There is a meth house across the street from our new apartment building. At least, when we ran into the woman who lived in our apartment until we moved in on July 1st, she called it that. She regaled us with stories of drug busts and people falling out of the second story window and the neighbouring skinheads who apparently keep things under control when the meth house gets a little too rowdy.

Did you read that? We get skinheads, too, to sweeten the deal. A meth house and skinheads and drug busts, oh my!

I have had very little personal experience with these things known as drug houses. Well, I say I have very little experience with drug houses, because I don’t really count the time I lived in a house from which was being purveyed a variety of fine LSD in both liquid and blotter form. Plain-clothes policemen came to the door to ask who paid rent there, the phone was tapped, and a police car was parked up the street with a parabolic microphone mounted in the back seat that was trained on our townhouse. We used to wave at the police officer manning the vehicle whenever we left the house, and he would pretend that he didn't see us.

I think I don't count that because it's not like the short hippy living on the sofa who smelled like wall mould was dealing in heroin. There were no guns or international rings of dope dealers living off the crops of backwater Afghanis. We smoked pot, some of us beat bongos, we ate organic food, and occasionally we thought our neighbourhood was way too purple and wondered if that mothership above the park was ever going to land. We just happened to hang out near a shitload of acid.

I feel like the government is going to come knocking on my door any second, so I would like to make it clear that all that happened MORE THAN TEN YEARS AGO.


So, I have very little experience with these drug house dealies. My one major run-in that might count happened when I was a wee three years old. We were living in Calgary in a neighbourhood that saw a lot of young families moving in and out, but it was a fairly tame, aspiring-to-middle-middle-class kind of place. My mother had her suspicions about a house three doors down from us, though. Watching a man crawl on his hands and knees up the front walk and then come sauntering out twenty minutes later looking like he was having a fine, fine day will tip off even the more naïve of us.

Me and my little friend Scotty were playing together one summer afternoon, poking around in the alley. We had left my back yard, which was verboten, but we were pirates, and we had decided that pirates could leave the yard. We found what we were sure was the coolest kind of toy in a garbage can a few houses away. There were a lot of them, and they were plastic and had pieces that you could take apart and put back together. I knew that I should ask my mother before we could play with them, so we ran to my house to show her our garbage can booty.

My mother was horrified at the sight of our new toys: a small bouquet of used syringes sprung from my chubby, dimpled fist.

To make a short story even shorter, she called the cops, the dealer's house cleared out of people and guns and drugs before the police arrived, I didn't contract hepatitis C or HIV, and that was that.

This story always sticks with me. Whenever I remember my mother's description of that man crawling up the front walkway of the drug house, I wonder how much truth there was to that. He had to be well enough to drive, didn't he? A couple of nights ago, I was able to confirm that, yes, it may be entirely possible that she was telling the truth, if perhaps a little doctored.

I was sitting on our second-floor balcony having a cigarette at 10:30 in the evening, and I was slouched down in my deck chair in order to observe the meth house without being too obvious, and I waited. I didn't have to wait long before a young man who appeared to be afflicted with somewhat severe cerebral palsy approached the front door of the house. He made some kind of holler or whistle, which is how everyone who visits that house gets the attention of the tenants inside. Someone let him in the front door, which is little more than a sheet of unpainted plywood. Approximately ten minutes later, the young man reappeared, only this time he stood straight and walked with a jaunty gait. I knew it was the same guy by his jacket and his patterned toque, even if his suspicious cerebral palsy had disappeared entirely.

I found myself feeling a little envious of his quick need/need satisfied turn-around time. I don't get to have that. I forgot to take my St. John's Wort for five days while we were packing and moving, and so I've reverted to itching myself, sleeping in two-hour spurts, and wishing painful and injurious accidents upon the cat. It will take a few days for the St. John's Wort to start working it's charm once again, which means that even the heavy drug addicts have one up on me today.

I just might have to go whistling at the meth house door.

Places I've read recently: Monitor Me, velvet sacks, and say la vee.