The true black voice of his generation, Donald Goines wrote novels that nailed the harsh realities of the urban experience deep into the psyche of today’s hip hop culture, influencing major artists from Jay-Z and 50 Cent to Nas and Ghostface Killah. Dopefiend is his classic descent into the junkie’s harrowing nightmare…
Teddy finally got the girl of his dreams. Together, Teddy and Terry filled people with admiration wherever they went. Young, gifted, and black, the future was theirs for the taking. But Teddy had a small little addiction. Then Terry had a taste. Then life took a wrong turn into the darkest, vilest back alleys. Drawing from years of his own addiction to heroin, Goines holds nothing back in this graphic, unflinching tale of lives destroyed by drugs. Each page tells it like it is—the whole truth and nothing but the truth—which keeps you coming back for more.
Praise for Donald Goines and His Novels
“Written from ground zero… the voice of the ghetto itself.” —The Village Voice
“He lived by the code of the streets.” —New Jersey Voice
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About the Author
Donald Goines was born in Detroit, Michigan. He joined the U.S. Air Force instead of going into his family’s dry cleaning business. Following his service, he entered into a life of drug addiction and crime. He received seven prison sentences, serving a total of over six years. While he was in prison, Goines wrote his first two novels, Dopefiend: The Story of a Black Junkie and Whoreson: The Story of a Ghetto Pimp. Goines was shot to death in 1974.
Read an Excerpt
By DONALD GOINES
HOLLOWAY HOUSE CLASSICSCopyright © 1999 Donald Goines
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe voices inside the flat were loud as the argument continued. Porky, black and horribly fat, stared around his domain with small, red, reptilian eyes. His apartment was his castle. His world consisted of the narrow confines of the four walls that surrounded him. In his huge armchair he would sit watching the drug addicts come and go. They entertained him, not intentionally, but nevertheless they did. When they came to his shooting gallery and begged for credit, it gave him the feeling of power. With the women addicts he enjoyed himself even more. When they were short of money, his fiendish mind came up with newer and more abnormal acts for them to entertain him with.
He set aside the book he had been glancing through, laying it down in such a way that he could glance at the large color pictures of a horse and woman faking an act of copulation. The four addicts who had just bought a fourth of dope from his doorman were deep in an argument over who would use the two sets of works first. The rest of the tools were already in use by other addicts.
"Here, baby," a dopefiend yelled across the room. "One of you can use my works, just as long as you don't stop them up." He hesitated, then added, "Just make sure you clean them out when you finish using 'em." To emphasize his point, he stuck the works back down in a glass of water sitting next to him and drew up a dropper full of water. He slowly skeeted it out on the floor, making sure the needle wasn't stopped up before loaning it out.
"When you return them, Jean, make sure they work as good as they do now." He skeeted some more water out of the needle, showing the woman that his tools weren't stopped up.
Porky watched their behavior without any show of emotion. It didn't disturb him to see bloody water skeeted on his floor, since it was already littered with cigarette butts and bloody toilet tissue. The floor of the apartment had pools of blood on it, from where addicts had tried to get a hit but the works had stopped up and they had pulled the needle out, leaving a flowing trail of blood that dropped down from their arms or necks and settled on the floor. From the accumulation of filth and old dried-up blood, the house had a reeking odor that was nauseous to anyone who hadn't smelled it before.
Jean, a tall brown-skinned addict who looked ten years older than her twenty years, grabbed the works out of Joe's outstretched hand. Her face was still attractive, but one could discern marks of dissipation in it. Her lips were drawn down in a perpetual dopefiend frown.
Porky wet his huge blubberish lips in anticipation. Jean was one of the few female addicts to come to his apartment who had trouble finding a vein to hit in. Because of this problem she hit in the inner part of her thigh. He watched her greedily as she prepared to hit in the groin. She cooked up her dope in a large bottle top, almost burning her fingers when the top became too hot to hold, but not hot enough to make her drop her dope. She slowly rolled up a piece of cotton and dropped it inside the cooker. She drew the heroin up through the cotton. As her fingers moved delicately with the dropper, her eyes came up and she caught Porky's eyes following her every motion. Her small mouth tightened sarcastically. She realized that he would continue to watch until she was finished, but she was far past the stage where she was concerned about such a small matter as a man looking under her dress.
The only concern she had at the moment was whether or not she could get a hit. Without any embarrassment whatsoever, she pulled up her short skirt until it was above her hips, revealing the absence of panties, while displaying the tangled mass of dark hairs on her pubic mound. Anxiously she began to run her finger up and down until she could feel the vein she was searching for. Without hesitation, she plunged the dull needle down into her groin. There was a blue-black scar on the inside of her thigh, which at closer observation was revealed to be needle marks from where she had hit before. In the middle of the track she plunged the needle into what was a small abscess. As she pushed and pulled on the needle, trying to find the hit, pus ran out of the sore and down her leg.
