Jonathan Evans is a writer, editor, and fiercely indipendent academic. Having moved through the Freak and Traveller scenes of the late 80’s, he then travelled to South East Asia in the 90’s. He was the mystery ‘Zippie of Honour‘ in the first edition of the Encyclopedia Psychedelica and the first Pagan Heretic. He later worked on the UP! with Fraser Clark and he was the Prankster-in-Chief on the Parralel-Youniversity.
Here is his story, told exclusively and in complete form for the first time, the exqusitley written tale of one man’s descent into the Hong – Kong underworld and addiction.
Chapter 1: Yen.
Chapter 2:King Mongkuts’s Glossary.
Chapter 3: 1mg/1m1
I found a sole surviving picture of me during a full on Asiatic habit. Six foot two and nine and half stone, so wasted I felt just fucking peachy; Dachau face – head in heaven. Found the keys to the Kingdom… fire of life quenched in the void of heroin addiction. Look at the eyes, it’s the only sure way. Pinned all the way into a living Berkenau.
During counselling… a vase of plastic flowers on a nice little doily, handkerchiefs close by. It’s all in the training, like some maternal trap,
“What would it take you to jump out of bed in the morning?”
“High explosive or a gram of smack.”
Jump out of bed late on a Hong Kong afternoon. Out on the streets where the bright light burns you, makes you cringe and run for the underground. Packed on the train full of tired workers, on their way home from the office… yeah, I guess that we’re all trapped in a pit. We all stand and lean into the long lazy bend that leads into Mongkok’s grubby side streets, full of Chinese pickles, housewives shopping, sad whores on the make, second hand stalls full of someone’s dreams that are now just shoddy old bedside lamps, the occasional tired old radio, TV’s that barely flicker a sigh, cheap Chinese porn mag’s (anyone ever heard of pubic wigs? No?). I make my way through the wonderful teaming mass of life full of light and talk and the smells of rich, glorious pulsating humanity, closer and closer towards the typewriter.
The typewriter, bashed and broken; it was all someone’s dream on bright days long ago, and now it lies next to a puddle on a warm bright Hong Kong afternoon. The bags would be produced from the inside of the broken keys and letters. Never more then 2 bags, anymore and you’re supplying. Walking home… keeping an eye out for narcs, darting looks out of the corner of an eye, just how long is that guy gonna walk behind me? Give him the slip through the brightly lit underground station. Never look too eager to get on the train. And then dart as the two policemen in short khaki sleeved shirts turn my way. Sometimes I’d walk back home instead, humid streets and cool shops, too much conditioning. McDonald’s toilets were handy on nights like these.
Always the typewriter waited for tomorrow to come. Once someone had obviously tipped the pigs. I found my men waiting at the end of the street. Laughing as the uniformed police ripped at the typewriter, losing their rag more and more as the typewriter was first rummaged and then beaten and then tossed aside with a gesture of disgust. Meanwhile me and the men were stood at the end of the street laughing in the blazing light that fell past one of Mongkok’s endless blocks of apartments and whore houses. When we couldn’t laugh anymore we ducked around the corner, walked up a street of humid Mah Jong parlours, hollow old men with Feng Shui calculators empty and sad jade sellers sitting quiet on the pavements that were wonderful in the life that had been breathed into them by a careless humanity that swept past forever. Needless to say I hit MacDonald’s toilet hard that day.
Score on the way back home. Dodge the agents on the underground system. Pop into McDonalds, past the Sunday afternoon parents and children out for kicks. Into the toilet, grab the works out of my pocket, off with the belt. Cook up half a gram and belt it into the mainline. If you get too greedy (and I often did) and try to put too rich a mix into that little insulin syringe, its fine for a minute or two, and then, as the works are hanging in the ghostly grey junkie skin, the mix sets just like wax. The fix is easy, squirt the wax out into a spoon, cook the mix up again (dilute it down a little) and bang it in in two shots, black burned blood an all.
“Please I need to use the toilet”…
Don’t rush me now dear god, I’m just cooking up…
“P l e a s e! I really need to go!”
Don’t fucking rush me
Ahhhh… that’s fixed it! Don’t worry I’m rushing now… S m a c k !
Back out… they’re all still there… Sunday is a big time to cook and eat in HK… Parents and children smiley, happy, and there’s me grinning all over. ‘Bet you’ve never felt this good have you???’
And then that old walking home feeling, the best good-damn fucking feeling in the world is walking home from a score! Nothing beats that, oh its so God damn sweet, the walk home, dig the works out of the stash, boil the kettle, ‘come on quick, quick, fucking quick’, dig around a little for a vein, the way that the bead of blood which swells sweeter then any rose, that feeling when you know that you’ve hit a vein sweet and good, slowly now, don’t fuck it up and miss, slowly, push the plunger down, slowly, smack rush and nothing is a problem anymore, no more… clean the works out, if the bag is clean and uncut there’s no taste.
Walking home from a score is always the best feeling in the world, well, apart from the shot when you get home that is. Saturday night is always the worst night to score, everyone in Hong Kong hits the street shopping on a Saturday night, families cluster and the pavements are so full that you have no option but to go with the flow. The Police would always be out in force on these sort of nights, the uniforms weren’t so bad, but on the way back… loaded with a couple of bags a pocket full of fresh clean works everyone looks undercover. Ron got busted with three bags last week and got a supplying charge. Try to keep your paranoia to yourself, and cultivate the art of looking without being seen.
Fuck up Celia had turned up at Mo’s place having just worked a John, drunk and begging for us to do her a shot. At first neither of us wanted to know, Celia was a fuck up absolute. She was always getting evicted. The landlord man would always end up with all of her stuff left on his hands. Brand new clothes and silly dolls that cost Celia a small fortune would all end up in the bin. It broke the heart, but what the hell could you do? Avoid the fuck ups.
Mo and I had split a bag earlier, and neither of us was daft enough to keep works hanging around the flat. With a habit like ours you never manage to hold spare works for anyone else anyway. ‘Ain’t no way I’m gonna share my works with a fuck up like that.’ Celia just didn’t take the hint, and after the promise of a turn on here I was, out on a Saturday, my ‘favourite’ night of the week, looking for just that little bit too much eye contact, that eager quick step behind you, ready to run and disappear into the heaving mass of family shoppers.
