David's Death

harrisOn or around November 28th, 1978,

David overdosed on Cocaine in my parents’ house which eventually resulted in his death. I was working at a bar called the Third Edition.

I was selling Marijuana to customers.

I was an Alcoholic American University dropout. Or you could say I was a flunky, because I was dismissed from the American University for acquiring a grade point average of 0.04.

This translates to failing every course but one and getting one D in a year and a half. At that time A.U. was one of America’s best known Party Schools. I didn’t make it.

The job I had at the Third Edition bar only lasted approximately two weeks. I was fired and escorted out of the bar/restaurant, because the morning after David’s tragic death I spent my whole work shift in the bathroom sick.

Everyone was looking for me. My Alcoholism was so bad that I would stash bottles of wine and an occasional bottle of Whiskey in the dumpsters behind the restaurant.

I would commit this crime while taking trash out during the work shift. I would then collect them after work in the middle of the night. Every time I went to the cooler for something I would down a Saint Paulie’s Girl beer.

I was so bold that I would sell customers at the restaurant weed as I was bussing their table. My boss asked me why I was in the bathroom for hours. I told him that someone had died in my house from Cocaine the night before and he fired me on the spot.

I had my own apartment paid for by my parents to assist me while I was attending A.U. My parents were moving back to this country from Mauritius, the Paradise Island where the Dodo bird went extinct, and where undiscovered mythical famous pirate treasure is buried.

I had spent all of my rent money so I moved all of my possessions into my parents’ vacant house, which they would be moving into in about a month. My parents were vacationing in the Catskills.

I mentioned in one of my earlier stories about a group of friends and drug dealers from high school, specifically, Harris and Peter. Well, Harris lived in his Volvo station wagon and Peter moved in next door to my parents’ house on Livingston Street.

Peter lived in the basement of the T’s house. He was a computer genius and was studying Russian linguistics at Georgetown University, while earning his living computer programming.

Peter could party all the time, and still go to school earning straight A’s, and work as a programmer. Harris was a hippie vegetarian, following the Guru Maharishi, while selling Hashish and Cocaine out of his Volvo.

David was living in Peter’s basement with no other fixed address. He had an inheritance from his uncle in Texas that included a monthly stipend from oil wells. Except he was also in debt to Peter. Peter had his stereo system. David owed Peter thousands of dollars.

These were the same characters that I was hanging out with at the end of my senior year in high school, when I was hospitalized at Johns Hopkins. The weird thing is that Peter was going out with Tierney, my high school friend who showed my parents where Peter’s apartment was in Rockville, so the men in white coats could carry me away. I was in a blackout.

Somehow from that experience Tierney must have gone back to Peter’s and seduced him. Tierney is not doing well, from the last time I saw her ten years ago, addicted to Valiums and Alcohol. She called me up out of the blue. Tierney said Peter is in Boston and married to an architect.

I saw Harris about ten years ago at Adams Morgan Day. He was high on Cocaine and I learned that his girlfriend had given birth to a drug-exposed baby. The girlfriend and Harris had to seek treatment but didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to remain clean. Harris renovates houses as a painter. He said that he doesn’t shoot Cocaine anymore, he freebases (smokes Cocaine).

Now I had moved all my possessions into the attic of my parents’ empty house that they were to move back into in a month’s time. Peter is next-door dealing drugs. Pounds of Marijuana, Cocaine, Psilocybin mushrooms, Hash oil, and Hashish. I turned Peter on to the Cocaine connection, but I was a lousy businessman, making nothing on the deal. I was just there for the party.

By this time I was also a part time junkie, meaning I would shoot up drugs whenever I had the opportunity. I used Alcohol to stay high, or I should say I was addicted to Alcohol and had to drink daily. Now Peter and Harris were not junkies like me. They needed help shooting up, and in obtaining the needles. Peter and Harris had plenty of Cocaine and they wanted to shoot the Cocaine up. I was like the doctor. David was a veteran junkie and he shot up so much Cocaine that he was in hock to Peter for thousands of dollars, and he had no fixed address.

I go downtown to purchase the syringes for Peter. We are shooting Cocaine in the attic at my parents’ house, virtually vacant except for the few possessions that I had moved over from my apartment. I was living in the house. This was the first time that I had injected Cocaine.

When you shoot Cocaine, it is so addictive that you need to have the next shot ready and made to go. There is no stopping you. It is a terrifying experience. The rush is so intense that you hear ringing bells and your whole body is swirling around freefalling as if from a skyscraper. You feel the intense pleasure rushing through your whole body, as if having an orgasm.

By this point Peter had had about five shots and Harris four shots. I had had about three shots. Now David was not shooting up with us for some strange reason, other than that he had consumed too much previously, and was in so much debt. David was snorting Cocaine off a mirror and he was preparing the shots for us, using a sophisticated scale.

Each shot was weighed and Peter was shooting a gram at a time. I was shooting 1/4 of a gram at a time, and Harris the same as Peter. David was weighing and making the shots. While making each shot David would snort some lines of Cocaine inbetween.