Porky watched the dark fertile thighs with hunger. He had had Jean on many occasions, but she still aroused him with her complete disregard for what other people thought. He remembered the time she had put on a freak show with one of his large German police dogs. She had performed in the front room before everyone without any hesitation. Just the mention of the fourth of dope he was giving her set her right to work. The vivid picture of her and the dog on the floor came to his mind, and he grabbed himself and rocked back and forth. Small sounds of pleasure escaped from him as he imagined the dog between her black thighs.
With an expression of exquisite pleasure Jean sat back in her chair. She worked the dropper slowly, then let it fill back up with blood. When the blood reached the top of the dropper, she backed it up into her veins, working the blood in the dropper slowly as she jacked the works off.
After she repeated this act over and over again, the junkie who had loaned her the works yelled: "I done told you, bitch, not to stop up my works. You keep jackin' them off, they goin' sure as hell stop up." Joe stood up and stared at her angrily. He was tall and thin, with dark features. His hair still held the accumulation of debris from where he had slept.
Jean pulled the needle out slowly. A look of rapture filled her face. She looked up and noticed Porky holding himself and watching her. Her eyes filled with scorn. She opened her legs wide and scratched herself.
"Why don't you come over here, Porky, and let me rub some of this pussy up against your fat, black face." She spoke in a slow tantalizing voice, all the while rubbing the sides of her cunt. The sight was beyond vulgarity. It was grotesque, even sickening, because as she sat there with her legs wide, a stream of blood mixed with pus ran slowly down her thigh.
Porky watched her as though he was in a trance. He licked his lips and moaned. His breathing became heavy and loud in the wide, spacious front room of the apartment. Most of the addicts sitting on the couches watched him with contempt, if they weren't nodding too much to see. To them, Porky was just a fat freak with good dope. They used him the same way they would use anyone else to get their fix. They tried to play on his weakness.
"Bitch," Joe yelled at the woman as he walked over and snatched up his bloody works. "You done let all that motherfuckin' blood dry in my spike." He stared at her coldly. "A dopefiend bitch ain't shit," he stated, then walked back across the room and began to clean his tools out.
A circus, Porky thought as he watched another girl cross the room and sit down on the floor between Jean's legs. She raised her lips and kissed Jean's thigh. Her short skirt rose high on her hips as she nestled between Jean's spreading legs. As she raised her arm to stroke Jean's leg, a swarm of sores were revealed. On closer inspection, a person could see that each of the sores was an open abscess. The sleeves of her light-colored blouse were spotted with dried blood.
As he watched, Porky's eyes began to roll. He reached down inside his pants and rubbed vigorously. The addicts watched Porky, anxiously hoping that he didn't reach a climax too soon. They knew that, at times when Porky felt freakiest, he might set enough dope out for everyone.
Suddenly Jean dropped her skirt and stood up. Her eyes went across the room to Porky. His face was covered with sweat, while his double chin hung down quivering. His cheeks had become so fat that they hung down around his neck.
"Set some dope out, Porky," Jean said in an unconcerned tone. "If you want to watch a freak show, lay it out, baby." Her face was hawklike, with sharp black eyes.
With instant control Porky pulled himself together. His beady eyes glittered with animal cunning. Where before there had been lust, now only cruelty could be seen. "Smokey!" he yelled. His voice seemed shrill for such a huge person.
The bedroom door opened and a slim, dark-skinned woman in her early thirties came out. She had a look about her as though she had seen all the horrors that life could reveal and then experienced them. Her skin was dry and wrinkled, while her eyes had a flat, dead look about them. She moved across the room as though she was floating.
The dopefiends watched Smokey out of the corners of their eyes. They knew it was the end of their thoughts of free dope. With Smokey there, nothing would be given away. The addicts, men and women alike, thought of Smokey as one of the dirtiest-hearted black bitches alive.
Her eyes traveled around the room, missing nothing. Wherever she glanced, the addict who caught Smokey's eye quickly looked away. Smokey had tricked her way out of a cotton field in Georgia when she was thirteen. By the time she reached New York a year later, she was a professional whore and dopefiend.
She took in Porky's appearance with a glance. His hand was still buried inside his pants. She removed his hand as she sat down on his huge lap, put her small hand behind his back, and reached down inside his pants. She manipulated her fingers dexterously as she swept the room with a cold glance. Her shrewd stare took in the blood dropping on the floor as one of the dopefiends nodded with a spike in his arm.
In the corner another addict was lying on the floor while his companion kneeled over him. His cheeks were puffed up as he tried to build up the vein in his neck. Slowly he let out the air, then turned his head as his friend felt his neck, feeling for the vein. Using a size 28 needle, extra long, the addict's friend, Junior, stuck the long needle deeply into his partner's neck. Missing the vein, he removed the needle quickly and felt his friend's neck again. He held the vein with his middle finger and pushed the needle back into his companion's neck.
Suddenly blood began to flow up into the dropper, letting the man know that he had made a direct hit. He removed the dropper from the needle, leaving the needle still protruding from the addict's neck. He squirted the water out of the dropper and drew up some heroin from a top that was carefully placed beside the man on the floor. Gently he replaced the dropper into the needle that was sticking out of his friend's neck, waiting until blood flowed up in the dropper again before releasing the drug slowly. Waiting for the reflow of blood was the only way he had of knowing if the works had stopped on him while he was changing stuff in the dropper.
