Opium Smoker Dutch East Indies

Opium Smoker Dutch East Indies

Friday, 15 February 2019

ALL-NITE


Car is kerb-crawling, pacing you. Feels shark-like, a white shark near. Cops. Fuck. Nah, an apparition. Gotcha! Cocaine nonsense. Tripping balls man. Risk a wee glance. POLICE. Fuckfuckfuck. Too much. Walk normal. What do they...they don't know shit. Can't know it was you.


Was it you? Running payphone to payphone, seeking one anonymous enough to report your impending death. Made the OD call then hung up spooked. Urgency in that voice. Concern. Then in just a three-count the sky lit up flashing blue, sirens closing. Yikes, get the fuck away. This is an emergency.


Now this. Cop car hasn't evaporated like most crazy coke-FX. Serious as a heart attack. Which hasn't happened yet, after all. Strange. Fucker's still on the gallop like a panicked stallion, but no more skittering stuttering stop-go shit. Downers must be kicking in...'ray for Valium! Or will it try to kill you too? Stupid prick.


But later for getting harsh on self, because that fucking cop car is STILL there. Look, they know fine well who it was messed everyone about. Not crime of the century, or even the night, but here's a fucking junkie pest and they're trying to work out if he's 'known'. Like, warrants. You known? Hey, who really 'knows' any---QUIT BEING A SMART CUNT. You'll be in shit put deep.


Shouldn't you falter slow, looking mildly concerned? Ask cops can you help them? Depends. Depends on sanity, or absence of. Really? Look, you're just a dude walking. Walking round the corner to the All-Nite to get shit. OK?...??


Oh man. Head's crackling like a welding torch. Shouldn't inject cocaine. Though a fifth of smack rode that coke rocket like a busty big-mane chick on a hell-bike from a comic. Despite or because of that, the load hit top and blew like a smelter meltdown. Death felt certain. This time, for sure. His poor mother. Isn't that sad? Just enough time to toss five yellows in the mouth - swallow, don't inhale silly. Stop panting then. Rush out the door, leap down the stairs. Out into everything to take on the world and phone an ambo.


No-one could meet that gaze, a man possessed. That was then. Now goose-step marching to the All-Nite, because it's bright and cop cars cannot enter. Chance a glance sideways. Boss-looking shit stuck on the motor door, heraldic stuff. Woohh! Peek at the window – then eyes front sharp. God save us from that. Black-clad Pan-faced Orc-type thing. Pure evil. Or was it a reflection? Well, maybe heavy drugs aid true perception. An idea that's heard around.


Ideas don't help right now. Stop thinking. Isn't that what these drugs are for? Who needs ideas, horrible ideas. Like, one horrible idea is: last place you want to go is All-Nite. In such a place, cocaine psychosis is screamingly obvious. Staff might call cops. Who aren't far away, as it happens. Already on it. Shit........


Look. Got to keep on. You're not stopping striding onward, more like wading now the downers are digested. Limited options while being clocked by law. Rule out bolting. Ditto attacking. Don't be a twat with no idea. The how and why in Hell. Bury the truth deep.


Story is, going to All-Nite for smokes and shit. Remember. But one's lit in hand and a deck on the hip...??? So? So, chocolate. Could buy it and toss it. Give it to some cunt. Anything but eat it, eat anything. Hang on, no good. Looks weird, buying stuff to hand out. Cops would just laugh. Look at this muppet! First a wind-up call, now he's urging Snickers on random public!?! OK forget it. Bottle of cider and out. Crack it, few tilts. Shit, drinking outside is illegal now. Also don't want that poison. Shoot, snort, smoke shit but no drinking piss. Thanks anyway but you're way past the age when that was fun.


Well here's the main road and still clueless. At least cops should fuck off here and bug someone else, someone bad. You're not bad...starting to feel bad though. A little. Without the heroin and Valium you'd be a scooped-out babbling wreck. Nope just numb. Opiates. You like them. Every day. Might be babbling even so. Check lips not moving, saying this shit out loud. Doesn't help the case.


So it's a case now? The Case Of The Crazy Druggie. Big mystery. Elementary, Watson. Recklessly injected a chemical cocktail. Went mad, freaked out. Note the many collapsed veins, doctor. A chronic case. Quite so, Holmes.


Crossing main road to All-Nite, cops don't leave. Well attention is always nice. And paying attention: don't get knocked down, idiot. Cherry on the fucking cake, get run over after a near-death-experience. Phone the cops, get a bloody ambo! Someone's dying! Haha.


Long road this. Longest built or something. Way back when. But not wide. Deceptively narrow. But trying to cross, there's more going on than seemed. Step back, consider. Almost there! The lit-up All-Nite. A beacon but a warning. That inhuman light. Cold commerce laboratory. Now the cop car has spun in the road and parked right outside the freaking shop. What is their problem? A coke-head feels picked on, man.


