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NIC SHEFF was drunk for the first time at age eleven. In the years that followed, he would smoke pot regularly, do cocaine and Ecstasy, and develop addictions to crystal meth and heroin. Even so, he had always felt like he could quit and put his life together whenever he needed to. It took a violent relapse one summer to convince him otherwise.

In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and his journey toward recovery.


“The harrowing story of a decade of youthful drug abuse.”

—The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“Riveting.” “铆。”

—Playboy -花花公子

“Sheff details his downward spiral, and the reader feels his desperation….

—VOYA ——沃雅

“Graphic and detailed memoir [that] painfully depicts the author’s addiction to methamphetamines and his tortuous, tentative journey to health.”

—School Library Journal ——学校图书馆杂志

“You begin to understand how love can miss its mark and spiral toward tragedy.”

—Reading Room -阅览室

“Searingly honest.” “非常诚实。”

—Booklist ——书单


Atheneum Books for Young Readers

An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
1230 美洲大道, 纽约, 纽约 10020

Copyright © 2008 by Nicholas Sheff
版权所有 © 2008 尼古拉斯·谢夫

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number 2008923615
美国国会图书馆卡片目录号 2008923615

ISBN-13: 978-1-4391-0333-3

ISBN-10: 1-4391-0333-X ISBN-10:1-4391-0333-X

Visit us on the World Wide Web:


For Lee and my friend in New York

who took me in. You are both

beautiful, inspiring, powerful women.

You are the two people I respect

and admire most in the world.

Thank you. 谢谢。

How can I go forward when I don’t know which way I’m facing?

—John Lennon -约翰列侬


This work is a memoir. It reflects the author’s present recollections of his experiences over a period of years. Certain names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed, and certain individuals are composites. Dialogue and events have been recreated from memory and, in some cases, have been compressed to convey the substance of what was said or what occurred.








DAY 1 第一天

I’d heard rumors about what happened to Lauren. I mean, I never even knew her that well but we’d sort of hung out a few times in high school. Actually, I was sleeping with her for about two weeks. She had moved to San Francisco when I was a senior and we met somehow—at a party or something. Back in high school it was just pot, maybe I’d do some acid and mushrooms on the weekend.

But I smoked pot every day. I was seventeen and had been accepted at prestigious universities across the country and I figured a little partying was due me. I’d worked hard those last three and a half years. Sure I’d had some problems smoking weed and drinking too much when I was younger, but that was all behind me. I was smart. I was on the swim team. My writing had been published in Newsweek. I was a great big brother. I got along with my dad and stepmom. I loved them. They were some of my best friends. So I just started smoking some pot and what harm could that do me anyway? Hell, my dad used to smoke pot. Most everyone in my family did. Our friends did—it was totally accepted.

But with me things were different. In high school I was rolling blunts and smoking them in the car as I drove to school. Every break in classes had me driving off to get high. We’d go into the hills of Marin County, dropping acid or eating mushrooms—walking through the dry grass and overgrown cypress trees, giggling and babbling incoherently. Plus I was drinking more and more, sometimes during the day. I almost always blacked out, so I could remember little to nothing of what’d happened. It just affected me in a way that didn’t seem normal.

When I was eleven my family went snowboarding up in Tahoe, and a friend and I snuck into the liquor cabinet after dinner. We poured a little bit from each bottle into a glass, filling it almost three-quarters of the way with the different-colored, sweet-smelling liquid. I was curious to know what it felt like to get good and proper drunk. The taste was awful. My friend drank a little bit and stopped, unable to take anymore. The thing was, I couldn’t stop.

I drank some and then I just had to drink more until the whole glass was drained empty. I’m not sure why. Something was driving me that I couldn’t identify and still don’t comprehend. Some say it’s in the genes. My grandfather drank himself to death before I was born. I’m told I resemble him more than anyone else—a long face, with eyes like drops of water running down. Anyway, that night I threw up for probably an hour straight and then passed out on the bathroom floor.

I woke up with almost no memory of what I’d done. My excuse for the vomit everywhere was food poisoning. It scared me, honestly, and I didn’t drink again like that for a long time.

Instead I started smoking pot. When I was twelve I was smoking pot every day—sneaking off into the bushes during recess. And that pretty much continued through high school.

Lauren and I really never got very close back then. When I heard later that she’d been put in rehab for cocaine abuse and severe bulimia, I guess it wasn’t that surprising. We’d both been really screwed up all the time and I had a history of dating, well, not the most balanced girls. I remember being ashamed to bring her to my house. I remember not wanting my parents to meet her. We’d come in late, late and leave early in the morning—whispering so as not to wake up my little brother and sister. Maybe it was them I wanted to shield from Lauren the most. Or, not from Lauren so much as, well, the person I was becoming. I was ashamed of my behavior, but still I kept going forward. It was like being in a car with the gas pedal slammed down to the floor and nothing to do but hold on and pretend to have some semblance of control. But control was something I’d lost a long time ago.

Anyway, Lauren was not someone I thought about a whole lot. When she approaches me, I don’t even recognize her at first. It’s been five years. She yells my name:

“Nic Sheff.” “尼克·谢夫。”

I jump, turning around to look at her.

She is wearing big Jackie O sunglasses and her dyed black hair is pulled back tight. Her skin is pale, pale white and her features are petite and delicately carved. The San Francisco air is cold, even though the sun has broken through the fog, and she has a long black coat pulled around her.
她戴着大号的 Jackie O 太阳镜,染好的黑发紧紧地挽在脑后。她的皮肤苍白,苍白,五官娇小,精雕细琢。旧金山的空气很冷,尽管阳光已经冲破了雾气,她身上还披着一件黑色长外套。

So I think…think, think. Then I remember.

“L-Lauren, right?” “劳伦,对吗?”

“Yeah, don’t pretend like you don’t remember me.”

“No, I…” “不,我……”

“Whatever. What’re you doing here?”

It’s a good question. 这是一个好问题。

I’d been sober exactly eighteen months on April 1st, just two days ago. I’d made so much progress. My life was suddenly working, you know? I had a steady job at a rehab in Malibu. I’d gotten back all these things I’d lost—car, apartment, my relationship with my family. It’d seemed like, after countless rehabs and sober livings, I had finally beaten my drug problem. And yet there I was, standing on Haight Street, drunk on Stoli and stoned out on Ambien, which I’d stolen from the med room at that rehab.
4 月 1 日,也就是两天前,我已经清醒了整整 18 个月。我取得了很大的进步。我的生活突然开始运转,你知道吗?我在马里布的康复中心有一份稳定的工作。我已经拿回了所有失去的东西——汽车、公寓、与家人的关系。经过无数次的戒毒和清醒的生活后,我似乎终于战胜了毒品问题。然而我却站在海特街,喝了斯托利,喝醉了,喝了安必恩,这是我从康复中心的医务室偷来的。

Honestly, I was as surprised by my own actions as anyone else. The morning of my relapse, I had no idea I was actually going to do it. Not that there weren’t ominous signs. In the twelve-step program they tell you to get a sponsor. Mine was a man named Spencer. He was around forty, strong, with a square face and hair that stood on end. He had a wife and a three-year-old daughter. He spent hours talking with me about recovery. He helped me get into cycling and walked me through the twelve steps. We’d ride our bikes together along the Pacific Coast Highway, up Latigo Canyon, or wherever. He’d relate his own experience getting sober from chronic cocaine addiction. But I stopped calling him as often. Maybe I felt like I didn’t need his help anymore. I seldom went to meetings, and when I did, my mind would talk to me the whole time about how much better I was than everyone else—or how much worse I was, depending on the day. I’d stopped exercising as frequently. I’d stopped taking the psych meds they had me on—a mixture of mood stabilizers and antidepressants. I’d started smoking again. Plus there was Zelda.

Zelda was a woman I thought I was madly in love with. She was fourteen years older than I was and, well, she was also engaged to marry another guy, a wealthy real-estate broker named Mike. When I started sleeping with her, I tried to justify it to myself. I figured it was her decision and I wasn’t really doing anything wrong and it was just for fun and blah, blah, blah. Basically, I thought I could get away with it. I mean, I thought I could stay detached emotionally.

I couldn’t. 我不能。

She came to represent for me everything I thought would make my life perfect. After all, she’d been married to this famous actor and was an actress and grew up in Los Angeles, raised by her famous uncle who was also in the movie business. Everyone seems to know her in L.A. She’s sort of a celebrity, you know? Being with her became my obsession.

Ultimately, however, she wouldn’t leave her boyfriend for me and got pregnant with his child. I was crushed. I mean, I just couldn’t handle it. So yesterday I relapsed, driving up the 5, drinking from a bottle of Jäger.
但最终,她不肯为了我而离开她的男朋友,并怀上了他的孩子。我被压垮了。我的意思是,我就是无法处理它。所以昨天我旧病复发,开车上 5 号公路,喝了一瓶野格啤酒。

So now I’m standing on Haight Street and Lauren, this girl I haven’t seen or thought about in five years, is here, in her long black coat, asking me what I’m doing.

I’d driven up from L.A. the night before and slept in my old, falling-apart Mazda, parked in a lot on the edge of the Presidio—a great expanse of forest and abandoned army housing that stretches out to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific and the San Francisco Bay. A friend of mine, Akira, had once lived there. He occupied a basement apartment on the edge of the Presidio. I’d hoped to find him still living there, but after I wandered around the house some—looking into the dust-smeared windows—it was clear that the place was deserted. It was Akira who’d actually introduced me to crystal meth when I was eighteen. He was a friend of a friend. He did a lot of drugs and we immediately gravitated toward each other. Somehow that always seemed to happen—we addicts can always find one another. There must be some strange addict radar or something.

Akira was like me, but more strung out at the time. He had dyed red, curling hair and dark, dark eyes. He was thin, emaciated, with hollowed-out features and narrow, dirty fingers. When he offered me that first line of meth, I didn’t hesitate. Growing up I’d heard, you know, never to do heroin. Like, the warnings were everywhere and I was scared—do heroin, get hooked. No one ever mentioned crystal to me. I’d done a little coke, Ecstasy, whatever—I could take it or leave it. But early that morning, when I took those off-white crushed shards up that blue, cut plastic straw—well, my whole world pretty much changed after that. There was a feeling like—my God, this is what I’ve been missing my entire life. It completed me. I felt whole for the first time.

I guess I’ve pretty much spent the last four years chasing that first high. I wanted desperately to feel that wholeness again. It was like, I don’t know, like everything else faded out. All my dreams, my hopes, ambitions, relationships—they all fell away as I took more and more crystal up my nose. I dropped out of college twice, my parents kicked me out, and, basically, my life unraveled. I broke into their house—I would steal checks from my father and write them out to myself to pay for my habit. When I had a job at a coffee shop, I stole hundreds of dollars from the register. Eventually I got arrested for a possession charge. My little brother and sister watched me get carted away in handcuffs. When my then seven-year-old brother tried to protect me, running to grab me from the armed policemen, they screamed for him to “get back.” His small body crumpled on the asphalt and he burst into body-shaking tears, sobbing and gasping for breath.

Then there were the treatment centers, two in northern California, one in Manhattan, and one in Los Angeles. I’ve spent the last three years in and out of twelve-step programs. Throughout all of it, the underlying craving never really left me. And that was accompanied by the illusion that, the next time, things would be different—I’d be able to handle it better. I didn’t want to keep hurting people. I didn’t want to keep hurting myself. A girlfriend of mine once said to me, “I don’t understand, why don’t you just stop?”

I couldn’t think of an answer. The fact was, I couldn’t just stop. That sounds like a cop-out, but it’s the truth. It’s like I’m being held captive by some insatiable monster that will not let me stop. All my values, all my beliefs, everything I care about, they all go away the moment I get high. There is a sort of insanity that takes over. I convince myself and believe very strongly that this time, this time, it will be different. I tell myself that, after such a long time clean, these last eighteen months, I can go back to casual use. So I walk down to the Haight and start talking to the first street kid who asks me for a cigarette.

This turns out to be Destiny. He is a boy around my age, twenty or twenty-one, with snarled dreads and striking blue eyes. He has the narrow face of a fox or coyote and he’s hiding a can of beer indiscreetly in the sleeve of his oversize jacket. He is distracted and out of it as I’m talking to him. I keep trying to get him to focus on what I’m saying. Eventually, he agrees to introduce me to a friend of his who deals speed, so long as I buy him another beer.

“Dude,” he says, his voice thick and strained, “I’m gonna tell you straight, man, I’m fo’realze. My boy’s gonna hook you up fat, that’s no joke. You ask anybody, homes, they’ll tell you, Destiny is all right. Everyone’s cool with me ’cause I be cool with everyone.”

He rambles on like that, pausing only to high-five pretty girls as they pass. As for me, the vodka and sleeping pills have calmed me down enough to keep me breathing through all this—though the blind hungering for the high that only meth can bring has me pretty anxious. There’d been times, in the past, where I got burned copping drugs on the street. On Mission Street I tried to buy some heroin once and came away with a balloon filled with a chunk of black soap.

I smoke cigarettes, one after the other, trying to keep Destiny on point—getting the phone number of his connection. It was right before Lauren stopped me that Destiny told me to wait while he went and got his “boy’s” number from a friend. He walked off down the street and then Lauren is standing there, asking me what I’m doing.

My first instinct, of course, is to lie. The wind is blowing the street clear and Lauren takes off her sunglasses, revealing those transparent green eyes of hers. What I say is, “Actually, I just moved back here from L.A. where I’d been sober over a year, but now I’m doing the whole relapse thing and I’m just waiting to hook up some meth. I heard you had some trouble like that too. Is that true?”

If she’s surprised, she doesn’t show it.

“Yeah,” she says, her voice light and soft. “How much are you getting?”
“是的,”她说,声音轻柔。 “你能得到多少钱?”

“A gram, I hope. What are you doing here?”

“I was going to get my tattoo filled in. But, well, now I guess I’m going with you, aren’t I? You need any money?”

“Uh, no.” “呃,不。”

She puts her glasses back on. “What about a car?”
她重新戴上眼镜。 “那车呢?”

“Uh, yeah, we could use your car. Mine’s over on Lake Street.”

“All right, then.” “那好吧。”

What I said about the money is sort of true. I have three thousand dollars saved up and, for me, that is a lot of money. I’m sure that it’ll be enough to get me started on a life working and using in San Francisco. The rehab I’d worked at in Malibu catered to wealthy, often celebrity, clients. They paid well and, sober, I had few expenses. I can afford a sixty-dollar gram. In the next couple days, I’ll start looking for work. I mean, I’ve got it all figured out. Really.

We stand watching the people on the street, walking from shop to shop.

“What’ve you been doing?” I ask. “It’s been a long time.”
“你最近在做什么?”我问。 “已经很久了。”

“Five years. But, like you said, I had some trouble. I’m working now, though—for my mom. I have about four months clean.”

“But you’re over it.” “但你已经克服了。”

“Hell, I’ve just been waiting for the right person to go out with.”

“Really?” “真的吗?”

“I don’t know.” “我不知道。”

“You look good.” “你看起来挺好的。”

“Thank you. It’s nice to see you, too.”

“Yeah.” I put a hand on her shoulder, feeling her body tense up. “Here he comes.”
“是的。”我把手搭在她的肩膀上,感觉到她的身体绷紧了。 “他来了。”

Destiny is sort of strutting or limping or something down the street. I introduce him to Lauren.

“Rockin’,” he says. “We can go meet him in, like, half an hour. Here’s his number.” He hands me a crumpled piece of paper. “You gonna get me that beer, right?”
“摇滚”,他说。 “我们可以在大约半小时内去见他。这是他的电话号码。”他递给我一张皱巴巴的纸。 “你会给我拿啤酒,对吗?”

“Of course.” “当然。”

“I’ll go get my car,” says Lauren.

I walk into the liquor store on the corner and buy two 40s of Olde E and another pack of Export As. Lauren pulls her green Nissan around and we pile in—me in front, Destiny in back. I pass him one of the 40s and drink a bunch of mine down. Lauren refuses to take it when I offer her some, but she pops a few Klonopins ’cause she says she’s gonna freak out if she doesn’t. She gives me one and I figure it won’t do anything since I used to take so much of it, but I chew it up anyway, hoping it might take the edge off or something.
我走进街角的酒类商店,买了两瓶 40 盎司的 Olde E 和另一包 Export As。劳伦开着她的绿色尼桑车,我们挤了进去——我在前面,命运在后面。我递给他一杯 40 多瓶威士忌,喝了一大杯。当我给劳伦一些时,劳伦拒绝接受,但她开了几片 Klonopins,因为她说如果她不接受,她会吓坏的。她给了我一个,我想它不会有任何作用,因为我以前吃了这么多,但我还是把它咀嚼起来,希望它可以减轻压力或其他什么。

Destiny directs us out of the Haight, and lower Haight, down Market and up into the Tenderloin. The rows of Victorian houses give way to corporate high-rises and then the gritty, twisting streets of the San Francisco ghetto—cheap monthly hotel rooms, panhandlers, small-time hustlers, dealers, and junkies. Neon signs, off during the day, advertise strip clubs and peep shows. The sky has blown completely blue, but the sun is blocked by the falling-down buildings, leaving everything cold and windswept and peeling.

We stop the car on the corner of Jones and Ellis, watching the scourge of walking dead as they drift down the street. One man—a skinny white guy with no hair on his head, but a lot on his face—stands in front of an ATM machine. He turns his head toward the sky every minute or so, screaming, “Please! Please!” Then he looks back at the ATM. Nothing comes out.
我们把车停在琼斯和埃利斯的拐角处,看着行尸走肉沿着街道漂流。一个男人——一个瘦小的白人,头上没有头发,但脸上有很多头发——站在一台 ATM 机前。他每隔一分钟就将头转向天空,尖叫道:“求求你了!请!”然后他回头看了看自动提款机。什么也没有出来。

“Here they come,” says Destiny, getting out of the car with the 40. “Thanks a lot, kids.”
“他们来了,”命运说着,带着 40 号下了车。“非常感谢,孩子们。”

“Cool, man, thanks.” “酷,伙计,谢谢。”

“Have fun,” he says, nodding toward Lauren knowingly. She maybe blushes a little.

A young kid greets Destiny and then jumps into Lauren’s backseat. He is accompanied by a tall, skinny white man with gray hair and a face that looks like a pile of pastry dough. The boy is thin, but strong, with a round nose and darting eyes. He wears a black bandanna tied around his head and ratty, baggy clothes.

“Yo, what’s up? I’m Gack,” he says.

The fat older man says nothing.

“Hey, I’m Nic. This is Lauren.”

“Cool, cool. You wanna G, right?”

His voice comes out in quick, hoarse bursts. I just nod.

“Word,” he says. “Yo, this is my dad, Mike.”
“一句话,”他说。 “哟,这是我爸爸,迈克。”

Mike waves stupidly. 迈克傻乎乎地挥手。

“Anyway,” continues Gack, “you’re gonna give me the money, and I’m gonna go get yo’ shit. My dad’ll wait here.”

“Dude, there’s no way. I’m not letting you walk outta here with my money.”

“Come on, yo, there’s no other way. My dad’ll stay here and, look, here’s my cell phone, and my wallet, and I’ll leave my skateboard. Just wait two minutes, okay?”

I look at Lauren. She shakes her head, but I say, “Fuck, all right.”

I hand him sixty bucks and he leaves. Part of me expects never to see him again, but he returns ten minutes later with our sack. He comes all out of breath.

“Yo, I’m hookin’ you up so fat,” he says, handing over a very not fat Baggie of white crystals.

“Dude,” I say, “this is fucking pin as hell.”

“No way, man.” “没门。”

I take out one of the pieces and put it in my mouth. The bitter, chemical sour makes me shudder, but it tastes familiar. “All right, fine,” I say.
我取出其中一块放入嘴里。苦涩的化学酸味让我不寒而栗,但味道却很熟悉。 “好吧,好吧,”我说。

“Word.” “单词。”

“You have any points?” asks Lauren.

I’m proud of her. I hadn’t even thought about getting rigs and there she is, coming right out and saying it.

“Uh, yeah. You all don’t mess around, huh?”

“No,” we both say at the same time.

Out of his pocket, Gack pulls a pack of maybe five syringes held together by a rubber band.

“Those are cleans?” I ask.

“Fo’sure.” “当然。”

“All right,” I say. “We’ll take those and we’re cool on the short sack.”
“好吧,”我说。 “我们会接受这些,我们对短麻袋很满意。”

“Dude, that sack is fat.”

“Whatever.” “任何。”

“All right, well, call if you need more.”

“We will,” I say. “我们会的,”我说。

And with that, Gack and his dad leave the car and Lauren and I drive off with fresh needles and about a gram of crystal methamphetamine.

I remember Lauren’s dad’s house from the time we’d been together back in high school—but I also remembered it from when I was much younger. The place is a European-style mansion in Sea Cliff. It is four or five stories high, sort of boxy, with giant bay windows bordered by faded green shutters. Vines climb the gray-washed walls and white roses grow along the sloping stairway. It looks out on the ocean—rough and pounding, relentless. The top story, a bright, sun-drenched loft, used to be the playroom of my best friend and sort-of brother, Mischa.

See, the divorce went down like this: My dad had an affair with a woman, Flicka, then left my mom for her. Mischa was her son. We all moved in together when I was five. Mischa was my age, with long, white-blond hair, blue eyes, and a famous actor father. He threw tantrums and would bite me, but we were also very close. His father was the one who had lived where Lauren’s father lives now. I would go over there and play video games with Mischa, or build Lego spaceships, or draw, or whatever.

Walking in the door with Lauren—backpack full of drugs, drunk and stumbling—I can’t help but feel a tightness in my stomach, thinking back to the child that I had been. I remember going on walks with my dad out to Fort Point, a jetty that stretches out underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. I remember eating sushi and tempura in Japantown, playing on the ships docked off Hyde Street, riding my bike through Golden Gate Park, being taken to the old Castro movie theater, where a man played the organ before every show. I remember my championship Little League team in Sausalito, birthday parties at the San Francisco Zoo, going to art galleries and museums. I’d been so small that my dad would shelter me from the cold by hiding me in his sweater. Our heads would stick out of the stretched-out wool neckline together. I remember the smell of him—that indescribable smell of dad. He was so there for me always—especially when my mom moved down south. Sober and living in L.A., I’d talked on the phone with him almost every day. We talked about everything—from movies, to art, to girls, to nothing at all. I wonder how long it will be before the calls start coming in—how long before he knows I’ve gone out, relapsed, thrown it all away.

Lauren’s room is in the basement—basically just a large canopy bed and TV and not much else. There are books and clothes and things all over the place. The shades are drawn over the windows, and Lauren plugs in a string of Christmas lights above the built-in shelves along the wall. She puts a CD in the player, something I’ve never heard before.
劳伦的房间位于地下室,基本上只有一张大床和电视,没有其他东西。到处都是书籍、衣服和其他东西。窗帘拉在窗户上,劳伦在墙上的内置架子上方插上一串圣诞灯。她在播放器里放了一张 CD,这是我以前从未听过的。

“Come on, let’s hurry up,” she says. “My parents will be home soon and I wanna get out of here before they come.”
“来吧,我们快点,”她说。 “我的父母很快就会回家,我想在他们回来之前离开这里。”

“Cool. You know, my parents’ weekend house in Point Reyes will be empty tonight. We can go stay out there.”

“I gotta work tomorrow morning,” says Lauren.

“That’s fine. We’ll get you back.”

“My parents are gonna freak out if I don’t come home tonight.”

“Make something up.” “编点东西。”

“Yeah, fuck, all right.” “是的,操,好吧。”

“Can I use this?” I ask, holding up a blown-glass jar, maybe an inch high, swirled with streaks of white and green.

“Sure, whatever.” “当然,无论如何。”

“You gotta Q-tip?” “你需要棉签吗?”

“Fuck, yeah, but let’s go.”

“All right, chill.” “好吧,冷静点。”

She rummages around and gets me the Q-tip. I rip off the cotton from one end. I go to the sink in her bathroom and fill the jar with a thin layer of water. I pour in a bunch of the crystal and crush it up with the back of a Bic lighter I have in my pocket. I hold the flame to the base of the jar until the liquid starts to smoke and bubble. I drop in the cotton and then pull it all up into two of the syringes. I pass the one with less over to Lauren and set about making a fist with my right hand, watching the veins swell easily. My body is so clean, so powerful—over a year needle-free and my veins reveal themselves instantly. I think back to how difficult it’d once been to hit—when the veins all began collapsing, hiding under the skin. But now the veins jump up right away. I pull back the plunger, watch the blood rush up into the mixture, and then slam it all home.
她翻箱倒柜地给我拿了棉签。我从一端撕下棉花。我走到她浴室的水槽前,在罐子里装满了一层薄薄的水。我倒入一堆水晶,然后用口袋里的 Bic 打火机背面将其压碎。我将火焰放在罐子底部,直到液体开始冒烟并冒泡。我放入棉花,然后将其全部拉入两个注射器中。我把含量较少的递给劳伦,然后用右手握紧拳头,看着血管很容易肿胀。我的身体是如此干净,如此强大——一年多没有打针,我的静脉立即显露出来。我回想起曾经的击中是多么困难——当时静脉都开始塌陷,藏在皮肤下面。但现在,血管立刻就跳了起来。我拉回柱塞,看着血液涌入混合物中,然后将其全部推回原处。

I cough. 我咳嗽。

The chemical lets off this gas as it reaches your heart, or brain, or whatever and it rushes up your throat, choking you.

I cough, choking like that.

My eyes water—my head pounding like maybe I’ll pass out, my breathing going so fast.

“Goddamn, goddamn,” I say, the lights dimming out and really, I mean, there’s no feeling like it. The high is perfection.

I turn and see Lauren push off and as it hits her I kiss her without saying anything and she kisses back and it is all so effortless, not like being sober and consumed by worry and fear and inhibitions. I kiss her harder, but she pushes me back, saying, “Come on, let’s go to the beach.”

We get outta there fast and then we are walking in the sunlight, back toward Lauren’s car. It is a different world, man, heightened, exciting. I light a cigarette and my fingers move spasmodically and I start talking, talking, talking. The waves of the drug keep sweeping through me and my palms turn sweaty and I grit my teeth. I tell Lauren about the book I’ve written and the job I want to get at this magazine in L.A. and suddenly it doesn’t seem like these are impossible dreams anymore. I feel like it is all happening—that my book is getting published and I can get any job I want and I’m gonna take Lauren along with me in my new life. Nothing, I mean nothing, can stop me.

“You know,” says Lauren, “my parents are going out of town next week, so you should stay with me in my house, unless you have somewhere else to go.”

“No, no,” I say, everything fitting together perfectly in my world, in my mind, in destiny, and fate and blah, blah, blah. “That’ll be great.”
“不,不,”我说,一切都完美地结合在我的世界里,在我的脑海里,在命运里,还有命运,等等,等等,等等。 “那就太好了。”

“They’re gone for two weeks.”

I laugh. 我笑。

Baker Beach is mostly empty. We pull into the parking lot and look out at the pounding shore break, sucking up the brown, coarse sand and dashing it to pieces against the slick, jagged rocks. The Golden Gate Bridge looms up to the right, and across the channel are the Marin Headlands—lush, green, rolling hills dotted with eucalyptus and oak, the red earth cliffs dropping down to the swirling water below. We get out of the car and I take Lauren’s cold little soft hand in mine. We walk down along the dunes and the wind is blowing sand in my face, and suddenly I stop and strip off all my clothes down to my boxer briefs and run, headlong, into the surf. I hear Lauren giggling behind me, then nothing but the roar of the ocean and the cold, cold, cold.

The current is strong and I’m immediately struggling against it, ducking the swells and feeling the pull out the mouth of the bay. But I’m a good swimmer. I navigate past the rocks and begin paddling into the waves as they break along the beach. Growing up I’d surfed all along this coastline. My friends and I would stay out sometimes five or six hours. In the end I’d gotten very comfortable in the water, able to ride the big waves off Ocean Beach or down in Santa Cruz. I’d watch the pelicans riding the updrafts of the swells, or sea otters eating crabs, floating on their backs. I’d wake up early, heading out before the sun rose to get the morning glass. But as I got deeper and deeper into my using, my surfboards went untouched on their racks in the garage. I lost interest. There’s something devastating about that, though I try not to think about it.

I mean, here I am, bodysurfing the breakers at Baker Beach, feeling my breath catch in my lungs from the frigid water. The muscle memory is all there, in my arms and chest. I look back at Lauren, stripped and lying in the warm sand. I take another wave in, then run up to her, kissing the white of her stomach and listening to her laugh and shiver. Then I run on, up and down the beach. Fast, freezing, but not feeling it, really. I look at everything, the trees, and shells, and tall sea grass. It all seems so new and exciting. My little sister, Daisy, never failed to point out the delicate flowers or intricately shaped stones as we went on walks together. She was so present and filled with wonder. Meth gives me that childlike exuberance. It allows me to see, to really see. The world appears miraculous and I laugh and run down the beach until I’m gasping for air—then back to Lauren.

She smiles at me and I kiss her some more.

That night I drive her car through the winding back roads out to our house in Point Reyes. The drive is so familiar. I know every turn. It’s the same route I’d used to get back from school every afternoon. We pass the little towns of San Anselmo and Fairfax, curving beneath the redwood forest of Samuel P. Taylor State Park. Then we come out on the green pastureland, obscured by the darkness and fog. We turn up our street, steep, steep, bordered by dense woods on either side. The car sputters some, but makes it—taking me home.

My parents’ house isn’t huge or anything, but it is designed by some famous architect. It’s sort of very Japanese and minimalist, with mirrors and windows all over the place. It looks out on maybe half an acre of garden—wild, tangled vines, hedges, oaks, poplars. Gravel paths twist through the brush and in the spring and summer there are flowers everywhere.

Seeing that the driveway is empty and the lights are out, I creep along to the different doors and windows and things. It’s all locked. I climb the faded wooden gate, wander over to the back doors until I find one that isn’t dead-bolted solid. I yank it open, breaking the base of the door where it has been secured to the floor. Turning on as few lights as possible, I go through the house to the front and let Lauren in.

“Jesus,” she says. “I remember these paintings.”
“天哪,”她说。 “我记得这些画。”

My stepmother is an artist. The walls of our house are covered with giant, swirling canvases. The oil images are dark yet organic—eyes, organs, branches, shapes repeated over and over.

“They’re beautiful,” I say. “So haunting, right?”
“它们很漂亮,”我说。 “太令人难以忘怀了,对吧?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

We go up to the living room and I put music on the stereo—some electronic stuff I left the last time I’d been home. I open a bottle of sake I find in the closet and pour a glass. Lauren looks at all the art books and things on the shelves. I look at the photographs of my little brother and sister on the windowsill. There is one of Jasper in his lacrosse uniform, smiling. There is Daisy, who’s just two years younger than Jasper, dressed as an elf, with a fake beard and her tangled hair pulled back. And there is the whole family together, my stepmom, her parents, brother, sister, my dad, my aunt and uncle, my brother, sister, cousins, and, on the far right, me. Walking through the house, I feel dirty—like I’m this charcoal stain polluting everything I touch. I can’t even look at the goddamn photographs—it hurts too much. I drink the sake down.

“Let’s go take a shower,” I say.

“Yeah. You wanna fix some more first?”

“Definitely.” “确实。”

We shoot up and take a shower. We have sex in my old bed until my knees are rubbed raw. After that, I smoke cigarettes and look for stuff to steal. I take a guitar and a couple jackets, but nothing bigger than that. Oh, and I need a notebook, so I grab this black thing with Powerpuff Girls stickers on the cover. It turns out to be my sister’s diary.

DAY 4 第四天

We spend the night in some kitschy Art Deco motel off Lombard—the outside all mosaicked with bright-colored tiles. Lauren doesn’t actually stay past midnight. Her parents were worried and wondering where she is. I listen to her talking with her father on the phone. Her voice trembles—wanting desperately to sound…what, innocent? Something like that. Of course, there’d been times when I’d done the same thing—lying about being sober, trying to hide the fact that I’d relapsed. Lauren is able to convince her parents—at least for now. They believe her, I suppose, because they want to. My parents had been that way.

I got thrown into my first treatment center when I was eighteen. I had been doing meth for only about six months, but already my life had begun falling apart. I dropped out of college and ended up having a sort of breakdown—wandering the streets and talking to people who weren’t there. I didn’t really come out of it until a police car was pulling up beside me. The officer threatened to arrest me but eventually let me go.

My dad helped me get into rehab five days later—a large, Victorian-style, falling-down mansion on Fell and Steiner. I still remember walking in there that first day. It had threadbare red carpeting, a rotted, creaking stairway, and long, misshapen, warped hallways leading to room after room of beds, beds, beds. There must have been around fifty of us in that house—all men. We had groups all day where we were educated about substance abuse, twelve steps, and how to live life sober. Walking through those green-painted wooden doors, my whole body was shaking and I felt like maybe I’d throw up or something. My dad was there beside me, wearing that same old wool sweater he used to shelter me in as a child. His hair was clipped short, black and gray. His square glasses obscured his eyes, which were red from almost crying. Maybe he was shaking too.

“Dad, please,” I begged him. “I’ll stop, I promise. Please, I don’t need to do this.”
“爸爸,求你了,”我恳求他。 “我会停下来,我保证。拜托,我不需要这样做。”

“You can’t come home, Nic.”

“But Dad, I don’t belong here.”

I was wrong. I knew it the first group I went to. One of the residents, Johnny, a squat little man with scraggy facial hair and a dyed black Mohawk, told his story. He talked about his descent into crack/cocaine addiction. What struck me wasn’t so much the specifics of his story, but rather the feelings he described. He talked about how until he started using, he had always felt like some alien, different from everybody. I think what he said was, “I felt like everyone else had gotten this instruction manual that explained life to them, but somehow I’d just missed it. They all seemed to know exactly what they were doing while I didn’t have a clue. That is, until I found drugs and alcohol. Then it was like my world suddenly went from black-and-white to Technicolor.”

