‘I’d Made the Decision I Was Going to Try Heroin’: Dan Peres Delves Into the Dirty Details of His Addiction

In an exclusive excerpt from the former ’Details’ editor’s buzzy new memoir, he recalls a wildly misspent night in Los Angeles

The rock star wore nail polish. It was a deep dark red. Almost black. You could see it on the poster my childhood best friend Adam Gold had tacked to the wall of his childhood bedroom, where the five band members stood shoulder to shoulder, one head of hair bigger than the next. (This was the ‘80s, and the Pikesville girls wore their hair the exact same way—bangs, voluminous teased-out curls, crispy to the touch.)

In the poster, which hung just above the shelf that housed Adam’s impressive collection of colognes, the lead singer wore sunglasses and had his hands in the pockets of a black leather vest, which hung open, showing off his bare chest and a few long necklaces. Four of the band members were wearing painted-on leather pants—the drummer’s had fringe running down the side of each leg. Not the rock star. He was wearing a pair of faded skintight jeans, a white T-shirt, and an equally faded denim jacket. He was the only one with an instrument—his famous red-and-white guitar held upside down, the body clutched tightly against his chest with the neck pointing down toward his well-worn ankle-high black boots. He was also the only one wearing nail polish.

Even though he wasn’t the front man, the rock star was the man. He was the one Kurt Loder interviewed on The Week in Rock. He was the one in the center of the poster. And he was the one Adam and our friend Robbie used to take turns imitating back in the ‘80s when they would crank the band’s live album in Adam’s bedroom, one jamming on air guitar and the other using a black vent brush as a microphone. They would put on full concerts right there in Adam’s bedroom—dropping to their knees for blistering guitar solos and strutting around the room clutching the mic with all the confidence and camp of David Lee Roth. Most of the time, I would just watch. The perennial spectator. An audience of one in an imaginary arena somewhere in the Midwest or Eastern Europe or wherever Adam decided they were.

Occasionally I would join in. “Why don’t you play keyboard, my brother?” Robbie said. I liked being called “brother.” It made me feel like one of the guys. But—rather like keyboard players in ‘80s hair bands—I was like the fifth guy in a group of friends, easily replaced without anyone really noticing. The guy who was just psyched to be included on the poster in the first place. I wasn’t a core member. I wasn’t essential to the DNA of the group.

Playing air piano requires a lot of commitment—far more than I could muster. Plus, the keyboard player was always off to the side and was seldom the focus of the music videos we watched. It was challenging to find a solid reference on which to base my performance, so I copied the only piano player I could think of and wound up swaying from side to side with my eyes closed as we played a sold-out stadium in Detroit. “Jesus, you look like Stevie Wonder,” Adam said, interrupting an especially spirited jam.

I was a great pretender, of course. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t pretending. But my pretending was born of necessity—first as an escape and then ultimately as a matter of survival. Pretending to be a rock star in front of Robbie and Adam was theater, and this is where I came up short. I felt like a phony.

The rock star wasn’t wearing nail polish the night we met. I checked when he handed me a rolled-up $20 bill in the back of his limo. Maybe nail polish was an ‘80s thing. This was the new millennium, after all. His hair was shorter and it’s doubtful he could’ve still squeezed into the same faded jeans from the poster, but he looked surprisingly good for a guy who, at least according to the entertainment shows, had been in and out of rehab a bunch of times and was on his third divorce. We had just left the Chateau Marmont and were making our way west on Sunset. It was nearly midnight, and the yellow Tower Records sign was still aglow. I took the rolled-up bill and snorted a toothpick-sized line of a crushed 80-milligram OxyContin pill off the cover of the Details issue I’d come to L.A. to celebrate with a party at the Chateau. Hosting these events came with the job. We threw them a few times a year to celebrate some movie star or a special section we’d put together. This was where my kind of pretending saved me. Of course I would have preferred to have been holed up in my hotel room or in my apartment back in New York shrouded in a cloud of cigarette smoke, a few pills away from oblivion or worse. That was my comfort zone. Yet I managed to work the room with ease, make speeches or toasts even, and laugh with celebrities and fashion designers about things that were neither memorable nor funny.

