Excerpt from the new book What’s Left of Us by Richard Farrell.  The book will be available from Amazon after June 30, 2009.

I am a heroin addict.  My life is limited to three concerns.  The first thing I gotta figure out every morning is how to get a bag of heroin into my arm no more than ten minutes after I wake up.  If I fail, I’m dope sick.  The cramps inside my lower stomach go on a full-scale attack….

… The majority of heroin in Lowell originates from New York City.  Puerto Rican gangs bring it here by the kilo.  The drug dealers on Adam Street who package the heroin from one pound bricks into grams and half-gram are no Einsteins.  They cut the heroin or add fake shit….

… Too much pure heroin in a half-gram package equals a “hot shot.”  You’re history, because five minutes after the rush your heart stops.  Too little or no heroin in a half-gram package gets you dope-sick.

… But my major concern on Adam Street is “cotton fever.”  I’d rather be dope-sick all day than get what the Puerto Rican junkies down here call “cotton shot rush.”  It’s when a dirty piece of cotton fiber used to filter the heroin makes it into your bloodstream….

… “Cotton shot rush” is a perfect example of life as a heroin addict.  You live for the moment.  If it happens, it happens.  But there is no mistaking it when it hits.  Ten to twenty minutes after you pull the trigger it whacks you like you’re in the third day of the flu virus.  The ears give it away:  if they start to ring you’re fucked.  Pressure begins to mount on each side of your temple like a vise squeezing slowly together.  Sweat pours off your brow but at first there is no temperature associated with it.  The shakes progress quickly to trembles.  Chills hit immediately after and the body’s temperature spikes….

… I wasn’t always a homeless, jobless, low-life heroin addict.  Once I was a good kid, an altar boy for Father Muldoon right here at St. Patrick’s.  I went to the YMCA as a young boy and played basketball, baseball, and football… injuries from football got me addicted to drugs, and the night I watched my father die, and everything else that happened, sent me on a path to heroin.

“Yo, yo! Heroin, cocaine. Dimes and nickels.”