Of course that had been my experience too, but it didn’t mean I was willing to change my behavior. I loved drugs. I loved what they did for me. They relieved me of that terrible sense of isolation I had always felt. They gave me the manual to life that Johnny had described. I could not, NOT give that up.

But my parents were so hopeful and the counselors would give you more privileges if you cooperated, so I did. I said what they wanted me to say. I shared about my commitment to repairing the damage I had caused. I talked about being willing to adopt the spiritual principles outlined in the twelve steps. And I suppose part of me meant it. I didn’t want to become like some of the other men at Ohlhoff House, grizzled, toothless, having lost everything. But I still had this feeling like it could never happen to me. I had a 4.0 in high school, for Christ’s sake. I was a published writer. I came from a good family. Besides, I was too young to really be an addict. I was just experimenting, right?
但我的父母对此充满希望,如果你配合的话,辅导员会给你更多的特权,所以我就这么做了。我说了他们想让我说的话。我分享了我对修复我所造成的损害的承诺。我谈到愿意采用十二个步骤中概述的精神原则。我想我的一部分就是这么想的。我不想变得像奥尔霍夫家里的其他人一样,头发花白,牙齿脱落,失去了一切。但我仍然有一种感觉,好像这永远不会发生在我身上。天哪,我高中时得了 4.0 分。我是一名出版作家。我来自一个良好的家庭。此外,我还太年轻,不可能真正成为瘾君子。我只是在尝试,对吗?

They released me thirty days later and I moved into a halfway house in the city. I stayed sober three days. Then, one night, I said I was going to a meeting, but drove to hook up crystal instead. The car just seemed to drive itself across the bridge to Oakland. I never came back that night. When my parents found out, I was forced to go into another thirty-day program in Napa. After that I managed to stay clean for over a month, but when I went away to college in Amherst, Massachusetts, I quickly relapsed again. This time, however, I was able to hide it from my parents. As my behavior grew more erratic (stealing credit cards, writing checks to myself) and my lies more improbable (I just wanted to buy presents for Jasper and Daisy), my dad continued to dismiss what was happening—I was wasting away in front of him.

By the time I finished my first year of school, my using had progressed to the point where I could no longer really hide it. At first it was just drinking and smoking pot, a little acid, but then I started asking around to get my hands on some meth. But since there was no crystal I could find in western Massachusetts, I started using heroin. I’d drive my girlfriend’s car into the slums of Hollyhock and just walk around till the offers started coming in. There was little doubt as to what a young white kid was doing wandering those streets. But the drug was expensive and snorting the white granulated powder was a waste.

That was my excuse to start sticking myself with needles. Putting the drug straight into the vein allowed me to conserve it a little more. I stole the syringes from the science lab. I taught myself to shoot up by looking at a diagram on the Internet. It was a messy process. I’d miss the vein and pump the drug right into my muscles. It would burn so bad. I didn’t realize the veins were just under the skin’s surface, so I’d dig way too deep. Before long, my arms were covered in puncture marks and I’d lost a lot of weight.

When I came home for summer vacation, I had my first experience with opiate withdrawals. It was just like in the movies—I was throwing up, shivering, sweating, scratching at my skin like there were termites crawling underneath.

At first I tried lying to my parents, saying I had a stomach flu or something. The first moment I could get away, I went to get some meth from my friends in the city.

Once I started IVing that drug, well, that was pretty much the end. After being off crystal for so long, my tolerance had gone back to nothing. Shooting it, the effect was so powerful, I plunged immediately into a period of about a week where, to this day, I have no idea what I did.

I came to out of this blackout in my bed at my parents’ house. I could hear crying from the living room. My little brother’s voice was shattered by tears.

“Where is it? Where is it?”

I felt that familiar sickness in my stomach.

“Are you sure it was in there?” my dad asked.

“Yes,” wailed Jasper. “I had five dollars in there. Daisy, you took it.”
“是的,”贾斯​​帕哀嚎道。 “我里面有五美元。黛西,你拿走了。”

“NO, I DIDN’T!” She was crying too and screaming.

I got out of bed and started to pack. I didn’t remember taking the money, but I knew I had.

There was nowhere for me to go, really, but I couldn’t stay. I filled my bag with as much as I could carry. I hoisted it on my shoulder, put my eyes on the floor, and started walking out of there.

Out in the living room, my dad and stepmom stood blocking my exit—their faces red and contorted.

“Where are you going?” my father demanded, on the verge of yelling.

“I’m leaving.” “我走了。”

“Nic, we know you’re using again.”

“Yeah,” I said—my head down. “I’m not coming back.”
“是啊,”我低着头说道。 “我不会回来了。”

“This is bullshit,” my stepmom exploded, stomping across the room and slamming a door somewhere.

“You can’t just leave,” my dad said, the tears coming now.

“I have to.” “我必须。”

“We’ll get you help.” “我们会给你帮助的。”

“No. I need to do this.”

“Nic, no, stop.” He reached out and tried to physically stop me. I pushed him hard.

“What the hell are you doing?” I screamed. “Jesus Christ, you people suffocate me.”
“你到底在做什么?”我尖叫。 “天哪,你们让我窒息了。”

The truth was, I didn’t want to stop. It’s not like I enjoyed stealing or hurting my dad, or whatever. I mean, I hated it. But I was so scared of coming off the drugs. It was like this horrible vicious cycle. The more I used, the more I did things I was ashamed of, and the more I had to use so I never had to face that. When I reached a certain point with my drug use, going back just seemed like too far a journey. Accepting responsibility, admitting guilt, making restitution, hell, just saying I’m sorry—it had become too daunting. All I could do was move forward and keep doing everything in my power to forget the past. So I marched out into the hot summer air. I hitchhiked to the bus stop and made my way to my friend Akira’s.

After that my parents really stopped believing anything I said. But Lauren obviously hasn’t taken things as far as I have. Her parents are still willing to give her the benefit of the doubt or something. So she leaves me alone in that motel room and I write and draw for a while, listen to CDs, then actually sleep a few hours. When I wake up, I’m hungry and almost out of meth. I call Gack and he agrees to meet me at twelve thirty in the TL. I drive to North Beach to get breakfast.
从那以后,我的父母真的不再相信我所说的一切了。但劳伦显然没有像我那样走得那么远。她的父母仍然愿意给她无罪推定之类的东西。所以她把我一个人留在汽车旅馆房间里,我写了一会儿画了一会儿,听了 CD,然后睡了几个小时。当我醒来时,我很饿,而且几乎没有冰毒了。我给 Gack 打电话,他同意在 12 点 30 分在 TL 与我见面。我开车去北海滩吃早餐。

When I was little, maybe six or seven, my dad and I lived at the top of California Street. It was a high-rise apartment that looked out on the cable cars and the gothic towers of Grace Cathedral. It was across the street from a small park with a sandbox, swings, and a wooden play structure. My dad would take me there to play in the mornings, then we’d walk together down to North Beach—the Italian district of San Francisco. We’d go to Caffe Trieste, a rustic coffee shop on the corner of Grant. I would hold his calloused hand and watch the pigeons and the cracks in the sidewalk. Inside the café, my dad would order me hot chocolate and a raspberry pastry ring. We would sit at a corner table—me drawing and my father writing in a notebook. He would drink cappuccinos. Sometimes we wouldn’t write or draw at all; we’d just talk. I’d run my fingers over the mosaicked tabletop and smell the coffee and ask my dad questions about things. He would make jokes and tell me stories. Opera would play from the jukebox.
当我还小的时候,大概六七岁,我和爸爸住在加州街的顶端。这是一栋高层公寓,俯瞰着缆车和格雷斯大教堂的哥特式塔楼。街对面有一个小公园,里面有沙箱、秋千和木制游乐设施。早上我爸爸会带我去那里玩,然后我们一起步行到北海滩——旧金山的意大利区。我们会去 Caffe Trieste,这是一家位于格兰特街角的乡村风格咖啡店。我会握住他布满老茧的手,观察鸽子和人行道上的裂缝。在咖啡馆里,我爸爸会给我点热巧克力和覆盆子糕点圈。我们会坐在角落的桌子旁,我在画画,我父亲在笔记本上写字。他会喝卡布奇诺。有时我们根本不会写或画;我们只是谈谈。我会用手指抚摸马赛克桌面,闻闻咖啡的味道,并向爸爸询问一些问题。他会给我讲笑话,给我讲故事。自动点唱机会播放歌剧。

After breakfast maybe we’d walk over to City Lights Books—a damp, earthy-smelling printing house and bookshop. We’d walk past the sex show parlors and strip bars. After dark, women in tight leather costumes would hang around in front of the entrances, luring in passing johns. I remember thinking they were superheroes—Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Supergirl. I would talk with them and they all knew my name.

Driving through North Beach this morning, I look out at the streets of my childhood. I stop my car and walk up to Caffe Trieste. Men and women stand outside talking and smoking. The sky has opened up blue and clear—the wind blowing hard off the bay. I go inside and order some coffee and a sandwich. I sit in the back at the same old table—the same old music coming from the speakers. I shoot up the last of the gram in their bathroom. The place is small and poorly lit. Someone keeps banging on the door ’cause it’s taking me so long to find a vein. Once I hit, I start to pump in the mixture, but my hand shakes and I shoot a bunch of it into the muscle of my arm. It burns something terrible and I groan in pain. My whole right arm goes numb and aches. I curse loudly and go to meet Gack. There is blood all over my arm when I walk outta there.

Gack has me meet him in front of the hotel where he lives with his dad. It is named after some saint, but it looks like hell—barred windows, the paint peeling down to nothing, stripped away. He has a teener for me. I ask him if he wants to shoot some up with me right then, since I pretty much wasted the last one. He agrees and we go inside.

The woman who runs the hotel is Indian and wears a traditional sari, with a bindi on her forehead and everything. She makes me give her my driver’s license in order to go up. She scowls through her thick, oversize glasses, her hair pulled back tight.

“You stay only one hour. Otherwise you pay.”

I follow Gack up the rotted-out, stained, carpeted stairs, to the third floor. Hollowed-out men and women pace the halls, smoking cigarettes and calling out to us with offers of different crap we can buy.

“Hey, kids,” says a stoned-out-looking black man with a bald, shiny head. “I gotta get rid of this keyboard. You wanna buy it?” He holds up a small electric piano out for us to see.
“嘿,孩子们,”一个看上去醉醺醺、光头光秃秃的黑人说道。 “我得扔掉这个键盘。你想买吗?他举起一架小电钢琴让我们看。

“Does it work?” asks Gack.

“Yeah, man, it works good. You wanna try it out?”

“Sure. Nic, you gotta second?”

“Sure, sure, fine, whatever.”

We follow the man back to his room. What it looks like is, well, just trashed. The bed has no sheets or anything and it looks like it is covered in dried blood. The floor is all ash and wrappers and porno mags and beer cans and tinfoil and videotapes. The man introduces himself as Jim. He shakes our hands. He clears off some clothes from the bed. He plugs the piano in, switches it on, and plays a simple chord progression, singing some R & B love song. His voice is deep and moving.
我们跟着那个人回到他的房间。它看起来就像是,嗯,只是垃圾。床上没有床单什么的,看起来像是沾满了干涸的血迹。地板上全是灰烬、包装纸、色情杂志、啤酒罐、锡纸和录像带。该男子自我介绍为吉姆。他与我们握手。他从床上清理掉一些衣服。他插上钢琴,打开它,弹奏简单的和弦进行,唱一些 R&B 情歌。他的声音低沉而动人。

“Right on. How much?” asks Gack.

“Twenty.” “二十。”

“Twenty?” “二十?”

“All right, ten. Look, man, I just wanna get high, that’s all. Ten bucks’ll get me through the night.”

“All right, ten bucks.” “好吧,十块钱。”

Gack hands him the money. Somehow he manages to pull exactly ten dollars out of his pocket, without exposing the rest of his wad. The man takes the money quickly and stuffs it in his jeans. “Right on, right on.”
盖克把钱递给他。不知何故,他从口袋里掏出了整整十美元,而没有暴露他剩下的钱。男人迅速接过钱,塞进牛仔裤里。 “对了,对了。”

We walk back out into the hallway and into Gack’s room.

“This is so great,” says Gack, holding up the keyboard.

“Yeah, that’ll be fun to mess around with.”

“No, man, you don’t understand. This is a start, a first step in recognizing my dream. I’m gonna start making music.”

I don’t know what to say about that.

Gack’s room is even more trashed than Jim’s was. Gay porn and cigarette butts and ripped paper and wrappers and shoes and jars of peanut butter and boxes of cookies are scattered all over the floor and bed. There is a washbasin in one corner filled with dishes. A computer put together with mismatching parts sits on the dresser. The fluorescent lights shine too bright and buzz overhead. Gack sets about clearing off a space to try out the keyboard.
盖克的房间比吉姆的房间更脏。同性恋色情片、烟头、撕破的纸、包装纸、鞋子、花生酱罐和饼干盒散落在地板和床上。角落里有一个洗脸盆,里面装满了盘子。梳妆台上放着一台由不匹配部件组装而成的电脑。荧光灯太亮了,在头顶上嗡嗡作响。 Gack 开始清理出一个空间来尝试键盘。

“Hey, man,” I say. “You got any more rigs or what?”
“嘿,伙计,”我说。 “你还有更多的装备吗?”

“Yeah. There are some cleans in that bag over there.” He points to a brown paper bag on the bedside table.

I reach over and find the needles and set about making us two big-ass shots. Gack asks if I want him to shoot me up. I hold out my arm and he inserts the point effortlessly and efficiently right into my vein. There is something chilling and erotic about the whole thing. He pumps the drug up inside me and I cough and feel the rush and it is so lovely, I mean, really.

Gack shoots himself up and I say, “Hey, you wanna walk around with me or something?”

“Walk around?” “随便走走?”

“Yeah, man, I’ve been away from the city for, like, over two years.”

“All right, cool.” “好吧,酷。”

We walk back down the stairs. I get my ID back from the Indian woman and then we’re out on the street, moving fast down toward the water.

“Was that really your dad the other day?” I ask, just trying to think of something to say.

Gack stuffs his hands in his pockets, his arms jerking convulsively. “Yeah, man.”
盖克双手插进口袋,手臂痉挛地抽搐。 “是的,伙计。”

“You live together?” “你们住在一起?”

“Uh, yeah. I never knew him until a year ago. I was adopted when I was, like, two or something.”

“Weird, man. How’d you all hook up again?”

“I guess he just decided he wanted to meet me, so he came and found me at my adopted parents’ house.”

“And you just went to go live with him?”

“Yeah. He’s pretty cool. Sometimes he’ll bring guys back to the room, which is kinda fucked up.”

“Guys?” “伙计们?”

“Uh-huh. He’s gay.” “嗯。他是同性恋。”

We walk on. The clouds are blowing fast overhead and I keep smoking cigarettes and bumming them out to Gack. Gack talks a lot of nonsense about different things—his plans for the future, things like that. I’m not sure where the idea to ask Gack to help me comes from. Suddenly I just trust him completely and I come out with it, walking down Market—toward the shadow of the Bay Bridge.
我们继续前行。头顶上的乌云飞快地飘过,我不停地抽烟,向加克吐烟。 Gack 说了很多关于不同事情的废话——他对未来的计划,诸如此类的事情。我不知道请 Gack 帮助我的想法从何而来。突然之间,我完全信任他,然后我就出来了,沿着市场走,走向海湾大桥的阴影。

“Look, man,” I say. “I’m just puttin’ this out there—so hear me out for a second. I’ve got about twenty-five hundred dollars left, okay. I’d been sober eighteen months, working, and I saved that up. Now, with a habit like I’ve got, I’m gonna burn through that pretty quick, unless I can figure out some way to make some money. So here’s what I was thinking. I don’t really know you, right? And you don’t know me, but you’ve been cool to me so far and I have this feeling about you.”
“看,伙计,”我说。 “我只是把这个放在那里——所以请听我说完。我还剩下大约两千五百美元,好吧。我已经戒酒十八个月了,一直在工作,把钱存起来。现在,有了像我这样的习惯,我很快就会把它烧掉,除非我能找到一些赚钱的方法。这就是我的想法。我真的不认识你,对吧?你不认识我,但到目前为止你对我一直很酷,我对你有这种感觉。”

“You felt it too, huh?” he says, stopping to pick up a crumpled bag on the sidewalk. He looks inside, finds nothing, and then throws it down again.

“Yeah,” I say. “是的,”我说。

“I knew we were gonna be friends.”

“What?” “什么?”

“Yep, when I saw you that first day.”

“Maybe I did too. Look, you know, I really respect you and all and I was just thinking we could buy, like, some big quantity of meth and then break it down and sell it together.”

“Word. We should cut it.”

“Cut it?” “剪了它?”

“Yeah, man. We’ll buy a bunch of really good shit, then cut it with, like, Epson salts or something. I’ll sell that shit so fast, man, and we’ll be able to use for free, maybe get a place to stay. I could, like, work for you. We could start our own syndicate, man. We’ll get walkie-talkies and shit.”

“Well, just think about it, man.”

“Fo’sure.” “当然。”

“And you know someone that could get us quantity for pretty cheap?”

“I think so. Let me just make some calls. You wanna do this now?”

“Well, uh, all right, sure. And, hey, do you know where I can get some heroin?”

“No doubt. What you want me to work on first?”

“The H, I guess.” “我猜是H。”

“Cool, brother. Let me see your phone. Bullet’ll be able to help us out.”

“Bullet?” “子弹?”

“Yeah. I’ll page him.” “是的。我去传呼他。”

“Word.” “单词。”

“Just let me get another cigarette.”

I give him two. 我给他两个。

Bullet is homeless. He is tall and thin, thin, with a carved-up face and greasy hair slicked back. His nose is sort of twisted and broken. There’s an off-white scar running down his face and his Adam’s apple sticks out dramatically. He wears a backward baseball hat, loose-fitting pants, combat boots, and he smells like stale sweat and urine. His walk is clumsy, with those spindly legs of his and a head that is continuously bobbing back and forth.

“Gack, man, how come you never call me?” He whines when he talks—always.

“Dude, I’ve been busy.” “哥们儿,我最近很忙。”

“But you guys wanna score some dope, huh?”

“Yeah,” I say. “是的,”我说。

“Well, I got a number—but maybe we could work out a deal or something before I give it up.”

Gack and I drove to meet Bullet at the Safeway on Church and Market. It is a well-known hangout for street kids and runaways. For one thing, you can go into Safeway and graze out of the dried fruit and nut bins without too much trouble. Plus there is one of those private, self-cleaning toilets out front that is great to shoot up in. It is already getting to be dark and the lights on Twin Peaks are flickering on and off, on and off.
我和盖克开车去教堂和市场附近的西夫韦与子弹会面。这是街头儿童和逃亡者的著名聚集地。一方面,你可以进入西夫韦,从干果和坚果箱里拿出来吃,而不用太麻烦。另外,前面还有一个私人自洁厕所,非常适合拍摄。 天已经黑了,双峰上的灯光忽明忽暗。

“A deal like what?” “什么交易?”

“Like you give me a nice fat shot in exchange for the hookup.”

“No problem.” “没问题。”

“The girl’s name is Candy. Here’s the number. Don’t lose it.” He writes it on the front page of my sister’s diary that I’ve stolen. There is a drawing of a girl with pigtails pointing at blotchy squares on a wall. Underneath it, Daisy’d written: “We are in L.A. with Nic. We went to a museum. We saw Napoleon things.” That had been this past January, just two months earlier. My family had driven down to see me and we’d all gone to the Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Boulevard. Daisy went on to describe the museum and what she ate for lunch. Then she wrote something about seeing me and how I looked sad. She said it made her stomach feel all “fluddery.”

Reading it, I know just how she felt. My stomach feels fluddery. I wonder if there might be a way to get the diary back to her. It was the last thing I ever wanted to take from her and yet, well, I did it. That’s always how it goes for me, isn’t it?

Anyway, I call Candy. Her voice is so soft I can barely hear her, but I manage to convince her to meet me at the video store around the corner. She shows up in a yellow Cadillac with a tattered fur coat and dyed black hair that is light at the roots. She wears thick pancake makeup over broken-out skin. She is probably around thirty-something.

“You want two grams, right?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

She hands me four tiny balls wrapped in colored wax paper. I give her eighty bucks.

“This is great,” she says. “Do you always buy this much at one time?”
“这太棒了,”她说。 “你总是一次买这么多吗?”

“I guess.” “我猜。”

“Well, call me any time.”

When I get back to my car, Bullet and Gack are hanging out, laughing and making fun of each other.
当我回到车里时,Bullet 和 Gack 正在闲逛,互相大笑、互相取笑。

“Gack told me your plan,” says Bullet. “You guys are gonna start your own little dealing syndicate, huh?”
“盖克告诉了我你的计划,”子弹说。 “你们要成立自己的小交易集团,是吧?”

“Sort of.” “有点。”

“Well,” he says. “You’ll never be able to do it without my help.”
“好吧,”他说。 “没有我的帮助,你永远无法做到这一点。”

“Why?” “为什么?”

“’Cause every crime syndicate needs some muscle.” And with that, he pulls out a giant bowie knife from somewhere and waves it through the air.

I suck in a bunch of breath all at once.

“You got that junk?” he demands.

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“Well, let’s go then.” He puts the knife away and we drive down some side street to shoot up.

Gack doesn’t want any heroin, but he sits with us. I melt down half a gram of the sweet-smelling black tar in the jar I took from Lauren’s. We suck up the syrupy brown liquid in two needles and push it all home. I wait: one, two, three, four. My head starts to tingle and I feel waves of pulsing calm sweep over me. My body goes slack and I look over at Bullet. He is smiling so big. I drift off somewhere for a minute. It is like everything is infused with this warmth and okayness. I laugh. “Shit’s good.”
加克不需要海洛因,但他和我们坐在一起。我把从劳伦那里拿来的罐子里的半克散发着甜味的黑色焦油融化了。我们用两根针吸出糖浆状的棕色液体,然后把它全部推回家。我等待:一、二、三、四。我的头开始发麻,感觉一股平静的浪潮席卷了我。我的身体变得松弛,我看着子弹。他笑得那么灿烂。我在某个地方飘了一会儿。仿佛一切都充满了这种温暖和美好。我笑。 “狗屎很好。”

“Word.” “单词。”

“So, Gack,” I say. “Should we let Bullet in?”
“所以,盖克,”我说。 “我们应该让子弹进来吗?”

“Hell yeah, man, he’s a good kid.”

“That what you want, Bullet?”

“I’m your boy.” “我是你的儿子。”

“Awesome.” “惊人的。”

“We should come up with a name or something,” says Gack. “We’re gonna start the next big street gang in San Francisco. Before long, we’ll have all the kids workin’ for us.”
“我们应该想出一个名字或者其他什么,”加克说。 “我们将在旧金山组建下一个大型街头帮派。不久之后,所有的孩子都会为我们工作。”

We sit back, talking on like that. I nod in and out, not giving a damn about one goddamn thing—knowing, just knowing, that it is all gonna work out.

DAY 5 第五天

We drop Bullet off around two a.m. He has to meet some guys about a bike theft racket. Basically they just go around with bolt cutters, break all the locks, and pile the bikes into an old van. It’s risky, but Bullet needs the money and he’s strong and quick.

Gack and I have nowhere to go, so I ask if he wants to drive out to Point Reyes with me. We’ve shot a little more speed to clear my head from the H and I feel real balanced out. I’m having fun taking the tight, winding turns through the redwoods. We’re listening to this Japanese punk rock music really loud and maybe Gack doesn’t like it, but I don’t care.
盖克和我无处可去,所以我问他是否愿意和我一起开车去雷斯岬。我们提高了一点速度,让我的头脑从 H 方向上清醒过来,我感觉真正平衡了。我在红杉林中急转弯时玩得很开心。我们正在大声地听日本朋克摇滚音乐,也许 Gack 不喜欢它,但我不在乎。

Gack has half a joint, which we split, and the weed on top of everything is making me hallucinate pretty good. The road is all green and pink tracers. The branches hanging down are twisting, knotted veins—spider lattices, a crawling insect sky. Every time a car passes from the other direction I’m swallowed in the bright, bright lights. I swerve, but hang on.

We’re laughing and talking as we pull into the driveway, but then I see my parents’ car there. The house is dark, but they must be inside.

“Fuck.” “他妈的。”

“I thought you said they wouldn’t be here?”

“I guess my little brother and sister don’t have school tomorrow.”

I wonder if they can tell I’ve been there—if they’ve noticed the missing guitar and things, or the back door I broke open. I wonder about it for a minute sitting there, feeling sick to my stomach. I imagine them walking in, looking around—those first moments of doubt and realization.

“Did you leave that towel there?”

“Did you drink that bottle of wine?”

“Were you in Nic’s room?”

“Whose shoes are these?” “这些是谁的鞋?”

“Oh my God, someone’s been in the house.”

I pull the car out of there quick, feeling more guilty and humiliated than anything else. I try to push that all out of my mind though, saying, “It’s cool. I know where we can go.”

We head out farther along the point, past the town of Inverness. The salt-crusted buildings are all nearly rotted through and breaking apart. The old, rust-colored Inverness Store sits in the middle of the town’s only block. They have everything from groceries to clothing to videos. I remember going there with my friends after school, getting high, and playing the one arcade game they had for hours. We pumped so many quarters into that thing. I try to relate something along those lines to Gack, but he’s actually fallen asleep for a minute, so I drive on.

Virginia and Adam’s house is empty. They’re like my parents in that they have a weekday home in the city, and a weekend home out on the coast. Seeing that there’s no car in the driveway I really breathe for the first time since leaving my parents’ house. I’m so tired suddenly and all I want to do is sleep. Gack and I get out and wander around the back of the creaking wooden house, trying to find a place to break in.

Virginia and Adam are my parents’ best friends, or, at least, they’re really close and all. I guess I’m pretty close to them too. They have two kids. The older boy, Jessie—with blond, blond hair, a long curious face, and wide-gapped teeth—is exactly my little brother’s age and they’re in the same class at school. His younger brother, Trevor—with equally blond hair—is exactly my little sister’s age. Our two families would go to the beach together, build bonfires in the sand, barbecue hot dogs and things. I would tell stories to all the children. I was always telling stories.

We would play tag on the beach, swim together in the stinging-cold ocean. The kids would all attack me and I’d have to fight them off—but gently. I remember genuinely looking forward to those nights together. We’d all go back to our house and play music, like the Talking Heads or something, and dance, dance, dance.
我们会在海滩上玩捉迷藏,一起在刺骨寒冷的海水中游泳。孩子们都会攻击我,我必须击退他们——但要温和。我记得我真的很期待那些在一起的夜晚。我们都会回到家里,播放音乐,比如 Talking Heads 之类的,然后跳舞、跳舞、跳舞。

Adam is in his early forties and is a brilliant graphic designer. Virginia is a writer and so sweet. We talked about movies and books and art and everything. I watched them take so much interest in their kids’ lives. I watched them devote themselves to those children. They gave so much, you know?

“Hey,” says Gack. “Come in here.” Somehow he’s gotten inside and has the back door open and is looking around, nervous, like someone might see.
“嘿,”盖克说。 “进来吧。”不知怎么的,他进了屋,后门开着,环顾四周,神色紧张,就像有人看到的那样。

I go in and we turn some lights on. The house is small—all wood floors, tattered throw rugs, and worn-out leather furniture. It is sparse but elegant—simple. We eat some cereal they have in the cupboard and spread out on the two couches. We talk for a while, saying nothing important. Eventually I fall asleep. I don’t dream. It’s all just black.

“Nic, quick, get up.” Gack is shaking me hard.

“Wh-what?” “什、什么?”

“There’s someone here.” “这里有人。”

The blurred morning light softly fills the living room and I look out on the thick bramble outside—wet and frosted with dew. There are some birds making shrill noises somewhere and then I hear it—heavy footsteps in the kitchen. Instantly I’m on my feet and we’re walking as silently as possible toward the door. I feel sick and high from adrenaline and fear. Behind us I hear the footsteps coming faster and then a man’s voice calling out with a thick Hispanic accent.

“Hey, you, kids, stop.” “嘿,你们这些孩子,停下来。”

We don’t. We run to my car and jump in fast, starting the motor as the man keeps yelling after us. There’s a whole crew of construction workers standing around the front of the house and they’re all staring at us as we drive off, looking at us with unveiled scorn—or is it pity? Either way, I’m not laughing and neither is Gack.
我们不知道。我们跑到我的车前,快速跳上车,启动发动机,那个男人不断地在我们身后大喊大叫。房子前面站着一整群建筑工人,当我们开车离开时,他们都盯着我们,带着毫不掩饰的蔑视——或者是怜悯?不管怎样,我没有笑,Gack 也没有。

We drive not saying anything, still out of breath. It’s so cold that I’m shivering and I crank the heat up all the way. The Tomales Bay opens up gray and still in front of us, the sun just starting to rise above the distant green knuckle of Elephant Mountain. The sky is wrapped in thick white clouds. I smoke a cigarette and give one to Gack without him asking for it. I pull into the town of Point Reyes and stop next to the Bovine Bakery. Gack rolls his eyes. “Come on, man, let’s get back to the city. This country shit is trippin’ me out.”
我们开车时什么也没说,仍然气喘吁吁。天气太冷了,我瑟瑟发抖,我把暖气一路调高。托马莱斯湾呈现出灰色,仍然在我们面前,太阳刚刚开始从远处的象山绿色山峰上方升起。天空被厚厚的白云包裹着。我抽了一支烟,并在没有向加克索要的情况下给了他一支。我把车开进雷斯岬镇,在牛面包店旁边停下来。盖克翻白眼。 “走吧,伙计,我们回城吧。这个国家的狗屎让我感到困惑。”

“I’m just getting some coffee. You want some?”

“Coffee, man, I don’t drink that crap. Shit’ll rot your stomach out.”

I laugh at that and go inside. I bring Gack some hot chocolate instead and he seems pretty grateful for it. That bakery was where I used to get picked up for car pool every morning before school. I loved the croissants there, hot and fresh with chocolate insides that got all over the place. We’d meet there every morning at seven fifteen. The different parents of the kids who lived out in Point Reyes would take turns driving into the city. It was a long drive, so sometimes we’d listen to books on tape, or play guessing games, or whatever. When my little brother was born, he would be brought along on the rides and more often than not, he’d end up crying the whole time. We would take turns, the other kids and I, inventing different ways of distracting him—quieting him, making him smile, or getting his attention so he would just stare at you with his wide-open eyes. We had songs we’d sing to him. Everyone was so patient. He became the car pool mascot. I think we all missed him the days he wasn’t there.

My stepmom drove a lot of the time. I’m not sure how it happened exactly, but one day she just invented this game called the “complaining game.” Basically, it was sort of like therapy. We’d get five minutes to complain about what was bothering us. We’d give one another points from zero to ten, based on how honest, insightful, and revealing our shares were. Anyone who cried got an automatic ten. People cried pretty often.

The car pool consisted of three girls and me, all in sixth grade. We’d start playing the complaining game and talk about feeling excluded at a certain birthday party—or the way our teacher gave too much homework. Eventually, however, it would get increasingly personal, with each one of us opening up about our difficulties with our families and things like that. One of the girls, Teresa—who was always so quiet and shy and everything—started talking about her parents’ divorce and the hardship of that and how her mom was drinking too much. We all started crying and she was proclaimed the “complaining game” champion of all time.

Of course, when we got to school, no one said anything about anything. I’d go off to play with my friends and the girls would all go play with theirs. We wouldn’t talk. Sometimes I’d see one of them getting picked on and I’d do nothing to stop it. If someone in my group of friends was mean to them, I’d go along with it. And the girls were the same way. But in the car, with my stepmom driving, we were transformed—wide open, like my little brother’s eyes.

So Gack and I pull out from in front of the Bovine with coffee and croissants and hot chocolate—when I almost hit this blue Volvo station wagon coming the other way. I slam on the brakes and lock eyes with the driver. She has black hair coming down over her face, but I recognize her. My stepmom. She sees me and I see her and I back out of there so quick. She honks her horn wildly and speeds off after me. I drive recklessly over the road, but she is behind me—chasing me down.
于是,盖克和我带着咖啡、羊角面包和热巧克力从 Bovine 前面下车——当时我差点撞到对面驶来的这辆蓝色沃尔沃旅行车。我猛踩刹车,目光与司机对视。她的黑发遮住了脸,但我认出了她。我的继母。她看到了我,我也看到了她,然后我很快就离开了那里。她疯狂地按喇叭,加速追赶我。我鲁莽地开车穿过马路,但她在我身后追赶我。

“What the fuck is going on?”

“Dude, that’s my stepmom.”

“Well, why the hell is she following us?”

“Fuck if I know.” “我他妈的如果我知道的话。”

“Maybe you should stop and talk to her.”

“No way, man.” “没门。”

In the rearview mirror I can see her expression. It is strangely blank—resigned or something. I try hard not to meet her eyes, thinking about how disappointed she must be in me. My dad and Karen were married when I was eight years old. They’d met the year earlier. I’ve always respected Karen so much—as a person, as a parent to me, as an artist. I remember watching Pollyanna with her when my dad was out of town. It was the first time we were together, me and her, just the two of us. I think we both thought the movie was pretty stupid and we would crack each other up for months afterward doing Hayley Mills imitations. Karen took me on hikes with her and her friends around Marin. She took me to galleries and out to dinner. She read stories with me and bought me comic books. I respected her and, well, I’ve always wanted her respect, you know, just so badly. I’ve always wanted her to like me, mostly because I like her so much. But how can Karen respect me now? I am ashamed of myself and, for a moment, I can’t even remember why I’m doing any of this. What is the point? I guess it’s crystal meth. I mean, that’s always the bottom line, isn’t it? That’s the ultimate trump card for me. It is more powerful than anything.