The score had been easy enough, hell it always was. And now I turn the corner of the street to hit the chemists for some fresh 1ml insulin needles. Hang around the end of the street a little. Fuck, it’s just too damn quiet. Still when there’s a turn on at the end, hell fuck it let’s go for it. Neon blinking streetlights, and the shop is just too bright.
‘What do you want those for?’ asked the nosey, spotty young assistant in the chemists. She looked just too good to be true. Those big brown eyes and long hair. God damn if the junk hadn’t taken away the last vestiges of a sex drive. Must’ve been coerced into forgetting about Saturday night. An old eye peaks around the pharmacy door.
Don’t run, don’t run… ‘They’re for my friend, she’s diabetic.’
She checks with the old pharmacist out back first. ‘10 or 20, sir?’ Is that sarcasm, or is there a narc hidden, waiting for the nod and the wink outside the window? Shit, shit, fuck.
‘20, please’, stash the bag into the carrier, with a couple of cans of San Mig, and split fast. Turn the corner; she’d better make that a damn good line after all of this.
Finally, walking up the street to home. One last check to see who’s walking where. And up the concrete steps that lead to the apartment block, under the neon blinking streetlights. Up the steps from the street covered with garbage, sickly sweet.
‘Where’s Celia gone?’ finally, back home, smell of coffee and hashish.
‘Out the kitchen’ Mo’s eyes dart as I spit out the bags. Hong Kong style wraps, plastic – neat trick, but you need them in H.K.’s humidity. I had a gram in a foil wrap once. You could see the damn stuff dissolve before yr eyes. Had to rush to save that one!
‘Yeah, its all set up ready out the kitchen.’
Celia was sat in the corner, still drinking and talking to herself about all of the John’s that she’d worked.
‘This old fart came into the massage parlour when I worked in Long Beach. Do me first. You’ve gotta do me first. It’s my bag, you gotta do me first.’
‘Fuck off Celia; it’s my arse on the line for supplying at the end of the day. Anyway I scored for us too.’
Neatly arrange three needles on the worktop next to the stove. Pull a filter out of a cigarette. Carefully cut open the plastic wrap and pour the pure white number 4 into the spoon. And then cook it up over the stove.
‘Should be good this one love, it’s cooking up brown,’ a sure sign of good smack in Hong Kong. Now when the score came straight out of the heroin lab in Thailand it cooked up clear and clean, didn’t even need to cook it up that much.
‘God I just love that number 4. Remember when we had to use the intra-muscular needles in Chiang Mai love? Those big, green, two inch fuckers. Christ almighty what a rush when all of that blood hit the vein.’
Quickly take my belt off, hold my arm down and shake a couple of times to fill the arm with blood, wrap the belt around my arm and tighten the tourniquet. Flick the vein going down the inside of my arm.
‘This airline pilot said to me in Bottoms Up the other night, didn’t realise how much the drinks would cost…’
‘Look, shut the fuck up while I’m busy will you Celia?’
Grab the syringe, and slowly the needle pricks the flesh. Deeper. Waiting for the red blush of a rose to flower in the tip of the syringe. Pull it back out and try it just a little to the side. ‘Ah fuck that’s it.’ A small rush of blood into the syringe is a sure sign that the needle has hit the vein. Pull back a little, always best to make sure. A spurt of blood flows into the syringe. And then slowly put a little pressure on the syringe. Make damn sure of that vein. It’s okay, more pressure. You can feel good smack as soon as it hits the vein. You can feel it flowing like a tickle up the arm. When you shoot into your leg you can feel it rush up your body. Words fail here. Nothing that you’ve ever felt can prepare you for just how god damn fucking good that tickle feels, and when it hits yr head… Manyana! Oh I know, people always say, ‘I don’t need drugs to get high… I get high on life.’ Wankers, they could never ever know how wonderful heroin feels. Whoowhee! It hits your head with the force of a train derailing.
‘Oh come on, come on. For Christ sake come on! I’ll suck you off if you do me next Bill.’
‘Fuck off will you Celia.’
‘You say the nicest things Celia. Let him do the business will you?’
Finally I’m out the kitchen, on my knees. Celia never did her own shots she just couldn’t handle the needle. Mo’s stood by the cooker, cleaning up and making a cup of tea.
‘Will you just hold your arm still for one second Celia. Tighten the tourniquet a little more,’ her arms out stretched, red and quivering. Women’s veins are always a bitch to hit, smaller and deeper then a man’s.
‘Ah, ah you’re going to hit the bone!’
‘Just a mo. don’t be daft, the bone don’t hurt when you hit it anyways, no nerves see… nearly got it. Hold still mun. That’s it.’ The syringe is empty and I’m pulling back to do the good old junky trick of filling the syringe twice to clean all of the mix out.
The next time that I saw Celia she was fucked up on ‘ice’ (methamphteamine). All she did was to sit in the corner. A conversation was totally out of the question. She barely managed a ‘yeah’ when I asked her if she wanted a cup of tea. I know junkies get fucked up, but dear good God. Speed fucks with your head in a really nasty way. I swear Celia didn’t even know her own name anymore. There was no response when you asked her anything by her name. You had to talk to her like a little child, everything in her face if you know what I mean.
A couple of years later I was state registered and mainlining methadone. Surviving on meth and speed; the smack in this country is so fucked about with and cut it never got me high. Even pharmaceutical Morphine stolen from a chemist’s DDA just gave me a rush but left no high. The troubles of a meth script you wouldn’t believe.
Tack’s front room was always a mass of clothes, books, kids and dog. We’d sit around waiting for Merick to turn up with the bag.
‘Another cup of tea Bill?’
‘Don’t mind if I do’.
Tack’s kitchen, the cooker, kettle and clean spoons all standing ready to cop. Tack and I would hang around the kitchen, both of us on edge and chain smoking. We’d skin up and wait on the bag.
‘It was too easy then, all the old-time DDA’s were kept in locked wooden cupboards, all you had to do was to smash your fist through the wooden doors. And inside! Diamorph, M, Charlie, and stacks of bennies – you’d have enough to earn yourself a couple of thousand, and still have enough left to keep you’re own habit going strong!’
