A Suicide Run
Sam had to leave Taiwan. The school where he had worked as an English teacher for five years finally let him go, a result of often showing up smelling heavily of liquor and sometimes not showing up at all. Now he had no working visa and his legal stay in the country had expired. He sold off some of his surfboards, his car, scooter, and the furniture from his hostel and he bought a plane ticket to Los Angeles. After buying the ticket, he had a little more than five thousand American dollars. All his life he had never been able to get ahead financially because he spent so much money on his numerous vices. Sam didn’t tell any of his friends or family in southern California that he was returning, he didn’t want them to know about his failures overseas. He was drunk when he boarded the flight bound for Los Angeles from Taipei and he continued to drink on the flight until the shy Taiwanese stewardesses cut him off, and then he begged them for just one more. When he arrived in L.A. he got his only surfboard from baggage claim. All he had to his name was the surfboard, a laptop, an iPhone, and a backpack full of old clothing. It was mid morning when he landed in L.A. with a hangover and he realized no one would be picking him up at the airport. He told no one he was coming, and no one would be happy to see him in his current condition anyhow.
As Sam rode in a taxi from Los Angeles International Airport to Skid Row in downtown L.A. he told himself this would be the one and only time he messed around with heroin now that he was back. He didn’t do drugs while he was in Taiwan because he didn’t know how to get them. Now that they were available, he had an uncontrollable urge to do them. He knew he needed to stay off alcohol and drugs and find a job quickly. Alcohol had gotten him into this mess in the first place and drugs had definitely caused some hardship in his past. But he wanted to do heroin one more time before he quit everything for good, and he was determined to do so at high costs, even if it meant going into the dangerous and decrepit streets of Skid Row to find a heroin dealer.
At noon the streets of Skid Row were already active with homeless, mentally ill, addicts, alcoholics, cops, and hustlers. It didn’t take Sam long to find what he was looking for. He had the cab pull over and he asked the gangster on the corner where he could score some heroin. It was arranged and Sam handed over two hundred bucks and in turn got three grams of black tar heroin packed in balloons. He then rode the cab to the Biltmore hotel in a safer part of downtown. He had fond memories of this hotel from years before, when he had stayed here for George’s wedding. He had been a groomsman in the wedding and he ended up having a very good night with George’s sexy blond cousin. He went to a convenient store and bought some tin foil and cigarettes then he got a room at the historic Biltmore and went directly to his room to smoke heroin and cigarettes for the remainder of the day.
Once the sun set completely Sam showered and put on jeans and a wrinkled and torn T-shirt from his backpack. Then he ventured downstairs to the bar in the lobby of the hotel. A jazz band was playing and there was an after work crowd drinking in the dim bar. He took a seat at the bar next to a pretty brunette lady in an expensive business suit. Sam wasn’t looking to socialize but he had never been opposed to the company of an attractive female so when the pretty lady asked him what he was doing in L.A. he gladly engaged in a conversation with her. He told her his story avoiding the entire truth about getting fired, instead telling her he had returned to California to do other things. She was interested in the seemingly free living Sam and he was intrigued by the Los Angeles business woman. She did not realize Sam was high on heroin and he did not offer the information. A closer look at his pupils would have told it all to someone in the know. After a few hours and more than a few drinks Sam and the lady headed up to his room. As soon as they got into the room they began kissing with drunken intensity. They were tearing each other’s clothing off and that is when Sam realized he was in trouble. The brunette was stunning without her clothing on yet Sam could not get an erection. He had forgotten about the problems that heroin caused with his penis. The women kept toying with Sam’s limp penis with her tongue and fingers but he remained tiny. Sam was completely embarrassed as he mumbled one excuse after another. After thirty minutes of relentless efforts, the lady left the room disappointed. Sam sat ashamed in the bed smoking cigarettes and heroin until he nodded off for the night.
Sam was awoken the following morning to the phone in the hotel room. The front desk was calling to tell him it was time to check out. He freebased a few more hits of heroin before shoving his belongings in the backpack, grabbing his surfboard, and heading out to the street to catch a cab to the train station in downtown L.A. At the station he bought a ticket to Solana Beach in San Diego county, he was headed back to where he was from. He messaged his best friend Donny, who agreed to pick him up in the late afternoon at the station in Solana Beach. On the train he drank beer after beer and he kept going in to the head to smoke heroin, which he finished the last of. By the time he reached Solana Beach Sam had spent well over five hundred dollars and he had only been home in California for little more than twenty four hours
Sam threw his surfboard and backpack in the bed of Donny’s truck then hopped in the cab. Donny took one look at Sam’s ash gray face and his pinned pupils and said sadly, “Aw Sam, you’re already on dope. What the fuck man.”
Sam avoided the topic and said, “Let’s go shoot some pool somewhere dude.” The two headed to a bar right across the way from the train station and ordered pitcher after pitcher of beer while shooting pool and catching up for lost time. It was Friday night and it was not long until the crowds of partiers showed up. Sam and Donny were getting very drunk and showed no signs of slowing down. Instead, they went to the bar and ordered shot after shot of whisky, Jaegermeister, and Aftershock. By the time a group of girls showed up that Sam and Donny had known since childhood, they were sitting at a table highly intoxicated.
“Sam! How are you? I haven’t seen you forever! Where have you been?” shrieked Huge Heather as she ran over to hug Sam. Huge Heather was a promiscuous alcohol guzzling lady who had slept with half the town and weighed nearly three hundred pounds. She was well over six feet tall. Sam was so drunk that he had become completely vulnerable the Huge Heather’s aggressive tactics. She sat in a chair next to him and began stroking his package under the table. After a little while she whispered to him, “Let’s get outta here and go to my place.”
As Sam and Huge Heather stood up to leave, Donny asked, “Where the fuck do you think you’re goin?”
“I’m gunna take this thsweet little sthing to never never land,” Sam lisped drunkenly as he motioned toward a giggling Huge Heather.
“Oh no your not big guy. Just because you’ve been nailing petite little Asians for the last five years doesn’t mean you need to hit the biggest gal in America right when you get back,” said Donny laughing.
“Why don’t you let Sam make his own decisions, Donny?” Huge Heather chimed in.
