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Tuesday, April 26, 2016


I got a lot of love and messages from that last story and just wanted to say Thanks!  Sorry I don't answer all your emails or messages but I totally appreciate all the encouragement and love.  You guys totally make my day.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Why I Wear Pink Socks

I stare passively at panes of blurry light.  As my eyes focus, I decide I hate alcohol for the 8,000th time.  Why do I drink so much?  Because I'm an alcoholic.  Because it's my day off.  Mystery solved.  I shut my eyes, groan and roll over but it's useless.  Sleep and I never got along.  Time to return to the rutted track.  Time to feel normal.

I keep the drugs in my truck.  Little blue pills.  Not the best spot but considering my wife, probably the safest.  I pocket two pills and ignore Ugly Bob who yowls at me through the windshield.  A quick glance at his bowl shows scattered cat food.  The chickens were here and they stole his breakfast.

"You smell, you're weak and you're an embarrassment to yourself", I tell Ugly Bob.  

Inside, I pour a cup of lukewarm coffee and use a silver dollar to crush a pill into three lines. SNORT.  The first one tickles my brain with electric anticipation.  SNORT.  The second one rights all alcoholic wrongs.  SNORT.  The third one cracks open the door.  Just a peek.  Euphoria.  I swallow the other pill.  In twenty minutes, the phoenix shall rise.

Much better.  I let Ugly Bob inside, pet him for awhile and feed him.  Then I find myself staring at the washing machine.  Hmm.  Our power bill has been huge lately.  I look at the washing robot.  Why does my wife do such tiny loads?  What is this dividing clothes nonsense?  I take the whole basket of clothes and shove it into the machine.  I add soap and punch START.  

That clean, pharmaceutical oxy rush is rippling through my body.  Just enough to make the morning softer.  Serene.  The hangover is long gone and my spirit hovers above the flesh.  Eating sounds pleasant so I fry an egg and make toast.  After I eat, I take the clothes from the washer and place them in the dryer.  Some clothes are pink.  Well that's kinda weird.  But right fucking now, life feels good.  So I go with it.

The high swarms in my mind like tiny bees seeking tasks.  So I clean up the kitchen, put away the dishes and take apart my watch.  Ugly Bob crouches on the table and watches the tiny screws bounce across the table.  I'm disassembling the waterproof housing when my phone buzzes like a disturbed insect.  Ugly Bob and I watch it vibrate across the table.  It is not my wife, so I let the phone goes to voicemail.  The phone display say's it's Rick Cody who leaves a message.  Rick?  Rick and I meet on Thursdays to buy oxycodone.  I put down the watch.

"Heeey..." comes Rick's voice.  "I have a couple questions.  Call me back, buddy."

Ah, Rick.  My socially acceptable friend.  The one the wife likes.  Rick works for the county as an environmental planner.  Everyone loves him and he's thinking of running for city council.  He'd be perfect for it.  But our friendship is just a figment of the moth's dream.  Sure, we meet once a week and have some drinks.  But we're really only there to meet Trina.  She sells us thirty Roxicodone 30mg pills for $500 a pop.  To say Rick and I are great friends is like saying Trina enjoys our company.  Never mind the $1,000 in cash she pockets every week.  The dryer buzzes.  I open it.  The clothes are still damp.  And pink.  I close it and walk away.

"Hey Rick" I say into the phone while studying the shiny watch guts spewed across the table.  "What's up?"

"Hey man.  A little late notice, but how about lunch?"

"Is this about your boat?" I ask.  Boat is our clever code for pills.  

"Nah, I just wanna talk."

Hmm.  I gather the watch pieces into a pile.  My instinct is to push off the lunch.  I have pills to last me to Thursday.  But something is happening...I can feel it.

"Ok" I agree.  "The usual?"


I meet Rick at the Harbor Grill.  The same dive where we usually meet our dealer.  The Saturday morning drunks are watching college football teams on TV.  Outside is the endless Pacific Ocean.  A soul defying shade of blue spreads across the planet.  

"Know anything about drug tests?" asks Rick with a faint smile.  