This was pretending and I was a rock star.

The party that night was packed with Hollywood stars. I think Lindsay Lohan was there. Shia LeBeouf may have been, too. It’s hard to say. The people of Los Angeles—or at least the ones who turned up at parties like this—had perfected the art of looking like someone. It’s as if central casting showed up, had a few mojitos, and then puked “types” all over the place. There were agent types mingling with model types flirting with producer types talking shop with rocker types. And of course there were the actor types. So it could have easily been Shia LeBeouf, but it may also have been one of several dozen leather-cuff-wearing, beanie-topped, American Spirit–smoking types who helped fill out the room on nights like this. The only way for me to really know for sure that someone was actually someone was when Kristin, the magazine’s publicist, came bouncing over to tell me in her singsongy voice that she needed me to pose for a picture with “this one” or “that one.”

I dreaded these photo ops. That’s what Kristen called them, and it always made me think of events far more official—like the time George W. Bush moseyed across the deck of a destroyer in a flight suit like an extra in a poorly cast remake of Top Gun. Pictures of me with celebrities hardly mattered, and I resisted as often and as aggressively as I could. Details had taken over a portion of the Chateau’s iconic Spanish Gothic lobby, and whenever I spotted Kristin making her way over, I would duck into one of the room’s massive arched windows and try to disappear in the drapes.

I hated the way I looked in pictures, especially when I was standing awkwardly next to a chiseled Hollywood actor with golden skin, an artfully tousled bed head, and a blinding Chiclet smile. I was pasty and doughy and brimming with self-doubt. Plus, I was easily 25 pounds overweight and my chest had ballooned to what felt like a set of B-cup man boobs that always ended up looking like D cups in photos. Then there were my teeth. I never liked my teeth, even after two years of braces and several costly whitenings. I’d been smiling with my mouth closed since I was a kid. And my hair…oy. A thinning fauxhawk reinforced with enough product to style a boy band. So these photo ops—me side by side with the superhero from the superhero movie—made me feel like the poor schmuck in a plastic surgeon’s “Before” photo. I would eventually end up giving in to Kristin’s requests and stand still—lips pursed and turned slight downward like a pensive Bill Clinton—long enough for the photographer to fire off a few shots. I struggled to produce my usual half-smile the night of the Next Big Thing party.

I was irritable and distracted and anxious. I was also nervous. I’d made the decision about an hour before the party that I was going to try heroin. That I needed to try heroin. Heroin and opiates were pretty much the same, or so I’d been told. It was time. I was ready. I’d considered this a couple of times before when I’d run out of pills, but had never had the courage to go through with it. After all, heroin was a drug. A real drug. A dirty drug. A druggie’s drug. Pills were clean. Prescribed and dispensed by learned men and women in white lab coats with framed degrees hanged over their desks. Pills came in tamper-proof bottles and had warning labels. Labels I completely disregarded, but still. They seemed safe. Kids from Pikesville didn’t do heroin. Kids from Pikesville went to summer camp. Kids from Pikesville knew the difference between lox and nova. They played tennis at the club. They married other kids from Pikesville and made their own kids from Pikesville.

I’d spent two hours earlier in the day at a neurologist’s office in Sherman Oaks trying to get a prescription and came away empty-handed. I tried calling at least eight doctors in and around Beverly Hills, sitting Indian style on the floor of my beige hotel room at L’Ermitage crossing off names in the yellow pages as I went, but no one was willing to give a same-day appointment to a new patient—let alone one from out of town. I was convinced that every receptionist was on to me. That they were discussing me in a chat room—tipping each other off about the yuppie junkie from New York.

