Drug dealer. Such a profound term. One who deals in drugs. Not only the selling, but often the trading, using, and producing. It’s not just some homeless guy on the side of the road trying to sell crack for some drug lord, just so he can have a place to sleep. Nowadays, it’s some 17 year old punk, carrying a book of acid and a pound of weed, all wrapped up in tin foil and plastic, and at home, his bathtub is full of sugar, water, 50 mashed organges, and 10 packets of yeast. Ask him about it and he’ll say, “Technically, it’s still alive when I drink it, but I just pour more water in there when it starts to run low, and it’s like a Jesus: turning water to wine, just on a slower and less tasteful method.” He’ll have a repetoir of legal and illegal highs, ways to dodge prosecution or arrest when police inquire. “What? You found a meth pipe? Oh, my god… Are you serious? That’s what he was doing. Oh, man. My friend was with my bag. That f*ckhead must have put it there.” Five hours detainment while your body is dehydrating from the speed, and then you’re a free man. Everyday was walking on a tightrope of the law. In a pill or a bag, I am holding a piece of heaven that lasts 8 hours. One day, I make $170, the second day, I hop two fences after making a $20. We’re living on the fringes of poverty in the ghetto, struggling to make a living. I guess I provide a rather important industry. I help people forget they are here.
It is not uncommon. One day, I am facing someone who gives me their last $25. Maybe they intended for it, but their next four hours were their last. And as much as I felt that I was a slave to this system, I felt free, too. Free of starvation, free of bruttish conditions. Yes, I have been shot at by cops and other dealers. One time, four kids tried to jump me for my shit. I had to stab one to get them to realize that I wasn’t a push over. As dangerous as it was, I had a life. I had a living. I could survive in this horrible place, wracked with misery as much as it was. And, honestly, I called it a home. There is something prophetically human about this profession. A friend of mine was on a bad acid trip. He kept shaking. I let him stay in my room. He kept talking about police, not making much sense. I gave him a blanket and put on soothing music. Next morning, I found out thath someone tried to burn down a department store, what cops called, “seemingly from a drug user.” I remember holding his shaking hand, kneeling down to him. “It’s gonna be okay,” I said, “Don’t worry about it, you’re safe here.” He sort of calmed down and I let him stay. I suppose I also harbored a criminal, but that never bothered me. I have my own definition of legal and illegal.
The kids or old wash up junkies I sell to, they are hardly stereotypical. I have seen couples come to me, and say that they want ecstacy, something to increase their love for each other and experience it through new channels. They were young and poor, but they still had more than many others. I’ve had junkies come up to me for a fix of meth so they could be up for a fourth day. Burnt out, shaking, destroyed body, otherwise dysfunctional brain, and worst of all, coming down and in tears, “Please, please, just give me some tweak…” Begging with their last dolars. I sold to him of course. He had cash. And, as much as I would love to be able to give it away for free, I need to survive myself. Twelve year old street urchins come up to me and ask to buy LSD, handicapped men on Social Security ask me for Codeine. Artists and Musicians flock to buy absinthe, and they finish off a bottle and stay up to 6 AM talking on a city bench, flesh turned to f*cking ice, drinking a cup of coffee that has been empty for the past forty five minutes.
I suppose by now, it is obvious to tell that I have a particularly keen observation of my environment. Unlike other deals, I don’t spend my profit on a new pimping car or a mansion — and the only dealers who could get that are coke lords and heroin merchants. The rest are on the fringes of poverty. One of my hobbies, I can confess that I love the beauty of the human face. It may seem like a fickle or otherwise shallow enjoyment. I look to the face of a girl walking down the street, see a smile, and as I feel my entrepenurial spirit crushed, I find something beautiful and unique. Some homeless child struggles for warmth on a city bench, his face with a stone-cold expression, as he pulls a hood over his face, with little eyes peering at me. In some other life, my current one completely forgotten, I imagine I would be an artist. I am not one now, but I remember during my last year of school my art class (apparently 8th grade). One student was exceptional, and the teacher allowed him to do as he pleased. He used flint, charcoal, a variety of inks and paints. On those solemn nights as I try to fall victim to sleep’s claws, I fantasize using the complex tools of art to capture the smile or anger of a person. But, just a dream, nothing I’ve told to anyone.
