Stories from Dennis Driscoll > Sour Grapes
Stories from Dennis Driscoll
The first woman I fell in love with was a beauty, she was on Irish
and Hondoran descent. I first started hanging out with her when
I was 16, she was 13, but she looked a lot older. Lets just say
she was very mature for her age. She had a sister, that was, how
should I put this, well she was ummmm... promiscuous. She used
to have sex with just about anyone, and it wasn't unusual for
her to be with multiple partners. Also she wasn't the most intelligent
woman in Inwood. One of her later boyfriends dubbed her Stupid
Linda and it stuck. Because of Linda's sex habits, Nancy was very
very careful about who she slept with. Actually I don't think
she had sex with anyone till later in life because of the reputation
Linda had, I guess most guys thought Nancy was as easy as Linda,
but this definitely wasn't the case. One day I met the two sisters
and they wanted some weed. So I copped for them and we went back
to their apartment and got high. After awhile I was sitting there
in between these two women, and being a teenage boy I thought
about the possiblities. At this point I was still a virgin, had
kissed a few women and missed an opportunity to have sex with
a Jweish girl from Tarrytown, because I was too shy.
So here I sat between Linda and Nancy, Nancy had nodded out
and I looked at Linda and put my arm around her. She looked at
me and asked "where's my sister?" Well Nancy was sitting
on the other side of me and when Linda saw that she nixed my advance.
So I left the house and started to see Nancy more after that.
We would kiss goodnight and occasionally make out but she made
it clear she didn't sleep around. So as our relationship developed
I was getting extremely frustrated, but I liked her so much I
was happy just to be with her. Also she was one of the prettiest
girls in Inwood and I always hoped she'd change her mind.
We started using heroin and methadone together. One or the other
of us would hit up our grandmothers for some cash to use for some
dope. This went on for quite awhile copping and getting high together
till we developed habits. Then we discovered methadone.
Methadone was cheap, pure and got you high for much longer than
dope. So on Friday's when the methadone patients would get their
weekend doses we'd pool our dough and get some meth. It'd take
a longtime to hit you but once it did there was a good chance
you'd still be high the next day. Not a bad deal, plus it was
also possible to kick a heroin habit with methadone. After about
a year or so together Nancy's dad found out what was happening
and she asked to go away to a rehabilitation center upstate. It
was run by nuns and I remember the day the nuns came to take Nancy
away. We met early in the morning and kissed and promised to write
one another, but the thing with rehabs, they always tried to get
you away from the people you got high with. I wanted to go to
this place just to be with Nancy but by this time I was over 18
and too old for this program.
So we wrote each other quite a bit and I thought of Nancy all
the time. One day i get a call from Nancy, she'd run away from
the program with three other kids. She wanted to meet me and help
her cop some drugs. It quickly became apparent that she was "with"
one of the guys she'd escaped with. He was tall, goodlooking kid,
seemed nice enough and was nice enough. He thanked me for not
freaking out and attacking him for being with my girlfriend, but
Nancy was never really my girlfriend just a girl that liked me
alot and would occasionally make out with, but I loved her, more
than I'd loved anyone outside my family up to this point.
So here I am with Nancy, this kid from upstate and these 2 other
runaways. They were pure trailer trash. Not nice people, to say
the least.You could tell they were always looking to get over,
on anyone they could.
Nancy asked me if I could get them some methadone, not really
feeling very cordial towards these people considering the circumstances,
I just set her up with my methadone connection. For doing this
they gave me a bottle of liquid methadone.
The guy we got this methadone from was very reliable and sold
6 bottles every Friday. He was one of the first people I knew
on a methadone program and was the older brother of a friend of
mine. His dose was 180 milligrams and that still got me pretty
high. I did a bottle and Nancy and her new friend did a half bottle
each. It was springtime, late spring or early summer and the weather
was nice, but we still needed a place to crash. My parents moved
from Inwood to way out in the ass end of the Bronx, so I had no
place to go either, I'd really would have just as soon left them
on their own but I still had feelings for Nancy. So I took them
up to a friends place. Inwood at the time was still a fairly nice
place to live, but sections of Washington Hgts. were pretty dangerous.
One of the worst being an area we called "Fungito Village".
Fungito, I'm told, means little swamp in Spanish. This was a hardcore
drug area. The main street in Fungito Village was 184th St. This
is where my friend Barry lived.
Barry was OLD, or then he seemed old, he was 35 and we were
all 18 or 19 at the time. Barry was a man with a million ideas
for making money, they all seemed to work too, for a little while
at least. The first Barry biz I was involved in was "The
Magic Incense Company". In his basement apartment/office
we would make incense. Dipping the punks in essential oils and
letting them dry, them packaging them in bags. "26 one hour
Sticks" was our motto. We'd sell the incense at concerts,
mainly in Central Park. We also sold pot along with the incense.