“Shut it Huge Heather. Don’t take advantage of another one of my drunk friends you fat whore,” said Donny angrily.
Huge Heather stood up in a rage and stormed out the back door of the bar, yanking Sam with her by the arm as Donny yelled, “Don’t do it Sam! I tried to help you Sam, you dumb fuck!”
Sam grabbed his backpack and surfboard from the bed of Donny’s truck and shoved them into Huge Heather’s small car. Huge Heather then drove them drunkenly to her house. Sam and Huge Heather had dysfunctional sex before Sam passed out in a rocklike sleep.
In the morning Sam woke up to unfamiliar surroundings. He looked at the massive mound under the sheets next to him and felt repulsed. He went to the other side of the bed so he could see the face of the woman. That is when he noticed it was Huge Heather and he vaguely recalled Donny warning him not to go with her the night before. He didn’t bother to run to the toilet and he vomited on the floor right beside the bed. He was disgusted with himself and he felt raped, dirty and violated.
He got up to look for his belongings. His things were nowhere inside of the house so Sam went to look in Huge Heather’s car. His surfboard and backpack were visible inside the locked car. He went back inside Huge Heather’s house to look for her car keys so he could get his stuff and leave before she woke up. Inside Huge Heather’s room Sam began rummaging through her things. He found her keys in her purse and he took forty bucks in cash as well. He thought of the forty dollars as his fee for the night. Then he opened one of her bureau drawers in search of more things to pinch. He felt he needed to get revenge on her for taking advantage of him. Inside the drawer there was a two foot long golden colored dildo that was almost two and a half inches in diameter. Sam puked again in the drawer right on top of the dildo before grabbing a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses and an iPod off the night stand and leaving the house once and for all. He got his things from Huge Heather’s car and took off walking down the street, dwelling over the possible diseases he had picked up off Huge Heather. Finally, he flagged down a cab while walking down Encinitas Boulevard but he had no idea where he was headed. He had spent almost one fifth of his money in two nights but he was no closer to finding employment or a place to call home.
Sam had the cab driver take him to the Scripp’s Hospital emergency room one exit down the freeway on Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas. He felt so hungover that he could not face the day without some sort of mind altering substance. The hangover was a physical, mental, and emotional slap in his face. He felt nausea and head pain. He felt guilt and depression. He felt morally and spiritually bankrupt, as if his soul already belonged to the devil. The only way he knew to deal with these feelings was to refuel with more substances. The closest place he knew of was the hospital. He stashed his surfboard in some bushes outside of the emergency room and went in.
He was seeking a shot of morphine and a prescription for Vicodin, or hopefully something more powerful. He pretended to be in severe pain as he entered the emergency room lobby. He told a nurse he was experiencing tremendous pains shooting from his back all the way down his right arm and into his fingers. The nurse took his temperature and blood pressure and then a doctor came to see him. Sam then explained his pain to the doctor with a series of lies. He told the doctor he had been in a terrible car accident years before and that he had nerve damage that sometimes led to great pains in his back and arm. Sam said the only thing that helped with these terrible pains was opiate based painkillers. The doctor had his doubts about Sam’s story and told him so, “I have no way to prove that your story is true or not. I will give you a morphine shot and few days worth of painkillers, but I think you should go see a pain specialist soon.”
Sam felt better immediately after being put on an intravenous morphine drip. The cost of the emergency room visit would be costly, but Sam had no intention of ever paying for it. He then picked up a prescription for Percocet at the hospital’s pharmacy and flagged down another cab out in front of the hospital.
He messaged Donny to see what he was up to. Donny got back to him and told him to come over to his house in Carlsbad. When Sam arrived at Donny’s house fifteen minutes later a bunch of his old friends were there drinking beer and barbequing. Chucky, George, Jack, and Pete were all over there. There were even a few girls, but not many. It was a beautiful late summer day in California and the sun was shining. Sam suggested they get some cocaine and the rest of the guys agreed. Sam offered to pay for it if Pete would go get it. Everyone agreed that was fair and Pete left to return forty minutes later with a few grams of cocaine.
They all began snorting cocaine with complete disregard for their health and behavior. At the end of the day, after the sun had set, the five men decided to walk down to a bar located near the beach on the coast highway. They staggered the half mile from Donny’s home to the bar. At the bar they carried on drinking and Sam, the drunkest of the group, found trouble. He was out on the patio smoking a cigarette and he put out the cigarette in a lady’s glass of wine that was sitting on a table.
“That was a full glass of wine you just put your cig in,” the lady said in disbelief.
“I’m thsorry. I will get you another one,” Sam responded in barely decipherable English.
Before Sam could leave to go to the bar the women’s boyfriend, who’d been watching silently, said, “Yeah, you fucking better.” This angered Sam and as soon as the man had said it Sam threw a punch at the man. The man easily moved to the side and Sam lost his balance, as he’d thrown all of his weight into the punch. Sam hit nothing but air with his fist and fell to the ground face first, scraping up the entire side of his face and knocking himself out cold on the pavement.
Donny had been watching this altercation from a window inside the bar. The man was about to give Sam a kick or two but Donny came outside at that very moment and said to the guy, “Kick him once and see what happens.”
The man was surprised and looked to Donny and said, “He was asking for it. The asshole deserves a beat down.”
Donny walked over to the man and pushed him away from Sam who was still lying on the ground, while saying, “I don’t give a fuck what you think he deserves. And congratulations champ, you just won against the drunkest guy in California without even throwing a punch.” Donny then got Sam to his feet and walked him back to his house. Donny put Sam to bed on his couch.
Sam woke up on Sunday morning with a slight concussion and half of his face scabbed up. His forehead, upper cheek, and chin were all swollen and covered with road rash. He could just barely remember getting into a scuffle on the patio of the bar with some guy. He wondered how he had gotten home to Donny’s house.
He went wandering through Donny’s house and every room he looked into was full of marijuana plants that were on a hydroponic growing system. He concluded that Donny was taking full advantage of California’s recent legalization of marijuana. He peeked into Donny’s room and saw that he was still sleeping. Sam looked in the fridge and was relieved to find a few cans of beer. He opened one and finished it in one long chug. He put the other in his pocket. In the freezer he found a bottle of vodka. He took a long pull off that too. Then he gathered his backpack and surfboard and walked back out to the Coast Highway in hopes of getting on the bus or finding a taxi. It was early and the bus was not yet running and there were no cabs to be had. He looked out at the ocean and noticed that the waves were decent. But Sam was in no shape to surf and his face would sting badly if doused in salt water. He tried to hitchhike for a few minutes before concluding it was a lost cause. He began walking along the Coast Highway towards Leucadia.
