This is the 3rd of a Trilogy of Leon’s Journey through the madness of his addiction. From Primrose Tower, to Erdington… To his Last Stop. Click on the titles to read them or the links will feature at the end of this story along with a link to Leon’s Art Gallery.
As I have stated previously, I don’t pay too much effort to edit Leon’s writing. He writes with pen and paper and I think it would be a crime to take out the character of his storytelling by trying to make it the Queens English.
Trigger Warning: Contains coarse language, sex, drug use and paraphernalia, crime, homelessness and overdose.
So it’s off to Erdington, the bowels of Birmingham, to meet a ‘copper’ (C.I.D) that’s in partnership with a big DIY bloke, that runs the houses. They are housing the homeless from prison mental health units, the most vulnerable adults in the community, and mad as march hares. But your man who runs this gets £250 a week for each one of us. With 5 or 6 in each house and 4 houses, that’s a nice little ticket. A ‘support worker’, or so he said he was.
I used to sit in the front room drinking Frosty Jack at 10 o’clock in the morning having a right old laugh. So I meet him, I forgot his name so we will call him Cid to keep it simple. Cid and me, go to this first house, the bins are winning rights in the path and now the road! Not good. So far we go in and its summer now, t-shirts, shorts, we open the front door, it’s like a fucking sauna in this place.
The spoon that had his morning pin and left 1mm pins all over the place. I look at Cid and say no thanks, I’ll go back to my doorway.
Two blokes in the front room, windows shut stinking like a crack house. Two hoodies they were. Making excuses and they were off to the Antarctic the way they were dressed. I look at Cid and said, “Business good”. Come nick them at your own house and get paid, I thought, very shrewd businessman.
He shows me a bedroom, someone was still in the room, I could see he had only just left. The spoon that had his morning pin and left 1mm pins all over the place. I look at Cid and say no thanks, I’ll go back to my doorway. He said, I’ve got another place but there’s no bed. I say as long as I’m not sleeping on old junkie’s needles I’ll sleep anywhere.
We pull up outside two big old Victorian-style houses, nice looking, better than the shithole he first showed me. The bedroom is like a 5-year-old’s box bedroom, I’ve had prison cells bigger and better equipped. Cells have toilets and beds and this had I have neither. So, we meet Mark the grass who lives next door on his giro junkie lifestyle. He finds me a bed from somewhere in Cid’s houses, so I’m sharing the house with four Polish people, two girls and two boys
.Then when the crew weren’t about, I used to hang around with the Polish crew, about 6 or 8 big, loud blokes, sometimes some of them used to sleep in the graveyard, as I did many nights.
Jim Bob I called him from day one. He was a brown teeth speckled skinny 20 year old that says he was nearly in the paras, the fucking dreaming bag of bollocks, in his boy scout uniform, like the fucking Queen was coming to lunch. The pecking order was when one moves out the next in line gets the best room with the double bed etc. So the Polish move out and a bloke comes one day, a little stocky, about 30 years old, giro look.
He was into anything he could get his hands on. He said he was a tat man but really, it was a case of ‘if it wasn’t nailed down it was gone’. A junkie lifestyle. But he did clear the garden. Very well too, I may say, but the garden job was just a front for all the scrap iron at the bottom. His Dad was a Spaghetti Western nut, so he named his dumbass gypo junkie after an old western actor. The old bill used to call him the Cowboy. Funny as fuck.
Anyway, I’m on my own desperado mission myself. I’m robbing two popular discount stores on the high street every day. I’m talking all I could steal, at least 5 to 8 bottles a time out of one and then go the other and nick 4 cans of gas. Then over to the graveyard I went. This is where I meet the graveyard drinkers and Giro bagheads. My new crew, Monty, Eddy, Stuart, Della.
I say buy me a Tenants Super and you can dress me up as Santa!. Next thing you know we are in Burton’s. I got this pair of jeans that you needed plyers to get into, a top that’s two sizes too small and she says ‘You look Beefy now’. I say ‘I can’t breathe, my balls are up my ass, the top is strangling me and I feel like a right cunt’.
I knew Monty from the nick when the screws of Winson Green block ripped his arm out the socket and left him for 3 days. Then when the crew weren’t about, I used to hang around with the Polish crew, about 6 or 8 big, loud blokes, sometimes some of them used to sleep in the graveyard, as I did many nights.
Back to the house I’m sharing. Another new tenant, we will call Layla moved in. She had a moustache, she was overweight, about 30 and needed a good shave. Man, she was hit by every stick on the ugly tree when she fell through. A nervous wreck she was. She wasn’t a junkie so there was a plus for her. Then we had another new lady, we will call ‘L’ who moves in, she’s from a psychiatric unit… ‘secure’.
