First Drug, by Karl Parkinson

The first experience I had with drugs was with Georgie, Fat Liam, and Dan.

We were standin in the porch of one of the blocks. There was nothin to do and we’d had enough football for one day. A bunch of young boys with hats, gloves, and hoods on, we looked like a pack of wild dogs, waitin, just snarlin and waitin for somethin to happen or somethin to do.
Georgie suggested gettin drunk and asked if anyone had money,.
Well, not enough to get the amount of alcohol it would take to get us all drunk.
So he asks if anyone has ever done any solvents before?
‘Solvents what’s that?’ asks Liam White.
‘Tipex and gas, ya sniff it and yea get out yer head on it, it’s deadly” said Georgie.
‘I heard about kids dyin from that stuff.’ I said.
Georgie says ‘one in a million, done dem loads of times and I didn’t die yet.’

A part of Georgie longed for death.
With a mix of fear and excitement the rest of us agree to Georgie’s plan.

‘We only need to get 2 pound up between us to get a bottle of tipex and Liam has the sandwich bags in his Ma’s Flat’ says Georgie.
‘Yep’ says Liam.
We scrape up the two quid and they elect me as the person to buy it cause I look the oldest and I’m tall and can put on the act of nice young man who needs tipex for school.
I went up to the park shop and bought the tipex with no bother from the shopkeeper, ‘Back to school next week.’

The four of us go to Liam’s, his Ma’s in work, he’s got no Da and his younger brother Shane is out playin in the block with the other small kids.
In the sittin room, Liam gets out the bags and gives them to Georgie, and he shows us what to do, a mad teacher of desperate things for mad and desperate times was Georgie.
He puts some Tipex in the corner and puts the bag to his mouth and starts to inhale the fumes in long slow breath, talking to us inbetween breaths,
‘Come on, do it, come on will yuz, its fuckin class’ he says.

Red faces, high brains, weird auditory hallucinations, deep voices, mad laughter, red light in the eyes.
Georgie holds the bag there for the longest and goes in to a little trance, pushin at death, trapezin the worlds. He goofs off for a bit.
We’re all feeling good about the experience, laughin and hollerin, makin jokes and takin the piss, mostly at the expense of Liam, I look at Liam’s head and it looks like a giant cherry with fluff on it and say this out loud to the rest of the lads. This puts the gang of us into a 10 minute laughin fit, leavin us sore and happy and glazed.

We open the balcony door and go out and look at the backers, and the clouds above the blocks, and spit over the balcony into the grass below, and without sayin anythin for a minute or two we all feel and know that somethin that we can’t fully understand has happened between us and for the next few months we looked for anythin in a tube or canister that said DO NOT INHALE and bought it and done what we were told not to by most, but were told by the spirit of danger and fallen youth in Georgie to do and do and do as was our want and need.

First Drug is an extract from The Blocks by Karl Parkinson, forthcoming from New Binary Press.