We had empty cardboard liquor boxes, these boxes had inserts to
keep the 12 quarts of liquor from bumping into each other and
breaking. Each slot held incense of different flavors, vanilla,
patchouli, sandalwood, jasmine, all the usual hippy scents. The
slot for the lemon incense was where we kept the pot. You'd go
to Barry get 6 bags, sell 5 and the 6th was yours. Plus we made
money selling the incense. Hippy capitalism. In Barry's basement
we also made plagues, which were prints of old masters,Renoirs,
Titians, all kinds of paintings, which we mounted on wooden plagues
and antique them, we made and sold lots of them during the Christmas
season especially. He called the company the Black Plague Plaque
Company. Without fail the businesses would start out good and
then slide downhill when Barry went on a drinking binge. Then
he'd go to Florida, in the winter, when money ran out, and get
a job testing drugs for the big pharmacutical companies. He'd
come back to NYC in the spring with a little money and another
So I took this group of runaway drug addicts to Barry's basement
to crash for the night. I sat in the room with the 2 white trash
kids, while Nancy and her new boy were in the other room, making
out, but not having sex as Nancy still didn't give it up. I finally
fell asleep, not really getting all that high even on 180 milligrams
of methadone. Nancy had been clean for awhile so she got high,
and the kid from upstate got really high. I don't know if he'd
ever done methadone before or not.
The next morning I wake to Nancy's screams. I get up and go
into the room she'd spent the night. There is the kid, with his
arm raised and a cigarette in his hand. I looked at him and it
didn't look good. I told Nancy to go in the other room and tried
to bring this kid out of an obvious overdose. I reached over and
grabbed his arm. I started to pull him upright and found him COLD.
Plus rigor mortis had set in, so his whole body was really stiff.
I recoiled and dropped the body immediately. This guy was way
beyond help, or at least beyond any but a priests help.
I realized we had better get out of there and told Nancy and
the trailer trash to get packed. I took a quick look around and
found an ounce or so of this Jamaican pot Barry was selling. I
figured it'd be better I took the pot, because the cops were going
to come once we called in that there was a body in a basement
on 184th St. So packed up we leave and go call the cops. I tell
them what happened, and where to find the body and went to the
park, to decide our next move.After an hour Nancy thinks we should
go back and make sure they found the kid. So against my better
judgement we do go back. Well, they hadn't found the body. So
I call again and explain again the deal. An hour later we go back,
still there. After another call, this time really explaining exact
directions through the basement we check once more. Still there.
Now I'm starting to get scared. I call once more, and the cops
tell me to wait outside the building and direct them to the body.
Well this didn't sit right with me. So I told them no, but again
told them exactly where the body was. We waited nearby and watched
the ambulance get there, we waited 10 minutes and figured they
MUST of found the body and we left.
We went to my parents co-op way out in the Bronx and slept on
the skylight on the roof after going in and stealing some sheets
and pillows from my parents place. Finally Nancy turned herself
in to her parents and the trailer trash went back upstate. A few
days go by and I stay out of Inwood and try to forget what happened.
After a week or so I go back to Inwood and I'm sitting up in the
park. I hear someone talking about the body found in Barry's house.
Now no one knew I knew who the body was, and none of them knew
the kid because he was from upstate.
What happened was, Barry was out of town when we decided to
crash at his place. This was not uncommon and people would drop
by all the time, even when he was away. So after the last call
, I assumed they had found the body, but it turns out they hadn't.
So people were coming and going in the basement and saw the body
but just assumed it was someone crashed out. Three days go by
and finally Barry comes home. He sees the body and also thinks
its just someone asleep and lets him rest. Well I guess after
awhile the smell started to get to Barry, so he goes over and
looks at the kid. The gases had started to rise in the kids body
and formed a bubble coming out of his nose and it looked like
a grape was protruding from this kids nose. He realized he had
a body in his bed place and had no idea who it was. He has to
call the police, but he's really nervous. Being a longhair and
selling pot definitely made you a bit paranoid in those days.
He gets up with courage goes out to the corner and calls the
cops. He gets the desk sargeant and says "I just got back
from vacation and there's a stiff in my bed with a grape in his
nose". The cops says "What?" So Barry says "
I just got back from vacation and there's a stiff in my bed with
a grape in his nose". So the cop slows him down and finally
realizes whats being said and they send a squad car. The cops
get there, look at the body and tell Barry he can't leave till
the coroner gets there. So for hours, Barry and a cop sit there
waiting for the coroner to show. Barry is mighty worried about
the ounce of weed he thinks is still in his house, but fortunatly
i took it. Finally the coroner comes, looks at the body and says,
"methadone overdose" and tells them to release Barry
and they take the body away.
I never mentioned to Barry that I knew the kid that died in
his basement. I just didn't see what good it would do. Unfortunately
I did tell ONE person. A guy that for years was working on a book
about that era and who I've long since lost touch with. After
a couple of years went by, he told Barry that he thinks he knows
who left the body in his house. Twelve years go by, I'm in Southern
California where Barry then lived. I was staying with a friend,
when Barry comes over to the house I was visiting. After an hour
or so, Barry asks me, very nonchalantly, if I happened to know
anything about that body in his basement. Well I told him the
truth, that we called the cops 4 times, finally giving up only
when we though the body had been found.
I still think of Nancy and that kid occasionally and feel really
bad that his life ended so young. That same amount of methadone
got Nancy high and I can't see why this kid couldn't also handle
the same amount, but that is the danger with drugs, an overdose
is always a possibility.
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