Down and Out on Murder Mile

BOOK: Down and Out on Murder Mile
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Down and Out on Murder Mile
Tony O'Neill

For Nico Estrella O'Neill

Contents

1

They Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage

2

This is What Killed Hemingway

3

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

4

Homecoming

5

January

6

RJ

7

Music

8

March

9

Habit

10

Jobs (One)

11

The BBC

12

December

13

Hell is Other People

14

NA

15

Jobs (Two)

16

The Fuckup

17

Down and Out on Murder Mile

18

July

19

Routine

20

Dr. Ira

21

January, Again

22

St. Steven

23

Jobs (Porno)

24

Second Chances

25

Vanessa

26

Aftermath

27

Verse

28

Chorus

29

Coming in to Land

30

The Good Times

31

The Bad Times

32

On the Street

33

Dr. Cash

34

Clean

35

Junkyard Zen

36

Adulthood

37

A Ghost

38

Peacez

1
THEY GO TOGETHER LIKE A HORSE AND CARRIAGE

The first time
I met Susan she overdosed on a combination of Valium and Ecstasy at a friend's birthday party at a Motel 6 on Hollywood Boulevard. My friends Sal, RP, and I dragged her blue face down to the 5:00
A.M.
Hollywood streets below, and the filthy predawn drizzle on her face somehow brought her round. She blinked up at us and said: “I need a beer. And I want to shoot some pool.”

 

I married her six months later. I had one broken marriage, one broken musical career, and a burgeoning heroin habit to contend with. I had nowhere I wanted to be, and neither did she. Without a strong pull in any other direction we decided to go down together.

 

I married my second wife the day the dissolution of marriage from the first disaster became final: we did it in the home of a Dominican notary public near Koreatown, having shot the last of our heroin and furiously smoked the last of the crack in the car parked outside. I was twenty-one years old.

 

Before the wedding we stopped at the storefront needle exchange on Cahuenga between Hollywood and Sunset. I wore a suit that had a few bloodstains on it and Susan wore a crumpled white dress. We dressed like that because the whole thing seemed slightly perverse to start off with, so why not go all out? Inside we received a few sideways glances, but nothing more. Needle exchanges are like porno bookstores or public toilets. Nobody wants to talk or even make eye contact unless it is absolutely necessary. The exchange had a front room where you could watch TV or get access to the Internet, as well as a table you could pick up lube and condoms at. I suppose that must have been for the meth freaks. In the back was a desk with a flip-top container for people to dump used needles into, and a storeroom full of syringes of all shapes and sizes. We used the standard Terumo 28 gauge ½ cc insulin needles because we were new at this and our veins were not too screwed up yet. We had not yet begun to inject into our groins, necks, or the backs of our knees. But there was still time.

 

Todd was a dreadlocked ex-junkie who worked the exchange on Wednesdays. He had been in Narcotics Anonymous for almost ten years. He was a good guy, one of the few people I knew in
recovery who still gave a shit and tried to help those still strung out in a practical way. He doled out needles and advice every week for four hours on a strictly volunteer basis. He eyed us up and down as we dumped the old needles and requested a new hundred-count box.

 

“What's with the outfits?” He half smiled. “You two getting married or something?”

 

“Yup. We're on out way there now.”

 

“Yeah.” Todd sighed, sliding the box across to us, “Well, you know, congratulations.”

 

My wife-to-be was a heroin-addicted thirty-two-year-old accountant. We married to keep me in the country as we were having such a good time getting high together. Meeting Susan was the moment that my drug use ceased to be a healthy product of my youth and recklessness and started to become the only thing that mattered to me. That old, drunken Irish fatalism that had been with me throughout my life suddenly resurfaced, and it was no longer enough to be high and having a good time. I needed to be higher. I needed to feel my heart pounding so hard it seemed as if it might burst loose from my ribcage. I needed to feel the palpitations and see my vision blurring, doubling. I needed to know that Death was here, in the room, and that I was too fast, too young, and too smart for him.

 

In the beginning we drove around in her eggshell-blue eighties Mercedes with the top rolled down, blasting punk rock from her tape player and
pulling over to get high. We always had enough drugs. Heroin. Crack. Methamphetamine. We woke up and did drugs. We did drugs until we passed out. And the money was always there, the money I made writing music videos and the money she had saved from accounting jobs. The money would never run out, it seemed. And for her dollars, Susan had bought someone as completely into the idea of total destruction as she. It wasn't love, but there was the unspoken agreement that we would eventually die together.

 

The wedding was as brief and perfunctory as one could imagine. The house was a dimly lit, ramshackle little place. We signed the papers, high and twitchy, and since we didn't have any friends the old woman called her daughter, or her granddaughter, downstairs to act as witness. She was around sixteen years old and pissed off about being dragged away from her TV shows. She looked at us, silently chewing gum, and we shot back big stoned smiles at her. The whole thing was over in minutes. This now marked the second time that I had married someone while I was out of my mind on drugs. The first time was a rush job in Vegas to a vengeful blonde while ripped on booze and crystal meth. And now here, two years later, junked out of my brain and spun from smoking crack. I started singing Wagner's “Bridal Chorus” as we staggered out of the place and back into Susan's car.