As we drive, I look out at the eucalyptus and buckeyes that line the road out to Stinson Beach. The grasses grow up wild and unkempt along Route 1. I’m giving my car everything it’s got, screeching around the corners, but Karen stays pretty close. We pass the bat house—a white-painted shack in the middle of a field with the doors and windows all boarded up. They can’t tear it down because it’s been taken over by species of bats that exist nowhere else in the world. The sun is up and the clouds are all gone and the wet road is drying quickly underneath us. I take the next turn a little too quickly. My back tires slide out and I almost spin.
当我们开车时,我望着通往斯廷森海滩的道路两旁的桉树和七叶树。 1 号公路沿线的草丛生得乱七八糟。我已全力以赴,在拐角处发出尖叫声,但凯伦仍紧随其后。我们经过了蝙蝠屋——田野中央的一座漆成白色的小屋,门窗都用木板封住。他们无法拆除它,因为它已经被世界上其他地方不存在的蝙蝠物种所占据。太阳升起,云层全部散去,脚下潮湿的道路很快就干了。我转下一个弯的速度有点太快了。我的后轮胎滑出,我差点打滑。

“This is so bad,” says Gack. “This is so fucking bad.”
“这太糟糕了,”加克说。 “这太他妈糟糕了。”

“Relax,” I say, but I’m anything but relaxed.

The gears of my car are grinding and I’m starting to smell the rubber burning. The heat gauge is way up there. We go through Dogtown, past the Horseshoe Hill Road turnoff. The coastal town of Bolinas sits off to the northeast. That was where I learned to surf. The waves there roll into the lagoon gently—perfect for beginners. We’d surf out at the point and then go eat pizza at the Bolinas Bakery. When my little brother and sister were old enough, we’d take them out in the water and push them into the shore break on an old, heavy longboard. We’d play road tag on the beach—where you’d draw trails in the sand that you had to run in. If you left the trail you were out.

And here Karen and I are—playing road tag on the broken, jagged highway. Smoke is billowing up from the hood of my car. I round a bend and lose the Volvo for a moment, turning up a heavily wooded driveway. I swing the car around and let it idle there. We wait.

“I need a shot,” says Gack.

“Yeah.” My shirt is soaked through with sweat. My hair is wet, sticking up.

“Should we wait here?” I ask.

“Okay.” “好的。”

I see my stepmom’s car go by—slow, slow. She doesn’t look up at us. She keeps moving. I turn off the car. It hisses loudly.

Gack dissolves a huge amount of crystal in the jar. After he pulls some up for himself, I add a bunch of heroin. I let Gack shoot me up. He’s so good at hitting me. Everything is all better after the tar and meth enters my bloodstream. I’m not even sure if that car chase was a dream—or real. But my smoking car answers that question.

Everyone knows I’ve relapsed now.

I drop Gack off in the TL and we make plans to meet up in a day or so. He says he’ll start feeling out for people looking to sell some quantity. I turn on my cell phone. I have twenty-seven messages. I listen to the first second or so of each one, then delete them. My stomach has dropped out completely and there’s a cold tingling up the back of my neck. I think about Spencer, my mom, my dad, my job, and friends I left behind. I wonder if I really have come too far to go back. Yes, I reason, I have. Besides, things aren’t so bad. It’s not like I owe those people anything. This is my life to live—or throw away. Isn’t that true? I tell myself again that it is.
我把 Gack 送到 TL,我们计划一天左右见面。他说他将开始寻找那些想要出售一些产品的人。我打开手机。我有二十七条消息。我会听每首歌曲的前一秒左右,然后将其删除。我的胃已经完全塌陷了,脖子后面有一股冰冷的刺痛感。我想起斯宾塞、我的妈妈、我的爸爸、我的工作以及我留下的朋友。我想知道我是否真的已经走得太远而无法回去了。是的,我推理,我有。此外,事情并没有那么糟糕。我并不欠那些人什么。这就是我的生活,要么活下去,要么就扔掉。这不是真的吗?我再次告诉自己,确实如此。

The only message I hear all the way through is one from Lauren. She wants me to come by after she has dinner with her parents. She says I can sneak in through the back gate and maybe no one’ll see me. I have a while to wait, so I drive down to Baker Beach and go swimming again in the ocean. I bring my leather toiletry kit over to the men’s room. I shower outside with my shorts on and then step into the sand-covered bathroom, setting up my shaving equipment along the dark-stained sink.

I have a nice razor and one of those bristled facial brushes from L’Occitane. I have a silver dish of shaving soap. I get the hair off my face and put lotion all over. I put on deodorant. I splash on some cologne and put some styling product in my hair. I cut my fingernails and toenails. Every once in a while a stunned-looking beachgoer will come in, stare at me, then walk out quickly. Still, by the time I step outta there, I look halfway presentable.

There’s something about outward appearances that has always been important to me. I always thought I was so ugly. I mean, I really did. I remember being in L.A. at my mom’s house as a little kid and just staring into the mirror for hours. It was like, if I looked long enough, maybe I’d finally be handsome. It never worked. I just got uglier and uglier. Nothing about me ever seemed good enough. And there was this sadness inside me—this hopelessness. Focusing on my physical appearance was at least easier than trying to address the internal shit. I could control the external—at least, to a point. I could buy different clothes, or cut my hair, or whatever. The pit opening up inside me was too frightening to even look at. But I could get a new pair of shoes and, here, I can make sure I’m clean shaven and have good skin.

It’s so shallow and ridiculous and I see it, I do, but I’m powerless to change. I mean, I don’t know how to change. All I can do is just shoot more goddamn drugs.

I decide that maybe I should try and apply for a part-time job at some coffee shop or something.

I drive to Clement Street—past the imported goods stores and stinking fish markets, the sidewalk dim sum stands and Chinese bakeries. People are crowded together, talking loudly, walking fast. I go into the Goodwill and buy a forty-dollar Brooks Brothers suit and some nameless black shoes. After that I cross over to the Richmond Branch Library and sign up to use a computer. The wait is about two hours. The place is dingy and so full of bodies that the books and walls themselves smell of sweat. A slick, shining homeless man with layers and layers of clothes sleeps in the doorway. Old women with peroxide hair argue in Russian. A pregnant mother pushes her sleeping child in a blue-checked stroller—back and forth, back and forth.
我开车前往克莱门特街,经过进口商品商店和臭鱼市场、人行道上的点心摊和中式面包店。人们挤在一起,大声说话,快步走着。我走进 Goodwill 买了一套 40 美元的 Brooks Brothers 西装和一些无名的黑鞋。之后,我前往里士满分馆并注册使用计算机。等待时间大约是两个小时。这个地方肮脏不堪,到处都是尸体,书本和墙壁本身都散发着汗味。一个衣着光鲜亮丽的无家可归者睡在门口。头发过氧化氢的老妇人用俄语争论。一位怀孕的母亲推着一辆蓝色格子婴儿车熟睡的孩子,来来回回。

I smoke cigarettes and wait and scribble in my notebook. I try to write out a resumé so I can type it up once it’s my turn. Problem is, I can’t really leave any references. My work history is solid and my jobs always start off great, but soon degenerate and end badly. Usually I just stop showing up for work one day. That’s what happened at that rehab in Malibu. That’s what happened with the six jobs before that. Actually, I’ve never seen a job all the way through to the end—not even in sobriety. I always get so overwhelmed trying to do everything perfectly. I can’t do a job and not put everything I have into it. I need to be the best employee, the best coworker, the best whatever. I need everyone to like me and I just burn out bending over backward to make that happen. Having people be mad at me is my worst fear. I can’t stand it. There is this crazy fear I have of being rejected by anyone—even people I don’t really care about. It’s always better to leave them first, cut all ties, and disappear. They can’t hurt me that way—no one can. That’s why I have no references. But, of course, there’s always the hope that my new employer won’t check them out.

After printing out about twenty copies of my resumé, I drive over to the different business districts. I drop the resumés off at all the coffee shops and restaurants I come across. No one seems real interested. A couple of places give me times to come back for interviews.

I drive through the financial district as I make my way down to the wharves. I park my car and look out on the white, beaten-down lighthouse of Alcatraz. The sky is quickly fading orange as the sun sets behind the horizon and a strong wind whips in across the bay. I pull on a jacket and sit drawing in my car for a while, until the light is gone completely. I sleep, curled up on the front seat as best I can. I sleep until my phone rings and I hear Lauren’s voice.

“Come over, the back gate is open.”

I listen to music really loud as I drive to Sea Cliff, hiding my car several blocks away from her house ’cause I’m paranoid all of a sudden. Plus when I try to push open the tall wooden gate, there’s a brick holding it closed. I push harder and the thing gives, but the noise I figure probably wakes up the whole neighborhood. Still, I make it to the back door, which is unlocked, and into Lauren’s room without her parents finding me. We kiss for a long time and speak in whispers. She’s jonesing pretty bad, so I start cooking up a shot for us both.

“You ever done heroin?” I ask.

She shakes her head. 她摇摇头。

“You wanna try some?” “你想尝尝吗?”

She nods. I add a good-size chunk of dope to the mix.

Lauren watches me closely. I soak it all up with some cotton and then draw a little bit into both needles. I’m kinda worried about giving her too much ’cause it’s her first time and all. I pass her one of the loaded rigs and she digs around in her arm for a while with it, finally hitting.

She draws some blood up into the mix and then pushes it all into her arm. I watch it sweep over her. She goes slack, kind of—her breath rushing out. She puts her small white hand against her small white forehead and leans back, almost falling. She catches herself, straightens up—then starts almost falling again. I laugh, watching her.

I shoot myself up and we go over to the bed. There are pillows and comforters all over the place. The room is all dark, except for those Christmas lights, and I listen to Lauren’s breath coming through in short little gasps. Her pupils are like nothing—pinned out. The blue overwhelms them and I am high, high, high.

“We gotta be quiet,” she says. Her voice comes out slurred and deep.

I kiss her mouth and it’s like I’m pouring into her—or like I’m absorbing her into me. Her tongue is my tongue, her lips my lips, her breath mine. She moans and I whisper, “Shhhhhh.”

We kiss like that and then I have her clothes off fast, and mine—taking her nipples in my mouth, kissing her breasts roughly. We start to make love and it’s, like, the most perfect, hard, pulsing, organic movement between us. We’re so there and not there—drifting on sensations of color and beating hearts and the sweat coming down, down, down.

We go so long the bed is soaked through now with sweat—so much sweat. We’re kissing and locked together and it just goes on. We’re out of breath, but not. Every sensation is heightened. My hand holding hers is alive, sensual—hot. The bed is shaking and the walls are shaking and the ground and shelves and lamps and everything is shaking down around us and we just don’t care—we just don’t. I wanna stay like this forever—here with Lauren, high on meth and heroin. It seems like I’ve reached the pinnacle of my existence and I just don’t want it to stop.

Three and a half hours go by. I pull out and see that there is blood all over me. My skin has been chafed away. Still, I can’t feel it or anything.

Lauren lights a cigarette. We pass it back and forth between us. I wanna shoot up some more, so I stand and feel all light-headed, like I’m gonna pass out. I look down and I see my body and I’m amazed at how much weight I’ve already started to lose. My legs are starting to eat away at themselves, my hips are jutting out all dramatically. I teeter my way to the bathroom, piss, then hunt around for the rest of the dope and meth still in that cotton. That’s when I hear the knocking.

Someone’s knocking at Lauren’s bedroom door and I feel this rush of panic. I lock myself in the bathroom and hold my breath. There are voices outside now and I figure, fuck, man, it’s over. I see the jar with the cotton in it and a dirty rig. Since we’re busted anyway I decide to suck up the rest of it and shoot it before getting thrown outta there—or thrown in jail. I sit on the toilet seat, as quietly as possible, hunting for a vein. I push off. There is a brief moment of, like, “Oh shit,” as I fall forward, crashing into the solid glass shower door. I bounce off that, hit the floor, and then it’s all black for some time.

DAY 6 第六天

Coming to, there’s light flooding the bathroom and I’m lying on the tile, shivering. I stand and then my stomach seizes and I vomit into the toilet. I do it again. I choke and my throat burns and the tears and snot are wrenched outta my body. There’s no noise outside the bathroom, so after drinking some water from the tap, I turn the lock and sort of crawl my way out into Lauren’s room. No one’s there. The lights are all out and the sun’s coming in.

I put on my clothes and try to sneak out the same way I came in. I reach my hand in my pocket and there’s a note there. The writing is scrawled hurriedly—frantic little marks on yellow lined paper.

Nic, if you’re fucking dead in there, I’m gonna kill you. Call me IMMEDIATELY when you wake up. My parents are leaving tomorrow around one, so you can move your stuff in after that. Fuck, I hope you’re not dead. CALL ME. Lauren.

I wait till I’m well away from that house before dialing her number. Her voice is soft, like she’s not supposed to be using her phone or something. The sky is blue, blue, but that San Francisco wind whips the hair around in front of my eyes.

“Nic?” “尼克?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“Jesus, what the hell happened to you last night?”

“Nothing. You know, when I heard your dad knocking, I hid in the bathroom. I guess I shot too much dope or something, ’cause I passed out. Didn’t you guys hear me when I fell?”

“What are you talking about?”

“When your dad came downstairs.”

“Nic, that never happened.”

“But I heard it. I heard you talking to him.”

“Uh, no, you didn’t.” “呃,不,你没有。”

“Fuck.” “他妈的。”

“Nic, you can’t do that again, okay?”

“Yeah, I’m sorry.” “是的,对不起。”

“Will you come over tonight?”

“Sure.” “当然。”

“Do you have any more of that…you know?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“All right, call me later.”

I hang up. 我挂断电话。

It’s around five thirty when Gack calls me. I spent most of the day just walking around the avenues, looking for ground scores—money, cigarettes, or whatever else might’ve been left on the ground. Once I found a black leather kit full of haircutting equipment that had five checks and almost two hundred dollars cash in it. I’ve found packs of cigarettes, bags of leftovers, even the occasional sack of weed, or coke, or something. Today, however, I find nothing but an Aiwa stereo system that I don’t need. Actually, I see a plastic bag tied at the top in front of someone’s doorway. I’m hungry and it looks like take-out maybe. I walk quickly past, circle back, then grab the bag and run off. When I round the corner I open it—hoping for some Chinese food, or Thai noodles, or anything really. The bag is full of dog shit—lots of dog shit. I drop the sack and my stomach convulses from the smell.

But, like I said, Gack calls at five thirty and tells me he thinks he’s found a hookup for us. He says he can’t go into details on the phone, but we agree to meet in the TL around eight. He says to bring three hundred dollars.
但是,就像我说的,盖克在五点三十分打电话告诉我,他认为他已经为我们找到了联系对象。他说他不能在电话中透露细节,但我们同意八点左右在 TL 见面。他说要带三百块钱。

“Three hundred?” I say. “That’s all?”
“三百?”我说。 “就这样?”

“For now, yeah.” “目前来说,是的。”

I withdraw the money from my account. I’ve still got more than two thousand dollars, but just barely. My feet hurt from walking all day and I look down at the soles of my Jack Purcell sneakers—the left one has a hole starting to eat its way through the bottom. Still, I keep walking and I know that as soon as I do another shot, I won’t feel the pain anymore. It’s the same with my throat. As I start to come down a little bit, I can feel that I’m sick. My throat is sore and my nose is filled with snot. I must’ve gotten a cold somewhere. But crystal will take it all away.

The dark is settling in. The sky glows yellow—pale—anemic from the city lights. The Tenderloin at night is a real horror show. Every three feet someone is accosting you with a plea for a handout, or the offer of drugs or sex. The men and women wander the streets and alleys with a threatening, violent want. Takers looking to take, hustlers looking to hustle—all trying to satisfy a craving that is perpetually unsatisfiable. And tonight I’m one of them.

Gack is smoking a cigarette in front of a Carl’s Jr. He’s listening to music through some headphones. He’s wearing the same clothes he always wears.
Gack 在 Carl’s Jr. 面前抽烟。他正在通过耳机听音乐。他穿着他平时穿的衣服。

“What’s up, man?” he says, doing some slap/snap handshake thing with me. His eyes are all over the place.

“You tell me.” “你告诉我。”

He starts walking fast and I follow.

“All right, so there’s this guy, Joe, right? Joe just got outta jail and he’s movin’ away to somewhere in, like, the deep South—Georgia, or some shit. Joe knows everybody and he says he’s gonna hook us up with his connection, so we can start dealing directly from them. He’s, like, passing on the torch, right?”

“Cool.” “凉爽的。”

“So we’ll just try these hookups out. We’ll get three hundred dollars’ worth of really good shit. We’ll cut it and sell it—set aside maybe half for personal use.”

“And you trust this guy?”

“Hell, yeah. I’ve known him for fucking ever.”

“All right, man, so I’m gonna leave it up to you then.”

“Word.” “单词。”

I haven’t really been paying attention, but somehow we’ve ended up down this alley with nothing but one flickering light overhead. We stop at a rusted iron gate in front of an apartment complex. Gack pushes a button, says, “Yo, it’s Gack,” and we’re buzzed in.

The hallway is cramped and smells of urine and mold. The carpet is bare, stained, burned. The walls are all uneven, giving the place the feeling of a rocking ship. I steady myself against the dirty brown banister.

A door opens maybe ten yards away. A long-haired man who looks Persian or something—with black, thick eyebrows—steps out into the hall.

“He’s in here,” he says.

We follow him inside a room the size of a small kitchen. There’s a bed, a porno movie playing on the TV, and nothing else. A fat man—probably fifty-five, with a receding hairline—smokes speed from a long glass pipe. He exhales loudly and looks up at us. He shifts back to the far corner of the bed, settling in against the back wall.

“Gack, it’s been a long time.”

“Yeah, welcome back. This is Nic.”

Joe reaches out and shakes my hand. His eyes are gray and glazed over. He has a scruffy beard covering his fleshy cheeks. His lips are wet and thick. He passes me the pipe and I take a hit without wiping it off or anything, even though I want to.

“So, Nic,” he says, his voice trembling from the narcotics. “You wanna get into dealing this nasty shit, eh?”
“那么,尼克,”他说道,声音因麻醉剂而颤抖。 “你想参与处理这种令人讨厌的事情,是吗?”

I nod, sitting down on the floor next to the Persian man. Gack leans back on the bed with Joe.

“Gack and I are gonna work together,” I say.

“All right, man, but I’d be careful. Anyway, let’s get this started. You gotta phone I could borrow?”

I hand him my cell and he makes a few calls. I half listen to his conversation while Gack and I pass the pipe back and forth. The Persian man still says nothing. He doesn’t hit the pipe when I offer it to him.

“So someone’ll be by within the half hour,” says Joe. “These are definitely some folks you wanna be down with. Gack, pay attention, man.”
“所以半小时内就会有人过来,”乔说。 “这些人绝对是你想与之相处的人。盖克,注意点,伙计。”

Gack is messing around with a portable CD player—taking it apart with some multi-tool key chain thing. He looks up briefly.
Gack 正在摆弄一台便携式 CD 播放器——用一些多功能工具钥匙链的东西把它拆开。他短暂地抬起头。

“Let me lay this shit down for y’all. If I’m gonna give you kids my connects, you gotta understand a few things first. Gack, you’ve always been real straight ahead and Nic, well, if Gack vouches for you, then you’re all right with me.”

He rambles on for maybe twenty minutes—talking about how you have to never let the other guy get up on you. Bottom line is it’s all about money. Never trust anyone. Never do anything out of goodwill. It’s all business. Never get sentimental. Never let anyone in. Start off selling small sacks, and as they get more dependent, keep making the sacks smaller. Always keep a weapon on you. The best is something discreet like a skateboard or a pair of drumsticks. Gack argues with him a little, stating that he’s always found that being honest gets you further in the long run. Joe dismisses this entirely. He expounds on the virtues of coldhearted bloodthirstiness. I listen and just try and make him like me by nodding every once in a while as though I really get it.

The doorbell sounds and we buzz two large men into the building. One’s white, the other looks Latino. The room is so full of bodies now, I’m sweating. The introductions are brief. Joe presents Gack as his successor, they shake hands, pass over a phone number, and that’s it. I give them three hundred dollars for a rock of crystal about the size of a golf ball. It looks very pure. They leave and then it’s just me and Joe and Gack and the Persian guy, who still hasn’t said more than three and a half goddamn words.

I hand the sack to Gack along with two clean rigs, asking him to make us shots to try it out. As Gack is preparing it, Joe starts asking me questions. I tell him my story, maybe being a little too open—saying I got all this money I’m looking to invest. He stares so directly into my eyes while I’m talking, I have to keep looking at the floor.

He waits till Gack shoots me up before he says it. I cough so hard as the shit hits me. My ears just won’t stop ringing. I think maybe I’ll puke or something it’s so strong—but I revel in the intensity. My whole body is paralyzed for a moment. I breathe out for a long time, light a cigarette, laugh. Gack’s reaction is pretty much like mine. Shit’s very pure, like I thought.

“You like that, huh?” asks Joe.

I nod. 我点点头。

“You know, I can get you some glass that’s a whole lot better.”

“Really?” “真的吗?”

“Hell, yeah. I could do it tonight. How much money can you get?”

“I don’t know. Two hundred’s my limit, I think.”

“Well, that’ll be enough to start.”

“Okay.” “好的。”

I look over at Gack, try to read his expression, but he’s not paying attention. He’s back with the damn CD player. The Persian man is leaning against the wall, asleep. Some guy is fucking some girl from behind on the small, grainy TV screen.
我看着加克,试图解读他的表情,但他没有注意。他带着该死的 CD 播放器回来了。波斯人靠在墙上睡着了。一个男人在小小的、颗粒状的电视屏幕上从后面操一个女孩。

“Let me use your phone again.”

I hand it over and Joe gets up off the bed. He’s even fatter than he seemed sitting down. His stomach hangs way over his belt. He stomps outta the room, down the hall, and I wait. Gack says nothing. I take a notebook out of my bag and start to draw—faces coming out of faces with so many scratchy lines. Joe steps back through the door.

“All set. Let’s go to an ATM.”

“Cool.” “凉爽的。”

“There’s one down the street.”

We walk. 我们走。

Standing and moving after all the meth I’ve shot and smoked kicks everything screaming into hyperreality. As my blood starts to circulate more quickly, the drug crawls down the different pathways of my body. My nerves are shot. I can feel my toes moving compulsively in my shoes.

The Tres Amigos liquor store has an ATM in the back next to the ninety-nine-cent bags of chips. As I take my card out, Joe leans over and looks at it closely.
Tres Amigos 酒类商店后面有一台自动提款机,旁边就是一袋 99 美分的薯条。当我拿出卡片时,乔俯身仔细地看着它。

“Bank of America, huh? I used to work for them back in the day. They still use the same number sequence? Yup. I got a way with numbers.”

“Not me,” I say. “I’m horrible at that stuff.” I insert the card and type my code in. Joe is standing almost on top of me and I can smell the sweat clinging to his black hooded sweatshirt. Two hundred dollars comes out.
“不是我,”我说。 “我对那些东西很讨厌。”我插入卡并输入密码。乔几乎站在我身上,我可以闻到他黑色连帽运动衫上的汗味。两百块钱就出来了。

We make our way back to the apartment and Joe is talking a lot. He’s going on about the new life he’s gonna have in Georgia, or some place like that. He’s gonna leave all this behind him—thugging, meth—make a clean break, a fresh start.

I’m encouraging. I nod a lot.

He puts a hand on my shoulder. “You know, kid,” he says. “You’re all right. You’re gonna do fine. Just remember, in this game, you can’t trust anyone. You understand me?”
他把手放在我的肩膀上。 “你知道,孩子,”他说。 “你没事吧。你会做得很好的。请记住,在这个游戏中,你不能相信任何人。你明白我的意思?”

“Yeah,” I say. “是的,”我说。

“Especially in the fucking TL.”

We go inside and Joe asks to borrow my phone again. I pass it over.

“This next connect is completely off the hook,” he says. “You aren’t gonna believe how good his shit is.”
“下一次连接完全没有问题,”他说。 “你不会相信他的狗屎有多好。”

He tells me to get the money ready. “Put it on the dresser here.”
他叫我准备好钱。 “放在这里的梳妆台上。”

I do. 我愿意。

Gack looks up suddenly. The Persian guy is still asleep. “Joe, what the hell is going on?”
盖克突然抬起头来。波斯小伙还在睡觉。 “乔,这到底是怎么回事?”

“Nothing, G, I’m just settin’ yer boy up with some more crystal.”

“From who?” “从谁?”

“Dude, chill. Hold on a minute, I gotta make one more call.” He walks outta the room.

“Something’s weird,” says Gack. “How much money you get?”
“有些事情很奇怪,”加克说。 “你拿了多少钱?”

“Two hundred.” “二百。”

“Where is it?” “它在哪里?”

“There, on the dresser.” “那里,梳妆台上。”

“Where?” “在哪里?”

I look over. Of course it’s gone.

“Fuck, wait here,” yells Gack.

He runs off. 他跑开了。

I’m just left staring. A sickness burrows into my insides. I wonder if I’ll ever see Gack again—if it was all a setup. My phone is gone—all that money. I’m not sure what to do. I start cooking up a huge chunk of black tar heroin. The Persian man jerks awake suddenly.

“What’s going on?” “这是怎么回事?”

“That guy Joe…” “乔那个家伙……”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“You know him well?” “你很了解他?”

“Sort of.” “有点。”

“He just ripped me off.”

“Oh.” “哦。”

“Gack went to go find him—maybe. I don’t know. You mind if I shoot some heroin here?”

“No, no—whatever you need. That sucks, man. How much he get?”

I tell him. 我告诉他。

“Fuck. I’m Ali, by the way.”

“Nic.” “尼克。”

He lies back as though trying to sleep against the wall again. I pump all the heroin into my vein. It maybe takes the edge off waiting. I focus on the ceiling fading in and out. Thirty minutes go by.

“All right,” I say. “Ali, man, I’m leaving. This is bullshit.”
“好吧,”我说。 “阿里,伙计,我要走了。这是胡说八道。”

“Yeah,” he says, opening his eyes out of a half sleep. “You gotta be more careful, man.”
“是啊,”他从半睡半醒中睁开眼睛说道。 “你必须更加小心,伙计。”

I pack my bag up, sling it over my shoulder, and start outta there. Ali shakes my hand. I feel heat in my eyes—a stinging like maybe I’ll cry. The hallway swells and shifts around me. The ripped-out feeling of my insides is overwhelming. But then Gack is calling out to me, just outside the gated stairway.

“Gack, man, fuck.” “哎呀,伙计,操。”

“Nic, I am so sorry.”

“You weren’t in on that?”

“No way, man. I fucking swear. Look, here’s the deal—Joe took off. I just went home and my dad thinks he’d been there. He stole our computer—my dad is freaking out. He’s skipped out now, man. No one knows where he is.”

“When did he take the computer?”

“Just now, man; he had a key to our room.”

“Gack, this is so not cool.”

“I know, man. But look—I was talking to my dad. We’re gonna figure this out. He gave me his phone. Already we got someone waitin’ to buy a sack. We’ve gotta break that rock up and slang that shit. We’ll make your money back quick.”

“And?” “和?”

“And whatever extra we make we’re gonna give to my dad, cool?”

“I don’t know, man. Maybe I should just cut my losses.”

“No way. This is gonna work out.”

I light a cigarette and I don’t offer one to Gack. We’re still leaning against the white peeling walls of Ali’s building.

“Gack, man, honestly, I’m not sure I can trust you anymore.”

He’s quiet a minute. “Yeah, I understand. I do. But you gotta believe me, that had nothing to do with me. I’ve known Joe since I was a kid. I’m telling you, man, he had a key to our place. We all trusted him and he fucked over a lot of people tonight. Everyone’s lookin’ for him. He’s got nowhere to run. I bet we find him before morning—no joke.”
他安静了一分钟。 “是的,我明白了。我愿意。但你要相信我,这与我无关。我从小就认识乔。我告诉你,伙计,他有我们家的钥匙。我们都信任他,今晚他操了很多人。每个人都在寻找他。他无处可逃。我打赌我们会在早上之前找到他——不是开玩笑。”

“And you had no idea he was gonna rip me off?”

He’s quiet again. “Look, at a certain point I, uh, sensed…something.” He jams his hands in his pockets. “But what was I supposed to say? You just kept going along with everything. You’re so open and nice—people are gonna tear you apart. They can sense it here, man. They feed on it. You gotta lot to learn if this is gonna work out.”
他又安静了。 “看,在某个时刻我,呃,感觉到了……一些东西。”他把手插进口袋里。 “但是我应该说什么?你只是继续一切。你是如此开放和友善——人们会把你撕碎的。他们在这里能感觉到,伙计。他们以此为食。如果这件事能成功,你需要学习很多东西。”

Now it’s my turn to be quiet awhile. “You’re right,” I say.

“Yeah, man, you gotta stay humble and you gotta watch me, man—you gotta pay attention. Watch what I do—how I act. I keep my mouth shut, man, and I never reveal more than I have to. Like if I have a pack of cigarettes, I never pull out the whole pack. I take out one cigarette and I keep it real discreet. If someone asks, I say I bummed it—even if I don’t mind givin’ ’em one. You never wanna let on that you have more than anyone else—you got it?”

I nod. Gack actually puts his hand on my shoulder. “Come on, man, let’s move.”
我点点头。盖克实际上把手放在了我的肩膀上。 “来吧,伙计,我们走吧。”

We do. 我们的确是。

The first stop we make is at some cheap apartment complex south of Market. The streetlights are burned out and we turn down a back alley into almost total darkness.

There’s a hooded figure leaning against the side of a corrugated metal garage door. The deep charcoal orange glow of a cigarette, smoked down to the butt, illuminates his scarred face.

“Excuse me, uh, could you guys spare any change?” he asks as we walk past.

“Bullet?” says Gack. “子弹?”加克说。

“Fuck, Gack, Nic, what’s up?”

“Dude.” “伙计。”

Bullet gets up off the ground and chucks the smoking filter out into the narrow street. He smells bad, like he hasn’t changed his clothes in a week. His eyes are lined and creased—heavy, gray. We ask him what he’s doing out here and he admits he was just trying to find a place to sleep.

“I’m so tired, man. You guys have any ups for me?”

I wanna say yes and give him speed and everything he wants, but I just shake my head.

“We gotta sell what we got.”

Gack tells him the story of Joe ripping us off. Bullet doesn’t seem that surprised, really.

“Well, you think I could sleep in your car?” he asks me. “I swear, I won’t fuck with anything. I’ll lock myself in, man.”
“嗯,你觉得我可以睡在你的车里吗?”他问我。 “我发誓,我不会搞任何事。我会把自己锁在里面的,伙计。”

I agree, but I won’t give him my keys. Instead, I walk back where I parked and let him in. He lies down in the back and grabs one of my sweaters and is immediately asleep. The smell of him fills my car.

“It’s pretty weird us running into him,” I say to Gack, walking back toward the apartment.

“It’s not weird,” he says. “That’s how it all works, or haven’t you figured that out yet?”
“这并不奇怪,”他说。 “事情就是这样,还是你还没弄清楚?”

I think maybe he’s right.

Gack calls up on his dad’s phone and a couple minutes later a man comes down and opens the door. We’ve already broken off what’s supposed to be a gram but is obviously way smaller, and put it in the plastic wrapper from my pack of cigarettes. The guy is supposed to give us eighty bucks for it. He looks like he hasn’t been outside in years. He has doughy, pale skin and bones protruding from his face. His dark hair is falling out, and he has a red alcoholic nose. His stomach is horribly swollen and he looks almost pregnant. His voice comes out curt and demanding—high-pitched, whiny. We all introduce each other, but I don’t remember his name. He leads us through the shabby lobby—walls covered with rusted-out mailboxes—into a loud, clunking, dented elevator.

The doors open and we step inside. The space is cramped and I can smell something like baby powder on the man’s pasty skin. He runs a meaty hand through his stringy hair, then reaches out and stops the elevator somewhere between the second and third floor. A light hums sickeningly overhead. Sweat collects on his forehead and runs down along his ears. My breath catches, waiting for something.

“What’s up, man?” asks Gack.

“Let’s see it,” the man says.

Gack pulls out the sack, holding it tightly in his hand.

“Looks small,” says the man.

“Whatever, this is fat.” “不管怎样,这就是胖子。”

The man stares at Gack. Gack looks right into the man’s milky green eyes. The man looks away. He hands Gack a wad of cash.

“Take it, Nic.” “拿走它,尼克。”

I do—stuffing it in my pocket.

Gack passes the sack over and the man turns the elevator back on. It lurches up, bucks, and we struggle our way to the fourth floor.

“Good night, boys,” the man says.

He walks out into the hallway and we take the elevator down. We’re almost out the front door when I finally take the money out and count it.

“Gack, man, he’s twenty short.”

“What?” “什么?”

I show him the three twenty-dollar bills.

“Fuck.” “他妈的。”

“What do we do?” “我们做什么?”

“Just, uh, hold on a second.”

He dials the guy’s number. There’s no answer. I squat down and rock on the balls of my feet—holding my knees to my chest.

“Go get Bullet,” he says. “Give him a shot, okay? I’ll wait here and try and get my dad on the phone.”
“去拿子弹吧,”他说。 “给他一个机会,好吗?我会在这里等一下,然后试着给我爸爸打电话。”

I walk out into the night, hiking up the collar of my jacket against the damp that’s settled in over everything. The blood in my ears is loud, loud, loud and my hands shake. I think about Bullet’s big bowie knife and the fat man, smelling of fine powder.

I tap on the window and Bullet starts up.
我点击窗口,Bullet 启动。

“What’s going on?” “这是怎么回事?”

“Hey, unlock the door.” “喂,把门打开。”

I slide into the front seat and immediately start making up two shots. I put some more heroin in both our rigs, explaining the situation to Bullet. He hoots loudly.

“All right, man, bring it on. We’re gonna fuck that guy up.”

I swallow something down in my throat.

“You packin’ anything?” he asks me.

I laugh. “Bullet, come on, man, I’ve never even hit anyone before.”
我笑。 “子弹,来吧,伙计,我以前从来没有打过人。”

He can’t figure that one out.

We shoot up and light cigarettes and get ready.

He hands me a screwdriver from his back pocket.

