After I got out of the Army I was restless and stupid so I ran out on a good marriage and a steady job, chased sex-drugs-rock&roll. I wound up in Canada, where those vices were in plentiful supply. The people in Canada were soft compared to my growing up in the Chicago area. I felt like a wolf among the sheep. They might still be soft; by that I mean they have no edge, no "Oh yeah, what are you lookin' at?" to them. I lived on the dark side for some years. Bad years.
The music scene I was in included rounders, thieves, dealers, bikers, hookers, the kind of people your momma warned you about. One such guy was Ray the Pill. He was on disability; the socialized medical coverage they have up there payed for his teeth and glasses and helped him fill numerous scripts for his real or conjured-up maladies. He was in and out of jail and the bughouse and when he was out he would wander around the fringe, slipping into a scene and out again like the morning mists, always carrying a gym bag full of pills. Many were from his own scripts, he somehow got them filled at multiple pharmacies, and others were from peoples' houses wherever he visited. He'd sneak into the bathroom and scoop whatever he could. This was interesting in itself as he wound up with birth control pills, blood pressure meds, he did not know or care. Aha, pill was all it took for him to be interested. Anyone dealing with him used a PDR (physicians desk reference) or took their chances. Ray was so strung out, he was up and down and sideways, he talked with an echo, like he was standing in a culvert, and he would always say "ooh, yeaaah, them're goood shit, mannn" not even knowing what he was looking at. The Indians and street girls up in Sudbury and northern towns thought he was Superfly and would cop pills from him based solely on shape and color, I think. Ray met his untimely and rather tacky demise by passing out face down and drowning in a half inch of rain water.
Another character I drank with was Dave the Wop. He was a petty thief and small time drug dealer and he always hinted at Mafia connections, like his cousins in Baltimore that would clip a guy for pizzas and beer, he said. Dave was a legend in his own mind even when he was down to cashing in the empties so he could cop a six pack. I once bought a vacuum cleaner from him, a Filter Queen that he lifted from some sleazy motel he was staying at while making one of his heavy drug runs. He sez he was "moving some serious weight" but he scooped the vac. Uh huh, right Dave. I gave him 20 bucks for it and I still have it, to this day. He almost never drove a vehicle, saying loudly and often that cars were dangerous, citing traffic death stats to support his position. Dave met his sudden and somewhat ironic demise when he was driving his mother's car filled with empties to the beer store , intent on getting something into him that would cut the hair of the dog, as they say. He was puttering along at about 20 mph so the coppers said, and failed to stop for a stop sign. The truck that t-boned him was going about 40 and damn near cut that K car in half. So ended Dave.
Those two stick in my mind because they were in the crowd I ran with. I knew some paper hangers, somehow put together bogus cashiers checks, and went on a run to cash 'em and the second bank they went into the Mounties were waiting. I read all about it in the morning paper. I could tell all kindsa stories about street people but I am not going to. It's my past, and I will keep most of it to myself.
Looking back, I think that God had plans for me that did not include any of the mess. I was in that world but not really of it, if you grasp that. I had to travel some rough roads to become the man I am today.
Epitath for all those poor bastards that didn't make it through:
A man born to be hanged will never drown. Some consolation, uh?