“The Taste of Cigarettes” Chapter 1

Below is an excerpt from my memoir (above is art by my wife Alycia Vreeland) which will be published May 22, 2018, on Vine Leaves Press. (It’s still not officially edited completely, but the content is the same).

Chapter 1. A Day in the Life of a Junkie

We’re in back of the van when Zooey’s hair catches fire.

She’s on the Nod and dips her faded pink bangs into the flame of the candle—the same flame we use to cook our dope. I smack her forehead until the pink-orange fireball is out. My eyes water from the stench of burnt, unwashed hair, as the Rush of the Speedball tickles my face, crawls down the back of my neck and into my shoulders, arms, torso, my hips, thighs, knees, down to the green laces of my black Chuck Taylor’s. With one eye on Zooey I grab a plastic grocery bag and puke in it, tie the handles in a knot and throw it in the corner with the rest of the vomit bags, then cook up another Shot. Mikey’s eyes roll inward, like white, slimy marbles—he hasn’t put enough Coke in his shot, so the heroin dominates his high. I cover him with a brown, crusty blanket, thirty seconds later Mikey’s in a sleep so deep, I wonder if he’ll ever wake up.

Zooey tries to mix herself another Shot but struggles to stay awake. I worry she’ll miss the vein and get an infection. Or worse, spill the last of the dope. Using the sleeve of my black leather jacket, I wipe the pink chunks of puke from my lips.

“You want me to help you with your shot, baby?”

Her eyelids flutter, and a slight slur trickles from her paling lips. “No … I got it.”

“Please, just let me help you, baby.”

Brownish blood slithers through the tattoos on her noodly arm—through the black static hair of Lux Interior, to the mangled flesh of a crucified Jesus Christ. “No, I got it.”

But I watch to make sure she lands her shot, then return to my own.

I draw the plunger back and watch the scarlet tornado slither through the murk of my filthy night cap. I push the dope into my last healthy vein and watch the prickled hair on my arm fall on my grey oily skin. I rest my head against the wall of the van and slide the needle from my arm. Zooey’s head falls hard on my lap and her hand slides down my bony chest.

“I love you, baby.”

“I love you, Jonny.”

I gently rub her back. Ten seconds later, we are sound asleep.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s