Look both ways. Funny how the cars look like toys. Tonka. Or what, Scalectrix. Ha. Up close though, fuck. Mass and speed. Woof. No idea who's even in them. Also noticed, this road is shining. Look at the tarmac. Shiny, like a river. A super-river. A river, but more. Scuff the soles back and forth. To determine if it's really shiny.


Wait: everything is shiny, mega shiny. Whatever holds a gleam, is full-on gleaming. Drugs! Must still be tuned up. Hard to tell when so much buzzkill shit goes down. All and sundry distracting you. Hey! Why can't they do them, you do you. Fuck them all.


Then again, lots of lights right here. Many colours. Eyes dilated, plus. Full spectrum. Try sonar. Close eyes, listen. Squiggles, re-verb, croaks, ping-pong? Right, well the mission awaits. Whatever it is. Should abort. Back to base. Except cops sit watching the pilgrim's progress. Like you seemed so keen to get here, now you turn 180? Hmmm.


Those guys? Respect. But... They're no longer a huge deal. Like the thing going on 3 blocks ago. They had you going a bit. They were just THERE. Realer than real. Thought they were angry. Hoped you'd made them up. Would have prayed but why? Then nothing happened. They're in that tricky car. Maybe being informed. Instructed by radio. Them there, you here. OK their faces look like carved from gravestones. But it's part of the job. Vigilance, eternal. Nothing goes wrong no drama. Protect And Serve. But that's not them. What is?


Oh. Too heavy for a motto. Right? Everyone knows anyway. Behave Or Get Crushed. Yup. Hey, you could get a fat marker from All-Nite. Write that motto on the doors. Roof too. Whatever you like guys. All caps. Ha-ha that's funny. See, you're not bad. Could banter. Laugh along. Really they should help you. Help you across. Trained and stuff.


Fuck a duck you're mad spun. Slamming righteous. Mixing this shit? People sometimes don't get a grip, or keep it. Don't mess up. May still die. But right now...yeah. Just get this done. Shop for snacks, jumbo puffs. For later. And a cheap lighter please, man. Or no. Not a lighter. Don't say man. Or even please. Just hand a note. Get change walk out.


Cops? By now It's cool. You guess. Did you lose it big? Break things, alarm folk? You did not. Not that you know of. So. Could even trade words. Coin-chap cop window. Make a smile. Legit bag in left hand.


Ahem. Good evening officer. Bit shiny for a Tuesday, isn't it? Or Thursday, sorry. Word to the wise, gents. Very shiny river tonight - you take care, now. Braking. Be gentle. Hate for you to mash. Not dark like usual either. Behold the lights. That's why. Oh yes... Behave or get crushed, right? Nod and wink. Another wink. That means all know the score. And it's cool - if handled. Like this, the good way. People do shit, insanity. But rules are rules. No breaking things nearby. No touching people. Stuff like that. Because. What the fuck? Really, what the fuck? It's like that, so that's how it is. Heard that said. Maybe it was radio. Maybe it's a saw, an old saw. It should be. Let's make it so. A good old saw.


Strange to think. Kind of shame, drugs. Guess so. Get so high yet no escape. But it's a sort of thing. Many ironies. Like, best part is getting them. Going here, going there. Talking to all sorts. Always on amber alert. It's like a thing. Seeing shit you don't forget. Marks time. Makes you take journeys. You could be in the tube. Maybe got cocaine. Screechy metal rails. Like a rush, full effect. Gram in hand, noise in ears. Thinking mmm yeah bring it.


Specious balls. Of course drugs need took. Otherwise just score and toss. Sorted. No chance. Easy to think things up later. Things that sound true. Like if you take heroin, a day feels longer. Longer than usual, much. At first. But you don't remember shit. So what's going on? Something like, taking all your laters now. Is it true? To some it's obvious. They act that way. Balls balls balls. Making up balls.


So dangerous. This mad road, or river. Or super-river. Whatever. Call it a ribbon. Finally you cross the ribbon. The orange-black shiny ribbon. Clock the cops. Peripheral vision. You shouldn't trust it. But anyway. Seems cool strolling past their sinister grille.


Shop isn't busy. There are puffed snacks in coloured shiny bags. You zone out for a minute. Reflecting on stuff. How things seem one way, then another. Jerk awake, dropped the bag. Oh.


Enough shit. Go up and pay. For whatever's in hand. Let the boy ring it up. See the back of you. Poor dude. Working this fucking place. Mental. This late, this road. White shirt. Fluoro lights, way bright. You'd rather die. You're working on that. Let him do him, you do you. Yeah?