Twice more Junior refilled the dropper from the top and ran the heroin into his partner's neck. He picked the top up and wiggled the dropper around, using it to suck up the last of the dope in the cotton.
Junior had a good hit because, while the dropper was removed, blood gushed out of the open end of the needle. He stuck the dropper into the needle and ran the last of the dope. When he pulled the needle out, blood ran down the dope- fiend's neck as he stretched out on the floor. It didn't disturb the addict though. He just lay there until his partner used some toilet paper to wipe the blood from his neck.
Porky let out a loud groan and his monstrous body jerked uncontrollably. Smokey removed her hand and wiped it on her dirty skirt. She stuck her hand down inside her bra and removed a small package and opened it. The white powder looked innocent lying there in the open, but this was the drug of the damned, the curse of mankind: heroin, what some call "smack," others "junk," "snow," "stuff," "poison," "horse." It had different names, but it still had the same effect. To all of its users, it was slow death.
Smokey stood up and swept the room with her brutal stare. Most of the addicts looked away. She was one of them and they knew there was no story they could tell her because she had heard them all.
Chapter TwoThe couple in the automobile was still arguing when the man driving parked in front of Porky's house. From outside, the house looked innocent enough. A small two-family flat, with the downstairs flat boarded up. There were boards over all the windows in the downstairs apartment, giving it the appearance of having been closed for quite a while. Once there had been a fence around the place, but like many houses on the east side of Detroit, the fence had gone first, then the grass had followed. Now, there were only a few fence posts remaining in random spots around the front of the house.
Teddy glanced at the small woman sitting beside him. "Terry, give me those other two dollars, and I'll get a ten-dollar pack for us."
The woman sitting beside him had the looks of a small doll. She was tiny, just under five feet, with jet black hair that hung down around her shoulders. Her skin had a golden hue about it impossible to acquire unless you were fortunate enough to be born with it. Her eyes, when she glanced up at the man with her, were bright and glittered with the joy of life and the happiness of being a woman in love. All of her features were small, and she had a habit of sticking her tongue out between her beautifully curved lips whenever she was deep in thought. Her smile held the promise of sweet sensuality—and inward delights for the man lucky enough to receive her attention.
At his words, Terry puckered her mouth in a tight frown. "I can't do that, Teddy. I've got to have gas money so I can drive back and forth to work." She crossed her legs, revealing lovely tan thighs. "Besides," she continued, "I already gave you eight dollars out of the ten-dollar bill I borrowed from Momma, and I was supposed to make it last me the rest of the week."
"Aw, baby," Teddy whined. He stuck his lip out like a small child.
Terry squinted up her nose. "Shit, Teddy, you don't need all that dope anyway."
For a moment Teddy was too occupied considering the gas gauge to reply. "You got enough gas, Terry, to get to work and back," he said. "Come on, let's run up to Porky's and get a little blow."
Again she frowned. "Damn, Teddy, you know I don't want to go upstairs in that nasty house. The smell makes me sick, plus that nasty, fat, black bastard always tries to look up under my dress." She made a small gesture with her hand, then continued. "Teddy, you know I hate the sight of all those people lying around on that dirty floor, with blood running all down their arms and legs. No thank you, baby; I can think of one thousand things I'd rather do this day than go up in that funky house. So please, Daddy, don't ask me to go up there with you. I'd rather wait in the car."
Teddy didn't even bother to listen to what she had to say. If she didn't go up, he didn't have to give her any of the dope. But then again, if she went with him, he stood a better chance of hitting Porky up for a little credit. He tossed the idea around in his head. He was well aware of the fact that Porky was interested in Terry, but for that matter, Porky was interested in anything with a skirt on, and that didn't just go for women.
"Come on," he ordered, making his mind up at once. With Terry along, he just might be able to get enough stuff so that he wouldn't have to go out hustling the rest of the day. It was worth the chance. He didn't have anything to lose by trying.
Terry shrugged. She knew that sound in his voice. It was always better to give in when Teddy spoke like that, because if she didn't she ran the chance of getting slapped down; or worse, they would end up arguing the rest of the day, until she went to work. She climbed out of the small compact car, grumbling under her breath, and waited until Teddy came around the car. The look she tossed him was full of anger, but there was no hiding the love she held for her man. They were both just about the same size, with the same golden brown complexions. At first sight, many people would take them to be brother and sister. He flashed his brilliant smile at her when he reached the sidewalk. Sometimes it made her happy just to be allowed to run with him. She didn't really care when he didn't take her anywhere. What she wanted was the enjoyment of just being with her man.
"You black men in Detroit are something else," Terry said as she grabbed his arm. If I can only figure out a way to get him away from all this dope, she thought. She remembered the beautiful times they had had together before Teddy started using.
Excerpted from DOPEFIEND by DONALD GOINES Copyright © 1999 by Donald Goines. Excerpted by permission of HOLLOWAY HOUSE CLASSICS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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