The Killing Fields

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During the Vietnam war a term known as fragging occurred. It involved the deliberate killing of  bastard, abusive or gung-ho commanders and was usually carried out by a small group of soldiers during battle conditions so as the death would look like an accident. Initially it was done with grenade pins and later more surely with a nice quick bullet in through the back of the skull. These killings were fuelled by fear, young men sick of being harried out in front of machine gun fire or fed live down underground tunnels. Fragging was not a way out of fighting, if anything it was a collective reaction against an abuse of power. These men did not sign up for 'certain death' or ever agree to be a human Trojan Horse, but that's what they were used for. Fragging also happened during the very unique circumstances of war, a time when Men are the law, and walk not only with right of way but with the judges hammer and executioners pistol as well. In light of the nature of fraggings, and the circumstances wherein they came about, nothing much was ever made of them. They were mostly covered up and only one ever went down in any kind of official way.

Today another kind of 'fragging' exists, though very different from the killings described above. The fraggings I write of are not executed in far away places with high-tech weapons, are not collective decisions, and the death is neither a quick nor painless one. It also doesn't involve grunts killing seniors officers but rather scar-tissued addicts killing their foot soldiers. I suppose the only real similarity between the wartime fraggings is that someone is killed in very ambiguous circumstances and their death is brought about by fear – albeit a very different kind. These killings of junkie by junkie are also very hard to find any moral argument for. They are silent, secretive, selfish acts of humanity (yes, HUMANITY): a way not to die alone.

*

It was Marge who first tried to infect me with the HIV virus, and a few years later my best junk buddy John. How many others would also have tried to pass on their bad blood if they ever had the chance I dread to imagine, though not many ever had that chance. After wizening to this trick the first time I became something of a junkie recluse, only mixing with other addicts when I needed to, and only on very rare occasions fixing in the same room or toilet.

Of the two incidents mentioned above they each affected me differently. Marge's attempt left me angry and afraid while John's, because we were friends, deeply saddened and hurt me. But below any raw or seething emotions I could also kinda understand why they had done what they did – though understanding certain motivations did not in any way justify or make it easier, it only served to make it an even more terrifying thing.

As the years passed and I spoke to other addicts about what had happened, or explained it to doctors or drug workers, nobody was ever really shocked. Most addicts had similar stories, and most doctors had heard similar stories. Though by far the most disquieting feedback came via a friend called Bill who chaired an HIV support group twice a week in Leyton, East London. Bill told me that a huge number of the people in his sessions had confessed to intentionally trying to pass on the virus and those who hadn't could mostly still relate to another's motivations for trying to do such a thing. And then Bill calmly told me something which almost blew my socks off: he admitted that he himself had done the same just after being diagnosed. He told me how he'd then go out his way to pick up guys and harass them into having unprotected sex. He said it was never to coldly kill, that that would have been easy but pointless.  He explained it was important that people couldn't blame him any more than themselves... that he took comfort in knowing that someone else suffered the same emotions and regrets as he did. Bill said that one of the initial reasons he had started up the support group was because it was a healthier way not to be alone with the disease. Really Bill only confirmed what I already knew. And after he had we both sat there in silence, in a bar in Hammersmith, staring out on a winter evening which suddenly seemed to bite more cold. These were sad, lonely and desperate times, and not even the rowdy City Suits and flashing, wailing slot machines could drown out the view from there.

To some it may still seem like two bizarre incidents blown up into something they are not, that I was just unlucky. But the real fact is that the fragging of junkies by junkies, the intentional passing on of Hepatitis C and HIV in  IV drug circles is rampant and common practice. And though no junkie passing this blog will probably admit so much, may even deny it, it does exist and if you ever sit in on an HIV counselling/confessional group you will hear similar stories, though many not quite as fortunate as mine. It will come to pass that what I write of is much more than bad chance: it is  murder on a time-delay fuse.

* * *

Marge was a 6'3, lanky blonde haired transvestite. For the first 12 years of adulthood he had been the lead dancer for the Royal Ballet company, only leaving after his tits got so big that they hindered his performance and his crack and smack habits got so big that they hindered his ability to travel and stay away for long periods of time. His dancing partner was his lover who had died from AIDS way back in the early days of the disease, though Marge was always adamant that he himself had been lucky and tested negative. Now in his late forties, with just as many years of severe junk dependency behind him, Marge's ballet days were over, condensed down into three scrap-press-books of reviews and newspaper snippets intermingled with cut-outs of The Queen and Channel No.5 perfume adverts. Nowadays Marge made his living in less stretching ways: sitting down along the Holland Road with an array of pastel artworks  laid out before him. He sold each one for two quid – though there was the option to haggle. Of course his artwork's aren't what funded his drug habits. They were his excuse to sit out begging and not feel like a beggar. People would buy a painting for double and tell him to keep it in the bargain. Many would disregard the scribbles completely, preferring instead to get straight to the heart of the matter and toss coins at him. Marge would at first eye the coins in disgust, then the moment the  philanthropist was out of sight he'd scoop them up, count them, and then moan at how tight fisted the British were!

When Marge was especially hard up I'd lend him cash to right himself and then join him sitting outside for the evening as the coins rolled and bounced our way. I wasn't there to beg or because I needed money, I accompanied Marge as he wouldn't work the evenings alone yet needed to to repay me. So I was there as a kind of lowly guarantee that he wouldn't be assaulted or have his drawings kicked and stomped into the ground. Not that I ever stopped much. I only sat out with him maybe ten times and most of them we were spat at or a bottle would shatter against the wall behind us. Only once were we physically attacked. Marge freaked out and pulled a dirty syringe on one of the drunken yobs and ended up getting arrested. The truth is I wasn't there to protect Marge, or I was, but only so as he remained healthy enough to beg what he owed me. I knew if I didn't escort him out and babysit him I'd never see my money  again. I'm not sure if Marge ever realised that I was the lead ball weight on the end of his chain. If he did, he never objected.

During that time I was still a newcomer to the needle and Marge was one of a group of new users I had gotten to know from the needle exchange. But Marge wasn't like the rest. He was well-spoken, cultured and had a kind of nurtured intelligence (which means he had been taught how to eat properly). For those superficial reasons he didn't scare me half so much as the people who lingered around him. God, these were some serious C.H.U.D'S*, only they lived uptop with us and were slightly more deformed. Some would sit down in the street behind Marge and I screwing blunt needles into leaking abscesses. Others would lower their trousers in a doorway and quickly ram a needle into their femoral artery. These users scared the shit outta me and I didn't like being anywhere near them. There was something so dirty and hazardous about the needle in those early days – even my own used works would trigger panic attacks. Marge however didn't scare me; he just alarmed me. Especially his behaviour around syringes. He seemed to be obsessed by them. He had this thing where he'd act like Mummy-nurse and remove and cap needles from nodding junkies bodies. He'd also accept needles full of pre-cooked dope in the street and bang them up without a thought (skin pop them right in through his jumper). It was scary business, and was the first thing which made me question why anyone would be so carefree around other's spikes' and blood. Some nights as we sat out in the dark I would watch Marge and wonder where he'd be now if things had have gone right? Probably an alcoholic... he had that kind of a face, and his nose was a wine taster's wet dream.

I think looking back I wanted a friend. I was scared of what I was doing and wanted someone alongside me crazy enough to do the same, yet sane enough to be responsible. Marge seemed like that person... and he was interesting. He could talk about whatever the subject turned. I suppose I thought we were alike. That the only real difference was that Marge had been stewing in the shit longer. But really Marge and I were not alike. Marge had been twirling with the devil so long now that he had become confused over who was who. He was your friend if you bought him a beer and your lover if you bought him a hit. But if you sat besides him and had nothing you was suddenly an irritating inconvenience. He'd get all bitchy and use his knowledge to damn your interests and pick holes in your favourite author's or artist's works (as well as pick your pockets). He used that old junkie con of warning you of every trick and scam in the book while performing them on you. That I had caught Marge stealing off me the first ever time we met didn't help me trust him much. I never pulled him for that theft, preferring instead to watch him as he talked and smiled, and stole small scoops of brown whenever he thought I wasn't looking.

It was during my second month of intravenous drug use when our relationship soured and would never be the same again. Marge, the great opportunist, would try and rob something from me which I wasn't so fond of at the time but was trying desperately to keep: life.

It was a bright Sunday morning in the middle of Autumn. I had woken up to find myself clean out of new needles. The only place I knew I could get any on a Sunday was the Boots chemist on Kings Street – though they closed at 1pm and it was already past the hour. I was stuck at home with heroin, citric, filters but no clean needles to whack my morning fix up with. But it wasn't a tragedy and wasn't the first time I'd been caught out like this. I was still relatively new to this side of heroin use and wasn't organised in making sure I always had what was needed to have a fix. I was always lost for something or having to run to late-nite chemists for extra works or Vit C. So that morning, with no official needle exchange open, I gathered up my equipment and headed off to Marge's to see if he had any fresh spikes he could give me.

Marge lived in a little flat connected to the Lime Grove hostel: one of West London's major drug wash-up shores. Most addicts in the borough would end up being filtered through there at some point or other. And it wasn't a bad deal: free board and food and a cell check twice a day! It was packed to the tiles with mostly long term, mentally ill addicts who'd wash their smack down with Tenants Super and whatever downers or sleepers their stench had forced the local GP to prescribe them. Marge wasn't in the hostel proper but had somehow managed to wrangle one of the permanent flats on its premises. That was kinda like everyone's dream in those days: to get one of the self-sufficient Lime Grove flats. They were the after-junk-life paradise offered  up by  the God of the Hostel. The only catch was that to get one you had to be either sober or dying, and that's why for there only being five flats up for grabs the hostel was able to 'permanently' rehouse 50 people a year. That its success was based on its rate of eviction no-one seemed to care about. Housing and evicting fifty people were better statistics than housing only five. Anyway, these little apartments sat just below, down where all the hostel residents could see and drool over them. There were no throw out times, no bars on the windows, no sign-in desk. It was freedom for the lucky few; a place to secretly kill yourself in peace. Only for the lucky few who had ascended to Hostel Heaven it wasn't so much a paradise as an open hell: a den of addicts all cohabiting and thieving off each other. As everyone had once dreamt of getting out the hostel now they dreamt the same of this place. Only this was permanent and there were only two ways out, and neither was a very attractive proposition. So it was a dream turned to shit, and this is where Marge lived and where I knocked him up that bright autumn Sunday afternoon.

The noise that came down through the intercom wasn't static. It was Marge's rattling lungs and groans of pain which let me know he wasn't well. Then there were some crashing sounds, a posh “fuck”, the intercom bouncing off the wall and hitting the floor, another groan, and then Marge buzzed me in. I climbed the flight of stairs to his flat and followed his tall frail and aching body down the little hallway and into his bedroom.

“You've caught me without my make-up, Darling,” he groaned, painfully easing himself down on the bed and pulling a loose cover up and around him. “Oh I'm sick... Poor ol' Marge is sick... not even a fucking filter since last night. And that wig is useless! Just makes me sad.”

