Usually a Combination of the Four…
Joe S. Thomas
I had taken the last of the pain pills that I had bought off a friend. I had to get away from everyone and everything if this was going to work. Just the heat of the day and knowing sickness was just around the corner made a cold sweat drip down the small of my back even though the huge, southern Tennessee, summer sun was making it 94 degrees outside. I had drove my car downtown and got a motel room for the week. I knew I would be in no shape to be around another human being. I had to pawn my Gibson Les Paul to be able to afford the room, gas and food for the week. That alone was making me sick. After securing the money and kissing my guitar goodbye I found the cheapest place I could find without chalk outlines of bodies in the parking lot. I went to my room feeling buzzed from the pills and put my things down. I cranked up the shitty air conditioner as high as it would go. The room smelled of stale cigarettes and some sort of sickening incense. I decided I would take a walk across the bridge to try and get some sort of game plan of how I was going to get sober. I was truly sick and tired of jumping through the methadone clinic hoops and giving them all my money just to be treated like garbage and less than human. A man can only take so much. The heat was brutal as I walked across the bridge. As much as I needed an answer on how to get sober, I could think of nothing but getting dope to cure the glorious sickness headed my way. I knew a few people that were more than likely holding that were within walking distance of where I was. I decided to put off sobriety for another day. I couldn’t handle this. I headed toward a bar I knew that a friend of mine worked at. Stepping around the corner of the bar I saw my friend Honor’s car. I said a silent thank you to the voices in my head and opened the front door of the bar. I immediately felt a wave of cold air that sent a shiver through my body. I walked in and the song If You Want Blood (You Got It) was blaring out of the jukebox. Honor looked up and saw me. She threw up the evil, rock-n-roll devil horns and gave me a huge cheesy smile. She pointed to a booth where we both plopped down. I didn’t tell her about my sobriety plan or that I had rented a room downtown to try and kick in. I could tell by her pleasant demeanor that she was on and holding some sort of drug. She always wore it on her face since the first time I ever met her. I told her I’d taken my last bit of medication hours ago and asked her if she knew where to get anything. She ended up having some Dilaudid and some Xanax. I told her I would buy as much as she could afford to get rid of. She got up from the booth and disappeared for a few minutes somewhere back behind the bar. I remained seated at my booth smiling to myself at the good fortune of having a princess like Honor come through in the clutch. She eventually came back around the corner smiling. I’m pretty sure she was aware that I’d always liked her a lot since I’d met her 5 years previous. She had a brain, a body and a sense of humor and knew how to use each of them to her advantage and to some poor unsuspecting college boy’s demise. I’d seen it happen with my own eyes. Beautiful. She slid back into the booth and handed me a pack of Marlboro Lights. She told me she put 10 Dilaudid and 8 Xanax in the pack. I considered her hazel eyes and gave her a sad smile. She asked what I was doing after I left her fine establishment. I told her about my plan and the motel room and all. She said, “Oh awesome, I want to come by! I get off in 2 hours!” I told her I wasn’t sure I was up for company this evening. “I’ll tell you what sweetie” she said, “I’ll bring a surprise I’m sure you won’t turn down and you can have what’s in the cigarette pack. I’ve really missed talking to you.” How could I turn that down? Her beautiful, long, blondish-brown hair cascaded down her shoulder as she gave me a beautiful smile I simply couldn’t turn down regardless of my half-cocked sobriety plan. I told Honor she had a date and got up from the booth to leave. I had put 2 and 2 of the pills in my mouth as I stood. Honor shook her head and handed me the water bottle she’d been sipping on. I told her thanks as I turned the water bottle up, greedily trying to gulp enough water to quickly dissolve the pills I’d just taken. She walked over to me and gave me a solemn hug. She looked up and said, “It really is great to see you.” I told her thanks and kissed her forehead. I told her I would see her in the room in a couple of hours. I left the bar with a bit more pep in my step since I was set for the night as far as my dope situation was concerned. I also couldn’t help but be excited at the fact that a beautiful lady who I’d admired since high school was coming to my room. There are 4 things people tend to do in motel rooms. They either fuck, drug, sleep or die. Usually a combination of these. I knew Honor dabbled in just about everything I could think of but she wasn’t what I’d call a junkie. She was more of a social user with