“Tweeker. The term was coined for the sleep deprivation crystal meth addicts usually undergo. Some user would stay up for two weeks at a time, so came the phrase ‘two weeker’ which eventually became tweeker. Like, it’s been days since that guy’s gotten any sleep or had something to eat. He’s gotta be a tweeker.”
- Anonymous addict
I gazed up from my beer glass to the scummy concrete stairs that led to the street. The small bar was a hazy, dank room - scuffed, green-velvet pool table, wooden bar warped, a row of wobbly stools, faded lucha libre pictures curled at the corners that had been plastered everywhere on the dark, stained walls. The only color that illuminated the room was from a string of red Christmas lights that sagged at one end over the bar.
An obscene, flesh-colored, rubber dildo attached to dingy, pink panties sat in a dusty cubbyhole behind the register with a scrawled sign in Spanish that asked, “Are these yours?”
Outside, the cascading rain came down in black, shimmering sheets to wash away all the evil and filth - in vain.
Above me on street level, the border town of Tijuana sprawled in the battering torrents like an old, bloated, Mexican whore that wallowed in drunken fits of filth and debauchery.
Across her mud-splattered carcass, mariachi music clashed with the mosaic neon of discos thumping hip-hop nonsense at vomiting American teens, doe-eyed prostitutes slouched against dirty, white-washed adobe walls with their come-on looks to the stumbling drunks (The whores grabbed at the pale arms as they passed, needle tracks dreamily fading into smooth, copper flesh), the police slouched on every corner, waiting to shoot somebody or do anything but stand there under hostile eyes. Both the wet, bewildered tourists and calculating, local con-men jolted over incandescent pools of garbage on that drenched night.
Half a cigarette later and I peered to my left – a withered, ancient fucker in a faded, yellow Stetson scrutinizing me through squinted, blood-shot eyes.
He curtly saluted, mouth a black, toothless hole, “Hola!”
I silently returned back to my beer - time passed.
Flicked a small, brown cockroach off of the bar into the ice-bin that held the beer bottles. Yawn. I took out a crumpled packet of cigarettes - lit one - through gray smoke, gazed at the clock. He was late.
Cigarette - cigarette - cigarette...
He slopped down the stairs and shuffled into the bar - shoes squished loudly, leaving slime pools on the dirty, muddy floor.
Long wet, obsidian hair covered his face. A brown, square jaw jutted out from beneath his shiny mane. He wore a dirty, black denim jacket, black Metallica t-shirt and jeans.
We both mumbled whutsup and he ordered a beer. Glazed, amber eyes glistened past the shock of limp, black hair that cascaded over Aztec Indian features. A look of intense hostility emitted from that dark, brown face – a smooth face that was both brutal and handsome. He carried an air that he seemed older than his twenty-one years revealed.
He took a puff from one of my cigarettes and asked through silver-capped teeth, “You want?”
We went up and out into the black rain; shimmering sheets of the shit like out of some Mickey Spillane pulp – occasionally illuminated by passing searchlights of prowling, kamikaze taxis, we dashed over incandescent pools and muddy rivers of decaying sewage to a windowless adobe building with a red, iron-bar door.
The both of us stood in the downpour as my dark friend put his thick lips to a small, rectangular cut in the door, “Coo-coo Coo-coo!”
He repeated the call three times.
The door was opened by a young fag in a marine fatigue hat - tall and thin in tight, gray jeans and a brown, denim jacket.
“Que quieres, Mario?” The fag spat.
Mario mumbled something in Spanish and the fag coyly smiled at me, “Pásale.”
The long, high ceilinged, white-washed landing was dark, lit by flickering candles. In the corner, sat a plump, old mamacita in a red-flowered dress that picked through a bowl of frijoles under a multihued mosaic alter of Guadalupe.
“Buenas noches.” She creaked.
We repeated the greeting and followed the fag down the dank hall - smell of mildew and stale tortillas - to a large, dark room occupied with a host of about ten to fifteen Mexicans.
