My last Halloween on the streets was in 2009. I remember the day well. I was celebrating a milestone: two years of freedom, a worthy marker in a troubled life. I would like to tell you that I was contributing to society, but that would be a lie.
I had been taking advantage of a treatment program that uses methadone, a prescription-only medicine that helps opioid addicts detox with some semblance of stability. I could swing a hammer and read a tape measure while dosing daily. Seventy milligrams would do it, and it did. Until it didn’t. I attempted to enhance my dose by consuming antihistamines or anti-nausea medication. I was told that grapefruit juice would kick my dose into gear, so you could often find me in the juice aisle at Walgreens.
It was inevitable that eventually these minor boosts would need to be replaced by something that packed more of a punch and benzodiazepines were there to answer the call. I dosed methadone at Therapeutic Health Services (THS) at the corner of Seneca and Summit. Back then, Xanax, Klonopin and Valium were easy to find. There was something of an open-air market. Two-milligram Klonopin tablets were $5 a pop and lasted longer than $8 two-milligram Xanax tablet bars, but the bars hit harder and faster. Nevertheless, any combo of benzos and opioids could be deadly.
Looking back, I had rarely struck it rich while in a benzo-induced blackout. Usually, I emerged with a loss — loss of a wallet, loss of my stash, loss of my car, loss of my freedom and loss of my family and friends.
No one will tell you that I’m a better person because of benzos. They brought out the worst in me, turning me into an irrational emotional tyrant with a tendency for violence, idiocy and pathological thievery all while wrapped in the warm embrace of an analgesic blackout.
Despite the pleas of my family and friends to not take Xanax or Klonopin, I popped two. Gradually and with utter certainty, I rendered myself insane. The blackouts came just as sure as my next arrest.
The pharmacological mixture of sedatives and opioids were forceful multipliers, and I never would have known the extent of my idiocy if I hadn’t been filmed on Halloween 2009 by my ex-girlfriend Alice.
The holiday beckoned me to the candy racks of a QFC supermarket. Three trips in and out, and I had shoplifted enough candy to supply all the children in North Seattle.
I loved Halloween. I always felt as if I were standing in the doorway between worlds — the primal pull towards the dark and unseen.
I had recently “come up” and had filled our house in Fremont with a 55-inch Samsung television, a Bose stereo system, and enough camera equipment to film Hollywood.
I had also acquired a Baccarat crystal bowl, which I filled with pilfered chocolate bars. The bowl stood ready on a pedestal at the door for trick-or-treaters.
Earlier that day, my two partners in crime and my loving but firm significant other had failed to convince me that I was a liability (and an asshole) when I was under the influence of benzodiazepines.
My comrades needed me semi-conscious while we were robbing a dope house or emptying the pockets of some gun-toting gangster. The unpredictability of T. Lux waving a gun around while mentally in another dimension had become a strain on our brotherhood. Alice was mad because benzos rendered me useless in the bedroom and beyond.
I took these sensible, reasonable protests as a character assasination. I was infuriated by their coordinated appeal to my better nature. It smacked of conspiracy and betrayal to my befuddled mind.
I sought solace from my bitterness by logging onto my desktop computer, where two terabytes of music, film and porn made it easy for me to escape.
Soon, I was googling tips for how to pick locks as I looked to expand my skill set. I had recently traded an Omega watch for a bump gun, a lock-picking device with a built-in tension bar and removable rakes.
Then I heard a knock at the door. I threw myself away from the desk, knocking my keyboard and mouse to the floor. I roared, “Who dat dere?”
I pulled a 9mm Taurus from my waistband and rushed the door, but my feet were tangled in a web of cords and I tripped hard. Falling to the oakwood floor, the pistol exploded. The candy bowl shattered in a cascade of flying shards. Candy plummeted to the floor. My forehead collided with the oak, knocking me senseless.
As Alice answered the door, and just as my face made contact with the ground, a chorus of costumed children started yelling, “Trick-or-tre — !”
Little witches, ghosts and even a miniature Ironman fled in fear as the gunshot rang out.
Unbeknownst to me, Alice had filmed the whole spectacle with the Japanese digital camera I had stolen.
Seeing myself as the bumbling star of the show struck a chord in me. I immediately decided to eliminate benzos.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. The Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned. The work is lightly edited but has not been otherwise fact-checked.