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Authors: Craig Goodman

Needle Too

Needle Too

Craig Jordan Goodman

Copyright 2014 by Craig Goodman

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, or the facilitation thereof, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Any members of educational institutions wishing to use part or all of the work for classroom purposes, or publishers interested in obtaining permission to include the work in an anthology, should send their inquiries to
[email protected]

Many thanks go to David Gazzo, David Minter, Eva Novak and Michelle Giancola…because good friends are hard to find.

The events depicted here are
. Certain identifying names, characteristics, dates and places have been changed to protect anonymity. A few individuals are composites, some timelines have been expanded or compressed, and some of the dialogue has been recreated or reconstructed to help support the narrative, and to clarify and illuminate critical aspects of the story. A small portion of
Needle Too
first briefly appeared at

Needle Too

“The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

-Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Compassion for animals is intimately connected with goodness of character; and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man.”

-Arthur Schopenhauer

“Addiction is way funnier than recovery.”

-Craig Jordan Goodman


Chapter One

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44

Chapter 45

Chapter 46

Chapter 47

Chapter 48

The Afterward


July 23
, 1996
Richmond, Virginia: 4:45 a.m

“Ya’on that shit?”


“That fuckin’ shit!
You on it?”

“Yeah, man—
,” I said because I wanted him to go away, but also because I’d been on
so much
shit he was probably right.

“You on the heron?” he tried again.

I said as I looked up from the bench where I was sitting and squinted while trying to see past the residue clouding my thoughts and my ability to focus in on the fucker.

“The HERON, man The

said a middle-aged black man with a broom in his hand as he gradually materialized before me.

, man
I repeated back to him annoyed and tired and scared and exasperated and mocking his mispronunciation or whatever the fuck it was. “No, I’m not on the

like you on the heron.”

“I’m nasty regardless.”

“Yeah…you on the heron,” he decided with a strange sort of smugness.

“What the fuck, man—you a cop or something?!”

“Nah, man—I’m the custodian,” he mumbled.


“The fuckin’ custodian, muthafucka!!—I clean da
dam terminal!”

“Try cleaning the men’s room.”

shit!” he said. “I don’t even wanna walk passed it. There’s all KINDS of fucked-up bullshit goin’ on up in
muthafucka. Actually, I ain’t even the
custodian. I just sweep up’n take out the trash for dis nigga every now and den and he throws me a few bones…and you know what else???
It could be

“I have no doubt it could.”

” he said in a rush as if he was waiting for just such an opening. “When I was yo’ age, I was mo fucked up den you is! I was paying dem muthafuckas $200 a
for dat black tar shit. Fucked my veins
up. I was on dat shit so bad I was bringin’ in blow from Mexico just to pay fo’ it
with! Two kilos a trip, two trips a month, $5000 a trip for almost three YEARS, muthafucka!”

“You’re lucky you didn’t get locked up.”

“Who da fuck said I didn’t get locked up? I didn’t say dat shit! You think I be sweepin’ up after some broke-ass nigga if I didn’t get locked up? Dey locked my black ass up
good for 18
muthafucka! Eighteen muthafuckin’
, God
!! And I’d STILL be on da shit if dey didn’t.”

“Well, then I guess it was a good thing you got locked up,” I said trying to be friendly, while secretly hoping he’d get the fuck away.

“Oh yeah, man, dey locked my ass up REAL good!” he said again. “Me AND my boys—white boys like you…
muthafuckin poodle


“MUTHAFUCKIN POODLE fucked my shit all up!”

about?!” I said while unexpectedly on the brink of tears.

Then, this black, middle-aged, surrogate janitor leaned his broom against the wall behind the bench where I was sitting and took a seat beside me.

