The other day someone commented that it seemed like I was sharing a piece of my very personal journal/diary. I mean it when I say that many of these stories I have told you and plan to tell you have never been heard by anyone, ever. I write them down partially so I don’t forget them, but also to help myself get a grip on what really happened. I also mean it when I say that writing these stories has helped me sort out my past, and therefore my future. I’m going to tell you another story that I really debated keeping bottled up until I found out its main character had died. This story took me a week to write. It is a gritty, raw and maybe even disturbing story. You have been warned, my friends, so don’t judge me. I am going to immortalize Jake.
Jake was a friend that I had known since my childhood, we had been friends since kindergarten on up. Let me just say that during that entire period of time that kid was absolutely crazy. Jake was the most in your face, argumentative, “I’m never wrong,” person you will ever meet. Take your most arrogant, abrasive and confrontational friend and multiply him by ten, now you have Jake. To make matters worse, we both read constantly, anything and everything that could possibly be of interest. We learned some weird shit about this fucked up world way before any of our peers. We wanted to make sure we were never wrong, it was that simple. When we first stumbled upon the drug culture we quickly became dangerously obsessed.
It was my fault.
By the end of freshman year of high school I was selling weed to a good number of my friends that I was getting fronted to me from this shady fuck named Joe John. That summer was also when I discovered that he sold heroin, which I tried for the first time within a few days of finding out. It was better than anything I had ever felt in my life, I kid you not. I remember it like yesterday, it still calls me to this very day. Jake found out and made me get some for him to try; it was at that point the story really begins. That exact moment was the beginning of the end for Jake, I issued his death sentence when I answered his inquiry with, “Of course, dude.” I came through, we got stoned and we were well on our way to the end of the story, when we met this past weekend for the last time.
Fast forward four years to the end of my freshman year of college. I had been slowly attempting to wean myself off of smack since New Year’s Eve (fucking resolutions) and was having relative success. I was back from my first year of college and was on top of the world. Two of my friends and I had planned a trip back in December (after a night of heavy cocaine usage) that would start with them flying up to Milwaukee and then leaving after two days and driving to Philadelphia. It was now June and it was time for our little adventure. I also hadn’t seen Jake in a while and needed someone to go with me who was from Milwaukee so I didn’t have to drive the 900 miles back from Philly by myself, since Tom and Jerry (no idea why I’m calling them this, first thing that came to mind) were staying in Philly, where Jerry was from.
The plan was that we would go to Summerfest in Milwaukee for two nights and then hit the road for Philly for three more nights. Now Summerfest is the largest music festival in the entire world and the two nights spent there were awesome. The days, however, were spent with the hassles of chasing down an ample supply of drugs for the trip. By the time we were ready to leave we had an eight ball of cocaine, three grams of heroin and a half ounce of prime weed. My mom actually found the weed but I told her if she didn’t give it back I would owe someone $200 for losing it. I thought that was oh so fucking clever. On the night we were going to leave Jake and I shot up while my friends unknowingly waited outside and then we hit the road at about midnight for Philadelphia and more good times, or so I thought.
Tom did most of the driving on the trip because every time we stopped Jake and I would either shoot up or snort some blow. When I think about it today, I am surprised that my heart didn’t either explode or stop, or both at the same time, if that was possible. The two of us were so smacked up that we could barely function; much less drive a fucking car across the Pennsylvania turnpike at 80 mph. Surprisingly, as I’m sure it is, we made it to Philly unharmed and went right to bed upon arriving at Jerry’s house.
I awoke the next morning to Jake tapping me on the shoulder and quietly whispering, “Morning fix?” We went out on to the back porch before anyone was awake and had a shot for breakfast. We sat out there watching more and more of the sun rise. I had tears in my eyes because I was too stoned to blink. I was a breathing corpse.
Jake wanted to be Lou Reed, he wanted to fuck whores and buy drugs in NYC just like him. He also did not want to come back to Milwaukee, although I was not aware of this. So when we took the train up to New York City, it came as quite a surprise that he ran away. We waited for eight fucking hours for him to finally come back, “I left my sunglasses in your car in Philly,” he said. I had been sick to my stomach and was thinking about what the hell I was going to tell his parents. I could have killed him. We got back, after a completely wasted afternoon, and got high, before going to bed. When I woke up the next morning I had no idea it would be one the worst day of my entire life.
It wasn’t a good start, heroin for breakfast again. It took forever for my hand to stop bleeding, it was a bad sign. We fucked around for the rest of the afternoon before making a run to the liquor store to get 40 ozs of Steel Reserve, three per person, which would be our undoing. I guess that this is where the story really begins.
