"What the fuck are you trying to prove!?!?" Joline yells at me.
Frank slams on the breaks, the tires searing across the road as the car slams in to oncoming traffic. The right, front car window smashes; small flecks of glass rain across us.
"You all right, Frank?" I ask him, putting my hand on his shoulder.
"I'm fuckin' your savior."
"Haha, that's great, Frank," I say, "Yeah, you're okay. Keep driving." He completely ignored the other driver. His head was sticking out of his car, filled with wonder as to whether it was safe to exit the vehicle. At this moment, the phrase "Exchange insurance information with a driver you have an accident with" did not enter Frank's head. He kept driving. I wonder if the police were aware of our joy-riding yet. Better yet, I wonder where the checkpoints of the National Guard have been set in our city. Maybe this situation would look a bit less complicated if I covered some of the earlier ground.
Heroin and crack cocaine. Those were my two drugs of choice for a great while. As a young adolescent, a skumfuck really, I ruled these city streets. Everyday, I licked the sidewalk, and every night, I enjoyed some beautiful and mesmerizing experience that I knew my brain would refuse to memorize. I degraded myself endlessly for my addiction. I begged, I scammed, I borrowed, I stole. There wasn't a store in town that was out of my jurisdiction for being ripped off. And, it always seemed that I lived the life of a student majoring in philosophy every time that I told myself, "Life can be judged by the collective experiences of the person. And, in the end of it all, I can only say that I hope that I maximized my happiness in the most possible way." I'd talk about it, think about it, slam heroin in to my veins and felt like I was living it. I'm not addicted to drugs, I told myself; I am addicted to logic. That is the primary guiding force behind all of my use. And, if you think it's impossible for any junkie to be moved by these forces, then you might as well stop reading this story right now.
My friends, accomplices to the agenda of desires I have gained, were rather peculiar for the hobbies they came to adore. There was Joline. She worked as a high-echelon secretary, making 24,000 a year. Two thirds was spent on dope. The other part was split, 90% for rent and 10% for food. She lived a life of ramen noodles and dirty spoons used for cooking up, those little shiny pieces that bring us to reminisce about the finer moments of our lives. Her drug was heroin, and it was heroin all the way. Unlike myself, she worked, paid taxes, rented a home. Every morning after her shot, she dressed herself to look nice at work. Reasonable, logical, not your average drug user; and, if you're asking the United States government, there is no possibility of these two combining. I've even seen her reading books while high off her ass on heroin. She'd fumble around a bookshelf, pull out some Steinbeck novel, and sit. I've seen her fall asleep countless times. And, one of those times, I had the courage (and enough intoxication), to sit next to her, wrap my arms around her, and reach for sleep. But, nay, she awoke, and with unwarned, lazy eyes spoke, "What are you doing?" I only told her that it was a tender side of me, and that I didn't want sex, with the heroin coursing through my veins, with the speed of drug runners dodging the U.S. coast guard. She let out a beautiful sigh, allowing her glance to cross the wooden tiles of the floor, and repositioned herself... "Is it okay if you get off me now? I have a hard time sleeping with someone next to me..."
And then there was Frank. This man, who I've come to love and treat like a brother, whose friendship with me has opened up and created a jurisdiction of humanity I would die for and certainly would never rip off -- this man was a great person. But, his vices were different from our own. No, he was not a drinking man, or a gambling man, or even a skumfuck by any definition of the word. His drugs were those all-powerful, overly-intense psychedelics. LSD, AMT, DiPT, Psylocybe, Mescalin. For a very long time, combinational doses of these drugs were a favorite activity for him. He'd mix LSD with DiPT and sneak in to a rave, or mix up Mescalin pills and AMT pills, and take four pills that could be either. Then he found DMT, and eventually, 5-MeO-DMT -- his new loves. 5-MeO-DMT is psychedelic crack: a powerful rushing feeling full of hallucinations, lasting only 10 minutes. His drug use was very weird. The stimulation produced by these hallucinogens are very intense, powerful, and meaningful, especially with 5-MeO-DMT. Psychedelics seem to strip you of all your sense of being. I once saw Frank ask me to take his pulse, exclaiming, "Hey, I'm not dead, am I? Am I dead?" He'd reaffirm his seriousness about the matter again and again, and then after ten minutes, he'd ask me to take his pulse again. He might go off randomly at one moment, telling me, "I've lost my personality, my memories, my preconceived ideas, and I really feel scared that at any moment, my god will tell me that I have to go on living, forming new experiences, believing new ideas, gently holding the hands with meaning and hope..."
