Skip to main content

Dope Sick Angel by Mark Anthony Given

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in your all your ways; 
they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot on a stone. 
-Psalms 91:11-12


THE CAFFIN AVENUE METHADONE CLINIC, four blocks from Fat’s Domino’s house, right on Caffin Avenue, off of St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans, was a drab grey two-story anonymous building on a side street except the nearly two dozen dope fiends lined up at five am, in pitch dark in the dim dull burnt orange street lights. Skinny black crack heads could be seen darting around corners like ghosts of New Orleans sultry past. The line went from the parking lot up a flight of stairs to a landing that went around the entire front of the second floor. When you went in the door it was just a phony wood-paneled area with cheap chairs lines the walls except where big fat black women could be seen handing out little clear cups of pink colored weak juice thru a thick Plexiglas sliding window. As soon as you stepped in the door you had to sign a list and then wait for your name to be called. Sitting in there with a small percentage of the crime problem in the city; small-time thieves, unemployable, broke down dope fiends, I couldn’t begin to describe this sorry lot except to say there wasn’t a lot of hope for most of these mopes.

       THIS WAS ONLY THE SECOND clinic I had ever been in and in my mind, just an experience I’d later be able to write about. I’d always heard how hard it was to kick methadone and I guess I had to find out. I have kicked everything you can imagine, even cigarettes and alcohol, and nothing comes close to the living hell of kicking Methadone. The first clinic was “The Tulane Clinic,” right on Tulane Avenue and a side street just two blocks from the Orleans Parish Prison. Paid an old descript black man who said he was a doctor a hundred and forty bucks and showed him my tracks, he gave me a sip of the devil’s elixir and I was on the bus. You could show up and get in a line of fifteen or twenty dope fiends when they opened or wait until eight fifty, or ten minutes before they closed at nine am and go straight to the window. After six weeks on that clinic I “Jumped Off,” jumped in my car and drove to Florida and drove from Rest Area to Rest Area, throwing up dying, feeling like the worst Flu you can imagine. Dying of thirst but one sip of water will send you into five minutes of dry heaves hanging on the edge of a picnic bench at the farthest picnic area available in the middle of the beautiful afternoon. I finally had a “Come to the Devil Meeting,” in the wee hours of the morning right there in the front seat of that Cutlass Supreme, in a lonely parking lot along the interstate. This was the first time I got called on the carpet by the Demon himself, the second time was when I kicked this shit again, later that same year, and I never messed with it again. But you know what this son of a bitch wanted? He wanted what I wanted to give more than my very next breath; he wanted ever sip of that pernicious pink juice back, and all of it. My stomach felt like two giant hands were just wrenching my guts trying to wring out every drop of it. Days and days this went on. The second time I kicked it was on the second floor of a beautiful beach home I had rented in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, a hundred yards off the white sandy beach from the Gulf of Mexico just forty-five minutes from New Orleans. Tossing and turning and cursing and cussing and you would sell your left nut for five minutes of sleep. Oh, my God, I am begging, do not ever mess with Methadone and if you do, don’t go longer than six weeks because unless you want a little sit down with Devil himself, don’t mess with the pernicious substance, probably on par with the new Bath Salts, also created in a Government laboratory, in its range and depth of misery it will cause.