We went to hang out with some of Jerry’s friends on the west side of Philly. Jake and I were so fucked up I couldn’t remember their names more than five minutes after meeting them. We talked to them for a bit and Jake ran his typical “shock the shit out of new people” routine by giving them a tour of his track marks. They were shocked, of course, but that was his intention. It wasn’t going like normal, however, as this cute little girl named Leah was giving him hell about it. She had hung out with us the day before and Jake had told me how he had a crush. Trouble. He exploded.
If you have ever drank Steel Reserve, I don’t need to explain what happens to your brain after three 40 ozs. That shit tastes like motor oil and probably gets you just about as fucked up. I can’t remember a lot of the details of what happened next, but I remember how it felt.
After taking all he could from Leah, Jake ran outside, presumably to go shoot up. I chased him, but he only ran faster. He realized was running away, literally, for good. He ran out of breath and I caught up and just fucking laid into him. I was screaming at him on the side of a four lane road at fucking one in the morning, it was getting out of hand. I told him that I didn’t care about his desire to stay on the east coast, what the fuck would his parents say? He wasn’t listening. He didn’t care. I had enough.
I remember the decision being a conscious one; I thought it through so well. It was like all the Steel Reserve was gone and my thinking was crystal clear. I am going to kill you, Jake, just watch me. Lord knows I tried.
The first punch hit him square in the cheek; I felt the sting in my hand. It felt good, really good. It was an entire lifetime of aggression and anger towards him being taken out in one swift action. He didn’t move. He was in complete and utter shock. I hit him again and again and again. I felt his nose break and he spit out a tooth. I blacked out from this point.
My memory resumes as I am stomping his head into the concrete, blood is everywhere, coming from his eyes, mouth and ears. Tom and Jerry are trying to pull me away, but my strength is inhuman. I remember Tom finally pulling me away. I looked down and threw up when I saw the blood and little pieces of bloody matted hair covering my hands and right foot. I was covered in Jake’s blood and flesh. I blacked out again.
Waking up to that hangover was horrible. I didn’t remember what happened and I couldn’t find Jake so I went outside and shot up. I looked at my hand and was shocked to see it was swollen to twice its normal size. It was only my right hand. I got in a fight last night. Jake came outside a few minutes later and looked like a totally different person; it was slowly coming back to me. I was getting angry again. Now I remembered. He wasn’t mad; he knew why I did what I did. I woke up Jerry, I told him we were leaving…now.
The ride back was not a good situation. Jake needed to go to a hospital, badly. I didn’t take him. I didn’t care how bad he was hurt. I made him ride in the back and I didn’t talk to him at all unless it was to tell him to get a shot ready. I drove the entire distance and only stopped three times. I made Jake pee in a bottle the whole time. I was too angry to stop. It took me 15 hours of driving stoned off of my ass and angry as hell to get home, at times pushing 120mph. I had enough. He had pushed me for years with his craziness and I made him pay for all of them in one evening.
I didn’t sleep that night. I saw the lane lines going past in my head, torturing me. All I could think about was how I dropped him off and told him to never call me again. I told him I hated him. I told him I wanted him to die. He had told his parents that we got jumped in Philly, he never betrayed me. I found out later that I ended up knocking out eight of his teeth, broke his nose, broke both cheekbones, burst his left ear drum, fractured his left eye socket and gave him a concussion. I almost killed him, literally. I went on for the next week cursing him and wishing I would have finished the job. I was so fucked up in the head; twisted and sinister. I looked in the mirror and saw evil staring back.
A week later, on the last night of Summerfest I got what I deserved. I got jumped by three guys on my way out for running my mouth. Broke my cheekbone, nose, eye socket and I lost four teeth. I spent 3 months having facial reconstruction surgery and trying to get back to normal. My life was fucked. I was horribly addicted to drugs, which my parents found out from my toxicology screen at the hospital. I did the entire three months without the help of painkillers. They don’t give opiates to junkies, apparently. If they had it would have been a death sentence. It was the most painful experience of my life. I tried to kill myself. I cried all the fucking time. I was going through withdrawal. I felt like the worst person on the planet. I felt horrible for what I did to Jake, for what I did to everyone. I got what I deserved. It rebuilt me. It put the stare in my eyes, the pain. It made me a man.
I never talked to Jake again. He tried for about a year to contact me; I was too cowardly to answer. The next time I saw him, he was in his Sunday best, his eyes closed and he was dead.
Jake I am sorry I was not…am not…enough of a man to say I love you. I will never forgive myself for this. I miss you. I will never see you again. I wish I could have said goodbye.