"I'm getting out of this car right fuckin' now!" she screams, "My life isn't worth this!"
"Fuck you, you're staying here, and I know that you know you're staying here," I say, "Frank, keep driving."
"Yes, sir, very good, sir," he says, as his eyes look as though they are to rip out of his skull.
When I think of these two people, individuals whom I have come to regard as the sole family of my life, it makes me ask myself questions; a true sign, my dear reader, of knowing good people as great friends. I wonder why certain people are attracted to certain drugs. It was one of my side projects, between scoring heroin and selling stolen cigarette cartons. The public libraries, sources of inspiration for the sleepy homeless and poor thinkers, provided me with my answers. Books on pharmacology and physiology told me that the parts of the brain altered by drugs are identical in all humans, with a 2% to 5% (and high as 10%) variation, depending on aspects such as genetics and upbringing. For a few moments, as the heroin was leaving my system and the cocaine started to penetrate the walls of a seriously deteriorating mucus membrane, I felt good about this side project. I read some other books that were taken from a sociological perspective, and while they did provide me with a wealth of information on the effects that drug use has on society and its members (personally and politically), they provided me with little information on the matter of drugs and the preference a personality takes towards them. I even read books that were anti-drug use, and that seemed just as confused as the rest in providing straight answers directly related to my topic. In the end, I found myself with a lot of scattered facts loosely related to drugs, people, and society, and a blank sheet to provide myself with the answer to.
The answer that I came up with is this... Every drug provides its user with the same effects relatively. And the difference between variations seems to be too small to take in to consideration. So, what have I decided to answer this high school essay with? I think of the matter of drug preference like this. Drugs are the same. People are different. People prefer different emotions, different feelings, different sensations. And, people have different coping ability. Some can cope with feeling sluggish, with feeling burnt out, with feeling fried, with feeling like someone beat the shit out of them. These are, essentially, just various types of hangovers, associating with alcohol, or amphetamine, or hallucinogens. Once a person desires a certain sensation and has a certain coping ability for a particular type of hangover, a relationship between drug user and drug is made. Some people have criticized this theory, mostly arguing that they don't agree with me on whatever retarded grounds: "You can't tell me why I have certain addictions, why I use certain drugs!" They regarded my theory as a type of personal attack on them, and -- honestly -- while the drug world might very well be filled with emotionally unstable people, I'd rather not surround myself with them. So, I have this crowd: Joline and Frank. Sometimes, there is someone I actually respect, even besides those two, who will argue with me about my theory. They will say that I oversimplified the arguments, that I didn't do enough research, that scientists take months to years to make a real medical discovery, and what I was doing was in a field a thousand times more complicated and draped in deceit a thousand times over. But, to all these arguments I am presented with, I can only say that this is the best, most-concise answer I have discovered. And, on top of that, it was this mini-project that made me feel like I was an average human being, who felt like gaining pleasure through meaningful exchanges, and not drugs. It felt good, but not good enough to give up heroin use.
"Get me out of this fuckin' car!" she screams.
"No!" I yell back, "It can't stop, just like the paths we've taken in this life cannot stop!"
The car slams in to a telephone pole. "Oh, god," Frank says, his head slowly falling back as tears drain down the side of his face, "The meaning, the purpose, the sheer humanity that flows through your veins when you do something good, when you do something that brings you close to family... In those past five minutes of my life, I was feeling every moment of my life in which I was deeply moved by the actions of others close to me, and the actions that I chose to take, multiplied by ten."