       WHEN THE DEVIL showed up he was pissed and he wasn’t take no for an answer. I swear every word of this is true. I was lying in my beautiful queen sized luxury bed in a seven hundred and fifty thousand dollar home that cost me two hundred dollars a month to pay someone to mow the yard. Peninsula porch on the second floor looking out over the Gulf of Mexico, surrounded by doctors and lawyers vacation homes, it took a week or so to get used to the gently crashes of the water on the surf and constant breeze. You know what he wanted this time? He wanted me to curse God…. Most of what I write is true and I am prone to making stuff up, but trust me just this once; just like in the Book of Job, we went ‘round in ‘round in my mind and I resisted at every front. Growing up a Baptist in the Deep South, cursing God and you would lose your religion. You’d be excommunicated I imagined. Condemned to Hell. Same deal, raging fever, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat or drink and miserable in the lap of luxury, and just when swan diving off the balcony became a viable exit strategy, my bed was surrounded by Angels. I don’t know how many, there were many of them, I’d say at least eight or nine, maybe more, completely surrounding my bed, even the headboard where the wall was, bent at the knees on the floor; they were there for me.
       THEY ASSEMBLED THEMSELVES around my bed, the ones closest to me at my immediate right, grabbed my right arm like you would someone in need of help, and I felt a warm embrace. It took a moment to realize what was happening and they seemed to know I needed time to absorb this. The very instant they got there, no words were spoken, just like in The Bible:
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. –Psalms 19
THE MOMENT THEY SHOWED up, my fever broke, I relaxed and felt like I had reached a pinnacle and now would be alright, and was able to fall asleep until dawn for the first time in nearly two weeks. I had kicked Methadone all by myself, and for good....
One good slug of this stuff and all was right with the world… Tasted ordinary enough and it took probably twenty to forty minutes to feel it depending on how bad you needed it. We called it the “Golden Hour,” because of the warm golden hue you feel absorb you. The "Golden Hour," in medicine, it is said, you have one hour to get to a hospital once you start feeling like someone’s digging an arrow in your left shoulder without analgesic, signaling an impending heart attack. Like sliding your foot into well-worn pair of leather shoes and smell of worn leather, Grand Ma's house and Apple Pie and a summer Gulf Breeze all rolled into one, you feel like if you were just told your whole family was killed in a car accident, you’d feel like, oh well it will be alright, I mean nothing matters, everything is fine, no hurry, got to go to jail?, no problem, until that shit wears off.
I must confess, being a child of the Seventies, I did have a slight ulterior motive. I had read in Abraham Maslow’s writing that you could induce a life lasting religious experience and or transformation of your personality, as I had by this measure, and trust me it worked, but it ain’t for the faint of heart…


COPYRIGHT 2016 by Mark Anthony Given
All Rights Reserved 28 USC 1746  Public Law: Pub. L. 94-553 (Oct. 19, 1976)
U.S. Statutes at Large: 90 Stat. 2541
11:06 AM 1/28/2016

Popular posts from this blog

My Appointment With the Devil by Mark Anthony Given


We may not pay Satan reverence, for that would be indiscreet,  but we can at least respect his talents. -Mark Twain
  MID-THIRTIES I found myself alone at a lonely interstate rest area in Florida in the middle of the night, having driven from  New Orleans for the last several days, I went from rest area to rest area withdrawing from Methadone, starving but couldn't eat.  Dying of thirst, but couldn't drink.  Throwing up, diarrhea, high temperature and worst of all, I couldn't sleep.  Beg for sleep for three or four hours and sleep for ten minutes and start all over again.  I was at probably the lowest point of my life.  And I still had an appointment with the devil.    And he's going to be here in a minute.....          THE DEVIL IS REAL.  I met him.  Twice.  I know you're not going to believe this but I don't care.  I ain't got a reason to lie to y…

Circle Jerk City by Mark Anthony Given

 My father carries around the picture of the kid who came with his wallet. -Rodney Dangerfield

I BUSTED OUT OF every juvenile home they placed me in when I was a kid.  Industry, The New York State School for Boys, fifteen miles south of Rochester, New York where my parents were, was the largest juvenile reformatory in the Empire State. I thought of this escape hundreds of times throughout the years as the seminal moment I became bad. Not real bad mind you, but bad none the less. Still thinking I was Matt Helm or James Bond, I plotted my daring escape from the moment they brought me there from a local juvenile detention facility which I also broke out of. To be honest with you I thought it was my duty to escape. I don’t know really why like I said I was a bad kid. Rolling thru the beautiful upstate New York countryside in the back of state car in the early morning hours to the famous “Industry,” the place you didn’t want to be, I considered for a few minutes the possibilit…

ONE RAT AT A TIME by Mark Anthony Given

 Information is the currency of democracy. — Thomas Jefferson
              THE FEDERAL REPORTER’S come out every few weeks in paperback. The latest United States Court of Appeals decisions, and the Federal Supplement’s containing every case worthy of publication from the lower or United States District Court’s. This is where the Rubber Meets the Road when determining WHO’S A RAT or who isn’t. If you are named in a Case as a Confidential Informant or Cooperating Witness; it’s written in stone. When I was the Head of the Inmate Law Library at the Federal Correctional Facility at Seagoville, Texas, just minutes from Dallas-Ft. Worth, in the early 1990’s, we had a file called “The Cut Case’s.” Guy’s would literally run from the Bus that brought them there, many Self-Surrender, to the Inmate Law Library and surgically cut their Cases right out of the Law Books. Or make the book disappear.              NEARLY ALL the cases brought to me involved Ra…