George is like nothing I’ve seen. He’s clean and thin with a few teeth missing. I make him tea without milk and could kiss him. He says he’s been hitting better than this inside, although the needles weren’t as sharp. Smoking one cigarette after another he’s lying on the floor, smiling.
“There’s dope inside but after a few days I couldn’t bring myself to smoke it; the meals are so bad you start thinking of home dinners, ripe fruit and fresh bread. There’s nothing good about inside except that junk’s perfect for it. I was getting some from along the wing, ten pound wraps, but no needles, hardly any. Pins on ball-points, spikes on sticks, old syringes that’d gone blunt, been sharpened on paper, gone blunt and over again until the metal’s worn away. Maybe twenty people, maybe fifty, using the same gun.”
George is drowning in the bath, has been for an hour or more. I can hear him splashing; I’m itching, itching everywhere. There’s a guitar playing Pale Blue Eyes and then the singer’s saying, “When I put a spike into my veins…”
Stephen’s up. He’s struggling with the bathroom door, asking in the hallway what all the noise is. Stephen wants so much to buy himself a cocaine habit. He cuts out a line like a white finger and by the time George comes back in, a wrapped up package in a torn towel, we’re giggling, talking quickly. Soon all three of us are wide awake like boys of the morning glory.
With a bitter taste in my mouth and a numb nose I’m watching George make another hit. Stephen’s watching too, being serious, scrunching up, saying how things have got worse since he began mixing the powders. But then this is a day of the world doesn’t matter, of being with the Indians permanently.
Sweetly, gently, George takes my arm in friendship and then I’m a gun full of amber loaded; when I’m cut, everyday I bleed orange. I’m a mechanical thing spinning, science fiction in my living room.
George is ballooning, sucking great lungfuls of air until he’s cross-eyed with the effort. He blows it out, laughing.
Stephen’s trying to take a picture with his hand of another hand down his trouser’s front, trying not to be shaking. In my knees are holes scattered, I look down on them, see their diameters naked and equal, soldiers given away in single file. Troops of attrition, they heal and get opened, picked by the point of a gun. I’m shot and scratching.
We’re stooges the three of us, bouncing off walls like toy cars with new batteries. We’re random in the army of the arms and legs, marching on stomachs which betray us with their fierce bubbles.
We count the days still coming, not the days already gone. We share stories about things happened to others. Drug stories. We laugh and don’t believe them. We’re going to the fridge, drinking milk just like babies, spitting it up on the carpet here, through train doors when they’re open and on the floors of public libraries. We can’t eat, yet we must be fed. We’re stricken and revolving, addicted.
We’re swapping lies; Stephen tells us that Envy is the saliva on an old mortician’s lips as he watches two cars crashing. George is nodding with his eyes more shut than open, he’s dreaming of a digestive tract made from old bricks, crumbling with lime and dissolving. In his head men with gentle voices assure him how the weather will be. Deep in his ears, suspended in an air of ether, the noise of these weathermen comes chanting.
He’s in a room alone, there are many rooms. He dreams of waking as the panthers of the cumulus continue their broadcast, dispatching the unknowable. He thinks aloud, speaking clearly to us from his sleep.
“In the morning I’ll grow my hair and be fine…..if there’s sun for rain or rain in place of sun we’ll have a tally of resistance….I could cut throats with this tongue, make speeches so fine they’d slip beneath your skin and keep you talking….. I could swallow everything and have thoughts unsaid ready to flow from my lips………I could have mothers bringing daughters to my door and flesh by the yard…….These things, wedding rings, don’t matter to me now.”
George is sleeping, says nothing further, just bends his head to every unasked question. Always yes and yes with puzzled black eyes. We’re watching, mouthing what we’ve heard. There’s nothing adequate to say about how this is, how a body can be jumpy and sedated together. This is something the user can’t tell and the other can’t imagine. It’s harder than describing arousal, than the feeling of two lips down and swollen, more misunderstood than giving birth. Users are another sex, obsessed, but differently. Only those inside the machine can observe its workings, descriptions by the cured lack sympathy, possibility, but heroin’s the hypnotist’s trap; you do as impelled and upon waking remember nothing.
I’m imagining an earth full of addicts marching and I’m laughing, thinking that heroin’s the powder of fascism, the war to end all wars, easy to rise against with hindsight and clean hands, but impossible to deny when subjected to all these uniforms and rallies.
Heroin doesn’t feed the tape-worm of weakness, it is the tape-worm; milky and of unending length. A dog runs to a plate filled with drugged food, it eats and starves, the drug making its insides swell to empty. The more it eats the less it hears the solution; stop eating.
Stephen’s telling me about his grandfather, a bare-knuckle fighter who used to box with a handkerchief tied around his balls. Later in a suit, big flapping striped thing, and with the same handkerchief in a breast pocket, he’d go to dance halls, dance slow dances and hold short girls close. I can hardly hear him. I’m running to the bathroom and grasping my partner’s porcelain waist. I’m throwing up green water as behind me his camera clicks.