A Junkie's Work is Never Done

Ever since his first jolt of painkillers 17 years ago, Curt has been meaning to get clean. Soon.

Tomorrow he'll check himself into rehab.

"I made it by four and a half hours," Curt says, sitting back on the bed in his room at the hotel. If he hadn't gotten on the program by noon, he would have had to report to the jail in Anoka County. "I would have had to be in lockup. I would have been very, very, very sick."

Curt seems dazed as he sits sucking absently on a cigarette. His left eyelid is completely closed, his right droops down, lazily. "Excuse my eyes," he says, brushing a hand across his face. "My girlfriend said, 'It's your last day, feel free to get high if you want.' So I did."

David Kern

But he's changing his tune a little. He no longer plans to take advantage of the getting-high-once-a-month permission his girlfriend offered. Today, he's thinking of it as his last time. "When I got back today, I was coming up the stairs, and I wasn't that excited," he explains. "I was almost a little nauseated. Kind of like I'm sick of it."

This time, he says, he has the best intentions of sticking to the program. "It's not like anything's gonna be new and exciting anymore," he says. "I want to be clean and get my shit together."

"This time," he says, relaxing behind his sagging eyelids and drifting down into what's left of his high, "this time I really want to make this work."

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