Cocktail Johnny and the Sewer Brigade:
Confessions of a Midnight Toker

I can't say that I haven't been drinking. It's always late at night, when the streets have grown still and the house echoes evrey sound, when everyone's asleep. Usually I start pretty late (right now, I'm on my second drink and it's a quarter past one), after subsiding my interests in other pleasures. The drink is to steady my nerves a bit. When you've spent the past four years speeding all day and hitting the drugs up all night, your system tends to act pecuilour. Most of it was harmless, just experimenting with my limits and what I can and can't do to myself. I usually ended up on top. Usually.

These red pills me and the boys used to pop were something. They would inhibit the neural receptors from your body that connect to the cerebellum, and the effect was astounding. You would start flipping out after an hour, and feel the pills slide through your heart like pieces of chalk and then go all over you. When they kicked in, you felt a thousand miles away from your body, even though it's all right there, laid out in front of you. My arms felt like they were made of dry oak wood, and the day was so much longer and brighter and more vivid than a sober reality could deal out. We stopped taking them after we found out they could give you brain hemmorhages. To be honest, we knew the whole time they were bad for us. When something could do that to you, how couldn't it be severely damaging? It felt wonderful, but it also felt very, very wrong

That was the hardest I ever hit drugs. It cost me enough, that dark fantasy, in real time. I fucked up major in school, and had to work instead of continuing my education during the next semester. I worked at a sandwich shop near my house, because I didn't have a car to get to a better job. I spent a lot of time pissing away my life, just hanging around my house, sleeping until the afternoon and staying up until dawn. I wasn't even working hard at the things I cared most about: my writing and my music. Eventually I saved up enough money to buy a car, quit that job, and get a much easier (and better paying) job delivering pizzas.  This turned out to be another sustained period of drug use, now switching heavily to pot. I've been smoking since I was 16 (turned on and cultivated along with my friends), but now that I was taking in over a hundred dollars a night, and working at one of the easiest jobs on the planet, it seemed there was no more of a natural conclusion than to smoke a lot of pot. After all, I wouldn't be back in school for another three months, and as long as I'm making money, what's the harm? I ended up smoking all night during deliveries, then all the time on my days off. I started writing again, started seriously playing music, and made enough money to go back to school in the fall. I enrolled in a junior college, got fairly good grades (by then I had a band and was writing quite a bit in my spare time, so the elusive 3.0 got away yet again), and transferred to a four-year university in the spring semester.

 I'd shaken the drug monkey off my back, for the time being. I was fairly sober, minus the occasional weekend drinking, during the first semester at my new school. I did well in all of my classes (so well that if it weren't for a damn required class, Art Appreciation, I would have had a 3.5 GPA by the end), and had been elected as an editor on the school's paper. My band came in second place at the battle of the bands they had, and we went into the studio to record a three song demo. It came out well, and we continue to practice hard as I strive to write better songs. Our long-term plans are to tour after my drummer and I graduate college, and possibly go make that "big push" to success. It depends on how good we are in a year and a half.

 With school out of the way, I took a job up at a local store, but couldn't stand the environment. Not to sound as if I know any better, but the people I worked with were tools. All drab, drab people living sad circuitous lives centered around a nucleus I wouldn't begin to understand (for fear it would lull me into a coma). The less I go on to describe this sort of thing, the better. Let's not waste words.

So I quit that vanilla scene and went all the way next door, where I'm on register. And for this drugstore cowboy, the setting couldn't be any more fitting: a liquor store. I watch old men, old women, drunks, young vacationers, lonely people, fun people, angry people, all file through as they pick up the drug they chug. They all have worn faces, exhausted looks, and very bad breath and manners. I enjoy it all, this grotesque parade of the living dead, bouncing from one day to the next on cushioned and subdued perceptions.

Wait a moment, you say, who's currently drinking at two in the morning? I'm not a hypocrite, nor do I think the same statement doesn't apply to me. I just have a breath of air in my lungs, albeit mingled with heavy tobacco smoke. Also, youth and time are on my side. I turned twenty about three months back. Don't worry: I feel the end of this lost weekend coming on strong. It's the saving grace of my life: college. I drink and drug out of boredom, not due to addiction. The only substance I'm addicted to is nicotine (which is bad enough). Everything else is just an odd sort of icing on the cake. It's there, and I have nothing better to do late at night but drink, or smoke a little weed with my friends.

Sometimes I think of how much I had inside of me before things like alcohol and drugs began chipping away fragments and memories of my life, and how much more vivid my dreams were when I was just a little younger.

I drink because I'm lonely. I drug because I'm unhappy. I want love, I want life, I want to know there's going to be something for me there when I wake up and someone who will live and love this life with me. I'm filling in some empty space inside that consumes everything like fire. It may be my passion, or it may be all in my head. Either way, I know it's there, and I know who I am and why I am. 
 I'm afraid of how much of myself I've already lost.