At the Bottom

And At The Bottom You'll Find All My Friends

Jesse never set out to become a drug dealer, it just kind of happened.

He started out smoking weed with his friends at fifteen, loving the feeling that it gave him. It cleared his mind, made his heartbeat lower and made him feel like he was floating on a cloud of pure joy. It wasn’t long before he was selling it to the guys at school, hooking them up with sweet deals that weighed out slightly better than any other dealer in the neighbourhood – he made a profit larger than any part time job flipping burgers would ever pay.

At seventeen, his parents found out about his drug use and kicked him out but it was okay, him and his best friend Vinnie got their own small flat and called it home with Vinnie’s parents sighing the lease off under their own names. Sure, it wasn’t the best place around but how could two high schoolers afford an incredible loft with only shitty part time jobs at a local music venue? They couldn’t. Not to the outside world, at least. But they made it comfortable with the drug money, buying comfy furniture and the latest electronics so when they had friends and clients over, they showed off their wealth.

And then it happened.

It’s just a couple of kilos Jesse – you’ll be able to shift it easily.”

Cocaine.

Vinnie showed him how to measure it out, how to cut it with substances that wouldn’t kill his clients and wouldn’t let anyone think it was anything other than pure. Vinnie showed him how to rack up lines, how to decorate a table with enough to keep the party going and his friends dancing to the music that their CD collection provided. Vinnie even taught him how to roll up a $20 bill to make snorting those little lines so much easier.

No one was getting hurt. Sure, people were seeing him daily for a couple of grams but Jesse saw no wrong with it. Being as naive as Jesse was, he didn’t understand that friends were becoming dependant, dying for a little line just to keep their days going. He didn’t see how it was starting to cause a snowstorm that was surrounding his friends.

At nineteen, Jesse sat in a dark room in the apartment he’d once shared with his best friend crying. He cried for the friendships lost, cried for the way he had sold himself up the river just to keep himself in a tidy profit, cried for the fact he’d ruined so many lives with what he’d done.

Exactly a month before, Jesse had gone to visit Vinnie in the hospital, gulping back the guilt as Vinnie’s mother kissed his cheek gently and his dad embraced the younger man in a tight hug. “You were always good to our Vin,” they’d said, “always had his back – you became a brother to him and a son to us.” In his throat, a lump had formed that couldn’t be swallowed. “Thank you for being here.” He’d held Vinnie’s parents’ hands as the doctors had turned off the machine helping their biological son breathe. He’d let the tears flow down his face as he watched his best friend’s chest rise and fall one last time, wanting to scream as the monitors all flatlined. “How are we ever going to live through this?”

Today was the day that Jesse couldn’t run away from.

Today was the day that Jesse buried his drug dealing past with his best friend’s lifeless body.

Vinnie’s mother had picked out a suit for Jesse, had even helped him buy the correct dress shoes for a funeral. His father had cut Jesse’s hair at the kitchen table that morning, talking about memories of a childhood shared by the two and how no one ever saw them breaking apart.

More than friends but less than lovers.

Jesse and Vinnie.

Vinnie and Jesse.

Friends forever.

I’m so sorry for letting you down,” he whispered through the oak, feeling the weight of the coffin rest on his shoulders with Vinnie’s father, uncles and cousins. “I’m sorry I didn’t stop you.” He’d sobbed, he’d sobbed all the way from the church to the burial spot that had been picked out under a shaded tree. “I’m sorry Vinnie.

Jesse didn’t notice how much of a coke habit Vinnie had picked up. He didn’t notice the way his best friend was so desperate for him to continue selling it after the first batch was done and gone. He didn’t notice the way Vinnie started to have nose bleeds or shake when it’d been a few hours without. He didn’t notice the needles in Vinnie’s room or how he’d started going out at strange hours, coming home before dead silence for more hours until the cycle repeated.

Jesse didn’t notice that Vinnie had become addicted to coke which had led him to heroin because if he had, he would have gotten him help in time. But now because of the actions of a stupid teenage dream of getting rich, Jesse was alone in the world, forever haunted by the memories of finding his best friend brain dead on the kitchen floor, needle engraved into his arm.