Sunday, April 5, 2009


(part 122) DOPE AND GUNS

My mother had opened an Indian store in Tucson on Grant Road, called the "Three Brothers Trading Post". A store front visible to passing cars, with a small house attached in back. It didn't make a lot of money, but stayed open and paid the rent. She had a real love for American Indian culture and artifacts, along with the jewelry, pottery, blankets etc. These were the things she traded and sold in the store.

When I arrived, my younger brother, Quentin, was already working there. We all knew something about Indian Jewelry, because my mother's third husband, Francis, whom she had since divorced, had dealt in it for years. Still hobbling around on crutches, I learned to maneuver my way though the house and store where I occasionally helped out.

Basically lost and deeply troubled by my own circumstances, I felt immediately out of place in that surrounding. For me, it was like moving backwards in my life instead of forward. I was grateful for a place to come to, on the one hand, while being deeply troubled that I'd found it necessary to do so, on the other. Being as damaged a person as I was at the time, I felt no one really understood me. It wasn't discussed much, but rather treated as if it weren't really happening.

Part of the reason for this was that the other people in my family all had their own personal demons to contend with, so in essence, it was a house filled with damaged human beings. Unlike me, they didn't want to talk about it, whereas, I didn't want to stop talking about it. I'm still like that today. If you've got a problem, then let's put it on the table and beat on it till we find an answer. Most other people would rather keep it hidden and pretend everything is fine, which drives me crazy.

During my time in Tucson, I learned about heroin. Heroin is a dark drug. Not in color, but in the use of it. There was something different about it, I learned, that sets it completely apart from other substances. It stands quite alone in the world of drugs as a mysterious and destructive entity. I didn't much like it, in comparison to other drugs, but began the process of acquainting myself with it while in Arizona in 1973. There had been a time, in the not too distant past, where the idea of me using heroin was laughable. But as things changed and life became harder and more unpredictable, heroin ceased to be something I wouldn't try.

With the aid of my younger brother, I soon learned the fine art of cooking up "smack" in a teaspoon or tablespoon to burn off the impurities. Once that was done a small piece of cotton was placed in the spoon soaking up the liquid trapping further impurities in the cotton. At that point the drug itself could be sucked into a syringe or "outfit", a homemade syringe, and injected. You could, "skin pop", inject it into the flesh, or "mainline" it, inject it into a vein. Mainlining was what we did and was more hardcore in it's effect.

I didn't like needles, when I first started, but soon got addicted to shoving them into my body along with the drug itself. In fact, we would shoot up water if we ran out of the drug, just to be able to experience the ritual of doing it. I found this phenomenon rather bizarre, but would still participate in it. Along with injecting drugs, Quentin and I had a fascination with guns, which we also involved ourselves in. There weren't too many things deadlier than me and my brother high on smack and booze and screwing around with loaded guns.

I remember clearly, a day when he and I went to a bar, called the "Grant Road Tavern", to have a beer and I ended up betting a guy I could beat him at pool, even on my crutches. I lost the game and once back home, Quentin and I got into an argument about it, because he'd bet money on me and I'd lost. After yelling at each other, he shoved me, and I crashed to the floor. Because of the casts I couldn't get up, so I grabbed a loaded AK-47 that was leaning against the wall, and fired off 2 rounds in his direction. He ran out of the room, and I crawled up on my bed just in time to see him come back with a loaded 357 magnum revolver, which he shoved in my face.

I stared down the barrel of the gun and could see the bullets in the cylinder. I reached out with my head and grabbed the barrel between my teeth. This startled my brother and he pulled away from me saying, "You're fuckin nuts, Bob." He then left the room again only to return with a 22 rifle, which he again pointed at me. I sat on the bed with my head against the wall and stared at him as the first shot penetrated a couples of inches above my head. A second, third, fourth and fifth shot rang out and I still did not move. Frustrated, he yelled at me, saying, "Don't you ever get scared, asshole?" "Not of dying," I answered, "I don't care if I die."

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