“Hold this,” he says. “But if you have to swing it, use the handle side first, got it? We don’t wanna actually kill this guy.”
“拿着这个,”他说。 “但是如果你必须摆动它,请先使用手柄一侧,明白了吗?我们并不想真的杀了这个人。”

I don’t think all the heroin in the world could make my stomach stop cramping up on me, but I do manage to lead Bullet back to the man’s apartment complex. Gack is still talking on the phone to his dad, but he hangs up when we knock on the door and lets us in. The three of us pace the lobby, talking. Bullet’s voice has dropped, like, three octaves since doing that H.

“So my dad says it was probably a mistake.”

“Does your dad know which apartment is his?” I ask.

Gack shakes his head. 盖克摇摇头。

Bullet thinks for sure the guy was trying to rip us off. He goes on about all the shit he’s gonna do to him. Gack and I both pretty much ignore this for now. We decide to go up to the fourth floor and check it out. Maybe we’ll hear something. Meanwhile, Gack keeps dialing the man’s number. There’s never any answer.
子弹认为那家伙肯定是想敲诈我们。他继续讲述他将对他做的所有事情。 Gack 和我现在几乎都忽略了这一点。我们决定上四楼去看看。也许我们会听到一些消息。与此同时,盖克继续拨打那个人的号码。永远没有任何答案。

The elevator carries us along slowly. We step out onto the dark splattered carpet and speak quietly to one another. There are potted plants lining the hallway. The numbers are nailed unevenly into the flimsy apartment doors—401, 402, 403. We listen at each one. None of us are really breathing at all. Everything is quiet.

I’m the one who hears the pounding first. It’s faint and rhythmic—coming from the last apartment next to the window and fire escape.

“Over there.” “在那边。”

A moan escapes the keyhole. Bullet pulls out the knife.

We all just listen. 我们都只是听着。

Another moan and then the fat man’s voice comes through—saying something like, “Hold still, hold still.” He’s repeating it over and over.

Gack nods and Bullet pounds on the door with his fist. The whole world is turned silent a moment. I back up and Gack puts a hand on my shoulder. He whispers in my ear, “It’s all right.”

Then the fat man’s voice is right at the door.

“What is it?” “它是什么?”

“Yo, it’s Gack, Mike’s son.”

“What do you want?” “你想要什么?”

The door opens ever so slightly and all at once Bullet kicks the thing as hard as he can.

The fat man falls back on the floor. He’s wearing white underwear and nothing else. His skin hangs down all over the place. When he falls his head whips back, smashing against the hard polished wood floor. He says, “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ.”

He keeps on saying it.

We all step in and I close the door behind us. I look away from the man crumpled on the floor.

“You shorted us twenty,” says Gack. “It’s eighty for a gram, last I checked.”
“你卖空了我们二十个,”加克说。 “我上次查了一下,一克是八十。”

“I gave you eighty, I swear.”

“Nic?” “尼克?”

I take out the three twenty-dollar bills. Bullet grabs them from me—balling them up, throwing them at the man.

“Count it.” “算一下吧。”

The man writhes around like a giant slug.

“I’m sorry. I swear, it was an accident. I’ll get the money.”

“Damn right,” says Bullet.

Then suddenly, we hear something coming from the back room. It’s like a grunting sound.

“What the fuck is that?”

Bullet has the knife all poised and everything and before I know what I’m doing, I have the screwdriver out and I’m clutching it tightly. We walk through the apartment, toward the back bedroom. Bullet pushes open the door just as the man on the floor yells, “Don’t.”

Inside there is a very hairy man tied so that he is stretched naked and facedown across the width of the bed. He is blindfolded and gagged. He seems to be choking a little or something, ’cause he makes this weird noise in his throat. Bullet says, “Awww, fuck” and then laughs and laughs.

“You have no right to treat people this way,” the fat man says, walking with his head down into the small, immaculate kitchen. His pants are slung over a high-backed chair. He reaches his hand into the front pocket, pulling out a crumpled twenty and throwing it on the floor with the others. Gack gathers it up. He kind of nods at us and we all get the hell out of there.

I hear the man cursing behind us and I feel like I need to wash my hands.

Gack calls his dad from the cell phone once we’re outside. Our next hookup is just three blocks away. His dad tells him that as far as everyone can figure, Joe is gonna be leaving on a Greyhound from the bus station sometime in the morning. We decide to stake the place out after we make some more deliveries. Actually, it’s Bullet who seems the most enthusiastic about the whole idea. His loyalty is sweet, in a very not sweet sort of way. Anyway, he’s going on and on about the best plan of attack, or whatever, when I start thinking about my ATM card.
我们一出门,盖克就用手机给他爸爸打电话。我们的下一个连接点距离我们仅三个街区。他的父亲告诉他,据每个人所知,乔将于早上某个时间乘坐灰狗巴士从公交车站出发。我们决定在交付更多货物后将该地点放样。事实上,子弹似乎对整个想法最感兴趣。他的忠诚是甜蜜的,但以一种非常不甜蜜的方式。不管怎样,当我开始考虑我的 ATM 卡时,他正在不停地谈论最好的攻击计划,或者其他什么。

The fog is so thick we can’t even see the streetlights overhead, except for a dull, obscured glow. For some reason I can’t get this image of Joe standing over me at the liquor store out of my head. He was staring at me—watching for what? My ATM code, of course.
雾太浓了,我们甚至看不到头顶上的路灯,除了暗淡的、模糊的光芒。出于某种原因,乔在酒类商店里站在我身边的画面一直萦绕在我的脑海中。他盯着我——看什么?当然是我的 ATM 代码。

“Oh shit,” I say. “Yo, Gack, let me see that phone.”
“哦,该死,”我说。 “哟,Gack,让我看看那部手机。”

I pull out my card and dial the number on the back of it—hoping, hoping, hoping that I’m not too late. After what seems like forever, I get some guy on the line. He sounds fairly apathetic to my frantic pleas to put a hold on my account.

“Sir,” he keeps saying, “even if your card was stolen, no one can access your account without your PIN number.”
“先生,”他不断地说,“即使您的卡被盗,没有您的 PIN 码,任何人都无法访问您的帐户。”

“Yeah, but I think this guy saw me enter my code.”

“When was this?” “这是什么时候的事?”

“I don’t know, a couple hours ago. Just, uh, look, you gotta cancel that card, okay?”

“Yes, of course, sir.” “是的,当然,先生。”

I tear my card in half and throw it in a trash can. I think about retribution, maybe. I think about all the times I’d stolen my parents’ credit cards. I think about the girl at my school whose Chevron card I used for about a month before they finally discovered it was missing. When I went to college in Massachusetts, I would wander the dorm halls, looking for open doors—dashing in quickly and stealing whatever money or cigarettes I found lying around. There was a pool and a gym there where I’d go through the lockers every couple of days. I never got very much cash, but it was enough to keep a steady supply of heroin in my arm.

I stole from girlfriends.

I stole from my grandparents.

I stole from aunts, uncles, friends.

I stole and justified it and stole more.

I feel sick being on the other side of it. I feel unsafe, violated, out of control. It’s like the time in Amsterdam when I got beat up by an African guy at three in the morning. Even strung out and on the street, I had a feeling that I was protected somehow from the bad shit that went down—like it just couldn’t happen to me. Walking through the twisted cobblestone streets of Holland, stoned out on Ecstasy and mushrooms, I was so surprised that the guy actually hit me. And for what? He’d asked me a question and I hadn’t responded—that was it. It happened so fast—so abruptly.

An innocence I’d clung to was lost in that instant. Tonight with Joe, I have the same feeling. It is a dirty world and a dirty life. Everyone’s out to fuck you over. Any illusions I have are dashed quickly to pieces. I feel just, you know, defeated.

But Gack doesn’t see it that way. “This is just what we need,” he says. “Motivation.”
但盖克并不这么认为。 “这正是我们所需要的,”他说。 “动机。”

We walk quickly, making our deliveries. At a certain point we find out about some really cheap crystal a guy’s selling farther south of Market. It’s not great, but we buy a whole bunch of it and start slanging that instead. Already we’ve made almost two hundred dollars back. It feels so effortless. Mostly I just follow Gack—don’t say much, just watch.
我们走得很快,送货。在某个时刻,我们发现有人在市场以南的地方出售一些非常便宜的水晶。这不太好,但我们买了一大堆,然后开始谩骂它。我们已经赚回了近两百美元。感觉是那么的不费吹灰之力。大多数时候我只是关注 Gack——不多说,只是观看。

If dealing is this easy and profitable, I can’t really see having any problems. There’s no way I’m gonna fall into the life I had before—eating out of trash cans, hustling money from guys at gay bars, hanging out on the corner of Castro and 18th, where guys circle the block in fancy sports cars. It hurt so bad the first few times. I thought maybe I’d throw up—just praying for it to be over, for him to finish. They’d take me back to their apartments—or houses up near Twin Peaks. And, of course, there were the rough ones—the ones into violence, leather, different harnesses and things. You just try to shut it all out—getting as loaded as possible. But I’m determined not to do that again. There’s a nausea that sweeps through me just thinking about it. Dealing has to work out for me. It has to. It took a miracle to get me outta that situation. I can’t count on something like that happening again.
如果交易如此简单且有利可图,我真的看不出有任何问题。我绝对不会再陷入以前的生活了——吃垃圾桶里的东西,在同性恋酒吧里从男人那里骗钱,在卡斯特罗街和 18 街的街角闲逛,那里的男人开着豪华跑车绕着街区转。前几次疼得很厉害。我想我也许会吐——只是祈祷一切结束,祈祷他结束。他们会把我带回他们的公寓——或者双峰附近的房子。当然,也有一些粗暴的——暴力、皮革、不同的马具之类的。你只需尝试将一切拒之门外——尽可能地加载。但我决心不再这样做。一想到这件事,我就感到一阵恶心。交易必须对我有利。必须如此。奇迹让我摆脱了这种困境。我不能指望类似的事情再次发生。

See, after I ended up stealing that money from my little brother and I got kicked out of the house, I didn’t know what to do. I went to my friend Akira’s apartment near the Presidio. He agreed to let me stay with him for a while. I had a little bit of money left over and I kept shooting meth and heroin, looking for work around the city. I finally got hired at a coffee shop near the Castro. I told the manager, a very clean-cut-looking, gym-toned gay guy in his late thirties, that I had been kicked out of my house by my tyrannical father after he discovered that I was sleeping with boys. The manager took pity on me and let me work for him, but it was only a couple shifts a week. My habit was growing and I needed money bad. Akira lived in a basement apartment beneath his mom’s place. His mom had always hated me. At the time, you know, I didn’t understand it. I thought she was just cruel and uptight. Now, of course, I can see that she was scared of me and worried about my influence on her son.
看,当我从我弟弟那里偷了钱并被赶出家门后,我不知道该怎么办。我去了我朋友 Akira 在 Presidio 附近的公寓。他同意让我和他住一段时间。我只剩下一点钱了,我继续注射冰毒和海洛因,在城市里寻找工作。我终于在卡斯特罗附近的一家咖啡馆找到了工作。我告诉经理,一个三十多岁、外表非常干净、体态健美的同性恋者,在发现我和男孩子们上床后,我被我暴虐的父亲赶出了家门。经理可怜我,让我为他工作,但每周只有几个班次。我的习惯越来越强烈,我非常需要钱。阿基拉住在他妈妈家楼下的一间地下室公寓里。他妈妈一直讨厌我。当时,你知道,我不明白。我认为她只是残酷而紧张。当然,现在我可以看出她害怕我,担心我对她儿子的影响。

Anyway, I snuck upstairs one day while she was at work and found a checkbook hidden in her bedside table. I wrote a hundred dollars out to myself and cashed it at one of those check-cashing places in the Fillmore. I immediately spent the money on drugs, but the check place had called Akira’s mom and she figured out that I had taken the money. Akira was upset and told me I had to leave. Our friendship was really never the same after that and I felt just so terrible about what I’d done.

I spent some time living in a youth hostel, and then when I couldn’t afford that, I slept in a park. That was when I started turning tricks for the first time, really. I wasn’t making a ton of money or anything, just enough to get high and not starve. The few friends I still had I never told what I was doing to get money. I ate maybe a candy bar a day—Snickers usually. I weighed very little. I walked all night long. I walked all day. I had nowhere to go.

One day I saw that an old friend of our family’s was having a retrospective of his work at the Castro movie theater. He is a director who is pretty famous and all. His son, JT, is an actor and they were both scheduled to be at the opening reception. I dragged myself over there, my clothes torn and stinking. I tried to get inside, but the doorway was being guarded. Thankfully, though, JT noticed me and came outside. He put his arms around me. The bulk of his frame crushed me. He offered me a cigarette.
有一天,我看到我们家的一位老朋友正在卡斯特罗电影院举办他的作品回顾展。他是一位非常有名的导演。他的儿子 JT 是一名演员,他们都计划出席开幕招待会。我拖着身子过去,衣服破破烂烂,散发着恶臭。我试图进去,但门口有人把守。不过值得庆幸的是,JT 注意到了我并走了出来。他用双臂搂住我。他庞大的身躯压垮了我。他递给我一支烟。

“How did this happen to you?” JT asked, his voice so soft—gentle. He took off his glasses and rubbed his dark, narrow eyes.
“你怎么会遇到这种事?” JT问道,他的声音很温柔。他摘下眼镜,揉了揉又黑又窄的眼睛。

“What happened to you?” It was more of a plea than a question. “I remember when you were a little kid, you were, like, the golden child or something. You were so happy…so…light. I’d play with you for hours and you’d never cry or anything. Do you remember that?”
“你怎么了?”这与其说是一个问题,倒不如说是一个恳求。 “我记得当你还是个小孩子的时候,你就像金童之类的。你是如此幸福……如此……轻松。我会和你一起玩几个小时,你永远不会哭或发生任何事情。你是否记得?”

“Sort of.” “有点。”

“Well, you were pretty young. But you were still, even then, so open and everything. And watching you grow up, I was always so proud of you.”

“I looked up to you so much. All the music I listen to, all the books I read, they were all inspired by you.”

“So what happened? Last time I saw you it was like, what, three years ago? You were lookin’ at colleges in Manhattan. You were all excited about going to school—writing.”

“Yeah. It’s just crystal meth, man. I wish I’d never tried this shit, I swear.”

“You wanna get off it?”

“I don’t know. I need to.”

“Well, look, I just broke up with my girlfriend and I’m moving back home for a couple months. Why don’t you stay with me at our apartment? We’ll get you a doctor, get you some medicine—you can just detox there and figure out your life, man. We gotta place in upstate New York you’ve never been to. We’ll go up there, get you straightened out. We’ll get my dad’s masseuse working on you. We’ll hook you up with an apartment, a good job. It’ll be all good.”

I agreed to meet him at the Four Seasons Hotel the next day. I went to my dealer’s place in Oakland. I spent most of my money on speed and pills, then I went back to the park in Fort Mason. I stayed up for a long time, just shooting drugs. I had gotten my backpack full of clothes out of the locker at the youth hostel. I actually had two backpacks, and then I had the brilliant idea of cutting the packs up and sewing them together to make one, giant, SUPER backpack. By the time I finished cutting everything up, however, I got really tired and passed out. When I woke up I had no super backpack and no regular backpack, either. I put all my stuff in a laundry cart I’d stolen and pushed it from the park, down Columbus, to the Four Seasons on Market. There were two large doormen with earpieces and walkie-talkies. They weren’t about to let me pass—all rags, a laundry cart full of clothes, an electric guitar, and a head full of so much heroin and meth I could barely talk. When they asked the names of the “guests” I was visiting, I just laughed.

“Look, you’re not gonna believe me. Can you just call up and ask if anyone is expecting me. I was told my name would be left with the, uh, front desk, or whatever it’s called. I’m Nic Sheff.”

That didn’t work. They wanted to know who I was there to see, so eventually I told them. Dropping my friends’ names got me yelled at that I better get the hell outta there. They said they’d call the cops. When I refused to leave and kept insisting that they call up to make sure, they finally agreed. After that they apologized, like, a hundred times and brought us champagne and a fruit basket.

We flew out to New York on the red-eye that same night. I just remember talking to a flight attendant for most of the trip, sitting on the floor in the back where she was preparing the meals and things. I’d had to do the rest of the speed in the bathroom at the Four Seasons, about a gram at once, so I was pretty much in a blackout for the next week. I managed to stay off hard drugs for a couple months, but then I relapsed and I was worse than ever.

Gack and Bullet and I actually walk by that same Four Seasons on our way back to my car. After all our deliveries and everything, we’ve made about three hundred dollars—plus we have a ton of the really good speed left. The morning fades in gray and cold. The streetlights extinguish one by one overhead. The wind picks up, leaving us all shivering slightly. Wet clings to the air, soaks through us—courses in our veins. We smoke cigarettes, but it doesn’t warm us. I crank the heat up as we drive to the bus station. My jaw is so tight and it makes these popping noises as I open and close it.
事实上,我和 Gack、Bullet 在回车的路上也经过了同样的四个季节。完成所有的交付和所有工作后,我们已经赚了大约三百美元,而且我们还剩下很多真正好的速度。早晨渐渐变得灰暗而寒冷。头顶上的路灯一盏一盏地熄灭了。风刮起来了,我们都微微颤抖。湿气附着在空气中,浸透我们——流进我们的血管。我们抽烟,但它并不能让我们感到温暖。当我们开车去公交车站时,我把暖气调高了。我的下巴太紧了,当我打开和关闭它时,它会发出爆裂声。

Despite all the drugs and everything, I wanna sleep. There’s a pounding in my head—the blood draining out.

I call Lauren from a pay phone and tell her what is going on with me. She agrees to leave the side door unlocked so I can go crash there after we find Joe and get my shit back. She sounds kind of annoyed with me for not having come over, but I don’t care. Isn’t that the greatest gift in the world—just not to care? I feel so grateful for it. That’s nothing I ever knew sober.

The bus station is surrounded by a virtual shantytown of tents and cardboard houses. A girl I went to rehab with had lived there before getting checked into treatment. She’d lived in a tent with three guys, one of whom was her fiancé. The cops would raid these homeless settlements every couple months. They’d make a bunch of arrests, then leave ’em alone to rebuild or whatever. The place seems pretty full right now—young punk kids with ripped clothes and spiked hair looking angry and desperate, fighting over cigarettes and blankets and cans of beer.

Gack and Bullet and I decide to split up so we can each cover a different entrance. There’s actually four ways to get into the station, so Bullet says he’ll keep circling the main lobby. Honestly, I’m not sure what I’ll do if I see Joe. I can’t really imagine confronting him and kicking his ass or anything. Still, I try and psych myself up—my heart pounding like crazy every time someone comes through the electric sliding doors.
Gack、Bullet 和我决定分开,这样我们就可以各自覆盖不同的入口。实际上有四种方法可以进入车站,所以子弹说他会继续绕着主大厅转。老实说,我不确定如果见到乔我会做什么。我真的无法想象面对他并踢他的屁股或其他什么。尽管如此,我还是努力让自己兴奋起来——每当有人穿过电动推拉门时,我的心就会疯狂地跳动。

The station is almost empty. The sound of a few footsteps echoes in the tile corridors. A few of the torn-up black seats are occupied by sleeping men and women wearing layers of tattered rags. Two police officers are there trying to rouse one guy who’s slid off onto the dirty linoleum floor. His skin is slick, like maybe it is covered in oil, and his long hair is matted together in one solid dreadlock. He has a long, long beard. The cops—male, with crew cuts and square jaws—are bent over him, shaking his shoulders. Both wear latex gloves. I go take a piss and when I get back all three of them are gone. Joe hasn’t shown up yet either. I huddle myself into a corner and wait.

I blink a couple times. Pink and green geometric shapes form against the white walls. It’s like a tower of flashing triangles is building itself up organically from the ground. I can’t get rid of them. Not like it really bothers me that much. I’m used to hallucinations a lot worse than this. The bus station hums and flickers with pulsing brightness. It’s all I can do to keep focused on the doors. I stand up and walk on over to Gack. He’s asleep at his post. I nudge him.

“Uh, s-sorry man.” “呃,对不起,伙计。”

“Nah, dude, let’s go.” “嗯,哥们儿,我们走吧。”

“You sure?” “你确定?”

I nod. “He’ll get his anyway,” I say. “This is bullshit. If he needs the money that bad, he can have it. I gotta go sleep.”
我点点头。 “无论如何,他都会得到他的,”我说。 “这是胡说八道。如果他那么需要钱,他就能得到。我得去睡觉了。”

“Yeah,” Gack agrees. “It’ll end badly for Joe.”
“是的,”盖克同意。 “这对乔来说结局很糟糕。”

Bullet is still pacing the place like some tightly caged animal. It takes a little coercing to get him to let up. We get back in my car and I decide to buy them all breakfast.

“You can get four Home Run Pies for a dollar at Cala Foods,” says Bullet.
“在 Cala Foods,你可以花一美元买到四个全垒打馅饼,”子弹说。

“Whatever you guys want.”

I drop them off in the TL and drive to Lauren’s. We agree to meet up later. Bullet’s got nowhere to stay, but neither Gack nor I offer any solutions. I want to help him, I do, but I can barely help myself. We leave him wandering and agree to meet up later. I smoke cigarettes in Lauren’s white bed and wait to fall asleep.
我把他们放在 TL 上,然后开车去劳伦家。我们同意稍后见面。 Bullet 无处可去,但 Gack 和我都没有提供任何解决方案。我想帮助他,我愿意,但我几乎无法帮助自己。我们让他继续闲逛,并同意稍后见面。我在劳伦的白色床上抽烟,等待入睡。

DAY 9 第 9 天

Since Lauren’s parents are gone, we’ve spent the last three days basically holed up in her house. Turns out her dad has a fantastic wine cellar that we’ve (or I’ve) been sampling from. Plus I’m a pretty good cook, so I’ve been raiding their pantry and things. I make coffee with a French press in the mornings, preparing pasta and salad and eggs—drinking Beaujolais, Bordeaux, pinots, and Chiantis.

I actually know something about food and wine. It was the summer before my senior year in high school that I went off to this study abroad program in Paris when I was sixteen. It was just for the summer and the thing was pretty structured and everything. You stayed in a hotel with all these other high school students—went to French classes during the day, then were supposed to eat together and go on these “excursions” at night. They’d go to the top of the Eiffel Tower or bowling or something. Drinking alcohol was grounds for immediate expulsion.

The first night I was there, I met up with this girl named Cappucine whose parents were friends with my stepmom. She was a few years older than me and had agreed to take me around the city. She lived just outside Paris in Saint-Cloud. We went to a bar that night and got very drunk—or at least, I did. We walked all over Montmartre—up the steps to the great church, the Sacré-Coeur. Looking down on the city with this girl and her friends, I felt so old—so mature—so cool. I was way into all those French New Wave movies like Breathless, Bob Le Flambeur, The 400 Blows, and Elevator to the Gallows. Walking around the city, a Gitane cigarette hanging perpetually from my mouth, I was Jean-Paul Belmondo, or Alain Delon, or one of those untouchable, unfeeling stars. I never went back to the hotel that night. I stayed with Cappucine. It wasn’t long before I was drinking in the morning. We went to visit her family in the south of France, drank rosé from vineyards in St. Tropez. I’d wake up and pour a glass of wine—or sometimes vodka—and drink that along with my coffee. I had my dad’s credit card and I bought all new clothes for myself at Chevignon and Agnès B. I decided never to return to the United States.
我在那里的第一个晚上,遇到了一个叫卡普辛的女孩,她的父母是我继母的朋友。她比我大几岁,同意带我游览这座城市。她住在巴黎郊外的圣克劳德。那天晚上我们去了一家酒吧,喝得酩酊大醉——至少我是这样。我们走遍了蒙马特高地——拾级而上,来到了伟大的圣心教堂。和这个女孩和她的朋友一起俯视这座城市,我感觉自己好老——好成熟——好酷。我很喜欢法国新浪潮电影,比如《气喘吁吁》、《火焰鲍勃》、《四百击》和《上绞架的电梯》。在城市里走来走去,嘴里永远挂着一支 Gitane 香烟,我是让·保罗·贝尔蒙多,或者阿兰·德龙,或者是那些不可触碰、无情的明星之一。那天晚上我再也没有回过酒店。我和卡布辛住在一起。没过多久,我就早上喝酒了。我们去法国南部拜访了她的家人,喝了来自圣特罗佩葡萄园的桃红葡萄酒。我醒来后会倒一杯酒——有时是伏特加——然后和咖啡一起喝。我有我爸爸的信用卡,我在 Chevignon 和 Agnès B 给自己买了所有新衣服。我决定不再回美国。

Again, fix the outsides and maybe my insides won’t be such a dark place.

Four months later, the credit cards were all canceled and I was finally convinced to come home and finish high school. Sitting in class back in the Bay Area, watching pep rallies and things, it was a little, er, strange. Here I’d been drinking ouzo and riding motorcycles around Montpelier—then suddenly I was dealing with curfews and the swim team. I wanted so desperately not to be a child anymore. I always thought once I was an adult, independent, whatever, these feelings of hopelessness and despair would go away. I could be like those characters in the movies. Drugs and alcohol gave me that feeling. Getting high, I was walking on the beach with Cappucine again, promising her a future and thinking that I meant it.

It strikes me how, being here with Lauren, it is more or less the same thing. Here I am, so old and yet so young. Stuck, suspended somewhere in between adulthood and a child’s fantasy. But I keep all this to myself, shooting more and more heroin and crystal methamphetamine.

I leave Lauren to meet Gack a few times. I park my car at the Safeway at Church and Market. We just stand along the street and say stupid shit like, “Crystal, crystal,” or, “You wanna stay up all night?”

The people who pass either just ignore us or express interest and we follow them around the corner and sell them a sack. It is that easy.

No one ever complains about how small what we sell them is.

We definitely aren’t making a ton of money, but it’s enough to at least use for free. Gack keeps trying to get me to buy walkie-talkies, but I don’t really see the point. I guess he just thinks it’d be cool.
我们肯定赚不到很多钱,但至少足以免费使用。 Gack 一直试图让我买对讲机,但我真的不明白有什么意义。我猜他只是觉得这样很酷。

So I split the profits with Gack and take whatever money I can home to Lauren. The heroin’s really working for her. She has this tendency to get all freaked out doing too much meth. We’ll be making love or something, and all of a sudden she’ll shush me—convinced there’s someone in the house, upstairs. Granted, most of the time it does sound like there’s someone up there. There’ll be this banging around, or the noise of footsteps, or a door being shut. None of it ever turns out to be real. I keep saying something like, “Baby, look, I know it sounds like there’s someone upstairs. It always sounds like there’s someone upstairs. But we might as well just assume that there’s no one up there because otherwise it’s gonna drive us crazy. So what if there is someone up there? What are we gonna do about it anyway? Let’s just keep telling ourselves it’s all in our minds—’cause it is, you know?”

I’m pretty good about convincing myself that way, but she is more invested in her paranoia. The heroin calms her down nicely. So when we run out, she’s all over me about calling Candy. It’s around eight thirty and dark outside. Candy can’t meet us for another couple hours, so I suggest we take a walk down by Fort Point. The gate is locked, so we park Lauren’s car up on the cliffs and walk down the worn, wooden, creaking steps. We actually hold hands.

Listening to Lauren, I’ve been able to piece together most of her story since leaving high school. Basically, it’s pretty similar to mine. She never quite reached the depth of depravity that I did, but she’s still got time. At least, that’s how I figure it. She went into her first rehab right out of high school, a dual diagnosis treatment center—one that dealt with both drug addiction and bulimia. Since then she’s had a couple jobs temping at law firms around the city, but mostly she’s just been in and out of different facilities and programs. Nothing ever took, obviously.

Fort Point stretches out to the pillars of the Golden Gate Bridge. The surf comes pounding in hard and fast against the rock jetty. Wind blows in from the mouth of the bay and the ocean is churning and spraying us as we walk. The lights from Marin reflect back across the channel and the abandoned military barracks—boarded up and covered in layers of graffiti—bend and shift under the weight of the salt air. I hold Lauren’s hand and we talk about how beautiful everything is and how there really is no city like San Francisco, after all. At one point an official-looking truck comes our way, headlights blinding us as we look back. Lauren panics some.

“Should we run?” she asks.

“Definitely not.” “当然不。”

The truck passes by without bothering us. My heart is maybe going a little bit.

“This is freakin’ me out,” she whines. “Maybe we should go back.”
“这把我吓坏了,”她抱怨道。 “也许我们应该回去。”

“It’ll be fine.” “不会有事的。”

“You don’t worry at all, do you?”

I laugh. “If you only knew.”
我笑。 “如果你只知道。”

She asks about my plans for the future.

“I don’t know. I mean, what else is there to do? People might say I’m wasting my life, but it’s all relative. If I was a lawyer, I’d go to fucking law school—but I’m not. I’m a drug addict and so what do I do? Use, right? Use until the wheels fall off. We’ll get by, Lauren.”

I pull her in toward me and kiss her. “What more is there to life than this?” I ask. “Walking free through a city that we love—listening to the ocean—kissing each other—getting high. We’re so alive, you and I.”
我把她拉向我并吻她。 “人生还有什么比这更重要的事呢?”我问。 “自由地漫步在我们热爱的城市——聆听​​大海的声音——互相亲吻——兴奋起来。你和我,我们都还活着。”

She laughs now. “And when my parents get home—what then? We’ve got nowhere to go.”
她现在笑了。 “当我父母回家后——然后呢?我们无处可去。”

“I’ll get a place.” “我去找个地方。”

“For us together.” “为了我们在一起。”

“Sure.” “当然。”

“So are we boyfriend/girlfriend then?”

“If you want to be.”

“Come on, Nic.” “来吧,尼克。”

“Yeah, of course we are.”

We kiss each other some more.

Getting into the car, Lauren realizes she forgot her scarf. It must’ve fallen off somewhere. I tell her to stay and I go running back the way we came. Tears well up in my eyes from the cold and I feel maybe like I’m flying—so grateful. Everything is working out perfectly. I even find her scarf, at the very end of the point. I run back and she’s happy and we drive off to meet Candy and we listen to this old Tosca CD—smoking one cigarette after the other.
进入车内,劳伦意识到她忘记了围巾。它一定是在某个地方掉下来了。我让她留下来,然后我就沿着来时的路跑回去。寒冷让我泪流满面,我感觉自己好像在飞翔——非常感激。一切都很顺利。我什至在最后找到了她的围巾。我跑回来,她很高兴,然后我们开车去见坎迪,我们听着这张旧托斯卡 CD——一根接一根地抽着烟。

Candy has stitches all along her left cheekbone that weren’t there before. It looks all swollen and glossy. She pushes her hair back behind her ears and asks me, “So what’s the deal? How come it took you so long to call?”

“Well, I’m more of a tweakhead, you know. I just use this shit to level out the meth.”

“It’s good though, huh?” “不过这样也不错吧?”

I nod, looking at her. “Maybe you wanna come hang out sometime?” I say.
我点点头,看着她。 “也许你想找个时间过来玩一下?”我说。

She turns her pinned, gray eyes on me. She’s still wearing too much makeup, but the scar makes her markedly prettier. I’m kinda sick like that.

“Sure,” she says. “But not tonight.”
“当然,”她说。 “但今晚不行。”

“I could take you out somewhere.”

“Look, you’re just a kid.”

“In some ways.” “在某些方面。”

She passes over the dope and I give her some money. She lights a Parliament Menthol.

“We’ll see. Call me sooner next time, okay?”

“Sure.” “当然。”

I drive Lauren’s car back to her house. Candy’s look stays with me. I feel it wrapped serpentine around my spine. She reminds me of someone—the smell of her. And then I remember.

When that movie star’s wife my dad had the affair with broke up with him, we moved to an apartment in the Mission. My mom had been forced to move to L.A. for work with an old boyfriend and I saw her only on holidays, like Christmas. My dad always treated me more like a friend than a son, really. I mean, especially back then. He took me everywhere with him—out to dinner, to parties. My godparents, a gay couple, lived across the street. We’d go over there for dinner and we’d all talk about politics and movies and things. They made me feel included, grown-up.

But, of course, then my dad started dating. He was single and young and it made sense that he’d go out and leave me with babysitters. I’m not sure where he met Audrey—at some gallery opening or something—but she was tattooed all over with long, long blond hair. She was maybe twenty-one or-two and smelled like incense all the time. She only babysat me like three times, but I’ll never forget that smell of her. She looked so beautiful and ravaged at the same time. She would crawl into bed with me as I was falling asleep and hold me and I’d smell her and be so turned on. I’d try to hide my small erection. One night she rented The Last Temptation of Christ and we watched that together. I was eight years old.

But driving away from Candy, I think of Audrey and lying in bed with her. Candy has that smell—that same look. Something is tearing apart the lattice structure of my veins. I get home and go straight to Lauren’s room. I fuck her hard and it goes on and on. We soak through her sheets and mattress and carpeted floor.

When it’s over I cook up a bunch of heroin and go to pick out a bottle of white wine from the refrigerator. I take it up to the kitchen and pour a large glass for myself. I’m naked and standing at the full-length window, looking out on the street below—feeling powerful. I eat an apple and bring one down for Lauren. The room is very quiet and I call out to her, but there’s no answer.

When I worked at the rehab in Malibu, they made me take a CPR class at the Red Cross. I thought it was bullshit at the time—some thick-necked EMT talking too fast and asking stupid rhetorical questions. The class was maybe three hours long and I guess I paid attention. I mean, I got the damn certificate.

Seeing Lauren on the floor, turning blue, my reaction is strange. I don’t panic or anything. A calm sweeps through me. I remember the EMT. What’d he say to do first? You shake them and shout, “Are you okay?”

I do that. 我这样做。

Check for a heartbeat. 检查心跳。

She’s got one. 她有一个。

Check for breathing. 检查呼吸情况。

No on that. 不。

All right, then open the air passage, tilt the head back, and start chest compressions.

I put my mouth to her cold, small lips.

Breathe. 呼吸。

One, two, three, four, five.

I feel her ribs and breastbone plate crack some under my weight as I push down. Her belly fills as I blow the air in. Her chest heaves.

I reach over and grab the phone, dialing 911.
我伸手抓起电话,拨打了 911。

Breathe. 呼吸。

One, two, three, four, five.

