Every single word written here is an extraordinary exaggeration of events that have played out in my head... based on the stories I have heard from people I have met in jail or while I was dealing with my own stupidity and carelessness, resulting from my own addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is in no way a glamorization of drug use, but a tool to lend some humanity to a subculture that has been demonized and written off as a hopeless and worthless part of our human family. I do not condone or promote any of the behavior or activities herein.
To this day I regret the how I spent my final hours on the farm. I regret the day I had spent with Rhonda and Crystin in the apartment so many miles away from Bull. I regret having allowed myself to experiment with banging dope, but more than anything, I regret having drank the way I did while I was spinning my head off on crystal meth. I regret having woken up in the bleary condition I did, face down on a child-sized mattress in the back of the old, rundown farmhouse I had come to associate with the feelings of home for the last several months.
I awoke face down on a pile of open mail and paperwork. The farmhouse itself was still bustling with the sound of far too many people for my comfort. I did my best to compose myself in the dim light of the makeshift bedroom I found myself in, but the familiar feelings of shame that only an alcoholic can associate himself with were washing over me in waves as I listened to the laughter and conversation in the not-so-distant room. I lay silently on my back, trying to attach faces to the voices I heard. I recognized several voices immediately as those of Charlene, Ron, Snake, Dayna, Bull, Rhonda, and much to my surprise, Dale. I heard Dale, who had just been arrested for driving without a license while leaving the farm just a couple of days prior to today. More importantly, Dale who had been arrested after leaving the farm with a baggie of dope that he had just taken possession of from Bull. An uncomfortable feeling of suspicion and anxiety at Dale’s presence on the farm was beginning to take hold of my bleary brain.
I sat up on the bed, and my head spun viciously with the sudden movement of my body. I steadied myself, and reached above my head to push a switch to a light bulb, which better illuminated my surroundings. My hands crushed the paperwork that I had been sleeping on, and I did my best to reshape the pile they must have been in when I was poured on top of them. They appeared to be reports from the DCFS event having occurred when the investigators arrived to remove Dayna’s son from her custody. I focused my eyes as best I could to peruse the reports.
The reports were statements detailing Dayna’s meth-positive urinalysis, the rundown condition of the farmhouse, and the dangerous condition of the land upon which the farmhouse that Bull and Dayna called home was kept. Further paperwork explored Bull’s previous incarcerations for methamphetamine manufacture, and the Departments opinion that if Dayna wanted to recover custodial rights to her son, that she was expected to seek drug rehabilitation and mental health counseling while being observed by a DCFS investigator. There was also a recommendation that she no longer pursue a relationship with Bull Gunville until a time when the courts could deem that he himself would not present a danger to the welfare of Dayna’s son.
All of this was quite a bit more than I was ready to absorb at the moment. It appeared to me that if life were going to continue the way we were living it on the farm that only a couple of options were available to us. Dayna would either have to leave and adhere to the strict standards that DCFS had established or she would have to accept that she could no longer be a parent to her son. Knowing Dayna the way that I had come to know her, both options would be met with resistance. These options would be met with very loud, very dramatic, very irrational resistance. I had a feeling that Bull on the other hand, would try to find some way to either make Dayna see reason, or force her to make the right decision… in his own way. I wasn’t excited to witness the outcome of either.
I left the papers in a neatly stacked pile on the bed, and stood up to make an attempt at navigating a path to the bathroom adjoining this small bedroom. I relieved myself, and splashed some cold water on my face, and dampened my stringy hair in an attempt to make myself a little more presentable to our guests. My face was bloated and my eyes were puffy and bloodshot. After slapping myself a couple of times on the cheeks, I sat on the closed toilet seat, and reached behind the cupboard above the toilet tank to retrieve a glass pipe that I kept stashed for rough moments like this. Fortunately I didn’t have to make an effort to load the pipe from what remained of the bag that Rhonda had paid me with for the bolt. There was a hardened puddle of dope settled at the bottom of the glass ball. I fumbled for a lighter in my pocket and began the process of getting high from my glass pipe.
After several large hits my head began to clear, and I began to feel quite a bit steadier than when I had woken up. I was sitting in a cloud of smoke when a knock came at the bathroom door.
“Hey fucker… are you alive in there?” It was Bull.
I jumped at the sound of his voice. “Yeah boss, I’m done in here…” He opened the door as I was putting the pipe back into its hiding spot. He walked in a couple of steps, looking down at me from where he stood.
“What the hell happened to you, brother? I’ve never seen you drunk like that before.” I was having a hard time meeting his stare, and I had a feeling that he recognized my avoidance. “Look at me man,” he palmed the top of my head and gently turned my head towards him. I shook my head free of his grasp.
“I’m okay, Bull… I just drank a little more than I thought while I was getting high with Rhonda and her weirdo friend.” I looked at him briefly and stood up from my seated position.
“I’d say so…” He looked over his shoulder at the bed I had been asleep on, where the pile of papers I had read was stacked neatly on the disheveled pillow. “Didja do a little reading when you came to your senses?”
“Yeah boss, I read that shit. Doesn’t sound real good, does it?” I began to pull down my sleeve on the arm I had been using to bang dope with Rhonda and Crystin. I was stunned to see some bruises, and a couple of pockmarks where the needle had entered. My attempt to hide the arm failed, and before I knew what had happened, Bull had both of my wrists in the tight grasp of one of his rough, scaly hands and had yanked me towards him and a couple of inches off of the ground. He was examining the damaged arm with wild, infuriated eyes. His mood had immediately gone from that of friendly inquiry to angry inspection.
“What the fuck happened here?” he whispered through a tightened narrow mouth. He had pulled his free arm back as though he were about to send his fist directly through my face. His face was close enough to my ear that I could feel and smell his tobacco-rancid breath. I felt my bladder release a little, and was shocked to feel drops of urine on my leg.
“Put me down, boss…don’t hit me,” I pleaded. Tears were welling up in my eyes, and genuine fear had consumed my body. My legs were numb from the knees down, and my wrists were aching. “Please, Bull… it’s no big deal, I just tried it… I’ll never do it again if you tell me not too.”
Bull’s demeanor unexpectedly changed just as suddenly as it had deteriorated. He was still holding my wrists above his head, but the fury in his eyes disappeared, and for a moment I thought I could see the beginnings of moisture in his own eyes beginning to well up. He lowered my wrists, and released them when my feet had found the ground. He put the hand that had been grasping my wrists onto my shoulder, and pulled me towards him in a momentary embrace. It was just as gentle a gesture as a father comforting his own son. His next move still remains in my memory as one of the most stunning things I have ever experienced.
“Goddammit, brother… I never wanted that for you. Hell, I never wanted any of this for anybody.” He grabbed my arm and put both of his hands over the bruises. He squeezed my arm tightly with both of his hands and whispered, “I’m sorry I sent you away. You don’t have to do shit like that anymore, okay?” He let go of my arm, turned around and walked out of the bathroom and back to his expectant company. I was alone in the bathroom. Tears had begun pouring out of eyes, and I hurried to dry them.
I looked down at the arm that Bull had been squeezing. I could still see the blood returning to pale, fleshy hand prints Bull had left on my arm, but the bruises and puncture marks from my day of banging dope with Rhonda and Crystin had disappeared. I reached my own hand up to the fold of my arm, and stood alone… looking at something I couldn’t believe. I was left there speechless, amazed and confused. I have never touched another needle for the purpose of banging dope to this day.
I needed to find a clean pair of jeans.
This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo