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I had been getting high about 5 times a week. When you’re into it that deep, you’re never really all the way sober and you’re never really all the way fucked up. The volume on the real world gets turned down and everything takes on a rosy hue. My brain had been corkscrewed for such a long time that even a day clean and sober felt novel and interesting. We were drugsters exploring our own minds and every detail needed to be explored even the morning after come-downs.

Marietta is a suburb on the outskirts of Atlanta and my dealer Andrea lived there. She had blue hair, pale white skin and probably weighed less than a good-sized watermelon. Her daddy paid for her car and her rent and she sold to us military types for well above market value. I don’t think she was hurting financially. She had the typical Southern apartment with the screened in balcony and the over-active air conditioning. Most weekends were spent there recovering, smoking cigarettes and being annoyed at her free-roaming ferret that had an affinity for digging around noisy tin foil during the wee hours of the afternoon. Like most in this lifestyle, the day and night ran together like a bad tie-dyed shirt in the wash.

In those days I wasn’t picky. I would spend $50 bucks at Wal-Mart in the pharmacy section or I’d eat high-end mescaline with an absinthe back. Anything to send me sideways and there was plenty around. The naval hospital handed out the good stuff after the smallest complaint and the drug testers didn’t even know what they were looking for.

Andrea had a friend named Micah who I dug. He was nice and fun to talk to as long as he didn’t nod off. One of the most laid-back guys I’ve ever met (heroin will do that to you.) I often worried that he wouldn’t last very long, his addiction was staggering. Then he found K. It didn’t take him long to get over his addiction to H after he tasted K. It was love at first stab. I remember being a little glad because Ketamine is engineered by real chemists and not some back alley street pharmacist. When you’re this far into it even the twisted can be a blessing.

I had been playing with K for a while. I’d nurse the little twenty-bags all night, dipping my room key in for tiny hit after tiny hit. I never really appreciated the power of it in powder form until I accidentally did half the bag in one misguided snort. The party was in full swing which, to the untrained eye, would look like a bunch of very tired people trying to have a conversation about how best to reach for the glowstick. I had a second full bag in my pocket and was working my way through the first one. My motor skills were not at their most dexterous so I took to sticking the rolled dollar bill into the tiny bag and sniffing a little into my blood stream. The first time I did this I felt a burning euphoria unlike I had previous experienced. Upon examination of the bag I noticed that it was all gone, slowing dripping down the back of my throat.

And then it happened. All understanding of the universe was gone and the world slipped into a confusing, multi-dimensional mess. I saw myself in the bathroom mirror but couldn’t control my hands. Although I didn’t want the water, my hands reached for it and, in fast motion then slow, I was drinking from the bottle. Everyone around me was talking and yet I couldn’t understand any of it. I stood there as though adhered to the wall while a magical ferris wheel carried me out of the bathroom and back in a beautiful but unnerving trip. I wasn’t afraid but I was wholly confused and when it ended, I felt like hours had passed even though everything around me hinted otherwise.

And that was it. I was enchanted. The whole thing took me by surprise but the rest of the evening was a warm stupor peppered with interesting conversations in hushed tones on the edge of the bathtub. I did the rest of the second bag in the exact same manner and was again transfixed by the bizarre destruction of reality. I felt like I finally understood the concept of infinity. I saw every atom for what it truly was and the entire education took place while I sped along through time and space with thousands of positive vibrations.

So when Micah offered to poke me for the first time I was a little curious. I’d always said that I’d never take a drug intravenously but that’s the nature of the beast. I found myself compromising my ethics on a daily basis and my brain was too numb to really care. When you’re this far into it, you will push the envelope farther and farther until something has to give. The hope is that you make it out alive and intact and with enough brain cells to say, “Do you want fries with that?

So I consented and pulled off my belt so that Micah could hit a vein. Since he was doing the stabbing, I had a free hand to keep the belt tight and I watched as my virgin veins bulged beneath a tattoo, hungry for a taste of forbidden fruit. It didn’t hurt. Blood sprang up into the syringe like a symbol of my lost innocence and the clear fluid, now pink from my blood, slowly made it’s way into me.

K works so fast when it’s injected that I don’t even know when he finished. One second and I’m watching a semi-intricate medical procedure and the next I’m flying over and through all living things with feelings of pleasant fear bouncing around in the vast expanse of my mind. Andrea’s apartment vanished and the noise from the air conditioner grew louder and louder until it enveloped all thought. Not only was I becoming the air conditioner I was on my way to heaven and hell at the same time while the world got flushed in much the same way a plunger pushes dope into the broken skin of a drugster.

When I finally came to, only a few minutes had passed but I was exhausted. My body felt heavy and dull and thoughts drifted in and out of my brain in sluggish gusts that I couldn’t hold on to. Lighting my cigarette took Herculean effort and the flame so invaded my vision that I could barely touch it to the end of my Parliament. But the smoke was beautiful. It’s blue wisps floated lazily through the dark apartment and every inhale felt nothing short of amazing. My mind was starting to return and was full of deep, introspective thoughts that were lost on everyone nodding off in the room. “Fools,” I thought, “if only they could understand the truths that were just revealed to me.”

True drugsters are confident in their genius. We understand the impossible and are forever trying to explain it to the rest of the crew. Until the drugs run out and you realize you wouldn’t extend the effort to piss on them if they were on fire. The glue that bound us to each other was synthesized. It was cooked in the trailers of the street pharmacists or stolen from the medicine cabinet of the prescribed. We would push each other farther and deeper until something gave and we all hoped it wouldn’t be us.

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