London: crack (2006)

Su-Tang passed the gauze, but it was too early – his short face was eager and I was unprepared. Lumps in my throat arose and griped on to the central nervous system beneath the core, everything fermented and my stomach grew troubled. He wavered the pipe in my face, ordering me to be served. I threw up my hand, ‘give me a moment…’

‘Do it,’ he said, ‘or I’ll do it.’

The options were clear. I stuffed the pipe in between my limp lips as he mechanically lit the white crystals that sat on the blackened wire. Sucking in the white poison and I knew I had made a mistake. The metallic smoke hit the back of my mouth and crawled its way down. I reached for the plastic bag and filled it with my brown puke. All the time I vomited I could read ASDA on the skin of the bag and for some strange reason that made me vomit some more. After I had finished I studied my sick, brown from the heroin. Fumes danced off it and there seemed to be a slight vapour on the surface, which stank of that God-awful fetor. I was pissed off that I’d just wasted an entire rock.

I puked a couple times more, just by remembering the smells combined, and Su-Tang sat glue-eyed and twitchy. He wasn’t satisfied either. We needed a brief pause…and then the inevitable would arrive. We had enough brown to get us through the night and into sleep quietly. But neither of us had reached our peaks, neither of us had returned to where we had been before. We needed some more white.

‘Let’s get some more crack.’ I said, feeling like a total fiend.

‘No.’

You bastard, I thought. Don’t play innocent with me. You want some crack just as much as I. You need that rush. You didn’t achieve your limit!

‘I’ll pay. I don’t care. I’ll pay. I need to get just a couple of rocks. Did you get a worthy hit? Was it all you wanted?

He just sat there thinking about it. He knew the answer, he knew that I knew he knew, but he was summing up possibilities in his head. He was contemplating the walk back down the black hill, past the black station, and under the dark, dark bridge.

‘Do not think about the walk. We can smoke some B and then float down there.’ Hell, we can even wear overcoats if you fancy it.

And then slowly, very slowly…as his small, thin Chinese fingers gripped the sides of the armchair with his dirty nails that remained uncut and the arms of the chair worn in, as his legs seemed dead and forgotten and his throat torn out, as his lonely face stared into the bowls of the nearest wall, reflecting his dried up lips and drugged eyes; he appeared as if brain-dead, a total mental shutdown, a physical collapse, at some point I thought that he had finally died, that this was it…I didn’t think about consequences, my thoughts at that moment were that I had lost a portion of myself…and as I watched him, and kept watching him – hours it felt, years – I looked on and saw the death in his grim face, saw how like a carcass he had become, an old tortoise whose skin drooped over the sides of his cracked shell like condoms of meat; and I stared a cold hole into his head that bled down his tracksuit and fed onto the floor beside me, I saw his head softly drop down towards his lap and then I watched as slowly…very slowly, it rose back up and I realised he had merely nodded.

‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Let us go.’

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