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The only dope worth shooting is Richard Nixon.

- Abbie Hoffman

 

 

The next night, several hours after Stefan had finished congratulating himself on his will power and selflessness – muscles he hardly ever exercised – for resisting Nanette’s request for the needle, Guin knocked on the door. This was their ritual – a way to celebrate a big deal. She would deliver the goods then come by with armfuls of nuts and meats and new albums to critique, as they got high.

“Yes, we get high with needles,” he said to Nanette earlier, as her big eyes went wide.

“It looks so intense…”

“But you are still at the point when what you are doing is intense enough! Now don’t ask me again – you are making me sound like an adult talking to a child who wants too much candy.”

Nanette wanted them to experience things together. Stefan was a magnificent, bi-lingual, fashion plate who traveled to Istanbul for drugs and created amazing art. She could feel how close they were, from the moment they met.

A small part of her mind reminded her that this is a pattern – falling into intense situations with new people around some kind of drama, in this case, heroin. She shoed those thoughts away and poured a gin and tonic to keep her mind more mellow.

            A few hours later, Nanette, reading a student magazine with a feature on Guy and Michele that Stefan had brought home from the library for her, sipped her drink while Stefan answered the door. When she heard Guin, she folded the magazine, spun her legs to the floor, and welcomed her casually.

“Bonjour!”

“Hello, Nanette!”

Saying Guin looked fabulous is like saying that Vesuvius was a little warm. Guin with the calves of a biker and the breasts of a queen.

Guin plopped down beside Nanette, linking arms like schoolgirls. “The winds smell of gasoline on days like these. Oh, it is horrible – this ride back on bike. I am staying here tonight, Stefan. You cannot throw me into the gases!”

“You are staying here,” the host obliged. “Of course you are!”

“Are we having a friend to the party?” She leaned her head toward Nanette.

“Naturally! Though she is still on the outer circles of this inferno-”

“But wanting to learn,” Nanette added.

“Oh, indeed!?” Guin cooed, her heavily mascara’d eyelashes in that perfect zone between whore and virgin. She walked over with her perfect, pink and white striped velvet neck scarf, then catwalked back, eyeing Nanette.

“Excuse me for a moment.” Stefan stepped out of the apartment and across the hall to use the toilet shared by everyone on the floor.

Guin conspired: “I will show you, as long as you promise to stay a hobbyist, like myself.”

“I promise.”

“Oh, but first, the new music I bring Stefan – I keep him cultured.”

Guin sashayed to the console, lifted the bright white lid, and dropped the new vinyl she bought just for tonight – The Rolling Stones’ Honky Tonk Woman– as Stefan came back in and sat down on the floor in front of the coffeetable.

Guin started her instructions: “Always clean your spoon with a little alcohol swab. Cooking up about this much-“ half her fingernail “-will be fine for you. You don’t need to know how much that is since you will from now on only get this dope from us. You will not street buy. It is unhealthy. Plus, we like you around!”

Stefan wondered if this would happen – if he would leave the room and if this would happen. Without saying a word, he began heating the spoon from the bottom after squirting about 60 units of water from the syringe into the spoon. He stirred with the end of the plunger then replaced it in the syringe.

“The cotton filters out the garbage,” Guin explained as Stefan dropped a piece of a cotton ball onto the sponger, then sucked through it into the needle. “And next time, he will also swab his hands off. I am very tidy, you see!”

“I washed my hands!”

Guin held out her arm, tying herself off with a bandana she pulled from her back pocket, while Nanette watched, half-nauseated and half excited.

“Go this way-” she pointed the same direction as the vein “-go down the vein, not across or you might go right through! Pop!”

Stefan felt around for her vein and, finding a satisfactory one, leaned in.

“Be still!”

“He is so … bossy, this one!”

Guin smiled up at Nanette who watched as her hew friend’s face change from alert to sedate then euphoric then stupid in moments.

Guin sat down beside Nanette’s long legs, rolling her fingers in her hair. “What is he saying in the song?”

Nanette listened to the music while Stefan readied the next syringe. “He’s saying, ‘Gin-soaked, bar room queen in Memphis…’”

“Gin-soaked? Hmmm – I like that. Where is Memphis?”

“A state called Tennessee.”

“Where is that?”

“In the southern part of America-”

“Hmmm – you have a lot down there… so many we know nothing about. Hmmmm…”

Stefan held up the needle. “Next!”

“OK.”

“If you are nervous, babydoll, don’t do it. If your mind is telling you this is not a good idea then maybe it is not a good idea.”

Nanette walked over. “Only half, I only want half.”

“I already gave you half-”

She sat down on her knees next to him. “Are you sure?”

“You will be fine. We do not want to waste this. I have done the math and this is perfect – just a little bit really. You have good veins. This will be easy...” 

And it was.

Within minutes warm blankets of loose cotton rolled over Nanette, starting in private spaces and moving up to the lighted crown on her head. The floor tilted – not that it was bothersome, this tilting floor, Nanette simply walked more carefully across the cold, surreally long hall to the bathroom where a rush of adrenaline pushed her to the sink to throw up several times.

She used some mouthwash, noticing how yellow and green everything looked in the cloudy mirror. Then she drifted back to their apartment and sat beside Guin who greeted her with a warm hand on her cheek, a playdough smile, and a backward tug as they fell laughing into the soft, soft couch.

“I like this….”

“So do I,” Guin smiled with slick white oyster bellies for eyes, “so do I.”