I followed Marge's gaze down to a blonde hairpiece on the floor. It was sad. It was cheap and sad and I could imagine him tearing it off and having a breakdown because there was no gear.

“And, er, what message have the Gods sent with Thee?” asked Marge, this time sounding pathetically cunning.

“Needles, Marge. I'm all out. D'you have any fresh spikes?”
“Ah needles... Well I'm certain I do if you have a teeeny bit of gear for me, Oh yes!”
“Yeah, I got a fix for ya... I'll even split the bag. I just need some needles.”
“Oh YUMMMEEE!” he exclaimed like a big posh baby, now springing to life and catching a touch of his usual theatrics. “Now that's a good wake up call! Ok, needles....”

Marge looked around in a small cupboard near his bed. As he rifled through bags and packets of shooting equipment he asked some questions about how I was getting on with the needle. I explained I wasn't organised yet and that injections still took a while and I'd without fail leave huge marks and still had trouble hitting even the huge veins, though I did always manage. Marge closed the little cupboard. I saw him pull a face. Then he was up and rifling through what would normally be sock drawers. “Oh Fuckery, I was sure I had some,” he cursed, “let me go upstairs and get one of Bill. Bill always has needles... and no gear!”

When Marge returned he was empty handed and fidgety. “Can you believe it, Bill's not fucking there? Fuck. He's always there!”

“Listen Marge, it's OK... just leave it. There's a couple of others I know. Someone will have one.”
“Yes, no doubt.... after all this is Shepherds Bush: The Horse's Stable! And what about splitting the bag?”
“I have to sort myself  first, Marge. It'll be the same deal with the next man. If they give me a spike they'll want a hit for it or start crying! I'll leave you a small hit, enough to put you right, then I'll  pass back around later after I've got sorted and scored again.”

For a moment Marge looked distraught and pissed. I saw the Bitch had entered him. Then he composed himself and said: “OK, look, I've got one needle that I was saving for me, but I'll let you have it... I've still plenty of half-decent used ones. But don't forget this... It's very rare someone gets my last works!”

I smiled, but my mind was already on Marge. I could see what was happening. And like a fool I watched as it unravelled, convincing  myself that no-one would be that mean... that I must be wrong.

“Ha, got it!” cried Marge, holding up a needle and throwing its packet back into the cupboard he had previously searched.. “My last one! OK, get the gear out and lets make ourselves pretty.”

I got out the small bag of gear but my thoughts were now on the needle Marge had produced yet kept a hold of. Not only was I concerned it may not be a fresh spike but was also worried because Marge had laid it down next to his own dirty needle. I wanted to be absolutely sure I got the supposedly clean one and that there would be no bizarre mix up. Into my spoon I emptied a 'junkie's half' of the bag. The rest I gave over to Marge. Together we cooked our hits to liquid.

“I'm ready, Marge, give me the needle.”

“Ready already? Now who's a Hungry Henry!”

Marge handed out the needle and then paused. He withdrew it. I had been waiting for it... this is how I knew it would go down. I somehow knew that needle was never intended for me to hold (and inspect). “Look, roll your shirt up,” said Marge, “ I'll show you how quick and easy it is!”
“Oh, that's OK... I want to do it myself... I prefer that.”
“But you'll be here all afternoon Shane, Darling... and I can't get myself well till you're finished. I need to soak my feet in the tub to get my knackered old veins up. Please, I'm sick. It'll take me seconds to pop fresh veins like yours... seconds.”

Marge knew what I was thinking. He knew what I was thinking because he knew what he was doing. “You're worried about the needle aren't you? God, I wish I'd have let you open it now. It's clean, Dear... you saw me throw the packet away.”
“Yeah but it's what I didn't see. I didn't see you take it out the packet....”
“Look, it's a fresh spike!” He said holding it up, “Now stop being such a drama queen and get 'em out!”

The needle looked clean, it did, but so do many of mine if I get a clean hit or have to transfer the gear to another needle for some reason. And of course now Marge had plucked off the orange cap and broken the seal which is the only other means to verify it by once it's out it's wrapper. It was too late. My situation was this: half my bag of heroin was in a needle I had doubts about, and the rest of the bag was in Marge's syringe which was 100% dirty. The gear was gone. I finally convinced myself I must be wrong and rolled my sleeve up and stuck my arm out. Without even using a tourniquet Marge looked over my arm. He was in a hurry. “Ah, there's a nice fat vein sitting up right there... I'll get that without even tickling ya!”

Marge put the needle against my forearm and made to insert it. That's when I cracked. I pulled my arm away but not before the needle had scratched my skin. Marge jumped with fright.
“But Darling what are you doing! I would have had that!”
“Marge let me see that needle... I want to see it!”
“Oh Gawd, I thought we were over that! It's a fucking brand new spike.”
“Then give me it... I'll cap it and do mine later. That way I won't keep you. Hand it over...”
“But Shane it's clean, let me ju....”
“Marge give me the FUCKING NEEDLE!” I screamed.

If nothing else Marge was a coward. When I shouted he kinda lost all coordination of his body and became flustered, caught between doing something drastic and doing nothing at all. Finally he put the needle down on the bed besides me. I picked it up. It was perfectly clean on the outside, but right down inside, where the needle enters the barrel, was a tiny dot of dried black blood. The needle was dirty. It had already been used.

Now I was panicked. I hadn't taken the shot, the needle had not even been in me, but the very top of the spike had pierced my skin and brought blood. It was enough. I called Marge a “Cunt” and hurled the needle at him in disgust. He could have it. If slipping someone a dirty needle is where he had got to then he could have it – on me! But I wanted no part. No excuses, no “you're wrongs.” I just wanted to leave and be alone.

At that point it was the dirty trick to get a fix that annoyed me. I wasn't aware then that Marge was HIV+. He had previously spoken freely of the disease and while admitting his lover had died from AIDS he was always adamant that he hadn't contracted the virus. He didn't seem to care about the stigma of the disease and so I reckoned: Why would he lie? I told myself that that concern was fine, that his crime was being afraid to lose his get-well fix and nothing more.

It was five months later when I realized it was something more... Much more. Over that time I still saw Marge about but I never spoke to him anymore. Something too intimate and unwanted my side had almost passed and there was something that disgusted me about it. Even in his face I now saw shades of something else, something ferociously selfish which I couldn't stomach. So I avoided him. But on this day in question I couldn't avoid him. He came stumbling out a building and almost crashed right into me. We both swapped a cold “Hello” and Marge asked how I was as he tried his best to move me along down the street. His behaviour was the same as it had been the afternoon he'd tried to spike me up with a dirty needle. I looked around wondering what he was up to that he didn't want me to see, and there it was, the building from which he had come from: The Terence Higgins Trust: group therapy for people living with HIV and AIDS. I almost fainted. And if I didn't regard Marge as such a piece of shit at that moment I would have held onto him to steady myself.

“Marge, what are you doing here... In there?”
“Er, Oh there... just meeting a friend.”
“So where is he?”
“Good question... though it's not a 'he'. But come on, let's go.”
“What you're not gonna wait?”
“I can't and anyway she's not there. Come on.”

I didn't say anything, just followed Marge down the road and feeling panicked and caught for breath. As we walked I kept asking Marge the question in my head but could never get it out. It seemed like a pointless thing to do. Marge would only deny it further. Finally I did ask, just as he made his excuse to turn off down a road which took him in the opposite direction to where he was going.

“Marge, are you HIV positive?” I asked. He stopped, raised his head and looked me in the eye. He didn't deny it; that was his answer.

I felt sick. I wanted to cry and run at the same time. I also wanted to lay an uppercut right on his jaw and stamp him into the ground. But I did none of those things. In one of the stop situations of my life all I could do was raise a weak voice and say: “What about the needle Marge... what about the needle?” Marge kinda threw his hands out, like he had no answer. And what did I expect him to say? And even more: what did I expect him to care? Humans are intrinsically selfish. Our first care is usually of ourselves. As I asked Marge about the dirty needle all my care was for Me. I couldn't give a fuck that He was maybe dying; I just hoped I wasn't. And sadly that's just how it is.

Heroin changed after that moment. I saw a danger and a dirt within it that I had never seen before. Of course I knew about the diseases and the risks before, but I figured as long as I didn't share I'd be fine. I never for one moment reckoned or planned against the chance of someone intentionally trying to infect me with HIV or Hepatitis. That was low, but it had happened. Not even two months into injecting and AIDS was a real and serious issue.

I didn't sleep that night. I laid awake thinking of Marge and that needle and the little prick of blood it had induced. I wondered if Marge had killed me and if the disease was in my body. I imagined pink and blue things swirling about in my blood, attaching to things and duplicating themselves. I thought of those terrifying adverts from the mid 80's that was my generations equivalent to the thought of nuclear warfare. At gone 3am I was up and in a real state. At that lowly hour I called my good friend Verity and sobbed down a phoneline what had happened. Verity, a one time nurse, couldn't do much right then but arranged to come and meet me in the morning. Until then not even huge amounts of smack could calm me – my mind couldn't be subdued on this one. Me, a severe hypochondriac at the best of times. Even when healthy I was convinced I was dying of cancer, and now I'd been given good reason to believe I was really dying. Well, that was too good an opportunity for my body to turn down. And so it panicked away... all night fucking long.

With the light came Verity and with Verity came hope. We met in a lousy café on the Goldhawk Road and over scalding coffee and and endless chain of cigarettes I went through what had happened. Verity asked me loads of questions. She was especially interested in the needle and how old it was. From pure calculation we was able to be sure the needle wasn't used in the last twenty four hours and was probably much older. Verity told me that the chances of me being infected was very very slight (for HIV at least). She said there was a bigger chance I could have contracted hepatitis C but even that was quite doubtful. She asked how long ago it happened and I told her five months. “Well, you need to get tested... it's the only way to be sure. It'd show up now if you've caught anything.”

To be tested scared me. In ways I didn't want to know and yet so badly needed to. What I wanted was a kind of low risk gamble, and so I kept questioning Verity over and over, trying to get her response down to a suitable level. It was only when she told me that she thought I had less than a 1% chance of being infected did I like the odds and agree to take the test. Though I made it clear that if the test came back positive that all romance was dead and I'd kill myself that same day. And I meant it.

To cut it short I got tested in a little clinic in Hammersmith. I had to wait 48 hrs for the results and two days later I was given the all clear. Verity was sitting besides me as the doctor spilled out the good news and gave me my test results. On hearing the news Verity began crying and I began thinking of Ace and wondering whether his phone would be on yet. What a great day it would be if after all these months of worry I could score early and get back home and sink into oblivion properly. Now that would be perfect! After having my life saved it was only right that I risk it again... if not what would be the point in having it back? The thought and the day was temptingly delicious in its coldness. The doctor babbled on some more but I never heard a word. Before leaving he referred me back to The Needle Exchange for a session on safe injecting practices. Of course I never went. I wouldn't need to. From that moment on I never ever shared a room with someone injecting again, and only on a handful of occasion ever had someone inject in my presence. The life scared me, and the people even more.