"Wow," I say, with a sloppy almost thoughtless grin (the grins that depend on one's emotion and not one's conditioned social etiquette), "Sounds like someone is ready to redose."
There were days in the city where I would wander around with a syringe in my pocket. I'd hum my little theory to myself as I walked through these towns, these cities, these villages I would one day learn to call my memories. Honestly, I could think of my theory as a satisfying little piece of knowledge, making me just another part of the human race, so to speak. Then, I would apply this theory to my friends. I finally returned to the question which had sparked my mini-project. Much like a satisfying and reward life, something that we could only hope for in our addictions, it was an interesting and moving journey, that brought more with it than I initially sought out -- and this was welcomed. So, I would ask myself... Why is Joline interested in heroin? What is her appeal to it? What emotion does she crave, that it provides? And, what coping ability does she possess that allows her to deal with the hangover effects of heroin? Normally, as a no-bullshit kind of guy, as a man who knows what he wants in life (dope and truth), I'd simply ask a person the question I wondered about them. But, these are personal questions, that people will simply put up barriers around when anyone pries in to them. Not because they're afraid of rejection, or because they think others will reply with disgust, or some other lame explanation that our century's psychologists have provided us with. People put up barriers around their emotions because they are afraid that they will look face to face with a monster, but the only reason it is different this one time is because they are hopelessly and dreadfully staring in to the mirror.
Joline lived life like she was a nurse helplessly and tirelessly applying gauze pads to a mortal wound. I know that somewhere, sometime, someone must have hurt her early in her life. Perhaps it was a boyfriend who turned his repressed desires in to a rage against women. Perhaps it was a father who turned "creating a better world for our children" in to physical and verbal abuse. The way people think goes through my head and all I can say is that we are a dying culture, a dying society... we kill ourselves cooperatively, and cannibalize everything that intimidates us. I wouldn't hate myself so much if I could honestly think I wasn't a part of these people around me. Except for Joline. You know, sometimes I think that maybe she wasn't hurt by a close one, or even by anyone. Maybe everyone rejected her, maybe her ideas went by without being awarded compliments, maybe her advances for friends or boyfriends were completely dismissed... maybe there was nothing for her to believe in when she reached the tender age of fourteen. That sort of inactivity at such a young age is almost the equivalent of the emotional destruction that can be caused by abuse. I wish that some brilliant physicist would be brilliant enough to build a time machine, that I would be stupid enough to think it was a generator worth enough cash to keep my high for weeks, and that by some fate of chance, I'd find myself in Joline's school. I'd be able to tell her that life is cruel, drug use is good, and she was the most beautiful person I had ever set eyes on.
"Please!!" Joline cries, "Stop this!"
"Can't you understand that these emotions, these sensations, these things that are coursing through our veins are things that make up our life, and you must accept that!?" I ask.
"Joline, you are a lovable creature!" Frank says, "Every man, who is a good man, wants you to feel like a good woman! PLEASE ACCEPT THIS!!" He swerves out of the way of an oncoming car.
"Is this what this is about?" Joline asks, "If this is something that needs to be discussed --"
"No!" I scream, "You are here in this car for the same reasons that I am here in this car! We are going to get our fix at the fuckin' heroin house! To drive there like sane and clear-thinking individuals is something completely contradictory to our nature!"
I imagine that if you were to line the walls of one room with all of the world's greatest philosophers, you would find yourself surrounded by men whose vices were chock full of drugs. If you even referenced their drug use in any way as a vice, they would either (1) quietly, and silently with pride, throw a glance to the floor and reply, "Yes, sure, it is a vice, but my dear friend, everything we do is a vice... To strip me of that is to strip me of what makes me human.", or (2) furrow their eyebrow, allow you three seconds to recover yourself with an apology, and once you didn't, they would, in a daunting and aggressive tone, reply with, "A vice is an activity that inhibits creative and productive growth. With that understood, my drug use is not a vice, but your inclusion to the human species is the vice of every member of that group." Thinking... It is a beautiful and wondrous activity, a fascinating moment to look upon ideas and flow through the motions of imagination. It is a process undertaken by the philosophers as much as it is by the laymen; the only true difference is that "established philosophers" are capable of expressing thoughts with unnecessarily complicated language. I see the world's philosophers as the addicts and casual users of the world's drugs. I see crack pipes hidden behind book shelves, marijuana bongs stashed away in reading rooms, bottles of ether lining desks reserved for poetry, syringes cleverly hidden in nighttime reading lamps... Thinking is a beautiful process. To multiply the beauty that is hidden in the crevices of these nerve impluses, we have used a substance that allowed us to think in many other ways, to experience memories, ideas, thoughts, and even psychosis in a way, a tone, and a means that is never available to us otherwise. We are the world's greatest philosophers -- to whom, honestly, I can only admit myself as a follower of; my drug use would qualify me as a leader, but I can't truly say that my thoughts are magnificent enough.
