All my Friends are Dead
The apartment is freezing. We hadn’t paid the electric bill in 3 months. There are more important things to spend our money on, mainly drugs. Jimmy should’ve been back three hours ago with more smack. That will warm us up alright. That will do the trick nicely. Lonnie, and Jimmy, Alice, Andrea and me won’t even notice it’s freezing anymore, as soon as he gets back. Goddamn Jimmy, we shouldn’t have sent him, motherfucker always takes too long. He gets distracted, plays with puppies and shit along the way, even though it’s February and cold as fuck outside. Goddamn it Jimmy, where the fuck are you man? Alice starts to cry in the bedroom. She is bad off. Probably twitching and shaking and drooling too. Snot running down her pale face, getting stuck in her blonde hair, and running off her chin. Her and Lonnie and Andrea are huddled in the bathroom for warmth. Me, I am sitting by the window. Cold don’t bother me much anymore anyway. No fucking heroin, that bothers me. Jimmy in a park somewhere chasing a fucking kitten, that fucking bothers me. The pipes start creaking, fucking hell, it is fucking cold outside. I find some bologna in the fridge that ain’t too old and eat it, not that I’m hungry, but it is something to do, get my mind off it for a second. My hands start to shake, can’t tell if it is the cold or the smack talking.
Jimmy Kyle had been standing in the same spot for two and a half hours. He just didn’t get these guys. He has picked up a lot, from different guys too. These fucking Polish dudes are the worst. No fucking schedule. You have a product, and people wanting to buy, you stick to a fucking schedule. What ever happened to customer service, man? Too bad the Jamaicans were dry. Then he would be back at home, where at least there was no wind, and he would be flying free; too fucked up to care about no electricity. Just him and his friends, floating off together into a beautiful dream. His hands were starting to go numb, but he couldn’t lose his spot, not now, not after all this. Fucking Polish were pricks making him wait like this. He didn’t even look at the other junkies huddled there; didn’t need to know them anyway. He already had friends. Big Mack opened the door, and waved Jimmy inside with a grin full of teeth. About fucking time. Jimmy’s insides were starting to itch, and he couldn’t feel his lips.
The apartment smelled like dead things, that sickly sweet odor of decay. Jimmy choked back some vomit and stared at the yellowing linoleum floor that was littered with vials, cigarette butts, and empty beer cans. No eye contact. Answer yes, don’t say no. Big Mack sat on a moldering green tweed sofa and picked up a shiny 12 gauge and sat it in his lap like a dick. Caressing the black barrel in long slow strokes, his stare burning down deep into Jimmy. Big Mack motioned for Jimmy to sit in a rickety plastic chair across from him, and smiled. Jimmy began to feel hot, and began to sweat, eyes anywhere other than Mack and his gun. He noticed a large reddish brown stain on the floor under the sofa, barely spilling out into visibility. Killed some fucking rats, is all Mack would say. Time began to stretch out for Jimmy. His hands and legs started to shake. He needed a fix. Mack just kept staring at him, and stroked the barrel of the shotgun. Tim finally showed up, out of the bedroom, wearing nothing but a stained pair of grey boxers. Jimmy got a quick glance inside and noticed a dark haired girl, naked, lying face down on the mattress. He thought she was bleeding.
“You want some shit my friend?” Tim’s voice snapped Jimmy’s attention towards the task at hand.
“Yes,” he wished his voice didn’t sound so shaky. He wished his hands weren’t so shaky.
Tim opened a drawer behind the kitchen counter producing a bag full of red capped vials. Jimmy gave him most of the cash he had, 300 dollars, and got the fuck out of the apartment as quickly as his wobbly legs would allow, his jacket pocket clinking the red capped vials together on his way back outside, to the cold. He decided to cut through the park, it would take less time, and his friends needed him right now.
Andrea needed to get out of the apartment, the sooner the better. Fuck, why hadn’t she gone with Jimmy? At least you could talk to Jimmy, the rest of them, not so much. Lonnie and Alice were making her teeth stand on edge. She just kept sobbing, and he just kept whispering fucking bullshit platitudes to her, over and over, the same tired lines.
“It’s gonna be okay baby, I promise, don’t worry, Jimmy will be back soon.”
