SAFETY FIRST - SOMETIME IN 2013

Updated: Apr 15


The waiting is the hardest part. I think Tom Petty said that. I would often find myself murmuring the lyrics under my breath while sitting in various cars with various people waiting for the dealer to pull up. The longest I think I ever waited for my precious drugs was three hours. There’s several ways you can spend that waiting time: you can listen to music before it becomes annoying, you can make phone calls if you have any to make, you can text people back if you can work up the focus and desire to. Something near impossible to do is to engage in a conversation with your fellow travelers, because they are as anxious and irritated as you, and any conversation will ultimately revolve around one sentence: “Where the fuck are they?”

So there we were, in Pomona, as we often were. It had been maybe twenty minutes but it felt like an eternity. An eternity and a half. I was with Phil, a close friend who often engaged in the same reckless behavior as me, and another old friend who was my primary source for drug contacts, who we’ll call Bud. I wasn’t dopesick yet, but I felt like crying. Why couldn’t I just have this already? A feeling more gnawing than any hunger you could possibly feel. Finally, a figure emerged from the house we were parked outside of and got into the backseat of my car next to Bud.

“Sorry guys, I fell asleep.”

Any feelings of annoyance had immediately vanished, and the second we saw that door open there was much rejoicing. It was almost as if no time had passed at all. This guy! My man!

My savior!

We had given Bud our collective cash and the deal was done. After some uncomfortable small talk, the dealer finally exited. Like, get the fuck out and let me do my drugs dude. We pulled around the corner and each took a taste off some old foil. Now, at this time, I enjoyed a good hit of some fresh black tar heroin off a good cut of foil, but the real treat was when we had a syringe available to hook it up directly to the ol’ bloodstream. But there was no time for that

yet, not here in Pomona. To make matters more urgent, Phil and I had some friends waiting for

us to go to a marijuana clinic together and get some of that green stuff, that weak shit, of which I

felt regret wasting money on at this point. Weed? What’re you a pussy? Give me that dope shit,

that fill my spirit with hope shit, that sweet smoke shit, that take a toke shit, that-

And we were off. While speeding towards the I-10 freeway, my phone would not stop ringing. Phil was dodging calls, as was I. Stop calling me. This was particularly tough because a member of the awaiting party was a girl I had feelings for, but in this case, what the fuck did that really matter? I had my drugs and my boys! Hoo rah!

Phil and Bud think I don’t notice them taking hits off the foil while I’m hauling ass on the freeway, but I do, and the amount of shit left is the primary worry beyond this schedule conflict. I’m a little high, but I can still drive, though my driving is becoming increasingly more reckless.

“Why isn’t your seatbelt on?” asks Bud, feigning concern as smoke exits his mouth.

“Why isn’t yours?” I sneer back.

“It is, dude.”

“Whatever. Don’t smoke all of it.”

Phil is giddy and dancing to the music playing from the stereo. Probably dubstep. It was 2013.

“Ha ha! This that good good man!” he yells.

I want to pull over and smoke, but my phone is buzzing over and over. Eventually I see a text saying that they had gone to the clinic without us, and where were we? I respond saying Phil and I got held up doing shit for my parents, or some other bullshit, and that we would just meet back at the house. A wave of relief washes over me as I realize we now have more time to partake in some heavy drug use, and I turn the music up. We all bob up and down in our seats, the car cloudy with heroin smoke, and the car swerving all over. I put on my seatbelt at the insistence of Phil and Bud.

We find a park near Bud’s house and pull up under a tree. It is night, but somehow the tree seems like it offers more cover.

Phil hands me the foil with a grin. I take a hit after what feels like forever, and I am more relaxed. Bud is cooking up in a dirty old spoon in my backseat. He asks if I have a belt. I don’t, Phil doesn’t, and I even get up to look in the trunk, even though I know for a fact I don’t keep belts in my trunk, but Bud is insistent. Eventually he settles for me squeezing his upper arm tight enough so he can register the syringe, and after several failed attempts, he is able to push off. I’m both jealous and worried that he will be too high to help me get my fix.

At this point, Phil is kind of shocked back into reality as he sees the needle at work. It doesn’t stop him from smoking heroin off the foil, but he does so with less gusto, as if realizing that this shit may in fact be kind of sketchy.

“Okay man, can you help me out man?” I say to Bud. His eyes are out of focus but he nods. Good enough for me.