great connections. As I started my hot trek back across the bridge I started thinking about the first time I’d met Honor. We knew of each other in our last year of high school but we accidentally met again when we were both going to college and neither of us knew life got so fucking hard: My band had played a show at a club that was near the college we both attended and she was there. I remember clearly. Our singer has a good- sized beer gut and takes his shirt off as we play. That night, Honor had on cut off blue jeans, a red “Thrasher” shirt and some green Dr. Martens. I would say that was normal attire but the way she looked and the way she swayed to our songs made me very interested as I caught her smiling from behind my drum kit. The rest of my night was shot. She was all I watched and all I was interested in. Her hips and her long hair were two things that had me entranced. During the set, she was standing up front near our singer and it was during one of our rowdier tunes so she just starts rubbing my singer’s stomach as he hopped and hooted around. It was terrific. I loved it. I gave her a smile from behind the kit and she smiled back as she danced along. At the end of the show I went over to the bar to get a beer and to ask the bartender about this girl. I grabbed my PBR from Alex and asked him if he knew who the girl was. He pointed over to a group of stereotypical college jocks and their women that were really snooty looking and kind of out of their element in this place. Alex said “She came with them man. I see her in here sometimes during the week but she’s always alone and she’s always studying. I heard someone call her Honor I believe.” I told Alex he was more than a prince of a guy as I went over to my drum set. I took a long, satisfying slug from my beer. I had pulled a pill out of my pocket and put it in my mouth without looking around or caring much. Most of the folks there were doing some sort of drug. “Heeeyy! I saw that!” I turned around and to my shock and surprise the girl was there. “Do ya have one for me sweetie?” I smiled and placed a pill in her outstretched palm. Just as she swallowed her group of pals came calling. “Honor, this place is creepy. Let’s go.” “I’m going to stay and talk to…” “Joe,” I said. “Joe” she said, smiling at me. She told them she would walk back to her place when she was ready. It was only a few blocks. One of the jock fellas looked me from head to toe and back again as if he was some badass or maybe he was just trying to impress Honor. The guy said “Are you sure you wanna stay around here with these fucking freaks and goddamn drunken weirdos Honor? Why don’t you come with us, there’s a sports bar, chicken wing place we’re going to hit up?” “Thanks Rick. I’m going to stay here and chat with my friend Joe. I’m having a really good time. You guys go ahead. I’ll catch up with you guys tomorrow sometime.” Rick, with eyeballs full of ignorance and shame looked at me and shook his head. I told Rick it was truly great making his acquaintance as he turned on his heel, gathered his flock and fucked off. “Wow, some deep and intriguing company you keep Ms.…” I said. “Honor,” she said. “That’s a truly beautiful name Honor,” I said. She smiled and batted her eyelashes at me and from then on, I knew I had this girl as mine that night. Honor and I stayed at the club and played Dead Boys and Stooges songs as we traded a few pills and had more than a few drinks. She and I seemed to have the same punk and rock-n-roll heroes as we talked through the night. Before we knew it, it was 3:00 a.m. and Alex was yelling last call and ringing the huge bell posted on the bar for such occasions. “Where are you guys staying tonight?” she asked. “I believe we are staying with a friend of Tom’s. A guy named Ian I believe.” “Well, if you’d like you can tell the guys to meet you here around noon tomorrow and you can come to my place. I have my own dorm to myself. The school faculty here in the bible belt seems to think I’m just that special.” “Well cool, let me go tell at least one of the guys so they don’t fucking leave me.” I walked over to Tom, told him I’d “pulled one” which was our sophomoric way of saying we had an interested lady and told him to stop here tomorrow to pick me up. He clapped me on the shoulder and told me good job as Honor gave him a quick wave from the bar. I grabbed my back pack that had all my drugs, cash and other personal items out of the van as she followed. We walked two blocks west and sure enough she whips out a key to a cinder block dorm room and opened the door.
