Opens his cupped hand to reveal, not a blade, but the end of a spliff. "You got a light, bruv?" I pass disposable lighter (warily, though) and we fall into step heading down towards the Tesco petrol station.
"You look like you're drunk, you walking like you was drinking. Or you just been working late or whatever, you tired? Cause of the way you is walking, that's just why I was saying." I'm stoned on heroin and hashish and not walking straight.
"I've been working," I say. Been in front of this computer all day. "Seen, seen," he say. So we walk and talk. "How about you, you drunk?" I ask him. Yeah, he been having a few drinks, he smile almost sheepishly. He is saying about how it would be good to get some sort of certification, work in security, something like this. "What is it... like, what is it you do?"
“I work in the newspapers.” Which is sometimes the case. "Seen, seen," he say. He have a sort of simple, forthright, friendly manner. Really innocent. "It's good, it's interesting work. You don't get paid as much as you might imagine but it's interesting work."
“Seen. Are you the story finder-outer or whatever it is? How’d you find stories?" he asks.
And then he says: "But you know about how your will is in energy centres in your body? You need to let some energy shine out of your heart and it leads you to where you need to go, innit? It gives you like the instinct for what you need to do.”
I do a sort of mental double-take.
“I mean I use it for different things, I use it to find parties and like that. But where did you learn about like this energy stuff and that?" he asks.
There is still adrenalin racing. I still having trouble remaining calm. I disconcerted and really suspicious, still, that something is not right. I am trying to reach my deep mind, which always knows about people, always has the right score on them. We turn into the Tesco petrol station, pass a car parked outside with three hard-looking black kids, go inside, start picking out shopping.
Run in to each other again in the aisle. He start to talk about some yoga he does, more about energy... One of the black kids from outside walks in, the guy I talking to turns to greet him, I walk off with no ceremony. "I was just talking to this gentleman here," I hear him saying. "Oh, where he gone?"
I pay and leave, and I am still, admit this, heart racing and expecting... I don't know what? Them four to follow me in the car and jump out and rob me? My mind is seething with paranoia. Paranoia which have out-weighed my curiosity about these unusual things he saying.
WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO MY MIND? What turned me into one of the easily-alarmed ones? Mentally I am still scanning for a scam or a piss-take. I am screaming inside: what the fuck happened to the happy maniac of just five weeks ago? Heroin destroyed him. Back to the walking dead. I didn't even ask him for his name.
I get home, downstairs is deserted, and heroin and the CIA are on the radio, that word stabbing into my ears from the radio. I put an instant supermarket pizza in the oven and sit alone at the table and listen. 'CIA covert operations and the narcotics trade', produced by Alternative Radio in Boulder, Colorado, on Resonance 104.4 FM.
The first website I ever made, must have been 1998 or thereabouts, had a photo of some Afghans with RPGs and the legend: Support the Taliban, buy Afghani heroin! The server made me take it down after a few days.
It may be our right to dose ourself with what we want, it's perfectly reasonable to argue. But consider, then: How many people died to get this bag here? How many wars has this drug money financed?
Even as a wave of cheap heroin hit the US in the early 80s, the CIA was facilitating setting up heroin labs to finance the warlord armies fighting the Soviets, they are saying on the radio. Meanwhile, the number of known heroin addicts in Pakistan rose from 5000 or so in 1979 to 1.2 million in '85.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the real motherfucker, the belligerent and ruthless butcher of Kabul, was receiving 50% of US arms during the Soviet years in Afghanistan. He ran a vast network of heroin labs. The CIA helping the big heroin players evade the international DEA, all agents of the same government. And like this.
It's compelling listening.
I'm nodding off over the table...
big bubbling vats of heroin mixture against a backdrop of shimmering pink and yellow mountains under a deep deep turqoise sky. What shall we mix with this heroin, Jahan Akhbar Khan? Glucose powder? No, look, we can put ground-up carcasses of AIDS-infected donkeys. Why settle for less?... because wakefulness is harried and uncomfortable and I'm feeling some measure of self-loathing for my fear. But the world is giving me clues again.