“911 emergency, how can I help you?”

“Yeah, my girlfriend just OD’ed on heroin. We need an ambulance now.”

Breathe. 呼吸。

One, two, three, four, five.

“Do you know CPR?” “你懂心肺复苏术吗?”

“I’m doing it.” “我正在做。”

“Where are you located?” “你现在在哪里?”

“I don’t know the address. Sea Cliff. Trace the call, will you?”

Breathe. 呼吸。

One, two, three, four, five.

And now the panic sets in. Fuck, man, she can’t die. Her skin is so transparent and the veins are blue, blue rising beneath the surface.

“An ambulance is on its way, sir.”

I hang up. 我挂断电话。

Breathe. 呼吸。

One, two, three, four, five.

Check the heart. 检查心脏。

Still going. 仍在继续。

“God,” I say aloud. “I don’t believe in you, but now would be a good time to give us a goddamn miracle.”
“上帝,”我大声说道。 “我不相信你,但现在正是给我们创造奇迹的好时机。”

Breathe. 呼吸。

One, two, three, four, five.

And then, just like that, she gasps, gasps, gasps and jerks awake. She blinks twice and bursts into tears. I do the same thing, holding her.

When I hear the sirens outside I go out and tell the firemen and whoever that she’s all right, but they come in anyway. They seem kinda pissed about the whole thing. Regulations say they gotta take her to the ER, but Lauren refuses. She’s naked and we can’t get her to put clothes on. She cries and cries—sounding like a sick cat or something. One of the bigger guys threatens to call the cops on us and that gets Lauren moving. She’s still way out of it and nodding all over the place. She clings on to me and I basically have to carry her up to the ambulance. She kisses me, but at that point I’m just trying to get her outta there. They tell me to meet her at the UCSF Hospital. I hate fucking emergency rooms, but I agree anyway.

The only time I ever ended up in the ER was for a drug overdose, actually. I was living in New York, turning tricks. I’d been up for a couple days doing coke and crystal and drinking so much, I mean so fucking much. This very muscular guy whose name, I think, was Brian, had picked me up at this cheesy gay bar where they give you free drinks if you take your shirt off. They were his drugs. I had no money. I ended up back at my apartment in the middle of this orgy of guys. Vaguely I remember someone eating out my ass, while my dick refused to get hard. Then I just gave up and let whoever wanted to fuck me, fuck me.

At some point I noticed a vial of GHB on the bedside table. I drank about three-quarters of it down, figuring that would do the trick. I started to black out and I had this total sense of relief. Finally, I thought, it’s over, and then I just fell out. Of course, I woke up at a nearby hospital, a tube down my throat, needles in my arms, a catheter in my dick, my ribs broken from the CPR. But the sick thing, the really fucking sick thing was my first thought when I came to. See, when I’d gone to the bathroom at my apartment, I’d managed to get alone with the bag of crystal and had hidden some of it in a bottle of Ambien I’d been prescribed. I knew it was still there.
有时我注意到床头柜上有一瓶 GHB。我喝了大约四分之三,认为这样就可以了。我开始眼前一黑,我有种如释重负的感觉。最后我想,一切都结束了,然后我就摔倒了。当然,我在附近的一家医院醒来,喉咙里插着一根管子,手臂上插着针,阴茎里插着导管,心肺复苏术使我的肋骨折断。但当我醒来时,我的第一个念头就是恶心的事情,真的他妈的恶心的事情。看,当我去公寓的浴室时,我设法单独拿着那袋水晶,并将其中一些藏在我开的一瓶安必恩中。我知道它还在那里。

I made some grunting noises for them to get the tube out, which they did, me gagging and retching all over the place. Then the nurse left and I started ripping all the needles out of my arms. The catheter in my dick was this plastic tubing connected to a bag I could piss into. I started to pull the thing out of the hole in the head of my cock and it burned, Jesus it fucking burned, but it wouldn’t come out. Still, I just kept pulling until the pain got so bad that I begged the nurses to get the goddamn thing out of me, which they finally did. Then I got up, hospital gown and all, and started to walk out the front door. The security guard stopped me—physically dragging me back in. I kept trying to sneak out until they let me sign an AMA discharge form, ’cause I’d been such a pain in the ass. I ended up in my third rehab about a week later.
我发出一些咕噜声,让他们把管子拔出来,他们照做了,我呕吐得到处都是。然后护士离开了,我开始从手臂上拔掉所有的针头。我阴茎里的导管是一根塑料管,连接到一个我可以撒尿的袋子上。我开始把那东西从我鸡巴头上的洞里拔出来,它烧起来了,天哪,它他妈烧起来了,但它就是拔不出来。尽管如此,我还是继续拉,直到疼痛变得如此严重,我恳求护士把我那该死的东西从我身上取出来,他们终于这么做了。然后我起身,穿上病号服,开始走出前门。保安拦住了我,用身体把我拖了回去。我一直想溜出去,直到他们让我签署 AMA 出院表,因为我真是太痛苦了。大约一周后,我完成了第三次康复治疗。

I think back to my night in the ER and I go downstairs and shoot a bunch of heroin before driving up to UCSF. They’ve already admitted Lauren by the time I get there, so they let me on in. She’s sitting on a white cot in the middle of the cramped central areas. Doctors and nurses pass bits of paper back and forth, make jokes, enter information into computers. There don’t seem to be any other patients around, but everyone seems rushed and frantic. A doctor with a mullet tied back in a ponytail and soft, squishy features is trying to get something coherent out of Lauren. I think he’s trying to figure out whether she was trying to commit suicide or not—but he never just comes straight out with it. I step in, saying she had only done heroin one or two other times and didn’t know about the dosing. He talks to me as though I were Lauren’s concerned parent, the responsible one. He asks me all these questions. What’s her home life like? Does she need help getting into treatment? I fight so hard not to nod out while he’s talking. I’m not sure how well I’m doing. I ask him if she can leave and he says no. She has to be evaluated by the psychiatrist.

“I go to a psychiatrist,” says Lauren. “Jules Bernabei. He works at San Francisco General.”
“我去看精神科医生,”劳伦说。 “儒勒·伯纳贝。他在旧金山总医院工作。”

The doctor ignores her. 医生不理她。

“Can’t we leave AMA?” I ask.

“What?” the doctor asks. “什么?”医生问道。

“I was in the hospital once and I just asked to sign this AMA form and they let me go. They had to. Come on, doctor, I’ll take care of her.”
“我住过一次医院,我只是要求签署这份 AMA 表格,他们就让我走了。他们不得不。走吧,医生,我会照顾她的。”

“No, no. I’m afraid not.”

“Can you stop us?” “你能阻止我们吗?”

“Yes. We can involve the authorities if you wish.”

Lauren hands me her purse and I kiss her and tell her we’ll figure this out. She keeps pleading to get her psychiatrist on the phone, so they agree to page him.

I’m not sure what I’m feeling but I go out into the thick, wet air and light a cigarette and pace. Maybe everybody is staring at me. I pull out Lauren’s cell phone. It’s two thirty. For some reason I call Zelda. Maybe hers is the only number I remember.

Zelda is singularly beautiful. The first time I saw her was at some meeting in Hollywood. She identified herself as a newcomer—wearing big, round sunglasses, her red hair hanging down to the small of her back. I couldn’t stop looking at her the whole meeting—high cheekbones, a long, angular nose, chapped parted lips. Her body was so tiny—jagged shoulders, sticking out like angels’ wings. She looks like an Egon Schiele painting. I actually asked for her number that first day. I never do that. She gave it to me, but she was in this treatment program where she couldn’t get calls for three months. I forgot all about her until I came back to my old Sober Living one night. I’d just turned twenty-one and was celebrating my birthday at the halfway house. She’d checked in about a week earlier.

We started talking and I felt so close to her immediately. It was like talking to myself. Of course, I later found out how much older she was than me—and, eventually, that she had a boyfriend. Plus she’d lived so much more than I had. She’d been married to that actor for seven years. All her boyfriends were famous in some way and her family was equally well known. She was humble about all this, but I was intimidated and never thought she could ever want me like I was increasingly wanting her. But we started spending more and more time together. I told her things I’d never told anyone.

One night we went to the Chateau Marmont on Sunset. We drank black tea and she smoked cigarettes while a little girl, maybe six or seven, played this haunting, real minimalist piano music. I mean, she was just some kid messing around, but it was fucking great. Someone even tipped her twenty bucks or something.

I’m not sure what we talked about, or why that night was any different from any other. She drove me home and we made out in her car and she cried the whole time. I fell ever more in love with her from that day forward. We kept trying to break it off, but would eventually end up seeing each other again.

How can I ever explain what it was about Zelda? Sure she was amazing to look at, but there was something more. There was a sadness there, mixed with wisdom, and a pained humor. Whatever it was, I felt like I could see right down to the moths struggling on their backs in the base of her silver, shimmering soul. I also felt like we were meant to be together—she, this ageless beauty, and I, this old man and tiny child. When we kissed and made love it was like nothing I’d never known before—and that was sober.

But she wouldn’t leave Mike for me. I’m not sure why. Maybe she didn’t feel safe with me. Maybe I was really too young. It tore me up—I mean, really.

So I call Zelda from Lauren’s cell phone. She doesn’t answer. I leave a rambling message. Even just hearing her voice on the machine brings back so much. It actually makes me kind of angry and I hang up and pace some more.

Eventually, I go back into the waiting room and try to sleep on two orange plastic chairs—no good. My legs keep twitching all over the place. The other thing is, I really have to take a piss, but the heroin has made all my muscles too relaxed or something, ’cause I can’t figure out how to make that happen. There’s a group of dark-skinned Hispanic women talking loudly now in the waiting area, their voices echoing off the linoleum. I decide to walk around the hospital some, since the woman at the front desk tells me the psychiatrist hasn’t even arrived for Lauren yet.

I ride the elevator for a while, wondering if there are cameras in there—maybe I could stop it and shoot up right there. But, no, I’m too sketched out and I figure there’re probably cameras. So I just go up and down. Even the elevator smells like a goddamn hospital. Kelly, the mother of a friend of mine, is a nurse at a hospital in Oakland. In order to graduate from high school, I had to do all this community service. Kelly agreed to take me with her for a couple days around the hospital. One of the things I remember most was this guy with a horribly fat stomach. He was very thin, but his stomach was huge. I sat with him while we waited for Kelly. He asked me questions about school and things. He was very sweet and polite and positive. Kelly came in and asked him to remove his shirt, so he did. What he had was a colostomy—his intestine had been rerouted out his stomach. Thing was, he had developed a lot of fluid swelling at the base of the wound. I excused myself to get some water, then nearly fainted in the hall. Kelly later told me he’d be dead in a few months.

The other thing I remember was this schizophrenic drug addict who’d tried to kill himself by jumping off a building. He broke his neck, but he didn’t die—he was a quadriplegic.

“We’re just going to look at this small wound on his bottom,” Kelly said.

She pulled back the sheet and the guy literally had no left butt cheek. It had been rotted away by some flesh-eating disease. The place quickly filled with the smell of decaying flesh and shit. This time I passed out cold in the outside hall. The next day she had me follow a urologist around—putting catheters in old guys’ dicks.

I get outta the elevator and go check on Lauren. They tell me she’s sleeping and that they’re giving her an IV of fluid to rehydrate her. I call Gack from Lauren’s phone. His dad answers.

“Hey Mike, it’s Nic, you guys up?”

“Always. You wanna talk to little Gack?”

“Sure. Fucking Lauren OD’ed. I’m at the UCSF ER.”

“Is she all right?” “她还好吗?”

“Yeah. I had to do CPR and shit, but she’s alive.”

“Are you all right?” “你没事儿吧?”

“Yeah, I guess so, thanks, Mike.”

He goes to get Gack. I’m struck by how sweet these fuckin’ people are.

I tell Gack about the whole scene and ask if he can get me any herb.

“Dude, I got a little bit. It’ll take me an hour to take the bus up there.”

“I ain’t going anywhere.”

“Word.” “单词。”

We meet out front about two hours later. We shoot up some speed in Lauren’s car, then smoke a joint. I feel stupidly high.

“So you saved her life,” Gack says. “That’s fucking intense.” I swear the fool never changes his clothes. He’s wearing the same bandanna around his head, Karate Kid style.
“所以你救了她的命,”盖克说。 “这太他妈激烈了。”我发誓这个傻瓜永远不会换衣服。他头上戴着同样的大手帕,就像空手道小子的风格。

“Yeah,” I say. “I was so weirdly calm about the whole thing.”
“是的,”我说。 “我对整件事出奇地平静。”

“That’s gonna be pretty heavy for her when she realizes what you did.”

“Yeah, well, if it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t have OD’ed in the first place.”

“Nah, she was just lookin’ for an excuse to start using again, right? It would’ve happened eventually. You know, my girlfriend lives right around here.”

“Your girlfriend?” “你女朋友?”

“Yeah, dude—Erin.” “是的,伙计——艾琳。”

“Fuck, we gotta all go out sometime.”

“She’s only seventeen.” “她才十七岁。”

“So?” “所以?”

He tells me about how he met her, trying to sell her a sack, actually. She lives with her mom—still goes to high school and all. Gack talks a lot and we walk around some. The UCSF hospital rests up in the dense forest and eucalyptus trees of the hills looking down on Golden Gate Park. The fog always wraps the place in a still wetness that is both eerie and idyllic.
他告诉我他是如何认识她的,实际上是想卖给她一个麻袋。她和妈妈住在一起——仍然在上高中等等。 Gack 说了很多话,我们也四处走走。加州大学旧金山分校医院坐落在山上茂密的森林和桉树中,俯瞰着金门公园。雾气总是把这个地方包裹在一种静止的潮湿之中,既怪异又田园诗般。

“I love this city,” I say.

“Yeah.” “是的。”

Lauren’s phone rings twenty minutes later and I answer.

It’s Lauren calling from the hospital.

“Nic, where are you?” “尼克,你在哪儿?”

“Outside. Can we go?” “外部。我们可以走了吗?

“Yeah, you gotta come fill out some paperwork.”

“Me?” “我?”

“Yeah, why? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. I’ll be right there.”

I say bye to Gack and agree to meet him later. He says he’s gonna go walk Erin to school. It’s five a.m.

I walk into the hospital. I’m way too loaded for this shit.

Inside they make me promise to watch Lauren closely and make sure she gets some rest. I agree—again, the responsible one. Then I sign some papers and take her home.

I get whatever heroin’s left out of the cotton and shoot us both up with it. We fuck as the sun rises and she says almost nothing the whole time. I notice how thin she’s getting. Her bones cut into me. We pass out sometime around ten.

DAY 10

A few hours later the phones are ringing and ringing. The house phone and Lauren’s cell phone—over and over. There’s some light coming in the windows, so I can tell it’s real late and sunny outside. The caller ID on Lauren’s cell keeps showing DAD.

He just keeps calling. None of this wakes Lauren up ever, but I’m feeling kinda worried and restless, so I shake her awake.

“What? Fucking what?” “什么?他妈的什么?

“Dude, your dad keeps calling. They must have heard something about last night.”

“Fuck. I bet the fucking neighbors called them.”

Her eyes are all swollen and her hair is everywhere. Her breasts are sagging strangely, suddenly too big for her shrinking frame.

“You want me to make some coffee?” I ask.

“Yeah. I’ll sleep a little more, then figure out what to say.”

“Okay.” “好的。”

“Nic?” “尼克?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“You saved my life.” “你救了我的命。”

“Nah, whatever.” “算了,随便吧。”

“I’m falling in love with you.”

“Yeah, me too, Lauren.” “是的,我也是,劳伦。”

It feels like I mean it, but you can never be sure.

I go upstairs and it is bright and hot. I make coffee and an omelet with avocado and sautéed mushrooms. While it’s all cooling, I set up a rig of meth. I hit a vein, but after I pull back the blood into the syringe, my hand moves and I feel a burning in my arm. I dig around some more. Maybe ten minutes go by of me just hunting and hunting and not finding any goddamn vein. Then suddenly I realize that the pressure has built up really high in the plunger, so I pull out and try to press it down. The blood has coagulated in the head of the needle. I push and push, but nothing comes out. Finally I press the thing down as hard as I can and then it gives and blood sprays out all over the white kitchen wall. After that I try to find a vein again and eventually get the shot off, though I’m pretty sure I wasted the whole goddamn thing. I try to clean up the blood, but the shit has dried already and is a son of a bitch to get rid of. I eat the omelet with toast and drink the coffee with a whole bunch of sugar.

If Lauren’s parents know she’s relapsed, I figure I’m pretty much fucked. They’re probably gonna come home early from their trip and then all this luxury living is over. I bring Lauren’s coffee down to her and find myself kinda wishing I never called the goddamn ambulance in the first place. She would have been fine. But, of course, I had no way of knowing that.

I have trouble waking her up and when I do, she cries some.

“You gotta call ’em,” I say.

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“You want me to leave you alone?”

“Just for a couple minutes. Hey…can you get me off?”

I do. I hit a vein on her wrist. It’s the only one I can find.

After that I go outside and smoke cigarettes in the backyard. The wind blows patterns in the cypresses and across the long grass. There’re three corgis out there that I’ve never noticed before. I wonder how long it’s been since they’ve been fed. They all bark at me, but I ignore it. Somehow the warmth and the clear sky seem to be taunting me. I’m aware of how pale I’m becoming. Maybe I should go swimming, but I feel weak. Even the meth isn’t getting me that high anymore.

I’m on my third cigarette when Lauren opens the back door. She’s sobbing like crazy. Her face is all contorted and everything. “He wants to talk to you.”
当劳伦打开后门时,我已经抽了第三支烟了。她疯狂地哭泣。她的脸完全扭曲了。 “他想和你说话。”

“Me?” I feel scared for some reason—my stomach drops out all at once.

“Please,” she whines. “求你了,”她哀嚎道。

So I go in and see the phone is off the hook, lying on the bed. I pick the thing up and sit down, the words catching in my throat as I say, “Yeah, hello?”

The man’s voice on the other end is broken with tears. He has a refined, sort of dignified Southern accent.

“You’re Nic?” he says. “你是尼克?”他说。

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“I remember meeting you before. You went to Lauren’s high school?”

“Yes.” “是的。”

“Nic, Lauren tells me you saved her life last night. Son, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I love my daughter very much and I—well—I love you for saving her, you know?” He chokes on that one.

“I know you want what’s best for her too,” he continues. “That’s why I’m asking you—begging you—to help me help Lauren, okay?” There’s been a patronizing tone in his voice the whole time he’s talking to me, like he’s addressing a small child. Still, I play along.
“我知道你也想给她最好的,”他继续说道。 “这就是为什么我请求你——恳求你——帮助我帮助劳伦,好吗?”他和我说话的时候,声音里一直带着居高临下的语气,就像在对一个小孩子说话一样。尽管如此,我还是一起玩。

“Yeah, of course.” “嗯,当然咯。”

He goes on to describe some of Lauren’s history in treatment centers. He tells me that she’s a drug addict and can’t use like normal people and blah, blah, blah. I listen and don’t say anything. He asks me to try and convince Lauren to go to her therapist’s house in Santa Cruz for the week. He realizes she doesn’t wanna go back to rehab, but surely that’d be a good compromise. I agree, telling him I’ll do whatever I can. He says he knows he can trust me. I feel pretty sick inside.

“Okay, let me talk to Lauren again,” he says.

I pass the phone over.

Lauren scratches at the back of her neck, says “okay” a bunch of times, then hangs up.

“Jules is coming over after work to take me down to Santa Cruz.”

“That’s your shrink, right?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“I said I’d make you go.”

“I don’t have to, you know?” She looks up at me. I see how glossy and red her eyes have become—like they are covered by a layer of wax paper.

“I’ll pack my things right now,” she says. “I’ll go away with you.”
“我现在就收拾东西,”她说。 “我和你一起走吧。”

I think about that. Honestly, I can’t see Lauren cutting it living in my car with me. I need her to have this house and access to her parents’ money. It’s not that I don’t care about her, but I’m just trying to be realistic. We gotta play things carefully—not throw away what we got working for us. I tell her this and she cries some. I drink the warm white wine from the night before, but she doesn’t want any. We make love tiredly to pass the time. We take a shower and then she packs and I get whatever shit I have lying around. Just as I’m about to leave, Lauren stops me.

“Look,” she says. “Why don’t you stay here?”
“看,”她说。 “你为什么不留在这里?”

“Here?” “这里?”

She says she’ll leave me her car and keys to the house. She says she’ll go down to Jules’s for one night—that’ll appease everybody—then I can come pick her up.

“I love you,” she says.

“I love you, too.” “我也爱你。”

She makes me promise not to let anybody stay here while she’s gone. Of course I agree.

Then I leave, not wanting her psychiatrist to see me here. I drive Lauren’s car.

It’s a funny thing about psychiatrists and therapists. I mean, I’ve been in therapy my whole goddamn life. It was sort of my dad’s religion or something like that. After my mom moved away, they made me go to this shrink in the city. She was a large woman who wore big, flowing dresses and had a furry upper lip. Mostly I would just play with the dolls and toys in her office. She had a little wooden house that I would put the dolls in. I remember her asking me, in this very level voice, where each of the dolls lived. I pointed to the different rooms in the dollhouse.

“This is where the daddy lives,” I said, showing her one side of the house. “And this is where the mommy lives.”
“这是爸爸住的地方,”我边说边给她看了房子的一侧。 “这就是妈妈住的地方。”

I gestured to the other side of the house.

“And what about that doll?” she asked, indicating the one still in my hand.

“Oh, that’s the baby,” I said. “The baby doesn’t have anywhere to live—he sleeps outside.”
“哦,那是婴儿,”我说。 “孩子没有地方住——他睡在外面。”

She scribbled in her notepad.

Still, for all the therapy I had, none of it ever really fixed that feeling of torn-apartness inside of me. I learned how to express myself, that was all. And, for whatever reason, identifying the root cause of my problem—like fear of abandonment or something—didn’t change a goddamn thing. I could see quite clearly why I acted a certain way, but that wouldn’t make me any different. I sought out craziness. I was attracted to it. No therapy could take that away.

One of the first serious relationships I had was with this girl named Lyric. She was a year younger than me and—went to my rival high school. She was a virtuous, good-natured scholastic wonder who ended up going to Harvard. Thing was, she was also bulimic and would get so goddamn drunk with me. Even back then, I mean, when I was only sixteen, my drinking and drugging had already started controlling my life. She was nowhere near as bad as I was—though we would usually start drinking around midday and keep going from there.
我的第一个认真的关系是和这个名叫 Lyric 的女孩。她比我小一岁,就读于我的竞争对手高中。她是一位善良、善良的学术奇迹,最终进入了哈佛。事实是,她也有暴食症,和我在一起会喝得烂醉如泥。我的意思是,即使在那时,当我只有十六岁的时候,我的酗酒和吸毒就已经开始控制我的生活。她远没有我那么糟糕——尽管我们通常会在中午左右开始喝酒,然后继续喝酒。

This was the kind of girl I always ended up with. I have this strange magnetic pull or something that draws them toward me—and me to them. Knowing that it was all related to my childhood didn’t do a goddamn thing.

So I leave Lauren’s, driving her car to the TL, the keys to her parents’ house in my pocket. I listen to music and feel so blessed—like the greatest hustler in the goddamn world. Not that it’s all an act. I see a lot of myself in Lauren—the little child, the desperate self-destructiveness, the way she tries not to care.

I call Gack from a pay phone and we agree to meet in front of his hotel. I’m actually getting kinda low on meth so we gotta re-up later. I go to the bank and withdraw a bunch of money. I have to go in and see the teller directly ’cause I had to throw away my card. Amazingly I managed to cancel my card before Joe was able to steal any money from me, but I still have only a little over a thousand dollars left. It’s frightening how fast the money is going, but I figure Gack and I can up our dealing and make it back.

The sun is falling lower in the sky, but it’s still clear and hot. It’s almost six o’clock. There’s a feeling, like, well, like fate is on my side. Any doubts are blotted out by drugs and the music in Lauren’s car and blah, blah, blah. I’ve got the windows down and a cigarette in my mouth. I cry at how good my life is—or at least, that’s what I think at the time.

Gack shows me that he’s got new shoes on.

“My dad bought ’em for me,” he says.

They’re black skate shoes with thick laces.

“Cool, man.” “帅气的男人。”

“So how’s Lauren?” “那么劳伦怎么样了?”

I tell him about her dad and the therapist in Santa Cruz and all.

“You got keys?” he says.

“Yeah. Hey, we should pick your girl up and bring her over. I’d like to meet her.”

“Word.” “单词。”

“I need to buy some more shit, too.”

“Cool. I got an idea.”

We drive to Church and Market and cruise around there for a while. I try to get a little more of Gack’s story out of him. I keep telling him that this whole thing will make a great book.

“My street education,” I tell him.

“Yeah, man, you’re doing pretty good. You got some crazy angels guiding you.”

“You too, man. I mean, what a great thing it was to meet you. I’m gonna pitch it, man, maybe to the SF Weekly or something.”

“Dude, I’ll be famous.” “兄弟,我会出名的。”

“You deserve it.” “你应得的。”

Gack tells me about his foster parents, who live out in Napa. He ran away to the city when he was twelve. Until a little over a year ago, he’d been going back and forth between the streets and their trailer near Sonoma. He’d lived in different squats and abandoned houses throughout the city. He’d go home only when he ran out of options. Of course, once his real dad came back to find him, he moved in with him. His dad had a bad back and needed a lot of help getting around—plus he was on a shitload of pain meds. Gack doesn’t know much about his dad’s background.

Gack saw his mom from time to time. She lived up in Napa too. She had six years sober—going to twelve-step meetings and things. He guessed he liked her all right. He seems pretty okay with the whole situation—though maybe those tracks on his arm suggest otherwise.

Driving, I can’t get Gack to say just exactly what we’re looking for. He keeps repeating, “It’ll reveal itself.”
开车时,我无法让 Gack 确切地说出我们在寻找什么。他不断重复:“它会自行显现。”

“What will?” I ask. “什么会?”我问。

“We’ll see.” “我们拭目以待。”

We drive and drive. The bars are just starting to open and the early dining crowds are gathering around the different restaurants on Market. The street kids are sitting around the front of the Safeway—looking to get high with no money, somehow. I see some of the kids we’ve been dealing to—not that I know any of their names. Absently I wonder about their parents, families, childhoods, whatever. They all sort of dress the same—tight pants with a lot of zippers, boots, hooded sweatshirts—as much black as possible.

We circle the block a few more times.

“There,” says Gack, pointing.

“What?” “什么?”

“There. Pull over a second.”

I wait while Gack goes running off down the street. I try to find just the right song on the CD player. I put that Talking Heads live album on track ten, “This Must Be the Place.” Somehow I just seem to flip right to it.
我等待着盖克沿着街道奔跑。我尝试在 CD 播放器上找到合适的歌曲。我把 Talking Heads 的现场专辑放在第十首歌“This Must Be the Place”上。不知怎的,我似乎就直接转向了它。

It’s funny ’cause this was the song my parents’ friends Tim and Susan danced to at their wedding. They held the thing at our house in Point Reyes. Susan actually used to babysit me when I was little. But as I got older, I became really good friends with her boyfriend, Tim. Tim started surfing around the time I did and we’d go down to Santa Cruz together. We’d surf all day at Four Mile, or the Hook, or Steamers—floating in the cold, cold water, talking about music or whatever. We’d leave at, like, six in the morning and get coffee and muffins at the Beach Café. We’d stay out for hours, then go get burritos at El Toro—or Cole’s BBQ, if we were in Santa Cruz. Tim would make mixes for me of all the new music he was constantly buying at Amoeba, this huge record store on Haight. He’d take me to clubs with his brother-in-law, Xi. We’d dance and play pool and stuff like that. Tim was a great dancer.
这很有趣,因为这是我父母的朋友蒂姆和苏珊在他们的婚礼上跳舞的歌曲。他们把那东西藏在我们位于雷斯岬的家里。我小时候,苏珊实际上曾经照顾过我。但随着年龄的增长,我和她的男朋友蒂姆成了很好的朋友。蒂姆大约在我开始冲浪的时候开始冲浪,我们一起去圣克鲁斯。我们会在四英里、胡克或汽船冲浪一整天——漂浮在冰冷的水中,谈论音乐或其他什么。我们大概早上六点出发,在海滩咖啡馆喝咖啡和松饼。我们会在外面待上几个小时,然后去 El Toro 吃墨西哥卷饼,如果我们在圣克鲁斯的话,可以去 Cole’s BBQ。蒂姆会为我制作他在阿米巴(海特的一家大型唱片店)不断购买的所有新音乐的混音。他会带我和他的姐夫习近平一起去俱乐部。我们会跳舞、打台球之类的。蒂姆是一位出色的舞者。

Xi introduced me to philosophy and the writings of Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Camus. He is from China—born at the height of the Cultural Revolution. The two guys, Tim and Xi, were such heroes of mine. I benefited so much from hanging out with them.

At the wedding, a mariachi band played in our garden as Tim and Susan walked down the aisle. The DJ was this, like, six-foot-five, thug-lookin’ dude from some bar south of Market. Tim and Susan danced to this Talking Heads song together. They held each other and danced. The lyrics go something like: “I’ll love you till my heart stops—love you till I’m dead.”
婚礼上,蒂姆和苏珊走过红毯时,一支流浪乐队在我们的花园里演奏。 DJ 是来自市场以南某个酒吧的身高六英尺五、看上去像暴徒的家伙。蒂姆和苏珊一起随着这首 Talking Heads 的歌曲跳舞。他们互相拥抱,跳舞。歌词大概是这样的:“我会爱你直到我的心脏停止跳动——爱你直到我死去。”

Listening to this song now, I think back to that night. I shucked oysters for the guests, helped set up speakers, helped build a shelter from the light rain over the dance floor. And, of course, I danced and talked and then woke up early the next morning to go surfing out at Drakes Estero.
现在听着这首歌,我想起了那个夜晚。我为客人剥牡蛎,帮助设置扬声器,帮助在舞池上方搭建一个避雨的避难所。当然,我又跳舞又说话,然后第二天一早就起床去 Drakes Estero 冲浪。

And now Gack is coming up on the car with some older girl who’s got this long, curling, natural red hair; white skin; and freckles, freckles, freckles. She gets into the back and Gack sits next to me and says, “This is Angela. She needs a ride back down Market. Can we do that for her?”

I introduce myself. She keeps telling me how nice my car is and I try to get her to understand that it’s not mine—it’s just some girl’s and I’m like Gack, homeless and struggling. The only difference between us is this crazy stroke of luck, or God, or fate, or whatever—plus I saved up some money working while I was clean and blah, blah, blah.

Gack is giving me that look, like, shut the fuck up—or more like pity that I always feel the need to explain myself, obsessed with showing people who I am so they’ll like me, or I don’t know what. I need to chill out, shoot some dope, and change this fucking CD.
Gack 给我的表情就像是,他妈的闭嘴——或者更像是怜悯,因为我总是觉得需要解释自己,痴迷于向人们展示我是谁,这样他们就会喜欢我,或者我不知道什么。我需要冷静一下,拍点东西,然后换一张该死的 CD。

When we get to some alley off Market, Gack and Angela say they’re gonna go up to her place a minute. I’ve calmed myself down by smoking cigarettes and just forcing myself to be quiet. Neither Gack nor Angela talked much in the car, which always makes me nervous—but I kept telling myself it was all right. So now they walk off down the alley, but then Gack runs back and leans in the window.

“Dude, I need your wallet.”

“What?” “什么?”

“She’s gonna hook me up—but she needs to think it’s my money.”

“That girl?” “那个女孩?”

“Trust me.” “相信我。”

I hand him my wallet.

I shoot a little heroin and nod, nod, nod waiting for them to come back. I’m actually in some weird dream/hallucination thing when he knocks on the side door and I jump ten miles.

He’s giggling like a maniac.

“Dude, this shit is so good.”

“How much you get?” “你得到多少钱?”

“Two teeners.” “两个青少年。”

“Holy shit.” “天啊。”

“So we gonna go divide this stuff up—cut it—slang it. Word?”

“You wanna go to Lauren’s?”

“Hell yeah.” “是啊。”

“How much should I put aside for us?”

“Half.” “一半。”

“Word.” “单词。”

We drive back to Lauren’s. I order us a bunch of dim sum from this place on Geary and a six-pack of Tsingtao.
我们开车回到劳伦家。我从 Geary 的这个地方给我们点了一堆点心和六罐装的青岛啤酒。

“You should tell your girl to come over,” I say.

“Really?” “真的吗?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“Hey, she’s never shot meth before. You think I could borrow some to get her off with?”

“Dude, of course.” “老兄,当然。”

We eat pork buns and chow mein, drink beer, smoke cigarettes in the kitchen.

“There are so many rooms,” says Gack.

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“I ain’t ever been in no house like this before.”

“Word.” “单词。”

“I’m gonna go get Erin.”

“Take your time.” “慢慢来。”

He leaves and I decide to check my e-mail on Lauren’s stepmom’s computer. As I’m walking up the carpeted stairs, though, I hear this strange yapping noise over and over. I walk down and open the back door. The three dogs are barking at the door. I let them in and hunt around for some dog food to give them. I guess I feel kinda bad about leaving ’em out there. It’s wet and cold outside.

