User's Story: Cross-Eyed in the Nasty Nineties
In the early 90s I used to go up to Kings Cross with my mates to do laps in cars or walk around on LSD and look at the pretty lights. The Cross really wasn’t my scene; I didn’t really understand what the attraction to the place was. Yet I was just 15 when I first went up to the filthy rooms in Porky’s and had my first shot of heroin. I didn’t even know what was in the syringe; I just held my arm out and let some prick shoot me up. It’s as if I was a marionette puppet on invisible strings being led into my own private hell.
My first user boyfriend was a real catch. A lad. We got about in hotties and did armed robs on any shop that had a till. I was a prop, a young girl to distract and confuse the situation. I didn’t really feel out of place in a stick-up holding a double barrel sawn-off. Stupidly, he chose to do over shops that he knew, places he felt comfortable in, like his local video shop. They would recognise him and ask, “What are you doing? We know you.” This lad was a greedy bastard, ’cause as quick as we got money he would spend the lot and leave me a few measly lines, then we’d hang out for days ’til we did another place over.
As tough as he acted he was losing his bottle, becoming lazy and weak. One day he asked me if I loved him and if I did, would I work to support our habit. Of course I loved him, or so I said, so I put on a black dress and high heels and went up to Darlinghurst Road and stood there looking lost ’til some guy tried to bargain with me. “Five hundred”, I said. I was hanging out so bad I felt like puking all over his ugly mug as we went up to one of the seedy sex shop rooms. Just as this guy was about to make a move the cops kicked the door in, thank God. I told the cops he hadn’t paid me and started to cry, so they felt sorry for me and let me go. I didn’t tell my lad I had got money and kept it all for myself. I decided that the lad was a using prick. I knew I was better off alone.
I needed my own connections so I tried to score at the pool hall or at the cafés on the main but they said I looked too young. So I started to hang with some street kids. We lived in squats and we all scored from a man who drove a Jag. This man only liked boys and he gave them tick up until he saw the desperation in their eyes. He’d then pounce and make them service him. He’d use one boy up then move on to the next. The boys ended up working at the Wall or pimping their girls. They were all fresh meat for the predators that got around up at the Wall and at Forbes Street. I took the number plates from the cars they got into. I knew that their best clients were important people like high-ranking cops, lawyers, businessmen, restaurateurs – even on-duty uniforms used to go past and get their rocks off. And if the kids didn’t take their humiliation in silence they’d either get locked up or beaten up. All these kids were bottom feeders, unwelcome in the Cross. Nobody cared if they lived or OD’d. A lot of them ended up dying right there in Green Park, alone and abandoned. They all looked like death warmed up even though none of them was over 16. They were bad for business in the Cross. This was all too sad to watch. Besides, I was hardly supporting my habit by taking number plates and just having a shot here and there.
So I went looking for someone to take care of me. It was hard work at first ’cause I didn’t put out. The Cross’ politics and hierarchy were bullshit and I just didn’t get it. But I wasn’t fazed and hung around the TABs and at the pubs near the pokies because I figured this was where the money was. Soon enough I hit the jackpot. I met a couple of old men who wore suits. To me they looked ancient and repulsive but I knew they had the gear. The old men thought they could either rescue me or use me, so they got me an apartment and set me up. All I did was stay in the apartment and wait for packages to be delivered and weigh them, divide them up and cut the gear.
It was all good ’til one day, when I was home alone, some very official looking men in suits came by to pick up money. They weren’t supposed to see me because I was obviously under-age and badly on the gear. I thought it was a bust. I told them that I was staying with my uncles. I was shaking uncontrollably, thinking “this is it, I’ll be going to juvi for all the ounces that are stashed here.” My fingerprints were all over everything. I was panicking; I didn’t want to get locked up. I was tired of these old men putting it on me and since they were getting nowhere with me they were getting annoying and abusive. Although I had all the gear I wanted, shooting up by myself was boring and I wanted to get out and about.
