LIFE STROY OF TERRY DONALDSON CHAPTER 6
The dealer wants me to hand him my passport, so that they can get the ticket for the trip. Do I know any girl that might want t come with me on the trip? No, I tell him I don’t.
He pulls out a 500 something banknote with the word GUYANA on it. I vaguely recall a 5th form geography lesson which indicates this place as somewhere in south America. Already the bad omens are there. South America. Hmmm.
But he gives me a few more things to smoke and by then it doesn’t seem such a big deal, after all.
Just hop on a plane and pick up a suitcase. A week away, or is it going to be two?
Taking this trip means that it’s bust or boom, either way, I’m easy. I can’t see much of a future for me hobbling along on a poxy methadone script, hanging outside the chemist each morning in the freezing rain. Coming back to a mattress with some other men’s spunk stains all over it. I know from past experience that there’s no way to get off methadone once you start on it. If you cut down, as they tyr to get you to do in the clinics here, after a while you light up something else out of sheer boredom. Then you are back on the merry-go-round again. A never-ending cycle of upping and downing. After a blast of crack, when you start coming down, which ordinarily is fairly soon afterwards, you really feel like shit. Your nerves are all jangling. Things people say or do suddenly wind you up big-time, and you are ready to fly off the handle at a moment’s notice. That’s when you need something to come down with. Which is where the heroin comes in. At that exact point the heroin is smoked, and it gives you a feeling of complete relaxation, of being totally OK with what is going on. No matter what happens, you are going to be able to cope. Worried? About what?! But over time the heroin becomes extremely addictive, and then you start needing larger and more frequently injested amounts to maintain the high.
It really is the devil to get away from.
Years ago- and it may well be the case that they still do it- if you got hooked on heroin while in the Hell’s Angels they themselves would lock you up in one of their private prisons until you’d clucked it out of your system. Then, if you went back on it afterward, they’d come and get you.
Speaking personally, a cold turkey is the only way to get out of the syndrome of addiction. Anything else is just a prolonging of the agony. The sooner you get through the whole thing, the sooner you get out the other side.
So, thought I, even if the whole thing goes wrong and I get busted, even then at least I will succeed in getting off the gear. Then I could begin to rebuild my life. It would take time. Once you fall off the side of the mountain it takes a little while to get up, dust yourself down, and start back up the slope again.
On the other hand, though, if I got through………………
Now that would be amazing. Those that ‘get through’ are treated like WW2 fighter pilots in the criminal world. They are the cavaliers, and maximum respect is awarded them on behalf of their endeavors. In many ways this is earned. To ‘go on a run’ takes a lot of balls. If you get caught you can expect hideously bad conditions in some of the world’s most notorious prisons. In some countries you can expect the death penalty.
But that is the least of it. In the drug dealing world the police are the least of the problems. Far more worrisome is the presence of rival dealers, or gangs. Territories are jealously guarded, with those that make incursions dealt with summarily. People get robbed if it becomes known that they have a reasonable amount of stuff. Some get kidnapped, and carried away to some remote place where they get tortured to death to reveal where their stash is. Others get kidnapped anyway, and their bank accounts cleaned out with they lay, handcuffed and tied up in their own shit in some out-of-the way hut in the countryside.
The police can’t be relied upon. The police in these countries are usually corrupt, either actively involved in the very drug-dealing operations they are supposed to be trying to prevent or at least being paid to look the other way. Often they are used by one gang to put another rival gang out of business. Families often run the drug business in their particular area, with so many of the father’s sons in the police, and so many in the actual drug-dealing gang.
If the police aren’t corrupt, they are cowardly, understandably not wanting to risk getting themselves shot up for nothing. After all, the massive pull of all that foreign currency is going out make the drug trade continue anyway, regardless of what any one person tries to do. It’s like farting against thunder.
So, the dealer makes off with my passport, and for the next day I hear nothing. I am beginning to think it is all a wind-up, a scam to get my fucking passport so that someone can open up a bank account in my name for some fraudulent purpose.
