Addiction; Nature Vs Nurture

It’s a combination of nature VS nurture. An old argument which misses the point entirely. It is an amalgamation of all things. No doubt I was poised to take the lead in an Irish play from birth, but I could have chosen (again, the argument… choice?) not to take the stage. Once the decision was made to act, the inevitable followed; I took the lead and acted my way (expertly) into a staring role in this, my theater. That’s how it feels sometimes, that my battle with booze etc.. was one I was inevitably going to face. No mater where I grew up, or who with, I think I would have been drawn to the highs and lows of substances, and the consequence that is substance abuse.

The Absynthe Bar and a Rude Awakening

The Spaniard and I walked slowly down Dammenstrasse, passing the once grand now tourist trap, Bull Dog Cafe. A few ludicrously high Americans stood outside, laughing like madmen at nothing at all. We had a destination in mind, though the spliff recently smoked had slowed our progress considerably. We finally stumbled upon our objective; gain access to the legendary Absinthe Bar. Over 100 years old and a former favorite of Hemingway and Van Gogh, the bar was intriguing to say the least. It was near 3am, just the right time of night for a little ‘death in the afternoon’.
We were only in Amsterdam for a mad dash of 24 sleepless hours, on our way to Germany for a week of intense and quite dangerous off-piste sonwboarding. The coffee shops and Conscious Dreams had already been visited and the supplies had been purchased. As we approached, I noticed two well dressed euro trash men with two equally trashy though quite attractive woman on their arms, being turned away by a bouncer roughly the size of a Silverback gorilla on HGH. My companion and I were dressed in our travel gear, casual and comfortable. Certainly not club wear. We walked up to the top of the stairs which lead down into the mecca of Absinthe. The bouncer slowly looked me up and down, then the Spaniard as well. “Where are you two from?” he asked without the slightest bit of interest. “Brooklyn” I answered. And, to my genuine surprise, he motioned us inside. We descended the stair case and entered a smoke filled room, framed on all sides by ascending levels covered in oriental carpeting with beds and sofas adorning the each. Hookas placed strategically around the room were being smoked at leisure.
We approached the bar and perused the menu. If I’m being honest, I don’t know much about Absinthe other than the basics. Astronomical alcohol content and the mildly hallucinogenic wormwood. I figured “fuck it”, and asked the bartender for the strongest stuff he had. He obliged. A fit to order spoon is placed over an empty glass, three sugar cubes are placed on the spoon. The powerful elixir is poured over the cubes into the glass. The cubes are then lit on fire. The flame dances, blue and white, melting and caramelizing the sugar into the waiting glass. The once green liquid turns a milky white. I look to the Spaniard and we clink glasses. Down the hatch…
(An unknown number of hours later) I lifted up my head slowly, up from my arms crossed over my knees. The Dutch sun offending all my weakened senses. Where was I? Who was I? I couldn’t remember where I was, let alone what country I was in. Slowly, ever so slowly, I realized I was in Amsterdam. Yes, of course. But why was I sleeping on the street and where was my Gonzo companion. I looked around, he was no where to be found. My jacket was gone, as was my shirt for that matter. I was sitting there, in my undershirt, looking quite the part of just another homeless youth; lost to the streets of Amsterdam.
Worse, I quickly realized my wallet was missing in action as well. That means no cash, no ID, and no credit. To my great relief I had left my passport, a traveler’s bible, in the hotel room. Suddenly, a FLASH of dancing blue flames and tall blonde women scorning my increasingly incoherent advances. Milky white poison and the laughter of the insane. One night in the Absinthe bar had taken almost everything I had. Surprisingly, I felt little in the hangover department. But I quickly realized, upon trying to stand, that it was because I was still drunk. Another FLASH; the Spaniard and I in the bathroom stall with some newly acquired “Nigerian Gold”. But even the strongest of cocaine couldn’t stop the blackout which had led me to seek a concrete bed. I slowly stood up, using a lamp post as my crutch. I was directly across the street from the devilish Absinth Bar. At least I hadn’t gone far. Having visited Amsterdam many times before, I knew where I was in relation to my hotel, yet my brain couldn’t decide whether to turn left or right. I was lost in a way that had nothing to do with direction. Again, my thoughts turned to my missing friend. Where was the Spaniard and why had he left me to the wolves? But self preservation comes first. He was no rookie in this game and the hotel was my best bet for finding him.
I began to walk towards the hotel with the early morning sun nearly blinding me. I searched my pockets as I walked and found a folded piece of paper containing the remnants of the cocaine we had mysteriously purchased the night before. A quick duck into a pastry shops bathroom to get right and I was on my way again. The hotel rose up before me. It had been, at one time, an elegant and expensive establishment. But had fallen into disrepair and was now a mere 50 Euros a night. I had no key and the attendant behind the counter looked at my ragged appearance with mistrust as I asked for a replacement key. At length, I convinced him I was who I claimed to be and I headed up to the room. I opened the door slowly, hoping to find my friend asleep on the bed. He was no where to be found. This is trouble, I thought. I sat on the bed and contemplated my next move. Should I call the police? The hospital? It was mid thought that I began to feel quite ill. The Absinth was wearing off and a hangover the likes of which I had never known was descending upon me. I made a bee line for the bathroom and commenced to get sick in a manner I thought reserved for the victims of arsenic poisoning. After my stomach had ejected the remaining contents of the night prior I sat on the toilet and hung my head, wallowing in the colossal manner we had managed to fuck this one up. It was then I heard a faint sound. Like the whimper of a child. At first I thought it was in my head. Then I heard it again, slightly louder. Quite alarmed, I pulled back the shower curtain to find my friend laying in the bathtub, half naked, and entirely unwell. This was simultaneously a relieving and troubling development as I could see he was in far worse shape than myself. At least I was conscious… I called his name a few times with no response. The last thing we needed was a visit to a Dutch hospital. He was breathing, so that was a start. With no other option I turned the shower on full blast, the icy water pouring down upon him. This, to my great relief, had the desired effect. He awoke with a start. Blood red eyes full of confusion and anger greeted me. “Whats the…what…stop the…stop it”. I turned the water off and returned to my seat on the toilet. After muttering these few words he promptly vomited all over himself and passed out again. I turned the water back on. He woke again and ever so slowly began to sit up. He hung his head as I had two hours prior and let out a long and tortured sigh. “What happened?” he asked with a hoarse voice. Each word seemed a monumental effort as I’m sure it was. “We’re still in Amsterdam. Your in a bathtub.” I said. “I see that. What I want to know is why?” I thought long and hard about his question and I could only offer one answer, “Absinth, my friend. Absinth”

The remainder of this tale will be told in the third person perspective, so that the reader may learn exactly what transpired on this crazy night. More to come

The First Page

The following is a collection of excerpts from a journal I have kept since 2004. I will also add some short stories, and a few stanzas of rants and raves. But, the majority of what follows is straight from my pen to your eyes. I make no promises. I have no idea if anyone will even read this, but… hey, fuck it, right? Some of what I write about deals with drug use, so for all you addicts out there, battling the Beast, I can only hope my words may offer the slightest bit of relief. I’ll be honest, I’m hesitant to share personal works, never intended to be published, but life is momentary and I am tired of waiting for the right one. So here you go, the insane ramblings of James J Hayes JR. Again, I make no promises, this is my mind poured out on paper and that could be quite a disturbing thing.