She was a darling, (looking, that is). She was about 27, no kids and she was a nymphomaniac. So we say let’s have a party for the new residents. The cowboy isn’t doing much apart from gouching in front of the TV. I say get the fella from next door, so he can’t grass us up to Cid, the gaffa. He comes around with a few people from his place and we had a party, pissing off the neighbour on the other side who owns his house and must hate us lot, pissed up, and wrecking the place.
We used to play a game in the graveyard called ‘where was the wine I had nicked from?’ and therefore, what part of the world we had drunk wine from. Places like the Vineyards in South West Australia and the Atlas Mountains in Spain.
I found myself and L in my bed in the morning. She was showing me all her tattoos, that girl had a lot of energy. One of her mental health issues is she fucks men and then she says you need new clothes, haircut, the lot. I say buy me a Tenants Super and you can dress me up as Santa!.
Next thing you know we are in Burton’s. I got this pair of jeans that you needed plyers to get into, a top that’s two sizes too small and she says ‘You look Beefy now’. I say ‘I can’t breathe, my balls are up my ass, the top is strangling me and I feel like a right cunt’.
I’m only going over the graveyard to get twisted, but she wants to play happy families. I want to get high with my mates but she’s buying me clothes and drinks, so it would be rude not to keep her company and I must say she was the loudest shag I have ever had. She would wake the whole house up.
My mate Charlie came to stay at the love shack. He remembered so well, me opening up the door with a can of gas up each sleeve, and a bottle of Frosty Jack. May his soul rest in peace. He died of this horrible epidemic of addiction. He was a bald, stocky build, gold toothed man with a friendly smile.
The doctor called me in for my blood and piss and give me an MOT that I didn’t want. A few weeks later he calls me back into his office. ‘Your liver is fooked’ he says, ‘The cider is killing you, that’s why you’re going yellow’
A new kid in the gaff means, party!. We cause chaos again. L runs down the road in her knickers, pissed up on her meds. Four cop cars came to arrest her and she went ballistic.
Charlie was my new student at shopping, we start off just having a bottle each, easy as you like, Charlie is pissed now, telling me what a super shoplifter he is. So I go to the high street, nick 4 bottles of gas and buy a laundry bag. Big heavy duty one. I put it on Charlie’s shoulder and say ‘Just walk in front and I will fill up the bag from behind you’ He says ‘No problem’. I say ‘You feeling strong?’ as we walk through the doors. He says, ‘Ooh yeah!’
He walks down the wine aisle, I start dropping bottle after bottle into the laundry bag. Charlie is starting to feel the weight of this load of wine. I must have at least 15 bottles in there and he says he can’t carry anymore. Straight out the door it is. Now he thinks he’s invisible, the stupid cunt, pissed out his head on wine from all over the world.
We used to play a game in the graveyard called ‘where was the wine I had nicked from?’ and therefore, what part of the world we had drunk wine from. Places like the Vineyards in South West Australia and the Atlas Mountains in Spain. This is what I think might have given me my drive to travel to all these far off places that sounded so grand and beautiful when I cleaned up my act.
I tell him I’ll just drink Tennants super then ya mouldy old nonce. Off I went to get hammered. I’m dead anyway so I’m on a suicide mission. Now I’m getting really bad. The morning 5:30 bile puking was getting worse, starting to feel like I can’t breathe, every time.
Now 10 years later I have a passport with only 3 pages left. I’ve been to Japan, Thailand, Cuba, Central America, Hong Kong… that’s another short story! Back to Erdo. Penniless and slowly dying from the lifestyle I’m living. Winter came and Cid the gaffer of the house says you have £50 to heat your house, that’s it. It was cold that winter. I moved myself to the living room, it was warmer.
At this stage in my life, the morning shakes were that bad, the Cowboy more or less had to hold the bottle so I could drink. The doctor called me in for my blood and piss and give me an MOT that I didn’t want. A few weeks later he calls me back into his office. ‘Your liver is fooked’ he says, ‘The cider is killing you, that’s why you’re going yellow’. I thought I had a tan from being outside all day totting.
He says he gives me 6 months at most and tells me I need to stop drinking Frosty Jack. I tell him I’ll just drink Tennants super then ya mouldy old nonce. Off I went to get hammered. I’m dead anyway so I’m on a suicide mission. Now I’m getting really bad. The morning 5:30 bile puking was getting worse, starting to feel like I can’t breathe, every time.
