The kitchen was warm and the thick white wooden table was softly lit by wall lights. I looked around the table. There was my father, aunty, uncle and my landlord who was a family friend. Cups of tea in front of them. What was I supposed to do? I opted to take on the same expression of concern that rotted on their faces.
It had been three days since I was last high and my guts filled with a driving need to get some fucking drugs. The withdrawal was weeks in the past, the memory twisting a fading like burning paper. I wasn’t physically hooked yet but the mental addiction was strong as ever.
I looked around the table and prepared myself to say anything they wanted me to say in so I could leave and run to the streets where the heroin was. My stomach glowed with pleasure at the ability to deceive and string them along. It was twisted, how I felt as if I was doing something noble, like lying to soldiers about the whereabouts of a freedom fighter. Despite of everything I still needed heroin. I needed it to protect me from the savage spikes of reality.
“You know quitting is a process”, I said, the words were like honey on my lips, “like when I gave up cigarettes, I have to do it a few more times to learn that I don’t like it or need it any more”. It was a masterpiece in bullshit.
“I imagine rather than stop instantly, I will tone it down and down until I don’t do it at all”, I was even convincing myself. I had to convince them to stop worrying. If only they would stop interfering I could somehow learn to take heroin responsibly.
“We can get you into a rehab if you that’s what you need,” said my aunty nudging my dad,
“Yes of course, if that’s what you need we can get you that,” he blurted out and folded his arms.
“And I know some really good ones,” added my landlord. “I’ve already been researching online”. I was about to hang my mouth open in horror but stopped myself. In my head, visions of beds and white wards dance; the big Native American from the Cuckoo’s Nest.
How dare they suggest such a thing? I didn’t need rehab I just needed enough money and stability to control my habit, perhaps buy my heroin monthly and ration it out daily. If everyone would stop throwing me out of houses, and worrying my girlfriend and making me live with strangers in the middle of nowhere then maybe I wouldn’t be so fucked up. I could spend my life in a smacky bubble and then the world could fuck off and be dealt with on my terms.
“I don’t think I need rehab,” I said calmly. “I can just go to NA meetings and now I’m out of London it will be easy,” I felt my phone vibrate – probably another batch of gear had arrived.
They bought it. Hell, I bought it. I was happy to go to NA, after all, I could score afterwards. My aunty and uncle agreed to keep me employed at their business even though my work must have been sub-par. They couldn’t fire me because then I would have no money and have to depend on them even more. We were trapped together. Heroin savages your self-discipline. I only managed email my work to them at the last minute. It was riddled with errors.
My Dad was relieved that I still had the job because he did not have the spare funds to support an unemployed junky son on the other side of the world. He just wanted me to quit and get back to normal. For him, it seemed to be a simple matter of hitting the off switch. But to me, sitting there, at the centre of their drama I felt simultaneously brilliant and disgusting – brilliant for being the centre of attention and disgusting for needing it, seeking it and ruining the privileged life I had.
I looked at them, the low light being soft on their aging features. They seemed to come from some Valhalla where beautiful logic. It was baffling how they got their lives to flow so smooth. If I only came from that place.