Tag Archives: Drugs

PUSHER by Brian Chapin

The faded purple plastic plaque in scratched faux-marble praised him: Best Psychiatrist 2000.  All I saw was a bored old fat man. His argyle socks, elastic shot, fell down fat pink ankles.  Crumbs from his breakfast (scrambled, wheat, hash) leapt from chin to chin, an army hopping islands in a sea of blubber.

I held her hand as she talked of death—our baby’s—of pain, of grief, drawn shades, and darkened rooms of three lives no longer lived. All the while, he played–with the Effexor letter opener or the Cymbalta scrip pad or his Zoloft sticky notes.

Finally, he raised his head and said, “How about we try Abilify?”

BRIAN CHAPIN lives outside of Washington, D.C.



“Yeah, uh, where can I get some weed?” I asked an attractive blonde working at the Maastricht visitor center.

“You mean a coffeeshop,” she said.

“Yeah, a coffeeshop.” Two Euros later, I was looking at a map explaining how to get from where I was to where I was headed.

The spot was called Smurfs and looked shady, but I didn’t fly all the way from California to turn back now. A dude outside asked me to buy him an eighth. Something about not having his passport prevented him from making a purchase. I wanted to help, but didn’t. “Sorry dude,” I said. “I’m not from here and not sure how it goes. You understand.” He frowned, which told me he didn’t.

I entered and was greeted by an eye-level cloud of dirty brown smoke and a woman checking IDs. The weed was in the back. To get there, I passed a twenty-foot bar covered in half-torn stickers. Four men and two women sat smoking what appeared to be cigarettes. Strange, I thought. Why smoke tobacco in here when there’s weed down the hallway?

I hoped for some crazy array of strains, but found only a handful of varieties, each available at home. Slightly disappointed, I bought a gram of White Widow from a Turkish guy who handed me my shit in a see-through plastic bag.

“Papers?” I asked, surprised that pre-rolled joints weren’t on the menu.

“No.” The harshness of his deep baritone made it clear that he wasn’t in the mood to chat. I sat on a white leather couch and wondered what to do with the weed I’d just bought when a kid wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt came to the window. I could tell he was young, worried and embarrassed to be inside a dope smoking venue because he covered his frizzy blonde hair with his hood and wore sunglasses indoors on an overcast day.

“Hey, I’m Ryan.” At home I’d never talk to a stranger. Something about crossing the Atlantic changed that.


“Nice to meet you.”


“You got any papers? It’s my first time here and…”

“Mine too,” he said pulling papers from his left breast pocket. “You have a light?” I didn’t. “Maybe the bartender will let you borrow one,” hinting that I should get up and find out. “Do you have any tobacco?” I didn’t, I said getting up to track down a flame.

The bartender had a lighter, but it came with a warning. “If you lose this, I charge you five Euro on your way out.”

“Don’t lose this,” I told Simon as I held the Bic in my right hand. He began rolling a joint, but didn’t finish. Our green was laid out nicely inside a white paper. I wondered why he stopped at what is basically the first step in the joint-rolling process.

“You don’t have any tobacco?” He repeated. Again I said no. “You sure you don’t want to buy some?” Again, no. “You want to roll this entire thing with weed?” He seemed puzzled, like I was offending not only him but the whole European Union.

“Yeah, why not?” Apparently, Simon explained, Europeans smoke pot mixed with tobacco. “That’s a waste of weed.” I wasn’t kidding, but said it in a joking manner to not seem like a jerk, but I couldn’t tell if Simon caught that or not. To him, I was probably an “Animal House” –esque American who indulged in excess for fun. I’m not, but the truth is, I really do think mixing tobacco with weed is a waste of a good crop.

Simon came to terms with my lack of tobacco and put the finishing touches on a four-inch spliff. He sparked it and passed to me. While I was hitting it, he told me he hadn’t gotten high in a long time.

“Me too. How long?”

“Three years.” I was startled and told him my definition of long time was two weeks.

Two passes later, Simon was out. I tried handing the slowly deteriorating joint back, but he threw up his left palm like a traffic cop, the universal stoner sign for “I’m good.” The muscles in his face relaxed, giving his skin a melted look to it. My new friend removed his glasses and his bloodshot eyes looked like he hadn’t slept for days. He kicked his white sneakers onto the table and got comfortable. There was no mistaking it. Simon was baked.

We tried talking, but the Simon’s words sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I decided it was time to leave and together we left, walking through another cloud of brown smoke. We got outside and shook hands. Simon went left and I went right. If I wasn’t so damned stoned, I would have swapped email addresses with him and stayed in touch. But I didn’t. I was high.

RYAN RITCHIE is a 30-year-old who lives in Long Beach, but Lomita is never far from his heart. He enjoys sleeping, napping and dozing off. If you have been paying attention, you would already know that he’s been published in Vegetarian Times, High Times, OC Weekly, BlackBook and LA Weekly. He also likes vegan food and thinks you should buy him some the next time you see him.