Why? Fuck alone knows. Fuck alone isn't telling. For now, anyway. Fuck it. One thing is... Be good to have a bit more. Nina blanca. Cogs start turning as you exit.

Oh yeah... Cops. Now you really don't give a fuck. What? Frisk you? Whatever. Calm now, very calm. It works. Cop car fires up, slides off. It's a free country. You were just shopping. Prove you did whatever. They can't be arsed. Over some bullshit. Not the first time a junkie thought it was the end. When it wasn't. And the other way round. Vice versa.


Anyway. Next. One thing for it. Bell Jimbo. Use your change in that payphone. Bound to be awake. Up smoking up shit. Talking shit. UFOs and racehorses. If anyone's daft enough to sit still for it. Sometimes you have to. What else? Go home. Drink water, two glasses. Television, nod the fuck out. Burned out, man. Thrashed.


Jimbo is up! Tells you come whenever. This late he'll be well stoked. Who isn't? If they can. And you can...if this bastard credit card still goes. Last one, the spare. Emergencies. Extra heavy charges. Wait. For what, you knob? Stick it in the machine outside wall of All-Nite. Money. Read your diary, the PIN is there somewhere. Lean against the wall a minute. Take five. Fuck you're beat. Some session. Still a little no.3 brown. Plenty Valium. Only yellow 5's. They work. Like, you could sleep right here. Standing up. Only you are not standing, but sliding down the wall a bit. You come to, the machine is beeping. Do the PIN. Except the numbers are hard to read. Page is glowing, but numbers are blurry. And sort of moving. Fuck this.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Danky fae Ponzi

Someone gives word: it's on. Wee Danky's serving, fuckin' shift. The crowd shuffles from the back-court into the rear tenement entrance. Single-file down the hallway, dough in hand. Danky's in his doorway, gated grille. Punters greet him, order tersely.

Alright Danky. Gies a garden.
Three, Danky mate. Sound.
Just the wan, ma man. Cheers mucker.
Gies a deuce, Danky. Aye, two.

After Teuchter Mack buys his eighth – or 'garden-gate' in bingo-lingo drug-slang – he introduces me. I nod respect, expecting queries. But Danky's in his work flow, know? He barely gives a shit, just briskly asks how many. After all, Strathclyde Police aren't lacking intel on the wee man. Gathering 50 junkies in Ponzipark to distribute a quarter-klick isn't exactly clandestine. Aye well fuck it, know?

Uh right, two? Here.

My three ton is stuffed in his North Face padded jacket uncounted. He also rocks a plaid fleece and trapper-hat, ear-flaps down. It's mid-winter, after all. Fuckin' Baltic, so it is.

Everyone's dispersing, smack in paws, spring in step. Teuchter Mack cadges us a lift, some cat he knows. The driver's girl looks spooked, strange guys jumping in the back. Maybe I look sketch, know? Eyes dilated, grin elated.

God it's good to be off and sorted. Away from the notorious Ponzipark. Just off Salamander Street, near the Cross. Very dodgy post-code. The drugs trade, the violence it attracts, police surveillance. Hairiness and shudderation.

Pretty much everyone's heard of here. Most of Wee Danky's punters are citywide, even regional. After all, that's a fair heft of kit if you think about it. Maybe around a nine-bar, a rough 250 grams. Say he paid five grand for that. Sold at £150 per 3.5g, that's £10,700 gross. So double-bubble, in short order. On down, double again, 30 tenner-bags per unit.

As well as the wholesale, Danky has a boy doing £20 bags in batches locally. Two for £35, good gear too. But if you got the paper, weight's the way to go. Especially if it's all for greedy you. Sheer gluttony, yumski.

So back to mine. Nice one for the lift, pal. Cheers, happy new year to you too. Hogmany, this city goes a little mental. But we're safe behind my triple-locks. Got the tea and tinfoil, what else do addicts need? TV on low, gas fire on high. Let's get a burn...oh fuck aye!

Few of us there, chill as anything. Big nods and gentle bonhomie. Me and Mack giggle about the Italian. Little fellow approached us in Ponzi recently.

I looking for la heroina?
Well you're in the right place, pal. We looking for la heroina too!
Good, yes. I asking, asking, la heroina? In Edinburgh, they say go Glasgow. In Glasgow, they say go Ponzipark. In Ponzipark, they say Salamander, then Cross.
Haha, right. Stick with us we'll sort you out.

Says it all. Truth to tell, Mack was for bumping him. No way. Dirty Teuchter cunt. Mind though, his connections are golden. He gets about, maniac talks to everyone. No shy!