Lauren’s stepmom’s office is on the second floor and piled high with papers and photos of Lauren—but more of Lauren’s half sister. She looks around my little brother’s age, but with white-blond hair like I used to have. I log on and check my e-mail. There’s not one. No one’s written me. No one has even tried begging me to come home. There’s nothing from my family—nothing from anyone. I wonder if I need to wait for Gack and his girl before trying that crystal. I decide I might as well wait—but in the meantime I can drink a bottle of red wine. I pick out a decent one and set about trying to write a story idea about Gack and Bullet and everyone. I figure I’ll send it out to the SF Weekly or the Guardian. Writing usually comes so quickly to me, but I spend at least an hour obsessively trying to get the perfect words out. Even after all that, what remains on the page is virtually unintelligible.
劳伦继母的办公室位于二楼,里面堆满了劳伦的文件和照片,但更多的是劳伦同父异母的妹妹的照片。她看起来和我弟弟的年龄差不多,但有着和我以前一样的白金色头发。我登录并查看我的电子邮件。没有一个。没有人给我写信。甚至没有人试图求我回家。没有任何来自我家人的东西——没有任何人的东西。我想知道我是否需要等待盖克和他的女孩才能尝试那个水晶。我决定还是等一等——但同时我可以喝一瓶红酒。我挑选了一个不错的,然后开始尝试写一个关于 Gack 和 Bullet 以及每个人的故事想法。我想我会把它寄给《旧金山周刊》或《卫报》。对我来说,写作通常来得很快,但我至少花了一个小时痴迷于写出完美的文字。即使在这一切之后,页面上剩下的内容实际上仍然难以理解。

Suddenly I’m scared. Writing has never been a struggle for me before. Somehow the idea of being this drug-fueled, outsider artist has always been really appealing to me. I remember this artist I knew in New York who was a recovering heroin addict and a big-time painter. He used to tell me that if being loaded helped him create better work, then he would definitely not have gotten sober. His work was better when he was off dope. After all, he said, art is the most important thing. I believed the same thing at the time.

The doorbell rings. I go down and let Gack and his girl in. The trio of dogs follow me to the front door.

Erin looks like she’s maybe eleven or twelve. She’s totally undeveloped—with a high soft voice and a tiny nose. Her blond hair is choppy and short. She has piercings all over. She wears an oversize hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and Converse tennis shoes. Her brown eyes are so wide open. She literally gasps stepping into the house. “This place is beautiful.”
艾琳看上去大概十一岁或十二岁。她完全没有发育——声音高亢柔和,鼻子很小。她的金发又短又短。她全身都有穿孔。她穿着超大号连帽运动衫、牛仔裤和匡威网球鞋。她的棕色眼睛睁得大大的。她走进房子时确实气喘吁吁。 “这个地方很漂亮。”

“Wine?” I offer her my glass and she drinks from it. “Let’s go downstairs.”
“葡萄酒?”我把我的杯子递给她,她就喝了。 “我们下楼吧。”

The girl is so nervous, she can’t really talk. I put on some music—this old Amon Tobin CD—and Gack gets shots together for all of us.
女孩太紧张了,根本说不出话来。我放了一些音乐——这张阿蒙·托宾的旧 CD——然后 Gack 为我们所有人一起拍摄。

“First time, huh?” I say, feeling ashamed of myself suddenly.


“We’re not gonna give her too much,” he says. “She’s got school tomorrow.”
“我们不会给她太多,”他说。 “她明天还要上学。”

I watch Gack, noticing that his version of not too much is way fucking more than I would have wanted to shoot my first time—especially if this shit is as good as he says it is. Still, I don’t say anything about it. Instead, I ask Erin about high school and her friends and things. She can’t really answer with anything more than one syllable.

Gack holds the needle up to her and she pulls back her sweater. There are all these white scars up her arm.

“You a cutter, huh?” I ask.

“I was.” “我曾是。”

“That’s kinda hot.” “这有点热。”

“No, it’s not,” says Gack, squeezing her bicep to get the veins to stand out. “She’s never gonna do that again.”
“不,不是的,”盖克一边说,一边挤压她的二头肌,让静脉突出。 “她再也不会这么做了。”

She rolls her eyes and makes a face.

When Gack hits and pushes it home, she starts gasping for air. “I gotta…I gotta…”
当盖克击中并将其推回原位时,她开始喘气。 “我必须……我必须……”

“In there,” I say. “在那儿,”我说。

She runs into the bathroom and throws up in what I hope is the toilet. That’s what it sounds like anyway.

“Girls always puke,” says Gack.

“Well, you gave her a fucking truckload.”

I hear her voice calling from the bathroom. “Gack, get me a cigarette.”
我听到她的声音从浴室里传来。 “嘎嘎,给我一支烟。”

He looks at me and I put my pack on the floor.

“Baby, you all right?” “宝贝,你还好吗?”

“I think so. Damn, this feels pretty good, huh?”

I laugh at that. “You guys should go upstairs—check out some of the other rooms,” I say.
我对此笑了。 “你们应该上楼去看看其他一些房间,”我说。

“Yeah. Thanks, man.” “是的。谢啦。”

Gack shoots me up and the shit is very good. I feel this surge of eroticism or something, all at once—maybe like an orgasm. Better than that, I’d say.
Gack 向我开枪,这真是太棒了。我突然感觉到一股强烈的情欲之类的感觉——也许就像高潮一样。我想说,比那更好。

I hold my head in my hands.

“Good, right?” “很好,对吧?”

“Yeah. Take that girl upstairs this instant.”

I turn the music up really loud and they go to fuck, or whatever. I draw on a piece of cardboard with these oil pastels Lauren has. At least I still have that. Drawing you don’t really have to think about anyway.

I swear it’s only like ten minutes till Gack and his girl are back downstairs and she’s kinda freaking out, saying, “Gack, come on, come on.”

“We gotta go,” he tells me. “I’ll be back.”
“我们得走了,”他告诉我。 “我会回来的。”

Erin doesn’t say anything to me—she just pulls at Gack and looks spooked as hell.

He definitely gave her too much. I’ve really only had one experience with amphetamine psychosis. This drug dealer, Annika, who was my friend Tyler’s girl, got really out there smoking speed. I came to her house in the Panhandle to buy a twenty bag, but when she came to the door, she immediately put her finger to her lips—telling me to get down, that the cops were outside. It was weird ’cause there was no reasoning with her. She kept saying, like, “I know what’s going on. You think I’m fucking stupid. Well, I’m not. I know. I know.”

Eventually I just left ’cause she started yelling at me more and more—plus she wouldn’t sell me any speed. I had to go all the way to fucking Oakland to get it. I heard she was hospitalized that night.

So hopefully Erin’s not gonna lose it. She’s so fucking young.

I lock the door after they leave, then I go call Lauren. She answers, but sounds all stoned out.

“Nic?” “尼克?”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

“Baby, I’m sleeping.” “宝贝,我睡了。”

“Okay.” “好的。”

“You gotta come get me tomorrow.”

“You sure?” “你确定?”

“Yeah.” She yawns. “I love you. Call me in the morning.”
“是的。”她打哈欠。 “我爱你。早上给我打电话。”

“Okay.” “好的。”

“I love you.” “我爱你。”

“You too.” “你也是。”

We hang up and I draw and listen to music some more.

Gack doesn’t show up again till, like, one thirty. He’s all out of breath. “Let’s get moving,” he says.
直到大约十点三十分,盖克才再次出现。他已经气喘吁吁了。 “我们开始吧,”他说。

“Get movin’ how? Is Erin all right?”

“Yeah, I guess. She was hella paranoid—said she needed to just lie in bed for a while and sleep.”

“Sleep? Dude, there’s no way.”

“Yeah, well, come on. We gotta cut that crystal. I got some vitamin B we can use to cook it with.”
“是啊,好吧,来吧。我们得切割那个水晶。我有一些维生素 B,我们可以用来煮它。”

“Whatever you say, man.” “随你怎么说吧,伙计。”

We go to the kitchen and find a glass and pour a bunch of crystal in with the vitamin B powder. We add a tiny bit of water and start to melt it down over the stovetop flame. Once it forms a liquid, we lay it out on a cookie sheet and place that in the freezer. It’s actually Gack who does it all. Five minutes later we pull out the sheet, and the vitamin B and crystal have fused together to make a layer of what looks like soap. He chips all the pieces out of the sheet and dumps it on the counter. It’s sort of powdery and colored off-yellow.
我们去厨房找到一个玻璃杯,将一堆水晶和维生素 B 粉末倒入其中。我们添加一点点水并开始在炉灶火焰上将其融化。一旦它形成液体,我们将其放在饼干片上并将其放入冰箱中。实际上这一切都是 Gack 干的。五分钟后,我们拉出薄片,维生素 B 和晶体融合在一起,形成一层看起来像肥皂的东西。他把床单上的所有碎片都切下来,然后扔到柜台上。它有点粉状,颜色为淡黄色。

“What the fuck is that supposed to be?”

“Don’t worry,” he says. “We just need to add more crystal.”
“别担心,”他说。 “我们只需要添加更多的水晶就可以了。”

I pull out both teeners—the one for us and the one we’re cutting. Both of them look really small already.

“Jesus,” I say. “We did a fucking lot.”
“天哪,”我说。 “我们他妈做了很多。”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

For the first time I notice that Gack’s mouth is twitching. His eyes are wide and jumping. I look down at my hands. They’re shaking bad.

“Fuck, man, you think we did too much?”

“No, it’s cool,” says Gack. “We just gotta focus. Give me the rest of that teener.”
“不,这很酷,”加克说。 “我们只需要集中注意力。把那个少年剩下的部分给我。”

“You sure you know what you’re doing?”

He asks if he’s ever let me down before and I pass the shit over, shaking my head. He repeats the whole cooking down, cooling process. What comes out is, well, a little better than before—but still flaky and powdery and yellow.

“Dude, I would never buy that shit.”

“It’s cool,” he says. “这很酷,”他说。

He tries a few more times—letting it cool longer, shorter, experimenting with cutting it different ways. Somehow, with each pass, it seems to be getting smaller.

“Fuck it,” he finally says. “This is good enough.”
“操,”他最后说道。 “这已经足够好了。”

“What?” “什么?”

“We just gotta tell ’em this shit is raw—unprocessed. People’ll buy it. Trust me. Look, it’ll be better when I bag the shit up.”

I go down and get my shoes and jacket and things. When I come up, all the “raw” meth has been separated into small plastic Baggies. Each one should, theoretically, sell for twenty bucks. I look at it skeptically, but don’t say anything. I know Gack is trying his best.

“I’m sorry, man,” he finally says. “We’ll never use that cut again.”
“我很抱歉,伙计,”他最后说道。 “我们再也不会使用那种削减了。”

I laugh. “No shit.” 我笑。 “没什么。”

“But come on, it’ll work out.”

It’s late, like almost three, but the kids are still chilling around in front of the Church and Market Safeway.

I wait by the car while Gack goes and talks with a few of them. He comes back a couple minutes later.

“Fuck those guys, man, ain’t never got no money. Let’s cruise over to Castro.”

So we walk fast down Market and there is no one around—I mean, no one. About a block away from the Safeway, though, some punk-lookin’ dude with a bleached Mohawk and big lace-up boots yells out to us. We stop. He comes up and wants to buy a twenty bag. He’s got sort of grizzly-looking facial hair and real spaced-out eyes.

He looks at the sack we hand him for a long time. “What the fuck is this?”
他盯着我们递给他的袋子看了很长时间。 “这他妈是什么?”

“Shit’s raw, dude, hella pure and uncut.”

“Nah, fuck that.” “不,他妈的。”

“Look, man, just try it. We’ll roll back here in, like, twenty minutes.”

“All right, but if this shit’s no good, I’ma track y’all down.”

“Don’t worry.” “不用担心。”

The man hands Gack a crumpled twenty and we keep on moving down the street. There’s some guy sleeping across the sidewalk—wrapped in a blanket like a corpse. We have to step over him.

Down Castro we manage to sell one sack to some gay couple in town from somewhere. Watching the men circle the block around 18th makes my stomach twist up. I actually think I recognize one of the guys—some Asian dude in a white Mustang. He just keeps circling, circling, circling. But, no, I’m sure it’s not him.
在卡斯特罗,我们设法从某个地方向城里的一对同性恋夫妇卖了一袋。看着这些人在 18 号附近绕着街区转,我的胃里一阵绞痛。事实上,我想我认出了其中一个人——一个开着白色野马的亚洲人。他只是不停地转、转、转。但是,不,我确信那不是他。

As we walk back toward Safeway, we see that Mohawk kid coming toward us. He keeps playing with his nose.

“What’s up?” asks Gack. “这是怎么回事?”加克问道。

“Dude,” he says, jerking around. “Something’s weird about this shit.”
“伙计,”他说,猛地转过身来。 “这玩意儿有些奇怪。”

“Nah, man, you’re hella gacked out.”

“Yeah, but something’s weird. I want my money back.”

“Don’t we all,” I say.

“Yeah, man, it’s not gonna happen.”

“Dude, you better not fuck with me—you can’t sell bunk shit like that and get away with it.”

His jaw’s really going. I feel this surging in my head—or pounding—or whatever.

Gack keeps walking. “You know that shit’s for real, man.”

“There’s speed in it, sure, but y’all did something.”

“Whatever, man, yer trippin’.”

“You can’t get away with it.”

He’s so close to me, man, I can smell the sweat all over him. Gack keeps walking, walking—never stopping for a second.

“If you don’t make things right, man, I’ll tell everyone y’all are selling bunk shit.”

Now Gack turns and squares off in front of the guy. “All right, that’s enough. Fuck off…NOW.” He jerks his body forward toward Mohawk kid and Mohawk kid flinches back. I get myself up tall next to Gack and clench my fists and the kid runs off, yelling, “You guys are fucking finished.”

My heart is beating a little bit. Actually, it’s kind of slamming against my chest and collarbone and whatever. “What was that?” I ask.

“Nothing. Let’s get outta here.”

We get back to my car, or, uh, Lauren’s car. Gack keeps telling me not to worry. If I give him a bunch of the sacks to take with him, he’ll sell ’em, no problem. Everything is working out, he keeps saying. For the first time, I’m not so sure. I think back to my life sober—working, getting up early to go on bike rides and shit, going to movies. I haven’t looked at a newspaper in over two weeks. There could be a new war going on and I’d have no idea. But this is the life I want to live, right? I mean, I’m happier.

We drive around awhile and I feel like, there’s nothing else to do but go shoot more drugs—or smoke more cigarettes. We go back to Lauren’s and spend the rest of the night messing around in her room, not accomplishing anything. Gack manages to take apart a portable CD player of mine that was skipping, but he can’t put it back together. We have to throw it away. I’ve pretty much finished all the heroin, leaving just a little bit for the morning—except, of course, it was morning long ago. The sun is up when we finally sleep some. I’m wondering if this is fucking worth it. We’re kinda just goin’ in circles. When I wake up, I puke for a while in the bathroom. I lie on the tile floor and, ’cause no one’s looking, I cry a little. The feeling racks through me, but not a lot of tears come out. I’m sweating and shivering and I smell so bad. I take a shower, but the sour smell won’t leave me. My skin is gray, scaly, broken out. My body is eating itself.
我们开了一会儿车,我觉得,除了吸更多的毒品或者抽更多的烟之外,没有别的事可做。我们回到劳伦家,整个晚上都在她的房间里闲逛,一无所获。 Gack 设法拆开了我的一台正在跳音的便携式 CD 播放器,但他无法将其重新组装起来。我们必须把它扔掉。我几乎吸完了所有的海洛因,只剩下一点给早上用——当然,那是很久以前的早上了。当我们终于睡上一觉时,太阳已经升起。我想知道这是否值得。我们有点原地踏步。当我醒来时,我在浴室里吐了一会儿。我躺在瓷砖地板上,因为没人看,我哭了一会儿。这种感觉折磨着我,但眼泪却流不出来。我满头大汗,浑身发抖,而且气味难闻。我洗了个澡,但酸臭味却挥之不去。我的皮肤呈灰色,有鳞屑,有破损。我的身体正在自我吞噬。

DAY 15 第 15 天

After shooting the rest of the dope and a bunch of crystal, I kinda blot out the doubts for a while. I call Lauren and she still wants me to come pick her up, so I try to focus on the directions she’s giving me.

I drop Gack off in the TL, with his promise that he’s gonna sell some of that whack, cut shit. Santa Cruz is only, like, two hours south of the city, but it feels like I’m going on this big road trip or something—freeing Lauren—staging a jailbreak.
我把 Gack 送到了 TL,他承诺他会卖掉一些东西,废话。圣克鲁斯距该市以南仅大约两个小时车程,但感觉就像我正在进行一次大型公路旅行或其他什么 - 释放劳伦 - 进行越狱。

The coast highway runs along Ocean Beach, through Pacifica, and up along Devil’s Slide—a treacherous stretch of road with almost no barrier from the several-hundred-foot drop to the sea below—then winds down to the small coastal town of Santa Cruz. The cliffs are steep and unforgiving—the ocean surges, swells, slams against the rocks. Cypress trees and eucalyptus, pines and buckeyes, sway, sway in the heavy onshore winds. Everything is worn away from the salt and damp—the houses bleached out, faded and warped. I’m having fun taking the turns too fast and tight.

Lauren’s shrink lives in some gated community where all the streets have “berry” names—Idleberry, Huckleberry, Boysenberry, etc. The guard at the front shows me where to find Jules’s house. It looks like all the others. It’s real big, but tasteless—boxy—tan, generic, nothing paint. I pull into the driveway and sit there for a minute, breathing.

The front door opens while I’m trying to figure out my next move. Smoking a cigarette is the best I can come up with, but I stamp it out nervously as I see this woman coming out to greet me—or at least, I hope that’s what she’s doing. She has short curly hair, dyed to disguise the gray. She’s a little overweight and heavily made-up—her clothes conservative and not at all stylish. I get outta the car.

“You must be Nic,” she says, way too sweetly.


“I’m Ruth-Anne.”

I shake her hand and meet her eyes with mine. I smile.

“Come in,” she says, and I follow behind her.

The house looks out on a golf course and the ocean. Two teenage girls are eating bowls of ice cream at this long glass table. Lauren and a balding, very white man in a dress shirt are talking outside on two cushioned metal chairs. I assume that must be Jules.

“Do you want some juice?” asks Ruth-Anne, her voice still way too cheery.

“Uh, okay.” “呃,好吧。”

“Apple or grape?” “苹果还是葡萄?”

“Apple, please. Thank you.”

She pours me a glass.

“Should I go out there?”

“Yes,” she says.

I walk outside into the windswept afternoon and the man stands instantly to shake my hand.

“Nic, I’m Jules,” he says. His voice is very soft and soothing, like someone talking on one of those goddamn guided meditation tapes we had to listen to in rehab.

Lauren lights a cigarette, so I do too. I pull a chair over next to her and put my hand on her thigh. She leans her head against my shoulder.

Jules tells me, as kindly as possible, what a bad idea it is for Lauren to return to the city with me. He crosses and uncrosses his legs. He wraps his fingers around one another—long and pale with polished nails. He tells me that if I truly love Lauren, I’ll leave her alone to clean up for a while. I look in his eyes. They are striking blue. I say I want to help Lauren, but it’s ultimately her choice. Besides, we kind of have to see this run we’re on out to the end. We’ll bottom out soon enough.

He tries to reason with me. He asks me if OD’ing on heroin isn’t bottom enough. I keep repeating that it’s Lauren’s decision and she says she wants to go home. She assures Jules she won’t use.

He obviously doesn’t believe her, but it’s not like he can stop us or anything. For a while he drills me about my history. I answer honestly. I don’t hide anything.

“Yeah, I’m definitely a drug addict—but, uh, it’s kinda working for me right now. I mean, I know it’s gonna end badly—but I gotta see this through.”

“You don’t have to,” he says. “You want to.”
“你不必这样做,”他说。 “你想要。”

He offers to see me for a free visit sometime—maybe get me on some medication. I thank him all over the place. Jules more or less says nothing the whole time. Lauren looks real out of it—tired—and I realize she hasn’t had any speed for over twenty-four hours. The depression, the painful crashing need to sleep, is sweeping through her. I actually have to support her with my arm as we walk outta there.

“You’re making a mistake,” says Jules.

“Probably.” “大概。”

As soon as we get down the block, we pull over and I watch for patrol cars while Lauren gets off with what’s left of the good crystal. I’m definitely using more than I’m selling, which is bad, obviously.

I try not to think about money and how, at this rate, shit won’t last another week. Between the meth and heroin, Gack and me and Lauren are using over two hundred dollars a day. If you add food and cigarettes and eventually having to find another place to live other than Lauren’s parents’ house, well, I can feel the top of the ladder getting closer. I try not to think about it, but you know how that goes.
我尽量不去想钱的事,以及按照这样的速度下去,狗屎不会再持续一周了。盖克、我和劳伦每天要吸食冰毒和海洛因超过 200 美元。如果再加上食物和香烟,最终不得不在劳伦父母的房子之外找到另一个住处,那么,我能感觉到梯子的顶端越来越近了。我尽量不去想它,但你知道那是怎么回事。

“Better, baby?” I ask. “好点了吗,宝贝?”我问。

She tells me she loves me and I drive us home. “We do gotta cut back,” she says.
她告诉我她爱我,然后我开车送我们回家。 “我们确实必须削减开支,”她说。

I agree, taking hold of her hand. “Yeah, plus Gack fucked up a whole teener. Shit’s unsellable. We gotta be really careful with what’s left.”
我同意了,握住了她的手。 “是啊,加上盖克搞砸了整个青少年。屎是卖不出去的。我们必须非常小心剩下的东西。”

She tells me that Jules said he would have to call her parents if she left his house. I ask what that means.

“They’re gonna come home and try and talk me into getting help.”


She tells me not to worry. We’ll go live in my car together—it’ll be all right. We’ll find a place eventually. Maybe we’ll get sober. If we get sober, her parents will support us.

“We can have a baby,” she says.

I just squeeze her hand. “How much time before they come back?”

“It’ll probably be by tomorrow night.”

“Fuck.” “他妈的。”

She keeps trying to calm me down, but I can’t really see her living in my car. I can’t really see getting sober, either. I kinda wish I’d left her in fucking Santa Cruz. We call Candy on our way back into town and I drop another eighty bucks on some heroin.

We shoot most of the cut meth at Lauren’s. The cut makes both of us kinda sick, but we still make love like we do. There’s always that, isn’t there? I feel her moving on top of me on the whiteness of her bed. I feel the pillows and quilts. I feel all this luxury that is about to be gone—so quick, too. We soak the room with our sweat and I can’t feel anything, but I keep on fucking her ’cause I don’t know what else to do. My mind is going, going, going and even this isn’t stopping it, but it helps. When I was a little boy I used to masturbate like this. I was too young to come—but I had all this sexuality inside me and I’d play with myself for hours to escape, or whatever. Hell, maybe it just felt good. There were a few friends I had when I was little who would masturbate with me. It was when I was like nine or ten—maybe younger. We were all too little to have anything happen. I remember telling sexual stories to my friends—making shit up that would turn us all on. I would talk while we were doing it. It’s funny ’cause lying here with Lauren, I’m doing the same thing—making love to her in a whisper with my words and my body. That must mean something, right? I guess I’m still that confused little boy, or is that too simple?

DAY 16 第 16 天

Lauren’s fucking scared about facing her parents. We do the rest of that nasty cut shit and I can’t believe it’s all gone. Gack may have sold some, but it’s not real likely. I make breakfast and help clean up. She talked to her parents early this morning. They should be in at, like, six. Still, I’m not taking any chances having to meet them like this—so I leave early. Lauren says if I don’t call her many times this evening, she’ll fucking kill me. I try to look at her objectively.
劳伦他妈的害怕面对她的父母。我们做了剩下的那些令人讨厌的剪辑,我不敢相信这一切都消失了。 Gack 可能已经卖掉了一些,但可能性不大。我做早餐并帮忙打扫卫生。今天一早她就跟父母谈过了。他们应该在六点钟左右。不过,我不会冒险像这样见到他们——所以我提前离开了。劳伦说如果我今晚不多次给她打电话,她就会杀了我。我试着客观地看待她。

Over two weeks and she looks completely changed. She’s lost so much weight her small head looks enormous on her withering neck. Her cheekbones are standing out against the hollowness of her face and eyes. Her arms are bruised, bloody—brown splotches—white scars—swollen in some places, horribly shrunken in others. Her lips are washed out—white—cracked. I kiss them and taste her dry nicotine tongue.

“We’ll be all right,” she says.

I take my stuff and walk out to where I parked my car. There’s leaves and shit all over it. There are four parking tickets under the windshield wipers. The back tire is flat and I got no spare.

Back to Lauren’s. 回到劳伦的。

I use her phone to call a tow truck. When we get to the gas station, the attendant—an aging, lined white guy with long hair slicked back—tries to sell me new tires all around. I tell him I just need it to be drivable.

“These other ones are gonna go,” he says, his voice all thick and hoarse.

“I’ll take my chances.” “我会抓住机会的。”

“Yer chances ain’t good.”

I thank him. 我感谢他。

While his boys are fixing the tire, I go call Gack. Between the tow truck and the tire, well, that’s a little under two hundred bucks. I worry about how fast my money is disappearing. I’m on, like, the corner of Geary and 21st and the early afternoon streets are mostly empty. Gack said he sold three sacks and used the other. That’s sixty dollars he got, at least.
当他的孩子们正在修理轮胎时,我去给加克打电话。加上拖车和轮胎,嗯,不到两百美元。我担心我的钱消失得有多快。我在 Geary 和 21 街的拐角处,下午早些时候的街道大多是空的。加克说他卖掉了三袋,并使用了另一袋。他至少得到了六十美元。

When I pick him up, he’s all excited ’cause he found a pair of pants behind some church. They have all these pockets, which he thinks is just fucking great. They’re, like, army style—dark, olive green—torn at both knees. I see his pale knees sticking through.

“How’s Erin?”

“Oh, dude,” he says, his voice cracking some. “She fucking lost it. Shit weren’t cool. She called me all wanting me to take her to the hospital and shit. Poor thing had to go to school like that in the morning.”
“哦,伙计,”他说,声音有些沙哑。 “她他妈的失去了它。糟糕透了。她打电话给我,想让我带她去医院。可怜的东西早上就得这样去学校。”

“But she’s all right?” “但是她还好吗?”

“Sure.” “当然。”

We go cop behind some donut place near the Bay Bridge. Gack goes in like always and I wait in the car. I’m tired, man. All the speed in the world can’t seem to get me up. I watch some black dude with a thick beard and a thicker parka asking for money on the street corner. I’ve tried it before. Really, there’s no feeling worse. Not even hustling is as bad. At least with that, there’s a sense of being a commodity of some value. Asking for money is a proclamation of your own unfitness for survival. It’s saying, “I am the weak one of the herd.” Or worse, a parasite that feeds on society. Trying to meet a person’s eyes, begging them for scraps—it is humbling in a way that few things are. And sitting here, I keep thinking that I’m about to have no other option. Tricking or begging—that’s what’s gonna be left for me. Plus I’m so goddamn worn out.

When I was on the streets before, I had so much drive. I remember when I was living at Akira’s, he let me stay in this storage space in his garage. I had to clear all the shit out that was in there, but keep it secret from his mom—so I just piled it all up in the rafters and put a mattress under it all. One night I was sleeping and it all came crashing down—splitting my head. There was blood everywhere. In the morning, I woke up with this huge scab on my forehead. I put on a shirt and this apron I had from a job I’d gotten at this Italian restaurant. They gave me the shirt and apron, but I never went back. So I put that shit on and got this bag of ice and started walking up Park Presidio, Clement, and Geary. I picked the scab off and the blood was coming down. I went up to people and was, like, “Please help, I just got in this accident at work. I need money to get a taxi back home.”

I made around fifteen bucks in about half an hour, but then this Russian woman with very platinum hair stopped me.

“What you say doesn’t make sense,” she said. “If you got hurt at work, why didn’t they help you?”

My eyes widened. “Good question.”

That was the end of that scheme. I guess it was pretty stupid to begin with. But doing that shit now—I just can’t see it. Plus, back then, fifteen bucks would get me through a day of shooting speed. I’ve moved far beyond that point now—but we know that already.

When Gack comes back he’s all freaked out. He tells me to drive—quick. Walking through the alley, some guy approached him and told him to empty his pockets. He had to throw his skate at the guy and run. I screech outta the parking lot. Gack is breathing hard.

“What the fuck is happening to us?” I ask. “Doors are closing.”
“我们他妈到底怎么了?”我问。 “门正在关闭。”

“Nah,” Gack assures me. “It’s all good.”
“不,”盖克向我保证。 “都很好。”

Driving toward Church and Market, I ask Gack to get me a shot ready. “Do you need one?” I ask.
驱车前往教堂和市场,我请盖克帮我准备一枪。 “你需要一个吗?”我问。

He shrugs. 他耸耸肩。

“All right, fuck it. Make ’em big, man. I’m not even getting high no more.”

“Word.” “单词。”

We shoot up in the Safeway parking lot. I actually feel it, which is good, and I cough and all. Gack bags the shit up just like it is ’cause I ain’t fucking cutting shit anymore. I’ll sell small sacks, but I don’t wanna deal with all that again. He goes off to try and make some sales on twenty bags. I try writing in my notebook—Daisy’s notebook. My thoughts are scattered. It’s all bullshit. I draw instead, looking up every once in a while to watch the couple in the car next to me. The guy is real haggard-looking, but young—late twenties. The girl is sort of pudgy, with a bob haircut, dyed black. The car is full of crap. It’s a boxy red nothing, like mine. After a while, I realize they’re both shooting up—or, uh, the guy is shooting them both up. I get outta the car and lean against the hood, lighting a cigarette. I watch them both get off, then the guy looks up and notices me staring at them.
我们在西夫韦停车场拍摄。我确实感觉到了,这很好,我咳嗽等等。 Gack 把这些东西收起来,就像它本来的样子,因为我他妈的不再剪东西了。我会卖掉小袋子,但我不想再处理这些了。他去尝试销售二十个袋子。我尝试在我的笔记本——黛西的笔记本上写字。我的思绪散乱了。都是废话。相反,我画画,时不时地抬头看看我旁边车里的一对夫妇。这家伙看上去很憔悴,但很年轻——二十多岁。这个女孩有点矮胖,留着波波头,染成黑色。车里全是垃圾。它是一种四四方方的红色,没什么,就像我的一样。过了一会儿,我意识到他们都在射击——或者,呃,那家伙正在向他们射击。我下了车,靠在引擎盖上,点燃了一支香烟。我看着他们俩下了车,然后那家伙抬起头,发现我在盯着他们看。

“Yeah?” he asks, rolling the window down.

“Nothing, don’t trip. I just didn’t know if y’all wanted a little up for later.”

“What?” “什么?”

“I got this really good crystal I’m selling if y’all are interested. I ain’t no cop or nothing.”

He turns to his girl.

“What do you think, baby, you want some crystal?”

“Crystal?” “水晶?”

“Is it good?” she asks.

“Kid says it is.” “孩子说的是。”

“Is it good, kid?” she asks, laughing.

“You can try some if you want.”

“No shit?” “没有屎吗?”

I tell them again it’s good. I tell them it’s what I’m on. We’re talking like old friends. They agree to buy forty dollars’ worth and I’m so grateful that I actually hook them up really fat. I even give them Lauren’s number. If they want more they can just call. They thank me and I thank them. I feel this power inside—a renewed faith. Maybe things’ll work out after all.

But then I see Gack coming up and he’s talking to himself and clenching his fists.

“Let’s go,” he says. “我们走吧,”他说。

“What?” “什么?”

“We’re fucking closed out here.”

“What do you—”

“That fucking guy, he talked a lot of shit.”

“Mohawk kid?” “莫霍克小子?”

“Yeah. He said I was selling bunk shit. No one’ll buy from me. I’m gonna find him and beat the shit outta him. We gotta go down to Haight.”


“Yeah, they say he’ll be down there.”

I do what he says. Somehow Gack thinks that beating up the Mohawk guy will prove he’s been straight ahead with everyone. When I tell him about hooking the couple up, he sighs like I’m so fucking stupid.

“Come on, man, you can’t be doing that. These people ain’t ever gonna call you. Just ’cause you are cool with someone and hook ’em up don’t mean they’re gonna have any loyalty to you. People don’t give a fuck.”


“I’m different. There are a few of us who are. Hey, pull over a second, I think I see one.”

“One what?”

“One of us.”

So I pull over. We’re in the Panhandle—actually right near my old drug dealer Annika’s place. There’s nothing here but row after row of Victorians—maybe a liquor store or whatever. The pavement is all cracked with blades of grass growing through. There’s dog shit everywhere. The street stinks of it.

I see Gack go up to this guy who is short and hunched. He has a scruffy beard, a beanie, a black jacket. He’s drinking from a brown paper bag and smoking a hand-rolled cigarette, or I guess it’s a joint. They talk for a second and then they’re back to my car.

“Nic, this is Ben. Ben’s all right.”

He gets into the backseat. The weed he’s smoking fills the car with this sweetness. I take a long pull from the wet roach and pass it to Gack.

“Ben, you wanna help us find this kid who’s been dissin’ us? We gonna kick his fucking ass.”

“Yeah, all right. I gotta parole board meeting at four in Daly City.”

“Dude,” I say. “I’ll drive you.”

“What about that punk-ass motherfucker? We gotta take care of that shit, Nic.”

“Whatever,” I say. “Fuck that kid. We’ll see him around sometime. Why waste our energy looking for him? That’s like giving him power and shit.”

“Word,” says Gack. “Maybe you’re right.”


So we all drive out along the beach to Daly City. At one point, way down the avenues at, like, Judah and 30-somethingth, Gack wants me to stop. We’re right near his girl’s place and he wants to call her—see if she can hang out awhile. He goes to find a pay phone and I sit with Ben. Ben doesn’t say much—except that he just got outta jail. He mentions some letter he’s waiting for. Apparently there was some guy he shared a cell with who promised to give him the deed to a big piece of property in England. By some coincidence they turned out to be related or something. The whole thing sounds like bullshit to me, but I don’t tell him that.

I look out on all the Chinese and Korean markets. I’m thirsty as hell, but I don’t wanna buy any more shit. I just filled up my tank with gas and bought hella cigarettes and shit, so I’m pretty fucking worried about the fact that I got only five hundred dollars left. That’ll be gone in a week—and that’s if I try real hard to conserve it. Basically, I can’t be buying food anymore.

I have this empty water bottle in the back of my car, so I go into a dry cleaning place. Now, I’m pretty used to having people look at me and not trust me and whatever. No one in the city ever lets you use their bathroom or anything. And, in general, folks on the avenues are real suspicious and cold. I’m nervous about walking into this place, but, like I said, I’m thirsty and can’t afford to throw any more money away. So I go inside and the woman leaning on the counter scowls at me behind thick glasses. She speaks in not great English—asking what I want.