One day as I was walking past Roslyn Gardens, Muscle Man called out to me so I stopped to say hello. He asked me why I hung around with the old men and he told me I should be his girl. Yeah, right. This guy was red hot; he wore tight lace shirts, white pants with funny shoes, he streaked his hair and he was too loud, but he put a few weights in my hand. I forgot about the old men, but not for long ’cause they came looking for me the next day. They told Muscle Man that if he wanted to sell in the Cross he would have to pay them rent. Muscle Man stood up and punched one of the old men straight in his teeth and said, “There’s your rent, cunt.”
So now I was back on the street but it was good for me. I was still getting gear but with more freedom. We were dealing near the back of a hock shop. We’d get all the goods the hock shop turned away ’cause we never asked for ID. But we didn’t pay rent, so the D’s started to harass us daily, coming past and taking everything: money, gold, all the cash and drugs we had on us. The first time it happened I said to Muscle Man, “Fuck, we should just go to the cop shop and tell them we’re being robbed by the D’s!” Can you believe how naïve I was? We were going backwards, on the verge of getting seriously busted, then one day a uniform crash-tackled me by the throat. I swallowed everything I had on me. Muscle Man got set up on dodgy charges and he stayed away from the Cross for about a week, long enough for me to move on.
So I moved in with the next idiot. He worked out of a budget motel, dealing gear and coke to the working girls. They were good customers, working day and night, 24/7 straight out of their skanky rooms. They’d go downstairs, do a job and then come straight to our door to get on again and again. It was cosy just staying in our room and having the customers pick up. But nothing that good could last for long. The idiot started shooting up way too much coke. Hell, I started to use coke too; I hardly slept for months. I was caught in a coke vortex – we were shooting up coke every hour on the hour. I didn’t leave the budget for over nine months, the idiot missed his rent to the bosses and the motel and the debts were mounting. He thought he was untouchable but at the same time he started sketching out and barricading the doors and windows. You couldn’t make the slightest noise when he was having his shot. He was really losing it. One day we got a call from the front desk telling us that the Special Operations Group was on its way up to raid us, so I jumped out the back window from the second floor. I limped away and didn’t look back. I never saw the idiot again, and I never shot up coke again.
Out on the main street things had changed – a lot. There were new faces in town, a good change for me: I found me a bigger man, a real boss. He was always busy organising his people, including his helpers and around 50 teenage runners. He had rented rooms everywhere so his runners could pack the caps and reload. He never got his hands dirty, not ever. He paid off the people directly at the top, he took care of his business and his people, he fed and clothed his runners. Shit, he even went to church and sang in the church choir. Everybody knew him in the Cross; we’d have dinner together and people greeted him with respect and treated me like I was special. Problem was, he only dealt in coke, and even though in the beginning I got all the drugs I wanted, he wanted to save me and to control what I used and when I used it. He got all preachy: “You can only have one shot a day! You should get clean!” He blacklisted me from all dealers in the Cross so they wouldn’t sell to me. What a headache! I thought that being with the boss was gonna get me more gear, but apparently I had to keep up appearances. I found myself scrounging for shots and I started to take a cap here and there to sell so I could get on. Eventually he found out what I was up to – it turned out that he had his boys keeping tabs on me. I was asked nicely to leave. I felt really bad for what I did behind his back. I made us both look like fools.
Everything was falling apart in the Cross. A lot of the people I knew were losing it on coke, dropping on the gear or getting locked up. The girls were going onto the streets or into the clubs to work. When a close associate got knocked off by the higher powers I high-tailed it and went looking for greener pastures around Cabra. I stayed out of the Cross ’til 2000. By then everything had changed. No one paid rent, everyone was a rip-off merchant, the drug scene was drying up, the girls looked weathered and worn, and the only money makers were the strip clubs.
Once in the winter of 2001 there was a bunch of about a hundred users all waiting to get on at the entrance of Kings Cross train station. Someone said there was a bloke coming to Green Park. Everyone ran down to meet him, we all handed over our money and we all got ripped off. Gyprock in foil. That bloke must have made off with at least 20 grand, the arsehole. That was the last time I tried to score gear from the Cross.
These days when I go past the Cross I don’t even recognise the place. It’s nothing but a yuppie hang-out, a place to be seen for the all the posers in Sydney. I don’t think they could imagine what used to go down there in the 90s.
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Illustration by Bodine