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Feature Story March 3, 2003
By Jake Rudnitsky Browse author Email

It's past one in the morning on deadline night and I haven't even started writing. Misha is passed out about two feet from me making strange grunting noises, but at least he's breathing regularly. That's a hell of an improvement from half an hour ago, when his lips and hands were teal after ODing on smack. Moments like that make you realize just how important the little things are that you take for granted, such as not swallowing your own tongue.

Like many of the younger new-generation eXile staffers, I have very limited experience with junkies. Before tonight, I'd never seen anyone shoot up before, at least not smack. I wasted the whole day trying to track down a Tynda junkie to change all that, thinking it would be a novel way to start a story on small-town dope addicts. I planned a kind of Trainspotting-esque intro to get the story rolling. But when Misha went blue, suddenly it didn't seem so important to remember the details of how he heated the spoon, plugged the needle with cotton or spent several minutes probing his arm with the needle, looking for a live vein. A woman shooting

It took him quite awhile to collapse on the kitchen floor. He had enough time to fill his syringe with water, squirt it clean and say, in a voice that wasn't his own, "I feel bliss. I've been drinking for days but all I really wanted was to shoot up. Now I'm good." Which was when he keeled over.

I didn't realize the severity of the situation at first. Sure, his eyes were pasted shut and he wasn't talking, but he was still heaving slightly. So I tried to reason with him. I even lit a cigarette. For all I knew, this near-comatose state was a normal reaction. Only halfway through my smoke, when I saw foam starting to froth out of his mouth, did it hit me that this was a potentially dangerous situation.

Thank God there were a couple of sober Russian guys in the other room. I am not trained to handle clinically dead guys clutching bloody needles. The fact that Russians are jacks-of-all-trades, tinkering with cars, electronics and dacha gardens as required may sometimes strike me as grist for the joke mill, but I wasn't laughing when Misha OD'd. I needed a jack-of-all trades badly. I don't even want to think what might have happened if Vlad hadn't come in and started slapping Misha and slamming his fist into the general vicinity of Misha's heart. Not that it got his pulse going or kept him from turning blue, but it's always good to have someone around in these circumstances who at least acts like he knows what he's doing.

I wasn't watching the clock as we sat there trying to force open Misha's eyes and futilely trying to unclench his teeth, but it seemed to go on forever. In retrospect, the scene was ridiculous; since we had no real idea what the hell to do with an OD, we both took to applying knowledge culled from stylized Hollywood OD scenes to save Misha. A few hours earlier, I wouldn't have even taken a sip from this guy's cup, and now I was tugging his tongue because it seemed the only way to save him. No matter what we did, Misha lay still.

I had already heard about the fate of one guy who OD'd among friends here in Tynda - they bundled his body into a car truck and ditched it outside the city. Granted, Misha wasn't dead yet and we weren't high like the body-snatchers, but I was more focused on the parallels. Death seemed like the inevitable conclusion to this and, any way you sliced it, I was definitely going to take the blame. He was in my fucking kitchen.

The possibility of calling skoraya (the ambulance service) was only mentioned as a formality; that would be the equivalent of turning ourselves in. Petty, I know, but I value my life much more than Misha's. We tried ordering a taxi - I imagined shoving the body out onto the steps of the polyclinic before we peeled away - but the only taxi service number anyone could remember didn't have any cars available. Tynda isn't Moscow.

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