Nice time-pass, that New-Year. Two or three days, just smoking. No intrusions. Whenever it was...who cares. My little-sister said she buzzed my place going by, for a hug and hello. Thank fuck I didn't answer. Know?


__________________________________________________

*Note: proper names have been changed slightly. In the case of locations, to avoid stigmatising law-abiding residents. Anyone familiar with the city drug-scene will identify the setting.

Eugene Richards pic

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Bad Lieutenant - injection scene discourse

Bad Lt. Productions 1992

This is from a movie infamous even in the context of it's time, the Heroin Chic era (early-mid 90s).

In a grimy, pre-gentrified New York, Harvey Keitel is most convincing as a homicide detective careening through a spiritual crisis. Fuelled by hard drugs and alcohol, he's propelled towards annihilation by doubling-up losing bets with mob bookies.

Baseball pools, voyeurism, cocaine dealing and vodka blackouts absorb most of his time, but the rape of a nun in church gets his attention. A notion of redemption by revenge, plus a reward for solving the case lead him to give a shit for a minute.

As relief from torment, he visits a sympathetic space-cadet to do heroin. Initially they smoke off foil, chasing the dragon. But as the Lieut unravels from crack-paranoia and stress, he yields to the needle.

Zoe Lund is the smack-buddy. A real-life aficionado of opiates, she died subsequently from drug use. In the heroin-shooting sequence, the make-up covering her tracks is just visible. The official story is that they injected water for that scene, but come on. Draw your own conclusions...

The director Abel Ferrara is an artist who walked it as well as he talked it. Perhaps that's why he didn't do much interesting work after the awesome 3 or 4 movies of 1990 – 95. In my opinion anyway...and I can't say I got much done after then either. For much the same reasons, probably...

The man's genius is clear in the above still-pic. Firstly, the lighting is reminiscent of medieval painting, particularly Caravaggio. Gloom with salient highlights. For instance, the white triangle of Keitel's vest centres the shot. Complemented by the tourniquet and swabs. Lund's lustrous black-banded copper hair contrasts with his rich, satiny dark shirt.

The shirt is drapey and rumpled; by now this guy is almost done, unbuttoned, slope-shouldered and slumped. His hair says it all. When smoking with Zoe previously, he combed his hair back often, a kind of coke-tic. Now it hangs tousled, as he sits in abject surrender waiting for oblivion. Face contorted with anguish and anticipation, maybe also some horror and wonder.

Viewed again, it almost looks like he's about to climax. On this theme, she kneels near his lap as though doing fellatio. A few frames later, once the dope hits he wilts with face slack and sated, while she glances up to confirm his satisfied pleasure.

The background wallpaper has a vertical pattern, like bars. The Lieutenant is backed into the corner of a cage. Note the 'medical' theme on the right. A stainless steel table, the clear glass of water for the patient, the cotton and sterile swabs. Zoe is the noir-nurse, administering the dose gently but surely. Manicured nails glinting on the blood-filled syringe.

In the earlier smoking scene, she's a ditzy drug-bunny. Now the cop is truly damned, she's revealed as the knowing handmaiden of destruction. A priestess administering the rights and rituals of the Netherworld, talking of vampires feeding on themselves.

Here's the thing: Harvey Keitel, then a red-hot A-list actor, let a junkie shoot him up. Even if it was just water. He believed in the project and went all in.

Is there a more poignant, evocative and realistic shooting-up scene anywhere in major cinema? Fuck Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting and Requiem For A Dream. Pop-video consumer-fetish aesthetics. Don't get me wrong, the latter two were excellent books. But Mr Ferrara was the narrator-stylist whose heart was truly in the dark-side glamour of drugs, crime and the long walk up Calvary Hill.  

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Busted (be cool and pray)


The taxi reached Fulcrum Point at the end of City Bridge.  It's called fulcrum point because that's where everything tipped over.  Here, a man in sunglasses was directing traffic.  He directed the taxi into a special lane, where big white jeeps manoeuvred to box us in.

A commotion of moustachioed men with the better grade of polyester shirt swarmed the car.  The back doors flew open and three men seized Tractor Mike.  They were screaming about a "Mr Ali."

Mr Ali?  What the everloving fuck?  Is there no end to random bullshit in this country?

A man was poised to snatch my door open, too.  I didn't flinch, a mammal playing dead.  But his official moustache, hyper smile and knowing eyes intimated this wasn't random bullshit.

We had been chosen.   Marked and ambushed.  They knew the car, the route...I wondered if they knew about the ounce of number 4 in my secret pocket?

If they did, that could mean Mandatory Life.  Before they got to throwing my carcass into the Kafka-squared goat-fuck of penal justice, we could have a conversation.  I hoped.

