by Jeff Parker
Dear Mrs. Oxendine: I don't know exactly how this is supposed to work. I'm told by others who've graduated your program that sometimes the boredom of life gets you high.
This one gets me feeling like you. Normal. I use it in the mornings and before dinner to stimulate my appetite. I once swore to my friend Charlie that I wouldn't go near the stuff because his stepdad and my stepdad use to smoke on our back porch every night because we were neighbors while we hid in the bushes and discussed whether or not we would ever try it. He said no because it made you slow. It made you sit on back porches when there were fun things in the world to do like go to Chuck E. Cheese's for instance where we could be right now if our stepdads didn't spend so much extra money on pot and could afford to fill the AMC up and drive us into town and pay for enough tokens for a few rounds of Galaga and that awesome pizza with the crust like a cracker. It made you yell at women, he said, which was something you shouldn't do. I had no opinion on either of these things because I was a shy kind of kid who basically did what everyone around me was doing. But I did not, as a kid, eat meat, which was why my stepdad and I never talked. So we kept on with our Star Wars Intergalactic Passports and forget about Chuck E. Cheese's, occasionally watching our stepdads until they finished the joint and started grilling steaks. Shortly after this, I was sitting at a table while my folks and some buddies smoked a joint. After several tokes my mom mistakenly passed the joint to me, stopped, laughed and everyone else at the table grimaced because I was eight. I laughed because her laugh sounded so funny. Then she got all serious and told me that when I was 18 I could try it if I wanted to. I've heard that same laugh from women who get nervous when they're stoned. Earl was the first one who got me to try it at 12. He lived two streets down and bought from my stepdad. He built me a pipe from a toilet paper roll with an aluminum foil bowl and sent me and my middle school friend Todd, who had older brothers, into the woods to put a match to the little green pile. Todd held it for me as I inhaled--Todd had recently, after much instruction, succeeded in teaching me to inhale cigarettes--then pulled his hand from the rear of the roll and my lungs filled, I coughed, and felt nothing. I discovered a small oak snake in a tree and Todd told me his brother could get us way better shit than this. This is when my drug use began, however I've always known what drugs were and how they affected me. Short-term memory loss. Stunted growth. Skinny girlfriends. Nowadays I often get the urge to drop everything and go chasing after this blonde girl (see Conclusion) who would only allow me to make love to her in the passenger side of my car or in the warehouse of the drycleaners--and we had to be stoned or she couldn't get wet. This is the state of mind I usually come to when I need a joint, Mrs. Oxendine, which is why I question the benefits of this narrative as the starting point in the 12-step program that you people claim will help me.
I was driving my first car to St. George Island with a fat girl named Stephanie who bought me a lot of things including gas because her parents were rich. We stayed at a beach house with about 20 other adolescents and I was in charge of conning someone at the Jr. Food Store into buying us three or four $6.99 cases of Natural Light every couple hours, which isn't an easy thing because while St. George Island is a beautiful place it is mostly populated by retirees who aren't terribly interested in providing beer to high school students. The sexiest gymnast/cheerleader at our school, Lisa, ended up taking my tongue into her mouth that night and doing things among tongues I never thought could be done because I certainly never thought I'd be kissing her. But we did for about two hours in the dark living room of the beach house with open windows looking out on sand dunes and I brushed her breasts a couple times with my hands but I was too scared to do anything else. "Take a shower with me," she said. But I was really scared to do that because my penis wasn't very hairy or very big and said I couldn't because I needed to go outside and puke up all that Natural Light which I did and it was the first time I ever threw up from alcohol. When I came back inside she was in the shower with some other guy, so I drove home that night by myself. I have been in love with Lisa ever since until just recently. Wait, that wasn't the first time actually. The first time was at my grandparent's house because they had custody of me for a while and worked at the Air Force Base. I drank a bottle of vodka and threw up a can of Beanie Weenies. I told my grandmother when she came home that I was just sick but she suspected the older kids in the neighborhood had given me pills. Later, at another drunk St. George Island excursion I reached my fingers inside Stephanie while she lie beside me and her manic depressive boyfriend was passed out on the other side of her and she said to me: "I can't believe you're doing this." It was the first time I made it with a fat girl. Alcohol continues to play a big part in my life.