The next time I saw Marge was two years later. He was on crutches and looked like he had a stroke. His head had been cracked wide open from the base of the skull and circling across and round down to the ear. He was out of drag and had lost all sense or care of appearance. As he hadn't finally done me any damage I went over to gloat about testing negative and to ask how he was. He told me he had his skull fractured, that another addict who we both knew called Mick had walked up to him in the street and hit him in the head with a mallet. Marge had been in hospital for the past 8 weeks, was clean, though was scoring as he spoke. I kind of REALLY enjoyed knowing someone had done that to him. Had fucked him up for the rest of his days, permanently affected his head, speech, sight and walk. He was a dirty thieving cunt anyway, though it was harsh dues for that. Normally we just let it pass.

A few days later I saw Mick and asked what had happened. “Did the fucker rob you, Micky?”
“Kind of,” he replied.
“What d'you mean 'kinda??? Did he or didn't he?”
“He gave me AIDS.... on purpose. I tested positive three months ago.”

I couldn't believe it. What Mick told me was almost an exact replica of what Marge had done to me. Only with Mick it was worse as Marge had been slyly giving him dirty needles over a period of time and pretending they were from the clean pack. Where I had wizened to the trick Mick hadn't and had unknowingly been shooting up with dirty needles every time Marge was about Aghast I told Mick my tale. That's when it went really strange. Rather than wishing he was me, I saw he wished I was him. That it wasn't fair I'd escaped with my health and he hadn't. And in his eyes was a look of revenge. One less violent and more calculated, and one I suspect he will exact on someone other than Marge.

John

It was years later when my best junk friend John tried to infect me. In reality he was nowhere close and his pathetic attempt would never have worked anyway. At that stage I was too wary of other users to ever do anything silly. But he still tried and that's the thing, and that's what made me sad.

I had known John for about two years. I met him one day when there was not much gear about and he scored for me. He was a tall, stick thin Dubliner with water coloured eyes and a beautiful thick accent. He reminded me of past people and we became friends – mostly because whenever I'd bump into him I'd buy him a rock of his choice or put a score in his pocket. Our friendship was that. We never met up socially, or had a meal together or anything like that. We passed on the dope scene and I often helped him out. That was it, though we bonded never-the-less. He earned my respect by only once in two years ever calling my phone and asking for money. Even when he was ill he never used me as an option, and there's not many who'd be that precious with something. From that I took him as a loyal, decent person. And he was: John was a good man.

As the months passed I had an inkling that John maybe had HIV. There were weird happenings which I couldn't explain through junk logic. Like how I'd arrange to lend him money until he got his government payment, and on the areed day I'd turn up at his hostel with the cash only to be told he was in hospital. A week later he'd turn back up, clean of crack and heroin, and give me some fanny about a muscle problem, or a lung infection. I never doubted the reasons he gave, just the way he shrugged them off as if they were everyday and nothing serious. But I knew it was serious. Anything that would have a junkie laid up in hospital half sick is VERY serious. God, I've seen addicts with limbs hanging off through gangrene who wouldn't go to hospital for fear of not getting out the same evening and being sick or subdued with inadequate amounts of methadone. So for John to be in hospital on the day he was to get money was bizarre. When it kept happening I marked him down as one of the many 'closeted' HIV'ers on the injecting dope scene. John never did tell me and so it was only ever speculation.

My penultimate morning in England was a grey affair. It was a biting cold march day and I was to meet John to say goodbye. When I met him he was in the middle of some weird methadone sell whereby he'd earn £180, and so our last morning together was spent trawling around Shepherds Bush trying to track down a one legged addict called Jack The Peg. When we eventually found Jack – slopping down a free breakfast at The Great Commision Ministry Church – he told us through a mouthful of soupy porridge that he needed to cash his sick benefit before he could buy John's methadone. All together, walking at the pace of a man with one leg and two rusty crutches, we pigeon stepped it (Jack in the singular) down to the Post Office and queued up behind the dead, the pregnant and the insane.

Jack was in front leaning his weight on his walking aids. John and I towered behind him. As we got up to next to be called Jack spun around and through a mouth still mouldy with milky cereal, said: “I 'ope ta Christ they accept me facking ID! If it's Vijay ee'l refews fer'shure! Made me walk all t'way ta Hammersmith last fortnight... Me, wiv a missin' fackin' leg!”

John seemed unmoved by the news. He must have been used to all the piss around himself and took it as normal. But me, I was in a rush and could never bare such fucking around anyway. We should have already scored and been home by now. Who the hell 'Vijay' was I didn't care; I just hoped it wasn't him who was calling us forward.

When Jack turned around and shot us what would have been his teeth if he'd have had any left we knew that his ID had been accepted and the cashier was fingering off crisp twenty pound notes from the small pile to the left. Once given his money Jack held the notes up above his head and delighted shook them in the air. It meant nothing to John or I, but to the others in the Post Office it meant he was now going to go and blow the lot and get extremely fucked up on the tax payers expense. And that's exactly what he did. Within thirty minutes. Same as us.

“Who ya's scoring offa?” asked Jack.
“Ritchie,” said John.
“White City Ritchie?”
“Aye.”
“I'll have ta hide then. I owe 'im a score.”
“What you're after scoring yerself are ya Jack?”
“May as well, fack it! what's an extra twenny?”
“I'm gonna get of Ace,” I said, briefly entering the conversation.

John knew what I meant: let's drop this annoying cunt and get sorted. But he kinda pushed me back against my belly and made a sign to quieten down. As we walked on John pulled me ahead.

“With Jack in we can earn. One of each, sure as shite... Now dat roight d'ere'll be our little goodbye treat.”
“Fuck that, John... I'll pay the extra myself just to lose him!”

But John was an addict used to scheming and scamming, and turning down a couple of free bags wasn't possible for him. This was like finding a little sparkle of Klondike gold – even if it meant hauling a cripple up a steep mountainside to get it. It was another little make for John and he was thinking of tomorrow and I wasn't. Tomorrow I'd be gone. In a place where money couldn't help. John would still be here, fretting about the days to come and how to avoid having to regret selling his entire supply of methadone.

It would have been a long slow trot to Ritchie in White City had it not been for Jack the Peg pulling up lame halfway and waving John and I on ahead saying he'd catch us on the return run down to collect his bags. John and I rushed off, made the call and met Ritchie without any fuck around. Sorted we headed back down to where we'd left Jack and dropped him his bags off. Now John had his little gain safely in his pocket he couldn't give a shit about Jack any more, or get away fast enough.

“You don't wanna be anywhere near the loikes 'a him while carrying. Sure enough da feckin' police stop and search him every other day if dey don't! If you're within pissing distance an' dat happens, well, you're just as likely fooked yerself!” That was John's justification on leaving Jack behind so suddenly. Me I just didn't need justification. He walked too slowly and that was it.

As we hot-footed back to John's hostel John said excitely through mouthfuls of March mist: “Dat bag we made d'ere, da B, it'll be our parting fix for all dis shit man. You'll come'on up ta mine, ya will, we'll spoon and share it, sure... loike sharing a drink. A proper farewell, ya know?”
“What? Are you talking about sharing a spoon or a shot? I won't do either, but I hope you're talking about a spoon.”
“To hell wiv all dat bollix for a day, Shane. Fook! You're leading da fooking countree, man... ya gotta say a propa goodbye, now...  Sure ya can dis once share a little fix wi' me?”
“Oh No, I won't. We don't need that to say goodbye...”
“Well at least ya'll come on up? We'll draw ta'gedder. Ya can do that at least, will ya?”
“John, please,” I said, not wanting to argue or fuss over something so insane on this last morning, “let's just separate the bag and that'll be our goodbye. You've bought my last fix outta this place. That's a nice enough memory, no? Our goodbye we'll say in words or a hug.... not blood.”
“Ah com on ta fook now Shane! We may neder see one another again, man. You've gotta at least draw up wi' me... ya gotta.”

I didn't argue the point, just told John “no” over and over. It got so much that I even told him  he could keep the entire bag. That we'd say goodbye like everyone else, and then he'd go up to his room in the hostel and I'd traipse on  home to mine and through time and space we'd raise a needle to friendship and history. John wasn't happy with my snub, but he got to keep the entire bag of smack and I think that's what bought him.

“And d'your really leaving? Ya phone won't be on after tomorrow?”
“Really, John. Tomorrow morning I'm outta here. The plane's booked and I've transferred my script to a hospital over there. If I stay I'm even more fucked than if I go.”

As I hugged John goodbye he cried. Just like a baby, he held on tightly and cried.

“What'll become of us, man?” he asked through tears. “What da fuck will become of us?”

I hugged John back and told him to take care and that one day I'd return and take him back to Dublin. And then he cried even more, and now he couldn't stop.

*

John's tears are the last visual memory I have of him. I never saw John again after that, though I did hear from him.

It was over a year that I had been in France. I had gotten clean and then gotten dirty again. So it was good news one day when my mother phoned.

“Shane, there's a little surprise coming over your way! That fucking Irish John has just been around here, bought me two rocks of white and left twenty five quid to get you three of choice and post over. And you ya little bastard, you never told me he 'ad AIDS! An I've been sharing my fuckin' crackpipe with 'im!”

I didn't say anything for a moment. It was a shock. AIDS and I heard it in capital fucking letters too.

“What, he's HIV?”
“Worse... full blown! Been put on full incapacity benefit and so he was around here fuckin celebrating! He was all hugs and smiles saying he feels rich! When I asked how he got full incapacity, because I'm only on half, he told me that he was HIV+ and had now gone full blown!”

“Well I didn't know!”

“Well he says you did 'cause I fuckin' asked 'im! And you know the friendly way he talks, he said: yeah, I told Shane... he knew!”

I told my mum that I really didn't and then told her of him insisting on sharing a fix with me on the morning before I left. How even knowing he was HIV positive he had really tried twisting my arm into sharing a needle with him. My mother cursed him and called him every kind of a cunt. It didn't stop her having him around though. Why would it? Nothing bad had finally come from it and John bought her rocks of white. What crackhead but a very bad one would turn that down? I wouldn't either. Two months later though and John was history. Not dead... Robbed my mother and disappeared.

After discovering John was with AIDS I was at first sad and then extremely angry with him. I also had mixed emotions of fright and nausea knowing that it was once again that close. I started imagining silly scenarios of what could have happened and worked it up that it was a narrow escape. It wasn't really, but maybe there was a part of me that did want to toast a goodbye with someone. Have a friend that close that I felt comfortable to do such a thing with. When my emotions settled down I was still angry, and then that passed and I remembered how John had cried when I left and how the memory of his home town had cut him in two. After that I started to recall snippits of things he had told me  and how he so badly damned the needle but not heroin. It now made complete sense why. Heroin hadn't killed him; sharing needles had (or being duped into sharing a needle, who knows?) John felt hard done by. I then remembered him cursing his cousin with a vengeance, saying that he was the cunt who first pinned him up and got him on the needle. I also remember him saying his cousin had died from septicaemia. I suppose then that  not only was it his cousin who had  introduced him to the spike but had probably also infected him with HIV. I suppose, like Marge, John wanted someone else to experience the fear and hardship of what he was going through. That he didn't want to be all alone with what he had, but travel the road with another who was the same. But it's cruel. Humanity is cruel. And make no mistake about it what Marge did first and John did later, were human behaviours that are shocking and selfish but not incomprehensible or uncommon. They were just living up to the animal.

