The tremors from the chills are making it hard to find a vein. I try one, then another, finally resorting to minuscule capillary between my ring and middle fingers. Already, blood from the first several attempts flows down my hand, trickling to the cold tiles of the bathroom floor. I know once I get this hit in my bloodstream, the hot and cold chills, diarrhea, nausea, the goose bumps covering my body, the deep aching chill in the marrow of my bones and leg cramps like a vice grip will disappear. Best of all, that overwhelming, impossible to ignore anxiety that nothing can distract me from. That desperate Hell of panic that only a junky can know…that, too, will disappear. One shot of this substance that arrives wrapped in plastic, black with an oily sheen like hardtop on a scorching summer day. Costing its weight in gold, it will make all the pain dissolve into a euphoric haze, like magic. Magic who's true cost in heartbreak, sickness, moral decay, destruction of dignity, beauty, creative talent, attachments of love, and the fast descent into financial, moral and spiritual poverty without any measure of exchange known to man or woman. The only cost comparable would be selling your soul to the only interested bidder, Satan himself.. But, I have not sold my soul at all. I have allowed it to disappear into a void where retrieval is only possible with years of strength, courage, pain, relentless work, perseverance, vigilance beyond the realm of a mere human being. The power needed to find and heal this soul would challenge even the abilities of even a superhero, much less this over 50 year old, emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual wreck and ruin of a woman.

At last a trickle of blood registers in the syringe. It's hard to see the blood when the dope is so dark. But, I'm positive I have the vein. Just seeing the blood register I start to experience relief. I push the plunger down with a steady hand and pull back at the end so the blood will insure each valuable bit of heroin reaches my blood stream. While I push the blood back in. loosen the bathrobe sash I use as a makeshift tourniquet, then remove the needle from my vein. The faster I loosen the tie, the faster the drug can flow into my bloodstream, making its way to the starving. Screaming receptors in my brain, bathing the synopsis between each neurons that have been as dry as a desert drought.

It hadn't been so bad first thing this morning, just constant swallowing, sneezing fits, no energy, some slight nausea and diarrhea. Then the anxiety level began to rise as no one called and needed us to cop for them so we could earn a hit as a felony fee. We went down the list, but no one would give us a front. No calls came in for someone who needed a ride down south to cop and we could get a half-gram, at least. The only calls coming in are the credit card companies and the payday loan people, wanting their money. The cable and the Internet were disconnected months ago. With no money, nothing left to pawn, the bank accounts closed from too many overdrafts, the anxiety rose higher. Then the physical withdrawal really started to kick in. Tossing and turning on the bed, no position relieving the pain in our backs. Our arm and leg muscles were twitching, then the twitches turned to cramping. Even with the electric blanket turned on high, covered by the down comforter couldn't warm my blood, until sudden hot flashes hit, drenching my body with rank, sticky sweat that brought meaning to my life slip away. Panic rises when I think of the power disconnect scheduled for next week. Praying to God to just give me enough energy, enough relief, so I can that quickly cools, bringing back the numbing cold.
Both of us flopping around on the bed like psychotic rag-dolls, loosening the sheets, turning them into damp, stinking wad, strangling, twisting and entangling at each restless move. Phil's bowels begin to let loose around noon and continue every half hour while all the gut wrenching cramping produce more water than anything. This time the vomiting hit us both at the same time. Together we knelt at the toilet, vomiting and retching until all that was left was dry heaving bits of bile, but our bodies continued to strain and contract. I looked at Phil at one point. The depression and defeat I saw terrified me. There are times, like these, where I feel his life hangs on a thread. Times I feel in my heart he would put a permanent end to his suffering if it weren't for his love for me. I rail at myself with self-adulations, regrets, hating every mistake I've made, hating my weakness. Hating my inability to find a way out of these intolerable conditions. Hating that I lacked the control to stop this from happening, allowing myself to become so pathetic, letting all the priceless parts of my life care for the animals. And what about the rent? We've spent over half of it. How will we make up that money before the end of the month? We can't. There is no way….So, since we can't be able to pay the whole rent this month…why don't we just make it all up next month.

But, that is okay now. I feel so much better. Phil's face has lost that haunted, desperate look. I will make some coffee, sit on the patio, drink the coffee, smoke a cigarette and maybe read a book.

Next article: What you can do about your heroin addiction.