Down In A Hole…

May 1, 2016 at 5:30 pm (Cosmic Encounters, Cussed Dumbers, That's not funny...)

“Well, I been down so goddam long, that it looks like up to me…” –The Doors, 1970.


I’ve been meaning to write an objective piece about depression, but I’ve been too bummed out.

Among others, my nephew Tony and Robin Williams have been depressed to the point of suicide. I went through that in my teens, and have been okay for about forty years. Lately though, the heaviness has returned. I’m not suicidal, in fact I’m hopeful. My depression is drug-related. With Robin and Tony, I’m not so sure.

My dalliances with opiates have led to some side-effects. “It’ll never happen to me” isn’t something I tell myself. I’m too smart to think I’m the one unique person who can use major drugs without succumbing to the consequences. But I do pay attention, and when the bad outweighs the good, I take the appropriate steps.

That’s the plan, anyway.

I don’t know how to describe opiate withdrawal, but I will try. First off, I’ll qualify by saying that I haven’t been using heroin, just legal pharmaceutical pills that come from a pharmacy. I’ve always had a fondness for Vicodin, or Percodan, or morphine, or any of the colorful cousins of the poppy plant. I’ve been told by those who know, those who love me, that heroin would kill me. I would love it that much. They way the pills behave, I believe them.

After several years of low-dose usage, I stopped taking pills and came down with a massive case of the flu. I get that flu every time I use. Not for a day, but if I have a week’s worth of pills, I will take them, and suffer the consequences.

I’m getting better at riding out the waves, but it can be tough. So many days and nights I watched Rain thrash around in pain, wondering if she was playing it up. I’m a sucker when someone I love is hurting. But you can only be sympathetic to a point. Upon further review, if I’d known then what I know now? I’d be broke as a joke, because I couldn’t watch her go through that. As Salty says when her behavior gets weird, “It’s not that she’s sick, she’s afraid of getting sick.” That makes sense now.

Opiate-induced depression comes from the brain trying to rebalance itself. I can either add some magic dust, or tough it out two or three days. To do that, you ration, plan ahead. After cleaning up, I was doing pretty good, until I saw my buddy in the wheelchair rolling down the sidewalk. He’d just gotten his morphine scripts, and needed fast money. I picked up as much as my pockets would allow, about ten days worth if I don’t take any on weekends. Woohoo!

All went as planned, except I can never leave the pills alone on my days off. A bit here, a bit there. “Can I work?” “Just let me pop a pill and head for the light rail. I ran out with three days to go.

The first day was a piece of cake. The second, I was at work and starting to feel flu-like. Stomach rumbling, cramping, oh god where’s the bathroom? Plus the dreaded leg-ache. I hated the thought of getting through my last shift, a Saturday night swing-shift at the Nightclub Store. I just wanted to lay in bed, and let the waves of unpleasantness roll through me. Hopefully on their way out.

The Nightclub Store on a payday Saturday night is a thing to behold. Almost everyone is in a good mood, or crazy out of their minds. (Or both.) I sludged through the first half of the shift, trying to be strong. There wasn’t much choice.

Nobody had anything.

I called Kayo, the man who knows the prescription cycle of every geriatric in the downtown/Old Town area. No answer. I’d heard he’d moved out in the middle of the night, and his landlord still didn’t know. I know this, because I asked her for pills, too.

After going through my usual contacts, plus a few I swore I’d never go through again, (’tis the nature of the beast) I resigned to the fact that it’s going to be a long fucking Saturday.

I pondered my situation. I have reasons to be depressed. I’ve recently ended two perfectly dysfunctional but otherwise happy relationships with two women I thought I would be around forever. Like having an interchangeable wife and gumar, I was living the Tony Soprano high life.

I haven’t seen Meg in almost a year, and now that Rain lives across town? She has yet to return to my house. If I want to see her, I have to go find her. One of her old boyfriends recently passed away, and she’s been carrying on like a grieving widow. I have given her room to grieve, and I feel sorry for ODG, but I need some attention too. Maybe when she realizes I am still around, and Old Dead Guy is gone for good, she’ll make it up to me. But until then I’m going to put my head down and forge on. I do miss resting my hand on her ass in the middle of the night, and us always being in each others’ heads.

It’s been a year of death. Half the artists in my record collection have died in the past six months. I’m spending more money than I’m making most months. Any money left over? It goes to medication.

Which was okay, as long as I was showing up for work clear-headed, not doing underworldly things to pay for it, etc… I loved the euphoria of pain meds mixed with medical marijuana edibles. I didn’t have any pills, but I had a bottle of vitamin water. I’ll phone it in tonight. Watch the money, read some newspapers. Before I know it the night will be over.

Dr T was the man behind the counter for day-shift. I found a personalized boxcutter awaiting my arrival. I personalized it a bit more. He was working on the Willamette Week crossword puzzle I’d started. We are masters of obscure references, and do this frequently. Like sharing a cheap hooker: “I’ve done all I can do. Finish her off for me!”

An hour before lunch, my phone rang. It was Kayo. “Hey buddy, I saw you called. I’m not staying at the Tourist Attraction anymore, but I am downtown. I got a fifteen I can part with. I know I owe ya, but he needs ten or he won’t part with it.”

