My story? I will tell you my story. It is a cautionary tale about the wiles of drug abuse. I wish that my story was as simple as most. I wish that I could tell you that I was arrested for possession, or that I was shot in a failed drug deal. While these types of things are terrible, my story is far worse. I will tell it to you, and then let you decide.
It all started when I was young, somewhere around the age of 15 or 16. I know that most children at that age experiment with drugs, mostly marijuana. I was introduced to it by my friend Ted. He came to school one day with the typical red, droopy eyes, giggling about next to nothing. As soon as I saw him, I knew something was up.
“Ted!” I whispered sharply, leaning towards his desk. “What the fuck is up with you dude, you don’t look right.”
“Aaaawww man, Jake (that’s me by the way)…….you just don’t know dude. I’m soooooo fucking high man….,” then he started giggling like a two year old at a fart joke!
“Dude, seriously?!” I shot back, completely unaware that this wasn’t his first time.
“Yeah, Jake, dude, seriously……you have GOT to smoke some of this shit with me bro.”
I’d never really even thought about drugs until that moment. To me, drugs were something that I knew about but had never experienced up close and personal. Kind of like a foreign country, a million dollars, or some crazy debilitating disease. I knew they existed, but only in the most vague of senses. Somehow, the prospect of trying drugs excited me. It made me feel rebellious and, for whatever dumb reason, cool.
“Well….” I trailed off, becoming unsure of my decision. “What kind of ‘shit’ are we talking about Ted? Crack, meth, what?!”
He laughed crazily at this and said, “Nah maaaan, it’s just a little weed is all!”
Well, what could be the harm in that right? I mean there were soooo many potheads during the ’60s and ’70s, and they survived. What could possibly go wrong?
“Fuck yeah Ted. Let’s do this. After school, meet me down at the abandoned covered bridge just outside the town limits. We’ll “blaze it up” (air quotations) as they say,” and that, unbeknownst to myself or Ted, was the beginning of our ends.
Needless to say, after that night, I was hooked. The buzz was so good that I had to have more and Ted, well, good ol’ Ted knew just where to get it. From that day forward, I was a “head”. No other way to say it. If I wasn’t smoking or high, I was asleep.
Ted and I smoked together so many times since that day that I couldn’t count them on a damn abacus. From that first time until now, almost 20 years later, we smoked together. All through college and beyond. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until about three months ago that Ted and I stopped smoking together. He always had the connect. No matter what, when, or where, Ted could get the best of the best. That is….until the accident…..three months ago. After that fateful night, I never saw Ted again. Well, that’s not entirely true. I saw him at his funeral, in his casket. So pale, so still, so….dead. Ted had been in a car accident. He was high and, well…..
For the first month or so, after the accident, things were fine. I still had a fairly large amount of weed stashed and I just smoked by myself. I told myself that I was doing it in Ted’s honor, but, let’s be real. I was doing it, because that’s what addicts do, get high. It didn’t take long though until the fun had started to drain out of it and I realized that I had two very huge problems. First, my addiction, and second, I was almost out of fucking weed!!!!
Well, towards the end of that month, I think it was July, eh, whatever. Towards the end of that first month after Ted died, I realized that I was running extremely low on my favorite herb. So, I did what anyone else would do, I called up a few old friends from college in hopes to “SCORE S’MORE,” as Ted would’ve put it. I ran into a whole bunch of nothing. Just about everyone that I called from the old college days had moved on. Most of them told me things like, “Man, I quit smoking that shit years ago,” or “Dude, I have a fucking family now!” So….now what?
Just so happens that it didn’t take long for me to find an answer to that question. I live in a small but quite busy city, so, cheap as I am, I walk the three or four blocks to the subway, and ride to work. On the way to the subway station, about a half block from my crumby little studio apartment, is an alleyway. This particular alleyway is always crowded with vagrants. After my first few months of passing by, they became part of the city backdrop and I could almost predict their motions. Begging for change one day, asking for food the next, and so on and so on. That was until the day after I ran out of weed.
I was making my way home one dreary and overcast evening, when I noticed a new face among the crowd of beggars. He seemed older, more haggard than the rest. He sat just outside of the alleyway, leaning against the brick front of one of the buildings. In his lap was a worn and stained cardboard sign asking one simple question, “GOT WEED?”
“No, but I fucking wish old man,” I thought, as I trudged along, “boy, oh boy, do I ever.”
As if picking up on this, the old man stood up. I could see that he had trouble doing it too. It took him a full thirty seconds or more to pull himself up from the sidewalk. I had almost passed him by and finished my journey home until I felt his boney old fingers gripping my arm. Such strength for such an old and gnarled hand! It froze me, dead in my tracks. Before I could even turn my head I heard him whisper in my ear, “Well, do ya there sonny?” His breath, hot and burning against my cheek, bringing with it a stench of something dead, something sour. “Do ya…..GOT WEED?”
