Instead of talking about a familiar thing bringing about a person’s demise, I have decided to relate the story of an abstract thing, used to relate the peril of the familiar thing;
In an opening scene we have the heavy drug-user, a dealer on quite a large scale – someone who has made a fortune and cost a great many lives;
We will call him Dram.
Dram has been brought in, already known to the authories but elusive in the extreme – not from particular carefulness, but by having a kind of distance from his supply, almost like he simply uses it and there’s some for anyone else – then the address turns out to be in someone else’s name, then he was only seen going there, not the live-in occupant, usually clearing him of any serious charge, he has handled his fortune well and does not flaunt riches symbolic of his ‘status’. Which is just as well because the locality, the growing network around the world that he is reaching into, and the respective authorities, do not hold him in high regard at all and so they have played a trump card.
In bringing Dram in, it is hoped the network will be exposed through a careful measure taken to ensure that first he has no accurate measure of time passing, then secondly as days elapse his network will expose itself – in essence the police hope to stretch a couple of days into over a week, a desperate bid to clear Dram’s presence, his drug problem off the streets.
So in an interview room with no clock, a recorder that the attending officer must speak the present time into and all officers syncronising their watches before entering – the biggest ongoing bust of any known criminal network begins in earnest, and to set the ball rolling a good measure of ignorance is poured onto what will undoubtedly become a raging psychotic as withdrawal sets in and crashes it’s host into the stark reality of cold turkey.
It is just hours in, and the fact that the withdrawal symptoms will be a giveaway of time passing is taken into consideration and the immense pressure of interrogation, the grave insinuation, the very shaky hand and the wagging finger of an acutely realised fact is all staged theatrically to bring it on… Coercion rather than force but with the clear image of Dram and his exploits as the key element – Dram is the insight into Dram.
…and so instead of implying there’s a drug problem caused by drugs, rather an experience someone has – ‘misadventure’ – is played upon not as if being under the influence of drugs could have stopped it from going that way…, but perhaps because of drugs, the experiences that people can have are more misadventurous and here, the supposition that a ‘clean’ person with no past history of drug-use unwittingly looks at an image – an image so intense that it captures them in the moment, time passes unmeasured, the image reveals itself continually to have more and more facets, to be unending in depth and meaning – it is a gripping icon graphic & when the person realises from looking at it so long that not only has time passed, but that somehow their life has passed by also, they seem to find – especially due to the nature of this image (albeit just photo-realistic detail intricately composed of patterns to assist the flow of the story it reveals) – that there is nothing left in their life except them looking at their fascination with it and the horror of realising they have a weight of responsibility they could not possibly manage if a mere image could steal so much time and vital lifeforce from them, their composure and energy changed by a picture….., inevitably the person, like carrying out a program routine, does something with the image so it is never found or linked to them or their subsequent actions, and then does something to themselves – always fatal or so badly affecting them they have to spend the remainder of their days hospitalized or institutionalised… few ever coping with the profound effect it has on them.
And then to add scope to the implications of such a thing – it is supposed that this is the ‘recreational drug’ of it’s time, for some of these images just make a person sleepy and relaxed, they will fondly take one off to their chambers and lay on the bed with the picture beside them and dote on it at rest unblinkingly with a serene feeling of euphoric bliss. Still it is a thing though that has removed them from the social exchange, consumed their time and energy, made them less of the person they could be in present company, and where it is a facet of their personality that interests others, the answer is to ‘try some for yourself’….
But if it is not a ‘recreational drug’ then there’s surely no way it could be banned or controlled for these effects it has on society – not without the same kind of authority on the subject levelling it’s interest upon it as some kind of mind controlling substance and giving rise to an iconic art equivalent of the DEA….
Dram has a wry smile and calmly asserts he doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
They say that’s not a problem, he just has to understand that they would be cleaning society up of anything that brought an illness upon people – and there’s not much of a study required to prove it in the case of street drugs.
Dram asserts he doesn’t follow.
And this too, is not a problem they say – their aim is to ensure the law is not broken and that while they have Dram in for questioning, he is of course clear of any charges they could press unless there’s something out there to incriminate him….
Dram smiles – “I must be liking it safe in here then” – and sprawls as much as the chair will allow, then broadens his grin still further.
“This is good” says the attending officer “…your strip search yielded nothing, you have only the clothes you stand in and they all check out clean too” he returns Dram’s broad smile and continues, “We’ll only keep you as long as necessary – we’re watching all the premises you operate from, so we’ll have another side to the story soon when someone shows up”
Dram raises an eyebrow, “yeah, fetch me mates, could do with the company”.
Quickly the officer retorts, “None of you will cross paths in here – we’re fetching them in to end the drug problem, you’re here because we pulled it up by the root as the first step”.
“Th’int nowt, there’s no drugs here there or anywhere as far as I’m concerned” says Dram assuredly.
