I’ve been a Bowie fan for a while. It began when a friend intro­duced me to Labyrinth in the late 80s, and it’s never really ended; though lately it’s come to some­thing like fruition.

I think Bowie was hard for heroin.

Well, duh, it was the 70s, he did drugs; it is gen­er­ally pre­sumed that he did coke.

But there are hints in his songs of some­thing deeper, and until August of last year, I didn’t get them; now, maybe, I do, a little.

It started like it usu­ally did; a deep ache near my solar plexus, a churn­ing sense of infla­tion that was not, was not right. I’d had it before, so I fig­ured that if I let it abide for a while, it would ease off — after a few hours. As it had done before.

Those hours passed, and by 2 or so AM, I knew it wasn’t going to ease off. It wasn’t any­where near eas­ing off. It felt like I was being punched in the solar plexus, hard, about once a minute. So I man­aged to make it to my car, and dragged myself to the ER, and every­one from the admit­ting nurse to the attend­ing physi­cian asked me one ques­tion first: Do you still have your gall bladder?

And I thought, oh no.

Things came and went, and drugs came and went, and long and short was that I had the worst gall­stone expe­ri­ence in my life — 20 hours all told — still have the damn gall­blad­der (I’d rather eat chicken and fish the rest of my life than be cut open like a Christmas turkey, thanks, to have my giblets sucked out) — and we’re still learn­ing if my diet change has had any effect on the 12mm stone in my gut.

12mm, yes. About the size of a .50-​​cal rifle ball. I’ve seen biop­sied gall­blad­ders that looked like they were full of gravel. Not there yet, and do not intend to be.

But that’s not the point. The point is what hap­pened to me about 20 min­utes or so after I was pal­leted in the ER.

They shot me up with 10 mg of Morphine.

It didn’t ease the pain for more than about ten min­utes, but for a brief time, it was … just astonishing.

Coolness filled my limbs, and for a while, every­thing just … floated. I felt at ease, calmed, soothed. I felt like I feel after really, pro­foundly good sex. You know how it is after you come, and you relax into your lover’s arms, and you really, truly believe that every­thing is going to be okay, even if there’s no rea­son to believe it at all?

Like that.

And the first lucid thought I had then was, Wow, I can see how peo­ple get hooked on this shit.

From what I can tell, coke is a bit like a caf­feine high. But junk seems to be a lot closer to what I had with Morphine, a gen­eral sense of — of total detach­ment, and relax­ation. I gather Morphine and heroin do the same kind of things, for the most part, in that they emu­late endor­phin release. And I really can under­stand how you can get hooked on junk.

Because, for that few min­utes, I really was quite pleas­antly serene.

When I was in col­lege I avoided the hard push­ers because I didn’t like the idea of shoot­ing into a vein. I don’t like nee­dles; never have. Now, I would avoid heroin because I can see, quite entirely clearly, just how stuck on it I could be. Stuck with a valu­able friend, as Bowie said, or hooked to the sil­ver screen. (Ibid.)

Pot isn’t like it. Acid — hell, LSD is noth­ing like it; acid is just an array of synes­the­sia. Boring, pretty fast, I think. Did pot, did acid, twenty years ago, meh. But that damn Morphine — it’s hard for me to for­get. Five months ago, just 10 mg, and you betcha, I wouldn’t mind feel­ing that way again. It’s not intense enough to be called a crav­ing, but it’s def­i­nitely a desire. I’m nowhere near as hooked on Morphine as I am on nico­tine, for instance.

But I could be. I could be.

I didn’t ever want to do IV drugs for years, because I hate nee­dles. Now, I know a much bet­ter reason.

Because if I ever shot up, I’m quite sure I would trade any­thing, do any­thing, to keep that vein tapped.

It’s haunted me for half a year. I hear the ghosts in Bowie’s music. And I don’t know how he got clean — I know he didn’t stay clean; from time to time he shot that sil­ver again — I can hear it in his music — but my non-​​god, how could he have had that mon­ster on his back, in his soul, and how could he have turned from it?

I used to think of junkies as degen­er­ate. They’re not. Maybe when they’re try­ing to get their fix, they are; but when they have that nec­tar flow­ing in them, they are not degen­er­ate at all; for a while, for a few min­utes at least, they are the hap­pi­est peo­ple on the planet.

So, maybe a bit more now, I get Bowie, and I know why no one should ever try heroin. It’s not because it’s ille­gal. It’s not because of all the pun­ish­ments you get if you do it.

It’s not even because of how bad it is, after you’ve had it, to live a nor­mal life.

It’s because you will never, ever let it go. There’s no patch for this. There are no gums you can chew.

10 mg of Morphine was enough to prove to me just how badly I wanted, and still want, this for­bid­den drug; and in my lucid moments, it’s enough to con­vince me that if I ever really shot the hard H, I would fol­low its path into self-​​annihilation rather than be with­out it again.

Don’t know how any­one breaks the habit once they get it. But I sure as hell do respect those who tried it, used it, lived with it … and left it.


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