"The world is sharpened," Frank says, as I put my hand gently on Joline's. I am looking on to her eyes, and I think that she is at peace. I hope this lasts as long as possible.
"I see this lights flash at me and disappear behind me!" Frank says, drawing my attention, but not my hand off of Joline. "There... there are things... That affect your life. And... And!" he pulls up his index finger and wags it at us; he is a schoolteacher delivering a valuable lesson to us. "And, my dear friends! There are things that effect your life and if you did not have these things, then your life would be dull, without use, and worst of all... without meaning!" His head turns back around to watch the road and avoid hallucinated cars. I think I can feel his eyes welling up with tears.
Iím sure that Frank would qualify as one of the world's greatest philosophers, as one of the leaders of this undeclared, unorganized, and unofficial fellowship. In high school, Frank was the kid that other students made fun of, hurled insults at, and as you looked at the staunch and unmoving position of his body, the unwavering shoulders and the head looking straight forward, the eyes meeting his opponents -- you would see this, and without any figurative speech, you could literally see the insults smash in to him, exploding at their imminent destruction, their fragile and broken pieces literally rolling off. You would see him walk through those hallways like a ghost trying to escape the punishment of god. His past is a mystery, most of all to himself. Repressed memories combined themselves with LSD and an amphetamine addiction that last a year and a half. I can imagine him now as a high school student... You would see him sitting at the library, reading non-class material. Certainly not comic books. You would find him stuck in obscure books that were poorly translated, from German, Japanese, French, Italian. Not only that, but there was a cutoff point: anything that was not a major work in influencing society that was written past 1925, he refused to read; anything that was not a mediocre work in influencing society that was written by 1800, he also refused to read. The topics of these books ranged all over the fuckin' map: from philosophy and poetry to topics like anatomy and history. I think it is safe to say that for a very long time, Frank felt alone, and he felt that this situation was going to remain in his life as a concrete, permanent status quo.
Sure, Frank had a starting point in his life, the way all of us did. He had a family that treated him in a certain way, a school that conditioned him a certain way, certain mores of culture that influenced his ideas, and certain traditions of America, the ones that gave his subconscience ideals to strive for that he was never really aware of. In school, he managed to individualize himself the way any of us would. However, like most of us, it wasn't until he was free from the reign of his parents, free to make decisions for himself, that his character would genuinely start to develop. Even though he had only a high school diploma and the alternative to teacher recommendations (teacher warnings), Frank was given a position at a newspaper as a journalist. The paper was read by over 250,000 subscribers, so his paycheck (and therefore chemical habit) was secured. He was given the distinguished position of double checking resources and investigating reports submitted by fellow reporters. It was his rather impartial seeming personality that his higher-ups thought would guarantee unbiased and fair duty in his rather positioned role. He did well. Once he was caught sleeping in the lounge. After that, he set up a hammock in the supplies room. As what he would call "a full grown adult and average member of the community," Frank fell in love with another man. If ever asked by those members of the straight community, whose brazen questions were motivated by sexual interest as much as by bigoted prejudice, Frank would say to his inquirers, "The human body does not vary greatly between male and female. If you fall in love with a person's mind, then you can learn to accept and love their body, whatever it is." Some of the people who asked him these questions would reply with a kindness, some with a derogatory insult, and finally, a very few with a sexual offer -- to which he would reply, "I am complimented, but there is really only one man that I want." As far as his answer about loving a male body because he fell in love with a male mind, I don't really believe it. It's a good argument, of course, because it focuses around the idea that a person's mind is more important than the highly artificial, varying body. But, I really do think that he was already attracted to males before.
