We were well into our giant bender when Scott finally woke up. I had checked on him numerous times throughout the night to make sure that we weren’t being too loud, but each time he was fast asleep. Once I heard him murmur in his sleep. I hoped the sound meant he was having a good dream, but hope turned into despair as the murmur turned into another groan of pain escaping Scott’s lips while he slept. How can one dream of good things during these times?
“Make sure you’re being careful,” Scott said to me once he was awake. I didn’t need to tell him what we were up too downstairs. He just knew the answer and looked at me with big, soft eyes.
“I am.” I said, sitting on the end of his bed. I could hear Brendan and Ben laughing loudly downstairs.
“I think I’m going to start trying to go up and down the stairs soon.” Scott said hopefully with a twinkle in his eye.
Through my drugged state I managed to give a warm smile, “That’s awesome.”
Scott smiled back and we sat and didn’t talk, instead we listened to the mumbled conversation downstairs.
Suddenly I found myself singing softly under my breath, “It’s not easy being green, it seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.”
Scott looked at me with surprise, “That’s Kermit the Frog, right?”
“Yeah. I don’t know why but it’s stuck in my head. I think I heard it on a commercial or something.”
Scott sang softly as well, “I am green and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful! And I think it’s what I want to be.”
Downstairs; Brendan, Chris, Jay and Ben had started smoking a new bag of crystal. Ben had just been passed the pipe by Brendan and had started smoking it. I sat across from Jay, who was staring at me weirdly once again. All night Jay had been staring at me, and when I would notice he would let out a cheeky grin and look away. There seemed to be some animosity between the ‘threesome’ of boys… their three-way relationship was on the rocks, the magnitude of problems rising from Chris and Ben; Ben’s love for Chris was waning while Chris’s jealousy of Ben and Jay was growing. It was like watching the slow tick tick tick of a bomb about to go off. Random stares and mean-hearted glances were thrown between the three all night.
We didn’t do much the first night, nor the second. We smoked lots of meth and played games. Chris made lots of off-hand jokes about body temperature that I didn’t understand, Ben and Jay had their own secret conversations. Nick spent lots of time on his phone.
Brendan, on the other hand, was a wild card. When on crystal he was all over the place. Sometimes he would spent hours on his phone. Sometimes he would talk at a fast pace about random shit for hours. Other times he would clean whoever’s house we were smoking in. On rare occasions he would fall asleep in the middle of a conversation and wake up hours later. His behaviour was always sporadic and confusing. Brendan was the only one of the friend group who intimidated me. When he was in a good mood he was fun, when he was in a bad mood he was horrible. I always had the impression that Brendan didn’t like me, only because whenever we were together (and especially when he was on meth) he would make fun of everything I did. He would ask what was wrong with my hair, or why I chose to wear a certain bad outfit. He would tell me I was annoying on crystal meth (granted, I probably was) or that my voice was annoying. On the outside Brendan appeared to be a nice person, but nine times out of ten he wasn’t. That night I avoided direct conversation with him until he said, “Cody, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
I had been spaced out with that Kermit the Frog song stuck in my head, “What?” I asked.
“You’re staring at the wall.” He laughed.
“Oh, I was just thinking about something for a second.”
“Naw man, you’re fucked. You look fuuuuuucked up!”
“I’m not feeling too fucked. I was just spaced.”
“Cody, believe me, you’re fucked. Look at yourself, god! Your pupils are HUGE. Your hair is a fucking mess. You need help, mate.” Brendan laughed while Nick put his phone away and joined him. I must have not looked too impressed because next Brendan said, “Oh come on. We are just kidding. You need to grow a fucking backbone.”
“I do have a backbone!” I said a little too aggressively.
Nick piped in, “Did Brendan hurt little Cody’s feelings. Awe, so sweet.”
I tried to say, “No, he didn’t hurt my…”
“Awe, Cody is hurt.”
“Fuck off I’m not hurt.” I defended.
“Why don’t you build a bridge and get over it!” Nick said mockingly.
“No, I don’t care.” I said.
“Yes you do,” Brendan interjected.
“No, I’m just…”
“Awe look, he’s still going.” Nick laughed.
“Yeah because…” I tried to say.
“Oh my god, GET OVER IT CODY!” Brendan said with a wave of his hand, “Fuck you’re always so sensitive. We are just joking. Fuck.”