I've only really hallucinated once. That single hallucination involved the cab of a pickup truck melting into its bed and it didn't bother me because I knew what was going on in my head. Acid never bothered me and I ate tabs every weekend for about five years. I ate dinner with my parents tripping. Tripped and went on field trips to places like The Capital. My clan and I tripped to amuse ourselves on weekends because when on doses we could drink so much more without it touching us. There was this girl named Ginger who wasn't ugly really just a weirdo. She was the most unlikely acid dealer. She set me up free because I'd sit in the field across from her house with her and try and get her to rub my back because she did that really good. I know that doesn't make any sense, but then it seemed to. Her boyfriend drove by the one time she decided to reach around and rub my crotch and he got out and punched me a few times and I didn't hit him back because I deserved it and because he hit me really hard. For my troubles, Ginger hooked me with a sheet the following day, Double-Dipped Blue Unicorn. This stuff made everything red and I started thinking I'd become one of those freaks from the sixties who never come down because during most of that trip I couldn't see or hear anyone around me but I discussed "To Kill a Mockingbird" with the Monday Night Football Game, which was on TV which was what I was interacting with so I was told much later when I regained sight and hearing. It made me paranoid and after that LSD was never the same for me. I am convinced that it altered chromosomes or something in my brain and I would be a different person now if I'd never done it. That doesn't bother me, I'm just curious who I might have been. And that guy who punched me, Ginger's boyfriend, well now he's dead. I read about it in the paper. The four cops killed him while trying to arrest him for drugs. There was a quote from one of the officers: "For such a little guy, he was incredibly powerful." I remembered that about him. They didn't shoot him or anything. He died of a heart attack while fighting them off.
In high school--it was me and Ben then--we rolled around in dreadlocks with skateboards in the trunk blaring Pato Banton, "I do not sniff de coke I only smoke de sensimelia." Then we graduated. I never thought I'd actually be able to do it, snort something up my nose. I've got the adenoid blockage and even though I wore braces three years straight there's a space in my front teeth because I breathe through my mouth so much. It's that bad. But I did right fine with cocaine. I lived in one of the more expensive houses in the campus ghetto with two blonde surfer girls who were a lot more serious about school than me so luckily I had my own bathroom. Ben and me and usually a couple of those skinny girls and some other friends from school would crowd in there and snort off this Island Water Sports mirror. It was good and pure because we bought from one of these guido Miami kids but regardless if the shit was cut with laxative or not it always made my bowels tense and that's a real buzz kill that doesn't mean anything once you've convinced a petite Long Island girlfriend to hit a bump off the top of your dick. For some reason me and that one got really interested in quitting the mirror and using each other's bodies. This wasn't a degradation thing, Mrs. Oxendine, I want you to know that. I respect women, though I did, I admit, end up squeezing this girl a couple times and throwing her down on the bed because she just pissed me off sometimes, but I realized which way things were going then and quit her before anything bad happened. Then Ben and I got a tool. A little inhaler-type gadget we named Bumpdog, which when stuck up the nose delivered a perfect hit without the use of any mirrors or bodies and therefore enabled us to use in bathrooms and at clubs, but we got pulled over in Kansas and the cops took all our blow and paraphernalia including Bumpdog then threw us in jail for two weeks. We probably would have gotten out sooner but Ben's T-shirt, printed by Ben's Home Screen Printing Enterprise, said "Police Officer Spelled Backwards is Suckass Loser," and the State of Kansas Highway Patrol didn't think that was as funny as we thought it was.
It was during the pill phase I decided to go ahead and have my cock pierced. I worked in a taco joint and fell in with a crowd of post punkrockers who still ran with the scene and this one guy, who was dishwasher and 30 and trying to be a raver, started bringing in Rohypnol which we'd crush up and snort with cocaine, but that got to be boring and he started bringing Xanax, Percocets, Kilanopins, which didn't need anything to go with them. Pills reorganize your moods. A black cloud forms in your forehead and dark circles under your eyes. Everything is very mellow, with the potential to break at any moment and either hilarious or dead serious. After a while, sex does not interest you one bit. Our days started around 7 p.m. when we went to work and ended about 12 hours later with us passing out at the house of this skanky girl who persistently tried coercing us into letting her practice piercing on us. When Ben one night rendered himself autistic with two Rohypnol and a six-pack of cider we laughed at him good then put him in my car trunk to sleep it off. He got his nipple pierced the same night I got my penis done. This sleazy cow took my limp cock in her hand in the middle of a room of gaping, gray-faced friends of mine all wondering why I was letting her do this to me but too lazy to actually ask, and I was wondering why I was letting her do this to me but I was too lazy to ask and she just did it and I didn't feel a thing. When I woke up with a Prince Albert--silver hoop, pink ball--which meant I now had to sit down to pee because liquid dribbled out from where the Prince entered me at an unnatural hole, I slid that thing out and took a sitz bath in hydrogen peroxide. Pills don't interest me anymore.