I am flown across the car as Frank skids across the guardrail of a tight turn. Sparks are filling the air in a beautiful display as Joline's eyes are filled with terror and my own with suicidal amazement.
"Sorry! Fucking sorry!" a scream echoes to us from the front seat as I hold on to Joline and try to calm her. The car stabilizes and I start stroking her hair, exchanging a gaze with her, trying to be romantic and beautiful in a passionate light.
"No!" she says, pushing my hand off of her body, "The fuck are you doing!? You want to get intimate with me, while you fuckin' feed Frank a constant dose of hallucinogens! You're fucking reckless and you're going to kill us all!"
"I love --"
"Fuck your love!" she screams at me, "You're disrespecting me in the greatest way by fuckin' ignoring my wishes that I am telling you!" She was exploding from the inside. I really think it is about time.
His name was Jeffrey, and Frank was absolutely in love with him. He was never the type to deliver his love in a conventional form, or to act in any meaningful way that resembled convention. It most certainly wasn't the fear of using the word "love" with loved ones, a typical bigotry of American fathers. In fact, he told Jeffrey that he loved him many times. That was a simple gesture, and the easiest one to offer. I've been relayed stories of Frank and Jeffrey. I've heard that Frank would often times make roses out of paper and tape them to love notes. On occasion, he would write poetry and tie it to a strawberry. There were affectionate touches, sex in the living room, bear hugs, everything. It was probably his wonderful relationship that made it so hard on him when Jeffrey told him that he was seeing another man and moving on. It was hard. I imagine it was harder to see such a strong man on the inside crumbling. That's where Joline comes in. She comforted him in his time of need. They were co-workers at the same office building. While at first they maintained a relatively professional relationship between each other, not at all unlike the basic relationships that exist between other co-workers, Joline would discover him crying. Yes, dear reader, there was conversation, hugging, and many exchanging of a story, those little anecdotes on how we relate to the world and interpret the way others feel. They soon became friends. I'm not really sure what this involves. Being the yuppies that they both are, I imagine this included things such as barhopping, the proverbial "clubbing," dining out, late nights with take-out food and rented videos. How long this went on, I'm not too sure either. I only know that the day had already come, where Frank walked in to the supplies closet for his nap one afternoon when he had discovered his friend Joline shooting up. Being the upfront kind of person that Frank is, he asked two questions: "Do you enjoy the way you're living like this? And, if not, do you want me to help you recover?" She gave him two negative answers.
I enter stage right. It was at about this time that I was introduced to Frank, who would introduce me to Joline. She had sent her friend out looking for a good heroin contact. I was the regular street person, treating crime like it was a living, and I had established contacts in every field of illegal lifestyles. Perhaps it was the currency of the underground: drugs of every type, scent, and degree. Or, perhaps the economy for illegal weapons would find a boom next week when congress publishes a press release that possessing a firearm increases your safety. One hundred years ago, hustlers like me were the ones bringing profits back to the clandestine porn studios. Today, we work for illegal laboratories and growers, spreading intoxicants across the land, and making a little happiness and cash in the process. I did hook up Joline with a steady heroin connection, one which always brought me great dope whenever I had the cash. It also came to my knowledge from our conversation that Frank was a 5-MeO-DMT junkie, and a junkie without an available source for his substance. His pleasure item, being relatively new and unknown, was difficult to obtain on the streets -- hence, it was why he never took to shuffling through the ghetto, in search of this all-powerful intoxicant. The few times he did come across it, there was never a stable or reliable connection for it. I brought to these two people the things that would make their lives complete: a steady and constant flow of drugs. It was this introduction that created a long-lasting relationship between all of us.
"Stop this! I am demanding you to stop!" she screams at me as the car scrapes another vehicle of oncoming traffic.
