A drug-addled mind and a small, proud little dick, he came into my life drunk and tall. We fucked but the sex didn’t matter very much; it was his honesty, that he ordered pizza at 2am for us, that he was so wholly himself, that he called me a little pumpkin, that his hair was so nice. That was in Portland in 2013.
In L.A. at the turn of 2015 the mind was fully drugged, but I realised it wasn’t addled. He was quick, funny, mean, open, self-deprecating. I bought clean needles for him and watched him shoot up in the apartment that I was watching over. He gave me a single poke of a needle covered in ink, my only tattoo: an Emmett birthmark.
A week later I graduated into visiting the flophouse with him, watching shirtless boys nod in and out of reality with a Harmony Korine movie playing in the background. The flophouse was windowless, dark, littered with heroin paraphernalia and old masks from when it used to be a functioning business. The owner of the flophouse was fat for a dope head and had paint crusted on his body and clothing. He had been a successful movie producer, then opened the mask shop, then became a dope addict, then sold plaster figurines on Ebay for hundreds of dollars to support his heroin brethren. A little part of me liked going to the flophouse even though the air was thin.
Emmett got an abscess and had to go to the hospital for two days. He didn’t contact me those few days and I assumed he was dead. When he came back we were closer and I always tied a tourniquet around his arm to prevent any more abscesses. His friend died, the fifth one to die of an overdose, and Emmett told me over Facebook that he was quitting.
A few days later he was tapering and he shot me up. It was my first heroin ever. It hit me within about ten seconds and the world started reeling. There were five of everything, I couldn’t move, the world was vibrating. Emmett asked me if it felt amazing and I said I felt wavy. I couldn’t walk and he carried me to the bathroom in case I needed to puke. Then when I didn’t he carried me back to my bed.
I said, “Tell me things about myself,” and he told me I was selfish, a baby, jealous, smart, interesting. I told him he was smart too and he accepted it. I was sweating and I took off my shirt and pants. Our faces were close together in the bed and we kept telling each other the things that we did that were wrong and then he kissed me and we fucked.
And then the puking started. I still couldn’t walk so every 20 minutes or so Emmett carried me to the bathroom where I’d easily barf out the three sips of Vitamin Water I’d had since the last puke. He rubbed my back while I purged and then cuddled me until I fell asleep. I woke up some time later and the vomiting started again. It must have been about 12 times that I bent over the toilet that night.
Finally, at 1am, I took a shower and crawled into bed with him. He told me I looked skinny and I rested my wet head in his shoulder nook. I promised I was done puking and he asked me to promise I would never do heroin again. I laughed. It was an easy promise to make.
The next day we spent with his parents, another two people who were so impressively themselves that I immediately fell in love with them too. They were loud and pretty with none of the usual adult veneer. I told Emmett that and he said, “yeah, that’s because they’re real people.”
We ate at a German restaurant where we all shared our food, then Emmett and I fell asleep until his mom woke us up to go see a movie about oil wars. At the end of the day we went to meet Emmett’s grandparents. His grandfather, a Lithuanian man, gave Emmett a hundred dollars. We went to the flophouse immediately.
Emmett was happy. He felt wavy, exhilarated, confident. He did too much heroin and started nodding out in front of my friends. He’d made a rule that we could smoke in my room and all of my friends were elated, but the smell was starting to give me heart palpitations and I just wanted to just hug Emmett.
They left and I climbed into bed with him. He asked me if we could make out and I said yes and so we fucked again. He spooned me from behind and I asked what he was thinking and he began to cry. “I don’t feel like myself unless I’m on heroin.”
“It takes practice,” I said.
“I don’t know how I can quit.”
“You can, you’ll feel like yourself soon.”
“Do you think I’m a good person?”
“I think you’re a terrific person.”
“What am I good for?”
“I had to learn that, I wasn’t always good at girls.”
“Do you think I’m an interesting person?”
“I wouldn’t hang out with you every day if I didn’t think you were interesting.”
“The problem is I know deep down I’m good and I’m interesting, but I feel most of the time like a terrible person.”
“You’re my favorite person,” I said.
He cried a little bit more but he wasn’t much of a crier, and besides he was still high. He told me to set my internal clock for early; he was moving to Minneapolis the next day.
“I trust your internal clock more than mine,” he said.
He woke up early, did a rinse, woke me up, and kissed me on the cheek goodbye. I missed him immediately.