The hero of this story, who, for discretion’s sake, will be referred to as G., used to be a good friend of mine. By ‘used to be’, I don’t want to mean that he, at any point, stopped to be my friend, but simply that he ceased to be altogether: his passion for drugs drove him to an early grave. G. has been dead for many years already, but his legacy lives on in the memories of all the lucky ones who’ve chanced to know him and hear some of his crazy stories, like myself. Indeed, G. was particularly prone to getting involved into all unimaginable sorts of trouble throughout his short, fervent life. That life of his, however, will not be the subject of the present story: that could only be the subject of a voluminous book. This story will be concerned solely with one out of the many extraordinary instances of G.’s reckless life; one that I know positively to be true to its very last detail.
It was a chilly autumn evening in Kypseli: the most densely-populated neighborhood of the city of Athens. An old, beige Ford Sierra car was driving round and round the neighboorhood’s dark, narrow streets, looking for a parking spot. It finally came to a standstill beside a scaffold lying against the facade of a building. G. – because he was the car’s driver – turned the engine off with an abrupt motion and… “give me the money, guys” said he to his two companions: a bloke from Rhodes and another from Ukraine.
They were coke addicts, all the three of them. Earlier that afternoon, when they were again at the same place buying 5 grams of coke, they were intent on having a long fun night; the last one before they take it easy, starting with the following day. Now, still evening, here they were back again – teeth grinding against each other like millstones; faces contorting as if they had no muscles but bouncing balls underneath their skin; pupils ready to be ejected outside of their eyes – bound to buy another 5 grams.
An array of ecstatic musings were streaming through G.’s mind in anticipation of the imminent procurement of the treasured white dust, as he was hastily marching up the street to rendezvous with his Albanian dealer. As many a time before, they crossed ways somewhere midways along the central square of Kypseli. They halted briefly and exchanged a casual handshake, discreetly swapping the money for the ware, and kept on their ways to opposite directions.
Something was different this time though… For some reason G. could not understand, the Albanian passed him the 5 grams in 5 separate wrappings. “What a damn idiot”, mumbled G. as he placed the 5 bags inside the tiny secret pocket his jeans had behind the knee and, paranoically scanning everything around him, he made straight for the car. That wasn’t generally good because, in an unfortunate case of arrest, it’d seem like he was up to distributing them, and could pass for a dealer himself rather than a user. He couldn’t, of course, foreknow that if it wasn’t for this coincidence he wasn’t going to see his home for many a night to come.
“Alright, guys. Let’s sniff a line and we’re the hell out of here fast. I don’t like this spot.” said G. to the others as soon as he got back in the car, reaching the glovebox for his paraphernalia at the same time.
“I’m not going to fucking sniff it, man.” – objected the Rhodite – “I paid a lot of money for it. I will not waste it in my nose. I am going to shoot it up.”
“What on earth are you talking about, dude?” – G. countered – “We are in the middle of the fucking road. We don’t have time to do this here. Be patient. We go to a safe place first and then we inject.”
An obstinate fellow, that Rhodite was. Whereas G. and the Ukranian had already sniffed their shares from the top of the CD-case and were now smoking their fag while indulging in that cherished I-am-the-king-of-the-world kind of feeling, he was still in the process of dissolving his stuff and bulging up his abused veins while clenching the rig between his jaws like a dog does with a bone. In short, all the three were too busy to notice the patrol car coming from behind them. That wasn’t though the case for the lawmen, who couldn’t but notice a car illegally parked in the middle of the road, beside the scaffolding, marginally allowing for the traffic to pass through.
First thing our dopers knew, the police car was stopped next to theirs. “Eh, guys. You haven’t parked well here.”
“Yes, officer. We just pulled up for a sec. We are leaving right away,” G. complied eagerly, immediately reaching his hand out to the starter.
“Phew, that was close,” said G. to the others, seeing the police car driving ahead. Meanwhile in the police car: “Eh, man. Didn’t that dude hold a syringe in his mouth?”, said the driver’s colleague.