That was the first time I ever met Honor. We’ve been friends for damn near 6 years. My band has stopped touring for right now but we still play. It’s great to meet people who like your music and you end up being good friends. That’s Honor and me. Honor is a nice girl who has come through for me many times. I try to help her as well. Had I told her my plan was to kick, she would never have done what she did and she wouldn’t have wanted to come by tonight. What’s done is done, I think to myself as I slide the key into my motel room door. The room is now frigid as I laid down to contemplate my actions. I must have dozed off. I awoke to someone knocking on the door. The only person that knew where I was at all was Honor. I grabbed the .38 I always keep in my bag as I looked at the clock which read 11:38. Shit, I slept for four damn hours… “HELLO! hang on a minute…” I opened the door slowly with the chain lock still hooked to find Honor with a 12 pack of Corona and a fifth of Jack Daniels. She also wore a backpack and a smile that said, we are going to fucking rock tonight. Honor walked through the motel door but never took her eyes from me. “Are you fucked up that bad already, or are you asleep?” she asked. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to, but I fell asleep for four fucking hours!” Honor put the beer, liquor and her back pack on the table that sat in front of the window and pulled the blinds closed. She was messing around in her bag while simultaneously telling me how I probably needed that four hours of rest. I agreed as she started walking toward me holding an orange prescription bottle, shaking it tantalizingly. “Oh, my best friend in the world,” I said as I took the bottle from her hand realizing it was filled to the top with 30 mg Oxycontin. She smiled big and said, “For you.” I told her how much money that bottle was probably worth, as if she didn’t know, and she pushed my hand back towards my body as I tried to hand them back to her. She told me she could tell I was having a really hard time. “You looked like you were a step away from death when you came into the bar,” she said. “Yeah, it’s been better” I said as I was realizing my plan to kick wasn’t going to happen any time soon. Fuck! Would it ever happen? All I had to do was be honest with Honor and she would have taken those pills back, grabbed every intoxicant in the place and left with no judgement toward me at all. Of course, I had already popped two of the 30’s and was crunching a third to powder so I could snort it. Self- control was not an option. As Honor and I started getting buzzed I could tell she was getting somewhat morose and quiet which was unlike the Honor I knew. I grabbed her hand after she sat back down beside me on the bed after she got a fresh beer. “What’s wrong with ya dear?” I asked. I lifted her hand to my lips and lightly brushed it against them. She gave me a weak smile as if her mind were a million miles from where we were and said, “You’re a sweetheart.” After a few beers, another snorted pill for each of us, and the joint we were sharing, we started to really loosen up and stopped being so shy around one another. “So, what’s in the bag dear?” I asked as Honor reached over and grabbed he back pack. “Oh, just some necessities I keep around now.” “You got any coke or decent speed in there anywhere by any chance?” I asked. “You know I rarely leave home without my blow sweetheart.” She grabbed what looked to be an 8-ball and a couple of grams separately packaged of fine white powder. Honor always did seem to have the best coke hook-up. Rich, frat boys spent quite a bit of Daddy’s money on it and her when she would get low. They had no clue their fathers were paying her rent as she took care of their physical needs from time to time. After handing me one of the grams to prepare for the two of us, Honor balled something in her fist and said she needed to use the restroom. “I’ll have this bag in rails in no time dear” I said as she winked at me and closed the bathroom door. I cut out a fat line for myself to try and get back to the oblivion I was working on before the sleep overtook me. Right as I did the line I knew it was great shit. My feet started playing the drums to the 100mph beat of my heart that was pushing pure euphoria through my brain and veins. I was on top of the world and the thoughts of getting straight had completely disappeared hours ago. I smiled despite myself and said “fuck…” as I grimaced at the mirror in front of me. I got up and grabbed one of the beers Honor had brought in and put on ice. I went back to the bed and tried to find something on the idiot box. I sat and changed channels for a while before I realized that Honor should have been back by now unless she was sick or something. I walked to the bathroom door and tapped lightly and to no response. “Honor,” I called. Nothing but silence. I started getting creeped out and paranoid with the coke running strong through me. “Honor!” I yelled. “I’m kicking the door in Honor, are you alright?” Nothing. I took two steps away from the door and put all my power into my size 10.5 Dr. Marten’s combat boot and let it rip toward the door. It wasn’t until after the chaos of me kicking in the door to find Honor slumping off the toilet with a syringe still in her arm that I noticed she was turning blue and I couldn’t feel her pulse. This was the first time of ever dealing with an overdose by myself. I quickly cut on the coldest water possible in the shower, scooped Honor up, and placed her in the tub. As the water hit