I Shot the Sheriff
Back when I was a junkie, I was a nightmare for my mother, I mean, a rotten, rotten kid. I think of all that I put the woman through and shudder. Seriously. Especially now that I have Holden (who is helpog mye yype th--).
Payback is a bitch.
I'd come back east frequently, because I needed to recharge the battery. That's what I'd tell myself. Can only stay out there so long before you need to recharge the battery, get a little rest so you can get high again, a li'l "r 'n' r," even junkies need a vacation (or as my sister and the younger, hipper generation like to say "va-kay"). But it was never really much of a choice. I'd come back home when San Francisco didn't want me anymore. Usually this coincided with an eviction. I've always respected clear delineation.
As you might imagine, I got kicked out of a few places--Hepatitis Heights, the Batcave, Wes's trailer, Third Street Studios. Plus arrests and incarceration. Throw in divorces and trips to rehab, and I was back at mom's a lot.
And it was always nice to come back home. My mom, saint that she was could never say no, and it's not like I didn't start with the best of intentions. And I did love my mother, dearly. I liked seeing her. She and I always had a special bond, my being first born, even when I was fucking up. I'd think, This is gonna be the time. I've got it now. Just need to get away from these mean streets. Once I can't get anything, what else can I do?
Of course, wherever you go, there you are; and a junkie can always find shit. Be like a pirate thinking if he just sails a different sea, maybe he won't feel the need to plunder.
Rehab or not, within weeks it was business as usual. I'd find someway to score, either from friends back in SF and the pony express, or a local connect in Hartford. And I'd be off. Only now, I'd have a comfy bed and food--lots of food--and cable TV, and a wide-open yard and my childhood home, whose basement/shooting gallery was bigger than most of the places I'd been living in.
And I'd be up to my usual shenanigans--stealing, hocking, bartering, stealing--and something was always going wrong. You could see it on my mother's face any time I walked through the front door: what had I done this time? Like when I walked back with a giant red welt on the side of my neck because "some kids threw a rock at me while I was napping in the park," and when I'd borrowed her car and "when I came back from getting cigarettes, I must've left the door unlocked, because someone stole your phone."
But I never lost my sense of humor. I mean, if you can't laugh, you're gonna cry, right?
I'd been gone for a couple days with my mom's car. Hadn't called. Must've been over a weekend, because I don't think I'd have made her miss work. I must've looked like shit. I always looked like shit--woefully underweight (even with all that food), dark circles under my eyes (which I've had since birth, but that were about 1,000 times worse strung out), some strange skin condition from all the picking, that ghostly blueish hue to my gray pallor, and my rotting teeth.
She was sitting in the living room.
"Mom," I said. "I'm so sorry." I was breathing heavily, worked up.
"Oh, my God," she said, "what? what? What did you do now?"
Pausing for dramatic effect, I said, "I shot the sheriff." I laughed. "But, Mom, I swear it was in self-defense. And I promise, I didn't kill the deputy."
"You're an asshole, Joey."
Someday Holden is going to be older, and his mischief is not going to be limited to interrupting my non-existent writing career. He will be...a teenager. And payback will be a bitch. And when I start moaning, why, oh, why is my boy causing me such aggravation? Please, feel free to remind me of this story.