Not bothering to introduce themselves as Narcotics Control Bureau, the guys directed us in convoy to headquarters.  In the back seat, they worked on Tractor Mike.  Proposed he confess, since they knew about Mr Ali and the drugs.  Tractor fronted perplexity, but I figured the truth would out in due course.  Matter of time.

I focused on preparing for the next stage, the conversation.  Already dreading the stage after: withdrawal, plus whatever.  A big portion of Hell, with Hell on top, no glazed cherry.

Bundled through an office of sneering, lounging cops, I assured myself that whatever happened, I would retain enough money to score a razor.  I could make a shiv, if I wasn't too sick.  If I got too sick, I could try becoming a little green bird in my own head and fly away.

I finalised that plan while watching them strip search Tractor...

This was bad and getting worse.  I wasn't surprised too long; bad things happen.  Took a while to believe that.  Maybe sank in when I was walking with three other junkies.  We were going to score - they cheated me, of course.  A car ran over my foot, didn't stop.  As I hopped along moaning, one junkie smiled like a clown.

"Hah.  Nobody gives a fuck, man."

True.  Nobody gives a fuck, until it's their turn to suffer.  Then it's too late, so why give a fuck.

Tractor stood pale and naked, blinking from sweat.  My turn next.  First level of a deep mineshaft of indignity.  I braced myself: whatever happens, deal with it.  Humiliation, confrontation.  Prison, gang-rape.  That's right.  A helpless hate-puppet, a voodoo doll for other losers to stick.

But I won't bow.  Got it?  If they overpower my body, whatever, but that isn't me.  They can cut and burn the meat, but they won't reach the emerald green bird, soaring above.

One problem, there: heroin.  Pumping three grams of number 4 every day...the green bird is already caged.  How tough would I be after 48 hours withdrawal?

I didn't want to think about it.  Like I hadn't wanted to think about why two guys in shades had been standing near the taxi.  One even looked at the number plate, then at my face.  He nodded.

Driving away, we saw them up an alley...talking into a radio-phone.  Tractor looked to me.

"What shall we do?"
"Nothing we can do."

I denied this was happening, wished things were still routine.  My routine consisted of taking lots of smack.

Now we were having the conversation, the chief and I.  They basically had us, but their intel was garbled.  The chief claimed he witnessed the deal...I knew he hadn't.  And this fucking Mr. Ali person?  Er, no.  Also, Tractor's strip search had turned up nothing.  I was surprised at that myself.  But Tractor was a veteran, had already done five years somewhere else for crack-inspired armed robbery.

I didn't have reserves of convict cunning, but I had a good line of credit.  In many ways, I was on top of this stupid game.  At the hospital, they said I was "resourceful."  Partly encouragement, mostly an excuse to deny medication.  Like, since I was 'resourceful' I could go out and get my own supplies.  So I fucking well did.  Now I wanted to deploy my resources to escape, and go back to sleep.

They took Tractor out for a more thorough search.  Apparently, they made him put his foot on a stool, a lame attempt to dislodge anything stashed in his crack.  They forbore to manually search his rectum.  Can't blame them!  But if they'd been more professional, they'd have discovered where he reflexively stashed his grams.

Does any job pay enough to peer up a man's anus?  Yes, Narcotics Bureau can, no doubt.  Higher the rank, bigger the slice, but cake for all.  That was the subject I wanted to broach with Chief.  How much?

First I had to be guilty.  And by sleight of hand and the grace of Goddess, they didn't find my ounce.  At one point, when the disappointed cops left me alone, I almost threw it behind a monitor.  But then they pushed our taxi driver in.  Staunch fellow, played dumb.  Loyal.

So they had to let us go, with no charge and no hard feelings.  Grudgingly.  We'd stayed cool, got lucky.  Hugely.

Eugene Richards pic


The Bad Guys were given 90 percent of the script but still fucked up their role in the movie.  Cops knew who, where and when...but we skated.

How did they miss an ounce of heroin, 60% pure Moon Rocks, stashed on my person?

A magician shouldn't reveal techniques...but it's basically down to another bust a year earlier.

Preparing for a long train journey, I had 22 small folds of good brown in a snuff-type box, as well as five foils interleaved in a book called: "Four Basic Principles To Make Fortune Come Your Way."  I never got to read it, but found out one of those principles is not to act like drugs are legal.

An hour into a 36 hour journey, I was wrenched out of nod by the lapels.  Piggy eyes staring into my contracted pupils.  One of a pair of cops began a thorough frisk.  Just before he got to the cargo pocket with my kit, I thought "fuck it" and grabbed the box of wraps.  Before I could swallow them, the other cop punched my head and grabbed my wrist.  The stuff flew in the air and onto other passengers, one lady shielding her baby from the evil shower.