Then he is back, with a young black girl called Mons. She is short, attractive, and takes me by the hand as she comes in through the door. She is very flirtatious, with a bandana in her beautiful black hair and a sweet woman’s body underneath that skirt and blouse. She moves with all the agility of a black female panther.
We talk upstairs for a while, and asks me if I’m ready to go on Monday.
I tell her that I will be.
Monday at six a.m., she says, she will be along to pick me up. In the meantime, Dean- I find out the dealer’s name for the first time- will take me out to shop for some new clothes, and will sort me out with gear- on tick. I will be getting five grand for the run. It will only be a kilo, anyway, and inside a pair of shoes. What they do is to immerse the shoes in brandy after sealing the coke away inside the shoes’ lining. This is to prevent the dogs at the airports from sniffing it.
In addition, al my expenses will be paid for, and I will get five hundred pounds spending money to last me for my stay. I will be going for a week. The first thing to cross my mind is tat this means that I’m going to lose the methadone script. That script was hard to get. It might not be much but it is all I’ve got. Bollox, says another part of my mind, IF you get back you can buy what you want. And IF you don’t, then you won’t be needing it anyway, calls out yet another.
With that, the two of them disappear back into the night like the Snow Queen and her dwarvish sleigh driver in Narnia.
So, that’s it, then. I’m finally off.
It is strange, thinks I, as I look back. In the weeks leading up to my decision to go on that run, I was seeing empty suitcases thrown out by people’s front doors, or just lying out on the street as I came walking along. I even commented on this to my dad, telling him that I was being told that I had a journey coming up.
‘You don’t believe that load of old bollox, do you Tel?’ he asked me.
‘Yes, dad’ I replied ‘I do.’
It was like a sign for me. I have since studied hypnotherapy and there is a particular term which describes this phenomenon. Like if you buy a red car, all of a sudden you start seeing red cars wherever you go. Or if you are a burglar, wherever you go you bump into other burglars.
I once did a psychic workshop with a very interesting man called Moshe. Now, he is based in south London, but has a reputation or being a petty good psychic trainer all over the country. On his workshop he taught me a technique called Objective Aura, which is very simple to grasp in principle, but quite complex to actually apply. It entails looking at what is going on around someone and seeing what is there, then interpreting it symbolically. What you see is a representation of events going on in that person’s life. You might see a traffic light, a particular colour, or a word. It might be a place name, or you may even hear a snippet of conversation in which something is said by someone as they pass by. But whatever it is, then that ‘item’ is interpreted to have meaning or significance for you. Taken to an extreme, of course, this technique, like any other, could drive you mad. But used in moderation, over the years, I have found it gives me an ‘edge’ over others in being able to anticipate future events, or ways in which I myself might personally deal with something that is due to happen.
On the Monday morning, at six a.m. there was a knocking on y door. Not even gentle knocking, but hard. Kind of ‘come on you old bastard, let’s be having you’ kind of knock.
I was lying down with Claire at the time, the two of us on a single mattress. In all the time I was with her I only ever fucked her once. It wasn’t that kind of relationship, oddly enough. For a girl that I’d met in King’s Cross, and who regularly went out and pulled punters, sometimes ten, twenty a day, shagging her was not what my ‘thing’ with her was all about. To be honest I don’t even know what it was about. Maybe it will one day make itself evident, but at the time it was almost like two totally different creatures of the forest huddling together for safety under the same tree. At least until the storm was over.
Well, now that day seemed to have arrived.
Hearing the knocks, I jumped up,and went and opened the front door. It was Mons, with a suitcase in one hand. Coming in, she came straight into the back room where me and Claire were staying. Claire by now was waking up, the cigarette lighter still tightly clasped in her hand.
Mons opened the suitcase, and inside were piles of underwear, vests, shirts, trousers, and shoes.
