by Young Sung Hero
'A problem solved is a problem created.' This mantra flowed through Lee's head as he sat limply in a puddle of his own piss and vomit. The smell not unlike a dying rat crawled slowly up his nose which made him urge. The image perfectly fit the scene. He took a few short, shallow breaths and remained still. Would Alanis Morrisette think this ironic? he thought to himself.
A broken window opposite let in a soft, easterly wind. It skimmed across his arm and brought forth goosebumps. It was cold and refreshing, and the only bit of ventilation available since the rest of the windows were boarded up. He didn't know it, but Mother Nature wanted him to leave. His head felt heavy, like a compacted marshmallow squished back into the skull. His brain pressed into a corner, face pressed up against the wall, screaming whilst being raped into oblivion. Fragments of broken glass decorated the floor, still—like dead beetles congregating in hell.
He'd been there for two days straight smoking heroin and crack, comfortably numb alongside strangers who looked like they've just been dug up from their own graves.
A ghostly shell next to Lee mumbled about the joys of heroin. He was missing several front teeth and a collar bone protruded out of his grubby t-shirt. An 80s metal band logo adorned his shirt. If it were in one of the shops on Brick Lane, it would be sold as fashionable vintage to kids trying hard to create that perfect "look." The guy smelled rotten—like month old garbage.
“I never, ever get a cold; I can't remember the last time I had a cold. You just don't get colds when you're on the gear. Fucking brilliant, I tell you! I never get ill.”
“But I thought you had hepatitis C, abscesses on your legs, and H.I.V.?” Lee asked.
“Yeah . . . but I never get a fucking cold.”
Lee was a walking contradiction, not quite belonging in that locale, but feeling drawn towards the side-street of squalor. He was more comfortable in the dark than sitting within the wash of the bright streets below, perhaps sipping on a mug of artisan coffee.
Empty, ghost-like and transparent, floating from one hit to the next. He hadn't eaten anything for several days and smelt like a dirty ashtray. A half empty water bottle sat on a rickity table, burnt silver foil the only tablecloth. He felt a sudden cringe of sadness in his gut for the table. It could've been living happily in the suburbs, but was stuck for eternity in this purgatory.
An urgent itch gnawed away at his face. He scratched like a fox with its leg stuck in a snare. No relief came so he carried on, persistently, until blood appeared underneath his fingernails. It made him think of Fat Sinetta, the first girl he fingered when he was eleven.
Lee knew he needed to leave, but a faint flicker of light inside beckoned him to remain, like a sad candle with no hope.
His jean pockets were now empty. £400 DJ wages? Gone.
Lee wanted another hit more than life itself so he begged the dealer for tick.
“Come on man, you know I'm good for it! I've got money coming, you know me man.” Lee's hands held an imaginary ball in front of him emphasising a begging effect.
“Every year I hear that Santa Claus is coming but I never see the cunt.” Sid didn't even look at Lee when replying.
He reluctantly got up and left, but not before dropping onto his hands and knees, scanning the floor for any bits of crack that he might've dropped.
The streets outside were bare and desolate. Tears of a thousand ruined addicts ran amok, like rivers brimming with unwanted immigrants. Lee suddenly felt extremely tired and sorry.
When Lee next opened his eyes, he was in his own bed in Hackney and it was dark.
Outside, a police helicopter scrambled about in the sky, its spotlight beaming down to earth, eyeing up the opposition. His iPhone told him that it was 11pm, Wednesday. Lee's head banged to the rhythm of the helicopter's blades, all manic and glittery.
He's flirted with heroin for at least ten years. Fuck buddies without the full-on heartache of a proper relationship. But Lee did have his rules . . .
Never do it more than two days in a row.
Don't hang around with other users.
Do not inject.
Delete dealers numbers when using too much.
He wondered whether the rules ruled him, or was it perhaps the other way around?
He felt awkward and uncomfortable, even in his own bed, it was like lying on a mattress filled with itching powder. A distant soul screamed. He envisioned the famous painting by Edvard Munch; the bright colours burnt his eyes. Everything smelled intense and negative. When fingers touched his own face, it disgusted him. He could taste his disgust and smell his own raw fear.
