faded away, we were all over the place. Moving around. Talking to one another. Fidgeting with everything and anything and nothing. We were brilliant. We were sexy.
Then there was some Guatemalan man I didn’t know hanging out with us.
In the morning I awoke and everyone was gone. I was on the cusps of panic. Nothing felt right; I felt awful.
I tried to call Andrew but he didn’t answer. I called him again and again but there was no response. I was alone in this apartment.
When Andrew and Hannah came back I found out that Hannah had given the Guatemalan man a blowjob for more cocaine but then he took off without forking over what he had promised. Hannah was pissed. She and Andrew drove all over the place looking for the Spic to kick his Guatemalan teeth in.
A few days later the police called me because they needed me to make a statement. Hannah got raped by the Guatemalan man and they needed to find out my side of the story, so they could compare details. I didn’t know anything, I slept through it all. Except that Hannah was very upset when I woke up—upset because of What That Man Had Done to Her.
This morning I woke up feeling awful. It could have been allergies, it could have been caffein withdrawals, or it could have been something so much worse. My head pounded like there was someone in there, someone small and mean, knocking nail after nail into my brain. My nose was jammed up, and the postnasal drip was itching my throat. Oh, and my eyelids were dangling from a noose called exhaustion. First thing, I took some Allegra D to rule out allergies, and after showering and walking the dog I promised Michelle I’d drop something off at the Post Office for her. On the way there I stopped at the gas station and bought myself one of those carbonated raspberry-flavored Yerba Mate drinks. I’d say I could use it, all things considered. In the car I popped the tab and the passageways in my nose burst open as a hint of raspberry wafted through. It smelled delicious and the stuffiness was dwindling. I took my first sip and felt the bubbles dance on my tongue and the smell of raspberries reminded me that it was summer now even though outside the car it was gray and drab and possibly would rain later. But inside the car it smelt like summer, like when you’re younger and you pick berries with your parents at a nearby farm. I started to feel a little bit more awake now and I realized the nastiness I felt earlier was from a lack of caffeine. So I drove the rest of the way to the Post Office, and, with the windows down, the air outside licked my skin and swirled and hopped through my hair. I didn’t care that it was colder than it should be for this time of year and the air had that nasty mildew smell before a storm. The music playing released just enough endorphins to keep me going and the wind itself continued to waltz and wave in a brisk cataclysmic buzzing array and the Yerba Mate kept the car smelling sweet and delicious.
On the way back from the Post Office it was the same scene: Wind, Rhythm, and Sweetness, until I stopped at that red light and the first putrid wave hit my nostrils. It smelled of shit, dirty feet, and the blackest of mold. I looked ahead of me and before the car was a dump truck sweating an odor so revolting it made me gag. The windows were down at the time so I rolled them up but I think it was too late, for the smell was stuck inside my car. The Yerba Mate didn’t taste the same, the music didn’t sound the same, my mood plummeted drastically. I was so distraught. I shifted to the left lane and, when I could, darted past the dump truck and when it was far enough behind me, I rolled the windows back down to air out the nasty stench that only comes from rotting carcasses or dumpsters sweating beneath an epic sun.