"HOPELESS" JUNKY SAVES LIFE (pictures at eleven)

I know what you're thinking -- well, some of you anyway... 'This'll be a heart wrenching tale of Cindy Sue, a 13 year old trailer park white trash cracker who got addicted to marijuana because of her 30 year old Satan worshipping, drug dealing boyfriend boy friend/cousin Schlepp who turned to prostitution to support her $5 a day pot habit when Schlep who dumped her for hot and horny little slut of 12 year old sister Sharon who started blowing farm animals the day after her alcoholic mother sobered up enough to cash her welfare check and bought a Sharon a training bra before she stopped over to the next trailer to cop some crack off Schlep but found Cindy Sue being forcibly sodomized by a 400 pound Yankee traveling salesman for which she charged $6 (one dollar more than usual to pop her anal cherry) and the very sight turned Ma around and she gave up her own drinking and whoring and crack smoking ways, sent Cindy Sue to a Christian Fundamentalist Drug Rehab and made Sharon carry the half-human half donkey fetus with which she'd been impregnated to term, and the sight of Little Ass Boy a/k/a Donkey Dong made the entire trailer park change its moral ways (and its name from "Gomorra Trailer Park.")

Well, you're wrong -- if I had that kind of story your's truly would be in the midst of a savage bidding war between The Globe, The Enquirrer and Family Circle instead of sitting here trying to mix diet chocolate fudge soda and orange soda so it tastes half decemt.

No, the junky in this case is my neighbor Rex (sorry if the term "junky" offends you -- call me an insensitive lout or self-loathing would be emperor in exile, but I don't give a shit even though I know some junkies are very sensitive on this point [and then there's the whole "proper spelling" debate which is something that goes on in crack houses and shooting galleries world wide] -- I'll probably be e-bombed or stabbed with a rusty needle, but hey, freedom of the press and all that good shit).

Anyway, my neighbor Rex -- actually that should be former neighbor Rex, since the Management of the Millennial Condo Complex -- which would be the Board of which I am President -- got tired of Rex peeing in the Begonias and this past Wednesday moved his cardboard and Hefty Bag home to the San Fernando Valley where such things "belong" (Rex, I was out voted 4 to 1, old pal) sent me an e-mail and told me all about it. See, Rex' uncle is janitor at the library in Reseda and so he gets free web access as well as any good "eats" that rich folks throw away during the day while perusing books they are too cheap to buy or hang out in the "Children's Literature" Section waiting for eight year old boys to trade their virginity for Cal Ripkin Rookie baseball cards which are counterfeited in North Korea and sold in bulk to American pedophiles who take sex vacations in Bangkok (but that's another story).

It happened yesterday, which, if you live in California, you know was a gloomy and wet day from the get go. Rex was coming back from an NA meeting in the rain when he "found" a little over a hundred dollars. This instantly delighted Rex, since he'd been supporting his heroin habit with the old "Work for Food" sign routine and then, when he'd collected ten bucks ("It hasn't been easy since the market went south," he tells me) using his cell phone (hey, it is LA), to page Hector the Dealer, who would deliver in his fully restored and rather cherry Barracuda.

Hector the Dealer, however, will not normally deliver to the Valley (and people say drug dealers have no class), and, according to the (quite frankly increasingly whiny) e-mails I've gotten since Wednesday, and Rex says that not only are most of the decent freeway on/off ramps taken (and defended zealously as they can be worth up to $500 a day for a bum willing to work from dawn until dusk -- after the sun goes down most people in the Valley assume they will be shot by people who hang out on freeway on/off ramps), but they are really far apart, and where the bitch who orchestrated the coup which got rid of Rex dumped his belongings, the nearest one is three miles away from the underpass where Rex has found shelter (he keeps threatening to sue the Condo Association because the guys the bitch hired allegedly caused a tear in his taped together ZipLock Baggy sky light, but then Rex is always threatening people with litigation).

Worse still, according to Rex, "All you can find out here in the Valley is that tar crap," and he prefers the brown powder bags of Hector the Dealer. So not only was Rex broke and in his second day of withdrawals when he "found" the cash, but he was cranky and his feet hurt from hoofing it all over the fucking Valley trying to find a place to stand with his sign, and since it was raining, his rheumatism was acting up anyway.