I sigh and watch a family of sunburnt tourists pick a table in the harsh, tropical sunlight.  I look at Rick.  His face is relaxed.  Numb.  I know his other face too.  The one he wears when Trina's running late and our conversation grows stale.

"Not really" I shrug picking up my beer.  All I know is I've failed a bunch of them.  

Rick cracks his neck as a waitress wobbles by with a tray of cheeseburgers.  He stops her with his smile, "When you have moment Lani, can you get us another pitcher?"

"Sure guys!" smiles the waitress.  Rick is the kind of person that knows everyone's name.  He's forever bumping into folks and asking them about their families or their jobs or whatever the hell people talk about.  

"What happened?" I ask him.

"I don't know" smiles Rick wistfully.  "I mean, I have an idea but I think I'm fucked.  They made me take a piss test yesterday.  Heard a lot of words like: zero-tolerance, county policy and random screening.  It's bullshit."

"Go to your doctor and get a prescription-"

"Hah!  We think alike" laughs Rick.  "I went right after I pissed and waited four hours.  Back pain.  Thing is, I was on more than a 100mg of oxy when I tested and my doc wouldn't even give me hydros.  She starts with ibuprofen or naproxen."

"Naproxen?" I say with disgust.  "What are you gonna do?  Appeal?"

"I read my contract.  Baring a miracle, they totally got me" says Rick.  "If my fucking brain had been working, I would have quit."

I think about this.  Yeah.  You get your references and the time you put in counts.  Get fired and the last thing you want is a prospective employer calling.  Sure there are laws but junkies seldom sue after getting slandered for failing drug tests.  Rick looks at me seriously.

"I've been slipping.  I know it.  Stupid little things.  Drove my Land Rover for a week before noticing the oil cap on the windshield.  And work?  I take my liberties.  Shit, looking back, I was just giving them more rope to hang me."

"You've been there for what?  Three years?"

"Four" nods Rick solemnly taking a gulp of beer.

"Appeal!" I urge.  "What can it hurt?  Say you need some time to sort stuff out.  Your professional record is good right?"

"Solid" shrugs Rick.  "Most county people don't give two fucks about anything but their pension.  I started the commission to halt coastal development.  I started beach clean up days for school kids.  I did good."    

"So appeal."

"Nah" smiles Rick looking at me like a child.  "All we have is our reputation.  Do I want to be labelled an addict?"

I sigh because it's all true.  I surreptitiously chew a pill while the waitress brings us mahimahi sandwiches.  The semblance of a solid, forthright work history is more important than being competent.  Rick is both.  But he also needs his 200-300mg of oxycodone a day to avoid spiraling into hell.  His magnetic personality and gregarious nature would collapse into manic depression, burning incontinence, sleep depravity and endless agony.  

I know this because history is circular.  

"We on for next Thursday?" I ask and instantly regret it.  Thursday is when we meet our dealer.  Regular as church.  But Rick is wolfing down his sandwich and seems unfazed.  

He nods, "Of course."

In the end, my wife came home and discovered my watch and laundry attempt.

"What is this bullshit?" she demanded.  "I told you to pay the guy at the watch place.  And you're lucky I like pink bras.  Separate colors!  Remember?"

No.  I don't recall that.  But time passes.  Like Rick, I am noticing subtle changes in life that illustrate drugs are bad.  Yesterday, I had to re-park my car after I opened the door during a windy day and it smashed into a coworker's BMW.  I had a boss meeting at work about leaving early.  At first I was indignant.  But hell, it's true.  Roxicodone says leaving early is ok.  Fuck it.  I just do what every other motherfucker in the office wants to do. 

Rick moved back to New Jersey.  From social media, I watched him lose his wife and pass his post office exams.  Maybe he'll do good there.  I wonder if he misses his old life?  I wonder how much he pays for oxy?  But we never talk again.  Rick disappears into the digital Darkness.  


Friday night tacos at Los Portales.  Our family tradition.

"Is this your sophisticated lesbian look?" asks my wife.  Her eyes sparkle mischievously at me.