‘Some of these things are for you, the rest is for you to hand over to the man that will come and see you. You are to stay at the Hotel Ocean Spray when you get there. Get a cab from the airport straight there, and pay for the whole week in advance, OK?’
It seemed fair enough to me, although I noted that the detail about all my expenses being paid had already been changed.
I slipped out of my old clothes and into the tourist-looking ones she showed me. The trainers were a size or two too big. But it didn’t matter. It was only to last for as long as the trip took. After that I’d be able to get my own clothes, wouldn’t I? I looked down at the cheap trainers they had bought me. They looked ridiculous, like Charlie Chaplin shoes, way too large for me. Like a complete mug, I remember thinking that this would be the pair of shoes they would hide the cocaine in, hence the extra added space.
The rest of the gear was nondescript. The barest, cheapest bits and bobs attainable form some back-street market stall somewhere in Dalston.
Claire gave me a cuddle, throwing her arms around me, and I stroked her sweet little arse for the very last time. Just then I regretted being such a drug addict, and thus not being able to shag this mad bird senseless when I’d had the chance. Now, it felt like it was ll over. Game over. Try again.
Anyway, like a lamb on its way to the slaughter, I went outside, dragging the suitcase with me. The shoes felt like two boats on the end of my feet. I put the case in the back of a very smart BMW- a grey, seven series.
Inside was an elderly, distinguished-looking man, also black. I had to do a double-take. Fuck me it was Trevor MacDonald. No it wasn’t. It was the gear I was coming down from from the night before. But it was a good likeness, though. He had grey sideburns or streaks in his curly hair, and wore glasses. Mons got in, and handed me my passport back, along with a travel agents’ envelope with a pair of tickets inside. The accompanying letter made reference to two tickets that had been purchased.
‘Oh, so I am going with someone, after all?’, I asked. At that she got nervous.
‘Er, no. That’s a mistake. No, you’re going alone’ she said, taking the letter back briefly to check it. Then she gave it back to me, looking sideways to the Trevor MacDonald.
The car sped up and as we swerved to do a Uey the centrifugal force flung me from one side of the back of the car to the other, and then back again.
The insides of the car felt like they had just the barest hint of an echo. Just then I wondered if we weren’t being bugged, or some radio signal being sent from our vehicle to an outside source. People that have been on crack or speed have a particular sensitivity to this domain. It is all part and parcel of the extremely paranoid state of mind that goes hand in hand with using those sorts of drugs.
I looked at the destination BARBADOS, as the song from the seventies came ringing back into my mind, ‘Hey, we’re going to Barbados, flying with Coconut Airways’.
Just then we pulled out of my street, and I swear I could see Claire and my dad upstairs in his bedroom window looking down, like an old Derby and Joan really. My old man have been raring to hang the flags out, I know that. At last he’d got rid of me.
As we headed off down through the backstreets of Dalston, we suddenly changed course and went through east London, then onto the M25 which joins it at some point further past the big tunnel that sits astride the lead up to Canary Wharf.
This car was really fast. It could get up to what seemed like a massive speed within seconds, and effortlessly. As we moved along Trevor MacDonald spoke into a mobile to an insurance company about the policies they carried on his two other vehicles.
The distance flew by, and we were now drawing up to the entrance to Gatwick.
Mons told me to go inside and get a photo done of myself from one of the machines, and then to come back. She handed me the suitcase, and said for me to check it in, then she would let me have the spending money. I got the photo done- this was apparently so her man at the other end would know my face. Mons said she was going to fax it through to him.
Going into the hubbub of Gatwick terminal was a nightmare. I was still coming down off the stud me and Claire had smoked up the night before. But there was no going back now. I checked the suitcase in, and then tried to find the car. I couldn’t. Jesus, but I hadn’t even had the spends money yet. Where had she gone? I started to panic. I went back into the building to see if I could find her. Just then I saw her cheeky little face come waltzing along, that sexy sweet black lil’ ass of hers swinging as she walked.
