Stories from Dennis Driscoll > Denny's OD
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
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
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! :(
stories from Dennis Driscoll
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