“Nothing. I just, uh, I need some water.”


“Yes, please. I’m so thirsty. Could you fill this bottle up with water for me—or show me where I can fill it up?”

“You want water for drinking?”


“No, you go buy.”

“Please, I just want some tap water.”

“No, you go.”

She points a long, thin finger toward the street.

“Go.” I meet her eyes for a second, then turn and walk silently out. The sun seems very far away.

I shove my hands into the pocket of my sweatshirt, but then I hear a voice calling after me.

“Boy. Boy.”

Turning, I see the woman from the dry cleaner’s running after me. She has a small bottle of water in her hand.

“You take this.”

“What? Why?”

“You take.”

I thank her. She just turns and walks back into her store. I guess I feel like crying. I’m not sure why.

Gack comes back and I tell him the story and he doesn’t really seem to care. He can’t find Erin, so he decides to just come with us down to Daly City. Ben’s meeting takes about five seconds. He basically just has to show up. The building is this big institutional-looking green block slab. My car is kinda jerkin’ and being weird and shit. When we park, the engine lets off this steam or something. I mean it’s kind of hissing and smoking. I lift up the hood and stare at the insides—not like I know shit about cars. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before the car gives out. I’m just gonna have to drive it till it stops running completely. It can’t be long.

Ben says he’s really hungry as we drive back to the city.

“If we get to Glide by five then we can get in the dinner line,” he says.



I know Glide Memorial Church from when I was little. In grade school, we used to take trips down there to help work in the soup kitchen. We all hated it, of course. Mostly we just served punch, or whatever—helped clear away trays. We were too young to chop anything or handle serving the hot food. I remember distributing bread to the line of men and women—none of ’em looking at one another or at me. Mostly they weren’t too scary or anything. Sometimes they’d ask for an extra piece of bread, or more juice. We weren’t supposed to give it to them, but I always did.

I can’t say what I thought about seeing those people having to be fed like that. I mean, I’m not sure if I really thought about why they were in that position. Obviously, growing up in the city, I was used to seeing the homeless. I know I felt sorry for them—men and women wrapped in blankets lying on the hard concrete. I guess I thought they were sick or something. No, I don’t remember what conclusions I drew.

But one thing was for sure—I never in my life imagined being one of them.

Yet here I am, standing in line with a little yellow ticket in my hand—the sun blocked out by the dry-rot buildings. I’m standing in line with all these other men and women, mostly older than me, huddled together—but never touching, never looking up, never talking. I stare at a piece of gum turned black, stamped into the sidewalk. I’m suddenly real paranoid about someone I know from when I was a kid driving by—a teacher, or even my parents. I’m hoping we can just get inside, you know?

The church stretches up, up, up, with dirt caked into the worn-away bricks. A stained-glass window reflects no light and purple flags hang from the steeple. We’re let in through a side door, down these bare carpeted stairs. There are a lot of pictures of Jesus on the walls and signs posting times for substance abuse counseling groups and AIDS testing and whatever. I follow Ben and Gack follows me. We don’t say one thing. The whole room of people is weighted with shame.

I grab a tray. Two young black women and an older white man with a tie-dye T-shirt serve beans, coleslaw, white rice, and stale bread. I ask for everything on my plate and thank them. We go sit down at one of the long plastic tables. We eat fast. We’re below the street and the only light comes from some fluorescent pale bulbs along the ceiling. The food actually tastes great. I eat it all.

Lauren sounds terrible when she finally answers her phone. She’s crying hysterically and chokes and gasps for breath. Her parents are kicking her out if she doesn’t agree to go into rehab. She has about a week to decide—that’s when they’re all going to meet with Jules about her options for treatment. They want me to come to the meeting.

“Me? Why?”

“Because I love you and we want to help you.”

“Oh, Lauren, I don’t know.”

“It’ll be fine, we’ll do it together.”

“I’m not going back to rehab.”

“Just come,” she says, sniffling loudly. “Maybe they’ll figure something else out.”

“And until then?”

She says she has to stay home. She can go out to some appointments and things. Maybe she can meet me then. Otherwise we just have to wait and see.

I hang up the phone. Suddenly I don’t feel like hanging out anymore. I tell Gack and Ben that I’ve gotta go. We agree to meet up tomorrow. Ben gives me a number of some hotel where I can leave a message for him. I get in my car and start driving back toward the parking lot on 15th and Lake—figuring I’ll maybe walk around the Presidio some, see if there’s any old abandoned army housing that I can sneak into. I’ve always had this fantasy of squatting in one of those places. They’re all single-story brick or white wood houses—boarded up—doors fastened shut with heavy padlocks.

Driving over there, the heat gauge is, like, busting through the glass. I can hear this hissing noise and there’s a bunch of gray-black smoke. The car stalls out right at the base of the lot and I manage to coast it into one of the parking spaces.

Fuck, fuck, fuck.

I put some stuff in a shoulder bag—a screwdriver, a notebook, pens, three CDs, a portable CD player, and these big studio headphones. I play this Fantômas record. It’s sort of arty death metal with all these sudden starts and stops—strange vocalizations over hardcore compositions. I set out through the Presidio—the trees hanging down and the streetlights all glowing orange. The roads wind through the dense forest. The shadows are dramatic and startling. I keep feeling like someone is coming up behind me and I look back, nervous. It reminds me of this time outside my old drug dealer’s place in Oakland.

I mean, downtown Oakland’s pretty safe and all, but the little suburbs are just totally fucked up. No one even knows they’re there, so you could basically just go in and never come out and no one would ever know. I remember walking through there and I was listening to this John Coltrane CD. It was the Impulse stuff after he kicked heroin and started talking to God through his music. It’s really out there and I was listening to one of those CDs, walking through this neighborhood. It seemed like everyone was staring at me and it was really just a matter of time before this big car, a Cadillac or something, crept up slow next to me. I was just pretending not to notice and all, so I walked on. But the car sped up, then pulled this fat U-turn and stopped. These three big-ass dudes with fucking bandannas and football jerseys got out and they were just mobbing straight toward me. You know that walk? When they stick their chests out and sort of waddle, but it looks tough, you know, a tough waddle. Basically, I thought I was fucked. I had this goddamn backpack full of CDs and drugs and money, all of which I figured I was about to part ways with. I didn’t know what to do. They got closer and I turned and started to run. They actually fucking chased me. Somehow, tweaked out, listening to Coltrane, running from these big guys, about to get jacked, it all seemed so funny and I started laughing. I mean, I was really fucking laughing so I couldn’t stop. But I was still trying to run, which made me laugh even more. They just stopped and, like, looked at me all puzzled and shit and then they started laughing. They were laughing and I was laughing and I just kept running till I was outta there.

But here in the Presidio, there’s absolutely no one around. I can’t really understand it. With all the homeless folk in SF, the fact that these woods remain unmolested is sort of a mystery. I remember talking to this strung-out older man camped out somewhere near the Steps of Rome Caffe on Columbus. I was like, “Dude, why are you sleeping on this concrete, man? For one dollar you take a bus twenty minutes and are in this national park.”

The guy turned his head toward me and asked, confused, “There’s a national park around here?”

“Yeah, man, the fucking Presidio.”

“How do I get there?”

I told him, but the next day I saw him back on Columbus—trying to sleep in the same goddamn spot.

So I walk along the trails and small paved roads. There are large abandoned houses all around—but I keep feeling like someone’s watching me or something.

In a way it’s like too serene or whatever—too empty. I feel that familiar feeling of being a dark smudge on this otherwise pristine white canvas. There’s just no way to blend in out here. And then, walking along the street, I feel these headlights behind me. I turn quickly—just glancing back and, sure enough, there’s a car comin’ up slow. I pick up my pace some, but then back off—not wanting to look suspicious. I turn my head again. A wave of nausea sweeps through me and my blood drains as I see the roof of the car—a police cruiser. It’s right alongside me and staying there. I try to remember if there’re any drugs in my bag. I’m pretty sure there aren’t—but there is that screwdriver—plus my arms are so completely covered in tracks. I wonder if they can arrest you for that. It seems like they can pretty much arrest you for anything.

I lower my headphones and look over at the car. They’ve got one of those sidelight things out the passenger window and it is mad shining at me—white and glaring. I stop walking and just stare it down, my arms dangling—not making any sudden movements. The cruiser slows to almost nothing. I can’t see anything but the light. I wait—my heart going, going, going.

And then they drive off.

Just like that.

They don’t say anything.

I’m shaking all over.

I walk back to my car and try to sleep in the backseat. Every twenty minutes or so, I wake up—sure that some cop is banging on my window. When morning comes I have to throw up three times. A shot of heroin calms my stomach, but can’t take away the fear.

DAY 23 第 23 天

It’s Sunday morning, five a.m., cold before the sun is up. I’m shivering, shivering, shivering. Gack and Bullet and I are outside the Fairmont Hotel. We’ve been waiting all night and I’m not really sure how we ended up here. It’s been five days of basically nothing but shooting drugs, selling bags of crystal here and there, sleeping in my car—if at all—eating at Glide, or stealing sandwiches from Starbucks. One day we find half a box of pizza on the ground, another day there’s a plate of rice and fish leftovers wrapped up on top of a garbage can in the Marina. Everyone seems to have forgotten about that Mohawk kid, but the crystal’s still hard to move—plus we’re using so much. I’ve only seen Lauren a couple times, mostly just to drop off a sack for her.

The meeting with her shrink and all is tomorrow morning. I’m nervous about it, but I agree to show up. Honestly, I’m not sure how much longer I can keep doing this. It’s like there are seven candles lit in my stomach. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Seven candles burning and smoking—lit—seven flames of doubt, fear, sorrow, pain, waste, hopelessness, despair. They turn my insides black with soot and ash. There is something at the back of my eyes—a pressure building, building, building—hot like the flames of seven candles, which no amount of breath can extinguish.

I imagine drinking glasses of water. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. I dive into the clearest pool. I drown myself in the coarse, dry sand. I swallow handfuls of crushed white salt, but the flames burn higher still—brighter, hotter, deeper. Sweat runs in delicate patterns down my back, over my crooked spine and jutting hips. I scratch at the wounds these last weeks have left, but I can’t break free of them. The flies gather and vultures circle overhead. The fire eats away my flesh. The fire spreads. The fire runs through my veins. The fire courses beneath my muscles—my tendons—the marrow of my bones.

I sit rocking on the street corner. No, I can’t keep doing this. I just can’t.

Bullet shoots the last of the heroin. He found out his mom died this morning from her lymphatic cancer and I couldn’t say no. I give him a lot of cigarettes. He doesn’t cry, but he keeps breaking shit. He kicked this newspaper stand to pieces. He’s mumbling about being taken to the park by her as a child. His words are all slurred over the heroin nods. Gack tries to comfort him but Bullet just yells at him. I mostly say nothing. I haven’t changed clothes in three days. I can’t even smell myself anymore. The money is going. My veins are already collapsing so it’s getting hard as hell to hit. I’ve started having to dig around, like Lauren. I’ve even started trying to shoot up in my hands and legs and feet. Gack tells me not to fuck with my legs, ’cause if you miss you can’t walk without being in, like, so much pain. I don’t listen to him.

Anyway, Bullet keeps going on about going to a park with his mom—or that he wants to go to a park—I can’t really tell. But we’ve hiked up California Street past the Fairmont ’cause we are trying to find some sort of park to hang out at so Bullet will shut up about it. I seem to remember a playground up here. It was this huge place with a big orange slide and tunnels and monkey bars. Before we get there, though, Gack and I are gonna do some more speed and we’re trying to decide whether to go into the Fairmont bathroom or not. It’s gonna be impossible to go in there at five a.m. without drawing a lot of attention to ourselves. Bullet shot up on a doorstep down the street, so Gack and I end up going back down there.

Bullet plays watch guard while we shoot up. That’s the end of our speed.

Gack is able to hit somewhere on my forearm and the rush hits me and I’m satisfied for about a minute—then it dies out. I know I’m high, I just don’t feel it. The sun begins to lighten the sky and everything turns clear and crisp and pale—cold. There’s a layer of pink sky on the rooftops. We walk up the hill toward the playground. My legs are sore—my body is giving out.

We walk to the playground and it is so much smaller than I remembered. After all, I was just a child when I was last here. The park is actually filled with people, mostly Asian, wearing sweat suits and moving slow, slow, slow. Arms outstretched, then in. Legs up, out, down—moving like they’re underwater, or weighed down with lead. The three of us stop and stare.

“Tai chi,” I say.

Then suddenly, cars begin pulling up all around us—limousines, town cars, BMWs, Mercedes. Men and women, young and old, dressed in fine suits, tuxedos, long flowing dresses with flowers and expensive purses—they’re swarming around us, going up the steps to…what? Grace Cathedral.

“What the hell is going on?” I ask.

“Fuck if I know.”

Gack runs off to ask somebody. He approaches a young lady in a pink ruffled dress. She looks kindly enough, but freezes when she sees Gack. Still, he gets her to talk to him.

“It’s Easter,” he yells back at us.

“No way,” says Bullet. “Fucking Easter. I gotta go to church.”

“What?” I say. “Bullet, there’s no way.”

“Yeah, don’t you see—that must be why we came here.”

“Maybe, but I don’t think you can go in there like you are.”

“What do you mean by that?”

I leave that one alone.

Gack comes back over and Bullet tells him all about needing to go to church.

“Do what you want,” says Gack. “But there’s no fucking way I’m going in there.”

Bullet asks us maybe ten times what the chances are—us being up here on Easter and all.

“It’s gotta be a sign.”

“Yeah,” says Gack. “A sign that if you go in there, they’ll call the cops on your ass. Look how those fools are dressed. You wanna go to church? Well, then let’s go back down to the TL.”

But Bullet insists and so we watch him disappear into the crowd.

I laugh.

I laugh and fucking laugh and Gack does too.

“This is all so pathetic,” I say. “We can’t go on like this.”
“这一切都太可悲了,”我说。 “我们不能再这样下去了。”

“What else is there?” “那里还有什么?”

“Should we wait for him?”

“Nah, fuck it.”

We walk back through the playground and back down the hill and the sun is up and the sky is clear.

“I love this city,” I say.

“Yeah,” agrees Gack.

“But it’s gonna fucking kill us.”


“You ever think of getting out?”


My feet hurt so bad—there’re blisters everywhere from walking so much. I tell Gack all about Lauren and having to meet with her family tomorrow. I tell him I’m thinking about getting clean again. He tells me it’s a waste of time.

“What is life for, if not for living?”

“Is this living?”

“We’re so free.”

“Sort of.”

Back in the TL the streets are already crowded with people looking to eat, or get well, or whatever. There’s no sign of Easter here. I smoke cigarettes while Gack goes up to his room to get some shit. I wanna try to take a shower and change clothes maybe before seeing Lauren—maintain some semblance of looking like I’ve got it together. Gack isn’t allowed visitors in his hotel anymore—so we’ve gotta find somewhere else around here to take a shower. Most of the apartments have communal showers, so it’s just a question of getting through the front gate.

Gack thinks he knows someone a couple blocks down who’ll buzz us in. He brings down a Snickers bar for my breakfast.

The apartment house is maybe five or six stories—white peeling paint, warped siding, a white painted gate blocking the stairs from the street. Gack pushes one of the buttons on the call box, but it just rings through. I smoke another cigarette and wish I had some water. After trying a few more buttons, we still can’t get inside. We walk around the back of the building. Gack thinks maybe he can climb one of the drainpipes up to an open window, but there’re cameras back here and the whole thing just seems sketchy as hell. The back door is just as impenetrable as the front. The alley smells like beer, or piss, or both. It dead-ends at a big concrete wall circled with barbed wire.

After discussing our options for a while, we see a very voluptuous-looking black woman with long extensions click-clacking in high heels up toward the rear entrance. She stops there in front of it and tilts her head back. She’s wearing a lot of makeup.

“Hey, Kevin, man—gimme the fucking key!” She yells that up at the building. “Yo, motherfucker—the key!”
“嘿,凯文,伙计——给我他妈的钥匙!”她对着大楼大喊。 “哟,混蛋——钥匙!”

A bald man sticks his head out the window and tells her to be quiet, then lets a key chain fall down several stories next to her. She picks it up delicately with her pink acrylic nails.

She gets the door open and starts to walk in and Gack runs up to grab the door. She turns and lowers her eyes at him. “Nuhuh. I don’t think so.”

“My cousin lives in there,” says Gack.

“Then yo cousin can let yo ass in. Step back.”

Gack does and the door is closed in his face.

We go around to the front again.

“Come on,” I say. “Let’s forget it.”

But just then, as the sun clears the top of the building and the street is washed with noonday light, an old Asian woman—stooped, with silver hair and thick glasses—exits the building with a metal cart and several bags. I rush up to hold the door for her—ever the chivalrous one—and Gack does the same. We watch her leave, then go into the building. It looks the same as all the other cheap fucking run-down places around here—smoky, stained carpeting and uneven hallways.

“The showers are in there,” says Gack. “Here, I got you a towel.”
“淋浴就在那里,”加克说。 “这个,我给你拿条毛巾。”

He pulls this crumpled damp shredded rag outta his bag and I thank him. He’s also got a bottle of some shampoo. I take the stuff and try the door to the bathroom, but it’s locked.

“Fuck, you think someone’s in there?”

“Not likely.” “不见得。”

He knocks and there’s no response.

“Let’s try the next floor.”

We turn to find the stairs, but then there’s this man standing there behind us. He’s tall, with a paunchy belly and a red Mohawk—though he must be in his late thirties. His eyes are bugged somewhat and his lips jut out—as though he had puckered up to kiss somebody and his mouth just froze like that. He’s wearing an Asian print silk robe that doesn’t conceal very much. His chest and legs are thick with hair.

“Oh, yes,” he says. “They started locking the showers so kids would stop coming in off the street to use them.” His voice sounds very, uh, lazy—tired, or bored, or something. He speaks like he sees everything that is going on and it is very tiresome indeed. I guess you could say he sounds haughty. Yeah, that’s it.
“哦,是的,”他说。 “他们开始锁上淋浴间,这样孩子们就不会从街上进来使用它们了。”他的声音听起来非常,呃,懒惰——疲倦,或者无聊,或者别的什么。他说得好像他看到了正在发生的一切,这确实很令人厌烦。我想你可能会说他听起来很傲慢。是的,就是这样。

“You gotta key?” asks Gack.

“Yes, but you may as well come along and use mine. I have a bathtub with soaps and whatnot. I’m sure you would find that preferable.”

“Sure, thanks,” says Gack.

There’re eels slithering through my belly, turning and flicking their tails. But Gack doesn’t seem worried, so I follow them up several flights of stairs.

“You’ll have to excuse the place,” the man says. “I just moved into this room from a smaller one and I haven’t unpacked yet. Also, an ex-boyfriend is asleep in the kitchen—well, passed out really. I’m sure you understand, boys.”
“你得原谅这个地方,”那人说。 “我刚从一个较小的房间搬进这个房间,还没有打开行李。另外,一位前男友在厨房里睡着了——嗯,真的昏倒了。我相信你们都明白,孩子们。”

True enough, there’s stuff all over the room—boxes and blankets and clothes and trash and shit. In the small kitchen, a younger-looking boy is out cold, naked on a pile of clothes and magazines and things. I have to step over him to get to the shower. The bathroom is cluttered with lots of soaps and shampoos and things. There’s a wood-handled scrub brush and razors and lotion and whatever. There’s no showerhead, but an extendable nozzle that comes from the faucet. I have to sort of crouch down, balancing on the balls of my feet. It reminds me of all the showers in Europe. There’s a small window letting in shafts of light. I do the whole bathing thing.

Around the time I’m washing the shampoo out of my hair, the door opens and I kind of freeze a little. The man with the robe comes in and says, “Don’t mind me,” then goes over and takes a piss in the toilet. His cock is very big and the veins are sticking out grotesquely. I try not to notice that he’s staring at me. I keep going with the shower. The guy stares and stares. Finally, he walks out.

I breathe a little more easily.

So I finish and dress and go back into the main room. That one guy is still passed out in the kitchen. I step over him again.

Gack is on the floor messing with this little radio or something.

“You ready?” I ask. “你准备好了吗?”我问。

“Sure, sure, sure.” “当然,当然,当然。”

We start to leave and then the man has his hand on mine—gently pulling me back. “If you should ever need a place to stay sometime, I’m sure I could make it worth your while. Here’s my phone number. My name’s Daryl, by the way.” He hands me a little piece of paper and I stuff it in my pocket.

“Yeah, thanks.”

We get outta there and I feel this nausea in my throat.

“What a fucking creep,” says Gack.

“Yeah, word.” But my options are running out. Soon fucking guys like Daryl is gonna be all I got. Not that I can say anything about that to Gack.

The two of us take a bus down to where my car is abandoned and I change clothes and shoot the rest of the heroin. Gack thinks we should re-up on speed to try and make some money, but I’m so broke I think I’m gonna wait till tomorrow.

Still, he convinces me to at least hook up a gram to get us through the night. We walk up to Haight Street and there’re people everywhere—shopping and whatever. I feel actually fairly normal, even though I can tell I’m nodding a little as we walk. I’ve already dropped my cigarette, like, ten times. Anyway, Gack goes and scouts around for some crystal and I head into Amoeba.

It’s a little overwhelming, all the CDs and people and everything. I go to the “just released” section. There’re tons of albums I see that I normally would buy—or would have anticipated buying. The Secret Chiefs 3 have a new album out—as well as Trevor Dunn and Eyvind Kang. Obviously I can’t buy them now. I realize I have no idea what movies have been released or anything. I’m so isolated—insulated in this world of scrounging to get money so I can buy drugs, to get high, then start all over again.

But Gack manages to get us a gram for fifty bucks from some kid in the park. The kid is wearing a thick, dirty jacket with safety pins all over it. He has a red-orange beard and wide, paranoid eyes. The stuff he’s got doesn’t look really good but there’s a lot there. It definitely isn’t short.

So we buy the drugs and I have only a couple hundred bucks left. Gack and I go and shoot up in the bathroom of a taqueria off Clayton. Shit gets me high—that’s what I can say for it. The emptiness in my stomach—the well digging down—the nausea—the aching won’t leave me. It’s profound—consuming. I feel like curling up, serpentine on the floor, crying. I need a thousand pounds of heroin. I need to drown myself in methamphetamine. I need pills, weed, vials of liquid acid.

Or maybe—maybe—I just need to get sober.

My head keeps going around like this.

Gack asks me what’s wrong and I tell him I think I gotta be alone a minute—take a walk or whatever. He says that’s all cool and to call him. I leave like that. Sea Cliff is miles away, but I walk over there. I walk down Stanyan, down Park Presidio—then on down Clement. I listen to music—Miles Davis’s Live-Evil. My heart is beating, beating, beating.

I think about Jasper and Daisy. I think about my dad and stepmom. I think about Spencer and my friends in the program. I think about my mom and her husband and their two dogs. I think about my job at that rehab. I’d started taking some classes at Santa Monica College. I’d had a life. Suddenly I can’t even remember why I started using again in the first place. I wanna throw up, I think. I’m sweating from everywhere. I’m sweating from everywhere, but I’m real cold, too.

The avenues are deserted as always, but I feel like people are watching me from their windows as I pass. I know that’s not the most sane thought in the world. I call Lauren from a pay phone and she answers right away.

“Lauren,” I say, my voice cracking some. “I need help. I think I’m ready to get help.”

“Oh, baby,” she says. “Where are you?”

“Right near your house?”

“Then come over.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, no one’s home.” “是啊,家里没人。”

So I walk over to Lauren’s house and already the sun is going. When she opens the door, I hold her and then I cry and cry. I sob so hard. All those damn corgis are all over—whining and trying to lick me and I just cry, cry, cry. I don’t know when I’ve ever cried like this before. It’s been a long time. I smell the soap in Lauren’s hair as she wraps herself around me. I can’t stop.

“It’ll be all right, baby.” She just repeats that over and over.

Eventually we make it down to her room and I’m still crying but we make love and all. A crack in the floor breaks open and we tumble in—swallowed by the eroticism of sex and our closeness to death. Our bones stick together and the joints pop, pop. I’m blind, or disoriented, or not really sure what. The blankness of white nothing pulls me out of myself for a moment and I feel very far away—disconnected. Somehow I fall asleep like that. I don’t dream.

I wake up with my jaw tight as hell from clenching it so hard.

Lauren’s shaking me. “Come on,” she says. “We gotta go—my parents are home.”
劳伦在摇晃我。 “来吧,”她说。 “我们得走了——我父母在家。”

“I can’t stay here?”

“Candy called.” Lauren’s all dressed and everything. “She’s got some really good heroin in. She’s gonna cut us a deal, er, uh, something.”
“坎迪打来电话了。”劳伦已经穿戴整齐,一切应有尽有。 “她里面有一些非常好的海洛因。她会和我们做一笔交易,呃,呃,一些东西。”

“Baby, I ain’t got any money left really.”

“I have a little,” she says, all but pulling me out of bed. “We’ll get clean right after this—I promise.”
“我有一点,”她说,几乎把我从床上拉了起来。 “这之后我们就会干净起来——我保证。”

“Okay,” I say. “Yeah, I know this cool old hotel off Grant. We can hole up there till we’re done with the heroin.”
“好吧,”我说。 “是的,我知道格兰特附近有一家很酷的老酒店。我们可以躲在那里,直到吸完海洛因为止。”

“Then we’ll come back here and my parents’ll help us.”

“I love you,” I say.

“Yeah, I love you, too.”

And so fast, fast, fast we’re outta there. It makes sense to me. We’ll just go on one more run—blow it all out till the end. I know it’s gonna be all right now. We shoot most of the crystal in her car down the block from her house. She hasn’t used much in a couple days, so she gets real high. I drive.

The San Remo Hotel is, like, fifty bucks a night—but nice. Dark wood paneling, strange potted ferns and things, thick carpeting. The place feels like a ship—warped, uneven, sinking.

We hook up a bunch of tar heroin from Candy and pack some stuff up to take to our small room. There are two twin beds. I look out the window at the clear sky—streaked white and blue. The sun is still warm, though falling—shattering the leaves, littering the ground with bright yellow and shadows. I watch the branches sway, sway—weeds growing up through cracks in the parched concrete—vines twisting up the brick walls across the street—green turning red and brown. It is all so, uh, lovely—but then I pull the shades down and turn to Lauren.

“This is it,” I say. “You ready?”
“就是这样,”我说。 “你准备好了吗?”

“Yeah, baby—let’s do it.”

I cook up the heroin so it is thick, syrupy black and add whatever’s left of the meth. Lauren actually hits real easy, but I gotta dig for fucking ever. I swear all the veins in my arm are straight collapsed. I finally find one in the back of my hand.

The bed is soaking and stinking—but as night turns to day, turns to night, turns to day, we don’t leave. The cleaning staff knocks but we tell them to go away. Maybe they’re talking about us, maybe they’re not.

I smoke cigarettes out the window and throw up several times. The only food we eat is candy from a vending machine down the hall. We drink water from the tap. Four days go by. Lauren’s phone rings and rings, but we never answer until all the heroin is gone and most all the money, too.

“Dad,” she slurs into the mouthpiece. “Dad, I’m ready. I’m ready to get help.”
“爸爸,”她用话筒含糊地说。 “爸爸,我准备好了。我已经准备好寻求帮助了。”

He tells her to come home.

“What about Nic?” “尼克呢?”

He wants me to wait till the morning for the meeting with her therapist, but Lauren insists he let me stay the night.

He relents. 他态度软化了。

We get our stuff and leave quickly. I have to throw up a bunch more on the way to Lauren’s car. The world’s just going around and around and I’m blacking out. Clouds filled with gray, gray rain make ready to drop their heavy load on the streets below. It’s so cold that my teeth chatter and my stomach is tight, tight, tight.

Lauren has to drive. We’re both crying some now, as we get closer. I put my hand on her thigh.

Pulling up to the house, her dad comes running out to the car. He’s short and sort of round—with a tiny head and a dyed brown comb-over. He cries some as he hugs Lauren to him. He shakes my hand awkwardly and I try not to throw up all over him.

“Dad, please,” says Lauren. “We need to go sleep.”
“爸爸,求你了,”劳伦说。 “我们需要去睡觉了。”

“Okay, sweetie, Jules will be here soon with some medicine for you.”

Lauren has to support most of my weight as we walk. I’m actually sicker than she is. Those dogs bark at me all over the place and the smell of them makes me cringe. I’m blacking out. I lie in Lauren’s white bed and try to just focus on my breath going in and out—the way my lungs expand and contract like they do. I’m hyperventilating some and I try to calm myself, but it doesn’t really work. Lauren holds me, but the feel of her skin on me is suddenly repulsive.

“Please—please—I just need to lie here.” That’s all I can say. I maybe pass out for a moment, waking up only to take some pill Jules is shoving in my face.

“Thank you,” I say, but I throw up whatever it is he gives me. I roll out of the bed onto the floor and vomit into a blue plastic trash can.

I sleep like that on the carpet.

DAY 26 第26天

Waking up, the sickness has passed some. My clothes are soaked through with sweat. I pull on one of Lauren’s sweatshirts and stagger up the stairs into the living room. It’s raining outside and I can feel the damp underneath my skin. Lauren, Jules, Lauren’s dad, and some woman are sitting around the living-room table. Lauren is so pale and sunken in. They offer me coffee and I take it. I add lots of sugar. I also eat a piece of toast, but I feel them all staring at me with each bite I take. It seems like the noise of me chewing is, like, the loudest thing ever.

“We were just discussing treatment options for the both of you,” says Jules, in this voice that sounds like it should be from a guided meditation tape—soothing and serene. “Please, sit down.”
“我们只是在讨论你们俩的治疗方案,”朱尔斯说道,他的声音听起来像是来自引导冥想磁带——舒缓而平静。 “请坐下。”

“Thanks.” “谢谢。”

I’m introduced to Kathy, Lauren’s stepmom. She is definitely less than thrilled to meet me. She has a creased, overtanned face with blond highlights and a lot of makeup. Her lips are thin, lined, and painted bright red. She mostly says nothing.

Jules explains that he wants to get Lauren and me into our own place—a furnished monthly hotel off Van Ness. He knows the owner and he will certainly keep an eye on us. As well, we will be randomly drug-tested throughout the week. We will have to go to seven twelve-step meetings a week and meet with Jules twice a week—separately. Both Lauren and I will have to get jobs and Lauren is no longer allowed to work for her mother. Her parents will pay for food and rent.

I just nod my head. It sounds perfect, you know? I’ll be taken care of. I won’t have to worry about money and whatever.

“What if we test dirty?” asks Lauren.

Jules looks at Lauren’s father.

“Then all deals are off,” Jules says. “You’ll either have to go back into a residential treatment program, or you’re on your own.”
“那么所有交易都取消了,”朱尔斯说。 “你要么必须回到住院治疗计划,要么就只能靠自己了。”

“I don’t know,” says Lauren. She starts talking about why what they’re saying isn’t fair and now I’m trying to talk her into taking it. Her dad and Jules seem grateful that I’m so enthusiastic. We are all trying to convince her now.

And so it’s decided. They’re gonna take care of us while we get back on our feet. We all shake hands and then Lauren’s dad asks if he can talk to me privately. He puts a hand on my shoulder and leads me into this study area. There are books all over the shelves and a white stuffed tiger-head rug on the floor.

“Nic,” he says, “I appreciate everything you’re trying to do. I know you care about Lauren very much and that means a lot to me. But I have to ask you one favor—I need you to stay away for a few nights. Just till we get your place set up. I want to have Lauren here, alone. We have to talk over some things and I’d just feel safer that way.”

“Yeah, I understand.” “是的,我明白了。”

“You do? Excellent. Thank you.”

He shakes my hand again firmly and I try to meet his eyes. They are distant blue, like Lauren’s.

When we tell her I’m leaving, she kinda throws a tantrum. I’m just trying to keep on her dad’s good side, you know? I mean, what a fucking opportunity, right? I wanna do whatever he says at this point. Plus, the sickness is coming back and I figure I should at least say good-bye to Gack and maybe Candy, too—maybe get high one more time—just one more time. I’ve still got a little money anyway.

So I call Gack and we agree to meet back at Church and Market. The rain’s stopped, so I’m able to walk to the bus stop without much trouble and ride down there. I sit toward the back, looking at some graffiti drawn on the seat in front of mine. As we sway and stutter down Geary, I think about the possibility of me staying clean in this city. It feels impossible again. Not that I don’t want to—but it’s just so easy to get on a bus, call Gack—justify it to myself. I guess it’s that way in every city—I just know this one so intimately. The thought scares me some.
所以我打电话给加克,我们同意在教堂和市场见面。雨已经停了,所以我可以毫不费力地步行到公交车站,然后骑车下去。我坐在后面,看着我前面的座位上画着一些涂鸦。当我们摇摇晃晃、结结巴巴地走下吉尔里时,我想到了我在这座城市保持干净的可能性。又感觉不可能了。并不是我不想——但上公共汽车太容易了,给 Gack 打电话——向自己证明这一点。我想每个城市都是这样——我对这个城市太熟悉了。这个想法让我有些害怕。

Gack shows up with a bag of a few clean needles and he goes off with twenty dollars of mine while I wait for Candy. I’m leaning my back against this video store and watching all the street kids trying out whatever hustle they got on those who pass. Some of ’em are just straight-up begging—ain’t got no hustle at all. I’ve got that cold sweating again from the heroin withdrawal and I ache, ache, ache all over.

Candy pulls up some minutes later and I get in the passenger door. Her skin’s broken out and her mascara is starting to run down, but she’s still fucking striking as hell.

“You only getting half a gram today?”

“Yeah,” I say. “This is it. I’m getting clean.”
“是的,”我说。 “就是这个。我正在变得干净。”

She sighs, lighting a Parliament Menthol cigarette.

“You goin’ away then?” “那你走了吗?”