I ended up in the Valley.
 It had been 12 hours since my last high, which wiped out my stash, and I was feeling the familiar pangs of desperation. My addiction had progressed to the point where I was no longer taking a set number of pills every day, which made it impossible to determine when exactly I might run out. Sometimes swallowing 16 at a time took me where I needed to go. Other times it was 18. And still others it was 21. Addiction is not an exact science. I was feeding a beast and it was always hungry.

To make matters worse, Vicodin wasn’t getting me over the finish line anymore. I’d recently switched to something stronger. I had graduated from 7.5-milligram extra-strength Vicodin to 15-milligram tablets of Roxicodone. They were twice as strong and, I was sure, much healthier to abuse.

Here’s my thinking: One of the active ingredients in extra-strength Vicodin is acetaminophen (Tylenol). So basically, I’d been putting somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 Extra Strength Tylenol tablets in my body every day for years. That’s more than two of the small bottles sold in the pain relief aisle at Rite Aid—a day. Roxies were made up of just the opiate. No acetaminophen. It was the perfect drug.

And it was Roxies that I was looking for when I took a car service to the doctor’s office in the Valley that spring afternoon. I don’t recall it being particularly hot outside, but the office was freezing.

“Our air conditioning is broken,” the woman behind the desk explained when I asked why it was so cold. I was shivering. Like many doctor’s receptionists I’d met—and there had been quite a few—she was as chilly as the waiting room. They were universally unfriendly, for some reason, which drove me nuts, as I also had an addiction to being well liked.

“Fill this out,” she said, thrusting a clipboard toward me without looking up.

Thankfully, the doctor was warmer. He had a port-wine stain just below his left eye, which I couldn’t stop starring at. He was chatty and had actually done his residency in Baltimore at the hospital where I was born. This was a gift. It gave me a chance to win him over—a reason for him to do me a favor. We had Baltimore in common. What were the odds? I tried everything. The Orioles. John Waters. Crabs. I cranked up the charm. I explained that I’d been treated on and off in New York for lower back pain and that Roxicodone usually helped. He wasn’t having it. Not without an MRI, he told me. Dr. Do-right wasn’t budging. In the end, he gave me a small prescription for Soma, a muscle relaxer, and told me to follow up with my doctor when I got back to New York. No amount of Soma was going to give me what I needed. I dropped the script in a trash can in the parking lot and climbed into the waiting Town Car.

My mind was made up. Fuck it—I was going to do heroin. No MRI required. No icy receptionist. No hassle. I would do only a little. I’d snort it. Enough to get rid of the chills and the headache and the cramping that were on the way. Enough to get me high, but not so much as to fuck me up. Or kill me. It would be like a Band-Aid—something to hold me together until I returned to New York three days later. A temporary fix.

On the way back to the hotel, I told my driver that the magazine I worked for was doing a story on celebrities and drugs and that after the party I was considering taking a look at some of the areas in town where the rich and famous might go to score. It sounded like such bullshit. An obvious lie. I don’t know why I cared, but it was important to me that the driver think I was a good guy. I was usually much more confident in my lies. I needed to be—there were so many of them.

“Huge problem out here,” he said. “So many lives and careers ruined.”
He seemed to know a lot about the subject and told me about the intersection of Western and Melrose. And Skid Row. More options on Skid Row, he said. He then, without missing a beat, proceeded to explain that he was a former addict and that the Church of Scientology’s drug program, Narconon, had saved his life. He recommended speaking to some of the counselors he worked with for the magazine article we were doing. I assured him we would.

I saw the rock star talking to a few people just outside of the Chateau Marmont’s main entrance when I snuck away from the Details party for a cigarette and a minute to myself. He wasn’t there for our event. If he had been, Kristin surely would have shoved me into a picture with him by that point. Four or five women in their mid-twenties stood a few feet to his right, smoking and laughing just loud enough to try and get his attention. Every few seconds one of them would glance over to see if he had noticed her. He hadn’t. The laughs grew louder. Still nothing. One of them asked his friend for a light. The rock star didn’t even look up. It was as if they weren’t there. Women like this—beautiful and braless— had been trying to catch his eye for decades. He didn’t need to see them. He’d seen them. If he wanted one, he knew where to look. And—I suspected as I studied the scene—one look was all it would have taken.