Asside from this one hobby of mine, I can admit that I enjoy poetry. The resurrection as faded love through columns of words, I can feel more free than I have ever before. Perhaps itis the human instinct to seek out what we do not have. In poetry, nothing is written of the tringiness of the ghetto, the life and death horrors that every man in poverty must face. Yes, poems about it are written, but not those prior to 1800. For the same reason I find necessity in trying to escape the hardened life of a drug dealer, I can see a yuppy reading “Treasure Island” or some other adventure-based novel. For myself, it is Thoreau, Tennyson, Shelley, Rousseau, Emerson — anyone who put on paper some thoughts that were original, creative, honest. Unlike my hope fo being an artist, this hobby of poetry was shared and expressed with contemporaries. They seemed to regard it not with animosity, particularly curiosity, uncomfortability, or any other xenophobic thought, but they just considered it as another part of who I was. I suppose that it was the tolerance all of us must have for each other, under such horrible living and working conditions. So, what a man does in his own home, is his own to consider.
In this line of life, I get a variety of awkward requests. For certain chemicals, people request that it’s not in getabs, but just in powder. Some people want it dissolved in alcohol. PCP on Marijuana, freebased cocaine (crack), freebased AMT, DMT,or DiPT. Or perhaps an intensified powder that will give potent effects by just being in the same room as it. There would be one day where I receive a very awkward request.
“I want you to make me die,” she said.
I’ve heard this before, but only from friends and colleagues who were witty. “Give me 20 hits of meth, and take a month off my life.” But, no, this girl knew who I was, because she knew my customers, and she wanted help in suicide.
“I don’t know,” I said. I’ve been in fights before with people for trying to sell heroin in the wrong areas. Helping someone die might be just as bad.
“Please,” she said, “I know people who told me you could help.”
“Look,” I said, “If you have a problem with your parents, just try to settle it with them. If it’s your boyfriend, get a new one. I’m not interested in murdering anyone.” I let her know straight out that I didn’t want to partake in this and I wasn’t being open-minded about it at all.
“Listen,” I need a drug to kill me and I need some place to take it,” she said.
“You want to take it in my apartment?” I asked, “Sure, like I don’t get enough attention by the cops. Now I’ll have a corpse on my floor.”
“I have $600,” she said.
“It might be possible,” I said, as I scratched my chin.
We walked back to my room. “Put the money on the table,” I said, “I have to make a phone call.” She did as I asked.
“Hey, Johnny,” I said on the phone, “What’s up, man? Hey, you think you can help me move a body? Yeah, I know the normal fee. Sure, sure, come later tonight. Peace, brother.”
“Can I ask why you’re doing this?” I said, as I picked up the money.
“Several parts of my life are a mess,” she said, “Bad parents, bad boyfriend,” she grinned at me with some wit.
“Hey,” I said, “Don’t get cute on me. After all, I do have to kill you.” She nodded with a smile and I started counting the cash. “So, really, why are you doing this?”
“The reasons are my own and my own to –“
“Hey, there’s only $450 here,” I saidd, looking up, “Where’s the other $150?”
“That’s all I have,” she said, “It’s everything.”
I had to make a decision. Help her die or let her go with her cash. As a drug dealer, it decently pisses me off that someone says they have cash for something but end up not having it, or having half. Sometimes they offer the argument that they’ll get me back, but that’s bullshit. They’re addicted to a substance they can get from anyone. The next five dollars to hit their palm will go to another dealer, not to pay debts. Unlike these people, this girl couldn’t do that. She was not going to be around next week.
“Well, fine,” I said, “I suppose we can still do this… Sit on the bed.” I sat down at my desk and pulled a coffee filter out of the trash can, and opened it on my desk. It was ful lof a wet, green powder.
“What’s that?” she asked, trying to look over my shoulder.
“It’s a toxin byproduct that comes from making high grade methamphetamine,” I said, as I started to fill the gelcaps with it, “It’s not painful, unlike most toxins, but it is by far more lethal.” I started to fill some with basil, which helps stomach digestion.
“Are these band lyrics?” she asked, referring to the paper on the wall.
I turned around, “Those? No… They’re nineteenth century poems.” I went back to filling pills.
“They’re beautiful,” she said, “I enjoyed this one about love at first sight.”
“Yeah, it mocked the concept of it and then talked about loving someone after knowing them,” I replied.
