Stepping Stone

Some of the worst weeks of my life were spent at Riker’s Prison. I don’t remember much of it, apart from that I spent most of the time either sleeping or feeling very sick and miserable. After those horrible seven weeks I was finally clean. Clean – what a weird feeling! I can now go the rest of my life without touching drugs and I wouldn’t suffer! And think of all the money and trouble I’d save now that I won’t have to go to dealers any more. Everyone should be happy for me. I should be happy for me.

But I’m not.

I’m moved out of the hospital wing and back into prison, when the news soon comes that I’ve got bail. I used to look forward to being with Mum again – but now I just want to be alone. She meets me at the prison entrance, myself in my own clothes, with my standard scowl on my face, Mum cooing and praising and generally embarrassing me in front of the prison guards.

I meet a girl soon after that. It doesn’t matter how or where, I just need another woman in my life. She’s called Michelle – she’s all right. Nice and cheerful and she can make you laugh when you’re in the mood to. I met her when I got out of the hospital, but we haven’t really seen each other since. Well I’m mentioning her now because she threw me a party to celebrate my making bail.

See – I did say she was nice.

Well, the scene can be imagined. There’s me, at the head of the table, looking standard gorgeous even with my elbows on the table and staring into space, nice Michelle, sitting next to me and talking to everyone, Mum, trying to keep up with whatever Michelle’s saying, and Mum’s boyfriend Peter, who’s having seconds. Everyone else has finished and the table’s full of dirty plates and cutlery.

“Look, dear,” says Mum after Michelle finally shuts up. “Look what Peter got to celebrate your bail.”

“Oh yes, bail!” squeaks Michelle, who is not paying attention. “Though it’s a shame you had to be in prison at all.”

I’ve only told her about hitting the bloke with the bottle, and she’s immensely disapproving. “Michelle, look,” says my mother, “My son’s not a bad boy. He just got into a little trouble, that’s all. He’s really a big softie, he just gets into a little fix every now and then…” she and I exchange glances. We’re not going to talk about the trial, not in front of Michelle.

Anyway, she trails off to delve into her handbag, and holds up a small bottle. I swear, in my state of misery, that bottle looks like a pot of gold.

Michelle is not drugs-savvy. “What is it?” she asked.

“Heroin. It’s his treat.”

I’m not even going to bother telling my mum I’m clean.

“Look, Anne, I don’t think he should take it. You see, he’s –”

“It’s all right,” I tell her. “I’ll take a bit.” I look at Michelle. “A bit,” I repeat slowly. Michelle looks at the floor but she seems worried and angry. She’s obviously never dealt with this situation before.

Once we reassure her that only I’m taking some, she kind of stays away from the whole situation. I take a bit. That is, I remember taking some one minute, turning to face her and realise I’m facing the floor instead.

“This was such a bad idea!” shrieks Michelle.

“Honey, it’s all right,” says my mother. “It happens all the time to him.” To me, she says, “Are you all right, dear?”

“Yeeeaaauuhh,” I reply. I can’t feel anything. I then lapse into a state of unconsciousness. What happens in the intervening time, I don’t know, but I can imagine they spent quite a while panicking and trying to revive me.

Unfortunately for me, I soon wake up, a couple of hours later.

“Can you hear me?” Michelle is yelling, in my ear.

“Well of course I can,” I say slowly. My ear really hurts. Michelle stops. Three worried faces look at me from above.

“I’m tired,” I say.

“I should say so,” says Peter. “It’s the small hours of morning.”

“I’ll take you up,” says Michelle, and she is as good as her word. Against my will I’m carried to the bedroom and dropped onto the bed. Michelle drops next to me.

We don’t talk. It’s very dark outside. Mum and Peter soon afterwards switch the light off. I can see it from the hallway.

I am nowhere near high enough.

“Michelle,” I slur.

“Now what?” Michelle replies.

“Could you get me the rest of the heroin?”


“Oh.” I try again. “Could you get the rest of the heroin for me please?”

“‘Please’ isn’t going to change anything.”

“Why not?”

“Because you’ve broken parole again, Sid,” she says, but she’s not angry, just disappointed. “You were clean, and you ruined it.”

“Nancy, please…” Oh Hell, what have I said? Michelle has heard it.

“This is quite enough!” she snaps. “First you bring illegal drugs to my house, then you take some when you know you shouldn’t have, and thirdly – you’ve just called me by another girl’s name.” Michelle’s the picture of furious. “Well talk about ungrateful! I’m having nothing more to do with it!” And she storms out of the room. Soon afterwards I hear the front door of the apartment slam. She’s gone for a walk.

The entire house is silent.

Well. If she’s going to be like that, I’m going to have to get the heroin myself.

The End

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