The police car hadn’t advanced for more than 10 metres when it stopped abruptly; both the cops jumped out in an instant; one pointing a strong torch against G.’s car; the other a gun… and one of them shouted “put your hands behind your head and get out of the car immediately!”
All that happened too quickly. There was no time to react anyhow. They could only obey. The two ‘lackey cops’ got to preliminarily interrogate the three unfortunate hopheads while waiting for the ‘big guys’ (the Drug Enforcement Agency who they’d called) to arrive. The line of defense maintained by the persecuted was like: “Yes, officer. We are addicts but we do not have anything with us. We were about to drive to the centre and buy from the street dealers there. You will not find anything on us.”
The ‘big guys’ made it on spot in a big black jeep with tinted windows, escorted by another squad car carrying four more ‘lackey cops’. Two of them were ordered to drive G.’s Sierra to the police station and search it thoroughly. And all the four cars drove to the police station in a convoy, the three suspects being carried in the back of the jeep with their arms handcuffed with each other’s, crosswise behind their backs: so that the one in the middle had his right wrist tied to the left wrist of the one to his left and his left wrist tied to the right wrist of the one to his right; while the right wrist of the one on the right was tied to the left wrist of the one on the left under the middle one’s crossed arms. If this last sentence sounds a bit complicated to grasp, it’s because it describes a way too complex to even think of – and how about implement – of how to handcuff three people with each other. The three heroes of our story were entangled like vines; utterly immobilized.
All sorts of pessimistic thoughts: regarding his imminent fate to be thrown in the slammer: kept orbiting G.’s head while on the way. They were screwed. One of the five wrappings (the one they’d already opened to extract their last dose from) was still lying on the dashboard of his car. The cops would not even need to search in order to find it: they must have seen it, right in front of their sight, as soon as they got into the car. The other four were still inside his secret pocket. They were sure to scout meticulously and find them; especially after the other cop shows up in the interrogation room, holding the fifth wrapping between his thumb and index, announcing: “hah, look what I found!”. Five grams of cocaine divided into five separate packings… G. was not a politician, lawyer, show-business persona, or any sort of powerful, rich, law-immune white-powder enthusiast… He was just an ordinary nameless fellow… the law does not discriminate the ones of his kind… He was sure to end up with a good two or three years in prison.
They were brought to a small room, some floors overground in the Kypseli Police Station building, together with a whole bunch of policemen. They got unhandcuffed and briefly interrogated. The cops proceeded with searching them. Luckily for all of them, they chose to start with the Rhodite while they let the other two to wait aside with their hands free. Now was G.’s chance.
I do not know how many of you reading this story are aware that a slight amount of cocaine poured into one’s stomach can prove fatal, and that an amount as big as 4 grams is rather certain to prove so, but G. was perfectly aware of it. Being thrown in prison, however, was the last thing he fancied. So he decided to take his chances and go for it: eat them all and hope that the bags are properly sealed.
That wasn’t, of course, a simple proceeding with all those cops inside a tiny room. Standing against the wall, where they’d put him, he kept scrutinizing the space around him with his eyes, waiting for the right chance. The first one arose: With a very swift motion, he put two fingers inside the pocket behind his knee and, with a lightning-fast movement, he brought the first bag inside his mouth. Gulp… one was down! The Ukranian, standing against the opposite wall, took notice of what G. just did, and started speaking and doing stuff to draw the cops’ attention. The second chance came… Gulp… another one was down… two more to go.
The cops finished with searching the Rhodite. Luckily again, the Ukranian came second. Third chance: gulp… Fourth chance: and the last one of the wrappings had made its way into G.’s mouth. Now he was out of saliva. He tried hard to swallow it without producing any suspicious sound, but his throat was so dry that it didn’t want to go down. G.’s turn to be searched finally came, and the gram was still lying in the back of his mouth. The cop started scrabbling G.’s pockets and asked him a couple of questions which G. answered with nods. Another question was then asked which required words. It was now or never… Was he to fail to answer, the cop would become suspicious of what’s going on and seize him by the throat right away. Mustering all the power of his throat muscles, he achieved a robust swallowing motion and forced the last of the coke wrappings down his stomach, releasing a strong cough. “Are you alright, man?”, inquired the law enforcer. “Yes, yes, I’m fine, officer!”, G. replied.