“Yeah,” she said, “I get it. I was curious as to what kind of band would sing a song like that.”
“That’s the thing,” I said, “None would. Or at least, almost none.”
“And what’s this?” she asked.
“That?” I said turning around, “It’s a painting of a face, using only red and black paint. I paid two hits of acid for it. I would have paid more, because it’s just so beautiful.”
“Mmmmm,” she replied, “It is nice.” With her affection toward the painting, she had thrown a smile in my direction. I could see that she was rational and logical in her decision of suicide. She wasn’t in tears. She wasn’t broken in pieces. She was very much together, or very effective in subtly convincing me of this.
I walked over to the bed and handed her four pills. “I’ll get you a glass of water, I said, “Mostly, I tell my customers not to take it all at ancoe, but that is pricesly what I am telling you now.” She swallowed the pills, two at a time, with the aid of water.
“What’s your name?” I asked her.
“Julia,” she said, “But most people call me Julee.”
“Well,” I said, “My name is Caley.” I had to tell her, because I felt like she wouldn’t ask.
“It’ll only be 30 to 60 minutes, before you’re gone,” I told her.
“Why did you get into this business?” she asked.
“Well,” I said, “It’s easier cash, it requires little work, I am always well stocked in my favorite commodities, and I’m not on the brink of poverty. Why?”
“I guess I always just wanted to know,” she replied.
“So, how was your day?” I asked, a bit uncomfortable with the overall situation.
“It’s getting better,” she replied, “And your own?”
“Oh, it’s doing all right, “I said, “Making money…”
A slow silence befell the room for thirty seconds as we exchanged glances occasionally, myself somewhat uncomfortable still, she somewhat uneasy, I imagine. A car outside blowing Mexican rap music goes by with a bad engine. Cluttered feet trample by with a mix of foreign languages. Her eyes look down and then are brought up to mine. As little as I know about her, I feel sure enough that she spoke with more subtle ocnfidence that second than aty any other moment of her life. “I’ve led a good life.”
“Then why end it this way?” I asked, as the curosity of the homo sapien nature urked my spirit.
“That doesn’t seem like you’re confident in your reasons,” I said.
“No, it’s not that,” she replied, almost in a faded tone, as though the poisons had sapped away her soul before it took her body, “It’s just that I don’t want to, or need to, talk abou tit… I assure you it exists, but I’m not bringing it into this room.”
“Understood,” I said… “How was your life?”
“I told you, good,” she said, “I have this friend, Celine. She was always so nice to me and admired the things I did. She could be a friend on mutual terms, too. She loved me so much.”
“I’m sure she still does then,” I replied, “Why use the past tense?” She didn’t answer.
“I’m leaving behind a son,” she replied finally.
“Oh?” I said, surprised, as my eyes widened.
“He’ll never know, though,” she said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She caressed her hand over her stomach.
“You mean… you’re pregnant?” I asked.
“Yeah,” she said, “But only three weeks.”
“Is that the reason?” I asked.
“No, she said, “I told you, I wouldn’t let the reason enter this room.”
“Okay,” I said. I tried to reach for something to say, some way to comfort her. “Would you like to hear a poem?” I asked.
“Sure,” she said. I brought out perhaps my most moving and emotion poem I have from the 1800’s. It subtly touched upon the points of happiness and sadness. It subtly touched upon the points of happiness and sadness. Every few months, my most favored passage will change. Maybe just its another poem, another stanza, or another author altogether. Here I read to her the pick of the season.
“That was very nice,” she said, throwing at me a smile with closed, relaxed eyes, as one hand of hers rubber her forearm ently, turning her face away. Maybe it was a crime, an indictment against me, my character. In only two examples have I ever shared the poems of my heart with others. I none case, my friend was going in to the military, and would serve 2 years over seas. We hugged, thinking we may never see each other again. In that case, I didn’t even read him a poem. I slipped a piece of paper in to his pocket with a beautiful poem written on it. And now, with Julia, I have read her a poem. If I thought she would be alive in two hours, I wouldn’t have gone that far.
“Can you hold me?” she asked.
I stood up and walked over to the bed, where she was sitting. “I can,” said.
“Please, hold me, then,” she said. I put my arms around her and laid down. Slowly, sleep came to both of us, peace in our minds.
I would wake and feel her skin. It was cold.