The hell of meth " it’s everywhere around you |

The hell of meth " it’s everywhere around you

Gary Hubbell

We were standing in line at Wendy’s in El Jebel, after the noon rush, waiting for the counter help to process two orders in English. “Dusty,” my helper, motioned to the two Latinos that had just come in the door. They were thin, their eyes shifty and dilated, and their gestures twitchy.

“They’re high,” Dusty said.

“On what?” I asked.

“Meth,” he answered. “See their eyes, how dilated they are? And see how they keep twitching their heads? That’s crystal meth.”

There were two tattooed white-boy smartasses sitting at a table. They were all decked out in their white-trash cool outfits, shorts past their knees, ball caps with stiff brims, thrash band T-shirts, and big earrings in their earlobes like African tribesmen. One of them had flames tattooed on his calves, and an orgy of serpents and demons crawled up their arms and necks.

“Dealers, I would bet you anything,” Dusty said. “Most likely coke.”

Dusty would know. He was both a dealer and a user for several long years.

So there we were, six customers at Wendy’s, and I was the only one who wasn’t likely to have a close association with meth or coke.

Dusty went from the low to the high, and back to the low again. His older brother was a meth user, and as meth users do, he was broke and craving a fix and knew that his little brother had some money. So he turned his 11-year-old brother onto meth so he could get his next fix.

So began Dusty’s odyssey into hell and back. At first, it was only an occasional thing, a couple of hits on the weekend. He didn’t make it past ninth grade in high school, however, so that should tell you how strongly it took him in its grip.

“It makes you feel powerful,” he says. “You can stay up for three days at a time, and you have endless energy. You feel like you can do anything. But when you crash, you really crash. You have to sleep for days. But then the craving hits again, and you’ll do anything for that next fix.”

Personally, I can’t stand taking cough medicine with pseudoephedrine in it. It makes me feel spacey and loopy. Now it’s been taken off grocery store shelves because meth cookers were using it as a base ingredient for their product. Anything that requires ingredients such as white gas, match heads, and cough medicine as base ingredients- ” well, I’m not smoking, snorting, or shooting it. Hell, I don’t snort, smoke, or shoot anything, for that matter. But plenty of people do. In fact, more than you’ll ever know. And once they do, anything can happen to sustain its powerful grip.

By age 19, Dusty was a full-time dealer, 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Actually, he’s more like 5 feet 6 inches, with a ready smile and a helpful hand. “I had my own place, and I was paying it off,” he said. He was paying the owner cash under the table on a handshake agreement to sign over the deed when the purchase price was met. “I had 19 cars. I had a ’68 GTO, a ’72 Camaro, you name it. People would come up to me and give me the titles to their vehicles for a hundred bucks’ worth of meth. People brought me all kinds of things that they’d trade for meth,” he says. “Guns. Stereos. I-pods. A lot of it ” in fact, most of it was stolen, but I didn’t care.”

He was grossing $5,000 a day, “but my product was costing me $1,000 a day, and I was smoking $2,000 a day myself,” he recalls. “I’d start about 5 o’clock in the morning and go pick up the product. I’d drive all over the county, delivering to people, and finish up about 3 a.m. Then I’d sleep for two hours and start over.”

His house was full of hangers-on. “One guy would completely clean my house and cook all my meals for meth,” he said. “He did a great job.” A girlfriend had several friends, and the party was always at Dusty’s place. “The girls? You wouldn’t believe what they’d do for ice. Once there was a couple who came to me and wanted to trade food stamps for meth, and they had kids to feed. I wouldn’t do it, but they wanted meth more than they wanted to feed their kids,” Dusty says.

A habitual driving offender, Dusty had lost his license, but he didn’t let that stop him from making his rounds. Of course, he had a pistol with him, as most drug dealers do. The cops stopped him for driving without a license, found his pistol, which happened to be chambered with a caliber that penetrates bullet-proof vests, and then found his stash. They had him cold, and they took him down. Hard.

Within 24 hours, all 19 cars and his cash, guns, stereos, and other ill-gotten gains had been stolen. Prison was hard on him. He loves being outside, loves the mountains, loves animals, and now he was one; caged and pacing. He hated being confined more than anything. He was sentenced to six years, and got out early for good behavior. He’s under intensive supervision on parole, and has been clean for 23 months. I hired him as a ranch laborer, helping me stack hay and build fences, and I’ve never had a better employee. I try to mentor him, teaching him about writing a business plan, how to get his credit started again, how to present himself to the public as a winner, not as a loser.

“It was all for the better,” he says. “If I hadn’t gotten busted, I wouldn’t be clean now. I’m sorry for all the bad things I’ve done, and I wish I could take them back. All I can do now is my best.”

He’s one of the few, one of the very, very lucky ones. He has been to hell, and now he’s back. Hopefully he will stay that way.