Success! G. had managed to vanish all the four incriminating articles. The remaining, opened-up bag, which would soon be brought to the room, shared between the three of them… they could get away with. All of G.’s pockets including the one in question, his shoes, socks, underwear, and all places a policeman’s imagination can suffice to check were searched thoroughly, but in vain. Now, seated on a bench, the three afflicted friends were waiting for the cops who searched the car to come, hoping for a good treatment.
But then surprise struck! “No illegal items found” was the result of the control. G. was confused. He speculated on three possibilities: They either are such fools that they missed it right in front of their nose, or they found it and kept it for themselves, or there are also some good-hearted people amongst the police kind, after all. A momentary glimpse of the reporting cop’s eyes that G. managed to catch suggested the latter.
“You see, officers. We told you that we have nothing! Are we free to go now?”, the detained argued. “Not so fast, guys. You’re getting locked up for tonight.” They tried to object but there was no use. They didn’t have a moral right to complain, anyway, after, so luckily, getting away with a mere night at the police station. They were thrown into the holding cell together with some 20 or 30 other narcomaniacs, hookers, thieves, and other hoboes.
G. occupied a piece of the cell bench and stayed there waiting patiently. No more than 5 minutes passed, and, all of a sudden, he felt like his head was just struck by a sledgehammer; a persistent terrible pain took over his abdomen; all the muscles of his body started to quiver and his veins to throb; he was overwhelmed by dreadful nausea and panic attack. “Help!!! I’m dying! Take me to the hospital right now!”, he wanted to shout but he controlled the situation and suppressed this desire.
Instead of this, he stood up and made for the cell’s only little window. That was looking out to the same room they were a while ago, some 5-7 metres across a dingy and dirty light well. He could clearly see all the same cops that were there before, joking and laughing, but the cell was so dark that they couldn’t see him. He pushed the front part of his face between the two metal bars blocking the window and stack two of his fingers inside his throat. He tried hard to vomit but he couldn’t. He went around the room and snatched away all water he could find from the rest of the caged folks. He tried to vomit again but still couldn’t. His torture persisted for the next hour or so. Many a time he tried to throw up the swallowed items to no avail. Many a time he oscillated between enduring the pain with the risk to die and calling for the cops to bring him to the hospital followed by certain imprisonment: but he always chose the former.
It was the right choice he made. The overdose symptoms, after all, started to retreat and he to calm down. It was going to dawn soon. For some reason, they released them separately, one after the other. Just like with searching, G. was left to the end. His car keys were given to him, accompanied by the casual threats and recommendations, and he was let free. The coke bag was in the exact same spot where he had put it. He drove a few blocks away and pulled up to sniff a line. “Hah! How I fooled those suckers!”, he entertained himself thinking while on his way back home.
The sun had risen by the time he made it there. It had been a long adventurous night. He was used up. He felt an overpowering desire to sleep but he was so over-stimulated that the prospect of lying in bed was out of the question. He opened the little drawer of his bedside table where he kept some heroin, specifically for such occasions. He boiled… he injected… next instant, the shutters were closed over his brain. His stomach’s content was then stirred up. He grabbed a bucket and, without needing to use his fingers this time, emptied it all inside of it. Among the bile and all the other nasty parts which made up his puke, were there also the four wrappings. He plucked them out and cleaned them with utmost care. The three of them were still perfectly sealed. The fourth one had a small hole through which it had lost a part of its content inside his stomach. That was the cause of his earlier unpleasant experience. He placed them in the drawer, showing great solicitude, and passed out for the rest of the day.