Wednesday, February 20, 2008

~ night of the bullet

It was some time in the early eighties. We were at Inflation, I think. Or it could have been The Underground. I was with Gus, sitting on a staircase.

Looking down, through the railing, we could see a well-attended bar. I remember Gus’s excited voice in my ear.

- You see that guy buying a drink? The one with the bullet belt?

- Yeah.

- Those bullets, see them? Each one is full of cocaine.

- No shit?

Gus explained that the guy was a friend of his brother Darren, and had bought the bullet belt, complete with shells, from an army disposals store in the city, obviously thinking it was kind of cool.

Upon getting it home and inspecting it with more care, he noticed something fishy about the shells. They were, naturally, supposed to be empty, but these seemed just a little too heavy. He opened one to find a white crystalline powder. Then he donned the belt and went for a night out at a Blitz club.

I didn’t really believe Gus’s story, but I went along with it, on the off chance …

From the beginning, the substance in the shells was referred to as cocaine. Why it wasn’t thought to be heroin, I don’t know. Presumably the belt had been in service overseas and used as a smuggling tool. Vietnam came to mind, and it was heroin not cocaine that predominated in that region.

Gus and I agreed that we should acquire one of these bullets, and the belt owner surrendered one without a quibble. Rumour spread quickly among our friends that we had a bullet full of coke.

But we couldn’t open it there. We didn’t have the tools.

I think there were about five eager inebriated souls who wound up at Gus’s place afterwards. One was a girl called Luisa, who wore striped leggings. Either Gus or I was going out with her at the time. Many years later, I was walking up Acland St when I was approached by a private detective. He showed me a picture of someone's daughter. It was Luisa. I don’t know her parents ever found her.

We converged on Gus’s dad’s toolshed. I remember being wary of that bullet. Bullets could explode, I knew that. And we couldn’t be completely certain this one was not live.

With as much care as a party of drunken revellers could muster, the shell was secured in a vice. We remembered to face it upwards, so that none of the powder would fall onto the floor. I watched from a distance, from behind whatever shelter I could find. With pliers, whoever was in charge grasped the pointed end of the bullet and tugged it free of the shell.

Though we knew what to expect, it was still a surprise. Free drugs, as if from heaven.

The powder was very crystalline. I had not seen anything that quite resembled it, but my experience was limited, particularly with cocaine which has never been my drug of choice. I recall insisting that no one shoot it up, and on this point everyone agreed. Luckily. It would have had a poor outcome.

So, beginning with small sensible lines, we snorted it up. It was very harsh, sharp, cutting. The second time round it was worse, jagged. But, lo and behold, there was an effect - and the effect seemed to be that of coke.

Unfortunately, it hurt too much getting it in. Probably, it had lost potency over the years spent in its steel casing, and definitely it had been cut with something unfortunate. Gus, I remember, thought it might be alum. Whatever it was, it was bad for the nose. We all developed large unsightly scabs around our nostrils, and our nasal chambers were tender for some time after. And none of us ever got really wired.

I wish I knew the history of that bullet belt. Where was its owner when he had the bright idea? Did Australia ever have troops in South America? Why was the belt [or belts] abandoned? I imagine it was inexperience that led to its being cut with the wrong stuff. Over the years I’ve encountered much good gear that has been ruined in this way. [Consider the story of ‘the mud’]. Anyway, there were to be no more bullets. To our astonishment, the owner of the belt surrendered it to the police, who then visited the disposals store to make certain there were no more.

I gave up after a few lines of that cruel powder. It felt damaging. And the pain outweighed the pleasure. But others, including Luisa and Gus, were not so scrupulous. Their scabs grew in length and breadth as, over the following days, they polished off the contents of that mysterious shell.

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1 comment:

smauge said...

Snorting alum - not a recommended practice! It would be like shooting up chlorine I'd imagine.