It had probably been that way for 25 years. His band was a constant on MTV back in the early days, and they had reached icon status by the time I was in college, where a guy who lived down the hall from me once went to three night’s worth of back-to-back sold-out shows at the Garden. I hadn’t listened to the music in ages, but if one of their power ballads came on while I was in the car, I would crank it up and—if I was alone—sing mangled lyrics at the top of my lungs. By the time I ended up in the back of the limo with him, the band hadn’t had a hit in well over a decade or even put out a new album, for that matter. But they were still touring, and their old concert T-shirts had become trendy vintage shop finds worn ironically by hot chicks with cutoff jeans and cowboy boots.

I watched the women watch the rock star for another couple of minutes before stubbing my cigarette out in a crowded ashtray. As I turned to head back to the party inside, the rock star looked me dead in the eyes. “This guy right here?” he asked one of his friends.

I flashed my non-smile smile, as if to say Sorry for creeping you out, and headed toward the door.

“Dan, is that you?”

It was Lila. I’d been so busy watching these women pretend not to notice the rock star that I failed to notice that Lila was standing right next to him. Of course Lila knew him—she’d always had a way of finding herself in the center of the action. It was her gift and what made her a great publicist.

I met Lila shortly after I started at WWD in the early ‘90s when I was an associate editor covering parties for the Eye page and she was a junior fashion publicist for a showroom on Seventh Avenue. Despite being total opposites—me with my chinos and Brooks Brothers button-downs and brown bucks and Lila with her tattoos and fishnets and fedoras—we became friends. If I was assigned to cover three parties on any given night, odds were that I’d run into Lila at two of them. She was perfect for L.A. and moved there to start her own business repping West Coast fashion brands around the same time I came back from Paris.

She ran over and gave me a hug. “I can’t believe you’re still smoking,” she said. “You never looked like a smoker to me.”

Do I look like someone who does heroin? I thought to myself.

’Cause I’m about to go get some.

“Come meet my friends,” she insisted. “Do you know [the rock star]?”

Lila explained that the rock star was considering launching a fashion line and that we should definitely speak. She told him that I was a men’s fashion expert and that he shouldn’t do anything without first hearing what I thought. She had always been prone to hyperbole. One look at me, and this guy would have been able to tell that I was hardly a fashion maven. I was basically wearing the same thing I was wearing when I first met Lila a dozen years ago, only more expensive versions.

“Why don’t you join us for dinner?” asked the rock star. “We’re about to sit down.”

It wasn’t unusual for me to be introduced to celebrities who were thinking about getting into fashion. Over the years, I’d had countless conversations with singers or models or NBA All-Stars who were interested in starting brands. The rock star wanted to put together a small collection of leather accessories for men and then eventually get into clothing. These projects seldom—if ever—got off the ground. No one wanted to buy a belt from an aging rocker. They were barely buying them from aging designers. I didn’t say that, of course. Instead, I explained that I couldn’t leave my party yet and that I would come by in an hour for a drink.

The final stragglers left the party at around eleven P.M., not long after they shut down the open bar. I was feeling pretty good, especially considering the fact that I should have started feeling signs of withdrawal already. It’s amazing, but the promise of a high was able keep the boogeyman at bay—at least for a few hours. I was going to get heroin, and even though I was sweating a bit and had a slight headache, I was holding it together nicely.

