Once more we venture into the period of my life as a methamphetamine use. This will not be a coherent, linear bit of storytelling, I don’t believe. That might be an impossible thing to manage, even if I desperately wanted to pull it off. Shit starts to run together and time blurs more than a little bit. This is more likely to be a series of snapshots randomly pieced together, rather than a movie.
I recall an instance when one of the anchors at the NBC station approached me in the break room, asking me in passing if I had been losing weight, to which I inquired, feigning insult, “Are you trying to say that I was fat?” It’s funny to me, knowing that the anchor in question probably had some idea what was going on regarding my apparent weight loss, because I was routinely carrying a small supply of the crystal in my wallet when I went to work, intermittently doing lines on the counter in the control room where I worked, frequently while there was other staff in the building. There were definite perks to working almost entirely autonomously.
Caution goes out the window with greater and greater ease the longer one is under the influence of methamphetamine. There were a couple of occasions when the former cop who was hosting our Mexican friend would offer me rides to work and we would casually end up smoking the substance from a glass pipe while driving down the streets in the middle of the afternoon. It wasn’t just me who experienced that sort of disconnect from common sense, is what I’m trying to say, that drug has a definite impact on one’s sense of personal vulnerability…fundamentally erasing it.
There were literally whole days and nights that would run together seamlessly in the most surreal way while my roommate and I would spend the whole time in that former officer’s house, alternately doing lines and smoking from pipes almost constantly. I shudder to think of the quantities we were consuming that way in just one sitting (and not solely because of how entirely wasteful it was). We would lose track of time in conversation and monitoring the grainy feeds from the numerous security cameras that provided uninterrupted views of the whole area surrounding the house, because trafficking in massive quantities of crystal meth is the sort of thing that merits a bit of precaution. All said, it was actually damn enjoyable for us.
My roommate and I were almost always sent home with a decent quantity of our own to get us by in our everyday lives…and it most certainly did. There was often enough that we weren’t opposed to sharing with friends who occasionally came by and even the relatively new downstairs neighbors, when they were inclined to partake. One of those times, when our supply was low, they agreed to reciprocate when they had some of their own a few days later.
Sure enough, they did contact us (a few days later than expected) to let us know that they had what we were waiting for and my roommate went downstairs to retrieve it. I was already doing just fine at the time, so I wasn’t in the kitchen when he tapped into what he’d been given, only to almost immediately begin complaining that it was burning in a way it shouldn’t have been and that it tasted like shit, having an ammonia or piss smell to it. I started laughing and went into the kitchen to see what the problem was. I began laughing even harder when I tried a small taste of the yellowish rocks that he’d brought upstairs, because my roommate had just been snorting crack.
It took about a week or so before I stopped routinely teasing him for being a crackhead, each time he would end up with this sheepish, uncomfortable look on his face while still smiling and chuckling about it.
Those same downstairs neighbors had a difficult time staying out of trouble, quite unlike we more civilized folk upstairs, as one might expect from the sort of people who would trade crack for methamphetamine as an equitable exchange…and the company they kept was equally classy. One of these lovely individuals ended up coming to our door and finally hanging out in our apartment after the downstairs neighbors had left and she discovered that she’d left her baby in a running car that she’d locked herself out of before going into their apartment (more than likely to procure some substance or another from them). We weren’t happy about the position that whole situation had put us in, because we had to actively argue with her for a good long while before she would agree to let us call the police to help her get into her car.
That wasn’t the only time the police came around because of incidents directly relating to those neighbors. One night I was laying in my dark bedroom, preparing for one of the increasingly rare intervals of sleep that I was enjoying, with the window open when I heard the distinctive squelch from a police radio just outside. I quickly and quietly got my roommate’s attention and we split the supply that we had on hand and snorted it all to insure that there was no trace of it there in the apartment if the officer outside was there to see us for any reason.
It wasn’t long before there was indeed a knock at our door and an officer was standing there to greet me when I opened it up. He was there to ask me if we had heard any strange noises from downstairs because there had allegedly been an altercation involving the junkie couple that lived there. The line from Sid and Nancy was absolutely correct, “Never trust a junkie.” We hadn’t heard anything, and told him so, and the officer thanked us for our assistance and went on his way.