Two hours later he reached a rundown motel in Leucadia on the Coast Highway. He paid the old Asian man who ran the place five hundred bucks for a room for a week. Sam wrote down a fake name and the man gave him a key. Sam headed for his shanty. The vicious drinking and hangover cycle owned him and caused him to crave drugs once again. He popped the rest of the Percocet pills he had from the day before and went out on the patio to smoke a cigarette. While smoking the cigarette Sam had the chance to meet his neighbors at the motel. They were a weathered lot, most of who appeared to be drug addicts. A middle aged woman entered the room next to him wearing the thick makeup and skimpy attire of a prostitute. A man of undeterminable age and scruffy beard came over from across the hall to introduce himself.
“Name’s Dutch. If you need anything let me know and I can get it for you. No problem at all. Anything you want.”
“Actually, maybe you could help me. Do you know how to get some H?” asked Sam.
“For sure I do. But it’s pricy. One hundred a gram,” Dutch answered.
Donny took two hundred dollars from his wallet, handed it to Dutch and said, “Grab me two of em.”
Dutch took off to go get the stuff. Sam waited uncomfortably and impatiently for a few hours, antsy to get the heroin. He began cursing Dutch for taking so long. Finally, there was a knock on his door and he opened it to Dutch. Dutch handed him a baggy without saying a word and quickly retreated back into his own room before Sam could inspect the product. Sam closed his door to check out his purchase. He was disappointed to see the heroin was of low quality and it was less than one gram.
Sam’s temper flared and he marched over to Dutch’s room and banged on the door. Dutch would not open the door so after a minute of waiting Sam went around to the back of the room and went in through a window that he slid open. Sam ran into the room looking for Dutch. Dutch was in the bathroom shooting heroin into his arm. Sam suspected that he had paid for the heroin that Dutch was shooting. Sam held up his baggy of heroin to Dutch and asked, “You call this two grams motherfucker?”
Dutch just smiled a dopy smile and said, “Yeah. That’s two.” Sam lifted the raggedy junkie off the toilet by his shirt and spit in his face as a syringe dangled from the man’s arm. Then he turned him around and shoved him face first back towards the toilet. Dutch tried weakly to break his fall and in doing so hit his arm on the edge of the toilet. His arm snapped in half in such a way that the sharp, broken bone popped through his skin. He was bleeding badly and groaning in pain. Sam wondered what else could go wrong before calling the schemer an ambulance, grabbing his surfboard and backpack from his room, and leaving the low rent motel before the police and ambulance arrived. He spent five hundred dollars and did not even get to spend one night at the motel. He was down to a little more than three thousand dollars. The end of the road was in sight and the story did not look like it was going to have a happy ending.
Sam walked directly onto the Coast Highway from the motel. He walked a few hundred yards down the road to a bus stop in order to avoid the show that was surely underway back at the motel. He hopped on the bus without a destination in mind. The bus was headed for La Jolla and he was fine with that. His face was hurting and he was beginning to worry about his situation. Once his money was gone he would have nothing. He could sell his computer, phone, and surfboard. But that wouldn’t bring much and what it did bring certainly wouldn’t last long. He felt a little comfort knowing that he had almost a gram of low grade heroin in his pocket, but that too would be short lived. As the bus passed through his home town of Del Mar Sam felt guilty for not telling his parents and brothers he was home. He had no other choice because they had made it known to him that they did not want anything to do with him if he was using drugs or drinking. It would shatter them to know that he had seriously relapsed and thrown his life away but they would give no assistance with shelter or money. He had many friends in the San Diego area, but they too would be hesitant to hang around him in his current state. On top of that, Sam did not want his friends to see how low he’d sunken. Right then, Sam decided his mission of self-destruction would be a solo feat. From here on out he would not contact anyone he knew. He would either make it on his own, or float into the horrific abyss that is addiction to alcohol and drugs.
He got off the bus in downtown La Jolla and in a brief instant of clarity he pondered his situation and couldn’t help but laugh. His life had been a roller coaster ride and although he was in the gutter now, he was sure he would not be down forever. This confidence gave him false hope. He stumbled into Jack in the Box and ate fast food until he felt tired. He slept for a while on the Jack in the Box patio. When he awoke the sun was setting. He felt that lonesome, solemn, sorrow that people often feel on Sundays and in his sudden soberness he became embarrassed to be loitering like a homeless bum on the patio of a grungy fast food chain. This embarrassment intensified as two young pretty girls in their mid twenties drove into the parking lot in a convertible Mercedes coup. They parked and as they walked into the restaurant in there skimpy beach attire one of them caught eyes with Sam and upon seeing his surfboard she smiled and said, “Hi there surfer boy.” Sam sat there blankly and made no reply as feelings of inferiority overtook him. He was also a little self conscious because of his scuffed up face. It took a few minutes to shake the feelings off and decide instead that he was a living legend. If he was going down, at least he was going to go down like a rock star.
Sam got up and walked inside the Jack in the Box to where the girls were sitting waiting for their food. Knowing that American girls love Australian men, he put on his best Australian accent and said, “Do you beautiful girls know where a decent hotel is? I just got into town from Australia and I need to find a place to stay.”
The girls went on for a moment about how amazing Sam’s accent was before the girl who had spoken to him on her way in answered, “We can take you to a hotel after we eat. What kind of place are you looking for?”
“Somewhere nice. I could go for a room with a view.” Sam realized keeping up with the Aussie accent would be a challenge. It would be even tougher to maintain the rich guy image. He also realized he had stooped to an all-time low. He was pretending to be a rich Australian surfer, when in fact he was a poor American who barely ever surfed as of recently.
When they finished eating the girls loaded Sam and his board into their small Mercedes and took him to the Hotel Valencia, an old Spanish hotel that overlooked the spectacular La Jolla coastline. As he got unloaded he said with what he believed was Australian charm, “I really appreciate your help ladies. Could I treat you sheilas to a few drinks after I check in?”