The thing is we suffer terribly alone, and a little less in company. It's why support groups kinda help. But no matter how many people we have around us when we die, when death comes every man must face it alone. In the hospital bed, or laying flapping on the kitchen floor: it's a dire lonely place. A man will never be as lonely or out on a limb as the moment he dies. I know, I've seen it, actually seen death enter the body and come out the other side. The fear and loneliness which that brings about. That's our fate. That's what it all leads to. No matter how much we run, or how many we drag along with us, when death comes it corners us, and every man will die alone. It's the only destiny we have.

My Love and Thoughts to ALL...

Shane. X



* C.H.U.D = Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller

58 comments :

Billy said...

The same thing happens with sex-acquired HIV. It is very easy to go out and find some random to fuck, some drunk guy begging for cock on a Saturday night. I've never heard anyone admit to it, but fucking like a rabbit, bareback, after diagnosis is pretty clear. Then there was the case in the media a few years ago, and the moral panic that produced.

Like Bill said, it's a way of diffusing responsibility. People can't blame themselves any more than others, and the comfort of knowing you are not alone.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Billy: X

Yeah you're right and I'm sure it happens just as much across all the HIV/AIDS groups. It's about our reactions as humans rather than the reactions of any specific minority group. Whatever our sexual preference, or our favourite poison we're emotionally ALL very similar and we deal with things in more-or-less the same ways. I tried hard to not be critical of the practice while being honest to my feelings at the time. But as I said, understanding the reasons behind kinda made it even more terrifying as it then became huge and unstoppable. But it's right: unless someone rapes us or jabs us with a dirty needle on a packed train we often only have ourselves to blame for what passes. It's tragic for all involved. Marge could very well be in group therapy this evening, confessing to what he has done and being hugged for his courage in owning up. And as for John: he was a good man. I knew him and he had a real heart. We need a cure for this disease... it's time the Governments and pharmaceutical companies of this world did something with all the money put forward for research. I know the situation has improved a lot and there has been breakthroughs, but we need a cure or at least a vaccination. I really often wonder if AIDS is used strategically as a population control... it wouldn't be the weirdest thingthat has ever happened.

Anyway, thanks for commenting Billy and thanks for reading. The post is 11 pages of book.... that's even long for me!

Love and Thoughts, Shane. X

Alexandra Cohen said...

Hi Shane. I've been trying to read each and every your post that appeared in my rss reader, but only today it dawned at me why I find your posts, no your short-stories so addictive. Your style somewhat reminds me of H.P. Lovecraft. Not because of horrors but because of that slow but intense narrative. Long descriptions often tend to become boring when they don't have action, but sometimes like in your case the descriptions along are a peace of art to enjoy and absorb. Even your descriptions of death and suffering sound poetical yet highly naturalistic.

In your previous comment you mentioned you're writing a book, did I get it right? If you do then I'm sure want to be among the first to read it.

dugenou said...

salut,

first of all, I wanted to congratulate you for your writing. I envy you. I came across your 'junky vs addict' post accidentally about 2 years ago and then again yesterday, read today's post and really am amazed by the quality. You don't usually expect a junky to write as well. Take care and keep up the great work. I'll stick around and read as much as my junked mind allows me to.

_Black_Acrylic said...

Another superb and thought-provoking post, Shane. Thanks so much for sharing these experiences x

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Ben! X

Thanks for reading all that, it was an epic post. You're one of the subscribers so always get to read the original post (the awful truth) before I have the chance to correct all the errors and rewrite sentences! So I'm sorry, but there have been some very important comma changes, you're gonna have to read it all over again! Haha

Hope you're well Ben and I really will mail you and catch up properly.

Love & Thoughts, Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Alexandra... Thanks for all you say. I'm not too familiar with Lovecraft's stuff but will accept the compliment anyway.

I'm writing about ten books, well, almost: I'm thinking about writing them! But seriously, I think it's probably just a matter of time before some of the stuff here gets published. I do have a couple of books on the go (aside from this stuff)but it's a slow process with all the other writing I'm trying to do. Really I need to spend a week or so figuring out just exactly what I should do and where I should put my time. This post however does herald the start of a new set of posts here. So aside from anything else I will be posting properly here every couple of weeks.

X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Salut Dugenou,

Oh I think if someone can do something well it doesn't matter if they're a junkie or not. It's a bit like saying "You don't usually expect a midget to have a big cock". If you've got it, you've got it regardless... even if it's a curse.

Tu es ou en france? Quelle ville?

X

Huxley said...

Je viens de changer mon pseudo (dugenou), n'y paie pas trop d'attention car j'en changerai encore très probablement. Merci pour ta réponse. Tu as évidemment raison et d'ailleurs, c'est plutôt encourageant. Malgré cela, ton blog reste tout-de-même une surprise.

Je suis belge à l'origine, puis espagnol d'adoption et vis à Ibiza depuis plus de 20 ans.

As said earlier, I'll stick around. take care man,

H

JoeM said...

I liked the way this was quite emotionlessly laid out in great detail - almost like someone giving evidence at a trial. I've been watching the trial of Michael Jackson's 'doctor' (Feelgood) so it seems familiar. Imagine Marge on the stand in all her finery playing to the audience/jury, maybe as a simpering Marilyn - 'Subterfuge? Why your honour, I'm sure I don't even know what that word means...'

That last image of the drag undragged, hobbling on crutches, head split down the middle was gruesome. The whole heroin scene again seemed gruesome, with everybody just betraying and worse as routine.

It's interesting that, even under the influence of Heroin, you've been careful to never share again. It proves my point that it's stupid of Regular Folks to underestimate the addict/the alky etc. To live that life with all it's, um, subterfuge/lies/necessity for physical and mental depths of resources surely puts one above the run of the mill when it comes to survival. (In a different way I think this was why so many gays in the bad old days became spies).

The real Verity! Sigh.

Was Marge the tranny's real name? usually they're more flamboyant. On the Glasgow gay scene in the 80s there were lots of camp trannies with sparkly names - Eartha, Lorretta etc. And one very non flamboyant one (the only one my straight brother found attractive) called Margaret. I always thought that was a great joke, that down to Earth name.

Georgina said...

Shane, what can I say? Brilliant as always, hope you do start posting more as I enjoy your writing immensely.
Lots of love
Gina.
Xxx

Kono said...

Hello Shane, just wanted to say this was some good shit mate, i particularly like the honesty and integrity of dealing with the subject matter. Myself i've tried everything known to man but have never really been addicted to anything or maybe i've been addicted to everything depending on how you look at it, but this was quality writing in a blogosphere mainly filled with turds... as i said i've been into all kinds of shit from the dealing end to the using end and have written about it for awhile and a plan on gettin some more stuff up soon because living in the States you need to make sure the statute of limitations is up or you might get a knock on the door, what i find funny is the one comment someone made about not expecting a junky to write this well, i much like your reply, doesn't matter what it is if you can do it you can do it...

i look forward to reading through some of your old posts and your new stuff, if you're interested you can check out some of my shit if you like, The Wilderness Years and Portrait of the Derelict as a Young Man are a couple of series i kind of have going, there's a lot of bullshit posted on mine so you may have to dig a bit and it's been a bit slow lately cuz i moved from the city to the suburbs with my two sons to get away from all the shit which oddly enough has thrown a bit of a wrench into the writing these days, though i would like to add i'm not one of those sycophantic blogger types looking to add members or build stats, just wanted to let you know i dug your stuff... that and the fact we seem to have many of the same influences, be it Morrissey, Burroughs, Orwell, punk rock, Camus, Sartre, fuck i'm rambling... cheers.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Joe, I think I owe you a mail too as i've some news concerning Memoires and what I've been up to recently. I'll let you know in the next day or so.

I think it came across quite emotionlessly and maybe like giving evidence because I have gone through these two events very finely since they happened and looking at them from every angle imagineable. When it first happened I literally spent weeks just laying around worrying and going over and over the event in my head. It scared me how such a little mistake could have ruined my life... or not being quite bold enough to demand I saw the needle Marge had before allowing it to get anywhere near my skin. The John story was different, but I still had nightmares over it, imagining I had for once trusted someone and abandoned my principles. It was close in that way, and John's intent was close.... or it felt it.

The drag undragged: I like that. I actually removed a paragraph where I almost said the same. It talked about how I refer to Marge as a 'he' because too many times I saw him out of drag and in a masculine hell of anger and tears and the need for heroin. There's nothing pretend or feminine about that, and mostly I saw Marge in that state and he was definitely a 'he'!

Marge was his real name... or the female name he had given himself. I'm not sure what his birth name was??? I'll actually try and see if I can find a pic online of him during his ballet days. I never thought of it, but maybe one exists. Though I know what you mean about it being quite a tame name for a tranny. Coincidentally sometime this month there will be a guest post from a transvestite friend and musician who in the late 1990's was in a fantastic trans-queer-punk band and will be promoting his new solo album here. So tranny will be the theme for October.

(cont'd below)

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

(Joe M cont'd)

The routine of much heroin addiction is theft and betrayal. But it's complex. Because in a way you have to allow it to happen. It never happened to me because I never mixed much with other users... so it couldn't. When it comes to all addicts living together, some have gear and some don't... some are skint and sick while another has just got his giro... well, you can imagine all the tricks ad scams taking place.But again it all depends on who it is and above all the financial situation of the user. An addict only steals because he/she has to. Unfortunately most do have to... and I'm not outside of that because I embezzled quite a lot of cash from one of the companies I was working with. And yes it is different to stealing of your mother or your brother, but it's still theft and you're still doing something you'd not do if it wasn't for the need for drugs. When your total physical well-being depends on having money for a drug you'll go very far to ensure you have that money. Me personally I draw the line at certain points and would never cross them no matter what. Sharing a needle or a spoon is one of those lines. I wouldn't do it even if I was bedridden from sickness. I don't use heroin to kill myself and don't want to die.... and sharing equipment is a death sentence. As a percentage IV drug users have a higher rate of HIV infection than any other group. It works out something like every time you share you risk a 40%¨chance of contracting HIV and 85% chance of contracting Hepatitis C. That's from EACH injection. It's death and you'd be astonished to know how many people will gamble on those odds when they are ill and sharing is the only option to get better. In general the needle is a filthy place, but it doesn't have to be.

