And The Rain Came Down

On the first day of spring 2003 the rain came down. I was running, across the road, past the Halal butchers, up Percy Road, over the curb at Haydyn park, past the school. Splodge, splash, slap and an inch of rain would burst up from under my sole. I was drenched through, and cold, but getting warm. Just up ahead there was a boy, hooded and marching off briskly in the drizzle. I slopped up to him and grabbed a hold of his shoulder. “Ace, sorry man, the rain came down and we got stuck under a fucking shelter!”
  “Tchah! Fuck off, b'fore I open up ur face, geez! Making me wait around with hotrocks in muh pockets for nuttin'. Nah! fuck off away from me, tchah!”
  “Ace, I'm sorry......”

At that, Ace turned around and we both stopped . His fist was clenched and I could almost feel the dense slap of it hitting me in the face, the blood falling in the rain, bursting open like an ink splodge and being washed away.
  “I fucking warning you, yeah, you junkie cunt, stay away and don't call me no more! There's ten junkies to every fucking dealer, I don't need to be a waiting for no one.” And then he brought up a huge lumpy gob of phlegm, spat it on me and moved on.

Still not wanting to let the deal go I followed, silently, right up close. As he made to turn the corner he caught a sight of me behind him, turned around and stood up tall.
  “You fucking following me now, geez!!! You want me ta put ya down on da floor? RIGHT FUCKIN' NOW!!!” Ace was up against me, pushing me back down the street with his chest. I reversed with him, wanting to get away but knowing it was too late. He didn't even punch me, just kind of smashed his palm into side/top of my head and knocked my hat off into the rain. I stumbled back, then scrambled clear. Ace didn't pursue. Instead he put his hands in his anorak pocket then bounced off in the wet, hollering insults and bobbing from side to side like the little gangster he thought he was.

The rain is relentless. It is now coming down in big cold blobs. I am running again, back to mum who I left waiting for me outside KFC. She couldn't keep up the chase to get to Ace and so I had gone on alone. On my way back I am fumbling in my pockets for loose change. The streets look slippery. London has never been so wet. A cold, irritating sweat is running off my skin with the rain.

  “Did ya get it?” my mother asks as I hurry into KFC completely sodden. I shake my head. “Wot? He wouldn't serve ya? Ya fuckin' joking me ain't ya Shane?? He didn't give it ya? The Cunt!”
  “Come on, we'll have to see Ritchie”.

Ten minutes later Mum and I are are pulling our jackets tight under a dripping 207 bus stop. I am peering out into the downpour down the road and mum is looking up. We keep seeing Ritchie but when he gets close it's not him.
  “Where is this cunt?” I ask mum
  “Phone 'im Shane, it's well over fifteen minutes! Tell 'im it's fucking pissing down!” I look at her.
  “If he doesn't care we're fucking dying I'm sure a bit of rain won't wet his conscience.”
  “Well fucking tell 'im we're sick, that we'll go somewhere else!” We had our moan, the same moan we always have, the same moan every junkie has, and then we bottled our anger and waited some more.

It is almost noon. At least five buses have splashed by and unloaded their charge. Ritchie still has not arrived. I pick out some loose change and try to dry it. My mother looks extraordinarily angry. I must look the same. “I'll go and phone him.” I say. Mum doesn't even reply.

  “Shane, bro, listen up, you're not gonna believe this, but I'll be 'arf an hour, bro, tops! I'm just cutting da ting up. Serious. Take a coffee, dry off an' I'll beep you in thirty and give you a little bump for free, yeah? I know you like d'em big rocks!”

That I came walking slowly back told mum that not much would be happening soon. She screwed her face up, “''Ow long?”
  “Half an hour. He says it's definite and he'll bump the rocks up.”
Mum's face looked as broken as the sky, kinda grief stricken.
  “Come on, we'll get a coffee and wait.” I said
  “He should fucking pay for it!” She replied

The rain is still coming down. It is not beautiful. The water in the gutters is over-flowing and rushing its way to drains like wild rapids. We are in the railway tavern café dripping wet. My socks are soaked because of the splits in the soles of my shoes. Mum is sipping a cup of scolding hot coffee and staring out into the mist. From every straggle of her blond hair rain drips and seeps in under her jacket. She looks so uncomfortable and makes me feel ten times worse. I turn and stare out into the downpour too. Occasionally we ask each other: “How longs it been?” Thirty minutes pass like an eternity. Cars splodge by and the occasional person runs for shelter. There are two thin girls, shivering, laughing and dripping wet, now taking cover just outside the window. They are blocking our view. A thin, vulgar arse in bright pink leggings - God, my life has led to this. My phone beeps. Text message: I'm around,T.

  “Was that 'im?” Mum asks, jumping to life with the phone.
  “Nah, it's Trooper, he says he's around.”
  “Well lets fucking go to him then! Fuck this waiting shit. That fucking Ritchie won't be fuckin half an hour anyway, fat fucking chance!”
  “Nuh, we've ordered. I'm not doing that. We'd have no fucking dealers left if we worked like that. Anyway, by the time we've phoned Trooper, got to him and waited, we'll have probably seen Ritchie and be home. If he's not here after 30 we'll leave” I rolled mum a cigarette. We kind of used them as timers. After about the tenth mum asked me the time.

