First Person

The terrifying crystal meth cautionary tale I never told until now

When my guard is down, it comes to me. It flashes across my mind, an uninvited assault, sometimes when I am beginning to drift off to sleep or, more cruelly, when my mind is enjoying a pleasant reverie. It is then that the dark memory rushes in like a raid.

He lived in a house with nice furnishings. That reassured me when I arrived for the hookup, given that so many of the other crystal meth addicts I encountered were barely holding on to the remnants of their lives. The others might have a sofa to offer — just move those clothes and dishes and don’t worry about the barking in the other room he’ll stop I promise – and a laptop computer, the only real necessity, anyway, so we could watch porn or troll for other tweakers who were up at this time of night.

Time, after all, is a quaint and needless concept to addicts searching for drugs and companionship. Like the weather, say, or our integrity.

He is sitting across from me and we are naked. Seconds earlier, we had both injected ourselves with meth. The pounding rush of the drug is in full force and the possibilities feel endless. I’m looking forward to the sexual promises we had made to one another when we chatted online. Desperately. Now.

But even in my delirium, I have the feeling that something is off. I am blinking through watery eyes and have begun to focus on him. He is staring at me, his gaze fixed with an intense and completely unexpected contempt.

And there is a gun in his hand. A gun a gun a gun a gun.

“You’re not who you say you are,” he says, softly and suspiciously. He trembles from the impact of the meth. As he speaks, the gun the gun the gun is moving this way and that, pointed mostly in my direction.

I have no response. I don’t know what he is capable of, or if the gun is loaded, if he will pull the trigger, if this is a sadistic sex game. I met the man maybe an hour ago. I wonder if you can die of fright.

I couldn’t know that this moment would keep me awake at night for years to come, or that it would create post-traumatic stress that would require therapy, or that the therapy would reveal the many times I put my life at risk during my years of addiction when I was too numbed to recognize danger, or that the realization of all of this would create such shame that I wouldn’t dare explain it to anyone, or that other dark memories from my drug use would continue to reveal themselves to me, popping up unannounced and uninvited.

“You didn’t even shoot up just now,” he says. He is sweating, and he wipes his brow with the back of his hand, the hand holding the gun the gun the gun.

“You just watched me do it,” I object, gently, nodding toward my spent syringe. I am working hard, so hard, to remain calm while my body shudders from the force of the drugs still streaming through me.

“You should go now,” he responds. He has not moved from his spot.

“Okay. I will do that,” I comply. Carefully, I step to my pile of clothes on the floor. “I’m so sorry this didn’t work out,” I offer, terrified of every word I choose, that something might provoke him. I wonder if I will hear the sound of the gunshot before I feel the impact.

I step into my shorts, make sure my keys and phone are inside, and grab my shirt. I must turn my back on him as I leave the room. I hear him walking behind me. My skin is prickling with terror. We make our way down a hall and out his front door. He stops there and waits silently.

I get into my car in the driveway and face him. He stands there, naked under the porch light, without regard for neighbors who might be awake during the dead of night. His arms are at his side but the gun the gun the gun is still pointed toward me. I am shaking so badly I am having trouble getting the keys into the ignition, like the frantic scene from a thousand horror movies.

My eyes dart back and forth, torn between backing out of the long driveway and watching the armed man standing on the porch. I finally manage to pull into the street and drive away, and then the panic hits me so hard I have to pull over to catch my breath. I sit there for half an hour, not knowing that I will bury this secret episode for a decade, keeping it from my friends and from people in recovery trying to help me. For all my transparency about my life with HIV and even my drug use, I would not know where to put this frightening event, how to reconcile it, when the fear and the shame will be lifted.

I will learn much later that these things take time. Addicts don’t recover at the same pace, in the same way. You can’t walk ten miles into the forest and expect to get out in five.

After my roadside break, I start the car again and drive directly to my drug dealer, the only person in the world who would welcome me in such a state. When my feet touch his gravel driveway I realize I am barefoot.

In a few moments, I will have more meth in my body to wipe away the trauma.

The meth the meth the meth the meth.

Mark S. King is a recovering addict and Queerty’s health and HIV/AIDS writer. He is the author of the blog My Fabulous Disease

If you or someone you care about might have a problem with crystal meth or other substances, get more information from Crystal Meth Anonymous, your local Narcotics Anonymous fellowship, or answer this questionnaire about your drug habits. I also highly recommend Lust, Men and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Recovery by Dr. David Fawcett, Help is available. Recovery is possible.

Photo: Uncredited photo of Mark S. King, (c) 2006

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  • Heywood Jablowme

    Meth addicts can be irrational? Who ever would have guessed?

  • Kangol

    A terrifying story, and realer than almost anything I’ve read on here in a while. I’m curious to know if Mr. King reported the guy at all. I keep thinking about how the guy with the gun could easily have shot and killed someone else not long after Mr. King left, or perhaps killed himself.

    Also, when he writes, “In a few moments, I will have more meth in my body to wipe away the trauma,” does he mean he shot up MORE meth after this trauma, and went and tricked some more? Whoa!

    • ChrisK

      Actually it makes allot of sense since it helps erase the memory.

    • Ari Gold

      Of course he didn’t report him. If he did, he’d also have to report that they were at his house slamming. And no one wants to do that.

    • MacAdvisor

      How do we know the other party had a gun and all of that wasn’t Mr. King’s delirium? Meth addicts make terrible witnesses. For all we know, the guy sat there doing nothing and King rushed out him for some unknown reason (except to King).

  • ChrisK

    To an outsider it’s almost too bizarre to be real. However, anyone that’s lived in that world knows full well it’s practically normal. Especially when they’re slamming the shit. It’s only a matter of time till you start hearing the voices and getting really paranoid.

    I had one friend that would swear there were people in the walls talking to him. Got scary when he told me they were telling him to kill certain people. He called the police multiple times to report it. They would send their psych cops of coarse. A roomate where I had to to hide any electronic device because he’d take them apart. He just knew they were listening devices from the NSA. All cute till the paranoia gets turned on you and they get violent. I can’t imagine the danger of them having a gun.

  • ChrisK

    Danny595 cares a great deal about Danny. He doesn’t really care that much about the people he has hurt. This selfish, narcissistic creature’s entire life consists of living out of his parents basement and lashing out at anyone different because of extreme jealousy and bitterness.

    Gay and bi youth should study Dannys life closely and then build a life that is the exact opposite.

    There fixed it. At least that has truth in it.

  • ChrisK

    More on point though. What have you done to help people? All you do is attack others. I’m sure it makes your little dick hard and you feel so much better about you’re own pathetic life.

  • Tobi

    @ChrisK — I don’t think she has a dick.

  • Kieran

    Could be the meth, or could be the sight of you naked really really really really turned him off.

    • Danny595

      King has written that people should celebrate having HIV (not overcoming it or coping with it, but having the infection) and that gay people should accept STIs as part of gay life. He’s vile.

  • Wolfie

    Well honestly Mark has told these stories before so its not the first time. But that out of the way it is a good cautionary tale.

  • seaguy

    Tweakers start going into psychosis when they have been up for days without sleep and that is when they become irrational and delusional. Seeing and hearing things that are in their head but nowhere else. This one had a gun and apparently something set him off during Mark’s hookup with him.

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