In 2005 I began interviewing people I grew up with. Because I left home at thirteen and spent four years in group homes, my social network was significantly wider than most people of that age. What’s most interesting about these interviews turns out not so much to be the things we remember differently as the things we remember the same.
Aaron – Unemployed
I’m shooting heroin again. I just shot a couple of hours ago. Did you know that dope enhances longterm memory?
We sat next to each other in third grade at Boone Elementary. I remember your costume. For Holloween you were a devil.
I moved with my dad to Arizona that year, then came back and lived with my mom, then back with my dad again. I was back in Boone again in sixth grade.
We didn’t hang out too much then. You were hanging out with older kids. Then in eighth grade we started to hang out. You were with Kevin sleeping in that hallway. One time Kevin and I ate a bud in class and we got so baked. You and I started hanging out in eighth grade because I started to get stoned a lot.
You had an argument with Mrs. Powell in eighth grade and she said, “I can never see your eyes because they’re always dilated,” and you said, “I can never see your eyes because you have too many moles on your face.”
You gave me my first hit of acid. I couldn’t stop laughing and you’re telling me to shutup. You don’t want your dad to hear us. So I went in the other room with John and Rudy. And they’re sitting in your bedroom. John is crinkling a piece of cellophane and saying the place was on fire. They’re watching the walls burn.
Later that night we went to a party at Harlem Irving and we had to walk home. It was the longest walk I’ve ever taken. We were at Cicero and Montrose and you conned a ride from some guys with a car. But there wasn’t enough room for everybody so you go out.
You couldn’t get into your house. I guess the doors were locked, so you and John slept on the side of your house that night in these lawn chairs.
Dude, let me tell you something. My life all starts, I trace it back to one moment. It’s when you hitchhike to California. You came back and we’re sitting in my hallway and you’re telling me of the Maxworks where you met those hippies and all the things you did in California. It’s the summer after eighth grade. And you have this great story to tell at such a young age. And I wanted to have stories. It all happened so quickly after that.
That’s when I started dosing a lot more.
You came to my house. It was crazy. I had ditched school as usual. You had broke into your house the night before. Your dad had moved and you didn’t know where he lived but your house was still there so you broke in so you didn’t have to sleep outside. He hadn’t sold it yet. So I remember, I’m sitting on the toilet, and the doorbell rings. I’m looking out my window. I see your walk but not your hair. So I yell, “Steve,” and you turn around. As you got closer I saw your head was shaved and your wrist was gashed, I mean like an inch wide, and there was all this meat. You were crying. I took you into the bathroom, wrapped you up, washed you and stuff. I remember you told me you pushed the razor all the way in and then you ripped it away real quick and you said you dropped to your knees because it hurt so bad. You had bought the razors with the five bucks your dad gave you after beating your ass and shaving your head.
I was very new to robbing houses. I was fifteen maybe. We’d just robbed a couple of houses. One of the houses we robbed was that crazy guy who had let you stay with him for like a week. We robbed a couple of others. What happened was we robbed a place, got a TV, put it in my basement waiting for Doots to wake up so we could fence it. I was living in my basement at the time. I had runaway but I was still living in the same building my dad lived in. Nobody knew. While waiting for Doots we went to Gigios to eat. Eric said, “Let’s go rob another house.” So we left Gigios and I saw a house where I could pick the lock. We get in the house and there’s a nice stereo system. I go into the kitchen to get some bags to wrap it up in and I hear Eric go, “Oh shit, oh shit!” I run in the bedroom and he’s holding fistfulls of cash. I snatched four bills from him. All hundreds. We ran out of there. I was so nervous I puked on the way home. It was $3,600 cash. We got a hotel room so we could shower. We got some clothes. We remembered William saying he wanted to go to Florida, to visit his mom, she was throwing this huge party. William’s mom was a stripper and her husband was black and his name was Spider. We got a cab and go to get William and he’s walking home from school with Fat Mike. We’re like, “get in the cab.” Fat Mike’s like, “I can’t go.” He was thinking long term.
We partied like crazy in Florida until we were out of cash then we came home. We robbed that same house like three times. They never changed the locks. In retrospect, I feel remorse for doing that.
The day I got busted they followed me from my house to the house I was going to rob. It was only like five blocks away. I was inside the house and I heard, “Come on out Aaron. We know you’re here.” Someone had ratted me out.
You never robbed a house with me. But Kevin did. He robbed like two.