"What?" I ask confused.  I smile like a fool because I'm high and realize I'm missing something obvious.  

"Daddy's wearing pink socks!" laughs my daughter.

I look down.  I'm dressed like a man who doesn't have a chance.  Sensible shoes, pink socks, black jeans and an octopus t-shirt that says, 'Who Wants A Hug?'.  Jesus.  Did I really wear this today?  I don't remember...but it was casual Friday.  Wow.

"Finish up guys.  Movie starts at 8:15" smiles my wife.  Our daughters start wolfing down their nachos and quesadillas.  "What time is it?" she asks me.

But I don't know.  My socks are pink and my watch is broken.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Liars On Dope





Jesus!  Answer the fuckin-

"Hey girl!  Pick up!  Yo, yo, yo-"

From bed, I can hear Iona yelling into our answering machine.  I sit up and look at the clock.  2:44pm.  Time to get up.

"What?!" demands Kym into the phone.  "Really?  Wow.  Ok.  Thanks sis..."

I listen to them chatter in a mixture of sister gibberish, English and other languages while yawning and looking for clothes.  Whenever Kym stops speaking English, she's either emotionally disturbed or plotting something.  I push the thought out of my mind and select clothes from the mostly clean pile.  Through the open curtains, I can see a slice of marble gray sky between buildings.  The glass pane rattles from the winter wind.  Kym materializes in the doorway wearing nothing but a Bauhaus t-shirt.  It looks like a tiny, black witch dress.  Her pixie blond hair is wild like a dandelion dancing on the wind.  

"Morning" I smile pulling on a random t-shirt that smells ok.

"Hey" she responds crossing her arms and hugging herself.  "I made some toast."


Behind Kym's blank face, I can feel her wheels spinning.  Plans are forming behind blue eyes.  She stares at me like a sorceress from ages long gone.  

"Was that Iona?" I ask.


"What'd she want?"

"Nothing.  How much oxy is left?" asks Kym.

"I don't know" I respond pulling on my jeans.  "It's on the dresser."  

But of course I know.  There are seven 30mg pills in the bottle.  And four stashed in my jacket.  Kym walks over to open the bottle.  She works tonight and oxy is her drug of choice for coffee customer service.  Lately, I have been using oxy at school to stay alert and socially engaged.  But in reality, oxy is just a buffer.  Kym and I are shameless heroin addicts.

"That's it?" she frowns.  "Can you get more?  I need like three tonight and want some tomorrow."

This is why I hide pills in my jacket and heroin in my boot lining.  I know Kym's animal well.

"I'll ask Ari.  We have lab on Monday."

"Did Jase leave anything?" she asks.  She means heroin.  Kym unconsciously reaches up and slips her hand into her hairdo.  I look at the trail of holes in the crook of her arm as she smoothes her spiky, platinum blond locks.

"Besides the coke you borrowed?" I ask casually.  

"Oh jeez!  We're all good!  I got him that fucking espresso machine he wanted.  Do you know how much those things cost?  Trust me, he's ok with me taking a little taste" she sniffs.

"Any left?  I need a Good Morning line."

she responds staring pointedly at me.  Our eyes are like car headlights driving right at each other.  A game of chicken.  I look away as she twirls her hair and says, "We finished it last night." 

Kym is getting riled up.  We are talking around rude, unspoken truths.  This annoys her because everyone has their own versions of reality.  I get one line of coke for every three lines she snorts.  We both know this.  But switch uppers for downers, and you got me hoarding pills or shooting up in a bathroom alone.  Another path in the maze that defines our souls.  

"Ok" I say looking for socks.  I find a red one and a brown one.  Close enough.

"Is Rondo around?" asks Kym.

"No.  Him and Cammy went to Aspen to snowboard at his parent's lodge.  Remember they asked us if we could go?"

"Yeah, whatever" says Kym who does not snowboard.  "We gotta go to Dean's."