  “That's 45 minutes, shane. This cunts taking the piss!”
  “Ok, fuck him. Lets go see T, hey?”
  My mother nods.

We're both squeezed in a phone booth. It smells of urine and stale alcohol. Mum's wet hair is in my face as she tries to listen in down the line.
  “Yeah T, we want three and three.”
Mum pulls an urgent face and holds up four fingers.
  “Hang on, Four... Three B, FOUR W... yeah, four.”
  “Be at Da Barrier in ten.”
  “T, make sure you're there or text, I've no credit on my phone?”
  “I be d'ere.”

Again we are splashing through the wet. Mum is running and I'm walking very quickly. My socks are squelching and my feet feel heavy. Every now and again mum stops to catch her breath. I frantically check the phone not wanting to miss the meet. The rule is addicts wait but dealers never do. They circle once and if you're not there they leave. If that happens the chances are they'll refuse to serve you again. Occasionally you'll get a call “Where are you, bro?” But that's as loving as they get.

When we reach the barrier there is a man there with only one arm. His face is jaundiced, almost flourescent. “You waiting for T?” I ask. He nods. We look at a bench nearby but it is soaked through.
  “Whatcha after, the B?” he asks sniffling and nodding.
  “Both.” I reply
  “Both huh? Nice. Er, Mate, if I give ya two quid d'ya think ya could  sell us a couple of hits of the white? Even just a pipe?” I lie and tell him it's not for me. He flattens his hair back using the rain as gel then starts jittering  and fidgeting about. He's annoying the shit out of me. He's jabbering away talking nothing just to pass the time. Half of what he says is not even to me.
  “It's fuckin hot here. I don't like meeting here. Got pulled 'ere once. Known T long? Fucking hot cunt. D'ya live round ere?  D'ya have a phone?” I tell him I've a phone but no credit. He says something about pressing the hash key, dialling sixes, fours, asterisks and plus signs and like that you can make free calls. “That's what I do.” he says. I don't even ask why he hasn't got a phone. Same as I don't ask why he hasn't got an arm. I know. I know it all. There's only a few stories in this part of town. We stand together in the wet waiting for Trooper to show himself through the rain.

As Trooper rifles through counting the notes I have given him, water is hitting his dark brown hands. “It's too much!” he laughs “You must be fucked, geez!”
  “What you talking about? Four and three = sixty.”
  “Four and three? Whatcha chatting, Bro, I only have two and one! Thats what you ordered, man?”
  “T! Come on!!! when have I ever seen you for that? When? You got nothing else?” T shakes his head “Nuh, I'm all out, gotta reload, bro. Two, three hours.”
  “Fuck! The two? What are the two, white or brown?”
  “Give us that. Will you defininitely be back around later?”
  “Yeah, jus call me bro, call me.”
I take his crumbs, give him mine and the we both head off in opposite directions.

Mum knows something is wrong. The deal had taken too long and she must have seen Trooper handing me notes back. She looks at me like she's on the verge of a breakdown. “Don't tell me he didn't have no fucking white! Please don't fucking tell me that!”
  “There's white, but only two.” I say
Mum's disappointment serves her well. Where she had panicked imagiining there was nothing now two sounds like heaven. Normally she would have had a full grand mal seizure because of that. At a quick pace we splash off home. The rain doesn't matter any more. Fuck the rain. Who cares about a little rain!


It's just gone two. The crack is all gone and I've one small hit left from my bag of smack. We're standing out in the open of cathnor Park. The place is being lashed and blast cleaned by the deluge. This time we are waiting for Dan. Normally we only see Dan when we're desperate, want small deals, or just to keep contact, but this afternoon he was the nearest dealer who would come out in the wet and so he picked up our business.

  “Why does he want to meet us near the fucking swings when it's pissing down!”
  “I don't know??? This is where he meets people... he thinks it safe.”
  “Safe? Two adults hanging about in the rain near a fuckin childrens playground! Silly Cunt!”

As I'm already soaking wet I go and take a seat on the rubber swings. I sway gently back and forth. Mum gives me a horrible look then wanders over and jumps on one too. She looks at me and kind of screws her face up so as not to laugh. In the rain we start swinging. At first slowly and then faster and faster and higher and higher, mother and son, laughing, off our heads on crack cocaine, waiting for a two bob dealer to appear from God knows where and keep us happy. Just as I'm about to go right over the top bar I see a dark shadow slinking past over by the far side of the railing. It's Dan. He looks horrified and completely pissed. I jump off the swing and go and meet him “What da fuck, bro!” he screams “You're hotting the place up wiv dat shit! Fuuuuck!!”
  “Yeah, and you're late AND it's raining AND it's even hotter two adults hanging around a kids park in the rain. That's hot Dan. What's the B like? Your last stuff was shit?”
  “Pfff, 6 outta 10, so so from all reports. But the white's kickin'! Honestly. My phones red for that shit!”