“No, I’m stayin’ around.”

“All right, then, don’t throw away my number.”

“No, we’re done.” “不,我们已经完成了。”

“We’ll see.” She hands over the wax paper ball and tells me she’s gotta get going.

“You ever think about stopping?” I ask.

She puts on a pair of big sunglasses before turning toward me. “Honey, we’ve all tried. I’ll see you around. You’re a good kid.”
她戴上一副大墨镜,然后转向我。 “亲爱的,我们都尽力了。我们回头见。你是个好孩子。”

I leave. 我离开。

Gack’s reaction is basically the same as Candy’s. We hike up to Dolores Park and shoot the speed (and heroin for me) in someone’s doorway. Everything is all cleared out in my head suddenly. I feel a surge of power and find myself thinking, thinking, thinking back to what Candy said.

“Yeah,” says Gack, walking down to the still wet playground. “I went to some twelve-step meetings and shit. I didn’t really get it. They say the average life expectancy of tweakers like us is around three years. I’ve been going for at least twice that and I’m doin’ all right. I wouldn’t worry about it.”
“是的,”加克一边说,一边走向仍然潮湿的操场。 “我参加了一些十二步会议之类的。我真的不明白。他们说像我们这样的调整者的平均预期寿命约为三年。我已经去过至少两次了,而且一切都很好。我不会担心这个。”

“But I just feel like I’m not even getting that high anymore—and I’m outta money, you know?”

“There’s always money. We’ll figure it out.”

“Maybe you’re right.” “也许你是对的。”

“Trust me,” he says. “You only get to live this life once. I’d rather be blissed out for a short time than fucking bored and miserable till I’m like ninety or something.”
“相信我,”他说。 “这一生你只能活一次。我宁愿享受短暂的幸福,也不愿一直感到无聊和痛苦,直到九十岁左右。”

“Yeah, I’ve thought about that too.”

We’re quiet awhile after that—or at least, I am. Gack is kinda rambling like he does, but I’m not paying attention. I try to remember—was I happy before all this? The fucking tweak won’t let me think. It tries to tell me I wasn’t. Maybe that’s the truth.
之后我们安静了一会儿——至少我是这样。 Gack 也像他一样胡言乱语,但我没有注意。我努力回忆——在这一切发生之前我快乐吗?该死的调整不会让我思考。它试图告诉我我不是。也许这就是事实。

“This is life,” says Gack, shaking me. “This is living. Every day is an adventure.”
“这就是生活,”加克摇晃着我说道。 “这就是生活。每一天都是一次冒险。”

“I don’t know,” I say after a moment. “Every day is the same thing. Gack, I love you for everything you’ve done for me—but I don’t think I can go on like this. Maybe you could get help too.”
“我不知道,”过了一会儿我说道。 “每天都是同样的事情。加克,我爱你为我所做的一切,但我想我不能再这样下去了。或许你也能得到帮助。”

“No thanks,” he says, smiling. “But, yeah, I love you too. And we’ll see each other soon. It’ll do you good to clean up for a while—especially get off that fucking junk. That’s some nasty-ass shit.”
“不用了,谢谢,”他微笑着说。 “但是,是的,我也爱你。我们很快就会见面。清理一段时间会对你有好处——尤其是摆脱那些该死的垃圾。那是一些令人讨厌的狗屎。”

“Word.” “单词。”

“Word.” “单词。”

We walk together down Valencia, talking shit—just keeping it light, you know?

We walk all the way to the TL and it’s dark and starting to rain again some. I say good-bye to Gack, then call Lauren. She begs me to sneak into the house and spend the night. I figure since it’s raining, that’s the best option I got. Her dad’ll either understand, or he won’t. I don’t care. I shoot the rest of the dope and it’s all I can do to get on the bus again. My hands shake so bad that I can’t get the dollar into the little machine. I have to hand it to the bus driver and get him to do it. He looks bored, or annoyed, or both.

Lauren doesn’t even bother trying to hide the fact that I’m there. She lets me in through the front door, dragging my loaded ass down the stairs. When she sees how fucking high I am she tries to get me to give her whatever’s left of the drugs—but I don’t have any. She pretends to be less pissed off than she is. My world fades out into an opiated fantasy.

DAY 27 第 27 天

I have been throwing up all night.

Sleeping and then jerking awake, dry-heaving into that plastic trash can. I lie on the floor, on the bare carpet. Lauren keeps trying to get me to come up in bed with her, but moving makes my stomach turn, so I lie still. Plus there is the smell of her and the smell of that house, those dogs, cigarettes, Gatorade, and leftover Chinese food. The stench is overpowering. I retch over and over. Everything is heightened, but sickeningly so. At one point Jules is there, standing over me and giving me a tablet of methadone. I throw that up too.

Lauren is whining, crying for me to hold her, and I just want her to shut up.

“You don’t care about me,” she says. “You don’t love me.”
“你不关心我,”她说。 “你不爱我。”

My skin itches and the top of my head itches and I scratch until I’m bloody. “Lauren, man, I’m sick.”
我的皮肤很痒,头顶很痒,我一直抓到流血。 “劳伦,伙计,我病了。”

I am so tired—this painful, aching tired. I just want to sleep and be left alone—or maybe just to die there. I can’t take it. I drift in and out of hallucinations. At one point I think I’m walking around with Gack, or that he is there at the house. I can’t tell what is real and what isn’t. My spine digs into the floor, but I can’t move, I just can’t.
我好累——好累,好痛苦。我只想睡觉,一个人呆着——或者也许只是死在那里。我受不了。我在幻觉中时断时续。有一次我觉得我正在和 Gack 一起散步,或者他就在家里。我分不清什么是真实的,什么不是。我的脊椎陷进地板里,但我动不了,就是动不了。

I have to get out of there—I have to. Please, I mean, please, I’m ready to do anything.

After sleeping some more, I wake up and it is night. Lauren has gone somewhere. I pull myself up on the tattered couch, pushing aside all the clothes and things that are scattered everywhere. The room is all dark and I’m sweating. My breathing is strained. For some reason my shirt is off, my ribs sticking through the skin—tracks up and down both arms. From where I’d missed the vein while shooting up, my arms are swollen and aching. I’m broken out all over and thin, so goddamn thin.

I close my eyes, tears streaming down suddenly. I don’t know what to do. I think back on all the stories I’ve heard at twelve-step meetings. I think back to what my sponsor said. Broken down, defeated, they’d all asked for help from a power that they called God. And so that’s what I do—I pray. I pray from somewhere deep inside me. I pray out loud to a God that I don’t even believe in. The words just start coming out.

Spencer used to talk to me about God. He talked a lot about God, but I always dismissed it. I was a militant atheist. I thought the belief in God was totally backward, delusional, and ignorant. Spencer would talk to me about prayer and meditation, but I basically avoided ever experimenting with it. I just couldn’t believe, there was no way. But Spencer sure did talk about it a lot.

Tonight I pray. Maybe it isn’t the first time, but it is the first time I pray with sincerity. I am desperate. And so I cry and ask God for help.

“God,” I say. “Look, I don’t believe in you or anything, but if you’re there, I need your help. I can’t do this anymore. I’ll do anything. PLEASE.”
“上帝,”我说。 “听着,我不相信你或任何事,但如果你在那里,我需要你的帮助。我不能再这样做了。我会做任何事。请。”

Nothing happens. No flash of light, no burning bush, nothing.

What I do is, I call home.

My dad answers on the third ring. “Hello?”
我爸爸在铃声响到第三声时接听。 “你好?”

That voice—my dad’s sweet voice.

I cry so hard. “Dad…I…”
我哭得很厉害。 “爸爸……我……”

“Jesus, Nic. What are you doing calling here?”

“I need help.” “我需要帮助。”

“I can’t help you, Nic, we’re done.”

“Dad, please.” “爸爸,求你了。”

“I’m sorry. Maybe Spencer will be willing to talk to you, but I can’t. I’m through.” He hangs up.

“God,” I say aloud, folding in on myself, my body shaking from crying. “Please help me. What do I do?” My hand trembles all over the place, but I dial Spencer’s cell phone. He picks up right away.
“上帝啊,”我大声说道,蜷缩起来,我的身体因哭泣而颤抖。 “请帮我。我该怎么办?”我的手浑身颤抖,但我还是拨通了斯宾塞的手机。他立即接起。

“Spencer?” “斯宾塞?”

“Nic,” he says, actually laughing into the phone. “It’s about goddamn time you called me. You had enough?”
“尼克,”他说,实际上是对着电话大笑。 “该死的,你现在就给我打电话了。你玩够了吗?

“Yeah. Please, what do I do?”

“Come home, man, we’re waiting for you.”

“Back to L.A.?” “回洛杉矶?”

“Sure. Eric still hasn’t rented out your room. Something told us you’d be back before long.”

“I’m so sick.” “我感到恶心。”

He laughs. “Come home, you rotten little snot. I’m fat ’cause there’s been no one to ride bikes with me.”
他笑了。 “回家吧,你这个臭小鼻涕。我很胖,因为没有人陪我骑自行车。”

“I don’t think I can ride any bike, Spencer. I can barely stand up.”

“What are you comin’ off of, meth?”

“And heroin.” “还有海洛因。”

“Lovely. Come on, Nic, it’s time to come home. You don’t have to prove anything anymore. So what do you say?”

“My car’s dead.” “我的车坏了。”

“Get on a plane.” “登机了。”

“Right now?” “现在?”

“Yeah, right now. I’ll pick you up.”

“No, you don’t have to…”

“No shit. But what can I say? I missed you, man. I might’ve even been a little worried. Now, let’s go. You’ve had all the good times you’re gonna have out there. It just gets worse from here.”

“Worse?” “更差?”

“Yeah, man, you’ve peaked.” He laughs again.

“Spencer,” I say between sobs. “I’m gonna go to the airport right now.”
“斯宾塞,”我抽泣着说道。 “我现在就去机场。”

“Damn right you are.” “你说得对。”

“And Spencer…” “还有斯宾塞……”

“What?” “什么?”

“Thank you.” “谢谢。”

“Yeah, yeah, just get going.”

“Okay.” “好的。”

“Call me when you know what flight you’re comin’ in on.”

“Yeah.” I put the phone down and then cry some more.

I call a taxi. 我叫出租车。

I try to stand up, but all the blood rushes to my head and I fall back down again. I decide crawling is the way to go. I find my shirt stuffed under the bed. I put it on and it smells so strong that I gag, but nothing comes out. Somehow I manage to get my suitcase and things together. There are a bunch of clothes and CDs and things still in my burned-out car, but I don’t really care anymore. I just want to go home.
我试图站起来,但所有的血液都涌到了我的头上,我又跌倒了。我决定爬行是最好的选择。我发现我的衬衫塞在床底下。我戴上它,闻起来很浓,让我作呕,但什么也没有吐出来。我设法把我的手提箱和东西放在一起。我烧坏的车里还留着一堆衣服、CD 之类的东西,但我已经不在乎了。我只是想回家。

One of my shoes is gone, a black Jack Purcell sneaker. Between walking outta there with one shoe and no shoes, I figure maybe if I wear some dark-colored socks, no one will notice. So I pull my bag over my shoulder, grab my backpack, and hobble my way up the stairs. I have three hundred dollars cash in my wallet. That is all that is left. If I need more, well, I don’t know what to do then. Throughout all this I’m praying. It is like the voice in my head, the running monologue; it has switched over to thoughts of prayer. Please help me—be with me. I just keep repeating it over and over—up the stairs.
我的一只鞋子不见了,是一双黑色的 Jack Purcell 运动鞋。在只穿一只鞋和不穿鞋走出去之间,我想如果我穿一些深色袜子,也许没有人会注意到。于是我把包扛在肩上,抓起背包,一瘸一拐地走上楼梯。我钱包里有三百美元现金。这就是剩下的一切了。如果我需要更多,那么我不知道该怎么办。在这一切过程中我都在祈祷。这就像我脑海中的声音,连续不断的独白;它已经转变为祈祷的想法。请帮助我——和我在一起。我只是一遍又一遍地重复这句话——上楼梯。

Walking out into the living room, I see Lauren. She is just coming back down to her room and she sees me with all my bags and everything. She drops to the floor, curling fetal-like, and now she is crying.

“You’re leaving me, aren’t you?”

“I’m…yeah. I’m going back to L.A. I can’t…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But you promised you’d stay with me.”

“Did I?” “是吗?”

“Yes, goddamn it, you did.”

“Lauren, please. You and I both know that we’ll never stay sober if we stay here together.”

“Fuck you. You think you’re so much better than me. I wish I’d never met you. You’ve ruined my life.”

“I…I’m sorry.” “我……对不起。”

“Don’t go.” She springs up off the floor and tries to kiss me and I think I’ll be sick if I touch her, so I pull away.

“I have to,” I say, and I walk outta there, leaving her screaming and crying behind me.

The outside air is so cold, the wind blowing straight off the water. I tuck my arms into my T-shirt and shiver. But still, it is cleansing, that air. The night is clear and I look up at the starless sky and feel the sweat seeping out under my skin. The taxi finally gets there and I get in, collapsing on the clean-smelling nylon seats.
外面的空气很冷,风直吹水面。我把手臂塞进 T 恤里,浑身发抖。但那空气仍然是洁净的。夜色晴朗,我仰望没有星星的天空,感觉到汗水从我的皮肤下渗出。出租车终于到了,我上了车,倒在闻起来干净的尼龙座椅上。

“The Oakland Airport,” I say.

The man asks how I’m feeling and I admit that I’ve been better. Mostly I can’t think at all. I just pray, like I said, over and over. I watch the poison city sweep by as we drive out to the Bay Bridge. The lights blur out. I maybe sleep or something, ’cause the guy has to yell, “Hey, kid” a few times when we get there.

That is sixty dollars gone.

I walk, or more accurately, stagger into the United terminal of the Oakland Airport. The patterned carpet makes me sick and dizzy and I hope so bad I won’t have to throw up again. The fluorescent bulbs shine violently overhead, the flickering nearly unbearable.

I stagger over to the ticket counter and I’m still not wearing any shoes.

“Welcome to United, can I help you?”

The woman is wrinkled, with dyed purple hair, too much lipstick, and a smile that quickly disappears when she sees me step closer.

“I need to go to L.A.,” I say.

“Okay, uh, sir. Let’s see.” Her fingernails click, click on her little keyboard.

“There’s a flight at nine fifteen that has a few seats available. Would you like that?”

“Sure.” “当然。”

“Round trip?” “往返?”

“No.” “不。”

It costs me two hundred dollars.

She prints out my ticket and then tells me to take my bags over to the security checkpoint. It is only after I hand my suitcase over to one of the two uniformed baggage handlers that I begin to panic. I hadn’t thought to check for Baggies, or needles, or dope, or whatever other paraphernalia might be left in there. The woman puts latex gloves on both hands and begins rooting around in my bag. Her hair is braided back in tight rows against her scalp and she looks at me with open disdain. She searches and searches and I say nothing, still praying maybe.

And then she is done.

“Thank you, sir, have a nice day.”

“Yeah.” “是的。”

She puts my suitcase on that conveyer belt thing and I watch it disappear. When I get to the metal detectors, the passengers are all taking off their belts and shoes, putting them through to be x-rayed. At least I am saved that trouble.
她把我的手提箱放在传送带上,我看着它消失。当我到达金属探测器时,乘客们都在脱下皮带和鞋子,接受 X 光检查。至少我省去了这个麻烦。

I go and call Spencer and he agrees to come get me around ten. I buy a piece of sweet potato pie from Your Black Muslim Bakery, but can’t really get it down. Mostly I just try not to be noticed by anyone. The wait is long.

On the plane I sleep, thank God, and when I wake up there is drool all over my shirt. That’s how I greet Spencer. Actually, as soon as I see him, I start crying and can’t look at him.

“Come on, asshole,” he says, but sweetly. He puts his arm around me and even carries my bag. He’s grown a goatee since the last time I saw him, but otherwise looks just the same. He wears a black leather jacket over a black pullover sweater. We get into his BMW and drive off through the Los Angeles night. It is warm. L.A. is always so goddamn warm.

We don’t talk much. He drives me home and tells me to sleep and asks if I want any food.

I shake my head. “Can I see you tomorrow?” I ask.
我摇摇头。 “我明天能见你吗?”我问。

“Sure,” he says. “Maybe we can go to a meeting at noon.”
“当然,”他说。 “也许我们中午可以去开会。”

“A meeting?” “一个会议?”

“Yeah, brother.” “是啊,兄弟。”

“Fuck.” “他妈的。”

“There’s no other way.” “没有别的办法了。”

“Yeah,” I say. “I know.” And so I go upstairs into my old apartment, using my same old key. And there it is, exactly as I left it.
“是的,”我说。 “我知道。”于是我用我那把旧钥匙上楼进入我的旧公寓。它就在那里,和我离开时一模一样。


DAY 32 第32天

I detox on the floor of the apartment. Spencer doesn’t think I need to go to the hospital. According to him, well, I should rely on my Higher Power to get me through this. I am so weak and shaking—throwing up—not able to sleep. I try renting some movies, but I can’t focus on the screen. All I can do is shiver in bed, staring at the ceiling and struggling not to pull my skin off.

These are the worst withdrawals I’ve ever had. I’m alone. I have no medication, nothing to ease the suffering. The only things I have are the twelve steps and Spencer.

I know I have to stay close to him.

I have to do whatever he says.

That’s the only chance I have.

If Spencer tells me God can get me through my detox, then I will trust him. I feel so desperate right now. I am ashamed and terrified of everything I’ve just gone through. Spencer is the one person I can trust. I’ve tried doing it without him, without the twelve steps—it has never worked.

It’s still very hard for me to believe in God, but I’m just too beaten up to fight it anymore. That’s always been my problem with the twelve-step program. There’s all this God talk, or Higher Power talk. I could never get past the third step, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.” It just seemed like some religious cult or something. But I just can’t afford to question it anymore. I have to go to meetings. I have to work the steps with Spencer. I’ve been told in all the different rehabs I’ve gone to that the only way to stay sober is to be an active member of a twelve-step program. I have to believe that is true.

While I’m still detoxing I actually go with Spencer to a couple of twelve-step meetings, but I can’t really focus enough yet to hear anything. It is like someone came in with a vacuum cleaner and sucked out my brain—removing any trace of joy or excitement, leaving me with nothing but this overpowering hopelessness. The world turns bleak, dull, and oppressive. I have grown so weak and pale. I look in the mirror at my sunken-in eyes and coarse skin—scaly, gray, almost reptilian. My legs are bruised and sinewy. I lie staring at the ceiling. I lie there like that until around two in the afternoon when my phone rings and I see Spencer’s number come up.

“Hey…” “嘿…”

“What’s up, brother?” His voice is irritatingly joyful.

“Dude, I’m dying.” “哥们儿,我快死了。”

“Uh-huh. You know, it’s a beautiful day out.”

“Is it?” All the shades are drawn on the windows and my apartment is bare and dark.

“Yeah, it is. So, you wanna go on a bike ride?”

“Are you serious?” “你是认真的?”

“Yeah, man, I’m way outta shape, we gotta start riding again.”

“I can barely move.” “我几乎动不了。”

He laughs. “Come on, man, we’ll go slow.”
他笑了。 “来吧,伙计,我们慢慢来。”

“Look, I don’t know, uh…”

“Nic, I’m already on my way.”

“What?” “什么?”

“That’s right. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

“Uh…okay.” “呃……好吧。”

“See you downstairs.” “楼下见。”

I hang up, pulling myself out of bed and feeling all dizzy, or like I’m gonna faint or something. I curse and go over to my dresser. The bottom drawer is filled with old bike clothes. I’d left them here, sure I would never need them again. Those nights I’d slept in my car outside the Presidio, I’d watched the groups of cyclists climbing up the forest road. It was hard to believe that I had once been like that, pulling away on a sprint, spending five or six hours at a time on the bike. I looked at those riders and I told myself that I was better off sitting in the car, loaded outta my mind. But the thing was I had experienced some of the good life that the twelve steps had to offer. I remembered riding my bike with Spencer through the Marina as the sun rose over the Hollywood hills. I remembered him telling me how much he loved his life, and in those moments, I felt the same way. I just hadn’t been willing to fight through the difficult moments with the faith that it would get better—that maybe, one day, I could have what Spencer had—a beautiful life.

That seems a long way off, but what is there left to do but try?

I take off my clothes and I smell terrible. I put on some bike shorts and a jersey. I feel naked and exposed—embarrassed by my white, strung-out body. All the definition has been eaten away from my muscles and I try to avoid the mirror that is leaning against the wall. My Raleigh is there in the corner, a fifteen-hundred-dollar road bike that I’d saved up for and bought with my own money. It was the first thing ever that I had really done that with.
我脱掉衣服,闻起来很臭。我穿上了自行车短裤和运动衫。我感觉自己赤身裸体,暴露在外——对自己苍白、绷紧的身体感到尴尬。所有的定义都已经从我的肌肉中消失了,我试图避开靠在墙上的镜子。我的 Raleigh 就在角落里,这是一辆价值 1500 美元的公路自行车,是我攒钱用自己的钱买的。这是我真正做到的第一件事。

I put some air in the tires, sweating and out of breath from the exertion. This is definitely not a good idea. But I put on some socks and my cycling shoes and fill up a plastic water bottle. Spencer calls from outside and I go down to meet him. He’s driven his wife’s Blazer over, but he’s already all dressed in his cycling gear.

“Lookin’ good,” he says. “看起来不错,”他说。

“Yeah, yeah.” “是啊是啊。”

The sun is out and the sky is still and blue and perfect.

“It’s so warm out here.”

“Yep,” he says. “是的,”他说。

I click into my pedals and spin my legs a few times, cruising up the block. Everything aches and is tight and I feel sick. I figure I’ll just tell him I can’t do it, but then he is pedaling up next to me and smiling, so I hang on a little longer. It is very foreign—steering, the feel of sitting on the bike, turning my legs, standing out of the saddle. It is foreign, but at the same time not.

“God,” I say quietly. “Please, if you’re there, could you help me. Please. I know you allowed me to come back to L.A. and get sober. Now help me to ride this bike.” We pedal faster and then the wind is cooling my sweating body and Spencer says, “How does it feel?”
“上帝,”我轻声说道。 “拜托,如果你在的话,能帮我一下吗?请。我知道你让我回到洛杉矶并保持清醒。现在帮我骑这辆自行车。”我们踩得更快,风吹过我出汗的身体,斯宾塞说:“感觉怎么样?”

And I start to cry. I close my eyes and the tears run down and I sit up tall and let the handlebars go and just drift like that, down California Street, toward the calm, pulsing ocean.

“I forgot about this,” I say.

“No you didn’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be back.”

“Is it too late? Will I ever be where I was?”

“You’ll be far beyond that.”

“But—” “但-”

“Look. Let’s make a list.”

“What?” “什么?”

“A list.” “一个列表。”

We turn left along the Santa Monica cliffs, the palm trees stretching up, bent forward from the onshore winds. The street is cracked and I stand to avoid the impact of a manhole cover. I am breathing pretty hard.

“Just think about it for now,” says Spencer. “But I have a guarantee for you. We’re gonna make a list of all the things you want out of life, okay? Not anything too dramatic, but just the stuff you think you need in order to be happy. Put it on paper—write it down. In one year from today, one year, if you follow this program to the best of your ability, you will have everything you wanted and more. Your life will be inexplicably transformed. Just think of it as an experiment. Give it a year and see what happens.”

“But,” I say, “I had a year.”

“Give it a year where you actually commit to this thing—where you, like they say, grab hold of spiritual principles with all the fervor with which a drowning man seizes a life preserver. You’ve got nothing else, man.”

“I know. I know I don’t.”

“So what have you got to lose?”

“Nothing, I guess.” “没什么,我想。”

“You guess?” “你猜呀?”

“Nothing.” “没有什么。”

We make it down to the bike path and I look out at all the joggers and bladers and cyclists participating in their lives. Men and women walk dogs or hold each other’s hands. A group of boys play hand drums in the coarse sand.

“So what do you want?”

“Uh…I don’t know.” “呃……我不知道。”

“Come on, come on.” “好啦好啦。”

“All right, well, I’d like to be healthy again. I’d like to be able to ride like I used to.”

“How ’bout a car?” “一辆车怎么样?”

“Yeah, I’d like a car again.”

“And a career?” “那职业呢?”

“Sure, I’d like to be a self-supporting writer.”

“What else?” “还有什么?”

“A relationship. A meaningful relationship.”

“All right.” “好的。”

“I’d like friends and, uh, to have my family forgive me.”

“Write it down, man. I’m telling you, either you’ll get exactly what you want, or you’ll find that you’ve been given infinitely more.”

“No way.” “决不。”

“Either you’re gonna trust me or you’re not, man, it’s your choice.”

“I trust you.” “我相信你。”

“Well then…” “好吧…”

We ride on in silence, around the Marina. I watch the boats rocking in the harbor and I pray—I just keep praying.

Spencer is in front of me most of the time, but I try my best to keep up. We circle back around. He talks to me about the last movie he produced. There are problems with the director and cast, but the editing is coming together. He asks if I’ll come out with him to the sound guy’s studio tomorrow. I agree. He talks about closing his corporate video company—moving his business back home. He wants to me to help him pack the office up in a week or so. I agree to that, too. When we get back to my house, we change and he drives me to get some groceries.

“Thank you,” I say. “谢谢你,”我说。

“Hey, man, helping you is how I stay alive. Never forget that.”

I hug him and go upstairs. I write a list of all the things we talked about. I put it on paper, thinking there’s no way I can get these things—there’s just no way.

DAY 59 第59天

Spencer’s lent me a bunch of money and now he wants me to help him move out of his office—which is annoying. Still, I can’t tell him no. I’ve written up a resumé and started passing it out around local coffee shops and things, but no one is real responsive. I’m probably terrible at making the damn things. Sounding professional has never been my strong point. Plus the big chunks of missing time are hard to explain. Other than my road bike, I have this old beater that used to be my mom’s. I ride that around, though I’m still weak as hell. It’s hard to look anyone in the eye. I feel, well, like I’m completely transparent or something—like everyone can see exactly what’s going on with me.

Spencer picks me up around one. It’s almost May and it’s hot outside. Just walking from my apartment to his car has my T-shirt sticking to my back. My long hair is all matted and everything.
斯宾塞在一号左右来接我。快到五月了,外面很热。刚从我的公寓走向他的车,我的 T 恤就粘在了我的背上。我的长发全都乱七八糟了。

We drive east to Thousand Oaks, where Spencer owns a little corporate video production company. He’s shutting it down to concentrate exclusively on making his horror movies.

I ask a lot of questions about recovery and the twelve steps, trying my best to listen. We both agree I should call my dad and stepmom, just to let them know I’m safe and all. I’m nervous about calling them. I feel embarrassed, but also kind of angry or something. I mean, what I do with my life should be up to me, right? I say as much to Spencer.

“So you think you should just be able to kill yourself and no one should care?” he asks. “You don’t think your actions are gonna affect other people—the people who love you?”
“所以你认为你应该能够自杀而没有人会关心?”他问。 “你不认为你的行为会影响其他人——爱你的人吗?”

“No, I mean, I know it’s gonna affect them. I just…” I stare out at the canyon walls, dry earth broken out with thorned, crawling vines; snarled brush, prickling cacti. The sea air gives way to hot, stifling desert wind as we climb over the Santa Monica Mountains, over Kanan-Dume Road toward the valley.

“You just wanna be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. That’s all it is.” Spencer smiles. “If you’re gonna kill yourself you might as well just jump into those bushes there and roll around till you get thousands of little cuts all over your body and you bleed to death. I’ll tell you what, that’s gonna be a lot more fun than what you’ve got to look forward to if you go back out there. And that way we all won’t have to worry about when you’re gonna break into our house, or steal our car, or run someone over.”
“你只想随时随地做你想做的事。仅此而已。”斯宾塞微笑着。 “如果你想自杀,你不妨跳进那里的灌木丛里,滚来滚去,直到你全身被数以千计的小伤口流血而死。我告诉你,这会比你回去时所期待的有趣得多。这样我们就不用担心你什么时候会闯入我们的房子,或者偷我们的车,或者撞倒别人。”

I nod. 我点点头。

“No, I know…” “不,我知道……”

“What does that mean, you know? What do you know?”

“I know that going out again is not an option.”

“It’s not an option. You’ve had all the good times you’re ever gonna have with meth, heroin, or any of that stuff. It just gets worse from here on out. But there is another way. I was no different, man. I was just like you. But today, man, I love my life. I love my life.” He grins with his big block teeth and steers the car fast around the steep mountain curves.

I feel like maybe he means it.

“So how do I get that?” I ask. “How do I start to love my life?”
“那我怎样才能得到它呢?”我问。 “我如何开始热爱我的生活?”

“By committing yourself to the program. By doin’ what I did—going to meetings, working the steps, and by helping other alcoholics and drug addicts so we don’t have to be thinking about ourselves all the time.”

“But I tried all that before.”

“Did you?” “你是否?”

“I think so.” “我想是这样。”

He smiles and I can see my reflection in his wraparound black sunglasses.

“Did you work the steps? Did you commit to this thing with your whole life?”

“Sort of.” “有点。”

“There is no sort of.”

I drink from the coffee that Spencer bought me.

At the studio we pack everything into boxes. It’s mostly just extension cords and whatever—computers, cameras, things like that. There’re a couple big tables and filing cabinets. I’m tired and frustrated, but at the same time, grateful to just have something to do. Plus Spencer has already done so much for me. I figure this is some sort of payback or something.

When we get to his house, his wife, Michelle, cooks us all dinner. They have a little girl named Lucy. She is four, with short black hair and eyes that are wide and green. She has a very round face and she hides from me as I sit at the table. We eat pasta and salad and Michelle is quiet, but warm to me. She doesn’t ask a lot of questions. She lets me be. Mostly she and Spencer just talk about business and school stuff and Lucy keeps hiding.

It’s strange, you know, being around Lucy. It reminds me so much of being with Jasper and Daisy. Growing up, I always wanted to take care of them, teach them things, help them along. We were so close at times. I remember coming home from high school and not doing my homework ’cause I just wanted to hang out with them. I loved being able to babysit them at night, or take them on walks in the garden. In some ways it felt like, well, since I’d sort of missed my own childhood, I was getting a chance to experience it all over again with them. Or, more importantly, to help give them the childhood I never had.

It’s not like my childhood was that awful or anything. I just grew up very quickly. I remember going to see The Crying Game in a theater with my dad when I was around nine. It’s a movie about a man in the IRA who falls in love with a transsexual. I went with my dad everywhere, to parties and concerts and whatever—everyone drinking and getting high. I felt like I was one of the adults and it was very exciting, though I missed out on just innocent playing and all that a lot of kids get.

And it was confusing for me to see my dad dating different women. I remember waking up one morning and running to my dad’s room like I always did. I climbed under the sheets with him, but the familiar smell of him was tainted with a new smell—perfume and sweat and I didn’t know what. I heard a high-pitched giggling. There was a naked woman in the bed with us. This was in the late eighties, the height of the AIDS scare in San Francisco. I was worried my dad would be infected because I knew he was having sex. He showed me with a condom and a carrot how he protected himself. I went to my first-grade class that day and told about it during show-and-tell time. My teacher sent me to the principal’s office. My dad used to tell that story to his friends like it was really funny and cool.

Plus my mom moved to L.A. when I was five, though I would visit her on holidays and over the summer. During these visits my mom would be working all the time at her magazine job, while my stepdad was laid off from his job producing TV. My stepdad would work on writing most of the day while I watched TV and movies and things. Sometimes we’d go run errands together—or play baseball, or basketball, or football. He was always trying to teach me stuff. But it wasn’t as if we just played these games and had fun—he was constantly criticizing me and telling me how I needed to stand, or toughen up, or whatever.

Todd would tell me stories about his childhood or young adulthood and all the great things he’d done. There was the time he scored the winning basket right at the buzzer. There was the time he convinced these two lesbians to fuck him because he said he had a bag full of cocaine, but it was really just Ajax. In fact, he told me a lot of stories about the women he used to fuck. I’d sit next to him in his silver Buick and stare out the window, trying not to meet his eyes.

I remember glancing over at his hands, seeing his thick fingers covered with bleeding sores—each thumb picked raw. He chewed Nicorette gum and his teeth, even then, were yellow and discolored. His breath stank. I guess I was terrified of him.

When Jasper and Daisy were born, I got to sort of regress with them, while also trying to protect them. I wanted to treat them differently than I’d been treated. Of course, once I started using that all was destroyed. I feel a strangling in my throat when I think about how I’ve thrown my relationship with Jasper and Daisy away. I look at Lucy and already I have a sort of longing to be a part of her life.

“Lucy,” says Michelle, trying to sound—what—authoritative? “You come eat your pasta or you get no dessert. I mean it.”
“露西,”米歇尔说道,试图听起来——什么——权威? “你来吃意大利面,否则就没有甜点。我是认真的。”

“Moooommmm,” she squeals in her little high-pitched voice.

“It’s pretty good,” I say.

Lucy stops and stares, stares, stares.

“Really—I mean, you might like it.”

She shakes her head—her eyes so big. I’m not sure if maybe she’s gonna burst into tears, or what. “Look, I’ll eat it.” I lean over and take a small bite of her pasta.
她摇摇头——她的眼睛太大了。我不确定她是否会泪流满面,或者什么。 “你看,我要吃了。”我俯身咬了一小口她的意大利面。

“Mmmmmm,” I say. “That’s the best thing I ever tasted. I’m gonna eat it all. You can’t.”
“嗯嗯,”我说。 “这是我尝过的最好的东西。我要把它全部吃掉。你不能。”

“Mooommm,” screams Lucy. “That’s mine.”
“姆姆姆,”露西尖叫道。 “那是我的。”

“Oh, all right. Here…” I hand the bowl to her and she takes it, tasting the pasta cautiously.

“Thanks,” says Michelle. “谢谢,”米歇尔说。

“Sure. I have a little brother and sister and all sorts of little cousins and things.”

“Well, we’re always looking for babysitters.”