We did the last of the shitty black tar last night.  Nasty stuff.  You can't snort it.  It barely gets us high when we smoke it,so we are forced to inject it into our blood.  But this is an advanced capitalistic society.  Needles are free every Thursday.  The needle van trundles down the Van Ness and stops at all the convenient junkie streets.  But Dean?  Fuck.  I hate this part.

Dean is a dopefiend that lives in the Tenderloin with his dopefiend wife Jenny.  He is old.  Like older than 30.  Maybe even in his 40's, I don't know.  He's old.  Skinny dude with a bandana on his head like a TV wrestler.  He dresses like a heavy metal stoner and has a creepy crawly vibe.  He will always say something vaguely inappropriate when he sees Kym.

Last time it was, "Wow.  Girls only get a body like that from like, 14 to maybe 21.  Am I right?"

You can't call Dean.  No phone.  You walk down the street he lives on and hope you see him on his stoop or down the block.  The stoop is vacant.  On the stairs is a shivering, old black man who needs a winter coat.  Kym and I watch him pace to stay warm.  But a coat wouldn't warm that man's bones.  This makes me feel ill.  I hold Kym's hand.  Time passes.  We are about to give up when the door opens and two biker guys leave.  Dean stands there, surveying his spot.  The black guy rushes up.  But Dean spots us and walks past him.  

"What's up Kym?  What's up S- Hey!" yells Dean as the black man grabs his arm.

"I just need a half!  I been waiting for-"

"Get the fuck off me, Wendell!" yells Dean shoving the old man who bounces off the stair railing and collapses to the ground.  Dean looks at us and smiles.  "Guys!  Come up!"

Kym steps over the old black guy groveling on the stoop like this is totally normal.  Jesus.  How did my life end up with moments like this?  I can hear the old man sobbing as I step over him.  

"So what can I do for you two?" asks Dean magnanimously as he slams the door.  His house smells like cat shit and wine vomit.

"Two grams" I answer.

"How about three?" corrects Kym.

Dean stares at Kym.  People always stare at Kym.  Tall, long limbed but curvy like a pagan, fertility idol.  I should be used to this.  Kym is used to it.  But sometimes it is so very awkward.  Like now as Dean unconsciously fondles himself in front of us.  Kym ignores his old man leer and pretends to study the collection of framed, Def Leppard posters.  Dean's claim to fame, besides peddling shitty heroin, is he 
once was a roadie for a North American Def Leppard tour.  

"Three?" muses Dean seriously like we just asked him who should lead the free world.  "Ok.  Wait here."

We stand awkwardly near his filthy couch as he disappears down the hall.  Kym's face, since arrival, has been a mask.  It does not irritate, it does not provoke.  It's more like a prop to look at and admire.  It's the same mask she wears in bars.  
An irritated cough comes from the gloom.  Jenny always coughs, yet she smokes cloves.  Kym lights a cigarette.  We listen to Dean and Jenny bicker.

"Goddamnit Dean, no cigarettes inside!" coughs Jenny.

"Just shut up and hand me the damn bag!" growls Dean.

I look at Kym who shrugs.  Then she takes another drag and blows it down the hall.  Kym and Jenny never liked each other.  I want a smoke too but feel guilty taking a puff.  I think Jenny is just a crazy bitch based on her past behavior but who knows?  I'd feel shitty if she has asthma.  Kym holds the smoke to my lips and I look at her and shake my head.  She winks.

I take a drag.

"It's just the heater" whispers Kym.  "They leave it on all the time.  Dries the sinuses."  

"Sure" I exhale as Dean walks back into the room.

"Here you go" says Dean handing Kym three yellow balloons tied into tiny, yellow knots.

I pay him.  Kym takes the balloons, bends over and slips them in her purse.  

"Are you wearing panties?" asks Dean.  

Kym pops straight up as if electrocuted.

"Yes I am, Dean" she says flicking her ashes on his carpet.

"Sorry, but you have no lines.  And those are some tight, fucking jeans" he grins appreciatively.

"Thanks you" Kym answers.

"You are so exotic" continues Dean as if I am not here.  

I always wonder what am I supposed to do in these situations?  Mock him?  Agree?  Punch him?