“You probably have a different name for them – we’ll call them ‘icons’ – this can be ‘Operation Icon'”, says the officer, “Let me just go off the record a minute”, he says and speaks directly at the recorder saying, “Interview suspended 13:03” & pretends to stop the tape with a flick of his thumbnail against the case. As it continues taping, he talks in a hushed tone, like it might still hear, “Y’know, you could cut all this down to an open & shut case – you’re aware we’ll have all the evidence we need when we fetch your mates in, someone will be handling, possessing – think of all those pictures, those icons, every image – a hit or just a single toke – what it does to a person, that’s what’s coming crashing down Dram, it hasn’t survived up there, in the real world, it’s coming away – we’re just tidying it up, we can’t practice law until a law has been broken – we just investigate until there’s an arrest….”
“You can investigate me, my mates and all the premises – there is nothing to incriminate me or them, and I’m not sure I know what premises you refer to” replies Dram beginning to see it all on the inside where the picture is being painted.
“ok, let’s resume”, says the officer, and he presses the case of the recorder to make it creak and flicks it again for a convincing play/recording button sound, “resuming interview 13:04…..”, a pause is left, more for the meter of the spoken words to follow with the certainty it will be the officer speaking, “….So, Dram, we’re capable of handling this with your account filling in all the blanks, or us bringing all the evidence here and proving it, making a couple of decades really matter in just a few hours…”
“I’m not really going to win either way – it seems you have your scapegoat” says Dram with a casual sneer
The officer reels a little as if offended, “Let me put it to you again, I’m willing to see all this as art, not forgery, not theft of art – just pure art, made for the masses, available affordably – they can get it and do what they want with it.” – he waits a moment to see if Dram is following, an expression of “yeah yeah” suggests it could go either way, “pure art that has captivated people for decades and been the talking point at many social functions, in some respect you’re on a supply chain that delivers a miracle of iconic works, so readily available it is a flowing tap where once there was not even a trickle – your status is elevated over time because of the service you provide… – do you follow?”
“Sure I do – you’re saying people have a certain taste and they go to a supplier and get it, the more they buy the cheaper it gets the more it flows” says Dram, the maths proving no challenge at all.
“Then understand this – the supply is ok, the supplier is ok, the art is ok, the people on the whole are ok too, but if there wasn’t a problem with it somewhere – why would the police have become involved?” the officer poses it like Dram’s understanding clearly implicates him in the supply.
“Ha! that’s where I have no idea – I’d just hang it up and look at it right? Then all these people are having a problem and then the law gets involved – you definitely have a mystery there, …seems open & shut, but while there’s someone without a problem enjoying that art, there’s no cause for concern that can’t be played down to one person’s hysteria” Dram has belief in these words, he is hanging up the icon to look at it, just as he draws fumes into his lungs and waits for the ‘movie’ to start…
“Well of course, but what if the police involvement is because of elsewhere, same people during another interim period, when the art is all absorbed and there’s no deeper appreciation of it and they need some more art – it fulfils their lives and they would have no worthwhile existence without it….? …..what if it comes to that?”
“They get some more art, what’s wrong with that?” asks Dram imposing the pure mastered original format of the ‘cheap-to-mass-produce’ art is all they’re really discussing here.
“Well, I’ll tell you how it looks to me – you can take that art away and they have to get on without it, things revert to a former time and they’ll go along with just the memory, an experience, it is an interesting account – Or you can be the endless supplier and cater to all, with some who look at a little for a long time & some who need a lot all the time – some who die because they have nowhere left to hang their art but they keep getting some because they are a devoted follower of the artist and they get overloaded, like the ‘gallery’ becomes a fire hazard, one stray spark….”
“Yeah I see that” says Dram with a shrewd expression of ‘how well this will sell’
“So do you see that a flowing tap has filled the eyes and minds of people, simultaneously giving a full-body experience – art or drug, it is so profound either way – and that has caused those going to their daily social exchange to appear more than a little replete, they are stuffed to the gills and bursting at the seams – then they come away from it and they have some more art – sometimes they even have art at the social exchange – they have it until they are saturated – everything is art, they take no respite and profess to want none, just to be full of the art…..” the officer paints a majestic picture….
“Yeah, high society, that kind of thing?” Dram beams wickedly
“Yeah” returns the officer, “That kind of thing – well, remember me saying there’s that interim period – when there’s a need, when they have reduced their means and struggle with any lack of it – struggle too with having some, trembling until they get it inside them, then sick with it because there are layers and layers and layers of the stuff in them, but it’s become like empty splintered picture frames with flaking paint, all the art has gone…. and somehow – this tiny little fragment of art, a fraction of a gram – it is all the art they need and must have – the things they will do to have it…”, his eyes narrowed and focussed looking at Dram, but implying the place where it has gone – an image that both of them see.
Dram can see this is a serious suggestion, “What? So it comes down to some drug addicts with withdrawal symptoms making all the fulfilling goodness in reality vanish until they get another deal and so there’s a law about it and I’m the prime suspect and sitting pretty because all this is some blinding metaphor for art appreciation….?”
