Part Thirty-Five: The Crystal Palace Falls

When the degenerate showed up in my life the final time, he was married and enjoying his own meth addiction (as was his wife, who happened to be a nurse)…the difference being that they were intravenous users, which is something I didn’t much care for. All of that aside, he did appear to be a little more stable than he’d been the last time I’d seen him when he’d attempted suicide on my living room floor…but I know how deceiving appearances could be, especially where the degenerate was concerned.

His own source being unreliable, the degenerate quickly latched onto my roommate’s best friend like the parasite that he was. Seeing those two spending more and more time together was depressing, to say the least, and it saddened both my roommate and I. The saddest part of that was how quickly the degenerate’s corrupting influence took hold, and intravenous use became the preferred method of administration by those my roommate and I had previously spent so much of our time with.

As a brief aside, intravenous use produces a quicker and more intense rush of a high that doesn’t last as long as it does when administered through either smoking or snorting…it also produces more pronounced psychological effects, and increases the health risks associated with drug use almost exponentially, no matter how careful the user in question happens to be (and the problem with drug users is that caution becomes less and less important with the passage of time). My roommate and I were well aware of these issues and considered them to be the line we weren’t interested in crossing.

The corrupting influence the degenerate exuded extended beyond the drug use itself, as he and my roommate’s best friend got a job together with a moving company where they began stealing small items like jewelry in order to sell it. This activity led to them being fired and made my point quite clearly for me, that there was more money to be made in actually sustaining employment than engaging in stupid and risky behavior for relatively small short-term payoffs. Neither of them was capable of taking the long-term into account though, not at that point…they were both too far-gone.

The increasing distaste that my roommate and I had for those in our circle of friends and acquaintances led us to begin treating them like subjects in an experiment we were performing, as we grew steadily more and more detached. We started trying to predict the behavior of different individuals, manipulating them in subtle (and sometimes far from subtle) ways in order to test their reactions and note them.

We called this Project Crystal Dreams, and we came up with shorthand nicknames for our participants within the experiment so that we could communicate about them openly regardless of who was present.

We actually got pretty good at it, calculating when one or another of our subjects would arrive at our apartment simply by determining where they were presently and what their previous movements had been. Our calling different places and asking questions about someone as far as where they were and when they’d left became another sort of manipulation, of those individuals from whom we were making our inquiries as well as those we were actively trying to monitor. We focused a great deal of our attention on the process of monitoring and exercising small amounts of control over their circumstances and the reactions they exhibited in response.

There was a perverse pleasure to be derived from those times when our extrapolations proved to be accurate, regardless of how negative the conditions might actually have been. I doubt that either of us really put much thought into it at the time, but I suspect that our interest in this little thought experiment was a method by which we could distance ourselves from the steady decline we were witnessing in our friends. We were doing what we could to separate ourselves from what was going on in order to avoid feeling connected to the events around us any more than we absolutely had to.

What the fuck do I know, though? We were spun out and suffering from severe sleep deprivation by this point, often going as long as a week without even laying down for more than an hour even though our bodies knew better than we did and forced unnoticeable little traces of unconsciousness upon us.

Sadly, as aware as I was of the state of everyone else in our lives, I was oblivious to just how much the long-term drug use and sleep deprivation was impacting my roommate. It was New Years Eve of 2003 when I looked around me, with my eyes wide open for the first time in a long while and determined that it was time to get out while I still had something of a life to return to.

I made the unilateral decision that there would be no further methamphetamine in our apartment and some self-aware aspect of my roommate was still clear headed enough to display a look of relief when I told him, in no uncertain terms, that we were done.

If I had known how close to the edge my roommate had been, I would have done what we had left all by myself, or (at the very least) split it a bit less evenly between us. We had a fairly large supply remaining that night, and his half of it must have been just a little too much.

That was the last time I did methamphetamine until a few months later when I had to test the quality of a batch that a friend of mine picked up when we took a trip to Denver for the purpose of a drug run. He didn’t use any of it himself, and he knew that I was familiar enough with the substance to be able to give him a fairly good idea of the quality he was paying for. That was the only time I broke with my sobriety, and not for the purpose of pleasure.

That’s beside the point though, back to what I was talking about.

I went to sleep for a couple of hours that night (I’m one of those individuals who could successfully nap when under the influence if so inclined) because I hadn’t been sleeping and I knew I needed it.