Fuck that. None of them were okay. Not for a long fucking time. At least Andrea was able to realize that. Her breath puffed out of her mouth in the cold air. She got up and grabbed her coat which had been unceremoniously dumped over the bath tub. She smelled horrible, they all did, but there was no way to take a hot shower, and they were already freezing in the apartment. Just around the block a couple times, away from the sobbing for a little while; she needed to get lost in her own mind for a bit. Andrea tried to ignore the roaring hunger in her belly, and the dreaded itch of addiction trying to claw its way out from behind her eyes. Jimmy should be back soon, and then things would be okay again, at least as well as they could be right now. Andrea drew her hood up over her pale, freckled face, and tried to shrug off February’s cold wind. For perhaps the thousandth time this week, she told herself she was going to walk straight to the rehab clinic, no more fucking around with this shit. She couldn’t even cry about it any longer. The promises were empty, the words rang hollow in her head. Just another lie she told herself, to try to make things better. It never worked; maybe it did at some point, long ago. She was starting around the block for her second time when she heard a solitary crow up in some barren tree. Tenacious little fuckers, crows, and goddamn smart too. What the hell is it doing out here, alone, in the middle of winter? Can’t be that smart then, she bitterly thought. She imagined herself as a bird then; flying away to some warm far-off place, an island. No drugs, no platitudes, just white sand and warmth, and maybe one of those drinks that comes inside a coconut husk and sex with island boys too. The crow stopped calling, and turned its head to look at Andrea. Its black intelligent eyes froze her in place. I would trade places with you in a heartbeat. Andrea let out a long sigh; the sun was starting to set in the west. Jimmy should be back soon; she had lost track of time out here. How long had she spent staring at that damn crow? Andrea turned to head back to that damn cold apartment and her damn cold friends. They probably had heroin by this point at least. Andrea looked over her shoulder for one last glance towards the crow. It was still there, staring right at her, and silent. She never even heard the moving van jump the curb behind her.
Lonnie didn’t know what to do. Alice was a wreck. She had started to shake violently about 15 minutes ago, and she just kept crying. He had been trying to cheer her up, but it wasn’t working. She withdrew worse than any of them did. Lonnie supposed that meant she needed it the most. She was so beautiful when she was high. She sang for them in a clear voice. Sometimes Lonnie thought that helped him to forget better than the heroin did. After Alice sang, she would be silent for hours, just staring off into space. He hoped it was someplace better than what she had left behind; Alice didn’t like to talk about it, but Lonnie gathered that it wasn’t a very good place. Hell, none of them had come from a very good place. They had all found each other in the midst of escaping whatever hell they were bound to before. The most ironic thing about it, and Lonnie knew this deep down inside of himself, was that in trying to escape, they had all ended up binding themselves to a much greater hell. The drugs had helped for a bit, but now it wasn’t escape; it was simply getting by. He was surrounded by his friends yet utterly alone, more alone than he had ever been in his whole life. Alice stopped crying for the time being, and he could see down her shirt. Lonnie thought maybe he should try to fuck her. They had all fucked each other at some point. He supposed it stopped meaning anything a long time ago. He knew she would let him. Instead, he just draped the blankets around her again, trying to keep her warm. He figured that didn’t mean anything either, by this point in time. Mostly Lonnie just wanted to cry, just like Alice, but he was trying to be strong for her right now. Or rather, he was just trying to be strong for himself. Not an easy thing to do coming off of heroin. He wanted someone to talk to so badly. He had listened to all of them plenty. They never seemed to hear him though. Fuck. Stop that bullshit, man. This is the best it’s gonna get. They aren’t bad people. He couldn’t blame anyone except himself. When it came down to it, this was his choice. If he really wanted to be somewhere else, all he had to do was get up and leave, right? He didn’t figure anyone would be there, even if he was sober. This might be a lie, but at least it was a pretty one. At least it was his. Goddamn it Jimmy, where are ya brother? Can’t take much more of myself. Come on Lonnie, close your eyes and breathe. The headache will go away. Maybe if I just had someone to hear me. Maybe I should fuck Alice.
It wasn’t as bad any more. The worst of it was past Alice hoped. She did her mental trick, the one she had done since she was a child. She pretended she was a turtle, and she crawled back inside the safety of her shell. Everything was so intense on the outside. Everything hit her hard, colors, lights, sounds. She could feel Lonnie’s erection through her jeans; that did as well. She stifled a giggle, still finding it weird despite herself, and despite the years. Heroin blunted the intensity of life. It made things bearable. She loved it, couldn’t get enough. It let her float like a ghost. It helped her forget for a little while, who she was, what she had done, the things she had seen. How could people think it was bad? They had never seen the world the way Alice had. Maybe then they wouldn’t judge her so harshly. Alice was a turtle, ducking her head back inside the blankets, her shell. The shakes were coming on again and she needed to retreat. Her shell was hard. Nothing could get through it.
