The Dilaudid tablets simmered and dissolved into a couple drops of water in the spoon. The flame had to be moved around under it to distribute the heat evenly. Sheila and Shannon watched hungrily, like ravenous vampires waiting to feed. I had never seen the process so I was curious, but I wasn’t a fan of needles and wondered why anyone would want to stick something in a syringe and poke themselves when they could just as easily swallow a little tablet. The girls tied off their arms, filled the syringe and, pausing only to wipe the needle with another ball of cotton, shared the mixture.
“Do you want some, Alice?” asked Shannon in her deep Garbo voice. She seemed to be having an orgasm; her head rolled back, eyes semi-closed. She reclined on the toilet seat and let the wall hold her up. Sheila sat on the edge of the bathtub. She smiled like a satisfied cat, her head tilted downward, looking up at me with seductive eyes:
“Try it Alice. It’s sooooo gooood.”
“No thanks,” I said, offering a pained smile. “More for you, right?”
Sheila finished off the contents of the syringe. “Riiiight,” she purred.
I have to admit that I was afraid of intravenous drugs. It was a time before we knew about HIV/AIDS, but images of Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues came to mind. I remembered the feeling of disgust when I’d seen the part of the movie where she’s fixing heroin, and I thought, So much talent… what a waste.I guess I imagined that because my choice of drug was legal, it must be less destructive. I took a sip from the can of Dr Pepper that I had spiked with rum and walked out of the bathroom, leaving my two friends together with their new lover.
Dilaudid and Percodan were the new heartthrobs in town, seducing many of my friends. The stray Quaalude still found its way into the Canterbury from time to time, but, like last month’s boyfriend, nobody else was that interested so I sometimes got them. I didn’t mind taking an occasional pill or tablet. I never paid for drugs — booze, sometimes; drugs, never. I was in a band, after all, and we were playing again. Fans offered me drugs as gifts, but I was never a big fan of drugs. I had been a sickly kid and had hated swallowing medicine or getting shots at the doctor’s office. It was also easier to drink than to go through the whole circus of buying drugs. The clubs gave band members drink tickets or drink tabs, and the Whisky had a punk soft-drink menu designed for the teens who usually made up the bulk of our audiences. The punk menu included a drink named after me. The bartenders there always comped me the pineapple juice and lime concoction whether I was playing or not, adding a splash of rum to create what they called the Real Alice Bag cocktail. And if my favorite bartenders (who served up the Real Alice Bag) weren’t working, I could usually convince someone to buy me a pint of rum at the liquor store across the street.
I was underage, so I still had to talk someone into actually buying the stuff. I had once tried to buy a pint of Bacardi Light at the liquor store nearest the Whisky, a place next door to a club called Filthy McNasty’s. When I asked for the bottle, a young man working at the register looked me over before grabbing the bottle and putting it on the counter. He was about to ring me up when an older man walked up behind him. “She’s not 21.” His eyes bore into me, and as he denounced me I felt myself getting jittery. “What year were you born?”
No mister, please don’t make me do math! I thought to myself. I wanted to add two years to my age, so I quickly added two years to my real birth year. “1960,” I replied. The man laughed.
“Go back to high school, kid,” he said, picking up the bottle and putting it back on the shelf. I stared at him, feeling stupid. “Go take some math classes!” he cackled. I don’t think I ever lied about my age again after that, not because I was opposed to being dishonest, it was just too difficult to keep the numbers straight.
An excerpt from Violence Girl – a book by Alice Bag, to be published Fall 2011 on Feral House. Copyright 2010, Alice Bag. All rights reserved – excerpt provided for promotional/editorial purposes only and may not be reproduced in print without the express written consent of the author