“I’ll take it. I’ve got Stuttering Jay on the case, but he’s been striking out for two days. When can you be here?”

“What time is it, six? Before seven.”

That was lunchtime. “Perfect.” Or as perfect as it gets. True perfect would be if I already had it.

I already felt better. It’s funny how the mind works. I know it’s all in my head. My legs quit hurting, at least a little bit.

Uh oh, hair in the butter!

Kayo’s landlord is also a friend of mine, and at that moment she dropped by to visit. She gave me a frozen coffee drink, and I fetched a pile of newspapers I’d saved for her. If she’s still here when Kayo arrives? I hope she sees him first, because if he sees her first he’ll keep on going. It will not be pretty if I have to bulldog him on the sidewalk in front of the bar.

I remained calm, one eye on the door. I had to yell at a couple street people. We chatted. I finished slurping my drink, and she prepared to leave. My phone buzzed; it’s Kayo.

Oh shit, he saw? Nope. “Hey bud, my leg is killing me. Can you come to the Strip Joint?”

“Perfect, be there in ten minutes.”

It was twenty minutes, because the lunch guy had to take a shit. I was out the door, marching down the sidewalk like a herd of turtles. I covered the distance in eight minutes, and saw Kayo lurking casually near a bus stop. He was talking to a former stepson; I said hey to them both.

“Well, Charles, we have a small problem.”

Goddammit. Why is there always “a small problem”? What? Will I have to front the money then wait half an hour? Will I have to pay another ten bucks for something different? WHAT?

“I fixed out of my pill container, and the fifteen got wet. It’s a bit crumbly, but I’ll give it to you for cost?”

“Sure.” I didn’t care what it looked like at this point. If it wasn’t covered in fecal matter, I’d eat it. I thought for a second, then remembered the last time this happened. He’d ended up giving me 5-6 pills worth of 30 mg oxys, because they were too powdery to count. That $30 lasted me a week. (That was about the time I discovered snorting them saves you a ton of money.) I had the little water-tight container in my jacket. I pulled it out, scraped every dot of residue from Kayo’s hand into it, and closed it back up. If a little heroin got on my oxycodone? It won’t kill me, I’m sure.

In fact, it might have the opposite effect!

“Call me if you hear about any more?” I gave him a hopeful smile.

“How much you got right now? Got five? I’ll give you my last Percocet.”

“Is this a real Percocet, and not that bullshit like last time?”

“That freak! Son of a bitch gave me the wrong baggie, I swear, Charles.”

“Who the fuck is he selling gout medicine to? That’s scary.” But then, once a guy tried to sell me some prostate-reduction pills that looked remarkably like 15 mg morphines. It pays to read the little numbers.

“I’ll stand right here while you look it up.”

I read the numbers off the pill, and dropped it in my pocket. Typed in the numbers 54 543 into my Google app. It’s a direct hit!

Pill imprint 54 543 has been identified as Roxicet 325 mg / 5 mg. Roxicet is used in the treatment of chronic pain; pain and belongs to the drug class narcotic analgesic combinations. … Roxicet 325 mg / 5 mg is classified as a Schedule 2 controlled substance under the Controlled… etc…

My feet felt like they were rotting off. From hip to toe, a dull, earthy ache I associate with flu. But one phone call, one ten-block walk, and I will be right. Amazing the spring in my step when I know relief is in sight! I hurried to one of my secret places, finished squishing up the little green pill, and sent it to nasal heaven.

Sitting at the mall, waiting for the “HELLO!” to kick in. I just realized I haven’t smoked any lunch weed. Now *that’s * preoccupation. I have the Intergalactic Crack pipe, fully loaded, in my bag. By the end of the night, I will be too.

After the 15 kicked in, I popped the Roxicet. I was starting to feel warm, and the smile was coming back to my face. I returned from lunch with true Perc in my step!

By the end of the night, the smile was wearing off, the feet were starting to ache again. My patience grew thin. It was a race to the wire, but I left work in a hurry, and got home and into bed before the next round of withdrawal kicked in.

Three days off. No pills around. I have no choice but to behave. As I woke Sunday morning, the first thing I felt was the firm grip of utter despair. That feeling that says, “Why bother even moving? This is your welcome to the day?” I have realized that if I get up and get moving, I forget about my troubles and stuff gets done. I returned ten dollars worth of empty pop cans from the back yard, and napped between baseball and basketball games. Tomorrow I will wake up feeling a little better, and hopefully by Wednesday I won’t be dealing with that little voice in the back of my head that yells “WHERE ARE MY FUCKING PILLS?”

I will get up for Tony and Robin, and Rain, who is still with us and going through a hard time. I have a lot to be happy about, and I’m going to get right back to it.

As soon as these pills wear off…


  1. Jeff said,

    Hey Charles, I tried to touch base with you last October when I drove out from NJ to Portland but kept missing you. I would like talk and possibly help out. My e-mail address has changed and for security I can’t post on-line my email address Can you see my email from logging in from your blog? I hope to be in Portland via Alaska Airlines in Sept. My business e-mail has changed but not my personal one. Capeesh!

  2. adityasoni12 said,

    Nice one👍

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