I left my Aunt’s house at two in the morning to be picked up by a man I had only just met online. I was sixteen. He was forty-five.
It was colder than it had ever been here or has ever been since, the kind of bitterness I’ve now come to expect from winters in the upper Midwest. After only a few blocks, my lips were raw and chapped, my eyes were watering, and one of my tears had frozen halfway down my cheek. In the frozen dead of the night, suburbia was still, and I was all that stirred.
I arranged for Michael to pick me up in the parking lot of the Deli in town. By the time I had shortcut through the park, he was waiting in his Jag. He looked just like the pictures he sent me; he was youthful and handsome in spite of his age. But with the promise of blow I’m not certain I would have cared if he hadn’t been handsome at all.
Driving to the city, we had very little to talk about, which in retrospect is not so surprising given our thirty-year gap in age. To make matters worse, he didn’t know I was sixteen and I had to concoct some plausible back-story: where I went to college, what I wanted to do with my life. I was afraid to offer any information without provocation in favor of answering his occasional question, for fear I would slip and he would uncover some telling plot hole in my made-up life.
In the early morning hours, the trip from New Jersey into the city was blessedly short. Given the circumstances and the company, my anxiety was only deepening even though I had done the same thing with so many men before. Once Michael left to score the blow, I did my best to relax some in his absence. I tried to stop worrying about exposing my lies, or being arrested, or any of the bad things I knew could happen, but mostly I tried to stop worrying about the possibility of being murdered before the sun came up.
Michael returned a short while later with the gram I had paid for and a gram for himself. When we spoke online not three hours beforehand, he and I had planned to meet up, pick up, and hook-up, but I’m sure he sensed my apprehension because he asked if I just wanted to be brought back home. It was a lucky break.
I had already made so many mistakes that night, but I could have absolved myself; I could have fixed things. I could have told Michael yes, bring me home, and maybe we’ll hook-up some other time (a lie). If my aunt were awake, I would have simply told her I had gone for a walk and hadn’t wanted to wake her. She would have believed me. I would have apologized for worrying her. She would have forgiven me. I would have had a fresh gram of fish-scale coke that wasn’t very well earned, but mine nonetheless. Instead of telling him to bring me home, however, I pulled out my bag, readied a key and said, “let’s see where this gets me.” For all the offenses I had already committed, for all the mistakes I had already made, and for all the bumps in the road that night, that bump was by far the worst.
Michael told me the blow came from a man who once supplied Bobby Brown. Before I got my greedy little paws on it, I was incredulous. The instant it hit my nose, though, I was sold, and ready to do whatever he wanted. What he wanted, of course, was to fuck, but he didn’t live alone. He lived with his sister, who I’m sure was asleep. Our only option was to go to his chiropractic office, midway between New York and the town where I lived.
It was an upscale office in a downscale location. As soon as we walked in the door, Michael stripped to the waist, and I excused myself to the restroom to do a proper line. The bump I had done in the car was beginning to wear off and the danger of the situation was becoming less thrilling and more terrifying, but I knew I could count on an additional bit of coke to fix that problem quickly. Michael told me I was welcome to do it in the exam room, but I didn’t want to do it in front of him again.
I finished up, rubbing some coke on my gums for good measure, and went to meet Michael in the back. He was now clad in only his briefs, bent over a counter. For his age, he had a beautiful body, and because I was high, I wanted him. I actually wanted to be there, with a stranger almost three times my age, doing drugs and about to have sex in a doctor’s office.
I watched from the door, soaking in the image. The bag was empty beside a veritable mountain of cocaine; he had dumped the entire gram out and was chopping it finely with a credit card. I enjoyed playing with my blow as much as the next guy, but I found it slightly strange that he had emptied it all on the counter. The stuff was strong and a little bit went a long way. It was already 3:30 in the morning, and I was on a tight schedule. Yes, I wanted to fool around but no, I didn’t have time for him to slowly work his way through all that coke. Wouldn’t it be difficult to scoop whatever was left back into that tiny baggie?
As if he knew what I was thinking, as if he wanted to answer my inquisitive thoughts, Michael cut two giant lines and snorted them both- an entire gram of the strongest blow I’d ever come across, right to his face. Almost immediately, I started panicking. What did he just do? He turned to me and smiled this sickly, twisted smile that did nothing but alarm me more. I merely smiled back, trying to rationalize his irrational act. Michael had probably been doing coke for most of his life, I thought, I’m sure he knew what he was doing. He must have known his own tolerance. And it would save some time, after all.
He rubbed the crumbs on his teeth, crossed the room, and kissed me. He took my shirt off, guided me to the exam table, bent over it, and rubbed against me. I was so high, I couldn’t feel anything.
Then, Michael began to seize.
I tried to ignore it at first and attempted to keep going, but as he looked back at me and made a face that I guess was supposed to be sexy, his eyes were rolling back in his head. I stopped, stood upright, and shook him by the shoulders.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
He only mumbled something incoherently.
“Michael. Michael! Are you okay?”
He wasn’t, though. Clearly he had overdosed. But what was I supposed to do? Here we were, in his office at nearly four in the morning, which was probably illegal even if it was his own. Even if it wasn’t, he was three times my age and we were both naked. That was definitely not legal. On top of that, he had just done a gram of cocaine at once, and I was hardly sober myself. I wasn’t about to call 911.
I felt like I had no option but to tell him to sit down, calm down, and hope for the best. He was still shaking violently, rocking back and forth, and drooling a little. I was just grateful he had done all of the coke he bought for himself and couldn’t do anymore. I left him in the back room while I returned to the bathroom to do another line. I couldn’t sober up, not now, not in the face of what was unfurling before my eyes.
After I finished in the bathroom, I stepped out for a cigarette to consider what to do. I didn’t check on Michael first. The effects of cocaine are so short lived, I thought maybe after 15 or 20 minutes he would be okay. I was overheated from our brief sexual encounter, and if anything the temperature outside was even colder than it was when I left my aunt’s. I began shivering immediately, and then I began to cry. No amount of cocaine could numb the guilt that was welling up inside of me.
I returned to the exam room surprised to find Michael doing somewhat better. Well, he wasn’t much better, but at least he had stopped drooling on himself. He was still not completely in control of his body, and I had to help him put on his shirt and his pants.
“Do you think you can you drive?” I snapped. He just shrugged. I had no idea how I was going to get home. To get into a car helmed by a man in the midst of a cocaine overdose was perhaps the worst thing I could do and almost guaranteed my death, but I could think of nothing else in my own drug-induced stupor. A little more calmly I said, “why don’t we just get in the car and you can try driving around the parking lot before getting on the freeway?” He nodded, and we made our way to the car. We strapped in, I put my own baggie in my sock, and he pulled out of the parking spot carefully. We jerked and stalled. It was not going well. Then, my heart sank.
The lights of the police car flooded the parking lot from behind us, and there was no escape.