The doctor wrote me up for a two week reduction on methadone, the last dose to be administered the day before I was going to be leaving, my mum couldn’t afford any more money for a longer stay and I didn’t exactly try and convince her to find it from somewhere. I did however, shortly question the doctors medication regime, my thinking being that I’d be more or less ok, while I was on the methadone, but likely to start feeling really sick when I finished taking it, the day I was due to leave. Still, I guess these people were experts in getting people off drugs, while I was almost an expert in staying on them.
I went to my room, had my possessions searched and was then asked to join a group already in progress, where a girl was talking about being raped by her uncle, it clearly was, time to get real, I chose to keep my mouth shut.
I attended the groups, heard a great deal of sadness and some brutal honesty, which inspired me to also speak up. It seemed the correct thing to do to inform my peers a little about my own ‘issues’ and pretend I was ready to stop taking heroin, so I did. The days passed quickly, the nights not so, but I took my medication, possibly set a new world record for furtive late-night wanking as the meds wore off, maybe convinced a few people I was going to be ok, then left after my two weeks, ‘treatment’ was up.
It had been agreed, that, amongst other things, I needed to break away from my old ‘friends’ in London, but the suggestion of moving back to Weston, was, I informed my counsellor, tantamount to giving me a bag of gear and set of works as they waved me off down the drive. It was therefore suggested I consider somewhere else that could provide me with a support network to assist me in my attempt at starting a new, drug-free life.
You see Brenda, I’m a journalist, working……undercover to get a story about drug addicts here in Brighton, you know Heroin addicts, junkies, those dirty dole-scrounging beggars
Why the fuck they kept banging on about a ‘drug-free’ life was lost on me, I mean nobody fucking does that do they? I was still weighing up the options regarding what drugs I might need to avoid, as, an hour after leaving treatment, I’m on a train necking a large brandy and ginger en route to Brighton, where with the money my mum had given me to rent a room, I searched for a cheap guest house.
It is very-much out of season and cheap hotel rooms are not hard to come by, even ones that come with a residents bar and offer reduced weekly rates for people on benefits.
Checking in to my ‘new life’, in theory at least, should have been a positive experience, had I not been, suddenly, seriously withdrawing from the methadone, the last dose of which, was now obviously vacating my system and skipping off into the Brighton sunset holding hands with the brandy and ginger I’d been drinking throughout my journey.
The notion of seeking out a support network, such as Narcotics Anonymous, as suggested by the people at the treatment centre, flashed through my mind, but actually seemed like far too much hassle, besides I wasn’t really in the mood to join a cult so soon after leaving one of their recruitment centres, sorry, I mean rehabs!
I went out to score some smack instead; just a one-off to celebrate my success in getting off it and help alleviate the last of the withdrawals, something which in Brighton took approximately 5 minutes to do as opposed to contacting the support network/cult from whose clutches, I might never escape.
As I scurried back into the guest house after my excursion; (find big issue seller, offer to sort them out if they introduce me to a dealer, score, go home) the landlady cornered me as I trotted past reception.
“Give me ten minutes please love, I’ve just got to go up to my room, slight case of food poisoning, need the ‘loo, won’t be long”
Returning, one miracle-cure later, I find my ‘host’ helping herself to a larger Gin and Tonic from the residents bar, it feels like the right thing to do to join her.
“Mr. Mason, how long do you think you’ll be needing the room for, we offer weekly rates, which work out much cheaper, than day rates you know.”
“Well, let me see.”
I leaned toward her in a conspiratorial manner, as if what I was about to tell her was a secret of great importance.
“You see, Mrs.…’er..
“Well Brenda, can I call you Brenda?”
She returned my smile
“Yes of course Mr.…
“Simon, call me Simon, Brenda.”
“Ok, Simon, thank you,”
My host, is now blushing, slightly, as I held up my lighter to the Silk Cut hanging, unlit from her overly made-up lips.
“You see Brenda, I’m a journalist, working……undercover to get a story about drug addicts here in Brighton, you know Heroin addicts, junkies, those dirty dole-scrounging beggars that make the place look so unattractive, scumbags Brenda, the lot of ‘em.”
She blushed again.
“Did anyone ever tell you, you have beautiful eyes….Brenda.”
“Oh…….no, I mean….thank you Simon……thank you…which paper?”
“I can’t tell you Brenda, I wish I could but like I said, I’m undercover, so to speak…very undercover.”
I lean into her ear.
“They’re dangerous criminals some of them Brenda……into all sorts”
She looked worried.
“But you can rest assure I’ll not mention the wonderful establishment you keep here, in my article Brenda, nothing bad will happen, I promise. I may be here a while, but I’d prefer it if you ignored me as I come and go, you see, I don’t want to let anyone know what I’m up to, you can’t trust people these days Brenda, you just can’t trust people.”
“Oh, no, of course…your right …Simon. You just don’t know what people are up to half the time do you.”
I gave her my best smile, accepted the large brandy and coke she offered as she in turn refreshed her own glass, we chatted about the hordes of filthy unwashed drug addicts contaminating the streets outside for a while, before I went upstairs again and had another hit.
You couldn’t make it up could you?
I could, anything was preferable to the truth.
I continually refused the daily offer of the in-house linen service, due to the fact my bed sheets were splattered with blood
My ‘research’ continued, after three weeks I’d run up a drinks bill which I obviously had no means or intention of paying, I ‘borrowed’ £20 from Brenda, which she offered while pissed out of her head one night and I was waiting for my ’paper’ to send me more money. I continually refused the daily offer of the in-house linen service, due to the fact my bed sheets were splattered with blood, instead telling my host that doing my own laundry was just my way of not adding to her own workload and it also allowed me to get on with mine.
“You see Brenda, a lot of the junkies hang out and buy their filthy drugs in the launderette, I think I’ve got a few leads, I may even have found ‘Mr. Big’ you know, he’s Albanian, proper scumbag, probably into the White slave trade as well, scum of the earth Brenda, scum of the earth.”
“Oh you are brave Simon, aren’t you scared you’ll get found out?”
“It’s a risk I’m prepared to take Brenda; I know God is looking after me”
“Well I think you’re very brave Simon, I can see how hard you must be working, you’re always running in and out of here and you look so thin, you’re not looking after yourself are you? You hardly ever eat a thing; I hope you’re getting well paid for this.”
Coincidentally by now, I’d managed to start selling a bit of gear to some other ‘junkie scumbags’ at the launderette to maintain my own habit and actually pocket a few quid myself.
“I’m not doing it for the money Brenda; I’m just trying to expose the truth”
I woke up one afternoon and decided my time as an investigative journalist was over; Brenda was going away leaving her ex-husband to look after the hotel for the weekend.
Her ex- husband was also an ex-policeman.
I therefore became an ex-journalist and an ex- resident of both the hotel and Brighton and in true undercover style, left through the back door, leaving no forwarding address.
It’s not as if I had a forwarding address anyway.
Mr. Simon Mason Esq.
Somewhere surrounded by junkies and crack whores
Would have been a big ask for even the most determined of postmen.
The Confessions of a Coke Dealer series will be published as an as yet untitled book by Mainstream in Spring 2013
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