The pretty one who did all the talking answered with dazzlind smile and her own fake Australian accent, “Sure, mate. We will go home and freshen up while you check in. How about we meet you in the lobby in an hour?”
“Sounds like a plan,” Sam said in an overly emphasized Australian accent as he entered the upscale hotel, excited about meeting up with pretty girls later. He checked into a luxurious room and immediately broke out his heroin. He smoked about a half gram and nodded off while lying on the bed with his shoes on.
Three hours later Sam woke up. It was about ten in the evening. He slowly came to the realization that he had missed his date with the girls and that he had spent about five hundred dollars on a hotel room in an effort to impress them. He felt as if his whole existence was haunted and that he was born to lose. He smoked the rest of the heroin and drifted off into a sleep of opiate euphoria.
Sam was surprised to find he was not hung over in the morning. He was craving drugs but he had none. He decided to go for a walk and get some breakfast. As he was leaving the hotel a receptionist stopped him and gave him a sheet of paper with a name and a telephone number on it. The name was Michelle. He figured it to be the girl from the day before and his spirits were lifted a little. Then he thought if he wanted to take her out he would have to keep up his act as a rich Australian, a truly grueling act. He got some breakfast and walked around La Jolla. He walked down to the beach and saw that the waves were looking good at one of the reefs. He ran back up to the hotel room and grabbed his surfboard, thankful for not being hung over. He took note that it was soon to be fall and that he had no wetsuit. He would go surf and call Michelle afterwards. Life seemed to be pretty good for Sam at that moment.
Sam felt rejuvenated and positive after surfing in the crisp and beautiful crystal clear water over the swaying eel grass reefs while orange Garibaldi swam carelessly about. His face hurt a little in the salt water but it was worth it. On his walk back to the hotel he debated whether to come clean to Michelle and tell her he was a fellow American or to carry on with the Australian act. He concluded that he would try and make her as an Australian and afterwards tell her that he was in fact another San Diegan. He wondered if this would upset her. This plan would ensure his getting laid and afterwards he would not have to keep up his silly Australian imitation.
When he got back to the hotel he put on his accent and called Michelle. They made plans to go to dinner that night so he got the expensive hotel room for one more night. In the early evening Michelle met Sam in the hotel lobby and they decided to walk to a nearby restaurant. Sam reckoned she was looking spectacular and he told her so. As they walked down the sidewalk Sam heard Donny’s familiar voice yell, “Yeah Sam! You da man! Who’s the hot babe?” Sam looked up to see Donny and George pulling up to the curb next to him and Michelle in Donny’s truck. Damn, Sam thought, what the hell are these two fools doing in La Jolla? They were surely about to blow his cover.
“What are you blokes doin here mate?” asked Sam, all of sudden his Australian accent weakening.
“We just surfed. It was going off this evening! Why the fuck are you speaking like a retarded Aussie? Have you seen your brother since you been home? He was asking about you.” said Donny, bombarding him with questions and other information.
George, Donny, and Michelle all looked at Sam and waited for him to answer. “So many questions, eh mate. We were just gonna get some dinner. I’ll see you mates later. Cheers!” Sam’s Australian impersonation had gone to hell. His friends began laughing hysterically inside the truck and Michelle looked confused and angry.
Michelle glared at Sam and said as George and Donny watched curiously, “I don’t know what the hell is going on here, Sam. If that is even your real name.” Then she looked at Donny and George and said sweetly, “Could you guys give me a ride back to my car? I think your friend here has been bullshitting me about some things.”
She didn’t wait for the boys to answer. She just walked over and opened the door to the truck. “Wait wait wait. I can explain,” said Sam. His Australian accent had vanished. Michelle didn’t respond or even glance at him.
The boys made room in the truck for the pretty girl and looked at Sam apologetically, feeling a bit guilty for ruining his caper. “Sorry dude. Call us tomorrow and let’s surf,” Donny mumbled as they drove off, leaving Sam cussing on the sidewalk. He decided he would try to have one drink at every single restaurant and bar in La Jolla that sold alcohol in order to drown out the nightmare he was turning his life into..
Donny began dating Michelle shortly after that night. Sam wasn’t upset with Donny, though. He knew he had ruined his chances with Michelle on his own. Sam ended up becoming good friends with Michelle down the road and they would later laugh about how he had pretended to be an Australian in an attempt to get in her pants. But right then Sam was shattered. After one more night at the La Valencia he would only have about two thousand left to his name. And he had been spending money quickly and frivolously since he’d arrived in the USA.
Sam was sitting at the bar in a joint called the Brew House. He was still stewing over losing Michelle but his brain was becoming more and more fuzzy from the beers. He went to back of the bar to shoot pool. He played doubles with three other guys who were buddies and came to the bar together. Sam and his partner kept winning on the pool table and his partner said, “Man, you are good luck. We are headed out to the casino a bit later. Wanna come with?”
“Hell yeah. Sounds fun,” Sam responded. A bit later the four guys were headed to Barona casino in east county to play blackjack and other gambling games. They sipped off a bottle of whisky as they headed to the casino. Once there, Sam took three hundred dollars out of an ATM machine. He and the guy he’d played pool on the same team with sat down at a blackjack table while the other two found another table to play. Sam and put down one hundred bucks on his first hand and won. He kept playing one hundred dollar hands and winning. His buddy was hot too. Within an hour of arriving at the casino Sam was up over one thousand dollars. His new friend was up a substantial amount as well. After two hours at the casino Sam was up over thousand dollars. Two of the three guys he’d come with were up money and they were tired and ready to leave. They asked Sam if he needed a ride home but he said he wanted to stay at the casino and try to increase his winnings.
Soon after the guys left Sam’s hands began getting colder and colder but he was still betting over a hundred dollars on every hand. Within thirty minutes of his buddies leaving he had lost a thousand dollars of his winnings. Within an hour he’d lost all of his winnings and his original three hundred so he headed to the ATM to take out a couple hundred dollars more. He lost that quickly and made the decision leave the casino after he’d lost five hundred dollars. It was terrible losing five hundred dollars because it was a huge percentage of the rest of his money and he had no money coming in at the moment. It was even more painful because he had been up so much. He felt suicidal and hated himself for not leaving with his friends from the bar when he could have.
