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Finally, we found ourselves standing outside of her place, which was a decrepit building in an industrial slum section of the downtown. There was probably about ten people who lived there, and it showed. There was graffiti everywhere, and the place stank from urine and sweat. For a moment I thought back to my parents' house with it's nice carpets and warm beds. But then I thought about how I felt living there and how I felt living here, and I followed Shell to her room.

I'm not one to kiss and tell, but Shell was really weird about sex. It's not like she was some strange bondage freak or whatever, but she really got right into it. I kept thinking that the people in the other rooms were going to get mad at us, but nobody said anything about it and I guess it just didn't bother anyone. Actually, it sort of freaked me out because one minute she was just totally enraptured and screwing me for all she was worth, and then when we were done she just started crying. I didn't know what to do, so I just lay there. I could feel myself slowly getting soft again inside her, and I felt every sob and hitched breath. Finally, I could feel the sweat cooling on us and I decided I had to move because I was starting to get awfully cold. I got up, grabbed what had once been a beautifully thick white duvet, and lay down with her again. She was smiling this time. "I've got something to show you."

All the best things are rituals in themselves. Most of those are so subtle that you never really think about it, like the ritual behind lighting a smoke. You open the pack and you're greeted with that smell of the tobacco. Then there's that sound which only ever happens when you pull out a smoke. Then you put it in your mouth, and put it to the flame, puffing gently. It's a rather weak ritual, but ritual it is.

Heroin is a very strong ritual, and it is obvious from the very first. I can't say that I really wanted to shoot up. I wasn't scared of needles or anything, but I sure as shit didn't enjoy them. She told me that she was going to take all of that pain of mine from today and just sort of ripple it out over the night and out of our souls.

I'd like to say that she wasn't making any sense, or that I didn't feel right about things, but that's really not true. The only excuse I have is one that really only applies if you've ever turned your life upside down. It had been in the area of two weeks since I was living in a comfortable house with a warm bed and weekend access to the family car. Two very small weeks later I was sitting in a derelict building watching the woman I had just screwed stab a needle in her veins. All around me were layers of graffiti and filth that told the stories of literally thousands of people just like me. The world was different than it had been, and I was different in it. Maybe that's why I let her put the needle in me.

You're standing in the mountains looking out. There are no people, no roads, and no high rises. There is only the mountains, the sky, the sun, the grass, the rocks, the underbrush, the trees, and this incredible sensation like you know you're right in God's line of sight. Take that one moment and stretch it until you think your heart is going to explode. I sat there on a dirty mattress surrounded by these walls of filth, and I knew what God felt like on a good day. How do you not get addicted to that?

Addiction is a funny thing. It didn't take long before I realized that I was living in the teeth of the dragon, but that was fine by me. If you think about it, addiction is a small price to pay for living in divinity, isn't it? The thing that I never figured out was that divinity wouldn't ask you to sink so low to get so high.

I started having to devote everything I could get from panhandling to heroin, but the more heroin you do the less you can handle sitting and waiting for someone to drop a coin or two in your hand. A lot of people at that point turn to hooking themselves, but I just couldn't do it. I have this thing about faggots. No high is worth putting some twisted little fairy's cock in my mouth.

I don't remember anything happening that precluded my decision to start robbing people. Shell and I didn't talk about it or anything, we just sort of went out to this parking lot where a lot of people park their cars when they are going to one of those expensive clubs and waited. We didn't talk much, just sat and smoked cigarettes and waited. Eventually, some guy comes along and goes to get into his car. I felt his spine just sort of stiffen as I put the knife to his throat. It was funny because we didn't say a word and neither did he. He just reached back slowly and pulled out this billfold that was stuffed with money. We took it and just slid back into the night to find our next fix. I wonder sometimes about that guy, the way it was almost like he knew we would be there or something. That kind of thing does weird things to your mind.

I developed a pretty strange view of the world. When I stuck a knife to someone's throat, it was all just a part of the ritual. They weren't people, because I just couldn't bring myself to hurt people. Instead, they were sort of like a bank machine that involved a little more than typing in your four-digit code. Every night you needed money, so every night you found yourself a quiet corner and waited for the right person to come walking along. They were just like the syringe, the spoon, or the flame, a part of the
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