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Herbert Huncke's America - Edited By Jerome Poynton Literary Executor - Ed Leary (1939-1944) Part 2 - February 2020

ED LEARY (1939-1944) PART 2


Continuing from the January 2020 MM Report...


There was a certain evilness about him which appealed to me, although much later I came to realize the evilness I saw—and this was true in Eddie’s case particularly—was mostly projection on my part.

Oddly enough Eddie recognized this much sooner than I did—allowing me to relax—and to display what could be called a voraciousness and lack of inhibition with him I have never attained before or since with anyone else.

We met Hugh on time and he asked to come along with us—he said he had never tried stuff and wanted to—he’d heard so much about it he wanted to find out if it was as great as everyone said. The three of us went up to the room and turned on. It didn’t take much to get us high—neither Eddie or me had used for quite some time and it was Hugh’s first experience.

We all three got really stoned and sat around talking or simply going on the nod until the early hours of the morning—finally dropping off to sleep— awakening much later in the day. We all three felt fairly good although somewhat sluggish. Hugh lit up a couple of sticks of pot before cutting out —leaving us feeling good and a bit high. After Hugh left, Eddie and I split what was left of the stuff.

Eddie was an entirely new type of person to me. I had never known anyone like him nor for that matter have I since met anyone his equal in independence and scheming know-how. He wasn’t vicious or cruel in any sense—yet at the same time he was completely devoid of sentiment.

He spoke in detail of his past life but never once mentioned having any feeling of love for anyone he had known and spoke of his family in an offhand, detached manner.

He had lived with several women but seemingly missed none of them and spoke of having left each one in the way one might speak of discarding an old suit or piece of clothing one has become weary of.

Yet —and this is what attracted me particularly—there was a certain warmth and immediate concern for—in this instance—my feelings permeating his conversation and dealing with me not only at the time, but for as long as we were closely associated.

There were very pronounced homosexual characteristics in his personality—he permitted himself indulgence in this with me—so that in a sense strong feelings of love existed between us although he carefully avoided its becoming obvious to any of our mutual acquaintances—as well as refusing to acknowledge it even when we were alone in words—only in physical fact.

He did say at one time that I was the only male he had ever allowed himself such complete freedom with.

During our discussion prior to going downstairs for breakfast—we decided it would be great to try to score again later in the evening. We had talked about the money situation and Eddie had come up with a plan.

Shortly before we had been sent over to the Island there had been a big drive on against the junk pushers in San Juan Hill—a notorious cesspool of crime and corruption of all kinds where—if one was at all known—one could cop anything from ordinary sleeping pills to opium—and which had finally been cleaned up.

For a long time the police had been unable to move in on the district. It was actually a little world—set apart—controlled entirely by the underworld element. Just how they’d accomplished cleaning it up was a mystery, but clean it up they did along with the Lower East Side, Broadway, and various other spots. A panic was on among the junkies. There were still a few people able to connect—but on the whole, conditions were bad. A little of this I already knew but Eddie was well informed about the details. He spoke of having run into a Broadway whore he knew who had told him that most of the girls were finding the going rough—unable to score regularly—and were willing to pay almost any amount of money to make a steady connection.

Eddie explained that he knew of several doctors in Brooklyn who—if given the right approach—would write prescriptions for five grains of morphine. He had it figured between the two of us we could score enough from these doctors to keep ourselves supplied—the rest we could sell to the girls along Broadway. He said, “We’ll pick up about five customers—steady and dependable—and promise to keep them supplied regularly.”

The plan struck me as excellent, although I had some doubts about my ability to convince the doctors to write. Eddie told me not to worry—he would tell me exactly what to say—and with my appearance I would have no trouble at all.

This wasn’t exactly an original plan with Eddie. He told me he knew a couple of people who were keeping up habits making croakers. In fact, later it became so common that the government men began cracking down on the doctors—taking a number of them to court for writing illicit prescriptions—all of them losing their license to practice medicine—and many ending up serving time.

We got into the racket at the right time and had nearly a two-year run before getting into trouble.

We spent the remainder of the day wandering around Times Square— Eddie introduced me to a couple of whores he knew who said they were willing to do business with us if we could promise a steady thing.

They weren’t particularly interested in morphine—since they had heroin habits— but they figured the situation had reached the point where as long as they could depend on at least a daily meet, that in the long run they’d be better off making the switch.

We did a lot of window shopping. In those days I was still clothes-conscious—picking out shirts—suits—shoes—and all kinds of haberdashery. Eddie considered himself a sharp dresser and he was.

Late in the evening we cut into Hugh and picked up two more caps.

He told us his man was hot and didn’t like doing business in such small amounts. He told us his man was trying to get rid of what he had left in one drop—about an ounce—so unless we wanted to take the whole thing we had better look for someone else.

We explained we had other plans.

Hugh half-wanted to come along with us but we said we had business to discuss and we’d pick up some other time. The two of us returned to the room—got straight—Eddie then proceeding to instruct me in how to go about scoring with a doctor.

Actually the routine was fairly simple. My approach consisted of telling the doctor—with lowered eyes, hesitant speech, and seeming humiliation—that I was a drug addict—having picked up the habit while visiting in Florida with my people. We had traveled through the Everglades, and I had picked up a severe colitis condition accompanied by amoebic dysentery—the doctors giving me morphine to ease the pain. This was the general outline of the story, except that I also explained that the doctor who’d treated me since I returned to New York had recently passed on and that I didn’t like or feel comfortable with the man who had taken over the practice. It worked, and the next day in Brooklyn the first doctor Eddie recommended wrote for five grains of morphine without giving me any trouble. Eddie had waited down the block for me, and as soon as I came out, he went in. His story was considerably different from mine—having mostly to do with his accident in the car barn and his leg not having healed properly.

The same day we each made three doctors.

One of them we simply hit on by chance passing his office—deciding to go in and try him. The other two—Eddie said—had been recommended by some guy he had met in jail.

Getting the prescriptions filled was no problem since they were legitimate—a doctor had written them.

We received vials— government sealed—with twenty quarter-grain tablets for each script— giving us a total of thirty grains of morphine at the end of our afternoon’s work. The prescriptions had cost around three dollars apiece—and getting them filled averaged one dollar and a half to a dollar seventy-five. Our cash outlay amounted to almost twenty-five dollars, plus personal expenses— which came to roughly five or six dollars. That evening the two girls— along with a friend of theirs—bought all but three grains—at one dollar a quarter grain. Morphine sold or purchased on the street cost four dollars per grain.

We were moderately successful and soon did a steady business—with four, occasionally five, regular customers—Broadway whores—with a net profit of about one hundred dollars a day.


The story will continue in the March 2020 MM Report!

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