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Officer Alex meditates on the deadly grip of The Rock as seen through cop eyes.
“The Crackhead.” The name is a stereotype, but then, as a cop…so am I. I get a pass.
The word is embedded in American culture and in nearly every case, its very mention conjures up a mental image that we can all relate to.
With a bit of luck your image is that of Tyrone Biggums, the character made famous by Dave Chappelle. Mugging children for cash, openly defecating on the street, chalky lips and a perpetual itch, and the willingness to sleep anywhere, eat anything, and do anything for his precious rock…the Gollum of Crack Cocaine. Mr. Chappelle knew his game.
For me, it’s a girl named Wendy who was the prom queen at Howard High at one time in her life and now does terribly naughty things for five dollars (cash, mind you) in the 1700 block of East Main Street. Like Biggums, she is very self-aware about her situation and her abandonment of standards, bordering on prideful. But hey.
As a youth, my first exposure to this were pictures presented by Nancy Reagan during school public service announcements. While this was indeed Mrs. “Just Say No” herself, it was comparable to the anti-marijuana ads of the 1930s (think “Reefer Madness”), except this time it was closer to the truth.
“Just one hit and you would be hooked for LIFE,” they said! One day you’d be a student or a doctor, then if you took so much as a pull on the crackling pipe (from whence it got its name), then BOOM! You’d be pulling a “Basketball Diaries” in the restroom of the closest bus stop or subway station for your next sweet, sweet hit.
In truth? That’s a pretty rare case, or at least rare enough I can only think of one example of such over the years…but crack is a pretty close runner-up to King Heroin in its ability to sink a hook and drag you to hell through a quarry of hot, sharp gravel.
Later on my association shifted to “Ezel,” the crackhead from the “Friday” movie with Ice Cube. (“Hey, Smokey’s back here takin’ a shit!” he cried. Ah, memories.) And it stayed as such for a long time, not that Ezel’s thieving and unnaturally fast character was that far off base either.
Through personal and professional trips, I’ve encountered crackheads from southern California to Washington D.C., and New York to Dallas…a fairly well-rounded sampling. And unlike our atypically hideous prostitutes, Chattanooga, Tennessee has the same stereotypical crackheads you’d find anywhere else in the country. Does that make them more attractive than our whores? Oh, God, no. But at least it’s not another difficult hurdle for the local Chamber of Commerce to have to explain.
These are the people willing to crawl into a dark, moist, cobweb-and-sewage-filled crawlspace under an abandoned house in the heat of summer in the projects to extract copper water pipes for crack money. You know those places you are afraid to drive past? They will crawl under them. They go in without looking back, project rats and hantavirus exposure be damned. They do that because they need The Rock, and they need it NOW. Never mind the work they’re willing to do in a public restroom.
So with such blind loyalty to the waxy little stones, wouldn’t you expect there to be some kind of military application by now? Wouldn’t you just want to air-drop your crack team of “Force Recon Crackheads” over an enemy stronghold, tell them there’s crack inside, and let them get to work? Alas…here’s where Crack falls short.
Everyone has a guy or gal at work (or in class) that smokes the herb but always gets the job done and usually shows up on time. Same thing for crystal meth. But when they’re on “the rock”? They’re feral animals and completely unpredictable, which is a horrible business model.
When you see them, don’t wave at them, but don’t look away either. They are fearful of light, but sense any and all opportunities to get them closer to their Precious. So how can anything have such a hold on you? It’s obvious.
Cocaine is a hell of a drug.
(Just Say No, baby.)