She indicated for me to follow her- at a discreet distance- and do I did. Alright, now we were getting places. This was exciting, like we were kids at school playing secret agents.
We went past the Macdonalds that is there on the first floor, and she brought me back downstairs again, and to the car, which was still where it had been before. When you have been smoking crack, it can make you very disorientated, confused, and unable to actually cope with things in life.
I felt relieved to be back in the back of the car.
She handed me an envelope. Inside was five hundred pounds.
‘Your best bet is to change it into dollars’, she said, ‘Out there people will accept Sterling, but dollars is easier to change. It’s two local dollars to one US.’ She added.
‘And be careful who you talk to. The locals out there are very nosey, and if you talk too much they might suss on. Don’t tell them anything about bringing anything back.’
With that, I was out of the car and, with the money in my pocket, queuing up at the Thomas Cook bureau de change to change the money into US, as she had suggested.
In the duty free I was still having problems. I couldn’t work out if it was cheaper for me to buy one large pack of five Golden Virginia tobacco pouches for twenty pounds, or seven for twenty five. I’m not sure if those were the exact figures but you get the idea. My critical and analytical faculties had all been blasted by drug use, and I was only just now beginning to become aware of that fact.
One man – some employee of the airport, or of the duty free shop, even came up to me to ask me if I was alright.
I told him that I was stuck on trying to work out which of the two was cheaper, and invited him to try on my behalf.
He himself wasn’t the world’s greatest maths student, either. He couldn’t. But in hindsight it might have been my mentally-blasted demeanour which was starting to give me away. In all the months I had been with Claire, first in my place and then at my dad’s I had succeeded in smoking about a hundred grand’s worth of stuff, and now that it was wearing off I was beginning to become aware of how it had changed me. Certainly not for the better. People were, I felt, sussing me out. Again, further bad omens.
Going through onto the plane was the worst, though. Standing there in his ultra-clean and smart uniform was some customs robot, the epitome of an Englishman. He was standing there, giving each person that passed by to get onto the plane a sticker on the cover of their passport.You either got a red one or a green one.
‘How long are you going for?’ he asked me.
‘A week’ I said, and at that he stuck a green one on the front of mine. Jesus, I thought, what does that mean? Maybe green meant that I was ‘alright’, and could be allowed to go through. After all, green was for ‘go’, wasn’t it? A red one would have been a lot worse, because that meant ‘stop’- didn’t it?
By now I was beginning to get a bit worried. Fuck me, it was beginning to look as if it was all on top.
On the plane I asked for a drink, indicating that I had money, too, to pay for it. But no-one ever brought me a drink, though. After a while I began to feel the cramps of heroin withdrawal creeping in, and felt the overwhelming need to stretch out by laying on the floor.
One of the airline hostesses came up to me and asked me what was wrong.
I said I was alright, that I just wanted to stretch out my back as I did yoga and found the long flight taxing. The hostess didn’t look too convinced at that and said that if I wanted to stretch out couldn’t I do it across a line of four empty seats that was available in an adjacent row. With a wave of her hand she indicated the empty space. I said that I preferred the floor. It was more ‘yogic’. She said that they had instructions to deal with people that laid on the floor as a medical emergency. Eventually she went away.
The flight was long and boring. I tried to interest myself in the free flight magazines and look at the films that were on. I noticed that both the films they were showing featured Denzel Washington. It seemed logical that flights to a black person’s country should feature films with prominent black people, but I had never thought about it before.
Eventually the huge blue sheet of water underneath the plane turned into a sold island, and outside through the window I could see palm trees rushing up to greet us, as we came into land. Then the palm trees were whizzing past at a terrific speed, and we were taxiing to a stop.
Before we all got off the plane a white man and a white woman- both in some uniform- came waltzing along the two aisles each with a spray thing in their hands. There was a spray being released from these cans as they walked along. This was to stop bugs getting into the plane when the doors opened, they said. I didn’t like the look of that. It was like something out of a futuristic film where they do an experiment on people.