One cop tore my luggage to pieces, finding nothing.  While the other took me to the toilet, for intimacy.

"This will cost you a thousand dollars, or it's jail.  Where's the rest of your money?  Only $30 here."
"There's no 'rest'.  I'm a junkie, man, broke."

He even checked under my balls, in case I had a wad of notes there.  Sadly not.  Had to be content with whatever stuff they picked up in the carriage, and my pocket dough.  He kindly returned $5 for snacks, which I straight away offered back for just one bag of scag.  Leaving with my drugs and money, he refused indignantly.

"No.  We are the police!"

The rest of the journey was misery numbed by downers.  Amidst a nitrazepam fog, I decided to improve concealment tech.

This I did by stitching a credit-card-sized pocket inside my jockey shorts.  Positioned a thumb length from the button and a finger-width down.  The shorts can be manoeuvred so that the package is covered by a belt, if worn.  It should be safe from a pocket search, and from a ball-grope when cops 'check for an extra nut.'

Saved my life literally, during a very thorough palm-frisk at Colombo Airport.  The penalty for heroin trafficking in Sri Lanka is death; my fat personal supply would have qualified. 

It also saved me at this Bridge Bust.  As my partner in crime was stripped and searched, I was deploying a little charisma.  My turn came and I wasn't stripped fully, but of course they wanted to look in my underwear.   I undid my belt and jeans and hooked my thumbs in the shorts waistline, palming my stash.  Lowering the ensemble, I stretched it out so a cop could look at my groin and down the legs.

"See?  Nothing much there, sad to say, ha-ha."

As with any trick, it's partly about props but mainly in presentation.

Of course, the best tricksters seldom need props.  They perfect mind-control.  But it's hard to control other minds when your own is lost to drugs...

Fuck The Police.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Merry

No fucking milk in the fridge again.  Or anything in the fridge.  Humanities graduates shouldn't live like this, thought Credence.  Or feel like this.  Sickness knocking, soon be clucking.  Could things be worse?

His phone rang.  Dragging it from a charity-shop trench-coat dressing-gown, Crede prayed for a merciful angel.

"Hi darling; Charmian.  Feeling yucky?  God, I know.  Might play hooky from the office.  Boss is in Milan and I have his Lexus to play with, tee-hee.  Well, I am his P.A...  Pretty Arse and all that."
"I get the picture.  What's up, Charm?"
"Just wondering, how much would a teenth of each be?"
"Teenth of each?  Maybe...like a hundred-fifty.  But Charm..."
"I'm in.  Look, I've done some chip-chop with petty cash, so there's a hundred for the kitty.  You bell one of your dodgy mates and get us sorted."
"Hum.  Might be possible, but..."
"We'll hook up later and have a fucking nice time."

When it came to dodgy mates, Goley's name came to mind.  Credence wasn't sure what he thought of Goley.  Apart from suspecting he might be Goley in a matter of time.  

"Hi Goley.  Only Crede.  How you doing, mate?"
"Fuck.  Just woke up.  Er, shit, really."
"Well, me and Charm are hoping you could sort something out again.  Square you up, course.  Like, teenth of each?"
"Yeah, no doubt.  We'll head to Merry.  Fucking tasty gear up there."
"Merry?  What's that?"
"Merrywell Gardens Housing Estate.  Hard Drugs R Us."
"Okay, I'll get the readies sorted and we'll take a wander there."
"Take a wander?   Ha-ha, you can't be serious.  Very bad idea.  No, get some wheels and text back.  Merrywell Gardens isn't a place to be strolling about, know what I mean?"

Credence knew.  He dialled Charmian to ask about the insurance policy on her boss's Lexus...

Shorty after, Charmian handed Credence car-keys and cash with a shaky, skinny arm.

"Look, I don't have a fucking clue about insurance, but if you prang that car, I'll lose my job.  And my home, too.  I'm already behind on the mortgage.  You will be careful, darling?"

Big shrug from Credence.  She didn't ask for the keys back.

Goley was barred from the cafe; he sat outside by a bin until pick-up.

"Nice motor."

Settling in, he rummaged the owner manual from the glove box to build a joint on, irritating Crede.

"Don't know if we can smoke in this car."
"Don't know if I give a fuck.  By the way, we'll need to be on red alert.  Merry can be like, mental.  Bit random, full-on.  Shit happens, and it happens there.  Let's be on our toes."

Goley assured a nervous Credence that it should be cool, if they were cool.  He made calls from Crede's phone, then knuckle-bumped his shoulder.

"Yesss.  Game on, son, game on."

