Just A Little Prick
I returned to Spike and Suzie’s the next time the good taxpayers of Britain put money in my account. I’d been experiencing experience-envy since witnessing Faith inject crack’n’heroin a few months earlier. I couldn’t see the exact detail of how she did it, nor could I see enough to do it myself, but I could perhaps get someone else to.
Vaguely knowledgeable by now, I stopped off at a chemist to get new needles, and made my way to Spike and Suzie’s. I figured they’d be more willing than Faith, having only just met me, and turning up with clean works, coupled with some knowing needle-talk, would surely be enough to get one of them to do the honours, especially seeing that I’d be bankrolling proceedings.
Back past the BBC, pharmacist’s bag swinging at my side, I disappeared down a White City side-street, finding Spike and Suzie’s red door with ease. I rang, and moments later an upstairs window opened and Suzie’s voice said, ‘Oh hi, Dan, I’ll come down.’ I didn’t mind being called Dan, as long as I got what I wanted.
Upstairs, Spike was in his normal chair, clutching a can and stubbly, and Poppet, the in-house puppy, began leaping all over me, almost like it wanted to escape. I made out I’d got the fresh needles for myself, and was just dropping by on my way back from the chemist, but if they needed any, they were more than welcome. I asked if we could get something, and soon Suzie was ringing around. I gave her the money and off she went to meet the guy, somewhere near KFC on Uxbridge Road.
She returned, and we all had an inaugural pipe. Then, party started, I gave them some more blather. ‘I was planning to go home and have a hit, but my flatmate wasn’t answering the phone, so how on Earth would I get my hit?’ Then Suzie said those special words. ‘I can help with that, love.’
The doorbell went, and Spike was left to organise three syringes’ worth of finest White City crack and heroin. I had a pipe as he went about his work with needle, spoon and lighter. He asked me how much heroin I usually had in a hit. I told him about a fiver’s worth, not really knowing what I was saying. Minutes later, he was placing each finished article on the coffee-table before him, one for him, one for Suzie, and one for me. Then Suzie returned with her guests. It was a couple they knew, she a lumbering ogre of a woman, called Mo, and he a curly-haired scamp of a man, who looked like he could do with a meal, or a lifestyle overhaul, called Sam. They were users too, and delighted to find a supply of fresh needles with which to cook up what they’d arrived with.
Then it was time. Spike explained which syringe was whose, and Suzie took up the bayonet of destiny earmarked for me. She asked me whereabouts I usually did it. I admitted to being early in my injecting career, so I still had sufficiently prominent veins left in my arm. I rolled up my sleeve, using a donated belt as a tourniquet on my upper arm, both to bring veins closer to the surface, and to hold the chemicals in place until the moment of release when the tourniquet was pulled away, and the ingredients could coarse through my whole being, rendering me the monkish equivalent of Faith’s ‘nun kissing God’. I was on the brink of revelation. Poppet was locked in the hall, because he was jumping around, getting in the way.
The tiny press of the needle was painless, as I sat there on the sofa, peers around me. It was like keyhole surgery with a kick. I could feel something entering my bloodstream, asking directions to my brain. ‘There you go,’ said Suzie, ‘you can pull the tourniquet away now.’ I let the belt fall and sat there, waiting to see what it was I was going to feel. Initially, I felt a bit blank, numbed, queasy. Then Mo, troll-like on the floor before me, said, ‘Are you ok, Dan?’
The next thing I remember is waking up on the floor, shirt torn open, with two paramedics above me. ‘Can you hear me Dan?’ one of them asked. I soon realised I’d overdosed, and began apologising repeatedly, as I was helped to my feet, and down the stairs where an ambulance and a police car were waiting. My plan had gone awry. I think I was relieved to be alive, even though my name was now apparently Dan.
I was helped into the ambulance, and a blanket put around me. I felt quite shaky, and the woman looking after me was so attractive that my sense of being damaged goods felt heightened to a point of pivotal self-loathing. I said, ‘I don’t usually do this kind of thing, I’m sorry to waste your time, thank you so much for being there.’ I looked at her like one scowling from hell at a soul in heaven. I asked if I could have a glass of water, but she wasn’t allowed to, or maybe that was the closest I could get to asking her if she wanted to go for a coffee.
I arrived in the ward, where a nurse wanted to put my possessions in a locker. I gave her my white cane. Then, after a preliminary interview, in which I said sorry several more times, I sat on a bed, curtains drawn around me, crying. Then, when a doctor came in, I apologised some more, and continued crying, and answered his questions as best I could. He was very calm and sympathetic, and gently recommended I tried to exercise some harm reduction. When he went away, I sat there some more, still weeping, not sure what to do. Then, a rustle of the curtain, and Sam appeared. He’d seen fit to come and see if I was ok. He offered to walk me home, which wasn’t so far, so we asked a nurse for my cane. The nurse who’d dealt with me before had gone, and this nurse didn’t speak great English, and as I tried to explain that my stick had been put in a locker, she eventually returned with two walking-sticks, which I kindly declined.
Sam walked home with me, I got in, called a friend, distraught, and went to bed. The next day, I went back to Spike and Suzie’s to apologise. Apparently I’d slumped over, and even though they stretched me out on the floor and tried to slap me back to consciousness, they ended up ringing the ambulance. I was grateful they had, cos I’ve heard of people overdosing, dying, and their bodies being left out with the rubbish. The police and paramedics had asked a few questions, but no accusations were lodged, and I guess it was just put down as a regulation overdose, maybe making a brief cameo appearance a while later in a Town Hall spreadsheet. So, apologies made, and accepted, and after I promised not to inject again, we all three scored, and this time Poppet could stay in the living-room.
I don’t know when it came back to me, but at some point I recalled something of what I experienced during my overdose. Maybe I wasn’t so far gone, or perhaps I was nearer to leaving than I knew, but when I was out on Spike and Suzie’s floor I had the vaguest, quietest of dreams. I was looking in on a darkened room, from the side, as if in an empty warehouse. There were people standing there, in profile, silent, as far as I could tell, as if waiting. Reader, one of them was Morrissey. I know not why.
TUNE INTO THE NEXT EPISODE THIS TIME TOMORROW...
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