 

We were renting a place in one of the poorer parts of Hollywood, a shabby building populated with burned-out drinkers and stoic old Armenian
women. We moved in and never unpacked, so everything sat in cardboard boxes. The furniture that Susan had kept from her last divorce was stacked up in one corner, giving the apartment the look of someplace completely uninhabited by the living. The shades were drawn all day long. The only furniture we ever used was the couch, the coffee table where we divided the drugs, the television, and the filthy bed that we lay in moaning and cursing whenever the smack ran out.

 

Later that night, back at the apartment, we had our first married argument. We had miscalculated what was left in the bank, and the ATM refused to dispense cash. We had to wait for Susan's pay to arrive in two days. A phony check we deposited earlier hadn't cleared yet. There weren't enough drugs to get through the night and the only dealer who would take our calls was an evil little rat bastard called Raphael.

 

He agreed at first, but when he showed up to the place he was drunk and feeling mean.

 

“I no have no chiva,” he kept telling us, “I don' know why you call me. Who are you?”

 

Susan turned to me and whispered, “He's drunk out of his fucking mind.”

 

“Okay, okay,” he yelled. “How much you wan?”

 

“Eighty?” Susan asked, rather optimistically.

 

“Okay. Where the money?”

 

“We won't have it until tomorrow! You said you'd give us credit!”

 

“I don' say nothing! I ain't Wells Fargo bitch! I no give no fucking loans!”

 

Then he pulled out his cell phone, furiously dialed a number, and started yelling at someone in Spanish.

 

“We're fucked!” Susan said, desperation creeping into her voice. “He ain't gonna play. We're gonna be sick again.”

 

I cursed and started hunting around the place for electronics or jewelry that he might take in exchange for a bag of dope. But everything was already given away or in the pawn shop: the DVD player, the DVDs, the PlayStation, the CD player, my musical equipment, all gone. All we had was a busted TV and the cell phone, but without the phone we would be completely cut off. I returned from the bedroom, empty-handed, to find Susan in tears, screaming: “But it's my WEDDING DAY, asshole! You're crazy!” “Hey hey!” I yelled. “Calm down!” Then, grabbing her by the arm, “Shit, cool it Susan! We're trying to get drugs out of him, not piss him off more!”

 

“He wants me to blow him,” she snarled, “for the drugs. He wants me to suck his dick!”

 

“Oh.”

 

I couldn't see the problem. Susan had sucked a lot of dick for drugs, for better grades, for promotions at work, or because some crazy pulled a knife and told her he'd gut her like a mother-fucking pig if she didn't. I didn't assume that was going to stop because we had gotten married.

 

“Okay, I go. No time for this!” Raphael yelled.

 

“It's my
wedding day
!” Susan said again, drawing out the syllables until they bled.

 

“Well.” I sighed. “It's up to you. Whatever you want.”

 

“He fucking
stinks
!” she whispered. “And what if he doesn't give us the drugs afterward?”

 

“She wants the drugs first!” I yelled at him.

 

“No. They're in the car. I bring them after she keeps her part of the deal.”

 

“That's it, Raphael. Fuck off!” she yelled, and he stormed out, dramatically slamming the door.

 

I couldn't help but believe in that optimistic dope-fiending part of my brain that if she had only sucked his dick for a few minutes, we would have had drugs. We didn't fight about that, though. When we started to get sick that night, we fought because we had spent our last fifty dollars on the wedding license instead of on heroin.

 

“I didn't know it was our last fifty bucks!” Susan pleaded.

 

“Well, that's great,” I spat. “Some fucking accountant you are!”

 

At midnight we managed to get hold of Carlos, one of our back-up guys. He agreed to front us two bags until the next day. We drove down to Bonnie Brae and Sixth with a wastepaper basket on my lap for us to vomit into without having to pull over. The whole deal was extremely sketchy as on Wednesdays the cops had started to do sweeps of the area to bust junkies as they were leaving. Anyone who wasn't from the 90 percent Hispanic neighborhood was likely to get pulled over and questioned. Especially a white guy and a half-Chinese woman driving a Mercedes and vomiting into a trash can. Somehow we avoided a bust. We sailed right past a prowl car as they pulled some other poor bastard's car apart on Sixth Street.

 

On the way home we stopped at a McDonald's so we could go shoot up in the toilets. It was two in the morning and the only people in there were other junkies, street people, and the unfortunate teenagers working there. They played the Disney song “It's a Small World” at full volume, and they even piped it into the fucking toilet stall where I was fixing my dope.

 

And that's what happened the day I got married for the second time.

BOOK: Down and Out on Murder Mile
3.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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