Almost home. Fucking a, Jimmy Kyle was almost home. And he had a pocket full of the good shit, he could feel it. The Polish were disgusting, but they had the good shit. His friends were counting on him, and he wasn’t going to let them down. Jimmy Kyle was in such a rush he didn’t notice the ambulance, or Andrea lying on the sidewalk, broken, in a pool of her own blood.
“It doesn’t matter. We will save her share for her. She knew you were coming back Jimmy. It is her fault she isn’t here now. We were really starting to feel it over here.”
I watched, removed, from the kitchen chair. The fucking junkies, my friends, begin preparing for their fix. Andrea’s vial is secured, nice and snug, in my jacket pocket. I am fiddling with mine, anticipating the high. I hear Jimmy tell the others not to take too much, to save some for later. Those fucking junkies always take too much though, especially Alice, and then they expect the rest of us to share, but I never do. It isn’t my fault they get too greedy at first. I like to spread mine out, make it last, that way I know I always have some, just in case. The last batch we had was pretty good, so I use the last of it for most of this shot. Save this new stuff for next time. That’s what I always did, I just knew I couldn’t let the others know; they would never leave me alone about it. I start getting my shot ready, and watching the others in the bathroom with disinterest. They don’t even realize I am there any longer. A sick light has returned to their eyes. We are all greedy, and we hunger, and it is about to be sated for a little while. I watch them divvy up their drugs. Fucking hell, they are going to take a lot, even Jimmy. Should have figured, Jimmy always talked big, but when it came down to it he had no balls. I go through the process in the kitchen, but still watching them. They shoot together. I see their eyes roll back in their heads. Lonnie gets an erection. I slide the needle in, feel the squirt inside my veins. It is an icy stab, spiking its way towards my heart. I hear Alice say holy fuck that’s good. Then it is all fire, everywhere inside of my body. I hear Jimmy puke in the bathtub. I think Lonnie is screaming. The seconds stretch out towards infinity. They become years and years and years, full of pain, and fire. My guts are twisting ropes. I am on fire. I puke right there on the kitchen floor. I want to rip out my insides. I glance towards the bathroom, I think Lonnie puked blood. I try to stand, but end up collapsing in my own vomit. Blackness.
Where the hell am I? I fade in and out. Voices chatter away. I hear the robotic buzzing of machines. I feel like shit. Like my insides are all hollowed out, and have been replaced with dust. There are bright lights all around me. No one seems to be paying me any mind at all. My mouth is dry, and my lips are chapped. I am warm. I fade into blackness again.
“…are a very lucky young man.” I think he is talking to me. A doctor, with a nurse, and a policeman. Funny, I don’t feel fucking lucky. They are staring down at me. Hospital noises fade into my hearing. I realize I am strapped to a bed.
“You have been in and out for almost a week. The heroin you took was cut with strychnine. There has been a rash of it recently. You are lucky to be alive.
Motherfucking Polish. Fucking pieces of shit.
I manage to croak out a request for water. A week. At least the worst of the withdrawals will be over. A nurse gives me a glass of cold water which I gulp down. I still feel warm. I haven’t been warm in so long.
“Your parents have been notified. They haven’t responded yet.”
Figures. Would have been surprised if they had bothered.
“This man here is Detective Morris. He wants to ask you a few questions. You have been cleared of any wrongdoing, aside from the possession charges.”
My eyes narrow. Wrongdoing for what I ask. I feel a tightness in my chest. My throat feels like it is closing up. I begin to sweat. I want to piss. I am having difficulty breathing. I haven’t been warm in so long.
“Your friends, they didn’t make it. They took too much, and with the amount of heroin all of you had been taking, everyone was really weak. The only thing that saved you was the smaller amount you took. Your downstairs neighbor heard someone screaming and called the police. They were close by. Another of your friends, an Andrea Barton, had been struck, and killed by a moving van outside of your apartment building.”
Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck. Aww…….goddamnit. No. They got out. Now I am all alone. The doctor and the nurse left. The policeman took a seat and began asking me questions I couldn’t really hear. I answered him by rote, like I had a thousand times before. My mind was somewhere else. It was flying away into pitch blackness, alone and lost, with no one there to help it along. It was plummeting. It was in freefall. I felt sick. They all left me. All I could think about was getting the fuck out of this place, and getting really wasted. It was too much right now. The interview kept dragging on. I think I started to cry at some point. I think I tried to throw up too, although my stomach was empty. Finally the policeman left. Said he would come back in a couple of days. Told me to get better. I laughed at that part. Bitter and full of venom and self-pity. I was alone now. Never in my life did I ever want to be the one who lived. Never in my life did I want to get to the point where all my friends were dead. But now here I am.