Living in Vein: Part 2

a photo of a syringe

Thomas Marthinsen /Flickr

Previously: My heroin use started when I was 12, and eventually collapsed all my veins. To support my habit, I became an expert at forging checks. Wanted from New York to Florida, I escaped the East Coast, where I had been living and flew to California where my brother was in the Coast Guard. One afternoon I was driving my brother’s car. When I heard the siren and saw the twirling red light in my rearview mirror, I knew this could mean trouble. The police stopped me because a tail light was out; they ran a check, learned of my history and locked me up. Immediately, I became so sick, suffering withdrawal without heroin.

 Like I said, I’d come from a good family and graduated from high school, after which I passed both the police and post office tests. I chose the post office, where I worked as a clerk, sorting the mail. I knew I had a good job, but I was just looking to have fun, not have something tie me down like that.

 I thought taking heroin would be like having fun for a minute and then walking away. But with heroin you can’t walk away. Once it gets a hold of you, it owns you.

 But I was having a good time, until one morning I woke up and felt terrible, throwing up and having diarrhea, chills, sweats, all of it. I couldn’t get up. I felt like I would die.

 I was eighteen and I really didn’t know what was going on until a friend of mine came over and she told me what was going on. She went and got me some heroin and BOOM! In an instant, I felt like a million dollars again.

 The feeling was short-lived and there I was again with my body fluids pouring out of me. I had no thought at all about my future—I was just trying to get the heroin monkey off my back. But it grabs you just like I was the prostitute and it was the pimp. At least I never did resort to prostitution, though this was no better as far as being controlled by an outside force.

 So there I was in jail in California, suffering withdrawal with chills, sweats, diarrhea, the shakes, all that. I had no way to get heroin and they didn’t give me nothin’; they just throw you in the hole.

 I was like this for three days and after you go through the withdrawal, you are real weak and you have to have someone help you get into the shower and clean the vomit off yourself, and it takes all your effort to eat so you can get your strength back.

 After about three or four days you are back to normal and start thinking about the time you are going to serve. You think about the heroin high but also think you could do without it. But still, you know when you get out, you will get back to shooting up and go through the same thing all over again.

 The authorities sent me back East to DC. Marshals accompanied me onto the plane. Since it’s against the law to handcuff you on the flight, they told me if I try to run they were going to shoot me in my tracks.

 Because I was flying with the marshals, and the plane was overbooked, we sat in first class.

The stewardess came around asking what we wanted to drink. Now, I had never drunk in my life, because my father died of cirrhosis of the liver when I was sixteen. But I said I want a rum and Coke, double shot and the marshal said, “You can’t have alcohol.”

I told him, “If you don’t let me have alcohol, I am going to act like a natural clown around all these important VIPs in first class.”

 They turned red as beets; they didn’t know what to do since there were all these important people around. The marshal told the stewardess, “Give it to her.”

 And that’s when I told him, “I was just playing. I don’t drink,”  and we just bust out laughing.

But soon things got serious. We landed in DC, and they immediately clamped on the handcuffs and locked me in a jail cell.

 To be continued . . .

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