her face, I heard her gasp a huge breath of air. “That’s what I needed” she mumbled. After making sure she was alert and in no further harm I walked back into the bedroom and did a huge line of the cocaine up each nostril. I then sat and waited for Honor to come give me the explanation of how she was now a full- fledged needle using, habit having, junkie. I was pissed at the drug, not at her… As she turned the corner coming from the bathroom, she still looked like the walking dead. She slowly shuffled over to the cocaine and zipped a line up each nostril. “For fucks sake Honor, are you trying to fucking die tonight?” I angrily rasped. “No sweetheart,” she said and looked at me with eyes full of fear and pain. I walked over and grabbed her backpack. She was coming around from the shot of heroin due to the coke she snorted. She was still moving slowly. “How long have you had a real problem Honor? I want to know. I’m not judging you. We both know the pills I take are just another form of what you are firing up. I just didn’t know you had graduated to the needle.” I kept running my mouth and talking way too much from the coke. I zipped up another line. “Whoo! Damn! That shit killed Elvis!” I said. Honor finally saw that I was over the shock of it all and came over to sit beside me. I handed her the backpack. She knew I would never roam through her pack. “Are you mad at me?” she asked. “No dear, I was fucking scared to death. I don’t want to see someone I love and care for die in front of me. That’s the absolute worst thing I could think of to have happen to you Honor.” “I thought maybe you’d just want to skip the pills and do this with me,” she said. “You want me to shoot up black tar heroin with you? Honor, I have never used a spike. I made a promise that I would never use one and I intend to keep it, dear. I will smoke a bit or snort some with you.” The fact that this woman was dead 30 minutes ago no longer registered with us. We had plenty of drugs and we knew we wouldn’t stop until they were gone. We were high as hell and loving it. Honor put a bit of the heroin in her pipe and told me to smoke it. As I hit the pipe I felt my body relax a bit and I just felt happy. I still had tons of energy from the cocaine and Honor had just hit another line of it as well. As she looked up from snorting, she had me in a stare that said you may not recover from what we’re about to do sweetheart! She took long strides toward me and unzipped the mini skirt she was wearing and allowed it to just slide down to her feet. She pulled off her t shirt as she collided with me and we fell together onto the bed. Neither of us said a word as she tore at my shirt and I clawed to get out of my shorts. We were like animals. The chemicals pumping through our bodies were making this the best it could possibly be. As she was about to come Honor pulled me closely to her and whimpered “I love you” as we finished together and collapsed in a heap for a moment. It wasn’t long until we were back to the cocaine. I noticed she was not trying to hide her needle usage from me anymore. She pulled her works from her backpack and began the ritual. She took out her syringe, a spoon, a bottled water, and a cigarette. She put a bit of bottled water in the spoon, tore off a black chunk of the heroin, placed it into the water and turned it to a liquid with her lighter. She tore the end from her cigarette, took the paper from the butt, placed the butt into the liquid and drew the substance up through the cotton and into the needle. She starts smacking at her arms trying to find a good vein as I pace around the room wired to the hilt, but happy and smooth. She finally registers and draws back a bit on the needle to see the blood just start to mix with the potion and then with slight force from her thumb, she slams her way to heaven. “Did you hear what I said as we came?” she asked sleepily. “Yes, I did Honor and you know I’ve always loved you but right now is the most fucked up time to ever say it.” She looked like I hurt her feelings with my jabber and then she realized I told her that I’d always loved her too. She gave a weak smile and placed her hand on top of mine. “I’m so glad you and I are together right now Joe. There’s nowhere I’d rather be. I was so glad to see your face when you walked into that bar. You have no idea. Since you left town on the last tour you guys did, I picked up a habit by hanging around the wrong people for too long.” She looked at me sadly, and a tear rolled down her cheek. She said, “you know, the good people in this town would absolutely die if they knew everyone in this town dealing in the sex and drug game. It would ruin so many families and lives.” I plucked her on the chin and said, “Buck up my dear, you are with me tonight and that is all you need to concern yourself with.” She smiled and sat back into her pillow as I got up for a piss and a beer. I did a few lines and tried having a conversation with Honor but she just held a sad stare and said nothing as I continued talking even if only to myself. The next time