This one actually got into Positive Nation, in the issue in which we dealt with drugs (see ‘Party On!’ in the HIV writing section). Everyone was a bit shocked. It would damage my credibility or something. Well, here I am publishing it on the internet, so bang goes my credibility.
lazarus 5 - cracked boy
The park near here is a fertile cruising ground, a distraction when I work from home. Day or night, male sex hunters saunter along the paths, oh so casual, all hands in pockets and laser glances, like village cats patrolling their territories.
I said Yeah, sure, when the boy came up and asked if I had a place to go. Mid-twenties I thought, hasn’t worn well, with a hollow-cheeked, stary appearance that I at first put down to anti-HIV drugs. But the scally Adidas-and-baseball cap outfit promised rough delights. “A touch of the orphanage there,” as a reprobate old friend of mine once said.
So we get home and he strips off, nothing special, but lean and hard, and he’s getting half a hardon. There’s already something a bit wrong, though. He’s eerily mechanical, relating to me with a demanding, cringey politeness, hammering my name into every other sentence. “Can I just do this, Gus? Can I just have a cigarette? Can I try that on, Gus?”
Then he starts talking about local gay pubs and he says, “Yes, I went to that one the other day, but I got totally out of it. I couldn’t remember...” then trails off. Oh no, I think. He’s going to confess some horrific tale of rape and degradation. But he says nothing more.
Then “I just need to do this,” and he drags out a lump of crack and a pipe made out of a small glass jar. He lights the rock and sucks down white smoke, hard, in a pop-eyed caricature of desperation.
Then he gets really strange. I’ve never seen anyone come up on a crack rush before.
His personality imploded.
The infinitely strong gravity of the drug pulled him into a singularity, a black hole from which no signal returned. He lost his hard-on. His eyes glazed. He started wobbling round the flat uttering a “mmh, mmh” sound. He started picking up and examining tiny flecks of dust, scraps of paper and invisible things.
“What are you doing, Dave?” I had to shout at him before he responded. “It’s just that…when I smoke rocks, I always think I’ve lost some,” he said. By this time he was examining my HIV pills as if they were the baffling relics of an alien civilisation. I had visions of him trying to down them all in one go.
I couldn’t imagine what was going on in there, but I could guess. I have a three-to-five-a-day nicotine habit. I like - I need - a cigarette before I got to bed. Sometimes I’ve found only one fag left in the packet when I’m already undressed. The anxiety of knowing that’s the last smoke has spoiled any enjoyment I might get from it, and afterwards I’ve gone round the flat searching my pockets, looking for a packet I know isn’t there.
Now imagine that craving turned up to a deafening fortissimo that drowns out everything else, especially when you’ve chosen the one drug that socks you with the most vertiginous rush of all, but lasts only minutes.
I start getting a bit firm. “Look, Dave, you’ll have to go. I don’t think you really want sex.” I’m not scared of him, or not much, but this is too weird.
“I tell you what, I’ll just…I’ll just go down the road and score some more. Then it’ll be all right,” he says, and tries to get some money out of me. When I refuse, he goes anyway, promising the sex will work when the drugs work.
I let him in again when he returns. Why? I don’t believe he’ll suddenly stop being scary and addicted and turn into a well-adjusted horny guy. Not at all. It’s just that that little splinter of ice, the one Graham Greene said every writer has in his heart, is telling me how fascinating this all is. He’s stopped being a pick-up and has become…material.
He does everything exactly the same second time round, everything, down to the restless sifting and turning of the same bits of dust. Eventually I have to go out and I ask him to leave. Only then does he get aggressive. “You’re just like one of the workers at the rehab,” he says. I am no longer someone offering even the illusion of comfort and kindness. I’m just another smug bastard reminding him that his life doesn’t work.
Finally with a physical pulling-together and a mutter of “It’s gonna be alright,” he wanders out into the grey racket of the Seven Sisters Road.
“Look, when I come back, I’ll just get nice and off me face, and then you can make it good,” he had pleaded when he went out to score. “Just make it go the right way, not the wrong way.”
I think one of the reasons people take drugs is to avoid sex, or the experience of it. Maybe you have an abnormally strong need to be looked after, an emotional rawness. Perhaps you can’t do gay even when you are it. Perhaps you’ve been abused and getting hard brings back the memories. For whatever reason, sex feels like being used, like it’s something, literally or metaphorically, forced into you.
Yet you also have the normal complement of hormones clamouring for release. Maybe, once, you get off your face enough to enough to come properly with someone. Every time after, you try and get to that place again, but the kind of sex you have when you’re drunk or drugged feels even more like use, even less like need answered.
And then imagine that your drug of choice is one that a) makes your dick shrink to a peanut and b) is notorious for creating states of clinical paranoia.
I’d say you were up shit creek. I’d say you need so much love all the mothers in the world could never give it to you. I’d say picking up a horny Gus one afternoon in Finsbury Park was the last thing you needed.
I’m sorry, Dave.