The Bay of Naples

.
It fails me now the quarter in which we were staying, Pedro and I, but we headed out from there. We passed the prostitutes under the flyover, cut through the throbbing perversity of the traffic, then slopped through the fish market. Into the ghetto Espagnolé, mothers scrubbing kids in tin baths in the street, toothless grandmas shelling peas on doorsteps, insults and curses and fights ricocheting from windows up and around: a poem of southern Italy. Past the concrete football pitch. Weeds growing up from the cracks. Bin bags and trash piled twelve foot high around the far perimeter. Refuge strikes. Rats strolling about freely. Cock-roaches the size of almonds. Out from the tall shaded third world into the sun baked thirder first world. Illegal Nigerians and Malians. Odd shoes, socks, rags, DVDs, video cassettes, saucepans, books, electrical gadgets, fabrics, blankets, broken toys, board games, cutlery... All splattered out along the pavement. Screaming pushing grabbing haggling fighting. The dribbling arsehole of the common market. Up Head, the bag snatchers on Vespers. Weaving in and out the traffic. Up on the pavement, whizzing by, arms reaching out, whether they're making a snatch or not. Piazza Garibaldi. The junkies of the central station. Those who've copped marching off like snivelling storm-troopers. A junkie girl. Bare bruised legs and flip flop feet, holding onto her man. Laughing. Life is sweet and it's just about to get sweeter. A poem of love in the South. Vacant stares on wastrel faces. A memory of the future. Down now, into the city proper. Syringes in the dustbins, packets of prescription drugs in the gutter, stains of human life in the doorways. The new wave punks sold on anarchy and printed slogans. Graffiti. Torn flapping posters. Leaflets. Flyers. A call to arms. Whistles and screams ringing out from manifestations. Police motorbikes parked outside cafés. Traffic cops staring out at the noise and heat and bustle over small espressos. Onto the main street. The sickening and universal smell of commerce turns out from revolving doors. Leather, perfume, polished floors, brass adornments, tailored shirts, fetish heels, gold trimmed bags, designer sunglasses, gold watches, rings and pearls and ground roasted coffee beans. The Vespas ever present. Smelling blood. Zipping by for the idiot girl who carries her bag road side. The homeless and the trash hosed away, back down to the station with the niggers and the whores and addicts. Up now. Climbing. The roads widen out and there's a haze in the near distance. Palm trees plotted along the central divide. They shake and whisper through faint breezes in the baked day. Huge rectangular advertising boards. Sun cream, breasts and bikini lines. The sea front. Salt and sand and sex and slime. A host of gay bars along the front. Pushed out to the very edge of the city. High class men of a certain fashion with strong jaws and designer stubbles. They sit outside looking like they're doing nothing but must be doing something. The weak lira smells strong. We climb now. The lira climbs with us. Up sea side inclines. Fantastic slanted houses and shops drunk on the hills. Transvestites and leather and sexual perversions in the safe damp of unfindable places. House whores. A Clandestine class. Studded motorbikes, piercings, industrial metal, open windows, reclusive artists working away in dark interiors. Paintings out in the street to dry. Streets getting so narrow now. Buildings trying to kiss as they lean forward. Mediterranean air. The roads wind up higher and become narrower. Little expensive cafés and bistros tucked away. A bar owner slops out a bucket of floor water for the sun to suck up. So hot. Humid. Condensation dripping from window sills. People in just shorts and sandals and sun glasses and cream. This is where they sigh all day and curse the world and heat. Where the evening arrives like a jewelled oasis. Up so high now and in front of me I can see the city, a steaming shit of ghettos and waste, of noise and pollution and history as as it eats itself up. Squalor, poverty, death, disease. It's all down there, rotting away in the streets and doorways. And Pedro exists. And he's running. His laugh is dreamy and it seems like he's in one of those tragic videos that I'll watch my entire life. And I watch him and he calls me, in Italian, soft contours. And this could be love and it should be love. I watch out from myself, drunk on the romance of a city of sadness and trash. And he's in the cool now, past the last bar on the highest point of the city. He's staring off over a wall and the air is rushing through his hair and I can smell the soap off his skin and something magic too. I climb the last step of hill and the shade and cool hits me like all of Italy is loving me at once. And for a moment the world goes quiet and the city behind me drifts silent and only the smell of the sun and of Pedro's image remains. I join him. And he says nothing, just stands there like a ships head looking out and full of breeze and something more than joy. Out in front of us is the Bay of Naples, an expanse of deep green sea with Vesuvius smoking away to the left. On the water is a single fishing boat and we can see the shadows of fish from here. And I say nothing to Pedro's silence. It's all feeling. And it's a great beautiful sad moment in our lives and our death talk of yesterday figures none. And we know, we both know, there is hope in this godforsaken world.... and in that moment, while the sea sat still and the city lay mute behind, we really and honestly had escaped the trappings of men.

28 comments :

_Black_Acrylic said...

An evocative post Shane, thanks for this x

JoeM said...

But this isn't about Heroin! How can I read something that isn't about Heroin!

Perhaps why no comments yet...

(Oh I see Ben's snuck in!)