I looked over at Honor, she was starting to nod from the dope. She was only doing the heroin now. I stuck with the coke. I hopped up and fixed the covers to where she looked most comfortable and asked if she was hitting the sack for the evening. “I’m sorry sweetheart, I know you want to talk but I feel so good right now that words can only ruin it.” I kissed her on the forehead as her chin slumped down to her chest. “I hear you dear. You enjoy your blissful silence. You deserve it.” Fuck! How did I get into this? I was going to try and kick all this shit once and for all. I’m so sick and tired of waking up to immediately start looking for what is going to help me get through the day. If I find none, I am sick, depressed and evil. I’m so sick of this! Now Honor has caught a bad habit apparently. I cannot sit here and watch her kill herself. That’s not the relationship I see myself in. She said she loved me… At one time, I would have swept her up and married her had she spoke those words to me. Hell, I can’t even take care of myself, much less her. These thoughts kept hammering my mind as the cocaine made me soar. I did laps around the room finishing off the beer but not wanting any of the whiskey. The thought made me shiver. After hours of pacing and occasionally looking over at Honor, I decided to walk to the 24hour convenience store down on the corner to get some fruit juice for us. I was thirsty as hell and I knew Honor would be when she woke as well. Besides, I was high as fuck and really felt like a change of scenery if only for 10 or 15 minutes. I looked over at Honor, grabbed the electronic key from its sleeve, put it in my pocket and gently slid out the door. I looked at my watch and it read 4:50 am. The sun starts coming up at about 5:30 am or so. I continued down the steps and on toward the store but something gave me strange feeling. I got to the store and took a few deep breaths to try and maintain in front of this elderly clerk who by no means should be working any third shift job. I shook my head as I entered the store. “How are we tonight sir?” the lady asked as I averted my eyes away from her and in a quick clip said, “Fine,” but it came out all weird and high pitched due to not having spoken in about 3 hours. I just shook my head and made it back to the huge, cool, bright as hell, glass doors that held every beverage known to mankind. I grabbed two orange juices and I got myself a root beer as well. Walking back toward the woman I noticed there were items all over the floor that looked as though they had just been knocked off. Purposely. I had my cap pulled down to sort of hide the wild, cocaine eyes I had blaring so I wouldn’t scare the hell out of this poor little lady. I got to the counter and laid the drinks down preparing to speak to this kind old gal. As I looked up, I noticed she had a busted lip that was bleeding more than you care to see a poor old woman bleed. “My goodness ma’am, did you know your lip is bleeding? I asked. “Sure did son, I was the one they popped.” She said as she winked at me and gave a slight smile. I started to get righteously angry and with the coke still flowing I probably yelled as I asked who had done this to her. “Two old, scraggly, white men. Looked like they hadn’t bathed in a month.” “When did this happen?” I asked as I walked to the door to have a quick peek. “About 5 minutes before you came across the street. You may have saved me. They saw you coming this way from the hotel and as you were crossing the street, one of them started tearing all that stuff off the shelves. As they turned to go out, the one that messed up the shelves hit me in the mouth like I was a man.” She grimaced. “Are you alright? I can’t believe anyone in the world would do something like this to a kind lady like you.” “Yeah, them boys were probably high on the dope, they didn’t seem right at all. I hear that dope just takes hold of you after a while and makes you damn near a monster” she said, shaking her head. That last statement made me feel about as hollow and worthless as I had felt in a while. “Did you call the police?” I asked. “No,” she said. “They didn’t get any money. Sherriff Denton probably wouldn’t come to this side of the tracks anyhow.” “Are you alright? Do you need me to take you to the hospital to get checked out just in case?” I asked, praying to myself she would say no because I would have to try to waken Honor which would be hell, but then I would have to ask to borrow her car running wild -eyed and crazy ripped on cocaine. “No honey” she said with a little smile. “My old husband, the dead bastard, used to give me a lot worse most nights” she said. I walked over to this sweetheart of a woman and gave her a hug. “Are you sure there isn’t anything at all I can do before I go?” I said. “You can be careful son. Those men had pure evil in their eyes.” I gave her a fresh Kleenex and told her to call the cops regardless if she saw them again. She promised she would so I stepped back into the morning, just before the sun started to make itself known. Walking