Before I had even known I would say it, I replied, “No, but I got the need for the weed old man.”
“Good. Follow me,” he croaked into my ear, “Step into my quaint little office,” he said with a maniacal chuckle. At that he pulled my by my arm into the dark, wet precipice that was the alleyway, his “office.”
“Look mister,” I started, slightly scared, but curious just the same. “I ain’t got much money and I ain’t about to be dealing for nobody, so….”
“Hang on there son,” he said with a shit-eating grin, “I ain’t pullin’ yer leg none.” “I got some of the finest weed THIS world has EVER seen.”
“Really?” I asked, grinning myself. “So, what’s a guy like me gotta do to get that “good good” (air quotations) from a guy like you?”
He barked laughter at this, “You hu-,” he cleared his throat, “heads, always make me laugh with yer nonsensical names fer stuff.” “It’s quite simple actually,” he paused, “Just prick yer finger and drop a couple drops of yer life’s blood on this here paper, and you got all that you could ever want.”
Me being a man completely devoid of any kind of religious pretenses, I didn’t hesitate. “So, all I gotta do is drop a little blood on that old ass piece of dust you call paper and I get some good shit?”
“Yup! Best “shit” that you’ll ever see, and as much as you could ever want! HA!”
“Shit, sign me up old man!” and with that, my fate was sealed.
I did as he had asked and pricked my finger. Once I saw the blood beading up, I squeezed the tip and was careful to drop just two drops on his stupid old paper. After that he handed me a big ass sack of what looked like the dankest, most wonderful weed a guy like me could ask for. I couldn’t wait to get home and give it a test run.
As I turned to walk away, the old man called after me, “Thanks for yer business boy, come back any time, and tell yer friends to stop on by too!” Then he cackled and slapped his leg as if he’d just told the funniest joke known to man. Thinking back on it now, I guess he had……
I practically sprinted the rest of the way home, unable to curb my enthusiasm at getting high on what looked to me like the best weed I’d ever smoke. I rushed into my apartment, slammed the door behind me and ran to my bedroom to get “Big Bertha.” “Big Bertha,” was a big ass homemade bong that Ted and I had made somewhere during our journey as stoners. She had made her way to my place one night after Ted got so baked that he couldn’t even remember his address. From that point on, Bertha had stayed with me. Ted said something along the lines of, “It’s cool man. We made her what she is together, she just chose you in the end. It’s totally cool.”
I broke off a small chunk of one bud and dropped in Bertha’s empty bowl. “Well baby, here we go,” and with that, I put the petal to the metal and went for a ride. What…a…fucking…ride…indeed… I had only taken two gigantic hits before it all got intense.
As I sat there, coughing up a lung (metaphorically speaking, of course), and desperately trying to breathe, the world changed. First, it was like any other batch of pot, everything got all bright and shiny. Almost as if there were more light in the room. Then, as per usual, everything seemed to become more real, more meaningful. As if, until this moment, life had meant nothing and now, somehow, it all made sense. This is the point at which I normally say, “Fuck it Ted, I’m not high enough yet,” and would proceed to take a few more enormous bong hits, but that was not the case today.
“Naah man, c’mon dude, just sit and ride the wave with me bro,” and as I tried to comprehend what I’d just heard, I could see a figure sitting next to me on my couch, just within my peripheral vision. I screamed and jumped.
“What’s up bro!?” Ted asked all dopey and slow like his old self, you know…..before he DIED!
“Dude,” I croaked, simultaneously rubbing my eyes and questioning my sanity.
“Oh, don’t mind me man,” he said all nonchalant like, “I know, I know, I look like hell right?”
“Ted,” I whispered, “You’re dead man……months dead…..you can’t possibly be here….”
“Oh naw man,” he chuckled, “It’s cool bro, the old man told me you needed me, so, here I am.”
I couldn’t even try to begin to find any words to speak to the apparition that sat on my couch. It looked just like my dead friend Ted, but more dead. His skin was a muted gray color and there were patches of it missing. His hair was faded to a light gray, white in some places, with clumps of it missing. The skin of his face had dried to the point that it had started to pull away from his teeth and his eyes. It was like talking to some THING between a zombie and a mummy!
“Look man, I just came to tell you that you’re in a bad way,” the Ted-thing said.
“Wha-,” I gasped, “What do you mean,” I asked, in a mix of panic, confusion, and fear.
“Well, bro, it’s like this,” he started, “The old man told me to come here and guide you, but, I’m not sure that I trust him.”
“So then why come Ted?”
“For you bro,” he laughed, “why else?”
“Ted,” I sighed, “Look man, it’s been hard getting over your death and I just don’t think….”
“Yeah…” Ted urged.
“I just don’t think that I can handle this right now.” “I appreciate you coming to my rescue, but…”
“But what Jake, say it man!”
