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The Jim Carroll Website Home > Background > The Basketball Diaries > Stories from Dennis Driscoll > Denny's OD

Denny's O.D.

Stories from Dennis Driscoll


It was a warm July morning. July 6, 1971. For my birthday my parents got me tickets to see Grand Funk Railroad at Shea Stadium. By this time I was pretty much over grand Funk, but the tickets were a present and my younger brother, Kenny, was going with me. I got up that morning, after shooting almost $45 dollars worth of dope the day and night before and having not really gotten fucked up. This was the problem with heroin. After awhile it just didn't seem to get you high. Plus the junk wasn't the best. I decided to go up to the hippie lawn up by the Cloisters and see what was up and who knows maybe find a way to make a few bucks, so I could get some dope before the show.

I was sitting in the park with a guy named Little Jimmy . Little Jimmy was a Puerto Rican kid, and from the Heights so his connections were better than mine. We were sitting on the wall that overlooked the West Side Highway, when Bobby Gibson came up and asked us to help him out. Seems he had broken into an apartment near the park and wanted help to look for valubles.

I'd never done a burglarly but needed some dough so Jimmy and I followed Bobby up to this apartment. The front door was unlocked amd we walked in. I looked around and saw that Bobby had climbed through the kitchen window. There was a small dog there that yapped for awhile till he finally got tired of it and feel asleep.

What I didn't know, but should have was that Bobby had already gotten just about anything worth getting. So Jimmy and me looked around in a bedroom that obviously belonged to a teenage girl, and a place I'd probably have loved to have visited when the girl was home, but was nervous as hell in now. All I could find was some really cheap watches, a locket and a box full of earrings. I took the earrings for myself so I only took one of each pair that I liked. We looked around some more and left, back to the park. Bobby gave me and Jimmy a few bucks each and I ended up with $16.

Before I left him, Little Jimmy turned around to me and said if I copped down on 180th St to be careful because there was a smoker out there. You heard things like this all the time, but Little Jimmy didn't bullshit so I kept it in mind.

As the afternoon turned into evening I was looking to cop. I hooked up with a friend from the Heights named Jimmy T, we looked around and heard everything was garbage. It was Jimmy, another Irish guy named Sully and me. We were just about to cop when this Puerto Rican junkie named Herbie showed up. He stopped us and said that we HAD to cop down on 180th, that was where the smoker was. Now I didn't trust Herbie, I figured he was trying to just get a free bag for copping for us, but Jimmy T , who was friends with Herbie, but also was one of my best friends talked me into copping with Herbie. I had $16 bucks, enough for 7 bags and 2 bucks to get to the Grand Funk show. Now the day before i had shot $45 worth of dope and barely got high and couldn't believe that I'd get high from $4 worth of junk on this day. The way Herbie thought we should do it was 2 bags each for me, Jimmy T and Herbie and 1 for Sully who only snorted and was a football player at Cardinal Hayes and pretty much a jock.

Herbie copped for us and the bags had an outline of a star stamped on the bag. This was the first time I'd ever seen a bag with any kind of stamp. Later they started using colored tape to seal the bags, and later than that brand names came into effect, but that was much later. Herbie kept saying that I should only do 2 bags, but I was tempted to do 4 and give the others 1 each, because after all it was my money that paid for the dope. But I remember what Little Jimmy had said about 180th St dope and made a deal with Herbie. I'd get off first, shoot 2 bags and then if I didn't get high then I'd do 2 more. This wasn't as good as just doing 4 bags at once because you just didn't get that rush. But that was the deal. So up we go to the skylight on the roof of Herbie's building up on 186th St.

We put out the water, the cooker, the works and the dope. It's getting late now and I have to hurry to get to Shea Stadium for the show, and as planned I get off first. Sully snorts his bag as I cook up. It cooks up really clean, and I draw it up. I get a hit right away and shoot it in and only boot it once. I take the needle out and nothing. This is what we called a creeper. From lots of dope, the rush you felt was mainly from the quinine that the dope was cut with. So I waited a second and was about to tell them I was going to do another 2 bags when all of a sudden I started to feel it. It started in the back of the throat, where lots of rushes do start. Started to spread through my body when I KNEW I was going to go out. Going out was overdosing. I'd already over dosed once so I knew what was happening but this was much more intense. Much much more intense. I felt if I got out to the roof top and got some air I, could keep myself from ODing. So I told everyone to move the dope and works cause I needed air and started to walk up the flight of stairs to the rooftop. I took one step and that was the last thing I remembered.

Next thing I know, I'm being given last rites by a priest and being wheeled into an operating room, where I lost conciousness again. I woke up awhile later, days later actually. My mom was in the room when I came to. I had no idea what had happened. A psychiatrist came into the room and interviewed me. He asked me what happened. I told him, the last thing I remembered was being on a rooftop on 186th St and Audabon Ave, having shot 2 bags of what turned out to be the best dope I'd done up to that time. He asked if I ODed accidently and when I told him I did he left. As long as I didn't try to commit suicide he didn't have to talk to me anymore.

After he left my mom showed me a mirror, my hair was caked in blood, my face on the left side was one solid scab. My left arm was swollen and hurt like a bitch. My neck on the leftside was also swollen. It looked like I was worked over by a couple of guys and thats exactly what happened to me. I called Jimmy to find out what happened and he gave me all the details.

