Egypt’s small body hunched into itself on the stairs. She had put off waking. The game was simple: sleep as long as you can and you’ll put off being dope sick. Usually, she prostitutes enough the day before to store a hit for morning, but this week, she had been arrested, which had thrown off her routine. “Everything hurts. I wake up, I throw up and poop all day.”
Now it was time to score $10 to get a fix, something that either meant jumping into a john’s car while being barely able to walk, or begging an addict friend. “We dope fiends, we look out for each other. Crack heads, no way. That would never happen.” It was usually Egypt that looked out for her friends, she being the only one of her cohorts that’s allowed inside an infamous drug building. She knows how to follow the protocol — turn left inside the lobby, go under the stairs, only speak when spoken to — necessary to get “well” (unsick). Her friends, they’ve been banned.
She only needs a hit a day to prevent the sickness, but her boyfriend, Gio, she also supports. He needs at least two hits, or he beats her. The two have lost three babies, she says, a pair of twins and a boy, though she says it doesn’t have anything to do with the abuse. “My body just can’t hold babies.” The thought makes her drag long on her cigarette. With small movements, she winces. “I like talking, but do you mind if I go get well?”
Written by Cassie Rodenberg. You can find her writings here: White Noise
Neecy was dead to the streets, no longer buying drugs, no longer selling sex. The street was convinced she was shot by a john, her body dumped in the river. No. She was living in a small room, down to only smoking menthols, to only selling the Lord. She was true clean, not Hunts Point clean. Detox and rehab.
After three months she came back to Hunts Point to bring some brochures of salvation to old friends. Her body, gnarled from twenty-seven years of drugs and prostitution, now finally clean, gathered itself together and kept pace with her huge smile. “I feel great.”
Two weeks later she was living under a bridge, in Michael’s cave, nude save for blankets, fresh marks on her skin. She hugged me, and broke down in tears. “Want a story? How about relapse. How about a girl gets a bit of cash, gets lonely, misses her friends. Please don’t judge me. I am already embarrassed enough for myself.”
She wouldn’t let go of me, sobbing and shaking. “Can I get you anything?” “No. I don’t deserve shit.”
More by Cassie Rodenberg here: Neecy Relapse