I remember the last night I saw her. Sophia entered the club, frazzled as usual. Her long, dark, hair still wet from the shower, and her shaking hands desperately tried to pull back her locks as she tugged and smoothed in one failed attempt after another. Her wife beater was stained and dirty, hanging untucked out of her tattered jeans. I think this was the only pair of jeans she owned because she wore them every day. Her feet were crammed into a pair of black Converse high tops that I am sure she wore in the eighties. They always looked so comfortable.
She went straight to the bar and ordered a Jack Daniels. She frantically searched her purse for something when it spilled open revealing her dog eared copy of Stephen Crane’s “Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.” I happen to know this was one of Sophia’s favorite stories, and she always carried a copy with her. It was obvious to me that her head spun as it bobbled back and forth and her shaky hands gestured wildly. Her eyes were so wide with anxiety that I could see the whites of her eyeballs as she came in from the daylight.
I love this fucking girl and all her madness. In addition to sharing the same profession, we shared the same passions for both writing and heroin. Her madness and insanity amused me in this dark and sometimes dreary world of stripping and drugs. She was my confidant. We copped together, we worked together, and we used together. I often wondered if we are going mad together.
In the dressing room, the bright yellow lights were a stark contrast to the dark, wooden club. Sitting down to apply our make up, I got a sideways glance at Sophia and searched for clues. Her eyes were heavy lidded, so I know this anxiety was not from lack of dope. In this light without make up, her face showed a sad and weary complexion. Her eyes had dark circles under them, as she dotted them with foundation to rub the darkness away. I wondered how she would pull it together in the next hour to look great on stage, but I knew she would. She always did.
I always found myself looking at her track marks in the bright lights of the dressing room where they shone like a beacon to her lifestyle. The older marks on her arms and legs were purple scars, straight like an arrow. The marks on her swollen feet and hands were red and bruised signaling the sites of active invasion. Many of Sophia’s track marks were permanent, and they had been there for many years. I looked at a map of her veins.
I glanced down at my own arms, relieved that my track marks here were hardly noticeable. Looking in the mirror, I shuddered as I noticed the mark on the left side of my neck, running long and lean from almost my ear to my collarbone. I quickly put my thick leather dominatrix collar around my neck to avoid the truth a little longer. Shooting up in my neck was easier than in my hands because the jugular is so thick and strong. Sophia always hit me in my neck when I did not have access to a private mirror. She was so good with the needle that she reminded me of a nurse. Just tap, tap, tap, and she slid the sharp and shiny point right in. WHAM…it hits your brain more quickly when you use the jugular.
I noticed Sophia was lean and muscular as I watched her apply liquid cover up to the bruises and scars that covered her body. Her legs were strong and defined from years of wearing at least six-inch heels. She really was beautiful. She talked a mile a minute. Her neighbors had been causing trouble for her, and she was livid. They reported to the superintendent at her apartment that she got into a shiny, new Lexus driven by an older black man every single morning. She rode around the block and then hopped out, always rushing back in the front door. The neighbors accused her of being a dope buying junky. She was furious, ranting and raving. The inflection of her voice was piercing as the tone got higher and higher with each word.
“They don’t know me, “she bitched with her hands flailing in anger. “Why couldn’t I be giving this man a blowjob every morning? Why is it that the general assumption is that I am buying dope?” Well, Sophia, because you are.
She loved my bright green eye shadow and the way it highlighted her big brown eyes. Her eyes reminded me of a deer sometimes. They were often wide and wondering from either anxiety or shooting too many speedballs. They were a deep brown color, and I could always detect sadness in them even when their desperation was pleading vehemently with the world. I slid my green eye shadow over to her without a word.
She paused in the rant to say thanks, and proceeded to put it on with a crazed flourish. I am still not sure how she applied her make up to look so good with those shaky hands. When she was finished it always looked fabulous. The creases of her lids shaded with a deep forest green, and the lid highlighted with light neon green. Her brown liquid liner was thick and smooth, turning up in the corners to make her eyes look more like a cat than a deer. Her mascara just lengthened her already luscious lashes. I was so envious of those fucking lashes!
I have never known a heroin addict that was so high strung. I am pretty sure that without drugs, Sophia would surely be somewhat insane. She was self medicating, whether she realized it or not. Her eyes drooping with heroin, as her hands flailed wildly with ticking, twitchy gestures. Her voice bombarded the air with its screeching inflections. It was impossible to keep up with her speeding mind sometimes.
Sophia used to be a singer in a band from New York City. She was once an eighties rocker chick who loved to scream into the microphone in front of a heavy metal all chicks band. I think they were pretty good. Her boyfriend was also in a band, who once had a video on MTV. Now they lived in a shabby little apartment with used furniture and as much dope as they can afford. She worked stripping every night to support two drug habits, hoping the music would one day get back on track.
When I stepped out of The Rio into that bright morning and waved good-bye to my best friend, the whole Quarter was quiet and eerie. The sun shone brightly, and the dark clouds skated quickly through the sky with the gusty tropical breezes. The eerie light reminded me of when the sun shines while it is pouring rain. My mother always used to say that meant the devil was beating his wife. I was already wasted, yet I guzzled a drink in every bar I found open in my endless search for dope. I got drunker and drunker, but the Sickness set in more and more.