I remained silent and tried to hide my frustration. I felt my phone vibrate, it was a message from Jay.
Jay: I’m sorry they’re so mean to you.
I looked up at Jay who was already staring at me. It clicked in my mind then that maybe Jay liked me. I pushed the thought out as soon as I had it. I can’t get involved in this three-way relationship, I thought, It would get so messy.
For the second day in a row we watched the sun rise without any sleep or food. It was decided that all six of us were going to go to work that day. We decided to power smoke the rest of our crystal meth first since we wouldn’t risk having it at work. It seemed like a good idea until I saw how much we had left. Normally I would have three to four puffs on the pipe every hour… that alone could keep you up for days. That morning, in the space of ten minutes, I powered through ten good rips. We all did. Mixing ten rips with the fact I hadn’t slept or eaten for over two days was recipe for disaster.
“Oh we some fried chicken,” Brendan squealed as he pulled his vehicle onto the road. All six of us fit into his small car as we set off for work.
“It’s too fucking cold! Turn up the heat!” Ben yelled over the loud music Brendan was playing.
“No way! I’m so fucking hot!” Nick retaliated while opening the passenger-side window.
“Yeah, I’m really hot too.” said Chris, almost to himself.
“Yeah we get it.” Brendan said abruptly. Everyone went quiet, “You’re hotter than everyone else.”
Chris looked embarrassed as he said, “Two degrees hotter, actually.”
“Fuck,” said Nick, “I knew you were on about something.”
I had no clue what was going on. Everyone seemed to be in on something except for me.
“I heard rumors but I didn’t think it was actually true. If you don’t want people to know you shouldn’t be making obvious jokes about it.” Brendan laughed.
“Yeah, you saying I’m warmer than everyone else is a huge giveaway.” Nick added.
I finally spoke up, “Giveaway about what?” Everyone turned to me.
Nick said, “Chris is two degrees warmer…” I was still puzzled, “… His body temperature isn’t the same as healthy people…” I still didn’t respond “… There were rumors going around…”
“I have no idea what you’re on about,” I felt stupid saying.
After a couple seconds of silence, Ben said, “Chris, did you want to tell him?”
Chris answered, “Yeah,” and then he turned to me and said, “Cody, when people have HIV their resting body temperature is two degrees warmer than those that don’t. I have HIV.”
(I have to stop here and say that, after researching this ‘fact’, I am unable to find its validity. This is the conversation that happened, and everyone believed at the time that HIV positive people were 2 degrees warmer than other people at resting body temperature. But I am unable to confirm the scientific accuracy of said statements.)
“Oh, ok.” I responded.
“None of us care that you have it,” Nick said reassuringly to Chris, “I have a couple friends who are HIV positive. It doesn’t bother me.”
“It doesn’t bother me neither.” Brendan agreed.
“Yeah, I don’t care either.” I agreed as well.
The rest of the car ride I wanted to ask Chris questions about the disease but instead I tried to focus on not dying; I felt like an alien was about to burst out of my chest.
At Knight Call I was fucked up. I had never felt that high before on crystal meth; powering through the rest of the stash before work was starting to seem like a bad idea. I was shaking and tripping over my words. I tried my hardest to act normal in front of the manager on duty, Robert, but he kept looking at me with suspicious eyes. When Dave found out I had done crystal meth a few weeks back word got around quickly that I had done it and Robert was one of the first to step forward and talk to me about it. He kept saying to be very careful with it, and warned me to avoid Chris, Ben and Jay. And so Robert looked at me with suspicion, and then disappointment. He didn’t need to say it; I knew that he knew I was high.
I tried to calm my nerves once I got into the Boy’s Room. Luckily the only other person working a shift besides the group I arrived with was Bruce (the new Irish guy), and he tended to keep to himself. I was very quiet as I observed Nick, Brendan, Chris, Ben and Jay handle their highs with grace. I just sat quietly and tried to not have a heart attack. It felt like something was trying to crawl out of my throat. I had a hard time swallowing. My forehead was greasy and my palms were sweaty.
What seemed like hours were actually minutes. Brendan was called off to see a client. Then Nick was gone as well. Chris, Ben and Jay randomly left as well to see a private client, and soon it was just Bruce and I in the room. I silently prayed to no particular god that I didn’t want a client. I wasn’t in the right state for it. I felt like I was spinning really fast and couldn’t shake it. The silence suddenly was crawling under my skin and I found that I needed to say something out loud or else I would implode.