We were wide awake by that time and there was no chance of sleep coming for either of us any time soon after what we’d ingested in our panic, so we settled down in front of the television and happened to catch the beginning of The Illustrated Man (the film loosely adapted from Ray Bradbury’s short story collection) on one of the channels…it was a pretty good night, all things considered.
There was a bit of a scare with the traffic coming and going at the former cop’s house and the possibility that someone who’d been privy to what was going on there might be talking to the police and it was discussed as an option that the Mexican would be shifting his base of operations to our apartment temporarily because there was no obvious connection between my roommate and I and what was going on over there. Had the apartment not been only a two-bedroom with insufficient space, that might have happened, and I must admit that I’m relieved that we weren’t put in a position like that.
My roommate’s behavior began to get increasingly erratic as our drug use persisted and his attitude seemed to be shifting in an uncomfortable way. He had lost his job a while before and wasn’t having any luck obtaining a new one, and we were all becoming more than a little bit worried about him. His best friend and the former cop who were providing us with our supply (perhaps at the behest of the Mexican living there, a man who apparently wasn’t terribly fond of my roommate) determined that it might be best to cut him off for a little while and they requested that I not let him know about anything that I was still being given.
I felt the same concern that they did, of course, and I thought that cutting back might be a good idea (but I couldn’t bring myself to cut him off entirely, and ultimately neither could his best friend), so I downplayed what I had available (as did our suppliers), hiding the bulk of it differently than I had before and doling it out more sparingly.
This slow drip access led to the unexpected side effect of my roommate being more productive around the apartment than he had been for a while…primarily when trying to locate any stray traces of crystal that might have fallen on the floor or into any of the furniture. I came home to a clean house a couple of times because of this, and we both got a bit of a chuckle out of his displaying the stereotypical behavior of sifting through carpet fibers for drugs that had spilled.
He was definitely behaving in such a way that our concern was merited, sneaking around and searching for any methamphetamine that might have been hidden from him. One evening, before I went to work, I cut us off a couple of lines and intended to do the same with some of what was left after I returned home. When I did get home though, what was left was only about a third of what had been there before I left. He came into my bedroom when he heard me breaking up what was left and nervously asked if there was enough for him, to which I raised my eyebrow skeptically and said that there was a lot less than I thought there had been.
It was another month or so before he confessed to me about sneaking into my stash that night and apologized for it, and for the deception. I reminded him that I wasn’t a complete idiot and that I already knew, that I’d known that night.
It was shortly after that when the initial Mexican fellow needed to return to where he’d come from south of the border, a replacement being here to take his place in the region. I was asked if I would like to accompany my roommate’s best friend in driving the Mexican back to where he needed to go. Apparently my presence had been specifically requested by the Mexican in question and I was all for that opportunity for adventure until the former cop pulled me aside and warned me that there might be some unpleasant or undesired conditions that would go along with meeting the people these specific Mexicans worked for.
Hosting the Mexicans in his home, the former cop had been privy to some conversations taking place between the two of them and had seemingly heard them discussing me in addition to their business matters. My first response was to daydream a bit about becoming intimately involved with a large scale criminal enterprise like that…a certain moral flexibility I exhibit, that you should be aware of by now, made that prospect very appealing to me.
It took me a moment to consider the somewhat sinister undertone to the story when the Mexican was telling me about how he hadn’t seen his daughter in a long time and that this was going to be his chance to see her again. I had children of my own, and the last thing I ever wanted to do was have them dragged into anything associated with that lifestyle because of my stupid, impulsive desire to live the life of an actual criminal. I had to decline; though I do sometimes wonder what direction my life might have taken if I had not.
It was around this same time, as the binge period was beginning to take on a darker tone, when the degenerate reappeared for the final time in my life.
I’ll end this here. This seems like a good place, as good as any other. Don’t worry; I’ll get back to it soon enough…just not right away. Something else is on my mind that I feel I need to share, related to moral flexibility, before I get to that.