Yes, that was the REAL Verity! A great friend and help to me through my years of addiction in London. It was in part due to such people that I was able to keep my habit relatively stable. They were always there no matter for. Whether to lend me money, lend me company or lend me love. I suppose in retrospect the company was the best gift as it kept me in the real world and made it so that I didn't have to take that from other addicts. When you're surrounded by junk and junkies 24/7 and it becomes all you have it's very easy to become completely submerged in that world and forget what normality even is. So Verity was one of a few important people who kept me stable and healthy and grounded in the real world.

Oh God, I think I'm over maximum comment length! So I'll stop here, though I think I've covered everything.... I hope so!

Hope you're well Joe and I'll send you that mail soon that I spoke of up top.

X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Gina!

Thank you for your words and especially your letters! ;)

Yes, this post does head a new series of posts I have planned for this place. So I will be posting more frequently but still only once every 2 or 3 weeks at the most. It takes time to write this stuff, and because of the size of each post they also need to be left up for that long so as people can read them. I also only post what I think is worthy of me and the other writing here, and if I feel I've said something original and well. I'll never post just for the sake of it. If I did it'd only be crap anyway and so it's better not to post anything at all.

OK, thanks again for what you say... Love and Thoughts, Shane. X

Not Relevant said...

Brilliant story, as usual Shane, full of the dark humour of life for those who live on the edge between life and death. I agree with you that if you are going to be an addict, its best to be physically alone when you do it, because thats where you are when you feel the hit, at the point where the coin of loneliness flips to pleasure. And, as you say, there's the added bonuses of avoiding HIV etc., and nobody reviving you should you be lucky enough to go over. Morbid? Not really. An opiate overdose is a fairly painless way to die -
For one of many instances, compare an opiate OD with slow death from cancer or car-crash injuries. You dream of pleasure, then you die. Because Death is the only god, the only certainty, and may help you avoid Pain and Depression, two demons, I have found, you really don't want to spend much time with - "so wrap me up in dreams and death" (Neil Gaiman, The Faerie Reel').

Naomi C. said...

im not in denial, and im a junky/ex-junky/junky that hasn't used for a while/addict.... i have Hep C, pretty damn common, and I am obsessively funny about NOT passing it on. the person who gave it to me said "its dormant, you cant catch it"... I knew that wasn't true, but I didn't care, I was dopesick. However, she wasn't educated about it. Its so common, you get told you have it and thats it. You don't even get a leaflet. Its quite bloody criminal, when I was diagnosed I wasnt told about transmission... I purchased a book and conclued from that I had to be careful with everything not just needles; equipment and everyday items like razors and toothbrushes. I dont think that girl gave it to me intentionally, but if she knew you could get it anyway if it were dormant, it probably wouldn't have made a difference, she just wanted a hit off me!

Secondly, the first person that ever hit me up was a man who was a friends partner. I lied and said I'd been hit up loadsa times before. I think he knew deep down I was lying, but saw how desperate I was. I couldn't understand why HE WALKED 10MINUTES to get a clean needle when I wasn't even sorting him out to give me a dig so I could be fit for work,... what a good samaritan act. Doubly so when I found out years later he was HIV+ Well, people said he had it on the downlow as he was a doublehard bastard, but I took it as gossip until his partner told me otherwise. Anyway, yes, he would never fix in the same room as me, he blew up at me when I went to use one of his needles and kicked me out of his house... I thought it was because he thought I had it. So luckily, I waS AROUND a good bloke there.

I don't doubt what you say though. I don't claim to be a saint but I don't want anyone going through what I have... heroin wise, infection status wise.... for a hit, for anything... even I wouldn'#t trade my old life for someone with a good one as I wouldn't want them to be lumbered with such degredation and shit.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right?

WHAT A JOKE!
Hope you are well... I've become a mother since I last posted. I don't get to read as much as Im busy with baby Carson! So Im in luck, got a load of posts to catch up on!
xxxx

Chef Green said...

Shane,
Thank you for another chance to read your words, feel your time. Thousands of miles away from you, the sun is just setting here in Carolina, the trees cast long shadows in front of my old house. Long shadows-kind of like the things you speak of here. They are the long shadows of your memory.

The telling of your story, here, was both reassuring and unnerving. Of course in the gay community, HIV is always a hot issue. Sometimes I scour my mind for instances of danger and carelesness, those close-calls thankfully avoided. Its frightening and I am thankful that I made it out of that journey unscathed by the disease.

I'll not forget my (now) best friend telling me in the early nights of a romantic but otherwise destined courtship-as things got hot and heavy, that we'd have to be "extra careful." It would have been so easy for him to take advantage of my drunk and drugged eagerness. But he had more honor than I did, then.

Anyhow, thanks again for sharing yourself so generously with the world. I really treasure your writings and so look forward to reading your works-to-come.

Best,
CG

Wildernesschic said...

Dear Shane... she hangs her head in shame.. ( well I am a poet..giggle)

I have not been reading .. or writing, but clicked on this morning and saw that you had posted on here.
As much as I adore reading your fiction stuff, this is what I love, your tales of a life I have no relation too .. yet I know the same characters in a different form.
I love to read your words and I love to hear your story although sometimes it makes me want to weep... you wont thank me for that comment I am sure xx

I am so behind on BubbleGum.. although it will be nice to read it altogether, I am looking forward to catching up, glad to see you writing so much.
You have such a talent ..but I know every one tells you that.
Lots of love Ruth xx

KAY3 said...

EPIC! your writing has it all. seriously man, it took me from humor to disgust to breathtaking beauty. i shiver reading your words, they touch something inside but i don't know what. they make me want to live.
love
K3

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Kono & Welcome! X

I think some people enjoy using drugs to get fucked-up and others, like me, use drugs to get unfucked-up... to feel relatively normal. I've used almost everything imaginable and I used for pleasure and experience until I found heroin. Heroin I didn't use for the added pleasure it gave to life but the pleasure was in the numbing of it. I think that's where heroin is different from all other drugs (except your prescription tranqs and downers, etc). Most drugs we use heighten and add to the natural high of life, while the pleasure from heroin comes from its ability to take away/numb the rawness of emotions that come with hard living. Heroin isn't a fun drug... it's a relaxant and its beauty comes in that.

I don't regard myself as part of the 'blogosphere' and don't regard this site here as a 'blog'. Sure I use the Blogger platform but that's just out of convenience and because it's free ad suits my needs, but using a blog and having a blog are very different things. There's a little group of us around who are all doing exciting stuff and using blogs to work on. But yeah, the blogosphere is full of crap, but it's probably meant to be.

I think everywhere is the same about being careful what you write, etc. Personally I just don't give a fuck. I write under my real name, put my address online and if any police force or intelligence agency is bored enough to make me their 'investigation' then let them. They'll never get anything more serious on me than 'possession'... oh, and telling the truth (which I hear is quite a serious offence these days!)

Took a brief look over your links. Some real nice stuff there. I'll have to spend a bit more time though to really see what you're doing, but caught a couple of nice pieces just as I scooted through.

Take Care Koto, and come back whenever you like. It's an open door policy here... just don't shit in the hall!

X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Not Relevant (oh you are Russell!)

Thanks. Yes it is best to be alone but it's a rare luxury, as you know. Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to fund their habit alone and so addicts group up and pool their resources to survive. Finally it becomes all their is. Just living alone I know the state my shooting equipment gets in and how needles end up mixed and laid down everywhere. So in a house of injecting addicts, even without anyone intentionally trying to pass on disease, it becomes a very hazardous place anyway. I think more than anything there needs to be more of an awareness campaign concerning injecting and disease, BUT it needs to target the users before they are injecting. Once they've been on the needle a week, before they've been to a needle exchange and learnt about these things, it's often too late. I've a theory that many bloodborn diseases within the IVing community are passed are contracted in the first few weeks of use. After that we become aware of all the dangers but it's too late. So I think there needs to be information put out which targets 'likely' future drug-injectors. One target would be anyone already smoking or snorting H... another crack addicts. But we need the information to the people before they EVER even do it. Those first few weeks are perilous.

Hope you're well Russell... noàt bad here but the summer drags on and on and is fucking torturous!

I pray for rain and cold and sleet and snow... Winter where art thou?

X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Naomi...

Yeah, I admire you. I saw a long time back on your blog that you was with Hep C, and honestly you are the ONLY addict online I know who openly admits to it. Everyone else sweeps this side of addiction under the table, but it's impossible that the hepatitis rate is something like 75% amongst IV users, yet online it's something like 2%. Myths need to be broken... because they never serve anyone any good. An often it's us addicts ourselves who perpetrate the worst myths of addiction.

Read my reply to Not Relevant above concerning Hep C/HIV info and how it often comes too late or as you say not at all.

Passing on a disease intentionally doesn't isn't always as blatant as purposely and slyly giving someone a dirty needle. For me if someone allows you to use their needle and they know theyare infected it is still itentional... they know that that needle in your hand, which you are going to use, is contaminated. Yes, the shot will make you feel better but that justifies nothing... wxhat about tomorrow? Also addicts who'll play games with needles: chucking them about or squirting blood at people. There's an intent there in a different way. Why would anyone with highly infectious diseases do that? So the passig on of disease is not always cold and blatant but can happen in more subtle ways. Also, it's not ALWAYS about passing it on in a jab, but often just leaving things around so as they 'could' happen. It's often a lack of concern for others because of someone's own situation.

I can also give 100's of instances of addicts with Hep C or HIV going out their way to ensure a clean needle. I can even tell you stories of the two people in the post doing that. But the post wasn't about that, it was about the times they don't, and the fact that they sometimes don't. I had been around Marge many times in those first weeks and not once did he try anything bizarre... but one day he did, and then to others apart from me. So even if someone climbs Mount Everest on monday to fetch a clean needle, yet on Wednesday they give someone else a dirty spike, it's only wednesday that interests me in that.

I think the rate of infection amongst IV'ing addicts speaks for itself. If NO-ONE passed the disease/s on it'd fail to be such a huge problem. I also know that most humans are selfish and don't give a fuck about others. If they pass on a disease, so what!

But not everyone. As you say you do, I also know people who'll go out their way to be clean and not pass on a disease. But that's a small minority and most just don't care. Maybe I wouldn't care... I don't know.

Anyway, you take care Naomi and I hope the baby's not tiring you out too much. Some just sleep. They're by far the best! X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey CG

I wish HIV was a hot issue in the 'injecting' drugs community. We're the group with the highest rate of infection, virus to people, and it's sssh'd up and swept under the carpet. I have my ideas why but I won't go into it here as it's way off subject and will leave me typing until miudnight.

That's sweet about your friend. I think the gay community and it's openess has learnt to live and be much more responsible with this disease than most. Not all of course, and it also depends on what sex we're talking about and any danger-thrills attached to it. Some of the stories I come across on barebacking forums scare the shit out of me. The most harrowing are uninfected young men and boys voluntarily having unprotected sex with men who openly admit to having HIV. God, the world's gone crazy... or the people in it are just ever more fucked up.

Ok... I think I'm done here. It's the second time I've replied to you as the first one got lost and swallowed by 'The Net' during a server crash.

