barcelona review #15

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The Junk Yard is a collection of short, short pieces collected by editor Marsha Hunt, who was a recent writer-in-residence at Dublin’s Mountjoy (‘Joy’) Prison. In her Introduction, she traces her ten-week experience of working with the prisoners as they slowly began to dredge up truths and get their stories down on paper. The collection was turned down by one editor because too many of the stories had a similar theme - the drug experience, most notably heroin. But, as Hunt argues, that’s their collective importance: "The majority of prisoners were men and women in their early twenties; able, smart, and in the whole of health. What gradually became clear is that nearly all were (or are) heroin addicts who had stolen to pay for their daily fix. For most, as their stories indicate, their addiction began when they were teenagers. . . . Most [of the stories] deal with an aching, sick, desolate and lonely netherworld of young people trapped between highs. They paint a bleak, fearful mental state that is a junk yard of the mind." Instead of complaining about the similarity of theme, Hunt insists, one should ask why so many have a similar tale to tell. The stories are true and are best read collectively, but for a peek, here is Gotzy’s story which appears under a section entitled "The Score."

The Score
by 'Gotzy' Needle by MGS orig photo by D Fracchia


For Family & friends, inlaws & outlaws

I've got the bed covers pulled right up as far as my face. It's fuckin' freezing. Anita is still asleep right beside me. I don't want to wake her. Not yet anyways. It must be eight in the morning. I don't think it could be much more than eight. I am wide awake, lying here just thinking over lots and lots of things. I have lots I need to think about.
      I am in my mother's house. I have not stayed in this house in a long time. Looking at this small room around me, I pick out all the things that are new. It's all different from how it used to be. I think of the cold again. The temperature is definitely one thing that's not changed in this room. It's like a bleedin' fridge.
      I hate being cold.
      I have a busy day ahead. Well, maybe eventful would be a better word. One particular event being the reason I stayed here last night: I am supposed to be going away today. I am not happy about it. (Ain't nobody else I know happy about it neither.) I lie here thinking . . . trying to come up with some excuse for putting off going away. I can't find one and there is no reason trying. I'll end up going in the end, no matter what I do. I can't change that. It's a catch twenty-two situation, and I lose both ways.
      Still, I keep on thinking. I think about how long I could be gone for. I got no answer to that. Just guesses.
      At ten-thirty I am supposed to be in Dublin Circuit Court. I expect to go away for a while. A good while. Doing a bunk is a choice. I done one already. But there ain't no point this time. It would just guarantee me a longer stay in the Joy. Get it done and finished with is what I think.
      Fuck it. I will just hope for the best. Yeah, fuck it.
      Something inside me is tired. Tired and wants me to go away.
      Inside I am fed up and tired.
      Going away would be a break. It would nearly be a holiday from where I am now. Everything around me seems to be drugs money drugs drugs drugs and more drugs. I feel like I know nothin' else. No time for nothin' else. No choice to do anything else. Even now the day's already got its edge. I am sick. I am if I think I am. I am so used to beginning my day sick. It's what I'm used to. I think I sometimes feel sick just out of routine. I expect to be sick so I am sick.
      Sick is the excuse to do my gear now rather than later.
      I have some gear. It's underneath my bed calling me.
      It's already cooked and ready for me.
      I want it but I don't want to move to get it. I don't want to wake Anita by moving. I want a few more minutes to think.
      My gear is a distraction while I think. It calls me. I keep thinking that it's there.
      I think about David and Dean, my two boys. I will miss them when I go. I hope and wonder will they miss me? I don't want to keep thinking of them right now. I'll find a thousand regrets about things I didn't or did do. Things I meant to do. What they missed out on. What they will miss out on when I go. All those people I care about. People who don't want me going no place but don't want me stayin' neither. Stayin' so I keep livin' the same shit over and over like I have been doing.
      This morning is different for me. I have never turned up in a court to get sent down. I have never been sure of the big sentence I expect today. I still have the choice of doing a bunk on it. But I think that's just a choice between a big sentence and a fuckin' bigger one.