Now he had no ride and he was stuck in east county. Barona casino is isolated by itself off a windy mountain road that leads out from San Diego. He began walking along the road towards civilization with his thumb out. It was two in the morning. Many cars passed before a beat up little rust bucket stopped ahead of him. Sam ran to hop in. He hopped in and looked at the driver, a man of about forty. He had dirty and matted long blond hair. His eyes were bulging out of his head and his face was covered with red pock marks and boils. The man said to Sam, “Take it you didn’t have much luck tonight. Where you headed?”
“Shit. I’d like to get to La Jolla. But I will just go as far as you can take me in that direction,” Sam said.
“If you give me some gas money I’ll take you into La Jolla. I’m wide awake. I just need to stop at my place in Santee. You smoke?”
“Ok. Thanks. Yeah, I smoke,” answered Sam. The man handed Sam a glass meth pipe. Sam had been thinking the man was asking if he smoked cigarettes or weed, not meth. Sam thought that he couldn’t feel much worse, if anything some crystal meth would make him feel better. He asked the guy, “How do I hit this thing?”
“Twist the pipe a little and heat it with the flame from the lighter while you inhale,” the man instructed. Sam did as he was told and he took a massive lungful of smoke from the pipe. Almost instantly he felt a rush of energy and euphoric ecstasy like never before. He was flying.
“Damn. This shit is next level!” Sam blurted. Sam had done practically every drug in the books, but he had never done meth. He was instantly in love with it. Though Sam knew from experiences that the comedowns off stimulants are often agonizing, and anything that made you feel this good must make you pay on the way down.
“Yeah. That’s pretty good stuff. I pick it up down in TJ,” the man said proudly.
“Do they got other stuff down in TJ?” Sam asked. He was hoping they had some kind of opiate he could buy for when he started to come down off the meth.
“They got everything in TJ. The place I go has got everything. If you buy me a gram of ice I will take you with me and show you the place. We could even go tonight,” the guy said.
“Sounds like a plan,” said Sam.
“Ok. I just need to stop into my place real quick,” the man said again. They smoked some more of the meth and after a few minutes they pulled into a neighborhood of small, one story houses. Half of the homes were kept up with pride while the other half were deteriorating without any love. They pulled up to one of the more deteriorated homes and the man drove up into the dirt beside the house, where there was a small trailer with a light on inside. Sam heard a baby’s disturbing cries coming from inside the trailer. The man said to Sam, “Wait here. I’ll be right out.” Sam watched as the man went into the trailer, thinking the guy must make one hell of a father. A few seconds after the guy went into the trailer Sam heard the sound of flesh smacking flesh and a woman’s painful scream. The baby started screaming even louder. He briefly considered going in to help the woman and baby in there. But he decided it was none of his business after all and that it would interfere with him getting drugs. Soon after the man came out and hopped back in the dying car. “Ready?” the man asked.
They drove in accelerated silence to the border, where the man parked his car on the American side and they walked into Tijuana. Right upon crossing into Mexico they went into a plaza with shops and restaurants. One of the little taco shops there doubled as an illegal drug selling shop. They must have paid off the cops, Sam thought. They went in and right away the intense gangsters who worked there eyed them strangely. Once they were inside of the taco shop they were approached from behind and grabbed roughly. “We need to have a word with you boys,” came a mean voice with a Mexican accent. The gangsters took Sam and the meth head into the back room. “Where’s our money motherfucker?” asked one of the gangsters as he backhanded the meth head in the face. “Who is this sack of shit? Does he have our money?”
“Just a friend. I don’t have money but my friend wants to buy shit and he has money,” said the man, who was now bleeding from a split lip.
Then the gangster asked Sam, “How do you know this guy? Do you want to help him pay his debt? He owes almost five G’s.”
“I just met the guy tonight. He gave me a ride. I can pay a hundred bucks for him but that’s it. Really I just want some H,” answered Sam. He was barely even scared of the gangsters and the situation because he was so high on the meth and he felt he really didn’t have too much to lose.
“A hundred bucks ain’t gonna help this fool at the moment. But we’ll take it and sort you out too. Just go out front and wait. We gotta talk to your friend,” the gangster said to Sam. Then to the tweeker while laughing, “You really thought bringing some junkie here to buy a few bags would keep us happy? Fuck you one stupid white boy. What’d you think motherfucker? That we were gonna make some random bastard pay your fuckin debt? Fucking tweekers always amaze me.”
Sam went into the front room of the restaurant and waited as he was told to do. A minute passed before a gangster came out and discreetly handed him a small bag of heroin and took his money. Then the gangster said, “I’d get the hell out of here man. It’s gonna be awhile before your friend is ready.”
As Sam was leaving the place he heard the muffled pleading followed by the terrorized screams of the man who had brought him to Mexico. Sam left the drug pedaling taco shop wondering where he would go. It was almost five in the morning and he had about fifteen hundred dollars and rampant alcohol and drug addiction to his name. He had to make a choice between staying in Mexico and finding a safer place to do the dope, or head to the border and risk getting caught with the drugs when he tried to cross into America.
Sam decided to leave Tijuana. He had already paid for an expensive hotel room for the night and he wanted to get back to it before he had to check out at noon. He walked towards the border. The line was already pretty long to walk through to America. Sam was relieved there was a line because he figured the customs officer who questioned him would be in a greater hurry to keep the line moving. Before getting in line he went into a junk filled border shop to use their bathroom. They told him he could not use it unless he bought something. He bought a black t-shirt that said “Hecho en Tijuana” on it. Once in the bathroom he pushed the heroin packets inside his body through a hole that was meant as an exit. Sam had never done this before and he did not count is at an enjoyable experience, but he figured it was the safest way to get it across the border. He put his new shirt on over the dirty one he was wearing and went to get in the border line. Sam waited in line for a little over an hour and as he was reaching the front of the line an American customs official approached him who was walking a leashed black Labrador around that was sniffing for drugs. The dog walked near Sam and stopped to sniff at him. Sam’s heart nearly stopped. Getting caught at the border with heroin would definitely get him some time in jail. Sam tried to act as casual as possible and he didn’t even look at the dog or the official. The dog and the official moved on and Sam went back to enjoying his meth high. He was surprised at the length of the drug’s high. When he reached the front of the line a border patrol asked in a commanding voice, “Purpose for visiting Mexico?”