I wondered if I was going to start having breathing problems in the near future. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how a crack smoker can smoke through a hundred grand’s worth of Charlie and heroin, and that’s not going to affect him. But what IS going to affect him is being sprayed by some insecticide spray.
I got off the plane, and immediately the warmth of the day hit me. On the tarmac were rolling jeeps containing big burly members of the Royal Barbadian Police Force. Some of them seemed to be giving me strange glances. Then I remembered I had left my passport on the plane! I raced back across the tarmac, only to be stopped by a very disconcerted air stewardess. I explained to her that I had left my passport and tickets inside the flap on the back of the seat in front of mine. She asked me what was my seat row and number, which I remembered. She went inside, and returned after a few moments with all my stuff.
Handing it to me, she seemed to think I was out of it.
I made my way over to the large warehouse-type building where all the other tourists had gone. When I got inside, I was grateful for the shade, but my legs were beginning to pack up underneath me. They have always been the first thing to go wrong whenever I have done a cold turkey. They just seem to shrink, and become ultra-stiff. Then, bit by bit, the rest of my body tightens, and this goes on for about a month. In the meantime my bowels open up, and I become incontinent. What starts as a fart becomes liquid by the time it makes its way out, and that begins to get smell and nasty.
It is a very anti-social thing to have a withdrawal from heroin.
As I was going through passport control a large black woman asked me wher I was going to be staying.
‘The Ocean Spray’ I told her, and her face gave away the fact that this was obviously a highly notorious place on the island. It was as if my words had touched a nerve in her. She just stamped my passport, and I was through. Coming out of the terminal building was like walking from an air-conditioned refrigerator back into an oven. Outside there were people waiting for family or friends, and I made my way over to where taxi driver was just about to get back into his car.
‘Taxi?’ I asked him.
He nodded, and asked me where I wanted to go.
I told him I wanted to get to the Ocean Spray Hotel. I think I even had then address written down as well, which I would have handed to him.
‘How much?’ I asked,
‘Twenty dollars’ he answered, adding ‘US’ after a moment.
From the name of it you might have thought the Ocean Spray was a magnificent place. I know I did. Although not a flea pit, it was quite far out from anything going on in the more built-up areas of Barbados. This is probably why the smugglers liked to use it. It was a good walk from the nearest rum shop, also the small supermarket which stood next to it, in a residential area of bungalows outside Oistins, a small fishing town in the south part of the island, and on the coast.
The taxi pulled up, and deposited me outside the reception area. I walked in and was met by a rather attractive Indian lady, who gave me her card. I said I wanted to book a room for a week, and she told me that for the week that would be sixty local dollars a day, some two hundred US for the week. I paid her, and she showed me to a ground level room accessible from the gardens in the front. Right outside the room, which had a compartmentalized living, kitchen and bathing area, was a great view of the sea, and you could plainly hear the sound of the surf washing in and over the beach outside. At first it was very relaxing, but as the days wore on it began to get incredibly frustrating, like having one of those nature CDs on but finding yourself unable to stop it.
The more my cold turkey kicked in, the more annoying became the bloody sound of that surf, wish, wash, whoosh. In the end I had to catch myself from opening the window to shout out for it to fucking well shut up, before it dawned on me that I was going off my nut.
Inside the room was very plain, and I bunged the suitcase to the side of the table.
I didn’t even bother unpacking. Bollox to all that.
I went out and made my way up what seemed like the Mother of All Hills to where I had spotted a rum shop on the taxi ride down here.
As I went in, I spotted a couple of likely-looking lads sitting outside, cheekily grinning as I came along, showing the perfection of their pearly white teeth. One of them had a red bandana on. I asked him if he wanted a beer, and we both had a Banks. Behind the counter was a barman the size of an average bell tent. His name was Paris, and his brother was even huger. The bar was a really simple affair, with an electric refrigerator right under the counter where the beer was kept, only one brand, the local brand, Banks.