In the dim light, they milled about with red plastic cups in hand as a multi-speaker stereo tootled high-decimal ranchero music. The guests were a mix of young and old working class – hipsters, to be sure - in their dark, ragged, damp clothes. The shadowy din echoed with their festive laughter and caucus conversations.
Mario asked me to wait as he and the fag slinked into the smokey gloom. Left alone at the room’s entrance, I looked down as a gray chicken pecked next to my feet.
Two locals approached me from a nearby group. One held out and offered an extra cup of beer to me.
“Hey, guero - what’s up?” The tall, skinny one asked.
He was attractive – shabby street clothes and shaved head.
The shorter, frog-faced Indian smiled, “Who did you come with?”
I took the beer and pointed into the murk, “A friend - he’s over there.”
“Oh, con Mario.” The tall one smiled - asked for a cigarette. “Are you from San Diego?”
He took the cigarette, fished a match out of his pocket and lit it with dirty fingernails.
I explained, “I lived in Tijuana.”
“For reals?” The tall one grinned, incredulously. He took a sip of his beer and asked what I did for a living.
“I write reports for the citizens of the United States.”
“You federale? You look like the FBI.” The short one asked with a menacing smile.
“I get that. A lot.” I croaked.
The tall one put a lean, brown finger up to my lips and smiled, “Loose lips sink ships ‘round here. Don’t worry - later you get your cookies, guero.”
I grinned back. Was this charming thief coming on to me? Without a word, the two faded back into the murk.
The party continued - reggeaton blared as doe-eyed cha-cha girls gyrated lasciviously with pachecos in hip-hop gear as the crowd downed caguama after caguama. I caught snatches of dialogue concerning the six city cops found nearby the previous night: Decapitated, mutilated. Chuckles and smirks. The lights played long, dark shadows on grimy walls as tattoo covered street soldiers passed and gave me a suspicious eye.
Mario returned and we both huddled in a corner, “Tie me up, guero.”
I pulled up his sleeve and wrapped Mario’s black and frayed leather belt around his left arm, tightened it and searched for a vein with cold, shriveled, white fingers.
Mario produced a syringe and handed it to me - I slid it under his smooth, copper skin and up into a protruding vein. I pushed the plunger and watched with curious morbidity as the junk emptied into his body - his eyes slacked and he dreamily clawed at the belt with numbed fingers.
Leaning against the gray, crumbling wall, he passed me the syringe, “You want?”
I glanced off into the hazy room. Two, flabby Latina girls began dancing to reggeaton in the middle of the gray concrete floor - the crowd clapped along.
Through the murky darkness on the other side, I saw the flick-flickering of lighters; the red cherries of stems. Patter of mumbling junkies.
“Smoke that crank! Fucker…”
“You fucking tweeker, get the fuck out of the fucking window, they can see you!"
“Who’s got my lighter?!”
“No more…no mas…”
“Bitch! There was more in this sack! Where the fuck did my speed go?”
“What’s in the bowl, bitch?!”
“Quitters never win, and winners never quit.”
My glazed eyes snapped back into focus as the words echoed away into my head.
“Nah, Mario - I’ll be right back.” I said, distractedly.
I left Mario to his mess and walked across the room to a smiling lesbian and a short, grinning Indian guy.
They were holding a glass pipe and when they saw me shuffling up, they both said, “Bienvenidos” – as they offered the pipe up to me.
Speed. Meth. Chalk. Ice. Crystal. Crank. Tweek. Glass. Those are some of the many street names for methamphetamines. Call it what you want - it all means the same insidious shit.
Speaking strictly from experience - it’s not a nice drug. It’s not even a particularly fun drug. Unless your idea of a good time is being wired to a teeth-grinding point for 48 hours, unable to sleep, while at the same time being a selfish, violent bastard to all and sundry.
Meth addiction is cunning as much as it is baffling.