When I woke up a couple of hours later and walked down the hallway towards the bathroom my roommate abruptly opened his door a crack and peered out at me suspiciously. It was bizarre, but I was inured to bizarre behavior by that point since it was essentially a constant.

It wasn’t until after I’d used the bathroom and was on my way back to my bedroom when he opened the door wide enough for me to see what looked like a god damn disaster area and stood there with an expression that was almost challenging. My first thought, upon seeing the state of his bedroom, was to wonder how in the fuck I might have slept through what he’d done in there.

Everything was strewn about everywhere with no apparent order. Even his bed and dresser had been pulled apart and spread around the room, his blinds had been pulled from the window, and posters were removed from the wall.

I asked him what the fuck he was doing with his bedroom and he responded with something terse and paranoid about how I knew exactly what was going on that night.

I turned around and headed to the kitchen for a soda, shouting on my way down the hallway that I was surprised he hadn’t fashioned himself a tinfoil hat. He replied that he had done precisely that, which was the first indication that his sense of humor was still intact or that he had completely broken from reality, and I shouted back that it was curious that he could manage that without any tinfoil in the apartment.

I stood outside of his bedroom door like an angry parent and told him that he needed to clean that fucking mess up right then and there and to get his fucking blinds back in the window before our landlord happened to come by and see the state his room was in because his window faced directly onto our porch next to the front door.

It took a little while to discover what had been going through his head while I slept that night. According to him the rest of us (his best friend, my ex-girlfriend, and I) had been on the other side of the wall separating his bedroom from mine, watching him and laughing at him more and more as he broke down. We were apparently using lasers aimed at his window to monitor him and we were mocking him the whole time. There was something about a homosexual conspiracy as well, as he had been drawing something that turned out to be an accumulation of dicks, and he was being controlled by external forces in doing so.

He cleaned things up a little bit (though nowhere near enough to satisfy me) and then left for a couple of days to recover at a friend’s house where he could separate himself from what happened that night, this friend being entirely unconnected to the drug use and activities that had been taking place. He seemed much better when he returned, but recovery from a breakdown like that takes a while.

I like to think that I helped him to regain some semblance of centering, with a healthy dose of mockery and friendly derision thrown in for good measure, because I simply couldn’t help myself. We already discussed the fact that inappropriate humor is one of my ways of coping with things that make me uncomfortable.

Upon sobering ourselves up we made our apartment into the default safe haven for our friends to find some peace and temporary sobriety as well and it seemed to go pretty well.

For the most part, it was a good thing…but it could always be assumed that the degenerate would find a way to fuck it up. One day I was letting him wind down at the apartment after a particularly heavy binge. I was staying in the living room where he was because I didn’t trust him enough to leave him to his own devices in our apartment after all the times he’d proven that only an idiot would trust him.

I happened to fall asleep on the loveseat in the living room, keeping an eye on him, and he was gone when I woke up.

It was a day or so later when I began noticing that some of my DVDs were no longer in my collection (which was nowhere near as substantial as it is today) and I began asking around as to whether anyone had borrowed any of my movies.

I was able to narrow down when they had disappeared based upon the fact that I’d watched one of the movies in question the night before the degenerate ended up coming over and I confronted him about it. He threw a fit and became angry with me for accusing him of stealing from me.

I filed a police report and provided them with his name in connection with the theft and, sure enough, they located a handful of my missing movies in one of the local pawnshops with a ticket in his name. The prick had stolen from me and then had the gall to act like I was an asshole for accusing him of doing so.

It turned out that the police would recover my items but I couldn’t have them back until they had been retained as evidence if I wanted to press charges, otherwise I would have to go into the pawnshop and pay to recovery my own stolen items. I didn’t want to wait for what could be half a year or more before getting my movies back, so I opted to pay my own damn money to get my things back. Ultimately it didn’t get me back everything I had lost, because the degenerate had only pawned some of them himself

If I had thought to mention my roommate’s best friend as well, I would have been able to recover all of my missing movies, because the degenerate had given him another bunch of my movies to pawn in his name too.

From that point on, the degenerate was never welcome in my home again. It was the last straw for me; that he had stolen from me, lied about it, and led to me having to pay to retrieve what was rightfully mine in the first place. I decided that he was simply not worth having around and informed him of that fact. I haven’t seen him again since then, and I will be a happy man if I never do see him again.

Thus we have reached the end of my tale, at least the part pertaining to drugs and debauchery, as there have been no further drugs consumed by your humble narrator (aside from the occasional prescription medication, most of which has been prescribed to me legitimately).

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