‘Up on the border of Thailand and Burma, heart of the golden triangle right? I was scoring straight out of the lab. I’d watch my man wading through the Mekong, only about 50 yards away would be this lab see? Five minutes later, job done, I’d have this bag of pure number 4 ‘OO’ Globe, about so big, candle lit, belt off, cooking up. Sweet little score that one. I even got pulled, but didn’t have no shit on me… ha ha… yeah internal; the fuckers never got their hands on that bag! You should see it straight out of the lab, it’s like white instant coffee, and you don’t even need to cook it up that much. Cooks up clean, pure OO globe, nice and clear, only trouble is finding works, the pigs watch the chemists there, sure makes you take care of your works.’
‘Operation Julie changed a lot of things. That’s why I got this ying yang tattoo, the only way you could score acid during Julie.’
‘Christ whereas Merick gone, it must have been an hour now. He got pulled last week, didn’t find anything though.’
Favourite stashes would be a common conversation point. The most common talking point with all junkies though, without fail, is bodily motions.
‘My longest time between shits was over a fortnight, christ that mother just didna wonna move. Took half a day and plenty of work to shift that mother load of shit, the bugger of it was I had half an ounce internal, we sure were waiting on that one, in the end it was like a human volcano going off.’
Finally the knock on the door. Quick check to make sure it’s not a bust. And there’s Merick with a 5-gram pot of pharmaceutical M. After checking the seal (intact… sweet!) we’d all rush out the kitchen in a crazed hunt for clean spoons. Kettle on, cook up, belt off…. Whoowheeee.
‘Don’t black the spoons up for fuck sake, use the cooker, for gods sake you can get busted for having a black spoon. ‘Anyone got filters?
‘Yeah, hang on, use the filter out of this cigarette.’
My favourite scores, in this country anyways, always centre around kitchens. Cups of tea, chain-smoking, skinning up and a score somehow seem to be made for each other. Nights spent speeding, drinking tea, holding three different conversations at once, time seems to distort and slide in the memory of nights like these. Waiting on a bag, everyone tense and tetchy, and then the wonderful scrabble and rush when the bag turns up.
We worked our way through that bag of Merick’s pretty quick, a couple of weeks went by and the only thing left was some crappy ephedrine that they prescribe to fat women wanting to diet quick for holiday’s in the sun. Aye there’s the rub child, there’s the rub… no bag is endless… and then you have to pay for your fun.
Sitting with my state approved doctor in the clean empty office, it was mainly used for baby clinics; old fashioned weighing scales littered the clinic along with leaflets on contraception and feeding guides. Once a fortnight we’d all trudge along, track marks hidden from view; yeah sure look at my arms, just stay the fuck away from my legs. Track marks that have now faded, and now I inspect the veins that have come back after all of that abuse and wonder.
This particular doctor enjoyed the inevitable sense of humour that all junkies share. Conversations about rampant constipation and historic all time scores. The first time I saw him he asked me “How did you score in Hong Kong, go into a restaurant and order number 4?”
Later on I saw him again, he was always an evanscent presence on scripts, mostly you saw the mind game nurses who missed all of the track marks on my hands looking keenly for tracks on the inside of my elbow (the mainline don’t you know). In the middle of a conversation about one of my scores that came straight out of a jungle lab in Bhurma he let it slip.
“Of course, you know that the government pays me to keep you all drugged up and quiet”.
Such a simple sentence, but one that in time worked it’s way into the depths of chronic addiction and woke me up. Eight years of a full on addiction, scoring pure no. 4 ‘OO globe’, shifted an ounce in 3 days between the two of us, paranoia, knocks on doors baksheesh and all of this caught during a violent crackdown by the Thai army and police on the Thai people. Everyone remembers Tianiamin, what about Bangkok and the hundreds of bodies that were moved out of the capital to disappear in some army camp somewhere? And my old girl and me feeding a 3-gram a day habit of pure no. 4. Walking up to the local department store, calling in the local chemists to buy amphet and valium over the counter; just as we past the police station a group of protestors come riding past. The police came running out with American automatics and let rip. Everyone dives for cover. And there I am, walking up the street wondering what’s the fuss all about, and where is that back firing car anyway? That night I went out for a sniff around during the curfew, scared tourists hold up in cheap hotels, and soldiers crawl over the street. Some come on as the big guy, but most are just scared young boys. Always this was so? They look at me, and seeing no threat I get away with a lot.
“Of course you know…” Semantic virus that bores down into the messy bloody armed depths of addiction. Somewhere a lonely voice in the void cries out “WHY?” whispered at first, it disappears into the long list of things that are not a problem anymore. Mongkok’s old typewriter grins out of the pile of cast away dreams. Eventually the question ‘Why?’ begins to burn. All is fire, the world is fire, life is fire, love is fire, heroin is fire. Burn, burn, burn the damn thing out of you. And so, I deliberately pushed it as far as it would go, burn it out, it’s the only way with a habit that strong. Either it’s gonna kill you, or it’ll purify you. Whichever way, up the anti and burn, burn, burn it out of you.
When I quit meth I was in cold turkey for a month. Burn baby burn. Sweating with shivers. No sleep. Only Billy got me through. Billy and the scream of rage of that question, so pure and simple, and yet raging like a wounded animal… Why?
“Course you know the government pays me to keep you all drugged up and quiet”.
Its odd how some words will stay with you, they reverberate and change you… who says’ that words have no power?
A year later and I was injecting 60mls of methadone daily, a messy little habit this one. It starts off just the same as any other habit will. First of all you go through the superman stage… ‘I’ve not got a problem yet, I can handle this, oh no, I’m not going to get fucked up on this’. Believe or not but every junky passes through this superman stage. If only I had a fix for every time I’ve heard someone say, ‘I only have a toot on the weekends,’ or ‘I’m not going to get a problem with this, I’m not fucked up yet.’
60mls’ is about half a wine cup full of thick green syrup. You need a big green intra-muscular needle to get this into your veins, and a nice big syringe to fit, 10 ml’s syringes are nice if you can get them, usually you wind up using 5 ml works; when you get your hands on 10 ml’s works you tend to hang onto them, clean them out with boiling water until the rubber shreds, some people will try to resurrect the rubber, personally I made do with 5’s.
The main trouble when injecting meth is that it just simply is not meant to go into a vein, sooner or later it collapses any vein. I started working on the mainline. Then you work down the arm. Wrists are good, just be careful of missing the shot or a lump the size of a golfball will swell up.