An hour later, Lee sat in his kitchen inhaling gear off silver foil. The first line immediately fixed all that was wrong in his world. His senses were immediately put back into place resuming a sense of normality. Puff the magic dragon is gentle and soothing. The world now felt safe and calm, back in kilter with the universe.
He opened his laptop to check his emails. One had the heading urgent.
It was from the company that booked him for corporate DJ gigs. They wanted him to fly out to Switzerland that coming Friday. It was a well-paid job, so he immediately replied, tapping joyfully on the keyboard saying that he'd do it. A response came back not two minutes later asking to send over his passport details.
A few hours passed and another email pinged. The noise reminded Lee of his older sister flicking his ears when he was a kid. It contained details of his travel arrangements. He would be flying into Zurich from London City Airport on Friday morning at 10am.
Another few lines are smoked. The uncomfortable pain consuming Lee's body subsided—the loud din roaring in the back of his head calmed to silence.
Suddenly a slight panic trickled through his bones. What about my plans? he thought. He knew there would be trouble ahead without any moonlight, love, or romance. If he stopped doing gear now, he would be sick for many days.
He knew the only solution was to take enough gear along with him to Switzerland and then cease using on his return.
Friday rolled along with a blur. The last few days were spent holed up in his flat smoking, scoring. Rinse and repeat. Preparations for the gig didn't go to plan. At least not unless you call smoking crack all night a plan. Half an hour before the car arrived to pick him up he hastily threw some music and clothes into a couple of bags. He pulled on a House of Holland sweatshirt, vintage Levi's, and brand-new white converse trainers.
Ready for another day in the office.
Lee rolled through the airport wearing dark Ray-Ban shades and a frown as he met TT, the young singer who would be performing alongside him in Switzerland. She's pretty, loud, and sparkly.
“Hey Lee, great to see you! What've you been up to, babe?!”
She looked him up and down with a slight smirk.
She added, “Have you been up to no good with those girls again? What are you like?”
She punched him lightly on the arm before giving him a tight hug. He inhaled this bit of genuine affection like it was the last bit-of-joy on the planet. Her perfume invaded his nostrils and tickled his nose. It reminded him of spring flowers.
TT looked like she just stepped off the set of a music video. She sported a Merino crew neck jumper, black mini, and green snakeskin Valentino boots. The girl's got swag, he thought. Her beautifully braided hair projected a fine-looking nubian queen. Lee knew the truth—she was absolutely stunning, but for some reason he'd never tried to fuck her. He'd never even looked at her in that way. She was more like a little sister to him, than anything.
TT's perfect demeanour reinforced to Lee just how twisted he was. He started to worry that he still smelt of old socks.
“Hey T, I'm proper tired. Didn't get much sleep last night. Been busy with gigs. I think we better go to our gate. I need to get onto the plane so I can sleep.” Lee wondered if TT bought his sale.
“Say no more . . . come on you! Let's get on board, then it's gin o'clock, love.” Grabbing his arm, she lead the way, smiling.
Yes, he thought with a tinge of celebration. She was oblivious to his all-but-comatose state.
He kept their chat to a minimum, because the eight baggies of heroin in the back of his mouth made it difficult to pronounce certain words without lisping like a twat. He also had ten more bags plugged up his arse, which made him walk like a cowboy. A lisping, gimping cowboy, Lee chuckled inside at the thought.
TT's warmth made him feel like a cunt. Over the years he'd been successful at creating the illusion of party animal rather than a raging drug addict. Times like this, he fucking hated himself.
The slow walk towards customs brought on a case of the jitters. He knew he'd carried drugs across international borders many times before; usually he embodied cool itself. But the all-night, round-the-clock crack sessions had finally caught up. They brought on a right sweat. Hot flashes to rival a fifty-something woman's and a dizzy spell rush through his body, sending shocks down his limbs. However, the thought of a customs guy sticking his finger up his arse soon sobers him up. There's no way some prick is gonna take my gear off me, he thinks.
Lee went through the mundane motion of emptying his pockets, and queuing up behind fat, bored business travellers and excited holiday-makers. He rocked though with a blank expression on his face, like he couldn't give two fucks about anything.
Then . . .
“Excuse me, sir; would you come with me?”
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