Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Past Revisited Chapter 1

As promised, a look back at my life from the late 80's to the mid 90s, and my slide into the depths of heroin addiction. This is more for me than anyone else and it's somewhat of a forced way for me to work on my writing. Although I intend to post a segment every Wednesday, I have no outline, no plan, no idea where the story goes, just details of a past life. I do hope it turns out well and I do hope some of you might enjoy it.

Instead of Waffles, KOD, Hoy, Lucko or Blinders, the names started as Richie Rich, Johnny Rotten, the Inspector, Kato, and Whistledick and at the end of the road became Two Liter, Voz, Q, Drunken Pete, and Moose. What started off as a crew of young twenty somethings wasting their lives at a local bar ended in homelessness, prison, death, and despair.

At the age where most of you were in grad school, or law school, or starting promising careers, I was a college dropout, living for the moment trying to find the next cocktail, or the next party, or the next chick, avoiding real life at all cost. I was passing time with a decent Union job, working in a hot and dirty UPS warehouse, waiting for my name to come up on the senority list so I could be a UPS Driver, make my $50-60K a year, and bang hot chicks from offices all over St. Louis.

The central location in this drama was Dave's World Famous, a bar and grill located in West St. Louis County. At one point when Highway 40 was just two lanes the Woods Mill exit took a majority of traffic directly past a dingy strip center where the bar was located. This brought lots of "non regulars" into the bar and the place was usually full and loud and fun. Once Highway 40 was rebuilt and Wood Mill Rd became four lane Hwy 141 and was relocated a quarter mile a way, no out of the way traffic came past the strip center. Most all the stores closed except for the bar and the liquor store next store.

Dave's was a typical bar, one of hundred of thousands across this country, smokie and dark, with one pool table in the back corner, a coke dealer, a weed dealer, a bookie, and a host of regulars. It was the gathering point for me and my crew, our meeting place, our hang out, it's where plans were formulated and forgotten, where the contests were either on the pool table, with the bookie, or to see who could get lucky with the stray woman who happened in from time to time. As any bar should the regulars all had their non-assigned assigned seats, the odds you could find Alaska Dave in the four seat too low to even wager on.

Occasionally we ventured out. To the Casino Queen in East St. Louis or the Riverboat in St. Charles, to many Cardinal games where we'd buy the cheapest seats and work our way down to the dugout, to after hours parties with dealers choice poker and at least one donk passed out and puking in the bathroom or worse on the kitchen floor.

Sometimes when the drinks were flowing we'd leave the bar at midnight, pile in a car, and drive down to Laclede's Landing where the bars were open til 3am, and where the chicks were abundant. Occasionally after those Landing bars closed we'd drive over the bridge to Sauget, IL, home to the all night bars, and if you were lucky or perhaps unlucky, the Sauget Sunrise.

Sauget had a tittie bar, a hip-hop club, a dance club, a country bar, and Pops Saloon and Music a place that never ever closed. I hate to say but on more than one or two occasions I woke up in the back seat of a car, head pounding, sweating my ass of, blinded by the sun wondering where the fuck I was and how did I get here. Funny thing is it happen to all of my crew at one time or another. It's just how we rolled.

Most of my crew at this time were local blue collar union guys, in a variety of different trades, lucky enough that an uncle or dad or brother had some connection to get them in as an apprentice. A couple of the more ambition ones, my brother included, were going to college in an attempt to finish a degree, while taking turns working as cooks in the small kitchen at Daves. Alcohol was the main buzz, followed closely by weed. On rare or special occasions we'd sniff some coke but that was as hard as the drugs got. I don't think the word heroin ever came into our vocabularies but little did I know how big a part of my life would be touched by it's introduction.

Down the street from Daves a retirement home was being built and the company who was building the facility was located out of town. Some of the guys on the work crew, who were staying in company rented apartments, found their way to Daves and become regulars over the course of builing the place. One was a 40 year old name Ron, a supervisor, and super handyman, and a really cool guy who fit it well at Daves, especially with us twenty somethings. He was from Arkansas, he sported the ZZ-Top beard, he could outdrink anyone at the bar, whip everyone at pool, and he had the finest hillbilly weed from the Ozark Mountains that we had ever smoked.

At the time (and for the next six years) I was having an on again off again affair with a crazy married cocktail waitress from another bar. One night after way too much tequila, she left her purse at Daves. I'll never forget her freaking out the next day about her missing purse so we returned to Dave's but to no avail, nobody had turned the purse in. We weren't there more than ten minutes, and in the midst of her rage Ron walked through the door, purse secured saying he had stashed it in his truck to make sure she would get it back. The drinks started flowing and a friendship was forged.

Not too long after, with the Ron's construction job winding down, he decided he liked St. Louis and considering staying. I was renting a two bedroom apartment, above a cab stand, down by the trailers and the railroad tracks on Chesterfield Airport Rd. I'm sure you can picture what that place must have been like. Anyway, I offered him the spare bedroom which he gladly accepted. At the time I was happy to have a roommate to help split the bills and also one who liked to drink and party as much as I did. There was always booze in the freezer and fridge, his Arkansas weed was abundant, and the after hours parties were becoming a regular thing.

What I didn't know at the time was Ron had done a couple bids in prison for burglary and fencing charges, both times fueled by his fondness for heroin. I found out later that he'd been heroin free for nearly six years until that fateful night guessed it Dave's World Famous.


At 2:55 PM, Blogger pokerpeaker said...

This reminds me of the time I shotgunned a beer a few times and puked at a friend's house.

Actually, this is so far from my life, I'm just fascinated with it. I can't believe anyone would survive this for very long.

Great stuff, Don, and great detail. Can't wait for the next installment.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Joe Speaker said...

Nicely Don. Looking foprward to hearing the tale.

As someone who has male cousins in Dupo and Belleville, IL, I can claim to have experienced a few Sauget Sunrises.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Nice post man Keep it up.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

Excellent start Don, good luck on the radio tonight!

At 4:53 PM, Blogger jamyhawk said...

Great writing. Keep it coming.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger Alan aka RecessRampage said...

Holy cow. This is gonna be great. Keep it coming Don!

At 6:49 PM, Blogger WillWonka said...

Holy Cow!!! I'm reliving my mischevious youth as I grew in West County (Manchester and 270 area) but of course to a much smaller degree of degeneracy. I knew about Dave's but never knew anybody who went there.

Our trip from Westport to the Landing to further East.. oof those sunrises.

Looking forward to the rest.

At 7:44 PM, Blogger $mokkee said...

vg start Don. can't wait for the rest.

At 8:07 PM, Blogger Julius_Goat said...


At 9:15 PM, Blogger GaryC said...

As you've proven before, you have a writer inside you my man. Keep up the good work and, like the rest, I can't wait for the rest.


At 10:05 AM, Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Is it Wednesday yet?

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Schaubs said...

Nice work Don, I look forward to the series.

Glad you made it out alive.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Mondogarage said...

Outstanding writing, Don.

At 7:51 PM, Blogger Harrisburg said...

I lived it with you and am proud of all you have gone through and came out of the other side. I am glad you are sharing your story with others hopefully some will not make the mistakes we made

At 7:51 PM, Blogger Wwonka said...

Great post I Look forward to reading the Rest.


At 5:55 PM, Blogger Tam said...

Really good piece, I look forward to next Wednesday.


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