By the time they were sitting in a high-rise flat, Credence had completely lost orientation.  Many twists and turns, driving and walking, then stairs, all concrete.
A woman of around thirty had let them in, then slumped in a sofa chair.  She had matted birds-nest hair and wore a short dressing gown.  Patterned tights sheathed her legs, ending in four-inch heels.  Patent black with a glittery ankle band, like a posh cat's collar.  Following a ladder back up her calf, Credence saw she had clocked his gaze, her mouth twisting with moody calculation.

A man abruptly strode in, ducking the door lintel.

"Raleigh.  Alright, Goley?"

Goley hastened to introduce Credence as a good mate, long known and well solid.
Raleigh gave a thumbs-up.  He wore Magnum Hi-Tech boots, black FUBU sweatpants and a gunmetal bomber jacket, XXL.  Bumping fists with his guests, he landed in a battered PVC recliner, nodding toward the woman.

"This is Polly.  The one and only Polly Jean Harvey."

Crede turned to greet Polly, who kissed her teeth and sneered at the men.

"Don't be a fucking knob."

Ral laughed and turned his attention to a large TV which sat on it's own box. There were many such boxes around.  Apart from the sofa set and recliner, there was no other furniture or décor.  Devices were connected to the television, satellites and things.  Even the rubbish-strewn coffee table was a packing box, Zanussi.

The TV was showing tennis.  They watched the ball thwack around while blue-grey smoke poured off cigarettes.  A doorbell ding-donged, ignored in the hall.
Inclining his head to the television, Ral glanced at Credence.

"Bag of sand on Federer, me."

Credence gathered Ral was claiming to have bet £1000 on Federer to win.

"Right, cool."
"Not really, cunt's losing.  So, what can I do for you, mate?"

Relieved to get down to biz, Crede explained he wanted a sixteenth of brown, same of rock.  Raleigh laid it out.  Yeah, it would be £150 - change goes in the charity box, ha-ha - and it wasn't far away, with an associate who would be available in half an hour.  But the bloke doesn't drive, so Ral would take Crede's car and money, then return to supply the guys, right?   Sweet as...

Crede's heart sank but no surprise.  This was typical.  The bullshit hadn't stopped since starting hard drugs.
How did he start hard drugs, again?  Must have been, what, years ago.  Second year at uni, bunch of them went for parachute jumps.  Lot of fun, but the euphoria wore off and the pub vibe later was depressing.  Credence noticed a curly-haired dude looking pretty washed-out, too.  This person was so excited earlier, before the jump.  Like a kid at Christmas, almost delirious.  Credence started chatting.

"Quite a buzz, eh?"
"What?  Oh, the jump."

The guy smiled with wry nostalgia, as though the jump happened in a misspent youth, not that morning.

"Yeah, I was well tuned up.  Coke.  Hey, still got some left.  Fancy a charge in the bogs?"

Why not?  Crede imagined a line of Charlie on porcelain.  In the cubicle though, Curly levelled a citreous glass pipe at his new friend's jaw.  Eyes big with conspiracy and mischief, he poised a tiny blowtorch at the bowl.

"Suck 'till I pull away."

Credence did, heart skittering with trepidation, then braced back against the wall.  His mind suddenly went to four, five, nearly six dimensions, jaw locked so tight he couldn't voice a Holy Fuck, cheeks aching from maniacal grinning.
Curly readied a pipe for himself.  Glanced at Crede and chuckled.

"Ha-ha, your face!  Cheshire Cat, man.  Classic.  No worries...got some gear we can toot for the comedown."

From there to here.  Credence stuttered a formal protest.  Of course he knew it would be sweet and didn't mean offence, but it wasn't his car to lend, wasn't even all his money, and...

Raleigh endured this stoically, one eye on Federer as Credence rambled on. Pretty decent, really.  He could have acted outraged, complained that whoever Credence was, he'd come to Raleigh's crib with the loser Goley, expecting Ral to do favours and run around, his slut and gadgets left at their mercy, and now this shit?
Instead, he waited for Crede to trickle out.  Then reached over, palm up.

"Keys and dough."

Resigned, Credence tried not to get tense, think negative.  Before Raleigh could depart on his mission, the doorbell began ding-donging like crazy.  Then a steady thwack thwack on the door.
Swearing, Ral told Polly to see to it.  She tutted and tottered into the hall.

"It's Tane!"

Before Raleigh finished shouting to not let that cunt in, a little man entered the room to stare at Raleigh, who lumbered up frowning and growly.

"Yo, Tane."

No response.  Credence didn't know what to make of Tane.  This un-remarkable runt wore old clothes, not middle-class charity-shop discards but the cheapest mismatched sportswear.  Typical inconspicuous marginal type, Crede reckoned. But there was a strange vibe to this one...

