That devil on my shoulder
Had become bolder as I got older
He used to come to me in my sleep
In nightmares that’s seemed
More a warning than a dream
I had a dream when I was fourteen years old that has always stuck with me. In retrospect it haunts like a foreshadowing of a struggle my young self never knew I would end up wrestling with. I was innocent but not ignorant.
I walked into a concrete room that I imagined to be some sort of basement. The room was empty outside of a single vat of white powder that sat ominously in the center of the room, and a lamp that hung from the ceiling, swaying back and forth it cast shadows against the dank gray of the cracked walls. In my dream I knew that the white powder in the vat was cocaine.
On the other-side of the container was a girl not much older than myself, with long blond hair. She smiled at me, but the way the lamp cast shadows it made her features look deep set and disconcerting. “Hi.” She said.
“Why don’t you try some.” The girl said to me, motioning toward the vat. “I know you are curious.”
“No!” I smiled and politely turned her down. “I don’t do drugs.” – I didn’t. At fourteen I had once snuck two beers from the cooler at Thanksgiving, as well as a cigarette from Uncle Stacey, back before my family had discovered AA. I had taken my debaucherous loot out into the woods and had a sip of beer before guilt overtook me and i dumped it out. The first cigarette I smoked made me vomit.
“I know you don’t do drugs.” The girl smiled. “But I also know you’re curious.”
“No…” I objected.
“All you have to do it is one time, you never have to do it again. Then you will know.” The girl continued to coax.
“I – no…I…”
“Nobody will know. Just you and I.” She urged. “I know you want to know what it feels like. I know you want to know what it is…just try it one time, and you never have to do it again….”
“OK.” I finally conceded… I walked nervously up to the lip of the vat, bent over, scooped some of the powder in my hand and brought it to my face and snorted it. AND IN MY DREAM – nothing happened. There was NO HIGH. There was no alteration to my mentation. In my dream: I HAD A NEW KNOWLEDGE, as if I had inhaled a textbook.
“OK –Bye.” I said, and then timidly I began to walk away. The swaying lamplight disappeared into a cavern of blackness, and pretty soon I was unable to see my hands or my feet or where I was walking, I only knew that I had to walk through the darkness to get away. I felt an impending doom, that kind of drop in your gut when you feel like someone is standing behind you but you are afraid to look…and that is when I felt “it.”
It was like a hand, a fist that wadded up the back of my shirt in a grip that was so strong, pulling me back, back, back no matter how hard I fought to push forward. The next thing I know, the grip had whipped me around and I was belly-to-the-vat of drugs again. I looked up in shock, out of breathe from fighting against whatever invisible force had brought me back there, sweat on my brow. The girl on the other-side was crossing her arms, smiling widely. “One more time won’t hurt.” She said. “Just one more…”
I looked down at the cocaine and my stomach knotted. I had the distinct feeling that I was being held hostage. Like I had to do it again, in order to leave. “Ok. Once more.” I said…and I bent down and did it again before I turned and this time ran into the darkness, hoping that whatever I felt on my heals would not catch up to me…
But then I felt that same force grab onto my back. It pulled and pulled and pulled me back until I was again belly-up to the vat of drugs…only this time I was alone.
This time there was nobody telling me to do it.
This time, it was me, that bent over to do the drug…without urging…
And I turned and I sprinted into the darkness, stumbling over my feet, grasping at the ground, fighting to out run….
I WOKE UP WHEN I FELT IT GRAB ONTO ME AGAIN. – At fourteen I SWORE I WOULD NEVER DO DRUGS –
I didn’t succeed…addiction has been a DEEPLY planted weed, one that ran through the veins of my ancestors like a torch being handed off – and it’s manifested itself in my life as the trickiest demon I have to battle, the whole while with dreams like warnings …