“I was off track betting at Caliente,” Sam quickly answered. That had always been his answer for the border patrol in the past when he had gone to Mexico for sketchy reasons and it had never failed or caused him to get pulled into secondary and searched.
“Bringing anything back with you from Mexico today?” asked the agent.
“Just this sweet t-shirt,” Sam answered while pointing at himself. The border patrol agent let him pass back into America. Now he needed to figure out how he was going to get from the border back to his hotel in La Jolla, a solid thirty minute drive. Once on American soil Sam went directly to the bathroom in a mall to get the heroin out of his ass. The sun was rising as he walked around the shopping mall and thought about how he would get back to La Jolla. A cab would cost over one hundred dollars and his funds were vanishing at an alarming rate. He walked to a parking lot where people who walked into Mexico left their cars. He went up to a couple of Mexican American guys in there twenties who were returning from Mexico and asked, “Could I pay you guys for a lift north?”
The guys were headed to L.A. and they did not mind giving Sam a ride north. Sam gave them twenty bucks and they dropped him on the side of the freeway in La Jolla. He was then able to flag down a cab for the rest of the way to the hotel. It was almost eight in the morning. He went to his room and broke out his heroin. He was still spinning from the meth and there was no way he would be able to sleep yet. He smoked some of his heroin and he felt great under the dangerous combination of two of the most powerful and most contrasting drugs. He laid back comfortably in bed while his thoughts raced a mile a minute. He had four hours left in the hotel room before he had to check out. He would then check out and go look for cheaper accommodation.
Sam laid awake smoking cigarettes and heroin for his last four hours in the posh hotel room. At noon he gathered his belongings and checked out of the hotel. He made his way to the Coast Highway and began walking south towards Pacific Beach. He would be able to find more affordable accommodation there. He had a place in mind where he believed he could get a room for cheap near the freeway. His meth high was beginning to dwindle but he was still wide awake so he decided to walk for two and a half hours all the way to the motel. The place was similar to the place where he had broken the guys arm in that it was a cockroach ridden hellhole where druggies and illegal immigrants lived crammed into the dirty and stinking rooms. He put down a little more than three hundred dollars and got a room for four nights. Now Sam really needed to find a job because he was down to his last five hundred dollars. His situation was getting more and more critical. He knew he needed to sober up and pull his life together soon or he would be homeless and hungry. It seemed impossible for Sam to do anything but drink and do drugs.
Once in his room he did the usual routine of putting some heroin on the tin foil and chasing the dragon. His meth high was finally going away and the heroin was taking over, relieving his anxieties over how destroyed his life was getting. Sam walked to an In-n-Out to eat some lunch and then returned to his room to lounge and smoke more dope. Sam did not leave the room for the rest of the day. He pulled the shades and watched TV and smoked heroin. When he was hungry that night he ordered pizza to be delivered to the room. The next day, when all the dope was finished, Sam decided it was time to meet some of the other tenants.
It was late in the afternoon when Sam stepped outside of his room and he heard music and talking coming from a room down the hall. He decided he would ask the people in the room if they knew how to get more dope. He went down the hall and knocked on the door of the people who were partying. The music immediately went down and the voices stopped. The peep hole on the door darkened as the person inside the room peered out at Sam through it. Then a man’s raspy smoker voice asked, “Who is it?”
“It’s your neighbor here. I wanted to ask you guys something,” said Sam.
“You ain’t police are you?” asked the voice from behind the door.
“Nope. I’m just a dope addict who lives down the hall from you,” Sam answered.
The door opened a crack and the man with the raspy voice opened the door and let Sam in. He asked Sam, “What can we do for you. Had to be sure you weren’t the cops. Sometimes they come around here and just look for excuses to cart someone off.” Inside the room there were three men. All of them were wearing torn and shredded clothing. They all three also had long beards, making it hard to determine their age. Sam placed all three of them somewhere around forty-five. The room smelled strongly of cigarette smoke, cheap alcohol, and body odor. There were cigarette butts and empty plastic liquor bottles and beer cans scattered all over the stained carpet. They had a little radio that they were listening to and the local classic rock station was playing Friend of the Devil by the Grateful Dead. The song seemed appropriate to Sam for entire situation. Sam cut straight to the chase. “Do you gentlemen know where I could score some H?”
The man who answered the door looked to one of his buddies who was sitting on the couch and asked, “Buck, where did you write down that little Mexican delivery guy’s number?”
“I wrote it in the Bible in the drawer next to the bed,” said the worn out looking man on the couch who answered to Buck. He got up and went to retrieve the number for Sam. “You can take down this number and just call it yourself. It’s a Mexican kid who just drives around and delivers heroin and blow all day and night. Just don’t forget about your buddy’s here down the hall after you hook it up.”
“Thanks guys. I will bring some beers by for you all later,” said Sam as he wrote down the number on the back of a business card he had in his wallet. Sam went to his room and called the number.
“Hola,” a young man’s voice answered.
“I was given this number by a friend who said you could help me out,” said Sam.
“Where you at?” asked the man in a Mexican accent.
“In-n-Out in Pacific Beach,” Sam said.
“Look for a black Cherokee there in twenty minutes,” said the man.
Sam walked to the burger joint and sure enough about twenty minutes later a black Cherokee with tinted windows lulled up. Sam walked over to it and hopped in the passenger seat. The Mexican kid in the car was probably still a teenager who had not been in America long. He was one of many delivery dealers that sneak in to America illegally and then work as criminals in the drug business. “What do you need?” he asked Sam.
“Give me three grams,” said Sam and the exchange was made. “I might be calling in a few days for a bit more.”
“No sweat homie,” the dealer responded as Sam hopped out of the car. Sam stopped at a Seven Eleven to buy a few cases of beer, cigarettes, water, and snacks. He drained the rest of his bank account at the ATM. Now he had about two hundred fifty dollars in cash to his name. He could sell his phone, computer, and surfboard if he had too, which it looked like he would. He headed back to his motel room where he planned to coop up for a few days. On the way past the three men’s room with the beards he set down a case of beer and knocked on their door but kept walking to his room. He had no intention of sharing his heroin with the guys. He went into his room, locked the door, and lay in darkness for three days and nights smoking his stuff, drinking beers, occasionally ordering delivered food, and avoiding thoughts regarding the horror of his near future.