It seems after I told them to move everything and started walking up the stairs I had actually made it up the stairs. I had no memory of this. They said I walked up the stairs, got the door to the roof and stood there and swayed for a minute or two before falling flat on my face. HARD. Luckily I wasn't too close to the edge of the roof or I'd have fallen off.

So my friends, being true dope fiends, got off gefore coming to my aid. Which didn't help because they were soon almost as high as me. First they tried to massage my heart by rubbing my back as my face rubbed up and down on the tar paper covered roof. The tarpaper had small rocks in it, I guess for traction so it looked like sandpaper. It also ACTED like sandpaper with the skin on my face, that was soon all rubbed off. Then Sully being the least high pulled me up and started to slap me around, slaps in the face will bring people out of a light OD, but I was beyond that. As Sully got more frustrated he started to punch me in the face and neck and probably if anything knocked me further into unconciousness.

Next, junkies , including myself always heard that mainlining salt into a persons veins would neutralize the dope. Well this was just junkie lore, and it was really hard to get a hit in a vein of someone that has taken a real overdose because the heartbeat and blood pressure was so low. So Jimmy got so frustrated he just skin popped the salt into my upper arm. Where it stayed and turned a delightful shade of aquamarine under my skin. This having failed they went to Herbie's house for some ice. Ice under an OD'ed persons balls was supposed to snap them out of it. Well the ice went under my balls and nothing, then they started to shove ice up my ass, again no results. This was getting bad, not for me as I didn't feel a thing, but my friends were freaking out. Then Frankie arrived.

He took one look at me and went to call 911. He called and went back to the roof to get my friends out of there, so they weren't there when the cops showed. When the cops arrived, they found me, all beaten up with my pants down around my ankles and filthy underwear. They also call my parents and told them where and how they found me, when the cops got there they searched me for drugs, I guess, and found my loot from the days heist. So one of the first things they told my parents was that I was a burglar. Finally they got me to the hospital, got me into intensive care and worked on me. I still don't know exactly how long I was unconscious and what they did to me, but I'd heard they gave me a spinal tap, because supposedly the dope collects in the spinal fluid. I don't know if this is true but my back has never really been the same after that night.

So finally I can get up and get to the phone and call some friends. First is Jimmy, just to ask him what the fuck he did to my arm! He told me he was scared, couldn't get a hit and skin popped me with salt. Not a good thing. Before going back to my bed I called a few more friends. The first question from my dope fiend friends was, " where did you cop? " Everyone wanted to do the dope I did that night. Within hours of my OD the same bags were selling for $5. This was a special bag and the dealers knew it.

So now I had to deal with my arm. The swelling in my face went down pretty quick, but the scabs stayed with me for awhile. By far my worse injury was to my arm. An abcess had formed and I was given lots of antibotics to make it come to a head so it could be lanced. Well it came to a head, twice. The thing split and now I had two lancings to look foward to. The first one was quick enough. They paint your arm with betadine, spray local anestetic and slice you open. You can feel the pressure as the force the pus from your arm aand fill the cavity with gauze. Gauze that hardens around the gauze till you have a golf ball sized lumo that has to come through a narrow cut in your arm. You can see the cut stretching as they try to take this ball of pus and gauze from your arm. Then everyday they take the gauze out, pour peroxide into the hole and watch it foam up. Then back in goes more gauze. This happened a few times a day. Then they decide time to cut the other abcess. This one was going to hurt more because I already knew what it was like. So they take me back up to the operating room. Paint the arm with betadine and start shooting me up with novocaine.Finally the doctor makes his first cut. The nurse had forgotten to cover my face so I saw the incision. A slight motion of the scalpel and the skin parts like the Red Sea. Blood began to pour out of the slice. I looked up into the doctors eyes and he freaked, yelling at the nurse to cover my eyes. It doesn't help for a patient to see himself slice open like that. Pretty much the same drill as last time, only it seemed to hurt more. At one point I considered running away to avoid the lancing. This left me with a good chance of losing my arm, but I didn't care. I just wanted away from the pain. I even called a friend whose clothes fit me to bring clothes for my escape, but luckily I didn't go. The final total of pus taken from my arm was 22 ounces. I still have scars and indentations in my upper left arm when the infected flesh was cut away.

These kind of wounds have to heal from the inside out. So daily I'd have to take the dressing off, pour peroxide into the 3/4 inch deep wounds and watch them foam up.

The one thing I remember most, was the day I was getting out of the hospital my little portable radio was playing Bob Dylan's "New Morning". It was the perfect song. I felt great. That night I went to Central Park to see the Allman Brothers, while Duane Allman was still alive, found a girl that liked me and didn't get high. I really felt like it was a "new morning". Things had changed. I had a girl that liked me, no heroin habit, after being in the hospital for two weeks, and my mom decided to take me to Jamaica with my little brother, my aunt and my cousin. I was on top on the world!!!

By the next night I was in the park where Herbie copped that dope, shooting dope into the same arm that had these 2 holes at least 3/4's of an inch deep in them, with a belt wrapped just below the bandages that covered my open wounds. What a difference a day makes! :(

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More stories from Dennis Driscoll

Visit Dennis's website at www.DennisDriscoll.com.

   

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