It’s been a week, where once again the past, or to be more precise, my past and a few of the characters from it, has caught up with me and has been illuminated by the floodlights of the present day, where I find myself standing bathed in the truth of sobriety and the personal journey it exposes.
There are of course fleeting periods when I sometimes feel I would prefer the twilight of having no responsibilities other than maintaining the opiate saturated comfort and the pursuit of necessary funds to facilitate this. Strange as it may now sound, instant nothingness was a luxury item I felt I would always try to afford despite wearing the rags of savage addiction as I gouged away so many years of my life inflicting the fear of untimely, but perhaps necessary, non-existence upon myself and others who tried to care and not care in equal measure.
Care because they couldn’t not care, try not to care because the futility of that exercise mirrored the futility of who they cared about, if that makes any sense at all?
I’ve not written much of late, aside from regular attention seeking status updates on Facebook, my creative juices have been as dry as the bar at an NA rave, my musical postings somewhat kinder on the ear I’d like to think! I seem to have moved away from misery inspired prose which was my stock in trade for fucking... YEARS, as my own recovery has progressed, to... well... not much at all on the creative front. I am not upset by this in the slightest (ok I am just a little bit) but have to admit to feeling slightly perplexed as to why someone who considers himself capable of arranging the English language into occasional moments of consciousness and descriptive narrative, seems incapable of utilizing positivity as a resource for such.
I’m actually quite relieved that I have not ‘done’ an REM circa ‘Shiny Happy People’ and inflicted my prevailing sense of positivity upon the masses aside from hopefully enthusing my daughter Tabitha with the notion that she can achieve anything she wants to, she’s only three and a half so at this point all she wants to do is watch Scooby Doo and draw pictures of monsters which I help her colour in, doesn’t exactly qualify me as a pushy parent does it?
I greedily cooked up my own immaculate conception on the spoon and gazed at my battered arm to find a vein that was open on Christmas day.
So what has provoked me to the extent I’ve decided to sit down and try to remember how to type again?
Like I said, the intrusion of the past, namely two people who had significant input into my drug-induced non existence.
The first, someone I consider to be a friend despite only seeing him in person once in the past half decade. The second someone I convinced, or tried hard to convince, was my friend because he was the only heroin dealer I could manipulate to provide me with the baggies of instant nothingness I spent so much time perusing, when the pursuit of which had reduced me running into Sainsbury’s and attempting to steal something worth £10 or more to somebody/anybody I could convince was in need of said item(s).
Ben once arrived at my barren, as in devoid of gas/electricity/carpet/hope/toilet paper flat on Christmas day afternoon, knowing he would find me lying on the furniture (I had one couch) staring at the woodchip covered walls that contained my non existence clucking my bollocks off with no chance whatsoever of scoring that day, with 3 cans of Special Brew, some smack and a Christmas cracker purloined from his families festive table a few hours earlier. (The Christmas cracker not the ‘Brew and heroin I hasten to add!)
To me, as I practically dragged him up the entrance stairs to my own little shop of horrors having looked out the window to see him outside smiling trying not to vomit/shit myself with delight upon seeing him there nodding ‘yes I have’ to the question he knew I had to ask him, he was the messiah the three wise men and father fucking Christmas all rolled into one, fuck the gold frankincense and myrrh give me the heroin you beauty!
As I greedily cooked up my own immaculate conception on the spoon and gazed at my battered arm to find a vein that was open on Christmas day before delivering the contents of the syringe into my bloodstream, Ben informed me:
“I knew you were on your own today and probably didn’t have any gear or money (or gas/electricity/carpets/hope/toilet paper) so I got the old man to drop me off after we had Christmas dinner and before he got too pissed to drive. Do you mind if I stay the night? I’ve got a few quid we can go up to the Turkish shop and get the electricity and gas key charged up, get some more Special Brews and watch the queen’s speech. I’ve got some crack too; shall I make a pipe old chap?”
“Save it for the queen’s speech” I said.
You love him as well now huh?
Fast forward nearly six years and I’m just parking my car after completing my first day as development manager for a 12 step rehab, still a bit dazzled as too how the fuck someone like me got to be so highly regarded as to warrant being headhunted for the job in the first place, and having just decided to drop into the main reason why I’m in that esteemed position (my local NA meeting in case you’re wondering) to get some ‘context’ when I see a face from the past.
"I’ve got some crack too; shall I make a pipe old chap?” he said. “Save it for the queen’s speech” I replied.
Its Bens face and it’s attached to what remains of the rest of his body.
We walk and chat along the chilly streets of Stoke Newington, something we’d not done since shortly after the event I just described. Ben informs me that he’s moved to Acton but still comes over this side of town to score.
“Helps keep my habit down old boy,” he said.
“What’s with the suit Simon, you been in court again?”
I inform him of the events of the past six years, show him photographs of Tabitha on my iPhone and remind him of our last Christmas day together all those years ago.
He smiles, briefly.
“Don’t you want to stop mate?” I asked.
There then follows a silence I can only describe as cinematic in its intensity.
“No, not really old chap, you see this is my life, I’ve missed out on all the things you’ve got... Tabitha is a real cutie isn’t she?” he says as he hands me back my phone.
“You could have it too Ben.”
We are now standing outside the door to the NA meeting I’d planned on attending.
“In here mate, this could help you.”
Ben shuffles from side to side.
“No... No Simon I’ve got my life you’ve done well, but...”
He hacks up some phlegm the size of a golf ball.
“I’m afraid I’m probably going to smoke this shit until I die mate, my lungs are fucked now, there’s not much point in stopping old boy... not now.”
“Ben... Come on inside its warm and...”
But my friend has to go and score and I understand this better than most.
I give him my number but know he won’t call.
We hug, then I step inside to continue my journey and Ben shuffles away to continue his.
“Call me Ben,” I shout after him.
“But you’re not called Ben are you old chap?” he attempts to laugh but his lungs get the better of him, he turns the corner and is gone.
So he was the first person from my past that provoked me to start writing again.
The second person?
That was me of course.
Me and Ben.
Now and then.
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