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Your possessions help buy his meth

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Your possessions help buy his meth

A glass pipe and crystal meth.

Photo contributed/

POSTED May 17, 2014 1:51 a.m.

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With a push of his left thumb, “Ron” finally gets his butane torch lighter to emit the bright blue flame that will, within 30 seconds, turn the crystal meth that he just put into a glass pipe into a cloud of dense smoke and send him off onto a run that could last as long as 18 hours.

He worked hard for this hit, he says. “Ron” isn’t forthcoming about what it is that he does for work, but it’s more than just collecting cans around town and converting that recycling money into dope.

But he isn’t exactly stable either. He doesn’t have a set address – “no  bills,” he says – and his transportation situation is sketchy at best. Sometimes his truck starts and he’s able to use that to get around. Other times he keeps it parked at a friend’s house until he can either get it fixed, find somebody to trade with to get it fixed or come up with the gas money needed to drive it around town.

It has served as shelter more than once. And as long as he doesn’t pull his knees back, lying across the seat can actually be, he says, quite comfortable.

Ron is addicted to crystal meth. He’ll tell you this in between hits from “the bubble” – the bulbed out glass pipe, either picked up for a few dollars from a headshop as an “oil pipe” or made by taking a straight glass air freshener tube and heating the glass until it’s red hot and blowing on it until it expands – and although he becomes noticeably more chatty, he also grows more paranoid.

“Who’s that?” he asks as a silhouette emerges on the horizon. His eyes shift back-and-forth between the conversation at hand and this mystery man that he’s never seen before. There’s no indication of any imminent danger, and “Ron” seems more curious than anything else. Maybe the drugs pushing him beyond that level. Maybe the drugs really are making him see the boogeyman. 

Imagine what he’ll be like when he takes a few more hits in 18 hours. 

• • •

Dereliction and discovery 

Being a drug addict isn’t easy. 

For starters, everybody – family, friends that aren’t drug addicts, people that you pass on the street – thinks that you’re nothing more than a societal blemish. Those people that you pretend not to look at when you see them hunkered down in a shady spot or congregating in Library Park during the day? Nobody ever stops and says, “I wish we had more people like that in our community.”

And on top of that, everybody around you is always trying to get over on you. If you ask “Ron” it’s a constant battle to not get “took” – whether that means legitimately robbed by a group that knows he’s got something that they want or shorted by the guy selling the dope who has a whole army of addicts worshipping the ground that he (or, occasionally, she) walks on. 

He knows that even his friends would just as soon take everything he has as look at him. It’s the way things work out on the street. There’s no honor among thieves, and when you’re a hardcore drug addict you usually resort to thievery at some point. 

Everything in the drug world is currency. And that means, unfortunately, that your stuff, be it the pills in your medicine cabinet to the guns that you left in that safe with the door open, are just as good as cash to a resourceful addict coming down from a four-day run. 

Car stereos don’t fetch as much as they once did and the components that might actually be worth something are often too hard to take out in the brief window of time that somebody like “Ron” has before getting caught. 

That means that most car burglaries are either smash-and-grab jobs – purses and cell phones left in plain sight are a quick score – or quick “lock pops” where the person can be in and out in seconds with whatever they could grab. 

It’s not glamorous. He wishes that when he was offered meth by a friend who told him it would help him stave off a hangover, he would have powered through it like he had done so many times before. 

Now he’s trapped. It’s Groundhog Day – only if Groundhog Day were 72 to 120 hours instead of just 24. 

“It’s a hard life to get out of,” he said. “You get used to it. You want to stop, but you can’t. You hear about people that do it, but then you see them a few months later and they’re back out here doing the same ol’ hustle.”

• • •

Amongst one’s own

Art is speculative. And to an extent, so is how somebody chooses to live their life. 

But if you were to take a Rembrandt or a Picasso and put it next to a crayon drawing by a kindergartner, unless it was your kid that drew it you’re probably going to hang the masterpiece over the Crayola. 

This is how “Ron” views his place in the world. 

He’s seen dope fiends that were much worse off than him. Guys with the pit marks and the track marks (he doesn’t like needles) that he says will never find that redemption that some junkies talk about.

By the same token, if he’s standing next to a banker – even if it’s a guy who puts away five scotches a night, every night – people are going to look at him like the piece of gum that won’t come off of the bottom of their shoe. 

And if you tell somebody that they are something long enough, they start to believe it.

So “Ron” feels comfortable among people like him. They call it the underbelly – the place where cast-offs and the misfits, the rebels the rousers all congregate. In his eyes, such a grouping is actually misunderstood by the normal folk that espouse their collecting in any one collection. Nobody wants them anywhere else, he says, so where are they realistically going to go?

Weed gets passed around. Guys collect change to ride – most of the people in the group have bikes – down to the store to buy “a beer.” Single cans – high-test, 24-ouncers in brown bags. Most of the time it’s a malt liquor of some sort, and typically only 99 cents plus tax and CRV.

He doesn’t partake in this pastime today, for he has the remainder of a half-gram of meth tucked into his pocket.

He slips away undetected, further proof that this fair-weather scene is predicated on what he’s carrying. 

It’s time to go, he says, checking his fifth pocket to make sure he has a pipe.

It’s always time to go when you have crystal meth.  

And with that he disappears.

Click. Click. 


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