      That gear is still there.
      Do a bunk or go to court? It's a simple choice that ain't so simple . . . Fuck it. Two words. Fuck it. I will go to court as planned. Get it done with.
      Why do I say 'fuck it'?
      I think about it.
      I say fuck it about lots of decisions I got to make. It's a good answer. A good answer when you're a junkie. It's a quick decision. It's a laid-back answer for everything.
      That gear is calling me again. That's why I decided, fuck it. Any other decision's gonna take longer. I don't want to wait any more for my gear. My gear won't wait any more for me.
      My clothes are on the floor. I pull them over to me and dress myself. I try to keep it as quiet as I can. Anita wakes up anyway. We share the gear between the two of us. The first turn on of the day. The best one of the day. The first always is.
      Now I have some things I have to do. I have to get ready for today. Make sure I have anything I need with me, i.e. drugs and more drugs.
      I spent yesterday shopping. Shopping for drugs and the bits that
      go with them. It was a poxy day. Fuckin' cold, wet and busy. In the morning me and Anita went to Ballyier to get gear and napps. Heroin and morphine tablets. I would need as many as I could get to stop me getting sick when I go away. We had to wait around in the cold to get them. Most of the time you have to wait. That's the worst part. Standin' in the pissin' rain . . . cold. Then we scored.
      We scored twenty tablets, and since it was such a pain waiting, we done the only thing a junkie can do - fuck off to the nearest field or some place quiet to make the waiting worth while. Off we went for a turn on. I love it when I'm able to make a beeline for a turn on.
      We went down behind a school, and to the end of a field behind it. Right down to the end to the corner of the field where the wall surrounds it. Mucky and wet, no problem. A junkie can make himself at home any place he has to take his gear.
      I got my spoon, lighter and water out. I put my works beside me. I crushed four tablets on the spoon. I was in a hurry. I always am at a time like this. Waiting is the worst. I sucked the water into the works and squirted it onto the spoon. I gave Anita the lighter to hold under the spoon. The bastard kept blowing out with the wind. I knelt down and moved closer to the corner for shelter. Carefully so I didn't spill what's on the spoon.
      No sooner had we started than we had to stop. This fuckin' stupid horse that was in the field decides to wander on down to us. He wasn't fuckin' shy or nothin'. Right the fuckin' way up he comes. I thought, 'Fuck this horse.'
      But Anita said, ‘Ah, get him away,' and gets all nervous and shit. Fuckin' women. What the fuck could I do? I was holding a full spoon. (This sort of shit pisses me off) Fuck off, the bleedin' horse. Fuck off, Anita. Fuck's bleedin' sakes.
      I got the spoon down safely to the ground, got rid of the horse and went back to what I was doing, shouting at Anita while I was at it.
      Third attempt. I tried and tried and tried. The lighter she's holdin' kept blowin' out. It's always the same. 'Gimme the fuckin' lighter,' I said. I bit the steel guard off it, turned the little thing for adjusting the gas, and put the guard back on.
      'Now it won't go fuckin' out now. Light it . . . Hold it! Put it under the spoon. Simple,' I says. 'Good. .
      Then Whoosh!
      'Jesus H. Bleedin' Christ!' The fuckin' flame on the lighter was turned up, all right. Right the way fuckin' up. And what does the woman go and do? Jumps and knocks me fuckin' spoon over.
      I didn't say a fuckin' word. I was going to snap.
      I think I is definitely turning up in court. The longer I get away the better.

© 1999 'Gotzy'
The above story appears in The Junk Yard, edited by Marsha Hunt and published by Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh), 1999. This electronic version is published by The Barcelona Review by arrangement with the publisher. Book ordering available through

This story may not be archived or distributed further without the author's express permission. Please see our conditions of use.
navigation:                     barcelona review #15             November  1999 to January 2000
-Fiction Ian Wild - The Woman Who Swallowed The Book of Kells
Gotzy - Gotzy's Story
Greg Chandler - The Ghost of Sharon Tate
Alice Mullen - Glo-bug
Javier Marķas - Fewer Scruples
-Essay Barbara Lefcowitz -Swans, Tricksters, The Letter 'S'
-Quiz Samuel Beckett- win a book
Answers to last issue's Nabokov quiz
-Regular Features Book Reviews
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