Drug binges happen because addicts want to make up for all the time they’ve lost when they were clean. When we’re presented with the opportunity to use we completely lose our minds and all sense of self-control. This was me after I got back from the game farm. I was out of control. I had to use all the time.
The cycle began again as it always did. It was as if all the clean time I had had in the bush had never happened. I’d beg and borrow whenever I could, but the moment things got desperate, I reverted to my true nature and started stealing.
One afternoon I’d been hitting the crack pipe quite heavily. I was running low on stash. The only thing of value I had with me was a cell phone my sister had given to me to use while I was in the bush. I pawned it. It was one of the first phones to have a colour screen, so I got quite a bit for it. The drugs didn’t last as long as I expected them to. They never do. When my stash was running low again, I realised that if I didn’t go home with the phone everyone would know I’d pawned it and I’d most likely be sent back to Sterkfontein. You’d think that after all I’d seen and experienced in Sterkfontein I’d have stay cleaned, just so that I’d be sure not to go back there, but nothing is ever a deterrent when you’ve made up your mind to use.
How was I going to explain the missing cell phone this time? I’d used so many excuses in the past that any story I concocted now would have to be a good one. I decided to tell everyone I’d been hijacked, or at least that I had been involved in an attempted hijacking. I knew it had to be a little more dramatic than just a plain hijacking because no one would believe that. So I had to get injured in the process.
I made sure I was home before my parents got back from work. I had the place to myself so there was ample opportunity to set the stage for my performance. I had my father’s gun, the same one that had misfired in the bush when Dwane and I had tried to shoot ourselves; my dad had given it to me while I was alone in the bush in case I encountered any wild animals. It’s ironic. Not once did I feel threatened in the bush. Put me in Joburg, though, and that’s when I was in real danger. I was always a danger to myself.
In order to build a credible hijacking story, I decided that I’d have to have been shot during the attempt. It was a perfect plan. I’d tell my family the hijackers had demanded the car and that I’d put up a fight. There had been a confrontation and in the ensuing chaos, they’d shot me. They must have panicked because soon after that they fled the scene, leaving the car and taking only the cell phone. Who could argue with such a perfect story?
So there I was, at the same table I’d sat at when I took the overdose. I had my dad’s gun in my hand. Initially, I thought I should shoot myself in the stomach, but decided against it when I realised I might actually do some serious damage that way. So I decided I’d shoot myself in my left arm instead. I cocked the gun and put it against my arm. I thought I had better not keep the gun too close to my arm because then I’d have powder burns and the doctors would know the wound was self inflicted. This is the kind of stuff you learn from watching CSI.
With the gun at a fair distance away from my arm, I started squeezing the trigger. It happened so fast. Before I knew it, the gun had fired. I stood, somewhat shocked, staring at the floor. The slug was spinning at my feet. The bullet had entered at the top of my arm and exited behind where my shoulder meets my back. I was shocked because it wasn’t as sore as I thought it would be.
Immediately I jumped into action. I cleaned the gun, replaced the used cartridge and put the weapon back in the cupboard upstairs. By this time the wound was bleeding quite a bit. I then went back downstairs, sat at the table and called my sister. I told her I’d been shot and that I was at home. My plan was in motion. She rushed over in a flat panic to find me sitting at the table, covered in blood. It looked far worse than it was. Amazingly, the bullet had gone straight through without even nicking a bone! She drove me to hospital. Things were going well. It was a golden opportunity to get some pethedine for the ‘terrible’ pain I was in. At least that would help me to come down from the crack.
When I think back to that incident I realise how blessed I am. Anything could have happened with that bullet. It could so easily have found my lungs or my heart.
Even though my family didn’t buy the story entirely, they didn’t pursue it either and I certainly didn’t tell them the truth. One detail I overlooked, which was probably the main reason for their suspicions, was the fact that there wasn’t any blood in the car in which I had supposedly been shot.