5 Mar 2003

The ‘SUB’ was a subterranean blues bar, lit by small gas lamps that offered so little light that all they really did was draw your attention to all the dark. There was a constant cloud of smoke at head height and the only way to escape it was to sit down on the cushions and mats that littered the whole floor. There was a bar in the corner but waitresses flitted about you at all times so service was never far away. There was always a three-piece band in another corner who provided the musical atmosphere of funky despair. I sank to my haunches briefly to purvey the clientele with my eyes peeled for the familiar faces of the knowledgable miscreants who would be able to help. I could see none. In fact, as I circled around the adjoining rooms, I could not see a single face that I recognised. This would be very strange normally but considering the circumstances outside it was perhaps not so surprising. They regulars, who came here to get off their heads on opium, heroin, laudanum, cocaine or whatever they fancied, although they lived unhealthy lives, were still no fools. With most of the regulars, like with myself, a lifestyle orbiting their drug habits was a chosen path rather than an inevitability of temptation and a lack of self-control. It seemed as if they had all stayed in whatever pit they called their home. So, who were all these people? In the face of my original plan being stumped, I decided to find out. To be honest, with all the opiate in the air, I fancied a quick hit myself. I dropped my bag next to the wall and sat cross-legged on the cushion beside it. As I reached into my inside coat pocket for my works I acknowlgded the bald man sitting opposite me.

“Bonjour.”

“Bonjour.”

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