In those days (1979) you were not supposed to be able to die from Cocaine. Cocaine didn’t kill. I remember reading some statistics later and there were only four reported Cocaine deaths identified in 1979. Well, after a few hours of this insane behavior, David decides he also is going to have a shot of Cocaine. He weighs out 1.7 grams.

An enormous amount for anyone, justifying that he is going to catch up with us.

The song Shattered from the Rolling Stones album Some Girls is playing in the background. David shoots the 1.7 grams into his arm and before he releases the tourniquet he starts convulsing and shaking all over to the point of foam coming out of his nose and mouth.

Then Peter shouts Hit him on the chest. Harris pounds hard. Peter screams Go next door and call an ambulance. I grab the syringes and run down two flights of stairs, run next door, and call 911. I say Cocaine overdose 3814 Livingston Street. Please come. They say OK. I had thrown the works, syringes, in a neighbor’s trashcan and headed back up to the attic.

Peter says our story is we were playing Risk next door and doing laundry at the Keeleys’ house and we hear a thrashing around upstairs. David is playing Electric Guitar and the music stops and we hear this thrashing around upstairs. Harris throws Cocaine vials out the window from the third floor into my backyard.

Many years later I am still looking for those vials in the back yard, never to be found. My gut hunch suspicion is that Harris knew where he tossed them and collected them later.

Peter takes a wad of cash out of David’s pockets, and drugs, and reiterates that our story is we were doing laundry at my parents’ house. David was playing the guitar by himself.

The mirror that David was snorting Cocaine from is still loaded with Cocaine. I hide the mirror in a bookshelf under the eaves of the attic along with a bong (Marijuana pipe). The ambulance arrives in five minutes, and along with some Metropolitan Police. The police officers walk up the stairs slowly before the paramedics. David is lying dead.

They inject him with something, presumably Narcan, a drug for Heroin overdoses, or possibly Adrenaline. The emergency medics attempt to use smelling salts to no avail. David is carted off. The Police remain and separate me from Peter and Harris, leaving them on the first floor. I am alone in the attic, being interrogated by the homicide detective.

The detective asks me my version of the events. I say we were playing Risk and doing laundry. We heard this guitar playing suddenly stop and this thrashing around upstairs. The homicide detective leaves me alone and goes down to interrogate Peter and Harris. Now David’s guitar and amplifier were in my room, because he did plan on playing the guitar prior to this deadly Cocaine bash.

The Police leave the scene. One detective is left behind to guard us until the outcome of David’s situation is decided. David is pronounced dead a few hours later. I am experiencing intense paranoia and wondering if this is all a very bad dream. The police detective comes back and says David has officially been pronounced as dead. He asks if we have any I.D. for him, and Peter says that David’s passport is next door.

I think I am going to jail for a very long time, because of the amount of drugs that are next door. The detectives are going to think we are kingpins. The homicide detective also has to get word from my sister and parents that I do indeed have permission to be living in the house in the first place.

The homicide detective tells me that I better come up with some evidence, or drugs. Or a better story to explain the surroundings regarding the cause of death, or he is going to lock me up. All he has to do is get probable cause for a judge to sign permission for a search warrant.

Completely fearful and with quick thinking I show the detective the Cocaine on the mirror that I stashed in the bookshelf under the eaves. I point to the bookshelf and I say this was next to the body. I then give him permission to search. He leaves me and questions Harris and Peter some more.

Peter returns with David’s passport, telling the officer that David was a transient living on the streets. And that David was practicing guitar in my parents’ house because it was empty. It all seems like a bad dream. Geeking, I wish I had never met Peter and Harris and had not let David into the house.

The homicide detective returns saying he is going to search the house. I say all right, you have permission. I don’t want to go to jail.. The homicide detective finds in the attic bathroom a used syringe yellowed with Dilaudid. It’s in a New York Times mailbox receptacle that I used as a trash bin, along with a blackened bent spoon.

This paraphernalia had nothing to do with David’s death. They were part of my possessions that I moved from my apartment on Park Road. The homicide detective determined that David died from an overdose of some kind. He verified that it was all right for me to be living in the house by contacting my poor shocked parents who were vacationing and had no idea of any of my activities.

Peter and Harris removed all of the drugs from next door in the middle of the night. They refrained from conducting any drug sales for a short period of time. Shooting Cocaine was now not a part of the agenda but freebasing was. The problem was the method of use or injection, but not the drug.

It was the insane amount that David had used. The circumstances were justified, reality denied, and the severity of the consequences was minimized. However, that experience scared me. I was off and running a few weeks later. Still later on I moved to Zimbabwe in Africa with a geographical escape, vowing never to shoot drugs again. Also Marijuana grew wild and was cheap in Africa.

The beer there was good too. The denial of my addiction continued to the bitter end, and I never took any responsibility for my recovery. I knew in the deepest part of my heart that I was an addict and I accepted the fact that I was going to die young.

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