You've Probably Never Heard Of Us
“Here, hold the end of the belt and pull tight.”
No, not like that you filthy perverts. It was some dude I knew. He had a belt wrapped around his arm and he’s handing me the end.
You know, so he can shoot up.
You see, you get a better drug education if you watch other people do it, while not participating yourself, and Baltimore was as good of a place as any. Oh sure, I’d put plenty of things in my stomach, in my lungs, and even up my nose. But I wasn’t going to be sticking needles into anything. Even that young, I had my limits.
So, this was Dave. I have no idea what the fuck this guy was doing. He came from a rich family right across the border in some exclusive rural exurb in West Virginia. Dad, ex-military then some sort of contractor (defense, not trade.) He hated his father. No idea why, but for now he had tagged along with his friend from high school that went to some college in Baltimore, and this guy was apparently busy spending daddy’s money on a growing drug habit. I didn’t have anything to do, I didn’t have a real job, or go to school and was making enough selling weed to rich college girls that I’d wake up about 2pm and have time to kill until work hours – about 10pm – 3pm. So I wound up just wasting the days with this rotating cast of rich kids – and some not so rich kids – behaving badly.
So I’m pulling on the belt, and he starts sticking the needle in his vein. I mean I had been to the doctor since I was a little kid, gotten shots a few times, so it’s not that I was squeamish or anything. But it was a kind of gross sight. So, I’m mostly just looking out of the third floor window, on to Charles street, watching the cars go by. I look over at Dave and he’s just slumped down on the couch looking like he’s asleep.
I say, “Dave, Dave” and he just mumbles something, wakes up long enough to put his cigarette half in the ashtray, and dozes off again. I’m just killing time, smoking a joint, and was thinking about heading up to Charles Village to see who was around the Party House. Charles Village is where the richer college kids had apartments and one brownstone duplex had three gals in the one side, and three dudes in the other, and there was always someone around. So maybe an hour or so of just being bored out of my mind Dave wakes up and wants to go to the corner store, so I walk about with him, tell him I’ll see him around, and walk up Charles north.
I spent a lot of time in the Enoch Pratt Free Library. I’d sometimes just pick random books and skim through them, anything from novels to technical manuals. It was quiet, had lots of books, and they didn’t seem to mind me hanging out there. Then there was the coffeeshop on Charles, where all the white people hung out. You’d go down there, order a fancy coffee and some dessert, and some pretty waitress with a nose ring and dyed black hair would bring you your order. We’d hang out and look through the City Paper listings. I’d read the articles too, but I just had no context for whatever the hell these people were talking about – local politics, “issues” – I just read about the bands and bars, nothing else really made any sense.
The trick was, you never wanted to be west of MLK Blvd., certainly not after dark. We lived a few blocks into the ghetto, but on a main street in, so it was a straight shot from “safe” downtown to the Pussy House. You could even do it at night but you were risking something unpleasant.
So, there was Pussy House, Party House, Junkie House, Warehouse, Sowebo House – the second best one – and Fell’s Point, which was one big party all day every day.
And it was in Fells Point where I made two memories that will stick with me forever. The first, giving a serious thought to how much risk I should be taking to make the honestly modest amount of spending money I was making, considering that the risk, at least this one time, was about 20 years in federal prison. As I was 17, I did figure I’d probably get off but you never know, and I sure didn’t.
The other memory was little miss marybelle, the 16 year old that lived in Fells Point, right next to the park, and did nothing but walk around during the day while her mom was at work. She was a sight all right – loveliness in every way. Petite, blue eyes, long curly golden hair all the way down her back, and a little angel face. I’m just walking around and I see her, and she says “hi.” So, I say, “uh, hi. What’s your name?”
There was this dirt cheap diner just up the main strip going from the Inner Harbor to Fells Point. You could get two hot dogs, a bag of chips, and a can of soda for two dollars, and it stayed open all night, so that’s where all of the underage kids would hang out. So little miss marybelle and I go out on an actual date, to the corner diner, and go dutch, each paying our two dollars for two hotdogs, a bag of tater chips, and a can of sodey pop. I couldn’t tell you what we talked about or anything, but thirty minutes later we were holding hands and practically skipping down the street to her mom’s place.