October, 1990 + Waterville, Maine
OK, so my 'sex as far as the eye can see' thing with Jean didn't work out. Not to worry. Surely there were others out there who would inject papaverine and enjoy some sex in the breakdown lane. I just had to discover one. Hell, I had the potential for the four hour escapade every time I saddled up. The problem was, of course, how would I get over with that? I couldn't say, "Hi, I'm Ray. What do you think about injecting my dick with papaverine and riding me like Annie Oakley for four hours?" Maybe the medical approach, "Are you inclined to syringically inject an anti-spasmodic crystalline alkaloid derived from benzyl-isoquinoline into a sterile, sensitive genital site characterized by its incipient erectile potential so as to maximize coitus 225 minutes?"
Suffice it to say, no approach worked. Thinking that my unusual affliction doomed me to a gelded future I gave up on ever using my little vial again. E and I settled into a relationless and solitary sexless existence, what single life on the Arctic Tundra must be. Weeks and months passed. Every time I opened the fridge, there on my door sat my once upon a merry day alcoloidals, seeming to poetize:
"You thought your woes were at an end,
and I would be your little friend,
but Jean is gone and I'm stuck here,
growing weak, near death, like E, I fear."
What with the tundra and the poetics I was back to Fantasyland and then...along the stream of life came Connie. If you were going to create ideal Papaverine Mama, what qualities would you look for? I'd want a (former) needle freak (for the needle part), cokehead (for the part that just has to be illegal), experienced in offbeat sex (for the offbeat part, and a little crazy (for the 'you want me to do WHAT?' part). That was Connie. We found each other in the Waterville grocery store, absentmindedly perusing the tabloids on a lonesome Saturday afternoon.
Me: "I see Liz Taylor was abducted by space
She: "You mean those weekends with Michael
That was all it took. We hooked up immediately, like Clyde finding Bonnie finding Clyde. She was Dylan's quintessential 'graveyard woman' a real 'junkyard angel'.
Connie was a junkie's dream. If you asked her, she'd walk barefoot through forty miles of broken glass to lift the dope from an evidence locker at One Police Plaza. She could make a syringe out of barbed wire, safety pins, and rubber bands, and start a fire using nothing but Q-tips. Connie could mix the meth like Betty Crocker, do the boot like Dr. Kildare, tidy up things like the great granddaughter of Mr. Clean, and not leave a clue. Nothing fazed her. I was sure she could handle a four hour, 'this goddamn thing won't go down' papaverine overdose.
She was a combination Florence Nightingale and Janis Joplin: kind and good and very bad. Connie was tall and shapely. She had an inquisitive look, probably because she wore inch-thick glasses. She had a ready, up for anything smile, nice hooters, and a no holds barred sense of humor. I never thought I had to impress her. Her every move seemed easy and natural. I liked her ab initio, as judges say, right from the start. We had a ball together. She was a great date for a night at the track, a quiet evening at home, or a wild-ride all-night blow out. She had range.
Following a few heavy make-out sessions that reminded me of a very bad movie I didn't care much for the first time (Phase One), we got down to Phase Two. This was discussing Phase Three: "You help me into bed, get me ready for the injection, and prepare the syringe (no doctor or detail needed this time). Next, Oh Happy Day, you get your point across and boot that juice." Then Baby, ecstasy, of a kind. As the Velvet Underground put it, we're both 'rushing on our run', feeling 'just like Jesus' son'. Yeah, man, it was going to be a trip.
After an evening in Skowhegan donating to the Racetrack at the Fair Relief Fund, we headed home. Did I say easy and natural? I was crazy with anticipation and worry, like the Olympic skater terrified of the upcoming triple jump. Will it work? How old is that vial? This isn't going to be an 'I understand' scene, is it? What about the four hour thing?
Connie meanwhile is romantically rhapsodizing over some ballad she heard on the radio, apparently unaware of my self-inflicted agony. She seemed to be unconcerned about what came next. We made it into the dark apartment that resembled one of Hitler's underground bunkers, all still, airless, and claustrophobic.