Tane noticed Credence too, advanced a measured step with gaze held steady.  A twitch of a smile...and what's with those eyes?  Not 'hard' like Raleigh's, whose visage now wilted anyway.  No, in droopy lids Tane's black eyes seemed burnt. Or burning.  The goblin drawled a challenge.

"Yeah, mate?  Yeah?"

Credence sat transfixed.  He felt giddy, gooey with butterflies, almost giggling. Mastering reaction, forcing his feet not to flee, Credence found himself full of fear.  He'd been on edge already, but this creature was another level.

Raleigh recovered some poise and stepped between them fast.  Tane didn't flinch, just spacey-stared through Ral's chest.

"Fuck's sake, Tane.  Look, all that shit before...not my fault, man.  I'll see you right.  Going to pick up in a bit.  Drop by later for a burn.  It's cool."

Ten seconds passed.  Tane turned to leave with a chilly smirk.

"Take a fuck to yourself."

The front door slammed.  Once Goley had been sent to ensure Tane wasn't lurking, everyone breathed out.  Raleigh shook his head and turned to leave.

"Fucking psycho, that kid.  Back in a bit."

Kid?  Credence wouldn't have taken Tane for a youth.  True, he looked under-formed, skin pale and tight.  Bad diet or something.

Everyone settled in to wait and pass dead time.  Federer lost.  The door chimed constantly, maddeningly.  People began whistling and warbling through the letter box.  Sounded like sunrise in the bloody Amazon.  Occasionally, Polly poked her head in the hall, shouting return in an hour.

Two hours passed.  Polly had an idea.

"Something to eat, boys?"

They shrugged, and she used Crede's phone to order pizzas.  Her monologue got ever more bizarre, one pump jiggling as she warmed to her role.  Eventually, everyone realised she was only pretending.  Not that anyone cared.  They knew her drama was just anxiety.  Raleigh shouldn't have been away this long. Credence focused on not going mad.  Eventually, unlikely messengers arrived to cut his sinking heart from it's mooring.  End his misery with a mercy shot, the coup-de-grace.

Two teenage girls managed to gain entry, beside themselves with excitement.  Polly nodded permission to speak and the news burst out.

"Wow.  Tane got Ral!  Opened the car and stabbed his neck with a bottle.  Pulled him out, went through his pockets.  Then drove away!"

The other girl nodded agreement, scrunchied ponytail swishing against pink plastic puffa-jacket, squealing as she mimed a jugular gusher.

"Claret everywhere!"

Polly and Goley didn't seem to believe it.  Crede did.  He'd known all along something like this would happen.  All along.



David Gillanders pic

 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Picnic Pick-up

C'mon up he'd said, but the main door of the apartment building resisted my push.  I shoved harder and it grated open enough to squeeze through.  A large bin was wheeled-up inside.  The scraping sound signalled someone entering and a whistle summoned me upstairs.  That cat Jagga is more than just a pretty face, I thought wryly while ascending warily.

Jagga and his lieutenant Nerble slouched on the second-floor steps, surrounded by paraphernalia and trash.  They were smoking heroin off metal foil; I watched Nerble's pipe avidly chasing a brown blob resembling a frantic cockroach.  Looked like insect training for Beetle Olympics.  Fumes filled the air and I wondered idly if residents wouldn't maybe fuss.  Presume they'd be advised to fuck themselves.  Irrelevant conjecture.  Down to biz.

"Having a picnic?  Haha, nice day for it.  Got three scores?"

Jagga's woman must've kicked him out.  Nerble presented a Blackberry for my perusal.

"Sixty quid, ya nutcase.  Bargain."

I pulled 3 twenties from the sleeve of my bomber but handed them to Jagga.

"I'd rather buy drugs...maybe I got a problem."

Jagga's fingers were astoundingly filthy but I immediately gummed the little knotted bags he served.  Standard Operating Procedure.  Jagga regarded me slantwise through half-drooped glassy eyes.  His flared foil flute hung steep from split lips, casual expression of the man and his minute.  Arrogance, insouciance, power.  The gear was preme in town, probably from prison connects.

Enjoy your brief reign stoopid, I thought skipping to the exit.  The cops kept busting Jagga but he wasn't fazed.  Likely fatalistic, career criminal living in the moment.  Make hay while the sun shines.  Cheerful thought.  Soon I'd smoke the sun, ingest uncanny luminance, chemical dance round brain-stem maypole.

Passing by the bin and out the door, my arm was half-nelsoned and throat choke-locked.  In one smooth move I was tripped and flung down, police jujitsu.  Men were shouting in my ear to spit it out, spit it out.  From the ground I could see the dainty feet of a WPC who gazed down smiling, fondling spray cannisters on her utility belt.  Yeah...the little dog laughed to see such fun.



David Gillanders pics