I do not have Hepatitis C. thank god. in fact, I’ve never contracted anything. because, even though i was not afraid to slam a needle into my favorite spot in my left arm- i was deathly afraid of sharing needles. Some of the people i used with did not share the same fear. I have actually witnessed people on the west side scrounging an alley, dumpster, or crack house- looking for a used needle that they were sure they saw at one point, find it and use it. not knowing where it came from. the west side of Chicago is unlike any place I’ve ever been to. and I’ve lived and visited many places. throughout one of my daily rituals of pan handling and begging for money just off of the blue line, near o’hare airport, i met a young man, about my age. i don’t recall his name. but he was out there doing the same thing i was. so i had a new friend. he was getting back onto the train and heading for the same exact section of the west side i was. He told me that he and some friends had a house on st. Louis street, 3 blocks north of Chicago ave. which is a terribly dangerous area. I’m told. now. So i tagged along with this guy to this house of theirs.
Yes, it was indeed a house. it had a roof, and walls. but looking back on things, i would never had entered this house in my right mind, but then again, i wasnt in my right mind. there were roughly 8 guys that lived in this abandoned house, it had no power, no water, and all the outside doors were boarded shut, from the inside. they did this, because they were constantly in fear of being raided. by other users, the cops, or dope dealers, that they were undoubtedly ripping off.
I do remember a couple things about this experience, which lasted a few days. One thing is the casual way that they talked about some of the things that happened to their little crew. i remember one of the guys talking to another man about one of the guys who had previously stayed in this house with them. i was trying not to eaves drop too noticeably , but they were saying something about a really good spot to knock old women over and take their purses, and then the conversation went on to their former comrade who hadn’t come back for a couple days. they mentioned if he was dead, they wish they knew where he was getting his dope, cuz he always got super loaded when he did his. both thoughts made my skin crawl. i dont know why, because i asked for the same dope that killed my buddy. but i think it was all just starting to sink in- the kind of life i was living.
the second thing that will always stick with me about this house- in fact i still have nightmares about this particular image. the only way into this house of theirs was a back door, which gained entry into the basement, and in the basement was an old service stair case, the kind they use when the contractors are still working on the house, ya know? well as soon as i broke the threshold of the door and entered into the basement, i slipped. and as my eyes adjusted to the dim light, i looked around the floor of the basement. it was not visible it was COMPLETELY covered-wall to wall, and at least 4 inches deep- completely covered with used needles. it was nearly impossible to walk across the sea of disease. for some reason, this particular image stirred up a fear inside me that still haunts me to this day.