The rock star, Lila, and two men were sitting at a table in the Chateau’s restaurant when I stopped by to say good night. The other men looked like musicians, but because this was LA, they probably weren’t. They both had arms covered in tattoos and were wearing an unnecessary amount of silver—rings on nearly every finger and heavy stacks of bracelets on each wrist. Had it not been for the fact that one of them was bald and the other had shoulder-length hair, it would have been difficult to tell them apart. I’d never been a big fan of men wearing jewelry. Obviously certain guys could pull it off—Johnny Depp, Run-DMC, the pope—but wearing an entire jewelry store was something else altogether. Ed Hardy was created for guys just like this.

The rock star waved me over as I walked toward their table, and Lila jumped up to give me another big hug.

“Do you want something to drink?” he asked.

“I’d love a Diet Coke,” I said.

“Come on, I haven’t seen you in forever . . . have a drink with me,” Lila demanded.

“You know, I have a little headache and Diet Coke always seems do the trick,” I said.

“I think I have some Tylenol in my bag,” she said, reaching for an overstuffed black leather purse.

“No,” I said, putting up both of my hands as if to stop oncoming traffic. “I’m good.”

I did have a headache, of course, but I also didn’t want to drink any alcohol, as I wasn’t sure that I should be mixing booze and heroin on my first outing. I was a cautious druggie. An oxymoron if ever there was one.

My plan was to join them long enough to finish my soda. My stomach was turning—equal parts withdrawal and nervousness about my late-night plans. It was a perfect Southern California night—clear skies and just cool enough to keep the sweat from beading up on my upper lip and showing through my shirt. This was a plus—the perspiration could get pretty bad during the first few hours of withdrawal, and I didn’t want to sit there making small talk while sweating like Nixon.

Most of the tables on the terrace were still full. The rock star was wearing black—jeans, a denim jacket, and a long-sleeve Henley unbuttoned down to the middle of his chest. I’m not sure why, but I was expecting him to be aloof—maybe even a little bit of a dick. He always looked so intense in the music videos. Angry, even. But he wasn’t a dick. He was charming and asked a bunch of questions about me and the magazine and men’s fashion. And he was funny. You don’t expect rock stars to be funny. He laughed a lot. He laughed the laugh of a two-pack-a-day smoker.

“How’s your back, by the way?” asked Lila. “The last time I saw you before you moved to Paris you came to a meeting in my office and ended up lying on the floor. I felt so bad for you.”

I’d been faking back pain for so long at this point that it was oddly refreshing to be reminded that it was once real.

“Comes and goes,” I said. “It’s much better than it was back then, but it still hurts sometimes. Like today.”

“You take oxy for that?” asked the rock star.

A question only an addict would ask. I was really starting to like this guy.

“Whatever does the trick,” I said.

I explained that I took oxy or Vicodin or Roxicodone, but that I didn’t bring any medicine with me from New York, so I should probably head back to the L’Ermitage and get some rest. I had a car waiting, I told them, and I didn’t want to keep the driver too long.

“Call him and let him go,” said the rock star. “I’ll give you a ride to your hotel. I have something in the car that might take care of that back pain.”
Addicts have the strange ability to sense when someone else is an addict—kind of like vampires knowing when someone else isn’t human. I wasn’t human. It must have been obvious to him.

The back of the limo smelled like smoke. The rock star had left a small leather bag that looked like a fanny pack in the corner of the car’s L-shaped leather sofa. Bluish-white LED lights illuminated a two-foot-long curved rosewood bar on the opposite side of the car, next to the door we just climbed through, where two beveled glass decanters, one with Scotch and the other with vodka, sat in recessed holders on top next to an ice bucket. Backlit champagne glasses hung underneath like icicles. And of course there was wall-to-wall carpeting. It felt like the inside of a brothel. I’d been taught from my earliest days as a reporter at Women’s Wear Daily that stretch limos were the height of tacky—right up there with walking through a party with a lit cigarette in your hand or grown men wearing shorts in the evening. I could practically hear Robin Leach—champagne wishes and chlamydia dreams.

