A cold city morning… I went to get fixed with a shot of warmth. Buzzed in at 18A and up urine stale concrete steps to where Baby let me in.
“Child you lookin’ pale these days” she sniffed as I palmed her a five and slipped into the dim space beyond her. I walked on a few steps listening to the clunk-click of 5 locks sliding back into place and Baby slipped a pale flabby arm around me and walked me into the room she called the “visitors lounge”. I could feel the oppressive heat of the apartment soaking into my skin, and the heavy smell of Baby’s perfume. She was almost holding me up; I was faint from junk sickness.
There had been some good shit on the streets; some strong synthetic Fentanyl or pethidine but my stockpile had been gradually depleted over the weeks since Macho’s death. Macho – the connection - earned his moniker by getting into some dumb shit bar brawl with some white boys and died flopping around in a pool of his insides. In the struggle to take over from Macho’s patch some people had gotten stupid, others had gotten killed. I stayed holed up in my place, hearing horror stories of shootings and beatings; junkys getting razored or smashed by iron bars over a half gram deals, so I decided to wait it out. Now that the powder was gone I was forced out of my cocoon, crawling back to Baby swearing as always that this time would be the last.
Baby was a relic from opium smoking times, an aging powdered and painted redhead with a murky past on the fringes of the movie business. The reputed highlight of her career was a featured role in an ‘Our Gang’ short. She catered to the poorest and most desperate addicts, offering at least a warm room where they could fix and the cheapest – and some said the worst – drugs in the city. She called all of her regulars “Child” with that lilting Southern accent and in a way we were her children, just another bizarre, dysfunctional Los Angeles family. In the visitors room I recognized one guy, who was an old time crystal meth freak who I had seen around the scene for a few years. It seemed shooting speed completely stabilized him now, that it regulated his metabolism in some way – the body adapts, adjusts… When the speed ran out he would wind down and droop like he had taken a nice hit of Phenobarbital and was liable to nod off wherever he was sitting or standing at the time. His cheeks were completely sucked in and he was toothless – kids had stolen his false set right out of his mouth during one of these narcoleptic interludes.