“How are you and Jason doing? Where is he?” I asked Bruce as calm as possible, remembering to breathe and pause at the appropriate intervals.
“We are doing well,” He answered with suspicion, “He’s working in the underwear shop.”
“Oh cool,” I said, regretting that I said anything at all. Trying to force out words was infinitely worse than sitting in silence.
I didn’t say anything else. We both sat in silence watching reruns of Futurama on the TV. I felt like I couldn’t move, so I sat in a hunched position for quite a while until I swear I heard Bruce say, “Cody?”
“Yes?” I answered without looking at him.
I didn’t hear what he said, but I guessed that he said, “How are you doing?”
I felt like it was odd that he asked me so long after I had asked him, but without looking at him I made up a lie about my day and what I had been up too recently, “… And then I went to the beach and it was amazing. I heard you live in Bondi? That’s amazing! I’ve only been there once but I really would love to go again. What do you think of it?” I asked and turned my head to look at him. But what I saw came as a shock.
Bruce wasn’t there.
I quickly stood up and looked around frantically. My heart pounded so hard I swear my whole body pulsed along with it. He was just there. He had just asked me a question. I remembered hearing his voice. A sudden thought about the second coming of Christ raced through my mind and suddenly I felt like I was in Left Behind. I looked out the glass door to make sure he wasn’t having a cigarette, but he wasn’t there. I even stupidly lifted a couple of throw pillows as if he were a lost tv remote.
Suddenly I heard Robert’s voice and it made me jump, “Carl, what are you doing?”
“Oh umm, I thought I lost something.” I lied, putting my hands behind my back as if I were hiding something.
“You have an outcall… they want you to come in twenty minutes, so you’ll have to leave here now.”
“Ok,” I said, hardly holding in my disappointment. I debated telling Robert that I wasn’t able to do it. Just tell him you’re sick, I said to myself. Instead I said out loud, “Hey, do you know where Bruce went?”
“Carl, Bruce has been gone for about an hour with a client.”
* * * * * *
I had a mini panic attack in the taxi ride to the hotel to see the client.
When I was with the client I was unable to perform at my peak. The client looked at me with disappointment and within 15 minutes told me to go home and go to bed. I still got paid, but it was the first time a client had kicked me out.
“You’re terrible,” the client said before shutting the door on me.
Stupidly I went back to work in hopes that Nick and Brendan were back. Luckily they were and I told Nick about how fucked up I felt.
“Oh my god, really? I feel fine. It’s probably in your head.” Nick said.
Brendan said more bluntly, “You just can’t handle it.”
“No, this is seriously fucked you guys. I’ve never felt like this before.” I pleaded.
“You just don’t know how to let the high take over. Stop fighting it.” Brendan advised me.
“I don’t think that’s what this is.” I said as a last ditch effort to make them realise that I felt like something was wrong with me.
Even though I knew that Robert knew I was high, I didn’t want to give him any excuse to bring it up. So instead of doing the smart thing and going home, I stayed at Knight Call.
I got another client that night. This time the client came to Knight Call to use one of the rooms.
I entered the room. I took my clothes off. I hopped on the bed. He pulled me in. I kissed him once. Then he said, “Nope. Naw. Nope. Fuck this. I don’t want you. You’re fucked. I don’t want you.”
“What are you talking about? I’m fine.” I said a little too brashly.
“You’re not even hard, and your skin stinks. Something is wrong with you.”
I was immediately offended, “Umm my dick isn’t a fucking button that I can turn on and off. I don’t just get hard immediately.”
“No, I don’t want you. I want someone else.”
“Please leave now.”
When I shut the door behind me I realised I didn’t even get any money off him.
I now hold the record for the quickest to be kicked out of the room… I was in there for less than two minutes. I also was the first one to be kicked out twice in one day.
After being kicked out a second time that day I decided to bite the bullet and go home.
When I went to bed I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t toss and turn, instead I lay perfectly still staring up at the ceiling, watching it pulsate and pondering my sanity.
“It’s not easy being green,” I silently sang, “It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things.”
The pulsating ceiling turned from being frightening to being comforting. Soon I found myself drifting to a much needed sleep.