One day L’s brother comes around on his motorbike with his fit bird. L is cooking dinner playing happy bloody families again. But the brother brings a bottle of vodka, so I think he’s ok. We eat and drink, L and her brother are pissed up now, so I make my exit up to the graveyard and sniff some gas and drink some cheap, shit cider, because the shops are closed. I get high until it’s dark anyway, so I make my 10 metre journey home.
All I remember was two bangs, and a cold feeling, but warm funny feeling, then waking up on a life support machine in Hospital
L’s brother and the girlfriend are still here, but while he was pissed up he went around the corner to the pub, thinking he’s Johnny rock hard and he gets his head punched in, the daft cunt. I’m back home, he’s covered in blood, his lap dancing girlfriend licking his wounds as he polishes off the bottle he’s drinking from.
We all settle down and about 7 or 8 o’clock in the morning after my 5:30 trip to the bog, to do my morning ritual. So I open one of my eyes to L’s bro and his woman, having some morning fun, think they might have forgot about me on the other settee. She is getting very happy sitting on top of him and saying to me, look away, I say ‘I can’t!?’
Then a bang on the window, she who’s sitting on L’s bro opens the curtain and says ‘Who the fuck’s he?’ I tell him it’s Cid the gaffer of the house, back off his 3 weeks in Australia watching cricket, lucky bastard. But his luck was just about to run out when he gets inside his house. He goes ‘Who the fuck are you two shagging in my living room?’.
He goes ‘Open the bloody curtains!’ and as he does they hit the deck. They ripped down a week ago at one of our legendary rave parties. We had been having for the 3 weeks Cid was on his jollies. So the curtain’s are on the floor, he goes to turn the light on and ‘BANG’ the light bulb has popped because the upstairs bathroom shower is fucked and leaking through to the living room. I’m there telling him the microwave has blown up because someone at the party put silver foil in there and bang it went.
The machine next to me was doing my breathing. The wires all over my body, I start to shake very violently. I hear a doctor saying he’s fitting again.
Next, I’m onto the washing machine. It’s been full of my clothes and water for a good week, the door wouldn’t open and I’m trying to get a compensation claim. There’s about £200 worth of clothes in the fucking washing machine I’m telling him. He marches back into the front room looking at your man’s birds bangers, his blood-stained clothes and the ton of empty bottles on the carpet that’s looking exactly like it’s had a party on it every night for 3 weeks. Not good.
Cid says to me It’s your fault you invited them in. True, but the whole house loved the parties, I think.., Well, I did..? So he says ‘You better clean the carpet and move back upstairs to the room that you’re meant to sleep in. Not the fucking living room with your shagging hobo’s. Sort it out’ As he gets into his Golf GTI, the C.I.D prick. I’ll show him the smug cunt.
Remember the doctors have given me a yellow label on my liver, 6 months they said. So I’m in the graveyard one day waiting for one of the crew to get his Giro and he buys the crack and smack for the day, his one day of ‘power’. The power of a pipe and the hungry junkies waiting for a 3rd pull on a pipe. But I’m well pissed, gas, crack, start going on to my friend to give me a pin of smack, just half a bag I remember saying, won’t do fuck all to me.
The doctor tells me that I’m an alcoholic junkie that was found just down the road from a known crackhouse with no pulse and a cornflakes box on my lap which had the words ‘drunk and OD’ written on it.
I used to inject forty pounds of smack into my veins every day for 12 years. I had run out of veins but my friend gives me a pin. All I remember was two bangs, and a cold feeling, but warm funny feeling, then waking up on a life support machine Hospital. I couldn’t move, my back felt like someone had got sandpaper and sanded my back down like an old chair.
The machine next to me was doing my breathing. The wires all over my body, I start to shake very violently. I hear a doctor saying he’s fitting again. That was all I remember. Might have been a day or two. The man next to me is just shouting every two mins for his painkillers. I hadn’t a fucking clue what the fuck he was talking about, but I could hear him so I must be ok.
Well, my brain anyway. Better make sure my legs and arms are working, and how the fuck did I get here? The doctor tells me that I’m an alcoholic junkie that was found just down the road from a known crackhouse with no pulse and a cornflakes box on my lap which had the words ‘drunk and OD’ written on it. Them great ambulance drivers and nurses saved my life, and I didn’t even know about it until 4 days later. I must have been knackered from 3 weeks of parties. Or 30 years of party and poverty.
So I’m awake, and it’s that smell, the hospital smell. Laughing nurses and doctors at the other end of a big room, most of the occupants of the room are O.D.P on machines like me. I freak out, pulling the wires and tubes out, my brain is in escape mode, just run, my brain is saying… I end up on the floor with a crack to my head…
You can follow Leon’s journey of the madness of his addiction before he found his way back to life in his other stories:
You can also see Leon’s Art Gallery by clicking here.