Now, Bud can’t cook up and squeeze my arm at the same time, and Phil is hesitant.

“Naw man, I don’t know man. I don’t think I can help you.”

“Fuckin’ dude, what? What dude? Just squeeze my bicep as hard as you can.”

“Naw man, I can’t man.” he says as he continues to hit the foil, almost in a mocking manner.

“Squeeze his bicep man.” Bud says lazily from the backseat.

Phil is resolved with his not wanting to squeeze my bicep while I have Bud inject me with heroin, and I am just at a loss. In a move that I consider to be quite MacGyver, I notice the seatbelt hanging limp. I wrap it around my arm nice and tight and start to lose the feeling in my arm almost immediately.

“Like MacGyver!” I almost scream at them. Phil is joyous at his not having to participate and turns the music back up. We dance in the front seat as Bud nods around, somehow cooking up the hit on autopilot.

“Like who?” he asks, eyes closed.

I snap my fingers and he jolts awake.

“Fuckin’ help me out man, I’m ready to go, let’s go man we got places to be!”

He pushes the tip of the needle in my outstretched left arm, and pulls back. Nothing. Phil looks on in disgust, and I can see the realization creep back into his eyes as he gazes on. Bud tries again. Nothing. I can literally feel tears welling in my eyes as I see another fruitless red dot along the line of my vein.

“Wake up!” I scream.

“It’s your veins...” he murmurs as he goes back in.

Finally, he sticks it in, and I see it. The red plume of blood being pulled up into the syringe, mixing in with the poisonous liquid within, that is the telltale sign of a successful register ready for injection. He pushes it in and I say goodbye to my withdrawn blood and hello to the sweet victory arriving. And-BOOM! POW! ZIP! KABLOW! We’re off to the races and I can feel that tingle and rush and know that everything is going to be just fine.

“That’s fucked up dude.” Phil says.

I grin.

“We’re good man, it’s okay, I feel good. This is good. Hey, let’s go. Bud get out bro,

thank you bro, I love you and I will hit you up tomorrow.”

Bud nods his approval and stumbles like a blind man back towards his house. He’ll be

okay.

Phil and I sit and enjoy our high, I am feeling great, but we have an appointment. At this time, the texts have been coming in and I realize we have been absolutely lagging. We head out.

If our mutual friends were upset, they didn’t necessarily show it. There was an air of secrecy emitting from our end, but they were stoned, so, like, fuck it. We watch some tv. Part of me is worried this girl will notice how pale I look, but another part of me is straight vibing.

“Hey, are you guys alright?” our friend asks.

I roll my head up and realize both Phil and I have been fast asleep on the couch. Shit. They give us suspicious looks. Now, people know we both had been involved with drug use before, but the official word is we had stopped. This sad display wasn’t helping the case. I feel personally scrutinized by this girl, and while blatantly guilty, I feel almost offended.

“Sorry, long day.” I mutter.

We struggle to keep our heads up and our eyes open, but eventually it becomes too difficult. We soon depart. Able to enjoy our high more openly, we celebrate as much as we can, discussing the day and looking forward to the next. I feel like we have been caught, but as I have yet to be accused, it’s a worry for another time.

When I arrive home, my family is asleep. It’s late, and at this point in time they have no idea what schemes I have been up to, I’m just distant. I’m only 20, so, maybe boys will be boys. I retire to my room, and in contrast to barely being able to stay awake, I find myself oddly not tired.

I have a deep, maybe strange, fondness for music from the 80’s, so I put on Matthew Wilder’s “Break My Stride”. As the song plays I lay on the floor and stare blankly at the ceiling. Something doesn’t feel right in my life, and while I feel somewhat ashamed, I’m high, and for now that’s enough.

“Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down...” I murmur softly along with the song. My phone buzzes and it’s that girl. Her text isn’t in regard to me being high, and therefore I feel as if I’ve won. I put the phone down and continue to lie on the floor. I feel a tear fall down the side of my face. Something isn’t right in my life, but I’m not sure what. Not yet.



Luke is a member of the wrting staff at Faded Morgana, as well as the Creative Director for the Film and Television projects releasing later this year. Luke comes from a pop-culture fueled background including healthy obsessions with Quentin Tarantino, Alkaline Trio and Wes Anderson films, as well as unhealthy obsessions with old school punk and the Smiths. Luke rates stories by Ewoks rather than Gold Stars.

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