Now I have to digress momentarily to explain that Hector the Dealer just got out of the can a couple years back, and only recently completed his parole, and although in the day Hector the Dealer lived up to his name -- at his pinnacle he had seven runners working for him full time plus a cook to make his rock and two blenders to cut his heroin and three baggers who worked 40 plus hour weeks seated around a card table in his living room pouring quarter teaspoons of powder either cocaine or his own special blend of lactose and brown heroin. Plus there was a string of junky chicks always on hand, as well as a few free lance runners who hung out hoping a call would come in when all the runners were out (on a run or cold), so Hector might give them a bags if they made the run for him because he rarely left his house and the junky chicks (mainly because he didn't trust their bitch asses) except to re-up.

He also had an electrician on his "payroll" for some reason... Eddie the Electrician, but that's another story.

Anyway, that was back in the day before Hector the Dealer was busted twice in a week, and due to difficulty coming up with the cash to bail himself out the second time he left his business in the incapable hands of Iggy, who had a three day party and when Hector the Dealer called to tell Iggy to pick him up, Iggy sent one of the runners and disappeared into the Hollywood Hills with any dope he had not shot, any rock he had not smoked and all of Hector the Dealer's receipts from three days of sales. After this La EmÄ had cut Hector the Dealer off ... he was no longer allowed to sell smack in Los Angeles (and when those guys say something like that, smart people pay heed ... it's not like a bunch of legislators passing a bunch of prohibitionary laws. These dudes mean business or anything). Well, laws do matter, I suppose. As Rex (remember him?) tells it, while I was off playing polo, both Hector the Dealer and Iggy ended up in prison. Rex, who had already, thanks partially to Iggy setting him up for both a robbery and a bust, started trying to get clean, with dismal results. After the heroin price wars of 1994, Rex went through a lot ... first a lot of class A smack that was as cheap as it was good, then the old Unemployment Line and his whole converted 401K plan, then rehab, then moved into the cardboard and Hefty Bag Town House here living hand to mouth and often going for days on nothing but (ugh) Darvocette until he hit on the old "Work for Food" Freeway scam (as few commuters need a smelly bum to work with them and fewer still have food to pass out), copping tar ... decent tar....

So he was delighted when he ran into Iggy, even though he still wants Iggy dead. He was even more delighted when he learned Hector the Dealer was out and stopped by to see Hector the Dealer at the little sheet metal walled room in which Hector the Dealer the living behind the Chevron Station.

God, things had changed. Hector the Dealer was still dealing, but as even Hector the Dealer put it, "not like before." No, Hector the Dealer's dope was better (and still powder), and there were actually days he wouldn't have any dope to sell (which had only happened once -- and then only for a few hours when he was in jail -- in all the years Rex had known Hector the Dealer.

In fact, Rex says he thinks Hector the Dealer only deals now because, as Hector the Dealer told Rex, "It's just in my blood." So after Rex "found" the money and called Hector he was surprised when Hector told him that yes, he would drive into the Valley through the rain, and Rex had to wait for an hour and a half on the corner of Lankersham and Universal for the Barracuda to rumble up.

So the deal went down with Hector the Dealer now an old gray man and Rex wondering about himself, his rheumatism bothering him something awful in the rain and him waiting 90 minutes in the dampness to go from achy hell to Nirvana in 12 seconds.

And it was only in Hector the Dealer's car, as Hector the Dealer fished balloons of H out of a giant Zip Lock Baggy right there in the middle of the Valley that Rex realized what he had done....

"Man, until you called Rex, I wasn't even going to get out of bed," Hector the Dealer confided.

Yes, gone are the days of drooling junkies dependent on Hector the Dealer and legions of mean looking Mexicans who jumped when he spoke ... and it had to be depressing. Hector the Dealer in bed all day ... sipping soup maybe ... maybe his day too black to even bother with food, but rather just desiring the penultimate nod of sleep ... or even death?

When Rex saw the sparkle in Hector the Dealer's eyes and realized he'd saved a suicidal man he asked for some extra bags as he forked over six twenties. Hector only offered one extra and, ever mindful of his own luck running out, Rex says he turned him down on that ground.

"Saving his life was enough for me."