On holidays and major occasions you get up to five days worth of your script in one bottle, the rest of the year you get a daily pick up script, a pain but who cares??? One Christmas I shot over 300 ml’s followed by a sweet speedy chaser.
‘A whole weeks worth of fix gone up the track.’
‘ Missed about 10 or 20 ml’s of that one in the wrist… I had a golf ball sized lump until new years! And that first shot after five days of cold turkey (meth chucks hit you after the third day), enough said?
The hands come next. And no, it doesn’t hurt… much, but the feet, oh fuck do they hurt, too much pressure, too little fix, the story of the methadone addict. The only trouble is that the closer you travel towards the extremities the higher the pressure becomes. Those little fuckers in your thumb blow as soon as look at you! Hands up! Try and drop that pressure after a shot.
Two years later and the only thing that I had to show was an armful of bruises and no veins left in my arms. My legs had become a bloody mess of violent dark blue bruises and track marks.
If you think that you’ve come close to hitting an artery, raise the affected limb as high as you can to try and reduce the pressure, exert maximum pressure upon the shot, and pray to whatever gods you happen to associate with at the time. If the lump is still swelling half an hour later you’ll know its time to panic. A friend of mine hit an artery in her hand. The plunger shot out and hit the ceiling, followed by the bright red squirt of blood. If you ever see bright red blood in a shot the odds are that you’d better panic ‘cos you’ve hit an artery. There are people that have lost arms because they’ve hit an artery instead of the mainline.
Anything becomes routine in time. You kinda get used to the ritual, all of that emptying syringes, cracking off the needle, trying not to move the needle out of the vein, refilling and going through it all again. The blood pours down.
The methadone rush is in a class of its own, if you drink it like a good little boy you’ll end up waiting for an hour for the high to kick in; but injected, its like soma from heaven, sweet and clean, you get the taste of the first shot in the back of your throat, and 6 or more shots later nothing is a problem any more… nothing…
“Course… you know… the government pays me to keep you all drugged up and quiet”.
I quit shooting meth ‘cos my suspicious key worker put me on a ‘drink it in front of your friendly local chemist script. FUCK IT! The first couple of days I pretended to gulp, spat it out and banged the lot into my leg… neat there, it doesn’t show… leaves swine of all ages puzzled and disappointed. In a way it was my own fault for pointing out their obsession with finding track marks on the mainline, all I did was to turn my arm around and say, ‘Bet you’ve never seen these before!’
Five years later I was quitting meth altogether… reduced far too quick… 20mls to nothing in less then three weeks. Cry? I nearly laughed!
Heroin is a very patient lady… she’ll always wait for you to come back.
At this time I had to indulge in a little Billy just to get by, and all the time ringing through my head,
“Of course you know…
“No. I won’t let those fuckers control me anymore
A friend of mine told me that for me that old lady will never be back. Relapse is always at the back of your mind, it might fade into a background, but still… the yen is there. Relapse is only delayed until I’ve done what I need to do… now, if only I knew what I need to do! Until then relapse waits until some golden tomorrow! Oh, of course, when they legalise I’ll be there, front of the queue, waiting for those sweet little amps… ‘Top of the world Ma!’
The needle is easily the worst habit. It gets under your skin so to speak. I wound up with a Billy habit through that one.
Holding a set of works consumes you somewhat, thinking up newer and more imaginative stashes becomes more than a little obsessive. One of my best all time stashes was to use the rain guttering just above the hotel window. Great as long as it doesn’t rain! The agents never found that little one out!
The score is a buzz of its own.
Score some Billy. … five days without sleep tends to funny things to anyone. If you can keep the paranoiac down its like a mellow acid trip. If not you’d better hope that you are just dreaming.
“Oh look, there’s an old woman pushing a pram up on the side of that mountain”
“Nah’s’not… its just a bramble patch
“It is, it’s an old woman pushing a pram
“Oh yeah, tis!”
“Are you sure?”
“Well, it has been five nights since sleep and eat
“Lets go and have another?
“Y E A H!
“Fuck it… lets
“Well, let’s wave tarra to the old woman then…
Even the sheep got freaked out at that one… and as for that little ol’ white rabbit…
At this time I was still using the meth junky works – those big green needles about 2 inchs long and so thick you can see through the hole. With meth you need to shot a large quantity of thick green syrup, so a 5 or 10ml syringe is the minimum that you need. One day I only had 2ml works to do a 60ml shot. Well you can do the maths for yourself, the only thing that I’ll say is that it took me the best part of an hour to finish that one! When that quantity of mix hits the vein it’s a flash bulb of a rush. The meth works are so big you’ve gotta do the shot pull back more blood into the syringe and repeat at least a couple of times, and even then when you drink the cleaning rinse of water it still tastes of speed.
It’s a habit… what else can you do but feed it?
Shooting into the legs by now. It’s been four year since the veins in my arms quit the job and went too deep to use. The pressure in your legs is a sight to see. When you crack the syringe that’s filled with water off and fit the live one on (no use in wasting a good mix on a fucked up shot) the blood spurts outta that green needle. Sweet, but you usually wind up having to lie on your back with your leg in the air, exerting maximum force, to try and stop that vein from blowing up. If it does you have to dig around for another place to fix.
The needle habit ends up dirty. In my time I’ve shot – Air (no, not little bubbles, everyone does that… no, 1 or 2 ml’s at a time… you hear that amount gurgling up your arm, it comes around a couple a times); Blood clots (its surprising what you can get through green-intra-muscular-works, after missing a shot a couple of times you either have to drink the mix, or put it into a spoon, cook it up, filter it off… but shooting meth you have no time for pleasantries… you just shot the whole bloody mix… clots un all… you just have no way of knowing how long that vein will take it, gotta be quick, fuck clean; Whiskey (not to be recommended!); You even end up shooting through sites where you’ve missed, hitting through lumps the size of an eyeball hurts like fuck. A friend of mine would even shoot mushroom tea.
It’s a habit, and you’ve got to feed it.
At the end of the day it’s that god-damned rush that’s the ultimate habit.
A friend of mine would whoop as M went in, most people enjoy the rush too much for that sort of showmanship.
Stupid people always ask, all confidential like…
“So what’s it like? Is it like that film? Is it really as good as an orgasm?”
The first time that they ask you, you tell them that they really don’t want to know.
The second time you try to change the subject.