If you thank me, well I thank you just as much. My words only exist if people are willing to read them.... so Thank You! Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Ruth,

You've not missed much. I got into a bit of a rut over on Bubblegum and have left myself having to finish something I dread finishing.

I guess people enjoy whatever they relate to more. The more I write the more I realize that in a way it's ALL fiction. Even if the events happened we still choose how to put them across and how to describe the people and places involved. Unless it's a straight report of facts (which of course is a bore to read) I think the truth is a very murky thing.

Anyway, hope to see you back around more when you're up to it...

Love and Thoughts, Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya KAY3,

If you've come here just to make me feel embarrassed it's worked! I just write, you know... my mind has its own way to arrange the things I've seen and I just type it out (and then completely redraft it all!!!) Hahaha.

An idiot must never listen to himself. Never forget that. X

Anonymous said...

Hi our ,i love your writing and as i live in wood lane and knew ace back in the day i thought i would drop you a line from the bush...i remember seeing marge around,s\he was a larger than life street person that crossed my path many times in the street,maybe he smiled at my daughter at the bus stop or helped me struggle onto a bus laden with push chair and kiddies.My boyfriend busks and encountered marge selling his art outside tesco on holland park avenue,he even purchased a picture of a moonlit waterfall..!I heard thru the grapevine that marge died about a year ago,i was not surprised, s\he lost so much weight and looked terrible last i saw him,no more wigs....Its weird to hear the inside story after seeing this character on the streets and wondering about them...

Annie x

Astralis said...

It's a strange issue. How can someone do such a psychopathic thing... I also know some people that have been intentionally infected with HIV or Hepatitis C. One time a guy with HIV wanted to have sex with me, without even mentioning he has the condition. I'm lucky I said "no" in that situation. I heard about his condition afterwards.

A couple of months ago, friends of my ex-boyfriend might have lied to me about the speed fix they offered, when they said "it's not used." Some days after that, I started to worry if there was any reason to be suspicious about that. I'll only know that when I'm going to have myself tested, because if I'm having Hepatitis C, it probably wouldn't be seen in a test yet. It's frustrating that I need to wait about three months before I know if I have it or not.

I haven't been using lately, not for a month and a half, so i would be kind of fucked up if I had C now that I've been feeling I'm recovering from the amphetamine addiction.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Annie,

God, I hope Marge never smiled at your daughter... that'd leave her traumatised for life!

I never listen to the grapevine. When it speaks it usually speaks bollocks. I've lost count of the amount of people I've heard are dead and the next week I've had to cut my celebrations short after seeing them rolling an aubergine or something down the checkout in Tesco's. I lived in White City and that place is a hot-pot of rumours and suggestions. I've seen peoples lives ruined by them. One man was terrorized and finally burnt out his flat for being a 'pedophile'. He was nothing of the sort. In fact he preferred dogs... well that's what my friend Paul told me anyway. He said he once peeped in through his letter box and saw him buggering his pet Golden Retriever. Even that was 16 years old... not a young pup or anything.

Ace... yeah. He wasn't a bad dealer when he was doing it himself and taking it seriously. He had some huge complexes though. Thought every white man was racist and absolutely despised addicts. I still know people who use his number, though of course he doesn't do it himself anymore but has a load of young kids running it around for him. They're doing those silly five quid bags that wouldn't stun a fly.

Anyway, take care Annie and maybe we'll speak again soon. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Astralis,

I don't think it is a psychopathic behaviour... I think it's a common selfish human behaviour. That so many (including myself)can understand the motivations behind such a thing (even if we also think it's a terrible thing to do) says that we can in some way sympathise with such behaviour. We can usually sympathise with a behaviour when we kinda often do the same just in different ways. So I think it's very far from a psychotic thing... just selfish and human.

I know loads who ave been intentionally infected and I also know some who have admitted to infecting people. Two people have mailed me since I posted admitting to it and explaining why.

What you say about sex is what John from the post used to do as well. He was tall and thin and handsome and could pick up girls (junkie girls) every other night. He'd sleep with them and then always fuck them off so as he never had to come clean and have that BIG moment. Again, I think he enjoyed knowing that they may have contracted the virus. I think more than anything it's just really sad. The human race has become utterly selfish. I don't think there is another animal that is quite as self-centered.

You touch on a good point about maybe being diagnosed with Hep C while recovering. I was speaking about this with a friend just the other week, how for an ex-injecting-drug addict (who has been diagnosed with HIV or Hep C on going into treatment) the future is kinda written and has an extra dash of hopelessness poured in the mix. How many are gonna think it's really worthwhile cleaning up after receiving news like that?! Disease and it's effect on the addict during recovery is something that clinics and aftercare clean-up places completely disregard.It was something I hated about getting onto a methadone program: I had to be tested for every kind of disease imaginable. If I refused I wasn't able to enter treatment. Not only did I have to be tested for HIV and Hepatitis but also for diabetes, emphysema, endocarditis, kidney damage, heart damage... the lot. Luckily all was OK except I had high blood pressure and an ir(regular heartbeat. Though just that made me run out and phone my dealer to cope!

Ok, I've blathered on enough now...

Thanks for reading and your comment, Love and Thoughts, Shane. X

Anonymous said...

Wow, good read as per usual

It never even crossed my mind people would do that! How would you live with yourself afterward

I guess its the society we live in today

eyelick said...

Eye'll try to keep the putting "eyes" into words minimal, (i.e. Eye'm, eye'll, m'eye, wh'eye, eyedea... hehe) since they may be hard for people to read through, at least at first.

At first, eye didn't know WHAT the hell you were talking about "junkies killing each other." But then when you talked about the AIDS thing, then- hmmmmm...

This girl who used to come around (now dead of MRSA - think she had HEP or AIDS too??)- squirted water from her previously used syringe at my boyfriend. (gotta clean it our w/water after use w/black tar if you ever want to use it again.) When she came over, eye would WATCH what she did with her syringe as much as possible, tell her to throw it out or take it with her. If eye found a syringe in the house that eye couldn't precisely recall putting there, it got thrown out! Actually, even after the previously-mentioned girl spent some time in my room, though upon returning to her she had a syringe in her hand - boyfriend said not to use any needles from the bedroom after that bc "people will put them back in with yours." Eye wondered who the hell would do that? But then now eye see. And just in case, eye DID switch to the ones that were in the kitchen, even though they were in worse shape.

it's very strange to me that people "need to be educated" about the risks - the whole AIDS thing had been pounded into me since 6th grade sex ed, far as eye can remember... so, by the time eye got into using needles, eye knew not to share (tho didn't really know about HEP yet, but contracted the same way,) and bought new ones as often as eye could. but far as other at-risk-for-using-needles groups - perhaps drug-using people with a history of self-mutilation?

Almost seems a little paranoid to me that you won't even be in the same room as someone injecting - but - with someone practically attacking you with one, eye can see the reason!

Anyhow, as you may or not be sick of hearing by now - love your blog! Your flowing descriptions wrap the reader in your experience. Now me, eye don't even NOTICE the little details like you do, being either wrapped up in thought (and yeah eye DO walk into things sometimes!) or just being more action-oriented. Finally on a computer instead of the phone, So happy to finally be able to comment after reading during the last couple of months. went through your whole blog within 3 days, LOTS of it reminded me of my boyfriend's past, which is what first drew me in.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hi Anon,

I don't think it's society today... I think it's just human beings. We've always done the same... and our history (certainly for the past 2000) has been based on revenge (an eye for an eye). People who feel unjustly done by feel better when they know someone else has also been unjustly done by. Also diseases like syphilis... passed on through the ages, very often intentionally. This behaviour has always been there.

What I wrote about is the extreme end, but it's no real difference to a sadistic site foreman putting his apprentices through hell because that's what he went through coming up. We just feel better when we're not experiencing hell alone. Even the devil's company.

X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

AyeLick, High and Wellcum...

Yew woodn't confews me... Eye've bean righting inn this manor four sum years now. Inn fact, m'eye thirst online work was a fine egg'sample off such idiocy and the comment fred on WFJ was know strainger two it either.

Butt seriously...

I may very well be paranoid... after all I am a hypercondriac. But aside from that I think like this:

I am sitting at a table with an open wound to my body. To either side of me there is a person (with blood born viruses) also with open wounds. Each of us holds a syringe with fresh blood on the spike.

Now to me, I find that a VERY risky position to be in. I don't think it's paranoia but a normal healthy fear. Imagine not being a junkie and being placed in that situation? (Well, you'd need to be placed in it, because you'd never willingly put yourself in it). In that situation you are one accident away from having some kind of blood-to-blood contact. I think more than me being paranoid that out of necessity we gradually forget the perils of such a situation and begin to think of it as normal. Also, I know just from shooting alone how some fixes can get really messy and blood gets everywhere. Then I imagine that x3, five times a day, everyday. To me that justifies paranoia and so it's not paranoia at all. (Unless I'm paranoid about being paranoid and then it gets really confusing...)

The story you told (MRSA).. yeah I've been told similar things. I think I'm gonna write down all the ways I've ever heard about (some very inventive) to spike someone with a dirty syringe. I don't know if they are all true but that someone has then even thought of them says alot anyway But I'll list all the ways I've come across. It'll be interesting if nothing else.

Well no-one needs to be educated that blood-to-blood contact can result in HIV, but they do need to be educated in the ways that can happen.. the often very subtle ways which we'd never have imagined. I hardly know any addicts who actually share needles, so they have contracted the disease from sharing spoons or filters or cups of injecting water. These are the things you don't really think twice about when you first start. Or stuff like someone hitting you up, but first feeling up your arm (with their bloody fingers) and then giving you and injection where their fingers have been. Because it doesn't need to be wet blood (or even visible). The smallest speck of dried blood can pass on hepatitis. So there needs to be a lot of 'education' around such things. And the education does exist, only it happens after we've already done everything we shouldn't. My point is that it needs to reach people before it happens.

A good test of this would be to ask a group (of non-addicts and with no experience) how HIV or Hep C can be passed on within the injecting drugs community. They will all say "sharing".. maybe "by accident", "sex" but very, very few will mention sharing equipment, or allowing someone to hit you up. So we're educated that as long as we use clean needles it's OK. But that's not true. Many people who contract Hep C through IV use are using a CLEAN needle when it happens. So we all know not to share needles, but not many know not to share a handshake and then go and shoot up. Unfortunately these are mostly only things we know about when it's too late.

Well... I must be over my maximum comment length again. Blast! I wish I could just say "yes" or "no"!

Thanks for all your time reading... Thoughts & Wishes, Shane. X

Anonymous said...

