Dustin & Dallas John / A Walk In His Shoes
If I would have known that traffic was at a dead stop a quarter mile up the freeway, I may have fought harder to stay awake.
If I would have known that I was about to drive 70 mph into a wall of parked cars, I may have fought harder to stay awake. If I would have realized that Deena didn’t have her seatbelt on, I may have fought harder to stay awake.
I am violently awakened by the sounds of death. I hear Deena’s curdling scream, one comparable to someone who sees their own death, right before they live it. The impact was so violent that my ears start to ring in slow motion. Like a night terror, the world seems to be spinning off its axis. The sound of shattering glass and plastic overpower the ringing vibrations deep inside my core. The screech of folding metal in baritone succession triggers an explosion. I am struck in the face with the violent force of the exploding airbag. I feel no pain as the car bounces off other vehicles like a drifting pinball. Wondering when this slow motion nightmare will come to a stop, I brace for the worst. The last impact is so powerful, my legs slam together like a sledge hammer. My kneecaps feel like they have disconnected from the tendons. The car fills with the toxic smoke left behind from the spent airbag. It is nauseating and I start to run out of oxygen. It is the smell of death. I can’t open my door because it’s pinned up against another car. I look over to see if Deena is alive. She moves but she is in terrible pain. She holds her wrist.
“Are you okay?” I stammer.
“My hand! It hurts!” she cries.
“We need to get out of the car. If you can walk, try to get out. I have to crawl out your side.” I say with slight panic.
She opens her door and gets out. I use my upper body to hoist me over the center console and make my way to the open door. The oxygen from outside breaks through the dense smoke that fills the car. I inhale a huge breath of air as I exit the car. As I stand, my legs buckle underneath me like the limbs of a young tree. I fall to the hot asphalt in pain. They are broken, I think to myself. Fear grips my body. A department of transportation worker in a reflective vest runs up to us.
“Are you guys okay? What happened?” he asks.
“I fell asleep at the wheel,” I cry. “Her hand might be broken. I smashed my legs together and am having a hard time standing.”
“You guys relax. We have paramedics on the way.” I didn’t want to go to the hospital. I was alive and all I cared about, ironically enough, was that I was being delayed from my next fix. Fearing I won’t make it to my destination, I try to stand again. Pulling myself up off the car bumper I maneuver slowly and manage to half stand, half lean. The pain is so intense that I almost fall to the ground again. I force myself to continue standing though and after 3 or 4 minutes, the pain begins to subside. I scan over the wreckage and ponder what just happened. I suddenly realize that I need to make sure there is no paraphernalia scattered in the car. The cops would soon be on the scene and I know I have to hurry. I open the passenger door of the car and there is baking soda scattered all over the carpet. The box is lying on the floorboard. I hear the howl of the sirens moving in closer. I grab the box of baking soda and shove it under the dash. I run my hand over the white powder to make the soda sink deeper into the carpet fibers. (To smoke cocaine, you have to mix it with baking soda.) I breathe a sigh of relief. A patrol car is first on the scene followed by the ambulance. The sirens are deafening. There is only one lane open for cars to squeeze past the major pile up. They are moving slowly as they stare at the wreckage. As the police car pulls to the embankment, I feel a bead of sweat run down my temple. Doing my best to hide my guilt, I speak with the overzealous officer. I tell him what happened and assure him that we don’t need medical assistance. Somehow, we escape any kind of punishment or heavy questioning. Once I know we aren’t going to jail, I feel a huge load being lifted off my shoulders. I begin to calm down and my pulse starts to slow. Now I am only worried about how we can meet with my dealer without a car. I am still in a state of shock from the accident but I can feel the adrenalin being replaced with heroin withdrawal. I decide to ask the officer if he will give us a ride to the exit we need to get to. He declines my proposal saying he is not allowed to.
“You can ask the tow truck driver if he will take you though,” he offers.
“Thank you,” I say joyfully thinking we can still get our fix after all.
As Deena and I get into the tow truck, we are completely silent. I feel an unspoken message between us. We know we have just dodged a bullet.
As we approach freeway speed, I notice the tow truck driver reaching under his seat. He pulls out a pistol. Fear seizes my body. I am frozen in apprehension. With a blank stare, he points the pistol at Deena’s temple and calks the hammer.
“You thought you would get away with this?” he yells. “Think again.” He pulls the trigger. I feel the warm blood splatter on my face. My ears are ringing from the gun shot blast. Deena’s body falls in a slouching position and her lifeless hand lands upright in my lap. As the blood drips down her arm, my entire body goes cold and I am paralyzed in terror.
“Please! No!” I protest.
“Now it’s your turn!” He points the barrel at my face. I close my eyes as tight as I can. I take one last breath. He pulls the trigger.
Read the rest in DUSTIN & DALLAS JOHN'S NEW SON-FATHER MEMOIR, A WALK IN HIS SHOES.
About the Author
Dustin is an advocate against the "War on Drugs" and is helping the addiction community fight against the horrible stigma associated with all forms of addiction. A Walk In His Shoes is Dustin's first publication. The book details Dustin's decade-long battle with heroin and is authored by Dustin and his father. A uniquely written memoir that shines light from both the addict side and the family structure side, simultaneously. Dustin's father passed away of an aggressive illness before the book's publication. Dustin resides in Southern Utah with his wife and many animals. He enjoys writing, drawing, philosophy, and many outdoor activities.