Sunday, August 12, 2007

Crank: Annotated

See original post "Crank." All of these strange, cryptic posts are either based on real incidents or contain obscure references to things in my life. After writing and then reading this post several times, I decided to annotate it because it's based on the scariest event in my teenage years. I got the idea for the language from watching the film "Brick" that neo-noir hardboiled detective teenage drama. The dialog in that film is both unnatural and great.

I spent the year between ages 17 and 18 experimenting with drugs. I managed to be sensible about it, but every once in a while I would find myself in scary situations like this one. In addition to smoking a lot pot (which I consider to be as harmful as getting your martini on with your friends on a Friday night), I snorted crank (methamphetamine in powdered form) and cocaine whenever possible. I had no idea that crank and cocaine were two different substances. All I knew was that crank was cheaper and harsher to snort. One night me and a few people (two were my friends) piled into some guy's Pontiac and went to this house I'd never been to before in a neighborhood I wasn't familiar with. Our mission: to score some good coke.

The colors only got brighter with that expensive stuff. No feeling like I'd take on the world. No staying up all night. Smooth sailing, though. No choke.

Snorting coke was strange for me. True, it was expensive and more difficult to come by, but oddly enough I never really got "high" from it. It would make the colors get brighter. I felt more energetic, but I didn't get that euphoric feeling or the feeling like I could have endless amounts of sex like most of my friends did. My best friend said it made her feel like she could take on the world. I never had that feeling. Coke was super easy to snort, though. Very smooth going up the nose and no harsh after burn. That's what I mean by "smooth sailing." I did like how it made my gums numb when I rubbed leftover powder on them after the snort.

"There's a limit," said the Cutter, "You can only get so tall before it bottoms out on you."

The Cutter was a real person. A nice, older guy (maybe in his early 20s). He was at the house when we arrived. They called him "Cutter" because he was good at cutting coke into a fine powder and preparing the lines for snorting. I'd never met him before and I never saw him again after that. He told us an anecdote about Sabrina the Princess (more on her below) who snorted tons of coke in one sitting, but stopped getting high after a couple of hours. She said you can only get so high. After that, your nose, face, neck and chest start to go numb. The Cutter proclaimed it a waste of money to keep snorting after reaching that point.

Who are these people, these Parents? At the time, the most frightening thing I'd ever seen were the scales all over the dining room table. The table was so large it could have been laid out for eight or even ten. I think about parents I know now, even knew then, and I'm convinced those people are all dead and buried. Crisp hundred dollar bills fluttered around the edges of the table in a gross parody of cliche.

Ah, the Parents. The Parents were the dealers. They were real Parents and it was their house we were at. It was a nice house, two stories. Brand new. The house was full of new furniture and the Parents looked respectable enough. They looked like they could work at any good company. Maybe they did. The only difference was they had a hard, wary look about them. Their faces were worn out and slightly saggy. They were both probably in their early 30s.

The TABLE. The dining room table was big as I described. The scales were weight scales and there were piles of cocaine all over the table. The coke was being weighed in scales and bagged up by the mother. There were baggies and twist ties all over the table as well as crisp $100 bills. The sight scared the hell out of me because I knew that with this much coke there had to be some scary people lurking around the corner or in the upstairs bedrooms. My friends thought it was all so "cool" but I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

Parents. Almost as lethal as the ones who fed the kids almond flavored Kool-Aid. We were lucky. They left us alone. They had blue velvet drapes hanging loose in the living room. It's 3:15 in the morning. You don't know where your children are because I'm one of them. I don't even know where I am.

I called them Parents because they had a kid (the blond with the Moe haircut-see below). He was only 13 years old and hyperactive. Apparently, the kid had been snorting coke since he was around eight years old. We were lucky the Parents just wanted our money and for us to stay out of their way. I remember nervously looking out of the living room windows. The curtains were drawn so no one would see the piles of coke on the table.

The reference to the Kool-Aid was to the powdered grape flavored drink laced with cyanide that the poor folks of The People's Temple not only drank themselves, but also fed their kids. The Jonestown massacre had created lasting, terrifying images in my mind as an impressionable middle-schooler. Cyanide, apparently, has a smell like burnt almonds. Also, just so we're clear, they did not use the name brand Kool-Aid during that tragedy. It was just a grape flavored powdered drink.

I digress.

Burning sharp, cheap. Eyes water. Some kind of lift going on up there. Nervously, I talk of elephant tranquilizers and bodies of water. It's like a bad dream. A kid with a blond Moe haircut, who has just gotten to his growth spurt, is rouncing around. Everybody wants to be his friend. Everybody wants a smooth sailing. A Parent, male, glowers at me. He's used to seeing the likes of us, so stupid and useless.

After negotiations and payment, the Cutter finally cut our coke for us. I insisted upon taking the first snort. I don't know why. I didn't know any of these people and everyone saw me as passive and meek. It was good coke: I felt a surge of energy after that snort. The elephant tranquilizers and bodies of water reference was to drug PCP or "Angel Dust" which I have never tried. There was a rumor that the drug was used to tranquilize large animals such as elephants. Also, I heard that in addition to some people experiencing rages so total that they can break the handcuffs the police have put on them, users are drawn to bodies of water, fall in and drown because they become disoriented and don't know which way is up.

The kid with the Moe haircut had a lots of friends because his parents were dealers. If you had drugs or access to them, everyone wanted to be your best friend. It's a user kind of culture.

A friend, one of the few I'm with, produces a Jay. I'm running wired and it's close to dawn now. I have to run down soon. Before we leave in a 70s crowded car, I catch a glimpse of Sabrina the Princess, her long dark hair and youth is waning at the tender age of 14. She's dead. It's only a matter of time. The Cutter glances over at her and shakes his head. It's a lost cause. Her big dark eyes see none of it.

A Jay is a joint. Since I had snorted good coke I was feeling pretty energetic. On the way home, my friends told me to take a few puffs to come down a little, so I did. Sabrina, the 14 year old, was also the daughter of Parents (different ones) who were dealers. She had a hard look about her and was obsessed about maintaining her high for as long as possible. When I say that she's dead, I'm not kidding. That girl, with her big dark dilated pupils and an unnatural hardness about her skin was completely lost to the world. The only place to go from there is to the harder drugs then to overdose.

Thankfully, I move on from all that. Thankfully, I only went with them to see the Parents and the Cutter once, my nerves having failed me. My best friend said I was unbrave, but at least I didn't make up imaginary boyfriends and tell elaborate tales about them.

I never went with my friends to look for coke again. I was too scared. I was a wimp. I used to think that these were undesirable traits, but now I can see they saved me because the fear was far more powerful that the pressure to conform to what my friends wanted me to do. My best friend at the time was a drama queen and always looking for attention. She did make up a boyfriend who was obsessed with her. He lived in a mansion in Hillsborough and drove a Porche. Their relationship was seriously screwed up, even in an imaginary way.

The Tylenol stopped her short. And I was luckier than Hell for it. I didn't want to see those scales on the family dining room table ever again.

A little while later, my best friend attempted suicide by taking a whole bottle of Tylenol (this was before the Tylenol scare where they pulled every bottle from the shelves in every store). I drifted apart from her after that and soon thereafter stopped my experimentation with drugs. I was very luck to have made that break

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