1. I perceive this text on two planes. One that plays on the surface of the life circumstances of a certain social group and the human behaviour dealing with these conditions. So one could see it as a social report with moral and important educational implications. The second plane lies right under the surface and is symbolic when you look at the text as a narrative of what happened to an individual and when you ask what did all this mean to the author? Is there a deeper sense, a higher significance or does it just boil down to the kind of shit that people experience when they stir in certain circles?
Concerning the first plane I'd like to pick up the explanation given in the first post: passing on the virus means diffusing the responsibility. If diffusing here means obscuring, yes, and even shoving it away. People who pass it on with intention want to undo the responsibilty for their own actions because their victims get it "just like that". They create the bad luck that they would like to claim for themselves.
There are people who would never admit a crime, not because they feel uncomfortable with what they have done, but because they can't stand the shame of what they think they are in the eyes of others.
Keeping up an image of themselves is much more important to them than to face themselves in the mirror of their actions. I don't know if this can be attributed to a general selfishness or the strange comfort of not being alone in their suffering. Wouldn't it be more comforting to see friends relatively happy?
continued...

Anonymous said...

2.Now the symbolic plane which is fascinating. The key phrase, the crucial moment is when Marge the drag queen exclaims "don't be such a drama queen". Yes, this kind of being knows a real rival right away even if he is still in the cradle. A man who so tragically and ridiculously wants to incorporate the spirit of someone who he will never be, pays the price of self-destruction and is thus also glued to a bitter envy and jealousy which can turn out to be murderous. People suffering from a narcissistic peronality disorder can distinguish quality and originality in others very well. So Marge appears in the role of a false (drama) queen, the evil queen in fairy-tales which is threatened by the reflections of the mirror like in Snowhite. Her opponent is Verity. And that is really wunderbar because if this wasn't the woman's real name, Shane couldn't have chosen a better one if he had invented the story. To me it seems that Verity in real life and on the symbolic plane plays another figure that reflects inherent qualities of the hero. This time positive and helpful. What is she like? She is calm, considerate, careful and rational. We don't know what she looks like, she is defined by what she did. The key phrase here is: "she asked me lots of questions." Scrutinizing the situation, untangling the mess, picking the good lentils out of the ashes like Cinderella. Reassuring the hero who is in an emotional turmoil back to the state where he can take rational action himself.
Not every encounter or every person we meet has a significance for ourselves, and not everyone is a reflection of our traits whether the positive and the negative sides. But I think this story has got something of a core narrative and our hero could elaborate on that in future stories which are more fictional. I say our hero, who is Shane, but there is of course a difference between Shane in the stories and Shane the author and man himself.
So this dark urban tale contains much more than just the facts and the words in the lines if one is willing to read between the lines. I hope you have found this enlightening as just a little remark on Shane's soberly related dramas. "Very Victor Hugo." :-)
With candy and flowers from Miss Maud Marple

Aiden72 said...

Well said! I am glad someone has finally confirmed what I have been telling people for the last 15 years. It will lose you friends. Make no mistake. It has me anyway. I won't bore you with my story but i was actually intentionally infected with hepatitus twice!!! The first time I was lucky and cured myself but the second time I didn't get so lucky and now have cirrhosis of the liver. I just can't understand how you have any sympathy with the people who do this. I don't.I've basically been given a death sentence. The chances are i'll be dead in the next three years. I can't forgive the person who has done that or understand them. I'm just glad you got lucky. No-one should have to live with this. I can't even use heroin anymore as my livers too weak. Even methadone makes me ill as my liver cannot process it. Sorry to go on and thank you for bringing this to light.

Aiden72

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Maud, well thanks for going through everything so thoroughly... you probably put more thought into deconstructing the text than I did constructing it. I can't answer every point or I'll be here until Christmas so I'll pick out a couple of things and answer that way.

I don't know if this can be attributed to a general selfishness or the strange comfort of not being alone in their suffering.

I think not wanting to be alone IS selfish. Wanting someone besides us just so as we don't experience something alone (especially a fear) gets right to the heart of the problem. But it's a human problem and in that way a humane selfishness. I understand selfishness. I am a human being myself and as selfish as any other. To be conscious of our faults is a success. To be able to stand up and proudly say: I am a hypocrite! is all enlightenment at once.

Wouldn't it be more comforting to see friends relatively happy?

Yes it would be more comforting to us as other human beings, but not to the self. It's idealistic. We enjoy friends relatively happy if WE are relatively happy; and relatively sad when we are down. It's not nice to be at odds or alone in the world. We need to relate to people and things around us. I think anything that puts us in an alien position in society we will try to align the balance.. in whatever we can. As I said in the post, support groups kinda work/help in the same way. Why would someone with a life threatening or terminal illness find such peace through contact with others experiencing the same? Why would a mother whose child was raped and killed find solace in another mother who has experienced the same? That's a selfish healing. But human none-the-less. I'm not sure if it's a 'natural' human behaviour or something which has come about through tens of thousands of years of social living??? I do know that the most likely time a human or any other animal is likely to hurt another is when it is suffering pain itself.

That may all sound terribly pessimistic. I hope so because it is. But I am not a pessimist. I only ever search out hope. And there is hope, but it lays in the few. There are not many good souls to be found, but they can be found... I know, I've found them. Their reward was me... which wasn't so lucky!

Take Care Maud and hopefully we'll see you around in the comment section from now on. Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Aiden and thanks for adding your voice of confirmation to what I say. Thankfully it hasn't turned into a rout with everyone clubbing together to tread on the idea. I really thought that may have happened as it's a touchy subject adn I think if I walked into a methadone clinic and said such a thing I'd get a good hiding. But very often people knock your teeth out because you're right... it's not always a negative thing.

That's a hard blow you've had, but you still must take some responsibilty in it. You could only be infected because you was in that place, and you put yourself there. Same as I did when it happened to me. I'm sorry if that seems harsh, but I speak my mind here and try my hardest to understand even the lowest human acts. I don't believe in evil. I believe we act out of reason, even if sometimes that reason is irrational. Even a madman has reason. So I do undeerstand the people who do this and I try to understand why. Marge is not a monster because he done that... he's no different to who he ever was (John neither). Maybe I'd think differently if I'd actually been infected,; but I don't think so. I always try to overcome such emotions and think past them. My pêt hate is someone who suddenly becomes pro-death penalty just because their life has been affected by a crime that could call for it. So I sympathise with you and I wish I could undo time and make it better, but I can't and anyway to make it better would also mean to make you not be in that position. If someone just ran up from nowhere and jabbed you, that's a different thing.. but I don't think that's how it happened.

I hope to see you again and I wish you all the best in your treatment and hope you stay well for as many years as me (but not more!) Haha

Thoughts and Wishes, Shane./ X

eyelick said...

Oh, you're right about the cookers & cotton thing - SO many people don't give it a second thought! As there aren't needle exchanges where eye live, one would think it would be
"common sense" to think NOT to use the cotton & spoon/cooker for activities such as a "rinse"/"wash" from someone else - thinking, "My needle may end up where theirs just was, the water they last used was squirted out from their used needle." But people don't... like you, have seen people splitting up from one spoon, baffled to why eye would refuse. Or people thinking it's safe to share if they're just using it IM instead of IV - someone wanted to "pay me back" for helping them out once with a bag, when eye went out to beg while sick one morning, he handed over half his shot, "Just muscle it." He seemed almost Offended at my refusal, had to explain it to him. & the girl who died from MRSA, now eye know eye don't have any diseases, but she doesn't know that. She asked for USED cottons & would take used needles. She said she learned in jail that once these diseases hit air, they die. Perhaps it was her mistaken interpretation of "these diseases aren't airborne." You're completely correct... it's baffling, but so many people have misconceptions about what's safe.

Oh! One thing eye don't understand about clothing in your blog... what is a "jumper?" Please explain this to a stupid American.

originalkitten said...

Hi Shane
I'm Louise or Kitt whichever you prefer. I was introduced to your blog a while back by my fab cousin Ruth aka wildernesschic. Your writing skills are outstanding and you have me waiting with baited breath for the next post. When Ruth first showed me your blog I must admit I went " eurgh a blog written by a smackhead". I had had bad experience of smackheads as where I used to live was known as Smackhead City. I lived in a 14 story high rise and I think I was the only clean person in there. 50%of the tenants that were addicted to heroin had kids and it was heartbreaking when you would hear a baby scream for hours because it's mother was too spaced out or had gone to score. I never acted as I was too scared. I'd just had my eldest, who's 16 now, and they used to threaten him with used needles. I was with my kids dad until four years ago and he was a big muscly man and had connections and he'd warn them off but they would still do it for shits and giggles. It was because of this i became a recluse and would only leave the house once a fortnight to go shopping and this went on for 5 yeqrsnnThis one time I did interact; It was the couple on the 14th floor, they had a baby and they had been screaming at each other for hours and scream at the baba. Then the guy started screaming for Sharon, the gf, to stop. The baby had gone quiet and he had screamed over and over either "'don't do it please, Sharon pls stop" etc. I was worried for the babe & called security which was downstairs. As it turns out Sharon had locked him in the flat after beating the crap outta him cause he used all their gear. Not long after I moved to a low rise where it was only a block of 4 with 1'floor with an addict nxt door and one dowmstairs and actually became friends with the lad nxt door. Not best friends but I'd say hi. I did note there was some unwritten code. Every night especially in the high rise you would hear flats being broken into but women with kids were never touched.
Anyway fast forward to now I'm living in the poorer end of the posh part of Liverpool. Two mins away is where the soccer players live. I'm not very well so spend a lotta time in bed reading. And as I said Ruth showed me your blog and my initial reaction was of shock horror and fear. Until I started reading and realising that I was guilty of two of the things I hate the most - being judgemental and stereotyping. I thought I was openminded to everyone and I found in some aspects I wasnt. Your blog helped me realise this so I want to say thank you for making me be a better person. Hugs Lou x

Phaedrus said...

Slight return: due to THC, I forgot to add some things to my prior comment on your last blog (TKF). I'll stick with two, because stimulants make me rant. First,though you may well want to deny it, I find your writing has deep roots in existentialism, and TKF seemed to be pregnant with existentialist themes (most obviously: death; less obviously: the others). Second, I also accuse you of having a weird mix of personality traits - have you ever (1) been measured on OCEAN (the five key dimensions of personality), or (2) assessed by a psychologist or shrink? I would be interested to know their views, if only to dismiss them (why not). In short, you're fucking unique, and though its grammatically and semantically incorrect to say so, you are uniquer than most other unique people I have met. Anyone who is thinking 'everyone is unique' is being pedantic - most people are psychological clones of a small group of personality types, like primary fucking colours. You are psychic tartan or something rare - maybe some obscure colour name only found and named in paint catalogs. The drugs are wearing off now, so thats it. MOH, you are a GEEK (Giant Existentialist Eschatological Kaleidoscope of a man). Deny that without moving, you weird and wonderful outsider.

"I've got some questions that are guaranteed to shake you up" (The Residents).

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Lou and welcome!

God, I feel for you... a highrise block full of addicts! A lowrise bungalow full of them is enough! Though at least you had the added bonus that they could fall out the windows and land on the railings. Sometimes we do that... though only when the gear's really, REALLY good!

