Bad Teeth & Cleverness

The hassle of having to score in the suburbs is over. I met Sylvain this afternoon and he informed me that D was holding. That’s good news as D is only five minutes from me and he will usually come to the appartment. Sylvain is one of these junkies that is always cursing heroin and constantly talking of rehabilitation. Apart from detox and the size of bags he has no view on anything else. He is of the type that will sit on the fence until they keel over and fall to one side or the other. They let death choose their life, whereas I let life choose my death.

I first met Sylvain nearly 3 years ago at The Hôtel Dieu – the city’s main substitution unit. He was quite handsome then, but he has changed drastically since. Now He is sallow & withdrawn. His clothes are filthy and torn and he has absesses all over his hands. His mouth looks like a clenched anus that is trying to suck all his features in. At one point during our brief conversation he tipped his head back and bellowed, displaying the rotten contents of his mouth. It reminded me of a dank, wet dungeon.... his teeth the remnants of a broken and rusted portcullis. I think I caught sight of only one whole tooth, mostly they were just black specks in lumpy puss filled gums.

Unlike me, Sylvain has no pride, neither is he out to deceive. He seems eagar to show the diseased existence of years of heroin abuse... to force all the vileness of addiction in your direction. I suppose Sylvain's body is his work of art.... it’s his expression. I understand that more than I may let on.

Romanticism & French Smack

The first hint of spring came today. It arrived on the breeze like a welcome kiss. Oh, its too early to celebrate the warmer seasons, I know, but this afternoon brought just the tiniest hint of romance. Some things transport me back to magical times, times that never really existed, and the changing seasons are always one of those things. I remember afew years ago, renting the upstairs flat of a Victorian maisonette in Fulham, and on warm spring or summer mornings I would flush and scrub the wooden floorboards with cold soapy water. The sun would heat the wood and the most wonderful scents would rise up. I would sit, bare-footed at my writing desk, smoking and reading... drifting in and out of fantastic and obsessive daydreams. That is what spring is to me... it’s the doorway to unrequited sensations. Spring offers it all. I think this romanticism is one of my biggest problems.

Heroin is also a romance... a distorted, depraved and narcissistic romance. Heroin has a history, an image. It has literary and artistic connotations... it is all glorious until one IS heroin, then things rapidly change. Romance turns to reality and reality is a solitary, introverted chase for the drug. Heroin is also a statement... it is a silent scream... a subliminal advertisement for help. But above all, heroin is a slow death - it is the way non-suicidal people choose to kill themselves. Heroin is how I will kill myself... I've known this for many years. I think I’ve already done it.

But for all this, I cannot come to criticise the drug. I honestly believe that if it were not for heroin I would already be dead. This is something that someone who has never had this addiction can never understand – the addicts lack of regret. I have seen junkies riddled by HIV or bloated and jaundiced by hepatitis singing the drugs praises. Their regret is not the drug, it is getting turned onto the needle. You must understand, death gets in the way of one’s habit... it is a permanent detour from the next shot... a permanent release from the pain. Death is neither welcome nor wanted. It is not suicidal depression that troubles the heroin addict... it is something else, something that I cannot yet explain.

* * * *

Today I will have to leave Lyon to score. This place is not like London with 10 or 20 dealers to each square mile. No, here you’ll be lucky if there are 10 dealers in trhe entire city.... it is very often that one cannot find anything. The only time this happened in London was during the war in Afghanistan. American troops on the border interrupted the usual drug routes and there was nothing on the streets for nearly two weeks. As you can imagine most junkies were anti-war! That drought went on in different manifestations for months – either low quality gear, or increased prices and smaller bags. In Lyon it is always like that. The other difference here is the wait. It can take up to six hours to score. In London you are doing badly if it takes 30 minutes. In France, the addict learns very quickly the importance of methodone as a backup. The rehabilitation rules are very lax here, so almost every junkie has their own script. That includes me... my problem is I need twice as much as what i'm prescribed, so I have to buy the rest on the street. Anyway, for now I have a good backup supply so the fear of junk illness is not a worry - that allows life to flow smoothly.