[From the end of part 1] We weren't talking long before I asked him if he knew anywhere I could score. My benzo supply was running low and I knew if I didn't get something soon, I would start to feel the pain again. The flashbacks would come back with a vengeance...
A new addiction
So I moved from the table where I was sitting alone, across to where he was finishing his beer, and offered to shout him another one while he thought about my proposition.
How do you size up a fellow drug taker? A person that you know would be ok to ask such a question. I mean the kind of drugs I was looking for are illegal and although Australians are apparently the biggest illicit drug takers in the world, not everyone is getting on it. This guy could have been a cop for all I knew! I've asked dozens of people over my time if they know how I can hook up. It is a risky business but I've never got in trouble. Maybe I've just been lucky, or not, depending on which way you look at it I suppose. Maybe there is a look to a person that screams drug user, fellow lover of the high life. I don't know. Either way, I picked it because he said he did know a few people and he'd see what he could do to help me out.
As I sat opposite this stranger at a cheap stainless steel table out the front of the pub, I peered over my beer and took him in: He was rough looking, in that tradie hard worker sort of way. About 6 feet tall with an athletic build. Arms covered in old tatts and scars were wiry and muscular. His long beak-like nose had obviously been broken a few times and I noticed his hands were rough as old sandstone. His knuckles were bulbous and had clearly come to blows over the years - through work or violence - I couldn't tell. His thick hair was short and a sort of browny blonde. I bet it would curl if he allowed it to grow.
It was his eyes that took me in. Piercing blue eyes that looked directly into mine, past the broken soul, and saw me for what I was. Just a woman. No story. No baggage. No hurt. Just me. We drank and we talked. I don't remember exactly what about. I don't remember having any reservations about him, or any concern for myself for sitting there talking to a complete stranger. But I'd lost all concern for myself a long time ago.
Writing this now, I remember he said I had a nice smile. He was charming like that. Always so charming. So confident and cocky. He knew how to make me feel good, when I felt so bad, so alone. My weight had ballooned out to 95kg while I was in hospital and my hair was still short. I thought I was ugly but he made me feel beautiful.
It wasn't long before we were hunting down dealers at other pubs in the area. And this is when things get a little confusing in my memory. I think we may have scored some ecstasy and some acid. I remember drinking all night. And smoking. Ugh! I was smoking well on nearly two packs of menthols a day at the time.
By then I was living in a newly developed boarding house in the inner west. It was full of students mainly but some older singles and even some families in one room. It was massive, over two floors, I think, with maybe 20 rooms to a floor but only had one kitchen, one laundry and separate shower rooms for men and women. There were a couple of extra unisex toilet rooms on each floor which were always dirty. You had to bring your own dunny paper. It was disgusting.
In my room I had a double bed, a mini bar fridge full of Goon (aka cheap cask wine), some space for clothes and a TV. It was late February when I moved in, I think. And it was hot. Air couldn't move through the rooms through the tiny windows so they were stiflingly overheated. The rent was ridiculous for what it was but when I took it it was because I didn't want to go interviewing for share house accommodation. I didn't think I wanted anyone in my life let alone have anyone see too closely how I was living.
Nothing happened the first night were together. Nothing sexual anyway. We were too wasted. It was maybe on the second or third night that we became intimate. He just kept hanging around. I remember thinking I wanted him to go. Go back to his life, but he latched on. Except for the occasional trip home for clean clothes or to go use a public telephone. That is when I found out he had kids, a family.
Just like with alcohol when you're on lots of stimulants like Es or speed or trips they make you talk. We must have talked and talked. It would have been the first three weeks of March 2008 that we hung out - mostly at my place but sometimes at his share house in the next suburb. We just talked and shagged and got high. It was so fun, so intimate, so completely and utterly separate from my life and my problems. From my family and friends. From reality.
But even then, as out of it as I was, I knew I would have to get sober and go back to my job that was waiting for me.
After ringing around for weeks I finally got into another psychiatric facility. One which was a proper rehab (unlike the one I went to and scored a benzo addiction at) that made you go to AA meetings and lectured you hard on what your choices as a drug or alcohol abuser were: End up on the street, in jail or in a coffin.
I said goodbye to the man who was to become my son's father and told him I'd see him when I got out.
I knew from the few weeks we'd spent together that he was an alcoholic and a chronic pot smoker. Had been all his life and was unlikely to change any time soon, despite promises of joining me on the wagon. I knew he had a family that had left him because he had done something bad but I didn't know what. I knew he was bad news for me. Deep down I knew that if I was to take my getting sober seriously I should walk away from this person and never see him again. I had the perfect opportunity to do that: I had the safe haven of rehab. If you've got good health insurance and you're fucked up enough they let you stay for ages as long as you abide by the rules.
Plus I had a job, a so called life, I was supposed to be going back to. A corporate job. In an office in the city. With banker wankers and girls in tight skirts. Friday drinks and long lunches. Expectations and key performance indicators and responsibilities and 8.30am starts. My old life. The life I was so afraid of returning to. Still am afraid of returning to.
But he made feel good. When I felt so bad. He made me feel desirable, loveable, needed, wanted, powerful. In my fucked up, topsy turvy world he became the one.
On that sunny morning at the pub when I first met this man and enquired about drugs I had no idea that he would become the drug that I would acquire an addiction for to keep the painful memories and flashbacks at bay.
That is enough for now. I'm exhausted.
More to follow.
Part 1: The dad question
Part 3: The dad question