And the third time, third time unlucky…
“Its better then a thousand orgasms ever could be. Its so god damn fucking good its scares the hell outta you. You ain’t never felt that good in your whole good damn life kid. It’s the keys to the kingdom. It is soma and it is death”
When I quit meth I found that I really have no or little memory of the 90’s… that is I have no shared memories of the 90’s with someone who hasn’t used… I remember every score, good or bad… I remember shots… and the rush into the night…
Course you know that the government pays to keep them all drugged up!
And now? I still don’t know where I’m going, but at least I am going.
Yen for the powder…Yen for the spoon…Yen for the filter…and Yen for the flame. Yen for the tourniquet…Yen for the dark red rose of blood which blooms in the syringe…Yen for the gentle push upon the plunger…Yen for the rush . . . Yen for the headward plunge into the night… Yen for the buzz… Y e n F o r T h e R u s h…
And now the rage is still there. And yes, the craving is still there to. It slips into a background sometimes, only to awaken and drive me on. Waking up in the middle of the night, after seeing Mongkok’s tired typewriter in a dream, you can always score in dreams, you can cook up in the spoon, you can hit the vein and see the beautiful dark rose bloom in the end of the syringe. But you can never, ever make the hit. Wake up with a gnawing, nagging emptiness.
Seeing my ex-wife yesterday somehow reminded me of that typewriter in Mongkok’s trash. Dowdy and old at 35, a ghost that emerges from the past only to shimmer and fade in the light of day.
Yen for the powder…Yen for the spoon…Yen for the filter…and Yen for the flame… Yen for the tourniquet…Yen for the dark red rose of blood which blooms in the syringe…Yen for the gentle push upon the plunger…Yen for the rush . . . Yen for the headword plunge into the night… Yen for the buzz… Y e n F o r T h e F u l l O n F U C K I N G R u s h…
WHY? Well… Wouldn’t you?
King Mongkut’s Glossary.
Acid: L.S.D. 25.
Lysergic acid is a major psychedelic. Acid was popularised by Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsburg in the early 1960’s – Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out! Trip means to be under the affect of a psychedelic. The recipe for Lsd is pretty straightforward. It’s in the final filtering process that quality varies. Sometimes an amphetamine cut is put in at this stage; this cut tends to produce a bad trip – an intensely unpleasant paranoiac trip. The answer to a bad trip is to inject citric acid, drinking lemon juice will work but injecting is more effective. An old junkie friend of mine worked in the bad trip tent in Woodstock, injecting citric acid into the bad trippers. The best quality acid used to be produced in the University of East Berlin. The acid produced in Amsterdam is often very poorly filtered. When you score acid it has usually been painted onto blotting paper. Liquid acid is a rarity, though it does circulate in Goa. A friend of mine got acid through Heathrow’s customs by painting liquid acid onto his passport.
Alcohol: Technically not a drug at all, alcohol toxifies the body (hence intoxicated). It is far easier to become an alcohol addict than an opiate addict. Firstly alcohol is a socially acceptable ‘drug.’ Secondly physiologically the habit and tolerance develop quickly, in weeks not months. The most damaging addiction of them all, alcohol destroys every major organ of the body. It’s a habit that people grow into, unlike opiates which most people tend to grow out of. A friend of mine used to work in an alcoholic clinic. On one occasion one of her customers was stood in front of her, he fell down and in less than a minute he was dead. Alcoholics develop varicose veins in the throat. Sooner or later these varicose veins will burst. Once this happens they just drop down dead, there’s nothing that can be done for them.
Bag, Bottle, Wrap: The container that you score your drug in. Mostly the wrap is made of paper. Because of Hong Kong’s humidity a paper wrap is totally inadequate the smack would just dissolve. So in Hong Kong the bag is made from plastic, a plastic carrier bag is cut up and made into a wrap. In Thailand the smack often comes in little plastic phials or bottles. In the speed head community a bag refers to the amphetamine that the dealer has in current supply. There is often a great variety in quality of the ‘bag’ that dealers have passing through their hands.
Brown Sugar: Number 3 heroin, 3-6% pure. Heroin base is mixed with hydrochloric acid, producing heroin hydrochloride. The crude heroin is then cut with equal volumes of caffeine. The wet paste is then dried over a steam bath. Number 3 requires little skill to produce; the entire process takes about 8 hours.2 Brown seems to be the most commonly available form of smack available in Europe and the U.S. Produced in the ‘Golden Crescent’ area of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan. After America’s war in Afghanistan there are reports of a bumper crop being produced this year. The international markets are being flooded with S.E. Asian number 4 while the prices are still high.
S.E. Asian brown used to be sold in Hong Kong in the 60’s and early 70’s in a wrap that had a dragon printed on it – hence chasing the dragon was originally a method for ingesting a lower grade product. Also known as ‘shooting the ack-ack,’ the method was to damp a cigarette and stick the number 3 onto the outside of it. The smoke would be puffed out in bursts. The American G.I.’s in Vietnam used to call heroin ‘puff the magic dragon.’ This is a nice way to smoke number 4. No-one would know that it wasn’t an ordinary cigarette. Good for the long bus rides up to the Northern border with Burma (Golden Triangle). Much mellower than the large bongs we’d smoke in Bangkok, when we’d pile a gram into the bowl.
When prepared for injection brown requires the addition of an acid, usually lemon juice.
Chillum: Used to smoke hashish a chillum is shaped like a long, thin conical tube. A ‘stone’ is used to obstruct the wide end and allow the smoke to pass. Chillums are traditionally used in India as part of the worship of Shiva. Since the 1970’s under pressure from the U.S. the Indian government has tried to outlaw the use of hash and chillums to celebrate Shiva, although the Sadhu’s still continue to use the chillum. In the British freak/traveller scene it’s not unusual to hear the cry ‘Half a Mix!’ meaning that someone has a chillum and wants to share a mix.
Cold Turkey, Chucks, Clucking: Opiate withdrawal. Surprisingly the symptoms of cold turkey are very similar to the symptoms of the flu. There is a lot of bullshit that surrounds opiate withdrawal. The only two drugs that can kill you if you stop using them are alcohol and the benzodiazepines (valium, temazepam etc). Some of the classic symptoms of cold turkey are sweating, especially in the early stages; loss of temperature control, so that you can be freezing one minute and sweating hot the next; muscle/joint pain; insomnia; the violent return of a sex drive, especially in men (Burroughs’s quip about coming as he put his trousers on was no joke). The worst thing about withdrawal is that all of life’s little aches and pains which are removed by opiates return. When you have a habit you really don’t feel these little problems anymore. Nothing is a problem anymore when you use.
