Jason Smith / Author, The Bitter Taste of Dying
Mexico. The den of all things chemical. You can get anything in Mexico. Remember that feeling of walking into a Toys ‘R’ Us as a kid? That’s what it feels like for a drug addict walking into a Mexican pharmacy. Or Farmacia. Whatever.
I’ve often heard stories about the “Donkey Show” in Mexico, which is, apparently a girl getting romantic with a donkey. The story is thrown around so loosely, as if it’s perfectly acceptable to watch a donkey fuck a human being. But if I were to travel down with a group on their way to see a donkey show, and tell them, “Hey guys, I’m gonna hit up the farmacia and get some drugs to get high while you go watch a girl get fucked by a donkey,” I’m sure somebody would pull me aside, tell me that I’m fucked up, that I need help. I should see a counselor. That there are places that could help me.
Society is funny like that.
Crossing over the border in San Diego at San Ysidro, I felt free. Free from the DEA’s oversight, free from all responsibility, free from the family and friends I was forcing to watch me deteriorate. It was liberating in a really sick sense.
We drove to Rosarito Beach, where we got a room at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. I knew better than to try and get Fentanyl from a farmacia directly. Even for Mexico, that was a heavy order. Fentanyl is stronger than heroin and I was just some gringo off the street. I needed someone on the inside.
I approached the guy cleaning the hotel pool as he used a skimmer to get bugs off the surface.
“Hey man, do you speak English?”
He just looked at me blankly, shaking his head no.
“You wanna make $50 dollars?”
Suddenly he spoke English.
“You know anybody who works at a farmacia?”
He just nodded. “My tia.”
I paid him $50 to gather a little intel. I needed to know how many I could get, what strength, how much. The basics.
He reported back, and it was a jackpot. It’s what I imagine Californians felt in 1849 as they struck gold for the first time. Coincidentally, leading us to take California from Mexico.
Whatever I wanted, however many I wanted, for dirt cheap.
I handed him a wad of cash and followed him from a distance to his aunt’s farmacia. I paid a teenager $5 to stand behind the building and yell if anyone came out the back, just to make sure I didn’t get ripped off. For five minutes I waited, eyes jumping back and forth, watching for policia. Finally, the pool-cleaning guy exited the building with a bag of 100-microgram Fentanyl patches and a few boxes of 1 mg Xanax tablets.
After five days in Rosarito, where Visa and Mastercard generously funded my drug habit, we loaded up the car to come home.
The pool-cleaning guy made one last trip for me the morning we left, so I was stocked up. I was all lined up for a few months of personal drug-consumption. Unfortunately, the Mexicans would see it as trafficking.
Getting into Mexico is easy. Getting out, not so much. Crossing back into San Diego from Tijuana you sit in a line of cars just waiting, inching your way toward the giant American flag waiting just on the other side. As you wait, there are people who roam the aisles of cars, selling various things: Soccer jerseys, Virgin Marys, Chicklets, piñatas, churros.
All of a sudden there was a knock on the backseat window, passenger side. Standing there was a woman, dressed provocatively, doing her best to look seductive. Seeing that she wasn’t carrying anything to sell, I assumed she was selling herself.
“No, gracias,” I said, mouthing the words so she could read my lips.
She walked to the front seat, where Terri was sitting.
Knock, Knock, Knock. She was bent over, looking inside the car.
“NO GRACIAS,” I yelled. I cracked the window, and said it again. “Fuck Off!”
Reaching over, she opened the rear passenger-side door. I lost it.
“No quiero una puta!” I yelled. I don’t want a whore.
This lady snapped and started screaming at the top of her lungs. Every passenger of every car in the vicinity was looking our way. She caught the attention of a police officer standing off to the side of the road. As he walked over, I closed my eyes. This was not good.
“What is going on,” the officer asked in English.
“I don’t know, man. This lady…” and she cut me off, speaking to the officer in rapid-fire Spanish. I’m not sure what she said, but whatever it was, it caused the officer to ask me to turn off the car and step outside of the vehicle.
With my hands on the hood, the officer patted me down. He found patch, after patch, after patch. I was wearing cargo shorts, and every pocket was stuffed full of them.
Handcuffing me, he put me into the back of a pick-up truck. There’s no comfortable way to sit with handcuffs on, and having to sit in the back of a pick-up just added to the hurt.
He told Terri to follow us. Sitting with my back against the cab of the truck, I stared at Terri, who tailed us closely. Terri had no idea of my exploits while we were in Mexico. This poor German tourist just got sucked into the chaos that my life was becoming.
The truck drove away from the bustle of Tijuana, eventually pulling off at a stone building that was not near anything. He took my cuffs off, almost apologetically.
“Ok, you must pay a fine for this. Five hundred dollars and you go home,” he said, looking at both of us.
“Five hundred dollars? Are you serious? We don’t have five hundred dollars,” I told him, half-considering just bolting and taking my chances in a chase.
“No,” he said, seeming annoyed. “Five hundred you,” and he pointed to me, “and five hundred you,” he said pointing at Terri.
“A THOUSAND DOLLARS? I asked, incredulously.
And then, without thinking, I opened my mouth and said something that I wanted to take back but could not.
“FUCK YOU,” I said, immediately regretting it.
“You,” he said, pointing to Terri, “go home.” Shit got serious, quickly.
He cuffed my hands behind my back and walked me toward the passenger side of the truck. I looked back at Terri who just looked at me with a look on his face that begged for answers to what was happening. I had none. None that I was willing to admit, at least.
He opened the passenger door and placed his hand on the back of my neck. I assumed he was making sure I wouldn’t bump my head. I was wrong. Grabbing me by the back of the hair he pulled back and slammed my forehead into the frame of the truck above the door.
I was dazed, and fell to my knees. Reflexes forced me to try and put my hands in front of me, which tightened the cuffs to the point that they were cutting into my hands. I could feel blood dripping off of my left wrist. He swung and hit me on the head behind my right ear, turning me around and flat on my ass. I looked up, confused and my head writhing in pain, just in time to see his right hand cocked back before he swung again, hitting me just under my left eye. I could feel blood gushing from my left cheek.
Everything went black. When I woke up, I was laying on my stomach in a Tijuana Jail cell. I lifted my head up just long enough to see that there was another white guy in the cell with me.
“Aye man, are you all right?” he asked.
I tried lifting my head. When I blinked I could feel throbbing in my cheek, so I decided to keep my eyes closed. And when I went to talk, my jaw hurt, so I decided to keep my mouth closed.
I was anything but “all right.”
The guards had taken the Fentanyl patches off of my stomach, and emptied my pockets of their contents.
The pain I felt from the punches didn’t come close to the pain I was about to endure in the coming days.
About the Author
Jason is heavily involved in the recovery community in Northern California as a speaker and a writer. He is a frequent speaker at the California Medical Board and California Board of Pharmacy, sharing his experience, strength, and hope in getting out of the hell that is addiction.
His book, The Bitter Taste of Dying, is now available for pre-order.
Jason is @mrjayzone on Twitter