For me, it began as a harmless and fun thing to do and then; before I knew it, my entire life became centered on the shit to the point where I couldn’t imagine life without out it. The real sad part about speed is that the user never notices how messed up their lives have become.
Back to the party in progress - I said thank you, coughed, and took a hit. The current began at my spine, rushing up across the back of my skull to the forehead. My mind popped into astute focus of all that was around me – every detail was amplified. A surge of adrenaline washed through me and my hands began to shake. My breath quickened as all nerve centers throughout my body pleasantly lit up like a carnival marquee.
I pulled out a crumpled one-hundred peso note and handed it to the grinning lesbian.
“Okay...okay.” She smiled big and friendly behind silver-capped teeth and I smoked my fill.
With concentrated jerks, I returned to Mario leaning slumped against the wall, strung out - one hand held his pants, the other grasped the syringe. I gulped my beer - smoked - inquired where the baño was.
Found an old, wooden door and opened it to a chunky girl squatting in front of a young cholo who was leaning against the sink - she was sucking his cock. I mumbled perdóname and closed the door to gray wafts of marijuana smoke.
A few couples had begun an obscene mambo bop in the middle of the large, smokey room as I attempted to locate another door to take a much needed piss.
Out back on the muddy, cobblestone patio, I approached two guys with their cocks out, urinating into the rain. I joined them.
One was the tall pelon from inside, “Hey! The journalista!”
He smiled as rain dripped down his lean face, catching on his mustache.
The other was the fag in the Marine cap.
I was soon to find out that they were in the middle of sizing up each other’s penis - in the cold, gloomy rain - I guess when you have to, you have to. I joined them and relived my bladder.
“This way, guero.” The fag said, smiling.
The fag coyly motioned us to follow him up iron stairs to a room with weather-beaten French doors.
The cubicle was bare and lit by candlelight - a dresser, Army cot, nails on the wall for jackets. We passed around a bottle of Petron and a joint. Long, dark shadows shimmied against yellowed, grimy walls.
I sat on an old, metal chair as the fag and the cholo sat on the bed.
The fag passed the bottle to the cholo and cooed with a fey side glance towards me, “Isn’t he adorable. Muy guapo.”
“Yeah”, I grinned, taking another hit off of the joint. “I’d milk him like a cow every morning.”
“Orale.” The tall pelon leaned back on the bed and smiled, “What to do? I am in a room with two, horny jotos...what to do?”
The fag noticed the same thing I did - the growing erection in the pelon’s dark khakis.
The fag and I looked at each other, I smiled and he smirked, “Porque no?”
Indeed. Why not?
Playfully unzipping his pants, the penis was pulled out from said khakis as the fag and I took turns on that long, brown fucker.
Eventually, the pelon sighed, lifting up his white t-shirt as globs of pearly semen spurted onto his flat, brown stomach.
I sat up and watched as the fag slurped and licked up the remaining goo to the smiling satisfaction of the cholo. Before he bolted out the door and into the gloom, the pelon hit me up for fifty pesos - why not?
The fag and I, Ishmael, he said his name was - sat and talked, smoking weed and finished the bottle of tequila.
“You like the crystal?” He asked as he looked into my ping-ponging eyes.
“No, not really.”
“Then why do you do it? It is so bad.”
I whispered broodingly, “I don’t know.”
I really didn’t - self destructive, I guessed. Nevertheless, was anything self-destructive when done in moderation? I think not. So, fuck you.
Ishmael rose up and played some somber jazz sax on his little, ratty digital radio. He then lay next to me on his side; hand on my leg, “I am so hot, guero. You wanna fuck me?”
I took a puff of my cigarette, “Uhm...no. No. You are nice – really. But I gotta get back downstairs. I came with a friend and uh - he’s lost without me.”
I stood up - his hand slithered off my thigh - and headed to the door.
“You seem kind of lost yourself.” He stated with a worried, sincere look.
I mumbled thanks and walked out into the black storm.