Cook Up: When you score smack or speed it comes as a powder. So to inject it you need it in a solution. You put the powder into a spoon, add boiling water (makes cooking up quicker and cleaner) and cook the mix up over a flame of some descript. When the powder has dissolved into solution it’s ready for injection. The only thing that remains to do is to filter the mix through cotton wool or preferably a filter from a cigarette and bang it in.
Cut: You never score pure no. 4 anywhere else but S.E. Asia. In this country your drugs are always cut down with an additive to produce more profit. A common cut for speed is to add glucose. Brown sugar gets cut with all sorts of shit, including rat poison and brick dust. A 100% pure product that costs £10 a gram (less at source, the cheapest price I had was $400 for a 300 gram bag of OO) is cut down until at the end of the supply line the smack is less than 0.5% pure and costs over £100 a gram. You can work out the profit margin. My 3 gram a day Asian habit would have cost between £3000 and £5000 a day just to maintain. By the way, that habit was the equivalent of 3 litres of methadone a day; 50ml’s can overdose a non-addict.
The main cause of the high numbers of contemporary overdose deaths is that the smack in this country is so adulterated. No one knows the purity of the product that they are using. So when a bag appears that hasn’t been cut down enough it is inevitable that avoidable deaths will follow.
D.D.A.: Dangerous Drugs Act. Pharmacists are obliged by law to keep any drug that is listed on the Dangerous Drugs Act locked up in a secure cabinet. The first Act of Parliament was enacted in 1916, as an emergency war time measure. It was brought into force primarily because the soldiers on leave would use cocaine. Concerned relatives would also send cocaine and morphine to help the boys on the front. This caused concern to the command of the British Army who feared that efficiency and control would deteteriate. The first Act allowed no measure for doctors to prescribe to addicts. Several years later so many doctors had been arrested for prescribing themselves opiates that the Act had to be modified.4
The legal enforcement of the 1914 Harrison Act in 1923 brought the prohibition of narcotics to America. The first person to be prosecuted under the Harrison Act of 1923 (which prohibited alcohol) was the man who had drafted the Bill. He had a commercial sized still ready in his garden on the first day of prohibition. When alcohol prohibition came to an end under Roosevelt the number of alcoholics fell. If the prohibition argument is valid shouldn’t that number have risen?
The main argument in support of prohibition has always been that it saves life. The last figure that I am familiar with is that in 2000 there were 870 deaths due to heroin overdose in the U.K. Compare that figure with the narcotic death figures for the U.K. prior to prohibition in 1916. Don’t forget that these figures include the numerous accidental infant deaths due to soothing syrups like Godfrey’s Cordial. Something seems to have gone very, very wrong somewhere.
Gouching Out, On the Nod: Most people when they take opiates start to nod off. Well that’s not exactly true. You don’t feel sleepy, you are wide awake. It’s just that you feel so damn good that the world starts to slip away. ‘The Keys to the Kingdom’ indeed! Personally when I first started using smack it had the opposite affect on me. It made me more speedy than amphetamine. I’d be rushing around like a regular Billy the Whiz.
5Habit, Addiction: Opiate addiction is a physical presence, it recreates identity – ‘Junk is not a kick. It is a way of life.’6 A heroin habit is not as easy to pick up. The popular public perception is of one hit and you’re hooked. Nope… it took me 6 months of daily intra-vascular use of pure no. 4 before I developed my first full on habit. There’s an old saying, ‘She’s a very patient lady… she’ll always wait for you to come back.’ An ex-junkie can develop a second habit within days of relapse.
An opiate habit is a physiological addiction. A psychological dependency is a different beast altogether. People can, and do, become dependent upon anything. Speed and cocaine habits are dependencies and not addicts in the technical sense. Dependency habits are the hardest to quit. The needle habit is the classic psychological dependency.
Heroin, Smack (Diacetylmorphine): Produced from morphine base, heroin has two acetic acid molecules bonded onto a morphine molecule. ‘Heroin was first produced at St Mary’s Hospital in London. It was rediscovered in Germany in the 1890’s and marketed by Bayer under the trade name heroin. [The name was] probably derived from the German ‘heroisch,’ or ‘large and powerful.’7 Technically heroin is a semi-synthetic derivative of the morphine alkaloid. Bayer marketed heroin as an over the counter cure for colds and flu, whose symptoms they efficiently alleviate. It was also used as a treatment for morphine addicts.
Opiods are synthetic drugs that produce the same affects as opiates. While opiates (and opiods) remain the most effective analgesics available they don’t actually kill pain, they work by making the patient feel so euphoric that the pain doesn’t matter anymore. It is this overwhelming sense of well being that is the junkie kick.
Endorphins are an essential part of brain chemistry. Basically whenever you enjoy anything your brain is producing endorphin. For some reason the morphine molecule is very similar to the brains own ‘endorphins’ and hence the euphoric high.
Heroin and morphine are active in the body for 8 hours. Withdrawal starts 24 hours after the last dose and lasts between 4 and 7 days. Endorphin production can take between one and four weeks to return to normal levels after heroin addiction.
Contrary to public opinion opiates have no destructive physiological affects upon the body.
Ice: Methamphetamine – a more powerful form of amphetamine, particularly nasty stuff. Kind of like the difference between morphine and diacetylmorphine. I spent one night smoking lines of Ice with triads one night. I didn’t sleep for the next 7 days and my old girl couldn’t stop talking for 5. It can be hell on earth to live with someone who just won’t stop talking after taking speed. One of my friends had got very, very fucked up on Ice. She just sat in the corner blank, didn’t even know her own name. There are rumours that Ice is about to flood the UK. There’s going to be a lot more sections of speed heads when it does.
Methadone: A synthetic opiod that was first developed by the Nazi’s in WWII, as they had no source for the import of opiates. Methadone has been widely prescribed as a substitute to heroin addicts since the 1970’s. In its pure form methadone is crystalline. The addict formula that is prescribed is ‘1mg/1ml’, or 1 mg to every 1ml of syrup. Methadone is also prescribed as a cure for a non-productive cough to pensioners in a 1mg/10ml mix. Methadone is available for injection in ampoules; this generic form is trademarked as Physeptone. Unfortunately Physeptone is not very often prescribed to addicts.