“Billy, this is Dan,” the rock star said to the limo driver through the open partition. “He needs to go to the L’Ermitage. Easier to drop me first?”

Billy said that it was and slowly pulled away from the hotel. The melting ice on the bar sloshed as we turned onto Sunset and the rock star unzipped his fanny pack and took out a small round plastic container the size of a Carmex lip balm jar. He dumped the contents of the container onto the Details issue he grabbed from a stack in the hotel lobby—Kristin made sure they were there—and separated the pile into four lines with a matchbook cover.

I’d never snorted oxy before. I took the rolled-up $20 bill, leaned down, and went for it. As I inhaled, I suddenly became very aware that my pinkie was extended like I was sipping an imaginary cup of tea in some kid’s playroom. I must have looked ridiculous. Other than smoking an occasional joint, I hadn’t done drugs with anyone in years. I wasn’t a social user.

The rock star didn’t extend his pinkie.

We pulled up to his house somewhere behind the Beverly Hills Hotel, and Billy punched a code on a keypad that opened a white wooden gate. It was a single-level modern house with floor-to-ceiling windows. As we made our way to the top of a circular driveway he told me who used to live there, but I had no clue who he was talking about. I said, “Cool,” and nodded. Houses in L.A. had pedigree.

“Great hanging with you, man,” the rock star said as he opened the door. “Let’s stay in touch.”

“Definitely,” I said. “Would it be okay if I made a quick stop on the way to my hotel?”

“Billy, take him wherever he needs to go,” he said.

He went in for a bro hug, which I botched, and we said good night.

“Do you know where Skid Row is, by any chance?” I asked Billy as he pulled out of the rock star’s driveway.

“The band?” he asked, giving me a quick glance over his right shoulder as he made his way toward Santa Monica Boulevard along the quiet streets of Beverly Hills.

I fed him the same bullshit I gave to my driver earlier in the day about celebrities and drugs and a magazine article. It still felt like a lie. He told me he knew exactly where to take me.

“That’s Dr. Phil’s house,” he said as we rolled past a well-lit gated property somewhere below Sunset. It was after midnight and a full moon hung in the sky like a giant klieg light there to simulate a full moon. Dr. and Mrs. Phil would have been fast asleep. That’s what normal people did, I told myself. Normal people slept at night. They woke up early. They went running. Or to the gym. Normal people had routines. Normal people lived their lives. I was desperate to be normal.

But I wasn’t.

Billy told me that he worked for a limo service out of La Jolla and that he drove the rock star whenever he attended an event. They’d been to a gallery opening earlier in the evening before having dinner at the Chateau. It was a last-minute booking and all the company had for him to take was the stretch. He preferred an SUV. So did the rock star. Though he had a full head of gray hair, Billy was only in his mid-forties. “Fucking divorce,” he said.

I eventually started feeling the effects of the oxy. I kept breathing in through my nose the way my doctor asked me to when he held a stethoscope to my back. Slow, deep breaths. I wanted to be sure everything I snorted had made its way into my bloodstream. It definitely wasn’t enough to get me high, but my headache was gone and I felt a slight tingling just behind my eyes. I was relaxed for the first time all day.

Billy eventually pulled the limo over the curb. I had no idea where we were or how long we’d been driving. We’d been talking more or less the entire way—or more specifically, Billy had been talking. He was a sharer. I sat in the back, at the end of the L- shaped seat closest to the partition, smoking cigarettes and listening. His ex-wife used to have the body of a pinup, but had put on a ton of weight since their divorce, which brought him endless joy. He saw his daughter only about once a week—and usually for breakfast—because his work schedule was so unpredictable. He listened to books on tape during his frequent late-night drives back down toward San Diego and had recently been making his way through a bunch of Michael Connelly thrillers.