I stole in as if I were a hooded burglar about to heist and heirloom. I was afraid I would get caught and be exposed. I immediately went into clinical mode. I rehearsed Phase Three, sounding as if I were walking an intern through a kidney transplant. Connie was barely listening, thinking someone else was speaking to someone else about something else. It took a little remedial effort, Connie being stuck in that song and all. She appeared to be waiting breathlessly for her severely wounded one-legged but undaunted courageous young starry-eyed soul-mate soldier boy to crawl those twenty five miles behind enemy lines over all those land mines and dead Germans to collapse in her yearning embrace.
When Connie got a look at those hypodermics all cylinders fired. 'Now THIS I can relate to.' Things moved faster. Soon I was in my bed, in that same small blue bedroom where jean had so briefly ruled queen. Night sounds, such as stray cats having sex and moaning in the alley, cars whizzing past into town, wind in the trees, and music, muted from a distance gave us our background symphony. Connie finally had the syringe, the vial, and a very hungry look. She was rooted where she stood, transfixed. Her eyes darted from the works to me to the works.
I was thinking she was thinking, 'Where is the better payoff here: experimental, maybe it'll work, maybe it won't, sex with Ray or me and my monkey.' What a scene! I was in bed on my back laid out naked with some pretty fierce hunger. She stood next to the bed, nude herself, gazing off into some coke dream. Connie was softly moaning, stroking the syringe, and humming a most appropriate tune: 'You've got your demons, you've got desires, but I've got a few of my own.'
Remember, Connie was a needle freak. Syringes and glass bulbs were her thing. Sex was, at best, an afterthought. Recalling the Jean fiasco, I knew I couldn't let this opportunity slip by. 'I can't let that happen, I won't let that happen, and I can't let that happen', I vowed to myself. How many more shots at the crown would there be? Maybe none. I had to break the spell.
"Connie!! Get Down to Business!" "Oh", she whispered distractedly, "Yeah, right, I almost forgot". I felt a tad selfish. She was enjoying her sojourn down Desolation Row, fondly revisiting those charming big city OD scenes. Her meth head beau would be fibrillating in the cold water shower while the Riot Squad was about to break down the door. Connie would frantically be trying to flush the dope while Floyd lay on the kitchen floor dry-heaving. We had a goal oriented task of a carnal nature to complete, damn it. Like Agnes, I , too, can get clinical.
The rest was both a climax and an anticlimax. Connie poked, stroked and Lazarus re-arose, though it took a little longer this time to get things up and running. I promised earlier I wouldn't describe the mechanics. Suffice it to say there was the requisite moaning, groaning, swearing and sweating. Connie implored the Divine, who evidently came through. For this once, God's name was not taken in vain. Connie assured me all went real well on her end. I was greatly relieved. I felt manly. The lonesome diner had his fork back. Also, the four hour problem was a non-issue.
The anticlimax part: without genital sensation, sex was like watching a friend doing Debbie Does Dallas. Hooray for him, but how about me? This is one of the unspoken tragedies of most quadriplegia. A perfectly healthy, erotically active man is suddenly deprived of sexual sensation and orgasm. There is no preparation for such a loss. Like most quadriplegics, I lament my condition from time to time. When I do I remain undecided: if I had the choice of only one, would I opt for full sexual function or mobility? The majority of non-injured folk would probably find that strange and take mobility hands down. Fewer spinal chord injured men would be so sure. Freud may not have been all wrong.
I restlessly drifted off to sleep with Connie in my arms. I was puzzled; I felt both satisfied and unfulfilled. 'Just who had done what to whom there,' I pondered. That's what sex in Wonderland must be', I concluded.
Is it even necessary to say what happened shortly after that? Methhead Mike was released from prison and looked up Connie. Almost immediately I heard, "Ray, he needs me; he says I'm his guardian angel. You and I will always be..." I didn't need to listen to the rest, though we did remain good friends until I moved to Texas.
I've missed jean and Connie over the years. Thinking of you, my sweets:
"May your hearts always be joyful,
may your songs always be sung,
and may you stay, forever young."
Lest I slight my little friend, I add this limerick:
I do love you, Papaverine,
when injected by Connie or Jean
your reviving powers
keep me up for hours
making possible matters obscene