Methadone is active in your system for 24 hours. Withdrawal starts 3 days after the last dose and lasts for 3 to 4 weeks. The brain will only start producing endorphins 18 months to 2 years after you quit the methadone habit.
From experience a methadone habit is far harder to kick than a heroin habit; a complete and utter bitch to quit.
M M.S.T. Morphine: Along with codeine morphine is one of the most used alkaloids that are extracted from opium. The recipe to produce morphine base is fairly easy and straightforward. In the illicit production of heroin morphine base is first produced before being shipped to a more sophisticated heroin lab. I lived for 3 months 300 metres away from a heroin lab on the Thai Burma border. Typically in South East Asia morphine base will be produced using this recipe:-
Raw opium is placed into an oil drum of boiling water until it dissolves. Leaves, soil and other non-soluble particles are removed.
Lime is added to the solution, which converts the water insoluble morphine into the water soluble calcium morphinate.
Insolubles are allowed to precipitate out as the solution cools and the solution is filtered through sacks.
Ammonium chloride is added to adjust the pH of the solution. The morphine base will then precipitate out of solution.
The solution is then filtered through cloth filters and the chunks of morphine base are extracted and dried ready for packaging.
13 kilos of raw opium are needed to produce just more than a kilo of morphine base.9
During the Vietnam War when the C.I.A. was establishing the heroin export trade from S.E. Asia they used Air America as a cover in order to ship morphine base from the Golden Triangle area to Hong Kong where their chemists produced no. 4 heroin. Most pilots of ‘Air America’ became overnight millionaires.
Moroccan Rocky: The usual hash available in the U.K. Not the best quality hash in the world. Rocky has a nasty paranoid edge that is lacking in a quality hash like Indian Chowice. There are reliable rumours that the ‘Rocky’ in this country is cut. The oil is first pressed out of the hash, and then a cut is added to provide the buzz. Rumour has it that Moroccan Rocky is cut with Ketamine or tranquillisers, hence that nasty paranoid buzz.
Number 4: The purest grade of heroin, 99–100% pure. Heroin grades run from 1 to 4. Occasionally no. 4 is known as ‘China White.’
The production process for no. 4 is complex and demands a skilled chemist.
Firstly heroin base is produced by adding liquid acetic anhydride to morphine base. The mixture is heated in a sealed pot for two hours, don’t allow it to boil. On cooling water is added along with a charcoal. The mixture is then filtered. Sodium carbonate is dissolved in water and then carefully added. The base heroin precipitate is then filtered and dried.
To produce no. 4 the heroin base is put into a solution of water and acetic anhydride. A small amount of chloroform is added. Impurities precipitate out of solution and a red greasy liquid is formed. The solution is carefully drained off leaving the impurities. Activated charcoal is added to the solution leaving a light yellow solution. The best heroin in Hong Kong would always cook up yellow in the spoon; this must be the reason why. A solution of sodium carbonate and water is then carefully added until effervescence stops. The heroin precipitates out of solution and is dried. And then comes the tricky bit. The heroin is dissolved in boiling ethyl alcohol. The hot solution is then filtered through a Buchner funnel removing the traces of sodium carbonate. The solution is then rapidly cooled in an ice bath, forming a thick ice cream like paste (cornet anyone?). This paste is put into a fridge and the alcohol is allowed to evaporate. The paste crystallizes. The re-crystallized heroin base is then put into solution with ethyl alcohol, ether and hydrochloric acid. This is the really explosive part of the process. The resultant precipitate is then vacuum filtered and dried.10
In Hong Kong in the 1970’s a chemist was in the middle of this final filtering process when the process started to go wrong. He just had time to escape before the floor of a residential block was blown clean away. Since the 1970’s production of no. 4 has shifted to labs inside the Golden Triangle.
Straight out of a heroin lab the no. 4 resembles pure white coffee granules. Packaged it is compressed until it is as hard as chalk.
OO Globe: (pronounced double oh globe) Heroin produced in the Golden Triangle region of Myanmar (Burma). OO Globe is a version of the old Bayer Pharmaceutical trademark that has been adopted for the illicit market. Also available are ‘Tiger and OO Globe Brand’ and the ultimate in quality – ‘Double U-O Globe Brand.’ All OO Globe Brands are no. 4 heroin 99-100% pure. You know when you’re onto a good score when there’s a 300 gram bag of UO sitting on the bed, retail price $400. We got through an ounce of that bag in three days flat!
Opium: Produced from the ‘oriental poppy’ papavur somnifirum. Opium is produced from the seed head. Cuts are made with a sharp blade on (but not through) the poppy head. The resinous sap that exudes is raw opium. Derivatives produced from opium include morphine, heroin and codeine (opiates). There’s a lot of bullshit about the poppy flower having to be white to produce opium. It’s not true… the colour of the flower has no bearing on potency. Opium has the most disgusting taste and smell. In consistency opium resembles hard black, brittle toffee. Oddly enough the Oriental poppy that so many people grow in their gardens just happens to be papavur somnifirum – the opium poppy.
Opium use is as old as civilisation. The ancient Sumerians knew of the poppy as ‘joy plant’ over 6,000 years ago. At the same time our European Neolithic ancestors were eating poppy seeds and pods. It was known the across the Ancient world including the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. It was used both as an analgesic and as a recreational plant. Up until the Twentieth Century opium was classed as a stimulant, it is now widely recognised as a major depressant.
The first formal ban on the sale and consumption of opium in Thailand was enacted in 1811. After 41 years of colonial bullying and gunboat diplomacy by the British Empire King Mongkut (the real king that the musical The King and I is based upon) was forced to legalise opium and open the Royal Thai Opium Monopoly. By 1921 there were an estimated 200,000 addicts contributing between 15 and 20% of all government tax revenues. The Royal Thai Opium Monopoly was closed down in the late 1950’s.12
Pinned: Opiates contract the iris of the eye. You can always spot a user by looking at the eyes. A full on junkie will have iris’s like little pin holes. The stimulants (speed and cocaine) have the opposite affect, they enlarge the iris. A speed or coke fiends have huge irises. Look at the eyes.