“How’s this?” he asked, putting the car in park and turning in his seat to face me.
If it was Skid Row, it wasn’t anything like I’d imagined. I was expecting a tent city. People with stained blankets and matted hair huddled in rows on the sidewalk like the teenage girls I’d seen on the news lining up overnight to buy *NSYNC tickets. People pushing shopping carts loaded with fraying plastic bags and mangy dogs. The great unwashed masses. There wasn’t any of that. Still, it felt a million miles away from Beverly Hills and I was relieved when Billy locked the doors.

Across the street, a man in is early twenties sat on a too-small dirt bike in front of an empty parking lot. He looked at the limo, took a sip from the can he was holding, and rode off down a dark side street. I told Billy I was going to take a look around and that I shouldn’t be too long.

“Are you sure?” he asked. “Maybe you should do your sightseeing from the car.”

“I’ll be fine,” I told him. “I won’t be long.”

I got out of the car—fueled by adrenaline and desperation—and walked around the corner in the same direction as the guy on the bike. On my right, a row of two-story buildings ran all the way to the next street corner. Most of the stores on the street had black metal folding gates covering large plate-glass windows. Many were boarded up. The awnings hanging over doorways were faded and torn. “Discount Furniture,” read one. There was a large FOR LEASE sign in one storefront. “Prime Hollywood Location,” it said above a broker’s name and phone number. I must have been in Hollywood, but there was nothing “prime” about this location.

The guy on the bike was talking to someone about a half a block away from where I stood. When he saw me, he slowly rode over. He was holding a can of Dr Pepper. I just stood there. I was tempted to walk over and shake his hand but thought better of it.

It’s never a good idea to show up in a stretch limo wearing designer khakis and blue Italian suede slip-ons when looking to score dope in the middle of the night on a sketchy street corner. I was dressed like a vacationing aristocrat. I looked like I should have been carrying shopping bags on the streets of Saint-Tropez. I’m not sure I knew what my element was, but it was pretty clear that I was out of it. But that’s how it happened the first—and only—time I ever tried to get heroin.

“You lost?” the guy on the bike asked as he rode past before turning around and stopping just in front of me. He was wearing red sweat pants and a red Nike shirt. Tonal dressing was all over the runways in Milan last season, but I choose not to share that.

“I’m looked for some H,” I told him. My voice quivered as I spoke. I listened to Journey and practically knew the room service menu at the Ritz in Paris by heart. I didn’t know how to do this. Did people even call heroin H? I didn’t have a clue. I could con drugs out of just about any doctor in Manhattan, but I couldn’t pretend to have street cred. I should have worn my Wu-Tang T-shirt.

“You’re looking for H? he said. “That your limo? How much money you got?”

“You know what,” I said. “I think maybe I’m in the wrong place.” My heart was beating so hard I could hear it.

“Sorry to bother you,” I said. He studied me for a second. “Grenade,” he yelled.
What the fuck?

I took a few steps back and stumbled into a newspaper box that was bolted to the sidewalk behind me. Now, I’ve never been in the military, but when someone yells Grenade! at the top of their lungs, it’s probably time to go. I steadied myself and turned with a loud clack. He stopped. I didn’t.
I ran about 50 feet to the limo.

“He’s gone,” Billy said. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine,” I said. I was near tears.
I got in the car and asked him to take me to my hotel.
“What are you looking for?” Billy asked.
“Nothing,” I said. “That guy was fucking crazy. Please just get me out of here.”
“Listen,” said Billy, pulling away from the curb, “if you’re looking for something, I may be able to help.”
He explained that he had a friend in San Diego who owned a pharmacy and that he was running a little side business for some special clients—including the rock star.

“Can you get me Roxicodone?” I asked.
“No problem,” he said. “How many do you want?”

Peres is joined by Los Angeles editor-in-chief Maer Roshan and actress-author Kristen Johnston for a conversation on Tuesday, February 18, at 7 p.m. at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood. Details here

Excerpted from: As Needed for Pain: A Memoir of Addiction by Dan Peres. © Dan Peres, 2020. First published by Harper.

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