Dan gives a sly little down turn of his hand, slips me the bags and takes my notes. He doesn't count them but puts them straight in his pocket. I clock that, knowing if I'm ever short I can meet him light and he won't realise until later. I sort the little blue bags (heroin) out from the white (crack). The white is ultra small. That's why he said it was good. Whenever a dealer says it's 'good stuff' he's preparing you for a small deal. He notices me feeling the size of the bags and the puzzled look on my face.
  “They're point three, bro, bang on.”
I knew that was bollocks, but so was arguing. You pay your money and take what you get.

Mum must have seen the deal ending and had gotten off the swing. She is now walking slowly up ahead waiting for me to catch her up. “What's the size like?” is the first thing she asks as I join her.
  “Small, but he says it's good stuff.”
  “            ” she says nothing, and I'm thinking the same.

I'm looking out the window, the rain isn't letting up but getting worse. It is settling in for the day. The afternoon is dark and oppressive. I suck in a huge pipe of crack and nearly choke. My throat burns. Before I can say anything mum comes wandering in: “That's fucking shit! It's all fucking soda! God this'll be good. I knew we shoulda waited for T to come back around.”

I load up an extra big hit and suck it down. It makes me feel sick. 'Shit' doesn't mean it's not crack, just it's weak. It still gives enough to settle us down. If it wasn't actually crack there'd be a riot.

Not even an hour later mum is fidgety and irritable. She looks wired sad and sits down pretend watching the TV. I look at her. “D'you want a bit of the B?” She shakes her head. I look at her again. Then at the TV. Then the floor. “Are you thinking the same as me?” I ask. She nods, then says;. “D'you wanna phone?”

We scrape together more money. I probably give mum advance rent for the next year, and then we are pushing our arms into jackets and walking at a fast pace down towards The Church on St Stephens Avenue. The rain has not let up and now the evening is pulling in. The city smells of wet concrete and supper. We stand under the stone arch of the church and wait. A familiar black shadow comes floating by, it's Trooper.. “Just one of you” he says out the side of his mouth. This time Mum slips out I remain waiting. Every five seconds I check to see if she's coming back. Then she is back and looking amazingly happy.

  “Everything ok?” I ask suspiciously
  “Yeah, OK!” She replies handing me my two bags of heroin “The whites all in one, in a fucking piece of tissue, we'll have to divide it at home.”
  “Did he give you extra?” I ask, knowing her sudden happiness has all to do with what came out off Troopers hand and nothing to do with life or the world.
  “Did he fuck! I'd tell you if he had.” I don't press the issue. There's no point.

It's almost midnight, my crack is all finished and I've just taken a fix of smack. In the bedroom I can still hear my mother's lighter flicking and then her pottering around rushing from the hit. I'm pissed off. Her crack lasts a full hour longer than mine. “Just taking it slow tonight,” she lies “d'you wanna do my recycle?”

I make the inevitable mistake of doing that. Taking her days crack pipe, filling it with half a centimetre of acetone, swirling it around, pouring it out on a ceramic tile, setting the liquid ablaze, and then scraping up the brown residue that's left with a razor blade and getting four extra pipe loads of recycle. Of course, that overrides the effect of the smack and thirty minutes later I'm wired again and cooking up another fix.

It is just then that mum comes in. Her eyes are wide as saucers and she begins pacing around as though she's committed some awful crime. I look at her. I am feeling the same and have my wrist tied off and am jabbing for veins in my fist. “Er, Shane, d'you think there'll be anyone on?” she asks.
  “There's always someone on,” I say, “Sinbad'll be on.”
She nods slightly and stands there looking at me with the needle. The she looks at the TV. Then at the floor. “Shane, are you thinking what I'm thinking?”
This time I nod and say “yeah,” pressing my needle down millilitre by millilitre. “We'll have to go out though, Sinbad won't come to the door.”
Mum walks over to the window. She pulls the curtain back to reveal a deep black night. The wind is blowing about and the rain is still falling relentlessly,  being picked out by the street lights. There is nothing out there but wet and cold. The city is asleep... almost. We make our call, slip into wet jackets, then scurry downstairs and out into the night.

On the second morning of spring 2003 the rain came down. I was running, down Uxbridge Road, past the burnt out postbox, under the bridge, across the lights, onto the grass. My shoes were sinking down in the mud and I was slipping to meet my man. Sinbad. Shepherds Bush Green. Two and Two. The last dance of the night.

Hope Everyone's well... the post is a bit scrappy in places but I'll edit it over the days... Love & Thoughts as ever, Shane. X

**Note 1: B = brown. Heroin; W = white. Crack**
**Note 2: What is described in the above post is an exceptional day. From my experience (in London), scoring is simple and straightforward. 90% of the time it is done and dusted within 30 minutes. Most my dealers had cars, bikes or little scooters. It'd be one call and 10-15 minutes later the bell would be ringing.