“Hey! You in there?” asked a man in a loud commanding voice as he pounded on the door to Sam’s motel room. “You need to check out. Your time is up.”
Sam was just coming to consciousness as he comprehended the words. He was barely able to groan, “Ok. Give me ten minutes man.”
“I’ll give you five. Checkout time was an hour and a half ago godammit,” answered the man without a trace of compassion.
Joey sat up in bed. It took him thirty seconds to recall that it was Saturday. He was beginning to feel a trace of withdrawal symptoms from all of the heroin he’d done. He was weak and clammy and cold. He got into the shower to clean off then he cleaned up the room a little. He picked up all the tin foil he had used to smoke the heroin, crumpled it up, and put it in the trash can. He picked up stray cigarettes, put the key on the nightstand, and left the room with hopes he would be allowed to stay again if he could get some money for his computer or his phone at the pawn shop.
He began walking with a slight hitch in his stride along Garnet Avenue in Pacific beach in hopes of finding a pawn shop. He knew this was the time to quit abusing substances, seek help, and try to find employment. However, his need to refuel on substances was stronger than his desire to get well. He felt miserable and told himself he would reward himself with a beer and a meal as soon as he hocked the computer. A mile or so down the road Sam found a pawn shop and the man inside offered him one hundred and fifty dollars for his computer. Sam hadn’t expected much but that seemed like a very meager offer to him. His computer was not old and it had cost him over a thousand dollars. In a state of desperation and weakness he took the one hundred and fifty dollars and gave the man his computer. Losing the damn laptop would lighten his load anyhow, he thought. He was given a month to come buy the computer back, but Sam had a feeling that would never happen. He felt like crying as he left the pawn shop. He counted all of his money and he had three hundred seventy seven dollars and some change. He decided he would not buy another hotel room as he would need the rest of his money for booze and food, or maybe just booze and a gun. He walked further down Garnet Ave. towards the beach carrying his backpack and surfboard. If he had to sleep outside he would do it by the beach. Sam stopped into an old dive bar on a side street where men who had seen better days sat bickering and drinking the afternoon away. He ordered a beer and a burger. After a few more beers he left the bar in the interest of saving money on alcohol. He went to a drugstore and bought a case of cheap beer and half gallon of plastic vodka. He reached the beach in time to see a fluorescent sunset turn into a pastel sunset before becoming dark altogether. He sat against the concrete wall where the boardwalk meets the beach and drank beer after beer, often mixing in a slug of the vodka. He kept his backpack so if he passed out it would be hard for someone to take. He got so drunk he would not have been able to stand up if he tried. A few hours after sunset he passed out with a few beers and a half bottle of vodka left at his side
Sam awoke in the morning to someone trying to remove his packpack from his shoulders. He swung and kicked at the scraggly man and said, “Get the fuck away from me!” The bum ran off. Sam looked around and wondered where he was. His pants were wet from piss. He reached to check for his wallet but felt nothing there. He checked all his pockets before realizing the person trying to take his backpack must have taken his wallet. He looked for the guy on the boardwalk but he had disappeared into the Sunday morning crowds. He would keep an eye out for the thief but chances were not good that he would be seen again. He was penniless, shelterless and addicted. If he’h had a gun he would have taken his own life right that instant.
Sam reached into his soaked pocket and pulled out his iPhone. At least he still had that, he thought. He tried to turn it on but the screen was blank. It could not have run out of charge because it was full when he left the motel the day before and he hadn’t used it. He opened the phone and saw that the phone was damp throughout. When he pissed his pants in his sleep it had gotten on his phone and broken it. “Aaaaaaaaaaaahhg!” he screamed in despair as he threw the phone as far as he could toward the ocean.
Sam searched through his backpack. He had about ten dollars in coins and he found the ipod he had stolen from the girl a week before. He walked down to the cold ocean and walked into the chilly water fully clothed until he was up to his chest. Then he dove under a few waves. This sobered him slightly and cleaned the piss and grime off him. After his short swim he grabbed his packpack and surfboard off the shore and changed into some dry clothing, wrapping a towel around himself for cover. He left his wet clothing on the beach. Maybe the bum who stole his wallet would take his clothes too, he thought. He gathered up the remaining beer and vodka and put it in his backpack.
He headed back to the pawnshop where he had sold his computer to sell the ipod he had stolen. The man offered him a mere fifteen dollars for it. Sam took the money and went to a liquor store to buy more cheap beer and liquor. He bought another plastic bottle of vodka and a two forty ounce bottles of Mickey’s malt liquor.
His backpack was loaded. His plan was to find a safe and quiet place to drink all of the booze. While drinking he would plan his suicide. Once all the alcohol was gone within a day or two, he would have a plan to end himself and he would be drunk enough to have the courage to do so. He hoped that all of the booze would kill him, but booze hadn’t killed him yet.
He was walking through the residential section of Pacific Beach on a street named Fanuel when he saw a house that was under construction. There was a chain link fence surrounding the property that was covered in green mesh so people could not see in from the street. Sam peeked over the fence and saw that no construction workers were present because it was Sunday. The house was just a wooden frame, still far from being complete. Sam walked around the property in search of the easiest way to get past the fence. He found a place where two fences were joined and he slipped through after throwing his backpack over and sliding his surfboard through.
He walked into the medium-sized half-finished home and took the stairs to a room upstairs where there was a view of the rest of the neighborhood. Here he sat down on what was to become a balcony and began drinking beer and vodka as if it were water and he had been stranded in the desert for days. After finishing a beer he would toss the empty can into the yard below.