back, I couldn’t help but see that poor woman’s face and know that there were some horrible damn people in this world. I also thought about how badly I wished I wouldn’t have taken Honor up on these drugs and how I wished I was in our hotel room kicking this shit instead of prolonging my self-hatred and abuse. I never knew a person could feel depressed while wired on cocaine. I kept telling myself on the walk back that after this binge I am done with everything but pot. I started fantasizing about a life where Honor and I could be together, possibly marry after we had some sobriety under our belts if she were willing. I tried to put the thought of two psychopaths wandering the very street I am walking on out of my mind, but that same strange intuition I felt on the way to the store was now making the small hairs on my neck stand on end, out of habit I reached for the .38 that accompanies me everywhere except to situations where I could really use it. The closer I got to the hotel I could sense that I was being watched. My plan was to coolly search the area but act like I was oblivious to any danger. I did just that and as I turned to go up the first flight of stairs, I quickly turned the corner and ran nose first into the smelliest thing I have ever encountered. My heart was beating faster than a snare drum when I slowly pushed myself off this man and realize he is covered in blood and now I am as well. “Shit!” said his partner, coming from somewhere, I didn’t see where, but his hands were covered in blood too. “Come on man” the guy with bloody hands quickly said to stinky. I was damn thankful that was all that happened, though the blood was truly tripping me out to the point that even I wanted to call the cops. I just wanted to get back to our room and tell Honor what the hell just happened if she was awake. As I got closer to the room, I noticed the door was ajar and the television glow was shining out onto the balcony. I slowly pushed our door open and Honor was in the same position that I’d left her in before going to get our juice from the store. I walked in seeing that no one was in the room and it looked to me like nothing much had changed, but honestly, I hadn’t paid that much attention to detail. I went to the restroom to take a piss. As I considered the Mirror while washing my hands I saw just how much blood stained me. That guy must have rolled around in a slaughter house floor. In the distance outside I heard sirens about a mile or so away. I decided I should wake Honor just in case. I did the 4 lines that were left on the table as the sirens seemed to be getting closer. I hoped like hell the cops had a tip off on these two psycho, grandma beaters. I turned around to face Honor for the first time in a bit to notice her chin was still on her chest and she had pulled the covers up almost over her head. I grabbed the blankets and said “Wake it up dear, this may be serious, thinking she would get it together quicker if she thought something was about to go down. I quickly jerked the cover from Honor’s whole body revealing a pool of blood around her abdomen. I went into panic mode as it seemed the sirens were in the parking lot of the hotel. Suddenly, I lost the ability to hear. I walked over to Honor not believing my eyes and attempted to get her to look at me. As I nudged her chin up I could see that those two had slit her fucking throat. None of the drugs or cash was missing. Those guys could not have helped but to see the mound of coke I had laid out on the table. As my hearing came back I was in a heavy daze. I was so hurt. The girl I wanted to straighten out with and then ask her to marry was now a lifeless body with blood leaking from her stomach wound and started to pool in the floor. At that moment, I had a mental lapse. It sounded as if someone was knocking on the hotel door. I put my whole face down into the huge pile of coke and took the deepest breath I had ever sucked in. The door flew open with a loud crash just as I stood up from burying my face. It was a cop with his gun trained at the center of my chest. His mouth was moving and his face was beet red as if he were yelling at the top of his lungs. I saw the bag that my gun was in about a foot from my leg. I looked the cop straight in his eyes. He looked in mine, apparently still yelling. It was as if he and I both knew what was going to happen next. Just as I made a quick movement to my left, a gunshot rang out and restored my hearing for a moment. I was so high I didn’t realize blood was gushing from a hole about three inches under my heart. Suddenly I dropped to my knees and bent over to close Honor’s eye lids and to tell her I would see her in a minute. As I took my last breath there was an ironic smile on my face and the last thought that ran through my mind was, I just wanted to get sober… The clerk from the store walked over to the hotel with a cup of coffee for the cop and to see if she could help. She poked her head through the hotel door, wiped her lip as she shook her head and asked, “We got us another one Sherriff?”