In the last few weeks, I have seen several stories pop up from around the country where counties have seen an usually high amount of heroin overdose deaths in a short time span. Most of the authorities are attributing this phenomena to a more pure form of heroin on the streets.
As a recovering heroin addict, I instantly have the same gut reaction to this story as I have heard you all report when I have posted similar stories. There is that little trigger with this bit of knowledge, that tiny little thought, maybe in the back of your head, or maybe even screaming in the forefront of your mind…just wondering, just wondering how good this "bomb ass dope" really is.
Maybe this one strikes a chord with me even harder today, because this particular story is really close to where I am located. I may not have had such a profound reaction had this story not been quite so close to home. Or if I lived in a place to where one would become desensitized to these types of stories because we live in a city where dope is raging-a city like New Orleans, or Baltimore, or Seattle, a city where the overdose story, and the "bomb-ass dope" story as well, rips through the news often.
I do not live in one of those cities. I also have to admit, that I do not hang out in those circles anymore either. And I moved away from this city before I did heroin, and I did not move back until I had been clean for quite some time. So, I do not know much about heroin in this city, short of the fact that it is here. I had a neighbor for a while that used, and I steered clear of him most of the time. I do read about it in my news feed sometimes, but other than that…I never come in contact with heroin in this city. This is not the kind of city where you can walk down the street and see gutterpunk junkies begging for change with their pinpoint pupils. This is not the kind of city where you see homeless junkies under bridges very often. And this is one of the biggest cities in the Carolinas. Not to say that there is no dope here because I am sure it is everywhere, but I feel blessed that it is no longer in my face, in my world today.
This story comes from another city, about an hour and a half away from here. Another city that I once lived in, that I have family in, and that I have many Facebook friends from. I think about how widespread this more pure dope must be…
I have seen stories from New York, from Oregon, and now from South Carolina, all describing an unusually large number of heroin overdose deaths in a short period of time. The reason…more pure heroin. Of course, my old addict mind gets spinning and swirling around.
Of course, I think back to the days of "bomb-ass dope." I think back to a dear friend whom I lost to "bomb-ass dope." I remember the times when the really good dope would come into town. Generally, our product in New Orleans was relatively similar. It was pretty much the same color, the same consistency, and the same potency. Every now and then, though…we got some "bomb-ass dope."
Of course, at first we did not realize it was much stronger. But, we quickly learned to be cautious, although we generally ended up throwing caution to the wind after the "bomb-ass dope" really sank in. But, isn't that always how it is? We would want more and more of that dope. We lamented the day the "bomb-ass dope" had dried up, and the quality was simply back to normal.
I did not watch the news very much back in those days, and I never read the paper. So, I would have never heard any news of an unusually large amount of heroin overdose deaths in my area, as the "bomb-ass dope" circulated my world. i wonder , now, as I look back on it all, if maybe these stories popped up around me to, only I was too fucked up from the "bomb-ass dope" that was killing people to even consider turning on the television. Much less could I have focused on the newscaster.
I think back to a friend I lost, as a result of some "bomb-ass dope." She actually became one the final chapters of my memoir. I remember her calling me early one morning when I had returned to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I remember her slurred words, trying to lure me out of bed with the "bomb-ass dope." But, I was still too hungover to crawl out of bed just as the sun was beginning to rise. Hell, I had just been to bed. I looked for her and the "bomb-ass dope" throughout the day. (She was homeless and did not have a phone.) I proceeded to get drunk at the bar, and had a steady supply of regular dope, as I spent my day in the Quarter. The thought of the "bomb-ass dope" kept invading my mind, until eventually I went looking for it, looking for my friend.
I ended up finding her. Cold and blue. Huddled in the corner of a little shack she squatted in, looking like an angel with her pale, lightly bluing skin and her fiery red hair. I remember the soft smile on her face, angelically looking towards the sky. She looked peaceful. She looked happy. I kissed her cold cheek before I reached into to her pocket and retrieved the little folded aluminum squares that had been invading my mind all day.
I walked out, clutching the "bomb-ass dope." I made a 911 call from a pay phone. And I started walking. I started walking down the streets of the Bywater, with all the broken houses falling into the street, falling in towards me. Broken glass and splintered wood was all around. I looked at my city, and I looked at my life, and my heart grew heavier and heavier, as the images of my dead friend began to flash back and forth. I heard the sirens down the street, and I knew they were pulling in to pick her up.
I thought about them dragging her out of there, on a gurney, covered by that thick leather blanket they put over the dead in the movies. I thought about her lifeless body, carried away to God knows where. I wondered if anyone would ever come and pick up her cold and lifeless body. I wondered how they would even know who to call. I wondered how they would find out her last name, and I realized i didn't know it. I wondered if she would end up in a pauper's grave. Or would she be thrown into the ever-growing pile of unclaimed bodies left in the wake of the storm? I thought about the first time I met her, as she stood outside the strip club on Bourbon Street, finishing a cigarette before work, with her pale skin, natural without make-up and her fiery red hair, reminding me of wild rays of the sun. I remembered the first time I ever shot up…it was by her hand. Dilaudid. I pictured her, hovering over my arm that night in the bathroom stall. I heard her voice, and her soft Southern accent in my memory, and I realized that now, that voice would never be anymore than that faint whisper in my memory.
Snapped back to reality, I saw the destruction around me, harsh and broken. Battered ruins, lying raw, and vile, with its bold edges and jagged lines. Everything i had known for the last seven years was topsy-turvy. In contrast to my memory, where I saw my soft outlined, angel friend looking down on me in the hazy fog of and bliss of opiates. But, then I looked in front of me, and I realized just how broken everything was. All I could see was wreckage.
Piles of homes, and furniture, and wood, and appliances lay all over the streets and the yards. The smell of death pervaded the air still, and now the smell of death was more in my fingers, all over my hands. Even on my lips. I just lost it. I smashed all my needles, right there in the streets, among all the broken and battered houses, I smashed my broken and battered life over and over again, pounding the plastic into the pavement until it was merely broken shards of plastic, shining, scattering light in the fading sunlight. I took the foils, the tiny little foils of the "bomb-ass dope," and I opened them up. I dumped them all out in the dirt peeking out from under a house left in ruins. I smashed the heroin into the ground with my shoes and flung the foil into the air. I watched one of them catch in the wind, as it rode the wave for a minute, before it came tumbling back down into the destruction of New Orleans.
I think back to the "bomb-ass dope," realizing that if I was still using, I might be driving to this nearby city I read about to cop. But of course, if I were still using, I would probably be dead. When I saw the article, I breathed an enormous and heavy sigh, from deep within me, almost to catch my breath and my balance again.
And not that I am even remotely thinking about trying to cop some dope. But it seems that to realize it is right in my vicinity, I can almost smell it. And my thoughts drift back to the "bomb-ass dope," and then, I drift back to the destruction, and the death of that little red-headed angel, whom I hope to immortalize with my story about her. And I think back to my turning point…I think back to the day that I sat in the middle of the destruction, tears streaming down my face, and my lips still feeling the cold, stone, blue and dead cheek of my dear friend. And I think back, to realize…that an overdose from the "bomb-ass dope" was, in fact, a major turning point in my life. Although I will never know if New Orleans saw an unusual amount of heroin overdoses in that month, and I never even knew how good that "bomb-ass dope" really was…I do know, that the "bomb-ass dope" changed my life forever that day.
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