Sam got blindly intoxicated and cursed himself and God for making him the way he was. He was born to lose. In his blurry drunkenness he ran into a dilemma. He could not decide if he would throw himself off the Coronado Bay Bridge or jump in front of a train once he had consumed all of the alcohol. He didn’t have the money to buy a gun. He realized he had no way to get from Pacific Beach to the bridge south of downtown so he decided he would jump in front of the nearest train and end his pitiful existence. He would go just inland of Pacific Beach where the Coaster ran and throw himself in front of it. That would surely put his crazed, fiendish, selfish, and anxious mind to rest. He knew he would never be able to handle the struggles of life if he couldn’t handle addiction, and there was no way he could handle addiction. He couldn’t imagine living a sober existence. That seemed as bad or worse than how he was living now. The boredom and discomfort of sobriety was just as painful as the sickening drug and alcohol driven wasteland he was wallowing in. After drinking countless beers and enough vodka to kill a small village Sam drifted off to a sleep that was more like a coma.
Dale arrived at work early as always. He was always the first on the job site. After all, he was the boss and he had to be ready for the day and set a good example. He was a little bent out of shape because he had looked at the waves on the way to work and they were as good as gets in San Diego. A solid combo swell was running and the sun was shining bright out of the east without a cloud in the sky, a classic southern California fall day. It was six thirty in the morning when he unlocked the fence to the house he was building in Pacific Beach. The first thing he noticed out of the ordinary was about twenty beer cans and an empty vodka bottle scattered around the dirt yard. Dale thought some teenagers must have been partying on the property and hoped they hadn’t vandalized anything. He surveyed the downstairs of the house and everything looked as it should be. Then he went upstairs and everything looked alright until he went out on the balcony.
Asleep on the balcony next to a surfboard and a backpack was a man of about thirty five years old. He was asleep on his back with his arms and legs spread wide. Dale nudged the man with the tip of his steel toed work boot and said, “Uh, excuse me bro. But you can’t sleep here. This is private property and we will be starting work here in a little while.” The man didn’t stir. Dale wondered if he was alive. By the amount of empty alcohol containers in sight, there was no telling. Dale knelt down and shook the man by his shoulder. “Are you ok man?” he asked more loudly.
The man opened his red eyes and looked up at Dale for an instant before closing them again, apparently going back to sleep. Again Dale shook him, “Do you need help dude? I can take you to the hospital.” The man opened his eyes again and sat up in nauseous pain. Then he struggled to his knees, reached for the edge of the balcony, and threw up over the side into the yard below where his empty beer cans lay.
“I’m fine. Just had a few too many last night. I’ll get outta here. Sorry about the trespassing,” the man mumbled with minimal coherency.
“No worries. I see you got a surfboard. Been getting some fun waves? What are you doing? Like traveling and surfing and camping? That’s awesome. Where are you from?” asked an envious Dale.
“Yeah. I’m traveling down the coast of California on foot. Almost done. I’m from Florida,” answered the man.
“That is fucking awesome. Where have you got the best waves?” asked Dale.
The man just sat there looking down without answering for almost a minute. Then he said casually after taking a long pull off the vodka bottle, “Oh God, I don’t know….shit, I’m lying to you man. I wish that’s what I was doing. I returned home to San Diego a week ago after living in Taiwan for five years. I’ve spent every last dime I have and today I plan to kill myself after I finish the rest of this booze. Sorry about all the beer cans. I will clean them up and be on my way. Do you want a free surfboard?” said the man as he stood up to leave without picking up the surfboard, tears of self pity filling his eyes.
“Wait wait wait. I’m Dale. What’s your name?”
“You want to go grab a bite to eat then go get some waves? I’ll pay. I saw the waves on the way to work today and it is all time. Put that rotten vodka down and lets go.” said Dale.
“Nah. Thanks, but I’m gonna stick with my original plan,” said Sam.
“Well your talking like a fucking pussy. Why don’t you come get one last surf in before you leave this world for good?” said Dale with a smile.
“Because I am hungover as shit and I don’t have a wetty,” Sam complained.
“Get up. We are going to get a Grand fucking Slam at Denny’s then we are going down to Black’s to get barreled. I have an extra wetsuit in the truck,” commanded Dale as he pulled on Sam’s arm to get him to stand up.
Sam wondered who in the hell this guy was. Then he had a strange thought that this Dale guy might mean salvation and he better just obey him. Sam got up saying, “Okay okay, whatever you say.”
“I’ll just call my foreman and put him in charge for the morning. After surfing Black’s today I am sure you will find a reason to live,” said Dale.
They got into Dale’s truck and headed to Denny’s on the Coast Highway in Pacific Beach. Over a meal and coffee they got to know each other better. They found out they had grown up not even two miles from one another in Del Mar and attended the same schools. They had much in common, including living in Colorado and a substance filled addicted past. They both were the middle brothers in families with three boys. They both loved surfing and had traveled extensively to do so, especially in Mexico. Dale told Sam about his best friend Joey who had been maimed by people who had meant to hurt or kill Dale. Then he told him how Joey had committed suicide a year after that and how the guilt over the tragic ordeal had nearly destroyed him and how he was still working to get through it to that day. Sam told Dale about his own past and his wild life that had taken him many places. Sam was about four years older than Dale, yet they were still surprised they had never met in the surf before. Dale told Sam how he was completely sober and how his life was way happier now.
After the meal Sam felt a bit better and they motored towards Black’s beach in Dale’s truck. It was about eight o’clock when they ran down the steep trail to Black’s beach, whooping and hollering like kids as they watched the glassy low tide tubes peel off under the warming sun.
There were quite a few surfers out but Sam and Dale both picked off plenty of good waves and found a little tube time. They surfed for a few hours before becoming tired. On the hot walk up the dusty trail both realized they had formed a friendship out of similar pasts and similar interests. They were both addicts who loved surfing, although Dale hadn’t drank or used drugs ever since his best friend Joey was beaten half to death, years before. Dale asked Sam, “Do you know anything about construction?”
“I worked quite a bit of construction years back,” answered Sam, thinking about the time he helped demolish a house and put the debris into the swimming pool then covered it with dirt..
“If you can work and stay off booze you can come stay with my family. I got a young boy and a nice wife. You will like them. If you booze just don’t stay at the house. I don’t have it around them. I can pay you decent and house you until you get on your feet. But if you fuck up your gone. How about it?”
According to Sam he had only two options: suicide or go with this guy Dale who seemed to be a gift from God. Although still drained, after surfing again he felt a tiny bit better emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. He felt slightly optimistic, hopeful, and positive. He hugged Dale and said, “Thanks Dale. Let’s give this a try!”
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