I found him in his walk in closet. Door closed, naked, holding a shotgun. I could tell by looking at him that he’d been there a while. He had all of his paraphernalia beside him, and remnants of his compulsions littered the floor.
“Dude… I’ve been worried about you.”
“Shut the door. Hurry up and get in here. They’re out there.”
I shut the closet door behind me, sat on the floor cross-legged and put my hand on his leg. He was twitchy and so far gone I barely knew how to relate. He’d been slicing up his arms and legs something awful. The words “HELP ME” sliced into his Right forearm in blood, the words “I HATE THIS” sliced into one of his legs, and a big “X” on his belly.
“God Jay… This isn’t healthy. I can’t watch you spiral down like this”
“Shhh did you hear that?”
“They’re fucking in here, I know they are.”
He clutched the gun closer. I knew it was probably loaded.
“Jay. I just got here remember? I broke in through the back door. Maybe you’re mistaking me for them? I walked through your house. Nobody is in here I swear.”
“They wouldn’t have showed themselves to you. It’s me they want.”
I didn’t bother asking who “they” were, since I was pretty sure that “they” were a fictitious drug-induced form of psychosis. You just can’t rationalize with a crackhead.
He looked like shit, stunk too. Probably hadn’t showered in weeks. It always amazed me how someone who used to be so talented and good-looking could just slide down into hell so easily and become part of the underworld of society. When you’re partying with your friends and everyone’s high and having fun, you don’t think that this is gonna happen to any of you. And when it does, it’s a reality check.
None of our friends came around anymore. I was the last one. Everyone else had been accused of theft, lying, and conspiring against him. He was so fucking paranoid it defied logic. Even the dealers didn’t like coming around. But he was a consistent customer, so they had to.
I put my hand on the shaft of the gun. “Do you want me to take the gun and go look around for you?”
“No… I can’t give it to you.”
“Okay, well do you want me to go look around unarmed? Because I will.”
“Fine. But make sure you look in the backyard and the basement. Be careful.”
I agreed and made my way downstairs into the destroyed house that used to once be filled with friends and life.
Dishes that had been there for weeks collected mold in the sink. Old pizza boxes littered the floor, some still with food in them. The living room was a graveyard of beer bottles, cans, bottles and cigarette buts. At least two cigarettes had burned down to the end by being left and forgotten on the table or floor.
After a good ten-minute inspection of his filthy house, I went back upstairs to report my findings and to bring him some tea.
“Here, drink this. There’s no one down there. You’re just really high.” I sighed. “Listen… Why don’t you come with me to my house for a few days? Get away from this shit hole. You’re in a mental prison here by yourself, and you keep getting high thinking that it’ll make you feel better, but all it does is make you more psychotic. You need to give up the drugs dude. How much worse can things get?”
“I know, I know. I did too much. I bough enough for a two month supply and used it all the past two weeks. It’s all gone. And now I’m too fucking high to go get more and I’m gonna get sick.”
My throat had a lump in it and tears began to sting my eyes “Dude look at you. You’re fucking cut and bleeding everywhere, you’re paranoid as fuck, you don’t have a grasp of reality anymore. You quit the band, you don’t play anymore… You’re spending all your money. A lot of our friends can’t deal with you. You need help.”
“I know” he said
I opened the closet door, stood up and reached down for his hand. He stood to his feet and walked out into his bedroom, squinting at the sunlight coming in through the window.
“Give me the gun Jay. And here, put these on.”
He handed it over and I went downstairs in the basement to hide it while he got dressed.
When I got back upstairs he was lying on his bed shivering.
“Come on, you’re coming with me.”
He didn’t put much of a fight up. I brought him back to my apartment and put him in my bed. Listened to him scream, shout, throw things, cry, and moan in agony for a week. All I did was take him tea, soup, water, vitamins, and T3s. He begged to use my phone, begged me to take him to his dealer, tried to sneak out onto my balcony but realized it was too high, and eventually… gave up.
On the 8th day he emerged from my bedroom wrapped in my pink robe. He came and sat beside me on my couch while I worked.
“Hey” he said “Thanks for giving a shit.”
“If I didn’t, nobody else would” I said “I wasn’t about to watch you kill yourself”
“So, what now?” he asked
“Well you’re not going back to that depressing hell hole you call a home I’ll tell you that much. We’re gonna pack that place up and sell it. You can stay here with me until it sells. You can’t go back there. You’ll just start using again.”
A few weeks later Jay moved into a new apartment, conveniently close to mine. I hosted a BBQ for him and invited all of our old friends who’d abandoned him or who just couldn’t deal with him anymore. Everyone was so surprised to see a clean and socially capable Jay. Girls hit on him again, his old band mates hugged him, and he felt good about himself for the first time in a long time.
Things were going really well… He stayed clean, got a new job in a sound studio and even had a cute girlfriend. I was so proud of him and felt like a parent releasing their child into the world after college graduation.
Then one day I got a phone call.
It was the phone call I always knew could come, but hoped wouldn’t.
It was Jay’s mom.
He was dead.