"Why!?" I scream back, "This has to be the most exciting and thrilling moment of your life!"
She punches me across the face, causing me to black out for an entire two seconds. I open my eyes, and feel the soft, warm trickle of blood from my nose. She sits across from me, giving a look that makes me think she is as amazed as I am.
The next question that one might want to know, so that their reasoning abilities are capable of putting the whole story together, is what happened two hours ago to bring us to this situation. Why is it that we have piloted our vehicle with a great man and a powerful, drunken vice? Why is it that she screams at me to stop? The honest inhabitants of the world will always ask why, but it is only those patient enough to listen who will find themselves with the answers. Two hours ago, I sat talking to Joline...
"I love you," I said.
She put her hand on mine, and looked at me, eye to eye. "I know you do... I think I've always known," she said, "With you, little signs always show that let me know how you feel." Her remarks first warmed my heart, but then it was the hesitation that brought me to sadness. My enthusiastic and bold eyebrows surrendered to the pressures of reality. "But," she said to me, "I don't think I can love you." She explained to me, that it was our radically different backgrounds that kept us separate -- she felt that it was inevitable one day, for me to feel a pain, a misery, an obscure and unknowable suffering. She felt that she couldn't ever understand me completely... At least, that's what she said. I knew what the translation of her words to objective ideas was. She didn't want to be in love with a person who has spent a great portion of his life running across the streets of America, never satisfied to call one city home. I know she felt this, because she used the same words as everyone else who told me the same excuses.
Some time would pass. I was remaining relatively silent, allowing my thoughts to brood and mix with imagination. The emotions of sadness and hopelessness collided, breeding some new feelings, spawning a little bit of rage, a small amount of disappointment, and an enormous amount of resentment. I felt like I was bleeding all over. At the same time, my mind reacted to this rejection the same way it reacted to any other. My mind would try to use logic to examine the moments. It would deliver judgments such as, "She has a right to turn down your affections," and "There are so many others out there that you can learn to love," and "It's just a girl... there is so much more to life than just her." Sneaking between these half-assed arguments, there was lingering some statement about how cocaine and heroin were good enough to resolve any bitterness. I read these thoughts over and over, and as much as I tried to convince myself of their value, I could only feeling cynicism growing stronger and stronger.
So, yes... We loaded up in the car that night, the crack mobile as we affectionately called it, and went on our way to pick up some dope. It was rather routine. Maybe what happened to me during the start of our flight was what psychologists refer to as "temporary insanity." I'm sure a deep, psychoanalytic session would reveal something like, "pervasive trends of psychosis and at least a half dozen personality disorders." Thoughts bounced around in my head, and then I leaned over the seat to Frank. I held out a pipe loaded with 5-MeO-DMT, and "Hey, you want to smoke some shit?" He exchanged a view with me, and then hit it. The light turn green, Joline realized what had just happened, and the car's engine started to scream. I suppose, to completely and impartially express what I was feeling for those few moments, I just suppose that I felt like not making sense. I felt like breaking all the rules, to completely disavow everything I had believed about life, about dealing with other people, about the ones I've loved. I needed to taunt the rules of life and death, to challenge these experiences I made long ago that have brought me to this point in existence. For just a few moments, I felt like I needed to act without regard...
"FRANK!!!" she screams and looks forward. I follow her gaze, looking through the front window. A tractor-trailer is only ten feet away from us...
Maybe I was lucky. I had a three second warning that I was about to die, and that in those three seconds, I had better think about the last things I want to remember. I died, but Frank and Joline lived without serious injury. That might just very well be the price of acting without regard. At this point, I ask myself questions like, "What was the point of all of this? How did this all start? Where was the starting point of this process that brought me here?" I still ask myself these questions. I wish I could tell you what I thought about them, but there is always a constraint upon writing. It is not that there is obscure writing, or that only vague expressions would be accurate enough to describe what I feel. There is no unclear writing; there are only unclear ideas. I had my last final moments of rebellion against everything I believed. Perhaps that is why that the answers I have now are so confusing.