And I say nothing to Pedro's silence. It's all feeling.

Beautifully elegiac. Reminded me of James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, which I loved.


The homeless and the trash hosed away

Gore Vidal tells of how when he and Tennessee Williams lived in Italy, Tennessee would yearn for dusk 'when all the uh superflous people are gone'.

Vidal says: 'If anyone was superfluous it was us'.

'The Common Market' – haven't heard that phrase in a long time! Sort of places it in time without shouting it.

More in this style please!

addiction said...

I find it very romantic and realistic. As if I were there with you and Pedro.

eyelick said...

Ha the verification has "cop" and "pig" in it. :)

Fabulous description of the way buildings look when they are built on a hill.

It just be so nice to be able to travel and see different cultures. America may have different climates and landscapes, but it seems like there isn't a whole lot of variety.

Eyelick said...

Spent the last few days looking for particular posts of yours, trying to remember phrases that were in them, which sometimes led to completely different ones, which are still wonderful to read. For some reason, was not able to find your other millennium post, the one where you realizes you were an addict? Or is this just a case of "false memories"?

Eyelick said...

realized*

Eyelick said...

realized*

ChefGreen said...

That was just gorgeous, Shane.

Gravediggin' Under the Mancy Way said...

Hey Shane,
It's so good to read something new from you: thank you. I hope you're well and that life is good. I hear France is now as sweltering as the city you describe here. I'm looking forward to your next post already.
You know, I still want your stories in book form: any chance it will happen?
Loadsa love,
Vee XXX

dexy said...

http://dex-diary.blogspot.de/?zx=c61fa8ed32d0245

Check out my blog along similar lines!! I loved ur work! It made me question whether i know you ir not?

Anonymous said...

My favourite blog. You are so talented and your writings addictive.

Much love from England!

xx J

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Everyone... Please excuse the delay in replying but I've really not been feeling well this past week and more. I actually left my front door open one night last week so as someone could get in and find me, but thankfully it was a false alarm and I woke up in the bathroom where I'd gone to die. I suppose that was the Tristram Spencer in me.

Anyway, I'm on the mend now and will be with you all very shortly...

Love & Thoughts, Shane. X

MOnique said...

Doesn't that scare you? 'I woke up in the bathroom where I'd gone to die'??
The world can't lose talent like you... You need to look after yourself a bit better! Geeeze..

Sending love from Aussie! Xx

JoeM said...

Don't feel the need to rush back.

Just take as long as it takes.

I also have about ten different ways I think I'm going to die.

But then I have for some time.

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Joe... X

God, I wish I only had ten ways I was dying! All last week I was convinced I had: a brain haemorrhage, a ruptured aneurysm and a deep vein thrombosis... ALL AT ONCE! And even though that may sound like a joke, it really isn't. I was in bed, my heart racing non-stop, cycles of sweats and hot flushes, shortness of breath.... pure hypochondria - although as real as a valid diagnosis when it's happening. As for the real scare, where I mention going into the bathroom, that came from a weird injection (which started all the panicking off) and scared the hell out of me. I'm not sure what happened, but on taking a shot I had what felt like a thunderbolt shoot down both arms and into the tips of my fingers. Then the most intense pressure shot through my heart and into my head, where it built to such a degree that I was literally standing where I'd fixed crying. After a moment the room went funny (kinda like nothing was quite real or I was cut off from the universe) and then my heart began pounding blood furiously around my body. My head rushed and swirled in 30 second cycles. That lasted an hour, and I honestly felt I'd not see the morning. I remember looking around at the bathroom, at very small, mundane things, and thinking: "so this is how they'll find me... this is the scene that'll be reported back to my few loved ones."

But thankfully it passed, and thankfully the morning did arrive and brought with it such a glorious day that I naturally took stock of a few things and seriously reflected on if I wanted to risk ending this life with more injections. I decided I didn't, that the world was great enough straight. I stayed clean for almost 12 hours. Injection: same thing happened again! I was ill for two days and the panic didn't let up.I did take another small shot after that (4 days ago) but it also had an adverse effect. At that point I actually threw what heroin I had in the bin. I've not had a shot since, but do feel almost back to normal now. We'll see what happens. I know that what followed after the main scare was almost certainly imaginary.... that I worked myself up into furious panic attacks, but ther's no logic or convincing yourself of that when it's happening. I know my history... I know i've worked myself up into such states since my teens, but there's always the thought, after all your logic, that this time it's not imaginary... it's the real thing.

Hypochondria... it really is an awful affliction. My initial addiction to opiates came about through that... they calmed my heartbeat, and fopr the first time in my life I had panic free days. It's why it felt like heaven... X

JoeM said...

Funny (or not!) brain haemorrhage is my latest. I have this persistent pain top right of head. Well I say persistent but it comes and goes.

And the panic attacks. I mean what's it all about...

And yes the cures then can become the cause.

It may just be you getting older and the H not having the same effect. And of course this could be a good thing!

But that's easy for me to say.

Anonymous said...

Sure u didn't put it in atery? Symtoms sound similar …dodgy batch perhaps x luv ya stories as always

lancslad said...

