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Dreams of Morpheus
Sidewalks of Sadness
Main and Hastings:
This is a story of human suffering, Government ennui and the main source of drug statistics by which the rest of Canada’s cities are measured. The difference is, this story deals with the people involved: the daily struggle to get drugs, find housing and just live out their lives.
This area is considered Canada’s poorest and most drug riddled intersection.
He was called Spanky. Hunched over from all the daily dope he shot, he didn’t care where he was as long as he was stoned and out of the rain. There were several spots he preferred, locations he’d previously stacked cardboard to make a comfortable sitting arrangement, and after his long ramble to get someone heroin, once he got into one of his special spots, the frown and scowl would disappear, and his grin would return…moreso if he still had another shot of heroin to keep him happy. Sporting an afro and matching beard, he’d slough off the rain by wearing hoodies; the rest of his attire was whatever he found at the Good Will, usually something bright and colorful…another one of his trademarks. His main scam was buying heroin for people with money who didn’t know where to buy, a trick that kept him in heroin and money. Money didn’t really matter, but without heroin, his life became painfully desperate, and life didn’t toss him too many roses.
So Spanky shuffled along, occasionally turning his entire hunchbacked body, squinting through coke-bottle sized glasses to check on his latest customers. With a crafty grin on his pock-marked face, he spotted his latest marks following right behind him, eager to tag along and score some of the Chinaman’s top grade heroin. He’d always get their money, go up and score by himself, always taking a good half for himself, but at least he’d give the rube half, and since that was his main source of heroin, he always came through. People knew he took some for himself, but instead of buying flaps of cut-down garbage, at least they knew Spanky got top-notch down, and always gave you enough for a decent buzz, even after giving him $35 for a quarter-gram. Such was life at the corner…misery hung in the air like a miasma of suffering, and rip artists were always hustling, looking for some new dork that would trust them and give them the money before they saw the dope. That’s when they sold folded up but empty flaps, chopped up eye-shadow, or anything that looked like it might be dope.
The cops often parked their cars on the street so they could watch the corner. They didn’t really bother anyone, as the hucksters still shouted out their wares, “Up, down, crack, powder…Rivies, V’s, juice…whatever they had. It was like some Middle East bazaar…sellers calling out their wares, buyers trying to figure out if they really had something or were just another rip-off artist trying to score cash. Selling Methadone was a frequent sale…they’d water it down so much it was only ten percent, but that was the nature of the game. Only buy from someone you know…if you don’t know anyone, chances are, you’ll get ripped off. Desperate hookers offered blow jobs with toothless grins, the ripsters riding bikes so they could take off in a hurry. And then there were the prescription frauds…writing your own script, prescribing your own drugs. Usually, the main problem was convincing the pharmacist you were legitimate; if you got over that hurdle, he’d stamp your script, take your money, and you’d be out the door with whatever you managed to score. That took a little more brains and guts…getting busted meant the bookends…uttering and forgery. Sometimes it made more sense to just come back around three in the morning and do the smash and grab. In and out in under two minutes, and you could have a garbage bag full of drugs. Sell half, and you still had enough to last for a month or two. That earned you the drugstore cowboy sobriquet, and it was definitely a more profitable way to score; the risk sometime justified the rewards, but as time went by, pharmacies invested in safes, and that lifestyle got sucked down the gutter.
The most considerate thing I can say about our drugstore cowboy days is we were often out of control. There was nothing we would not try, no one we would not scam. It was all for a greater purpose, so we believed, and something that should be available to everyone, as pharmaceuticals are semi-legal, if you have a prescription. We obeyed the law, but wrote our own scripts, something they frown upon.
After selling and using the proceeds of one pharmacy, we were always planning our next haul…our kind of planned addict-hood. Personally, I’d feel pressured if I only had a weeks worth, as finding out where to get replacements can take a while…time you don’t want to waste sitting around suffering from withdrawal. If the withdrawal got really bad, there was no way we could even think of doing a score. In that situation, we could only hope our miserable condition could elicit sympathy from a doctor, and get a strong enough script to kill the withdrawal willies.
The only way around that was to get a real script from a Doctor. Doctors could tell we weren’t suffering from the flu, and if they were the older, more experienced physicians, the ones who took the oath of helping people seriously, we usually got something. I’ve been extremely surprised by some of these guys: instead of a mouthful to help me settle down, about 2 ounces, they’d hand me 8…enough to last a few days if you weren’t a pig. While properly medicated, we’d plan a score of necessity, and pull it off because we knew it was imperative to get that stuff so we could slowly taper down our high doses.
Most of the addicts I knew always went full-bore, getting as high as they could; getting blasted beyond all sense of sanity, they’d nod in and out of reality, a total waste of time. I’d use enough to give me a boost, and that would be enough to keep me going for the day. A truism that escapes notice is the more you take, the more you have to take…your resistance builds up, and you need more, and more, etc. Some of us actually used this stuff for real pain, something that would have been legal over 100 years ago. That little bit of legal history always boils my buttocks…a frigging plant, to keep it simple, is legal one day, and suddenly can get you 3-5 years. Just like that. They did the same to alcohol, but the upper class like their cocktails with a double shot of rum, so that only lasted long enough for previously unsavory bootleggers to earn enough money to buy big and buy well, entering high society through the always open door of money. Boo-hoo sonny, that’s the way the world crumbles. Flash cash, doors open, eyebrows rise, and you get lickspittle respect; on top of that, people could call you Sir. Wow, what a lifestyle…I don’t think I could handle it. I’m too nice to be rich, as I’d help out people along the way, and that means dropping cash so fast, I’m back to normal poverty.
Like a rolling stone, we spun through life, avoiding mossy embankments, and crashed into things that usually ended in disaster, catastrophe, and sometimes despair. We knew how to abound, and we knew how to live on a buck a day.
Money’s really trashed morality over the Earth—farmers used to be ecstatic growing premium coffee beans or tobacco, poor kids had many friends, all without superior airs. Send in the business dudes, yelling Condos, Power Plants, or huge manufacturing plants, and the world of expensive gizmos opens up, and people realize what money can buy. They used to be happy in their lifestyles, but now yuppie larvae and greed entered a once fruitful life. If you don’t know what you’re missing, then you don’t miss anything. Even as a kid, the house catalogues were always missing the expensive toy sections, and we only got to see cheap flyers. There was no “Toys-R-Us,” but it didn’t matter. We weren’t aware of battery powered robots, electric trains, or peddle-cars: we got bikes, matchbox cars, and we were happy…. You’re content with what you have, not jealously watching some rich kid with a garage full of toys. Sadly, that kid might always play alone. And loneliness could lead to drug addiction…hell, anything could lead to drugs.
If you don’t like booze, your choices are limited. Accept your crappy life, or find something that gives you mental medication.
Ultimately, that pretty well sums up the how and why; where and when don’t matter, so if you’re so inclined, you feed that addiction machine…and feed it until you’re soaring in dreamland, with Morpheus whispering tales of imagination and guile…all designed to keep you from that concrete jungle that is collectively known as life in the last lane.