On an adjacent table a local lady was playing an involved game of cards with a couple of elderly gentlemen, and clearly beating the fuck out of them. The money that they put on the table only seemed to flow in one direction, and that was towards her. She was a cool, efficient killing machine, She gave me a brief glance, and could immediately tell all kinds of things about me that told me I would be a waste of time. I thanked god she wasn’t going around selling life insurance.
The young lad I had sequestered was now pulling out a library card. No, it was a card from his employers, a chicken-farm round the corner where he had a part-time job. This card meant something, I could tell, and his showing it to me meant that in telling me his name- Kehn Daniels- he was reassuring me that he meant no harm. Obviously some sort of local greeting, or at least an archetypal one.
We knocked back the beers and I asked him if there was anything to smoke.
He said only the green stuff man. I said balls to that, where was the white stuff. I wanted the real thing, not to be pissed about by some pussy-hole t’ing, you rasole.
At first he was reluctant to get me linked with any of the local crack, but after a few seconds’ worth of pressurizing he relented, and took me along several long quiet side streets, with bungalows lined along both sides. The houses were quaint, actually attractive in their own, local- character kind of way. Each looked as though it had been individually built, and to no one specific plan. Each had been made up individually, each by a different builder. Almost as if each house had just simply grown there, on its own patch.
Then we were going into a house which, he told me, was where he stayed. It was small, but really nice. In the room which he called the galley was a table with what looked like voodoo markings on it, some stenciled pattern of curves and spirals. There were a few seats dotted around, and rough planks formed the floor. Inside I met his cousin, who produced from inside a white handkerchief a set of pearly-white stones. They were each pure white, unlike the yellowish ones we used to get back in London town. There has always been a great divide within the crack-smoking fraternity over whether the white or the yellow is superior in quality. As for myself, I don’t know. I just used to blast away.
After agreeing what I even then knew was a cunt for a price for these stones I was off, and Kehn was with me. On the way back to my room we stopped to pick up a small brandy bottle, which we knocked back, and began to prepare for the smoking.
There is a particular brand of brandy bottle which the crack smokers prefer, because the bottom can easily be knocked out with a nail, and it turned into a crack pipe. For this to happen, a metal wire must be compressed together to act as the filter, and then this is pushed tightly into the stem. The piece of crack then to be smoked is put upright on the very tip, and a flame- preferably from a bic lighter- is then taken to it. The piece of crack begins to melt straight down onto the wire, whereupon the smoker then pulls with his indrawing breath from the other, i.e. bottom side of the pipe. The smoke is thick and black as it moves visibly through the chamber, and enters the lungs of the smoker.
It goes from there to the heart, and from there to the head, and creates the most powerful rush of pleasure man has ever been known to experience. They say that the first rush of coke is your best. For me, it was almost religious, with a massive kick of sexuality and the feeling of having just won the lottery at the same time.
Unfortunately these little few stones ran out, just as the party had gone and gotten itself started. Kehn had a good blast, too, and was licking his lips now I preparation for his next, but unfortunately the larder was now dry.
Only it wasn’t. I still had a fucking great pile of fucking money on me, didn’t I ?
I peeld out another twenty.
‘What could we get for that, Kehn?’ I asked, holding it out under his face. Automatically his had reached out and took it back. Moments later he was off out the door, on his way to ‘Silver Sands’ where the dealer was, and we could get a better deal.
Or so he said.
He wasn’t gone long. Even while he was gone at least the withdrawal symptoms had receeded. There are two camps of junkies on this one- two schools of thought. One is that coke helps you get through the worst of the symptoms- the other is that the come down from the coke actually makes them worse. In fact, there is truth in both camps. But I was clucking, and I knew there wasn’t any H to be had for love or money. The only thing I could do was to hit the crack, and hope that I would have gotten through the worst of the cluck before the money ran out. Which is almost what happened. Certainly I was able to get though a lot of it before it ran out, so I have a lot to be grateful for.