Hey shane,beautiful post,so good to hear from you again,wonderfully descriptive and a joy to the senses.A truly great read.
To offer you a little reassurance with your recent trauma,s ,of which I can relate genuinely as a user at 41 and having suffered a heart attack at 30!!,you can imagine the states ive got myself into,beyond hyperchondria into true paranoic states where a wont sleep for fear of dieing,I,l be found after a week nalf eaten by my 3 cats etc,etc. Here,s my reassurance ive found since drought as you know gear quality over here in blighty to be intermittently poor,and as primarily a smoker(many dalliances with needle but never had more than a few years worth of good veins and wont go no further tan 1ml)Ive seen how dirty the gears got,and being tested at CDTs regularly enough ive showed up testing for barbs,benzo,s and even coke!!,when ive not been near "em,so am sure they wouldn't be shy to use other mood/mind altering adulterants to cut the gear with,anti-depressants and their ilk would be my suggestion as I personally had some real bad side effects with them,real nasty teeth grinding,sleep deprived, trippy experiences,marry that with a penchant for illness,hyperchondria,introspection&the macabre and you have a lethal combination. A wont go on as its 4am but just thought may comfort you a little as even smoking it over past few years ive had some poper dirty gear and also the odd real weid effects off batches that have made me think am glad a didn't hit that up,so,go easy on yourself&take care mate its not so bad to stick to your meth and lay off it when it gets crap,and it has been for a while here but a wont go on,cos soon as a hint of quality again, am back their meself,(made me laff with your going through absolute hell,then, a took another hit 12 hrs later....Then again..)your writing,at times, reminds me of Burrough,s, gives a wry,knowing, smile.Take it easy and look after yourself,But not too much..?he,he , love,C,X

Yas said...

Yeah i would say how you descried it sounds like you hit a nerve, is horrible and scary! But i'm sure you've prob done that before so know what it feels like?

Anyway, hope you are still feeling better. Beautiful piece as always shane.

Yas x

Gledwood said...

Was Pedro Spanish? You know both those langauges sound about the same to me. You know, but a bit different.

¡Me llamo Gledwood!
Mi chiamo Gledwood!
Vivo en Londres.
Abito a Londra...
etc

Do you think the INTERNET HAS GONE DEAD lately...? Most particularly the bloggersphere..???

I do..................
☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Yas....

No, this was no nerve I hit (or artery, as someone else thinks). I've been whacking this stuff up for over 13 years now and have hit untold nerves, dug through arteries, had bad fixes, etc. This wasn't any of those mishaps. God knows what it was, but I've not fixed since it happened for a third time.... X

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

Hey Gleds....

My visitors are the same as ever... just I've not been posting very much (though I never really did anyway). I think my site isn't a place people check into daily, but are mostly subscribed to and then come over once I've posted. It wouldn't surprise me iof the bloggersphere crashed.... and in the main probably wouldn't be a bad thing.

Pedro was Italian.... from Naples.

X

Wildernesschic said...

I totally loved this fabulous piece wonderfully written and beautiful.. Hope your good Shane xx

eyelick said...

Did you have a relationship with Pedro? Or was it one of those close friendships that can't really even be called "platonic" - they aren't sexual, but they transcend sex, are even more intimate than a sexual relationship?

Memoirs of a Heroinhead said...

hey Eyelick....

I guess it was much more intense than sexual... all my friendships are. In fact, in a sense I don't have friends I only have lovers... that's how intimate I am with people I let into my life. Though when I say lovers it doesn't necessarily mean I have a sexual relationship with them, just I confide in them absolutely everything, things you'd maybe normally share only with your lover. Concerning Pedro, if him sucking me off is sexual, yes it was. X

Calamity K said...

Hey Shane,

How's life treating you lately?

Your post reminded me of Pepe, the Italian (gigolo) waiter in Sorrento whom I lost my virginity to. I didn't particularly fancy him, just didn't want to go to uni a virgin. So I guess we used each other, the next day he was on to the next coach load of tourists.

I'm on temgesic now (it's still buprenorphine but in micograms rather than milligrams, smaller dose that's prescribed for non-addicts as a painkiller. No mention of opiate substitution on the info). I've not been reducing through any regimen or 'goal', just started taking less to see how I'd manage. I'm wary of officially saying I'm detoxing. Prefer to do it organically and without too much thought. I've always been wary of those NA incentives where you get a stupid key for the duration of abstinence. I find it insulting and intrusive. If I get through it then great, if I don't, c'est la vie. My problem with a lot of treatment programs is they focus on addiction in an obsessive way when what most people want to do is put it behind them and try and focus on other (more interesting) things in their life (especially if the main purpose for drug use is in fact to live, function or achieve more).
I prefer to just try to get on with other things in life.

Take care
xoxox
Calamity K

Anonymous said...

It pours out of you. You're so much more than a heroinhead Shane. Sitting in the cold morning light of my Lewisham den with chills all through me. You see the darkness and the light like nobody else i've ever met. S xx

MOnique said...

Hi Shane.. How have you been keeping? Well I hope?! It's been a while since we've heard from you... Just checking in to see if you're ok? Would love to hear from you!
Xxxxxxxxxxx Mon.