“In a nutshell – we have you here because the number of people that are heavy users and so monomoronic they will approach you alone for their supply, but still thinking they use different dealers because they go to your different premises and meet a different person there, having forgotten what you probably only told them once about shopping round so they didn’t leave a trail right to your door, but also likely only told them once because you probably have the best prices and soon they’re your loyal customers anyway – that little crowd of heavy users is our number one problem – and like I said, we pulled out the root first….; We’re holding you here and we’re bringing them in – one by one, no matter how loyal they are, they will reveal enough evidence to stop your artfulness. If only you had enjoyed those first ever tastes of such a profound experience as one-offs, the rest of the world wouldn’t have a problem with it all gravitating into your supply network…… hmmmm?”, looking at Dram as if over the top of a pair of spectacles, the officer shakes his head with a sigh.
Dram speaks resignedly, “I have nothing to declare…, I have no idea who those people will be or how they might be able to incriminate me”
Sure enough Dram is a crafty customer – his exploits have gone on, not unnoticed, for decades but he is on the whole either very slippery or very clean. It is thanks to modern day policing that a urine & blood test can reveal any intoxicants in the body and so of late, the last couple of pick ups have given the opportunity to sample and determine Dram’s propensity for art. He is constantly saturated.
“Well, let’s wait on them as something for later – it is important you realise that this is a very early stage in our enquiry, we will not keep you longer than we’re allowed to, but we will find any reason enough to postpone your release….” The officer seems to suggest it will be a case of setting bail when legal representation arrives and he will be off again – nothing of the plan to play for time is revealed and these amazing images of art and the comparably derelict greyness of a world with none due to withdrawal and a supply that has been uprooted is all that seems to remain as the interview is stopped at 13:09
In a cell out of earshot from any other, with no officer allowed near unless part of the investigation, Dram whiles away – he knows, not from experience, but from other’s accounts that a cell with no outside window is to blur the distinct evidence of day & night passing, he knows they will keep him for longer than they say and that claiming ‘loss of earnings’ will hardly be regarded seriously – he has the distinct impression he will not be exposed through others being interviewed but that something is imposing a very serious threat to his equlibrium. Then it hits hard – he needs something & he knows he needs it, so staves it off with that much awareness of what is transpiring. It is relentless though – there is no option but to accept he has rested on his laurels recently and his heavy use has simply saturated his body with no length of time between doses long enough to give rise to a need for the substance – he has taken it like food and now he is starving….
What was intended to be eight hours made to look like two or three will seem to Dram like twenty four hours, and then he will be taken, whatever state he is in, back to the interview room for further discussion about art.
Dram had revelled in being the icon, a superficial artificial temporarily induced state using street drugs – it is slipping away now and parts of him, like nerve impulses are making a spasmic grab, retreat or shudder. His mind & body could well become self-consuming – whatever is in store, it will be the hell he lined himself up for come early and as the introspection begins, coincidentally an empty property is broken into and one of those heavy users he supplies to is ransacking the place scouring for anything to get high on – it is almost feral, certainly primitive – there’s little else for it but to accept this is the ultimate high so far and as reality comes back like an old haunt that seems redecorated while it is the person who has changed, there is an iconic element to all this – the hope that it could be open & shut – just for the chance of a means to get back to the outside world and find a point on the supply that isn’t being policed.
But it is a vain hope – they make cells like this for people like Dram, no telling how much time has passed and no understanding of what is happening to oneself except as a prisoner in a cell, the starkness of it like a remote barren island distant from humanity – there is no sound from anywhere that could be another human, in fact no sound, just himself, Dram and his drug addled mind going into meltdown, crashing into the unyielding reality he has avoided for so long at the expense of his & others’ nerves, his simple unintoxicated understanding of the world returning, now unavoidable – a whole brain function devoted to digesting an illicit narcotic is shutting down, causing hypersensitivity, and Dram, through a long spell of cold turkey, will be the drug until his customers find all the premises they approach are taped with police lines, that he & his consorts are no longer there, and that when they source it somewhere else, as well they might – it will be different, same thing in a different story, a different angle – another dealer’s supply will entrain them away from ever using Dram’s again if they use it long enough, altering Dram’s perception of a place he has in the world – and of course, some of them may become heavy users, desperate, so may the dealer – it could all repeat over. In another interview he could be called Mil and he could switch them over to another ‘brand’ of death he’s peddling right under the nose of the authorities that brought down Dram because it’s illicit nature is not yet revealed, the spread of it unknown…., all of which could impact on Dram, just through the inquisition he must undergo while in custody….
…Suddenly a dark shadow looms, darkening Dram’s cell, an echoing click seems to resound in the empty corridor, and yet Dram is alone with himself, …his mind has begun without the drug…..
time passes like an aching body shifting it’s weight in an awkwardly lapsed position
…..he quietens an inner voice…silences it before it gets further than “….must have”, ….& then other words returning from the earlier exchange in the interview room…
“the things they will do to have it…”
Dram starts to become a device, a ploy, not mentally – just his body, the sensory awareness of incarceration, the hypersensitivity building…. just hours of it to start with yet still it is very much a psychosis from the start…..