"Well, we gotta go" says Kym who never needs my help.  "I have to go to work."

"Ok" answers Dean.  "What are you guys doing later?  Wanna hangout?"

I envision stabbing myself in the eye with a plastic fork VS hanging out with Dean.  Kym shakes her head.

"Maybe next week?"

"Sure" smiles Dean.  "Anytime.  Did you know Jenny is bi?  Did I tell you that?"

"Yup.  Well, we gotta go" says Kym walking out the door.

Dean follows us out while counting the cash.  Kym keeps walking and slips into her car as I make the awkward good bye exit with Dean.

"Come by anytime" says Dean giving me an odd look.  "And I'm serious.  Jenny is down."

"Ok" I say letting go of his greasy hand.  

Buying drugs is always awkward because you have to talk to people.  Weird fucking people.

I climb into Kym's car.  She is wincing, snorting and rubbing her eye.  Hm.  Before I can say anything stupid, she pops in her Pharcyde tape making conversation impossible.  As Kym drives us back to the Mission, I stare out the window and quietly pull the three balloons of heroin out of her purse.  I almost feel bad but Kym is making odd facial expressions like icicles are piercing her brain.  Cocaine icicles.  When we hit a column of traffic, she lowers the insane volume of her car stereo that vibrate my bones and looks at me.  

"I hate going there, babe" she sighs.  "I can't wait until Jase and Autumn come back from LA."

"Mmhmm" I agree studying her right nostril that looks like a powdered donut.  I use my thumbnail to carve out hunks of black Mexican tar.  I catch her sideways glance but pretend I do not.

"We're going to Maui next week" says Kym casually.  

This makes me pause the operation, but my animal takes over as I look over at Kym.  Pinch tar, wipe in cigarette pack.  Pinch tar, wipe in cigarette pack.

"Maui?" I ask as my hands do their thing and Kym drives us through traffic.

"Yeah.  Iona got us free airfare.  Love my big sis" snorts Kym lighting a cigarette.  "We need a break, babe.  We look like shit.  But I can't ship another package.  Kimo won't accept it.  He knew we were sending drugs last time and kinda tripped out.  So we gotta go clean."

Kimo is the nice old guy that does property management for the Amiri's Maui condo.  

"Clean?" I ask.  "Like clean clean?"


"No coke or H?"

"Nope" shrugs Kym.  "Kimo was very clear.  I mean we could take some on the plane but I got a bad feeling about that.  Nothing more than pills.  So get extra oxy from Ari."

"Ok" I say as she hands me the smoke.  I look at her but she stares into rainy day city traffic.  "So we're gonna withdrawal?  H and coke?"

"Yeah" Kym sighs.  "Gotta this week.  Taper.  I think it's a good thing.  Don't you?"

I think about this.  The vicious cycle is back.  We have been injecting for four days straight.  Kym has four holes in her arm and I have seven.  I am ready for number eight.  I can taste the shot in the back of my throat as I caress my bruised arm.  We stop at a traffic light.  Kym sniffs again.  I look over and see a thin line of blood dripping from her nose.      

"Yes" I nod stashing the cigarette pack with hunks of pinched tar in my jacket, "this is a wise decision."


Thursday, April 7, 2016

These Seeds Grow From Hell

Two days into withdrawal, I realize poppy seed tea is no joke.  My body is twisted and oozing like a salt covered slug.  This is nastier than pills and more akin to a long term heroin withdrawal.  Never mind the mental part.  That will come later.  The sweating, the shitting, the puking and shivering agony is upon me like a wild beast.  Two days without a sip of seed tea and I am a fucking dying.

The worst part is I never got the HIGH of heroin.  I never got the POP of pills.  In fact, I never thought much of the seed tea at all except it just sorta made life nicer.  But looking back, perhaps that is not what happened.  


And life slips away.  A cocoon of complacency.  The shit part was the damn tea never fucked me up.  It just slipped into my life and took control.  Opiates makes the ocean uncomfortably cold.  I used to surf before and after work.  I still surf but am noticeably weaker in the lineup.  And my brain.  I am forgetting things.  Repeating myself.  Most of my long term planning involves ordering more poppy seeds before I run out.  My truck has needed an oil change for three months.  My radiator leaks.  When I remember to fill it, I usually leave the cap off.

