The first time I met Susan she overdosed on a combination of Valium and Ecstasy at a friend’s birthday party at a Motel 6 on Hollywood Boulevard. My friends Sal, RP and I dragged her blue face down to the 5am Hollywood streets below, and the filthy pre-dawn drizzle on her face somehow brought her round. She blinked up at us and said:
“I need a beer. And I want to shoot some pool.”
I married her 6 months later. I had one broken marriage, one broken musical career, and a burgeoning heroin habit to contend with. I had nowhere I wanted to be, and neither did she. Without a strong pull in any other direction we decided to go down together.
I married my second wife the day the dissolution of marriage from the first disaster became final: we did it in the home of a Dominican notary public near Korea town, having shot the last of our heroin and furiously smoked the last of the crack in the car parked outside. I was 21 years old.
Before the wedding we stopped at the storefront needle exchange on Cahuenga between Hollywood and Sunset. I wore a suit that had a few bloodstains on it and Susan wore a crumpled white dress. We dressed like that because the whole thing seemed slightly perverse to start off with, so why not go all out? Inside we received a few sideways glances, but nothing more. Needle exchanges are like porno bookstores or public toilets. Nobody wants to talk or even make eye contact unless it is absolutely necessary. The exchange had a front room were you could watch TV or get access to the internet, as well as a table were you could pick up lube and condoms. I suppose they must have been for the meth freaks. In the back was a desk with a flip top container for people to dump used needles into, and a storeroom full of syringes of all shapes and sizes. We used the standard Turemo 28 gauge ½ cc insulin needles because we were new at this and our veins were not too screwed up yet. We had not yet begun to inject into our groins, neck, and the back of our knees. But there was still time.