I MAY AS WELL FINISH UP ON THE dealer-customer relationship while I'm here. Basically, the heroin and/or crack dealer ~ unlike the dealer in most other drugs, who tends to be a connoiseur of the substance in question as well as a nominal friend ~ operates under no such pretentions. He makes it quite clear that he is not to be counted among his customers' social groups ~ who would want to be considered a scummy junkie? ~ and often quite openly looks down his nose at his drug-obsessed "punters".
Many are "kids" ~ that is, school leavers with few prospects, who, determined not to get sucked into "straight" employment paying pittance wages, decides instead to run his own business and (pretty frequently) play at being baby-gangsta, hanging out on street-corners or driving beat-up cars with superb sound-systems. You could always tell the dealer's arrival by the BOOMM-shfffft; BOOMM-shffftt basslines of R&B or hiphop swing that emanated pavement-shakingly from their skunk-stinking drugs-mobile. Nearly always full of attitude-laden friends who stare you down. I used to call this the white slave trade. Black kids selling to mostly white junkies, many of whom are old enough to be their parents. Once they get the hang of "powder power" and realize that if the powder is good enough and the deals generous enough, the person will wait, and once the initial buz of driving about the local manor twice an hour, stopping at diverse street-corners, offloading stuff that, to them, is no more exciting than bits of stale cheese (crack) or dried mud (heroin) and returning home with more money than most people would earn fromtwo days' honest labouring, they begin subtly at first, to take the customer for granted. Sometimes they actually seem to feel they own their customers and have the right to pass them back and forth like managers transferring top soccer stars.
Because they do not touch the stuff they deal in, it's allure is utterly lost on them. All they know is, so long as it's apparently decent quality, the customers will come back and back and back and back; sometimes calling several times a day. They have little respect for the junkies they deal with. Though a false display of respect is often given out to favourite customers. How can they respect somone with so little respect for themself? Who dedicates their entire life to toiling for the cash to pay for this stuff that looks like mouldy old crumbs of cheese or dried mud?
There are, of course, as many varieties of drug dealer as there are of people. Some are personable and charming. Others are so loathesome and nasty their very presence is repellant to me. I can think of one guy in particular, who, if he's not serving a long prison sentence for violent crime or murder will be dead by the time he's forty. He's a psychopath with no respect at all for his fellow man. It frightens me just to know that such people walk our streets.
What's most bizarre about the dealer-addict relationship is taht, in the odd snatches of time that I've had to engage in detailed conversation with any of these creatures, all my dealers, without exception, have been supportive of the idea of my going through detox and rehab. It's not as if they rely on my custom to butter their bread. And, as I said, they can respect the notion of my getting clean. The true mystery to them is my addiction to that brown muddy-looking heroin. That they do not comprehend at all ...
OK. I'd got to the phase of Libra and me. Libra, the love of my life. Not that I went all soppy over her. We argued frequently. But we were so very laid back and comfy in one another's presence it was clear from the outset that ours was a liaison that could run and run. We were two peas in a pod. And there was no need to "do" anything to impress the other. We were comfortable as ourselves with each other. It was a relationship that could have run and run on for ever.
We planned to get a flat together, but this never happened. Instead, for approaching two years, we conducted a long-distance relationship where I'd come to stay with her for a week or two; then she'd reciprocate by spending a week or ten days at mine. The absences, as the expression goes, only served to make the heart grow fonder and seemed to breathe fresh life into each new encounter.
The saddest thing about my time with Libra ~ and she very much saw it this way ~ was that she, tired of her ten-year habit, took up with me, who was initially, enthrallingly "straight" by the standards of her junkie friends and former lovers. I was full of ambitions and plans and had actually put some of these into motion. For example, I was writing a book. I got us both parts in an arty film a friend was shooting.
Living with six others in an arty, bourgeois, North London terrace in an area famed for its bars, restaurants, Z-list celebrities (EastEnders actors and Men Behaving Badly stars; also Fran from the band Travis) and general up-and-comingness, I revelled in this general atmosphere of optimism and positivity. Every so often I'd get word to watch such and such TV show because some friend of a friend had a bit part, or it was shot in someone I knew's back garden. One of my housemates got calls from Oasis and the Spice Girls' "people" twice in the same week with offers to appear in their videos. Oasis fell through but she's in a special Comic Relief Spice Girls promo that also featured five of the top female comedians of their generation.
I'm not trying to imply that life was in any way grand. As I say, I was at the very edge of the very edge of things "happening". But we all had the sense in that house that destiny might well come knocking to springboard us on to bigger, brighter things. The tragedy of our relationship was that Libra saw me sink from somebody on the brink of so many possibilities ~ down and down into a erson no more "special" than a thousand other junkies she had known.
Our relationship eventually ended when she switched from methadone to buprenorphine ("Subutex") which blockades the brain against opiates making it impossible to use ~ and thus went, and remained, and, to the best of my knowledge remains to this day, "clean". But I, who couldn't cease, simply went on as before and it showed. Badly ... it showed. I got hit by a truck crossing a local road and then Libra dumped me. I had a broken shoulder and concussion severe enough to knock me into perpetual daze all the next week. She told (on the phone) me that unless I could pull myself together she didn't want anything to do with me anymore. I could not pull myself together and she duly had nothing to do with me...
... And everything went downhill from there....
RUBY RED TUESDAY - More participants here
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