(see That One Night)
Needles make me faint. Snorted it once (see That One Night).
That One Night
That one night I was at a point in my life where things were about to change drastically. This I knew. I was applying for jobs with salaries since I was qualified to do that they told me. All my friends kept congratulating me on graduating after being drunk for four straight years, especially Ben who'd dropped out two years previous. I went off on my mountain bike with a guy I barely knew but we acted like we were best buddies just because he'd gone to the same middle and high schools as me, even though we didn't hang out, and he had just moved to town to start college. We found a party where a redneck was selling a smorgasbord from his truck and we bought a little bit of Angel Dust, heroin, some kind bud, then went around back of this place and snorted the heroin, then packed a bowl and poured the angel dust on top of it and smoked it real quick. After that we had too much energy to sit around sipping off a keg, so we hit the corner store and bought twelve packs each which we attempted to carry with one hand while biking home along some back roads. Then a funny thing started happening. He was in front of me, riding perfectly fine, no obstacles in the road, no slicks, but he just fell over, capsized and shattered two beer bottles. I cracked up and swerved around him because he was laughing too and then it happened to me. I nailed the ground, smashing three beers and bloodying up my left arm and knees. But I couldn't feel shit, so we both got up, thinking it was funny as all hell, rode about twenty more feet then, inexplicably, like something in the wind was pushing us over, we both went down again, smashing more beer bottles, this time I fell in one but still felt nothing, while asphalt granules found their way deep inside my open wounds but didn't bother me. And we kept getting up and riding a little and falling back down and bleeding from more and more places, wasting more and more beer, until finally, as he told me later, I went down and instead of coming back up laughing, my eyes dove back into my head and I shook the bike off me, convulsing, arched and tense, waggling my entire body in the puddle of glass and beer and blood I made, gagging. He was in my face shaking me when I woke up. Personally I just remember coming to from a soothing dream about being young and safe from my own stupidity in one of the many schools I went to, I think Shalimar Elementary when I lived with my grandparents. I sat up in the street and came to grips with the fact that I'd just overdosed and he kept saying "just bizaare." We left our bikes in the ditch and walked to his house. We spread an old white sheet over his couch and zoned on Nickelodeon reruns of My Favorite Martian. I kept an eye on my head all night and when the sun came up I washed my cuts in his sink, then went home to check the mail. Later after EEG's and MRI's the doctor showed me my slightly enlarged right temporal lobe and said it causes me to suffer a low seizure threshold, so under extreme conditions of stress or intoxication, I am prone to seizures. He prescribed Dylantin for me, a pill. He sent me to you, and they took away my driver's license for one year in case I go down again.
Fact: The first girl I eventually was able to have sex with once said to me, "I don't want to cram that little thing in me." This is the same girl who had the thing about reefer, my passenger seat, and the drycleaner warehouse, Rachael. She went on to fuck more than six guys when I went to college and I would never have known about it if, while visiting her once, I didn't decide to go right on ahead and read her diary. Rachael wrote everything down in her diary. Every excruciating detail about every guy, what each guy did to her, how it made her feel, what she thought about while each guy was doing it to her, but the most painful stuff was the way she wrote it, in big flowery high school girl letters, what she did to each guy. You know she didn't need anything to make it with them. This had a strong impact on my development as a person. Thinking about those times has got me looking back over this document to see if I've spared you anything. I guess I'm probably not supposed to. That's the idea behind it right? You want to know what my experience has been. You want it written down. I think Rachael wrote everything down, because she wanted, no she expected me to find it. The reason I wrote all this is because you told me to, Mrs. Oxendine. Just write about your experiences with drugs you said. And well here it is. If I inadvertently left out any important parts, I didn't mean to.