HOOKED by Stephen Hyde

Sometimes you overhear a bit of a conversation that leaves you wishing you could start from the beginning and listen through to the end. Like one time I was in a mate’s flat – poor bastard was living on Hartington Street at the time – and there was a lull, four of us sitting there stoned off our arses, saying fuck all. No music, no conversation, no bubbling bong, just silence. Then, in through the window, comes a female screech of diabolical proportions aimed at someone at least halfway down the road, as raw and Irish as poteen: “So what if I’m a fock’n prostitute? At least I’m not a smack-ead what robs elpless little old ladies!”

Other times you get to hear the lot. Just after I came back from my year in Europe, I was living in a little bedsit down the back end of Normanton that looked out over this mini kids’ play park thing – before they did it up, when no kid dared go near it. It was quiet, the park always empty and hardly even any houses, with a big tree next to my back window and a sill big enough to cover in cushions and use like a sofa. I used to sit in my back window a lot, reading the JKD manual. Or skinning up on the JKD manual, listening to Parliament on vinyl. Or just sitting there getting high and generally liking life, not feeling the immediate need for kung fu or P-funk.

I remember this one night, sitting there letting my mind drift, about two in the morning, cool and clear and quiet, with the lights off and the TV on but muted, waiting for a late-night showing of Prodigal Son. I even remember what I was thinking about. Nothing profound. I was thinking about Monique, and comparing her to Laura, mixing the nostalgia and anticipation. I’d just met Laura, so I didn’t know she was completely insane, but I had noticed she was gorgeous, and I was thinking about them both, the last one and the next one as it were.

One French and one English, one dark and one fair, one born in the hardest estates of Marseilles and the other raised in leafy, twee Cheltenham – and, as it turned out, one descended from heaven and one straight from hell.

But I was soon brought back to dear old Earth by a conversation drifting up from the jitty at the side of the house. Another prostitue’s conversation, a weary voice with a touch of Scally accent, sounding poor and skinny and in need of smack saying “Lookin for business?”

A bloke’s voice answered. “Uh, well I, uh, ent got nuff money…”

I almost laughed. What an idiot. The hooker murmured something low and suggestive I couldn’t hear, then laughed like a drain.

“Really?” said the bloke.

“If you giz the rest o them fags, darlin.”

There was a pause, some footsteps, I could hear them coming closer, crunching on the gravel path in the park, then shuffling into the grass. So this guy was apparently even dumber than he sounded – and believe me, that was a challenge. His accent was pure Derby, but with a distinctive intonation found all over Britain – the voice of the village idiot. He sounded just like the Moog from Willo the Wisp.

There was a pause, some muttering. It sounded like they were right under my window, but I couldn’t see them. I bit back a laugh when the hooker said, “Just a wank, though.”

Then they came out into the open, heading toward a few dying trees at the other side of the park. It was a nice night, a big full moon breaking through the clouds, so I could make them out pretty well. A lumbering, swaying, bulging bloke in a Rams shirt and a tottering smack-skeleton with a severe topknot of bottle-blond hair – I could just decipher the Kappa logo on the back of the shiny white tracksuit top she wore with her miniskirt and boots.

Halfway to the trees the hooker stopped. The bloke took another step – half turned – then she grabbed his arms and yelled “I’ve got one!”

I couldn’t help it, I laughed, but nobody heard me – the bloke belatedly started struggling, the hooker started calling him a cunt – and there was someone running out from the jitty on the other side of the trees, thudding along on the grass, a low, wide, mean-looking man’s shape in a black hoodie and white trainers.

The idiot john stopped struggling and gawped, and the hooker skittered out the way. The bruiser in the hoodie top ran right up and smacked johnny-boy in the mouth. He went down like wet cement, with a pathetic little yelp of pain, and stayed there, covering his face in half-arsed kind of way, while hoodie put a foot on his shoulder and they both went through his pockets. Then they ran off past the trees, disappearing down the other jitty. All this lasted maybe twenty-five seconds.

When I looked back to the unwitting – or witless – victim, he was sitting up. I could just about make out the shape of his face, but no features. He was snorting and snivelling, wiping his nose and mouth with his hands, then he groaned like a heiffer when he pushed himself to his feet. Still snivelling, the baby rhythm of it broken now and then by a half-stifled sob, he shuffled his way across the grass, back towards my window and the jitty.

As he was about to pass out of view behind the garden fence he stopped – I could just about see his face, now, a lumpy moon-face a little bloody round the mouth – and for a second I thought he’d seen me. But no, he was, digging in his trouser pocket, snuffling to the end of his tears. Then, clear as a bell in the quiet moonlight, he said “Fuckin slapper even took me fags!”

I laughed, and this time he heard me, but by the time he looked up and saw my silhouette in the window I was shutting it, cutting off whatever he was about to call me, and pulling the curtains. The movie was just starting.

Stephen Hyde was born in London, raised in Hampshire, lived in France awhile. Currently residing in Derby, where he lives on Normanton Road (the Front Line), having moved from Hartington Street, variously called Smack Alley, “Street of 1,000 Needles” (by the local paper) and “the worst street in England” (by the Guardian).”