How did I not see the cycle rising again?  Now the leash is too tight.  Strangling me.  Drowning my existence.  So two days with no poppy seed tea.  Pure hell.  And according to the laws of the Universe, while I am laying here, I will get kicked again and again.


This is what happened.  I was bored at work.  I was reading sites where quasi-legal highs are discussed and an enlightened baker clued me in.  At his bakery, he started to guzzle concoctions brewed from the wholesale bags of poppy seeds they purchased for poppy seed bagels.  The instructions were clear.  This high is not gained from a spice rack bottle of seeds at your grocery store.  On a whim, I ordered five pounds of organic poppy seeds online.

I am probably one of the first online lemmings to leap off this cliff.  But I have always used the internet for immoral purposes.  Pornography, ninja training secrets, pharmaceuticals from foreign countries and eBay.  Before this baker, I had a Canadian "doctor" mail me codeine pills.  After that dried up, I had a solid Indian connect that was good for hydrocodone.  A Mexican man sent me fent lollipops.  Then the dialup internet world of wild, wild west pharmacies dried up.  So after I got tired of alcoholism and chugging dextromethorphan, I found the baker's post.


When you have the luxury of hindsight, you can see all the pieces and a picture forms.  But I knew it wasn't a good idea because I hid it from my wife.  Unconsciously, I knew she would perceive the problem.  I was high again.  Not stoned, tripping, drunk or the ultra rare high on life stuff either.  In fact, now that I think about it, there were moments when she had to know something was up.  I fell asleep every night with the light on.  Often, as the euphoria swallowed me, I wanted to hold her and touch her face while I drifted away.  Opiates do make me a more affectionate person.  Maybe she looked through my hiding places for drugs and maybe she didn't.  But there was nothing there.  I had the seeds delivered to work.    


How many months have passed?  My first emailed order is from seven months ago.  Jesus.  Has it been that long?  Like a collared thrall, my days blurred into habit and routine.  Plodding dully forward into the my mind and soul eroded.  

Wake up.  Groggy, but solid eight hours of black sleep.  And I'm still high.  I shave, shower and eat toast.  Then off to work.  I hate this fucking place.  My work has has everything from the owner fucking his cousin to massive commodities fraud to deal with.  But I make nice bonuses so I put on the mask, lie accordingly and pretend to care.  The first two hours are wasted.  Drink some coffee and read the online articles.  Later, I'll eat my flavorless lunch.  The machine needs fuel. 

After lunch, I'll mix two Gatorade bottles of poppy seed tea.  Seeds, lemon and water.  It tastes awful, but taste has never been the point.  I drink one and feel better instantly.  I take the other one to go.  I work at least two more hours to gauge the office vibe.  Nine times out of ten, the boss and his cousin are gone.  So I talk to the facility manager because I am slightly responsible.  He is the only person that actually works here.  We set up orders and plan the next day.  Then I leave.

It takes more than an hour until I FEEL the tea.  And I never FEEL it like oxycodone or heroin.  I just feel it.  Sleepy, I go home and nap.  When my alarm rings, I wake up blissed and go get my kids.  Back home, we do homework and I drink beer.  Around 6pm, I'll chug the other bottle, hide it in the trash and make dinner.  

And the days just melted away.



"Hey what's up?" asks my wife.

"I got fired.  Sorry."

"You did?" her voice goes to the same tonal range she uses to soothe our children's knee scrapes.  "Oh...I'm sorry."

"It's ok" I sigh.  

"Well, something else will turn up.  It always does right?" soothes my wife.

"Yeah, I guess."


It's too late too late to order more seeds and frankly I am sick of them.  They fuck me up too much without fucking me up enough.  So I set up an appointment with my doctor.  Time to do my knee trick again.  

Like always, it's just a temporary thing.  Just a little prescription love to get through this nasty tea.  Just a little.

And the circle continues.