But seriously, down south addiction is much more hidden than up north. I've seen places like you describe, especially going up past Liverpool and Manchester and onto Scotland. In London we've just as many addicts but they're more dispersed and much less visible. Yes you can find needles in the street, or stairwells obviously used for taking drugs, but it's not so rife it's a problem. It's like a secret world down here. And only once you are in it do you realise just what a problem it is. It's like one of those magic-eye pictures. At first you cannot see it, but once you do it is all you can see.

Concerning children of addicted parents, well, I was one. My father was a heroin addict and my mother a chronic alcoholic. I don't think any substance abuse makes for a happy or healthy upbringing, whether it's heroin, crack, alcohol, or prescribed tranquilizers. But I try to understand the parents and I know sometimes in life there are times where no matter what responsibilities we have we have to look after ourself and numb our own pains. That's hard when there are children involved, but it's what happens and I try not to portion blame but to look for the reasons as to why people do such things or are negligent. I know my own mother's alcoholism was unavoidable if she was to get through that period of her life alive. I think without alcohol she would have killed herself. And it was the same with all the problem parents of my friends. They all had huge traumas they were trying to deal with and these wounds were so great that responsibility goes out the window. It's kinda impossible to take care of your children while you're struggling not to drowned. And from what I saw being a decent parent would have been even more impossible sober than it was drunk... because even sober the person had fallen to bits for a while. My brother, sister and I suffered terribly as children, but looking back there was nothing that could have been done... not by anyone. Taking us out off the home would have lessened some hurts and created others. By the time it gets to that point the damage is already done. I see the problems as social ills and not personal ills. We need to fix the social fabric of society and the people will not need mending. So I try not to be harsh on parents with substance problems, and of course, I don't have children, but if I did, they'd also be living a life of neglect as I type. God, I'd be a terrible influence even without drugs to help.

I think about stereotyping there is always a certain amount of truth in a stereotype and also a lot of myth. I wouldn't feel too bad about stereotyping as long as when you meet individuals you treat them as you find them and not based on a general type. I'd still be wary of getting over friendly with an addict though... of all the addicts I've ever known I can only think of two who wouldn't rob you if they needed gear. I think unless it's a family member or partner it's probably best to be polite but remain guarded. It's not after weeks or months that an addict (or anyone) can prove themselves honest but after years. Even now, any addict that enters my flat I watch like a hawk. I've learnt to do so if i want to keep anything other than the walls and ceiling!

Now I'm being cruel... so I think I better leave, haha.

Thanks again Lou and if you're even half as beautiful as Ruth you can come back anytime. Shane. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Who asked about jumpers?

Someone asked "What is a jumper?"

It's gotta be an American! That much I am sure of.

Dancing in the disco
Bumper to bumper
"Wait a minute,
where's me jumper?"


A jumper is a vest with legs. I think some people call them sweatshirts and others call them pull-overs and some even call them Joompas!

Where's Me joompa?

Where's me joompa?

Where's me joompa?

????????????????

X

Angelo said...

Dude, you are such a gifted writer. I have hep c and never tried to pass it off. I always told everyone not to use my cooker or works because of it.

Respectfully,

Angelo

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Phaedrus,

No, I only deny things if they can get me into trouble, and I only admit things if they can get me out of trouble. I suppose there's without doubt some existential influence in my writing, though not to the point where I intentionally pick themes to play upon. I think if anything it's in my writing more as a feeling than anything. I've always been drawn to the existentialist writers because I always felt common to the loneliness and the hopelessness that flows through that kind of prose. I also enjoy writing without narrative structure and have never read for the love of traditional story telling. I very rarely ever finish a book I start. It's not important. I only finish the books with no endings. I like things to be there and gone. It's the space inbetween that interests me.

No, I've never been assessed by a psychiatrist or shrink and have never taken a personality test either. I have seen shrinks but only because I was forced to by drug rehab centres, etc. Those meetings never got anywhere near to me being analysed. But sure, they'd obviously say I'm crazy... all individuals are crazy under the glare of psychology. I'm really against this modern disease of wanting to have every smile, tear and reaction analysed and accounted for. If someone laughs at a funeral they go to see a psychiatrist nowadays... and if they cry after they go too. Why did I laugh? Why am I crying? Why can't I diet? Why does ice-cream make me feel lonely? Why do I want to fuck my wife in the arse? Why do I fart during job interviews? The world wants answers for being human. And more than answers they want to be diagnosed. Every other person is bi-polar!!! Really. Read around. Bi-polar is the new general diagnoses for people with nothing wrong with them. Fuck, doctors used to just give out painkillers and antibiotics to get rid of us. Now they give us mental illnesses and anti-depressants. It's insane. The system is insane. Capitalism is bi-polar! So no, I don't visit shrinks and don't feel I have any need to. And anyway, as I say, it'd be a waste of time: they'll only say I'm crazy.

Existentialism 1 - 0 Psychiatry

That's the final score. X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey ya Angelo...

Thanks for what you say, and I know many people would never dream of passing hep c or HIV on. Stay healthy, man... and take care, Shane. X

bugerlugs63 said...

Hi.
Been relishing your stories for almost a year now. Always looking forward to the next one, whilst enjoying older posts. Have just started my own blog. Like most older dysfunctinal addicts I got heaps of stories to tell. . . just wish I could tell them as well as you. Glad to read in your comments that you gonna be posting regular again. Lived in France myself once, in a former life :-) well it feels like a former life, one of many . . .Look forward as always to more from you & maybe a visit chez moi un jour, a bientot,
Buggalugz

nikita said...

Hello, Shane,

great job, as usually.
The subject of HIV-transmission/infecting among the users is obviously here in Poland, where I'm living, very vital, too. Considering the fact the "real stuff" is pretty frequently replaced by the homemade stuff (so called "kompot"), just go figure, how things getting the completely "new", "wider" range/shape, so to said.(sorry for my disabled speech)
Not only the "works"/equipment is potential "biological weapon", but the stuff as itself could strike you a low blow...Actually you need to cook up/heat up the littlest part of the dope (unless it's your PERSONAL stuff you converted into diamorphine by your own hand;)), if you want to avoid that awful feeling of being unsure every time you testing yourself and get the test's-result with fully stable hand(not whole in a dither, I mean;)).
So, I'm definitely standing on the point "zero tollerance for that all 'trust-and-no-trust' little, cheap, fucking games"!!!
I remind myself one of those shitty situations I got enforced to choose between being kind and (probably) being alive/healthy. As I said, the "game" were played just between "kindness" and "health", and it wasn't easy, so who knows what would happen if the "stake" were the "sickness" as an opposite to the "health".
I just left the methadone clinic and met my buddy; oldtime love; for now kinda "dodgy" type I don't trust anymore, but still got attracted by. I asked him, if he wouldn't have something good for me, and he confirmed very glad...too much glad. He said to me, he knows some very nice snug place here, just the next door, we could get high together.We hit the street speechless. I was nearly 100%ly sure, the shot he offers isn't just a gift, but there's some cheap mean/oddly trick existing behind.
"I'm sure you aren't against I heat the stuff up. By the way, have you a spoon maybe?"
He stopped and his face seemed to change.
"Why, for fucks sake, you want to fuck yourself with that shit?It's comletely needless, 'cos it's MY private stuff..."
"Yeah,out of any doubt,but you know, there could be thousands various options existing...I mean, referring to what could happen to the dope by the way...it's a long roughly way from the home-laborathory to the vein, right?"-I felt fucking sandwiched and desperately tried to turn the situation into a joke.
"Ya don't trust me,darling?-he sounds really serious.
"No, I mean yes, I trust you, but...We are going getting high together, right?Should it be pleasure or punishment? So let's do it so we both feel as comfortable, as it possible, ok?"
"No, you DON'T cook up the stuff. Trust me or not?"
This time he drove me mad and no matter how kind and easily embarrased person I'm usually, I decided to play the open game.
"Does it mean you make me choose between cook up and shoot up? Does it mean you share your dope only regarding that I take a risk?"-I asked.
"Yeah,exactly."
"So guess what?Let you know even if I trusted you before, now it's over and I don't trust you anymore. Something wrong in it? Maybe I'm just a paranoid bitch, and so what? My fucking right. But if your intentions were clear, you just would say:'this girl maybe overdo a little, but, hell, she's really reasonable.'"
Few weeks later I heard the rumors flying, I "accused" him to try "sale me" HIV.
Maybe I was wrong, but at least my tests are all right. I think the clean stuff/equipment(safe behaviours) is one thing and "trust and no-trust" is something else; there're two different things. The cathegory of "trust" is somehow pathetical "misused" in HIV-infecting context.

Take care, ShaneX

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Very interesting post, Shane. You know nothing surprises me about human beings anymore.

Love to you,

SB

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hiya Nikita, and excuse me for not replying earlier but it completely slipped my mind I had unanswered comments on this post.

Yeah I've read a few articles about that Kompost stuff. I'm not gonna be critical because I'd surely be doing it myself if I knew how and couldn't score any smack. As for it being 'dirty', well, I think if you follow the heroin trail from the poppy fields that also passes through some pretty grimy hands and kitchens. Don't forget a lot of people involved in heroin are their for a reason: they like it themselves! So even clean heroin that hits the streets has passed through some major shitholes. Though at least we don't see them... and that's always better.

I laugh at how the world thinks that the danger of heroin is in its strength and the risk of OD. But us addicts know different. Most deaths come about through HIV and hepatitis related illnesses and infections. The real danger is the diseases, not the dope.

Anyway, we make our choices and must fall by them. It's ONLY life!

Take care Nikita.. and sorry again for the delay in replying...

Love and Thoughts, Shane.X

Anonymous said...

It took a while, but I finally finish reading this post. I've been so busy that I don't even had a moment to sit down and relax...
I'm glad I took this moment to read this! As always...what a fantastic way you write. I wish I had your gift to write the way you do and make us, enjoy every word.

I was scared when I saw the topic what HIV. I thought you would say that you had it. Glad it's not the case and hope you continue that way! Please, take care!

kiss kiss
V.

karl said...

Hi, that was an extremely thought provoking post.
I think that shared experiences are a human trait that separates us from the rest of the animals.We have the ability to empathise or imagine ourselves in a plight different to that of our own.I find the idea of someone passing on what they are suffering from for their own gain quite frightening whatever their motivation might be and I'm sure there are people out there who've gone out of their way to become infected for their own selfish reasons. Whilst selfishness is practically a pastime for humans it is a trait found in all species as part of their instinct to survive.This is part of a huge philosophical debate which is probably going to go on forever and may never reach a satisfactory conclusion.
I wonder if given time the human race will ever rid itself of selfishness or is it an essential element of our make up that we could never do without.

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The working class hero said...

Brilliant writing, passing blood borne virus's on intentionally does exist - I have a friend with a unwelcome and uninvited HIV status that received it this way, I don't know how He deals with the anger I would feel towards the giver (a mallet seems very reasonable!).
This post is very old but immensely enticing, poignant and realistic, is there still life on 'Planet Shane'?

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