“But, I just….I need you to go.” “I need you to go Ted, so that I can grieve and mourn your loss.” “I love you like a brother and I always will, but, I just need you to go.”
“All right bro,” the Ted-thing said, “But I’m sure I’ll be back.” “Call if you need me bro, love you.”
At that, I awoke to the sun beaming through the windows, the alarm clock braying its wake up calls and showing the late hour of seven A.M. Shit! I had to be on the subway in 15 minutes and I wasn’t even dressed! I jumped up off the floor (what the fuck?!) and ran to the door. I sprinted all the way to the subway station and barely slid in between its closing doors. I had made it. The rest of my day went pretty well as expected, but my mind kept going back to that beautiful bag and Ted.
On the walk home, my mind was completely focused on the bag. Nothing else mattered to me. I had to get home and get my fix. When I reached my building, I leaped up the stairs to my apartment and slammed the door behind me without a second thought. Before I even settled in I had Bertha in one hand and the bag in the other. Next thing I knew…..I was “off to see the Wizard.”
The buzz hit me just the same as before. It felt so wonderful, so right, so comforting. This time Ted didn’t show up, but someone, some…..thing, did. HUNGER. INTENSE HUNGER. Bright, RED, and consuming my mind. I just had to eat…anything! I stormed my kitchen like a madman out for blood. Before I knew what was happening, I was sitting on my couch, crouched over what was left of a bucket of chicken from two or three days ago, chomping and slurping. In the middle of my gorging, a sound broke my frenzied concentration. It was Ted.
“Dude…I told you,” he said, dismayed.
“What,” I mumbled through a mouthful of cold, greasy chicken and…was that…bone?
“Dude, I told you he couldn’t be trusted.”
With that, he disappeared, and I continued to eat. The only thing that seemed to matter in this moment…FOOD! Next thing I knew, it was morning once again.
This went on for the next few weeks. I would come home, smoke, eat, and wake up. I started to think that the Ted-thing was just a figment of my imagination. He hadn’t shown up in a multitude of days, but, my bag was getting low. That night, on my walk home from work, the bag on my mind, I saw the old man again. This time, however, he looked younger, less haggard, more feral.
“So, sonny boy, what’d’ja think?”
“Man,” I started, “Shit BLEW MY FUCKING MIND MAN!”
“I told you,” he smirked, “But you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” Then he slid me another bag.
“But…” I tried.
He shook his head, “I told you,” he said, “Come back any time you need more.”
I headed home after that. Sure that I had the greatest hook up to ever exist and ready to smoke the biggest bowl I could pack. I did just that….why God….why did I do…..just…..that!? This time, the hunger was UN-bareable! I didn’t know how in the world I would ever make it stop. Just looking at the contents of my fridge, freezer, and cupboards….It didn’t seem possible. Then…Ted showed up, only this time….he looked MORE dead, MORE drained…..what could have happened?!
“Bro….” the Ted-thing croaked.
“Ted!” I shouted, moving toward him, “Long time no see man, what’s up!?”
“Oh I just came to tell you something,” the Ted-thing sighed.
“What’s up man….?”
“You remember…..you remember that old lady down the hall?”
“Yeah Ted, I remember, Ms. McKowsky, or something like that.”
“Remember when you moved in and she brought you those delicious brownies?”
“Fuck yeah man,” I said, remembering their moist, gooey centers.
“Just….sayin…..” then, the Ted-thing disappeared.
After that, I couldn’t stop thinking about Ms. McKowsky’s awesome homemade brownies. Just the thought of them made my saliva run and my stomach growl. When I say growl…I mean GROWL. Like an angry dog protecting its owner, GROWL. I would do ANYTHING to get those brownies. At that thought, I decided that I would just mosey on down the hall and see if I could score some. I left my apartment at about eight thirty and headed down the hall. I rang her doorbell and waited as patiently as I could muster. Ms. McKlowsky came to the door and looked through her peep hole.
“Yes…” she trailed off.
“Ms. McKlowsky, it’s me, Jake, from down the hall.”
“Oh hi Jake, is everything all right?”
“Yes ma’am,” I said, the hunger in my stomach gnawing at my very soul.
“Well then, son, how can I help you?”
“Well ma’am,” I said, manufacturing a chuckle, “I was just thinking about your wonderful homemade brownies and I figured…”
“I figured I might stop on by and beg you for some, if you have any,” I smiled.
“You’re in luck my boy,” she said, with a smile in her voice, “I just made a batch last night.” “Come on in and I’ll let you have some with a cup or two of tea.” “Maybe we could even sit a spell and shoot the breeze?” She said this last with a slight upturn in tone, indicating a question, as she took the chain off of her door.
“Ms. McKlowsky, I would be honored, but I must tell you…I’m oh so very….HUNGRY!”