Shot, Shoot, Mainline, Jack Up: Intra-vascular injection (into the vein). Mainline refers to a shot in the veins on the inside of the elbow. ‘Bang it in’ means to get the shot done without any undue haste. A joy bang is when someone has the occasional shot. When Asian junkies run out of veins they turn to ‘skin-popping’ (subcutaneous injection just under the skin). Skin-popping often goes wrong and develops into abscess, leaving deep holes. One of the real characters that I based ‘Fuck Up Celia’ on had been skin-popping for years. Apparently her arse and thighs were covered with these big deep holes left from skin-popping.
Snort: To inhale a drug up the nose. The drug enters the blood stream through the mucous membranes. The procedure is to lay out a line. Roll up a note, or use a straw, stick it up the nose and chase the line as you inhale. Hence the term ‘to do a line.’ Most habits start as a snorting habit. It is rare to find someone who goes straight for the needle. It took me 3-4 months before my nose just couldn’t take anymore and I was forced to use a needle… but oh god when I did! The affect is completely different. A line hits you slow and mellow where a shot will hit you like a bullet in the brain.
Addicts can often become regular human vacuum cleaners when snorting up a line. The worst I ever saw was when a friend of mine snorted up two half gram lines of no. 4. I had laid out one for her and one for me! The same friend lived in a small shack in the middle of the Hong Kong countryside. She was in bed with her old man one morning when the friendly local pig stuck his head in through the window. Her old man lit the end of the straw and made like it was a cigarette – it worked too.
Speed, Billy: Amphetamine Sulphate. A major stimulant, most people find it impossible to sleep or eat when using speed. My own personal record with speed is 5 days without sleep or food, but I have heard of some speed heads going for 7 days. After this amount of sleep deprivation hallucinations and paranoia are inevitable. Along with cocaine (Charlie) speed is one of the few true aphrodisiacs. As a friend of mine once put it, ‘speed turns you into an absolute raging pervert.’ Speed kills. Most speed heads spend intermittent periods in a mental institution on a section. An upper downer cycle is one of the deadliest forms of drug abuse. Basically the user will take an upper to get going (either Charlie or Billy) and a downer (tranquilliser) to come down off the upper and sleep. This cycle is particularly mentally damaging and fries people to shreds.
Tie-up: Torniquet. Can be anything from a belt to a cord. Used for an intra-vascular shot.
Works: Needles, syringes – the kit required for intravascular injection. A ‘set of works’ refers to the needle, the spoon and the tourniquet. A methadone set of works is in a class of its own. Because methadone syrup is so thick you need the largest needle available (the syrup just go through an insulin needle) and at least a 5 or 10ml syringe to fit onto the needle. You need to refill the syringe a minimum of six times. So you crack the syringe off the needle and refill whilst blood pours out of the needle. Purists demand a butterfly valve, but they’re more or less unavailable. A psychological dependency and not an addiction a needle habit is a bitch to quit.
Yen: Chinese ((Cantonese) yan, (Mandarin) yin) addiction, craving for drugs, strong interest. The craving of a drug addict for a drug (orig. spec. for opium). Also a restless sleep characteristic of the withdrawal symptoms of drug addiction.14
From a central pivot of methadone withdrawal
Yen creeps up upon you when you aren’t looking. You can be doing anything, anywhere and that patient old lady will tap you on the shoulder and beckon you to return, back into her sweetest embrace (heroin is a very patient lady…she’ll always wait for you to comeback). You can be sitting in a lecture; you can be eating; or you could be ‘having sex’ (change?); especially, she’ll be there when you have drunk a little bit too much. And there she’ll be with arms of light, the key of the kingdom and kisses of death.
Return to the structural pivot of one night of cold turkey after this flash-forwards…
Yen for the powder; Yen for the spoon; Yen for the filter; and Yen for the flame; Yen for the tourniquet; Yen for the dark red rose of blood which blooms in the syringe when you hit a vein; Yen for the gentle push upon the plunger; Yen for the rush . . . Heigh OOh Silver! Well . . . Wouldn’t You?
Pos…Nodding out in a café in Koh Phangan, scoring from the local police, shot in the foot, blah, blah, and blah and pad it out…
May Allah shit upon his head perpetually?
May Allah dump upon his cranium from a very great height!
Work around a central pivot of one night of methadone withdrawal…
Midnight – walking the dogs in the rain
Late Addiction (shooting meth, scoring DDA M)
Middle Night –Watching Jerry Springer and the OU (the night social outcast)
B. Matured Habit in S.E. Asia
(Hong Kong and scoring an ounce in Chiang Mai)
- Early Morning – Walking the dogs up Top Rock _ watching the moon dawn and the B52’s (remember? There’s a storm coming dearies), return to grab only one or two hours sleep, before hitting a lecture…
C. Start of Habit in Hong Kong (Temple Street, Mongkok and Uncle Joe)
Yen for the spoon, blah, blah and blah again…
A nice structure to develop! A dynamic movement. Now, where is the tension?
Make the A., B., C., structure more and more hyperaesthetic; whilst making the 1, 2, 3, structure less and less hyperaesthetic.
Big = Social Outcast/Outsider
Small = Social Conformity
Purple Om trips/tabs. Photograph courtesy of Tash.
3 ‘Curved Dragon’ – a retail packet of no. 3 heroin that was sold on the streets of Hong Kong and Bangkok in the 1960’s. Alfred W McCoy The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia (Singapore: Harper & Row, 1972)
4 Virginia Berridge Opium and the People: Opiate Use and Drug Control in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century England (London & New York: Free Association Books, 1999)
5 Herbert Huncke gouching out in a Times Square photo booth, circa 1940. Huncke was the man who introduced William S. Burroughs to junk; he also coined the term Beat Generation. The Herbert Huncke Reader (London: Bloomsbury, 1997)
6 William S. Burroughs Junky (London: Penguin, 1977), p.xvi
7 Virginia Berridge Opium and the People, p. xx.
8 Alfred W McCoy The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia
11 Alfred W McCoy The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia
12 Alfred W McCoy The Politics of Heroin in South East Asia, p. 67
13 Jon Boyes & S. Piraban Opium Fields (Bangkok: Silkworm, 1991)
14The Oxford Interactive Encyclopaedia, (TLC Properties, 1997)
(c) Jonathon Evans