Written by (作者): Peter L. Abram
Photos by (图片来源): Tupian.hudong.com
One glance around the room is enough to validate John’s observation. Along with their obvious psychological issues, some of the addicts openly sport untreated head wounds. It’s a confronting sight. I’m surprised at how old so many of them are, but one girl stands out. She sees me. Her stringy legs and haltering gait carry her over to our impromptu assembly. ‘Rosie’ is John’s partner and she’s there to pick up a bag of needles and have a medical professional examine her thrombosis. She shows me an open wound in the crook of her arm. It’s like a small purple volcano. I look into her eyes. They’re bloodshot. I ask her if she’s ever been in trouble with the police.
“They catch ya. They’ve got their cameras everywhere,” says the blonde teenager. “Filming the deals as they go down. The bloody Response mob roll in here and put the ice-heads in the wagon. They keep us for a few hours. That’s bloody terrifying for sick people just looking to get some peace of mind. When the Jacks (police officers)?start hanging around, everybody just moves across town. Later on, we all come back.”
The threat of arrest is still no real deterrent in the fractured mindsets of the users that now surround me. They have their avoidance systems, which weren’t available back in the day. The advent of the mobile phone has provided a means of staying out of the clutches of the law. Their standard system involves users locating and joining a group of?addicts at set times of the day. For the newly arrived, the posses are not hard to spot but acceptance takes time. Any trustworthy drug user can run with the mob but everyone on the street is wary of undercovers. At prearranged?times, and when all have the right money on hand, a series of text messages state the required amount of drugs, and the number of people involved. Dealers relay instructions, normally involving a meeting point in a quiet neighboring street or laneway. Upon liaising, the entire transaction is over in a matter of seconds. Addicts then?disappear to consume their substances before returning to the streets to beg or hustle for the next fix.
I try to ask about Treatment, but John is dismissive. He cites the additional problems his addiction to methadone has caused him, for more than a decade. Like many users, John claims there is no promotion of drug abstinence by the primary medical specialists working in this area. Contemporary treatment programs tend to focus on signing?the addict up for a lifetime dependency on legal substances. Committing to a course of treatment, involves time-consuming bureaucracy, and a level of personal subjugation that is repellent to those who need it the most. Ultimately, the user would rather spend that time and expense on procuring the multitudes of illicit substances?available throughout the city. It’s a seemingly intractable public syndrome.
“There’s something people don’t realize about meth-heads,” says Rosie. “Most of the users you see around you were mentally ill before they got onto the meth. It was something to keep them stable and a lifestyle around people who would not judge them harshly. But it doesn’t last. They go downhill pretty quick, no thanks to the Jacks.”
I look at my notes and know I’ve got some good stuff. It’s odd, but I feel like I’ve made some new friends. Now it’s time to wrap up. At the far end of the room, the twisted figure of an elderly addict begins to twitch. He shuffles to his feet. He wants to know what’s going on. We share a glance and I shoot him a smile, but it’s not returned.
“I know you,” he says. “You were a cop. You set up my brother. You set him up!” “Steady on,” I say. “I’ve never been to this part of Melbourne. You’re thinking of somebody else.”
He advances, pulls a syringe out of his pocket and rips the cap off with his teeth. “Mikey stabbed ya. He killed ya. You were dead. He died in jail. I never forget nothing. I’m gonna finish you off.”
The pleasant group-chat is over. I search every pair of empty eyes for sympathy, but their glares are hostile. Rosy grabs my notes and I release them without a struggle. Slowly, I retreat as the man waving the syringe moves towards me. I turn and run, out onto the street, through the laneways and across the town square. I’m moving at pace. There’s not even time to say goodbye to Tolstoy. Ten minutes later, I’m at the wheel of my car and I tell myself repeatedly, what I should have told my editor.
You’ll never go back to that.
You’ll never go back to that…
Peter Abram is a British/Australian ex-serviceman, former performing poet and award winning promoter who has organized music shows the world over and has made multiple appearances on Western media. Now a resident?of Ningbo, he is working on his second novel, Night of the Infidel. Peter is Director of English Language Studies at Ningbo City College and holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Management.
Peter Abram是英国/澳大利亚退役军人，也曾是一位诗人。他组织过世界各地的音乐会，多次在西方媒体上露面，并获得奖项。现居宁波，他正在写他的第二部小说《异教徒的夜晚》。Peter 拥有教育管理硕士学位，是宁波城市学院英语语言研究主任。