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Best of 2013 | This One’s On Me

by Lwandile Fikeni / Illustration by Colwyn Thomas / 26.12.2013

Originally published 27 March 2013.

I crashed badly the night before last. I was at home watching TV when I saw a beer commercial, which got me really thirsty. I hadn’t drunk in four days and that’s a lifetime, according to my girlfriend, who finds my drinking antics ‘cute’. I tried drinking water but the thirst wouldn’t go, so we went out to Paddy’s for a quick drink; two Castle draughts at the most. Six beers and four jagers later the place closed. I was still thirsty, Andiccios in Fourways is open 24/7 and it sells booze.

When we got to Andiccios we realised that Tony, a good friend and a dealer, lives nearby so we gave him a call. He was more than happy to receive us. On arrival I gave him R300 for a gram. The first, and it should have been the first and last. But who was I kidding? One gram only tickles your nostrils, five grams are good when you’re just by yourself and since Tony’s house is never short of freebasers and coke heads, there was enough cocaine, rock, and weed to last you a week but we finished it that very night.

Here is a piece of mundane info: every second person I meet in Joburg does coke and this doesn’t account for the ones I don’t meet. Almost every place I go to I either get offered, or someone makes a passing comment about it; other times people just walk up to me and ask for it point blank, no mmhs and uhhs and eish sani’s. Not so long ago this was the arena of weed. Even so, people didn’t just approach you carelessly and asked for a zol. There is always some reverent demeanour implied with zol. Now I hardly find any weed smokers, just cokeheads and seldom a crack smoker.

Funny, the people I meet who take cocaine in Joburg are always the wannabe snobbish, northern suburban, my father owns a… types, who are driven and independent, but dependent on drugs. And they’re always laughing that guffaw that shoots the vein through the forehead and wrings their neck. But at Tony’s you never find these. Everyone at Tony’s appears as if they don’t want to be there. Not in that paranoid, ‘oh my god! What if my wife sees me kind of sense, but a – I can’t believe I’m doing this again; I ought to be at home; drugs are bad kind of way, so when you walk through the door their eyes skip and trot about the room and refuse to meet yours just in case… It is a trait I don’t share.

Somehow I always knew I was going to do coke just as I know I’ll find a needle (and I did, in Cape Town) or that my girlfriend will eventually dump me, and I’ll get bored with my job. This is owing to two reasons:

1. I love drugs, I really do.

2. After seeing that movie where Sean Penn is a corrupt lawyer who takes copious amounts of cocaine (I forget the name), I knew I’d do it. He made coke cool for me at a very young age.

When I left home for varsity I knew I’d smoke shit loads of zol freely and I’d experiment with coke and other substances. And me at Tony’s was hardly a surprise; it was as ordinary as drinking dirty water in Africa.

I wont go into detail about how we drugged and what we felt, that’s for you to find out if you don’t know already. But what I’ll relay however, is the aftermath.

After the drugs were done and we had gone home, for the first time I had the cravings. It had never happened to me before. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stay still. I wanted to shout, swear and scream. I wanted to do something. I paced the room. I had no booze in the house to ease down from the high and I really needed a shot of spirit to sting me right in the centre of my chest where it felt hollow. Cigarettes tasted like air and I didn’t drag as usual, I sucked in each drag vehemently aiming for that spot in the centre. I wanted to put my hand down my throat and scratch it. Sitting in one place became painful. Standing up, nauseating. So I lay down still and shut my eyes and began to spin.

Everything swirled except my thoughts. I didn’t have a single coherent thought. My face tingled and so did other parts of the body except my dick. I began to tremble. I sat up. My girlfriend was concerned by now.

‘Just go with it babe’ she said, ‘don’t try to control it, don’t think too much about it’.

For a while letting the drug seep through every single thing inside me worked, but the gnawing of the craving returned, bolder. I almost went mad. Although I knew I was dry, I fiendishly rummaged through my things looking for alcohol or something; I almost always have booze at home like how some people keep pets or girlfriends. There was fuck all. Nothing. It was 4.30 in the morning, the only drinking well still open at this hour was Sunrise in Randburg or Emsunu kanyoko (literally ‘your mother’s crack’) in Midrand. But then, I snorted my last R1600 at Tony’s and the R11. 54 in my account wouldn’t get me a double of spirit anywhere in Joburg. At least not at this hour. I had to bear it.

I drank loads of water reluctantly. I smoked like a chimney and crawled next to my girlfriend who also couldn’t sleep. Her big round eyes were wide open and glaring at the ceiling. I didn’t touch her; She hates being intimate when she’s high or coming off it. I curled my body next to hers with my arms held across my torso, gripping both shoulders, with my chest arched in to close the void in the centre. First thing in the morning I phoned my brother for a loan. I bought 4 tiny whiskies (the ones in those midget bottles you find in hotels, guest houses or B&B’s) from Coachman’s around the corner, next to the Pick n’ Pay and then I went to meet my peers. We were working on a collaborated project.

*Illustration © Colwyn Thomas.

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