“Man, I must’ve taken dat trip 70, maybe
times,” he said. “Every time I never had no fuckin’ problems. Even when dey started bringin’ out dem dogs and shit, man—nuthin. No,
Dem Mexican boys packed dat shit up so tight, so

didn’t even know where da shit was at.
lice pull dem
muthafuckin German Shepherds outta da gate and nuthin! Never! Not a fuckin’ thing! And den come dat one day—I had dis feeling. I don’t know what da fuck it was, man, but I had a BAD feeling dat day wasn’t gonna be like dem udda days…So we pass da gate and shit and
come up on dis raggedy-ass checkpoint in some muthafuckin
, Texas or some shit, like it’s some
holy place and shit, and dey be bringin’ dis ol’ black lab outta some broken down trailer. Now I ain’t never seen no dogs at no checkpoint,
I seen’em at da gate a whole mess a times, but I ain’t NEVER seen’em at no checkpoint but it’s cool, man, it’s cool. So da
lice is walkin’ dis ol’ muthafucka around da truck, and me and my boys is kinda like
’ and shit cuz dis dog is
fuckin’ ol’, man,
fuckin’ ol’ to be out dere in dat heat lookin’ for dem drugs and shit for dese dipshit muthafuckas. So dey keep walkin’ dat ol’ dog ‘round da truck and walkin’ and walkin’ and he don’t know where da fuckin’ shit is at,
don’t know where da shit is at,
knows where da GODdam shit is at. So dey go a couple mo’ times ‘round dat truck before dey bring dat ol’ black lab dog back inside dat fucked-up trailer and I’m thinking everything’s cool, right? Den dem
lice come out wit’ anudda dog…skinny, curly-haired muthafucka widda big, fuckin’ head and shit. A
nervous and shit—and
lookin’ like a poodle or somethin’—the biggest
poodle I ever seen in my life but all skinny and
up! Had dese big, crazy muthafuckin eyes and I knew he wasn’t right. I knew he was a
genetic operation.”

“You mean
rration,” I said after thinking about it for a moment.


“You said ‘genetic

“I know what I said, muthafucka! So out come dis big, gangly-lookin’ genetic operation with crazy eyes on a big, heavy chain’n shit, and I’m thinking
why do dese fuckin’
lice gotta big-ass heavy chain like that fo’?
And Lord a’ mighty, when dey get dat fucked-up dog a couple feet away from dat truck his eyes get all big and shit, and he starts shakin’ and bouncin’ and shit like a
puppet on a muthafuckin chain. And dis big, hairy, crazy-ass muthafucka is gettin’ so
jazzed about
dis muthafuckin shit dat he’s barkin’ n’ growlin’ n’ cryin’ n’ whinin’ n’ pissin’ all over hisself and I
don’t know where da shit is at—but dis fucked-up muthafucka knows where da shit is at cuz he’s about to shit all over hisself. And da cops is laughin’ and shit and dey be pullin’ on dat big muthafuckin chain and shit and dey be like, ‘
Good boy—Cocoa, good boy
’ and dat dog’s got all dis fucked-up shit tryin’ to come up out its mouth and nose and he’s tryin’ to bite the tires and shit and the cops is tryin’ to hold the muthafucka back and dey be like ‘
Oh, don’t you worry, Cocoa, we know whatchoo like, Cocoa, we know whatchoo waitin’ fo’
and I be like, ‘
Oh god
Dis is one muthafuckin coked-up genetic operation of a
damn poodle if I ever fuckin’ seen one!

I think I might’ve laughed at that.

“It ain’t funny, muthafucka! Dat bullshit cost me 18 years of my muthafuckin’
. Dem cops ain’t right, man…Dey was

“Yeah…they do that occasionally.”


“Hey, I know you haven’t had a big guy around so if you need anything—anything at all—you just let me know…”

This was heavy. Over the last year my grandmother had slowly and steadily deteriorated, and she wasn’t exactly the picture of health to begin with. Although I wasn’t privy to the details of her condition at the time, at some point I remember hearing someone
mention something about her liver, while even with my own eyes I could see her skin was turning a sickly shade of yellow and her body seemed to have become concave, almost as if it was receding in on itself…
and disappearing
. And Grandma had always been my hero. But she spoke slowly now in strange tones around measured pauses about peculiar things I’d never heard her mention before in a voice that seemed to be coming from very far away. But all along and not until just before she passed I was kept entirely in the dark about what was actually happening, and it would be years until I’d finally figure it out:

She was
on me…she was saying goodbye.

Anyway, maybe a few weeks after I got the first inkling of what was
happening—just like that,
Grandma was gone

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