The Explanation of a Liar

January 10, 2019 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , OTHER

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Jon Vreeland



I’ve earned some adorable pet names in my lifetime. But “Faggot” and “Junkie” will forever remain in my top three.


However, in my three-plus decades, the most popular name I’ve earned is “Liar.” But I no longer lie, ya see, not that I know of at least. It’s simple: no drugs, no reason to lie, that’s my experience anyway. So, I bestow, on you dear reader, a small sample of a liar’s truth. And I hope my truth urges you to hug your addicted son, daughter, parent, friend, whoever, today and rest of your life, but after you read this example, which occurred in Huntington Beach, California, just before Christmas in 2007:


It was a Tuesday. I didn’t want to work that day.


I was a carpenter like JC, and with a pocket full of cash. So I told my wife: I have an estimate to do: a wainscoting gig for a hoytie toytie all-star with more money than a person should ever have. I told my wife goodbye and then drove my shitty truck to see Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It was showing at Bella Terra cinema on the north side of town.


I’d asked her on a date the previous Saturday:


No, I don’t want to see a gross movie, I’d rather see a lighter film, something without blood and death. And why do you always want to look at such rank stuff? she asked. There’s nothing rank about Johnny Depp, I told her. That’s because you’re in love with him, she said. And then I said: What about Tim Burton and his wife, Helena Bonham-Carter, an absolute goddess? You mean that chick from Fight Club? Yep, that’s her. You’re crazy, she said. I thanked her for the reminder, then retreated to my lair in the garage. This is where my piano and Hammond organ sang like an Army of Death. I played all night long with the garage door ajar. I snorted and injected drugs. I smoked a thousand cigarettes. I drank mezcal tequila and washed it down with beer. I also prayed for a flood, to wash my filthy truck away, or a bolt of lightning to end its crappy life.


Anyways, I drove my crappy truck to the movies.


I parked in the structure, popped a couple of valium, did some more drugs. Then I lit myself a smoke and headed to the ticket booth. It was half off Tuesday. I requested: two adults for Sweeney Todd, please. (The cute ticket girl brought shame to my solitude; she asked where the other person was, and if they were seventeen). Yes, they are, and I am twenty-seven, I told her. She gave me the tickets. Then, as soon as her head turned, I darted into the lobby and into theater number two where I sat in the very back row.


I felt like a creep for most of the film, a loner. But I watched the movie, and I enjoyed every bit of it.


Helena’s breasts make me hot, I thought towards the end of the flick. I wish I could go home and instantly make love to my wife. I knew that was out of the question. We didn’t do that anymore. Maybe it was my breath? She complained about my breath every time I tried to kiss her. I smoked. I did drugs. I drank. I couldn’t get around it, I guess, (the breath that is). The funny thing was, whatever made her think that her breath was something to cheer about, lurked well beyond my comprehension. I’d been crop dusted many-a-times by her stinky ass breath. She drank and smoked as well, not as often as me I admit, not even close. But the difference between her and I was: I wasn’t rude and hurtful for no reason at all, (you must grant me a right to act uncouth, and by god, I will). But I was her (and many others) “goto” in their toughest of times. Not for support, no sir. I was an addict; I didn’t count for much, really. She used me as her punching bag. And she hit hard, harder than Muhammed Ali ever dreamed of.


After the movie, I picked up my oldest daughter, Mayzee Rae, from school in my ugly truck. I parked down the street as she requested. She was in the fourth grade at the time and is now twenty-one and an absolute doll of a lady. She asked me: Where were you just now? I told her: I was working, honey. I wasn’t late to pick her up. Mayzee was just inquisitive and concerned about life; she always wanted to know what was up, down, and all around, especially with me. She was and still is my sweet little darling angel. And when we pulled into our extremely overpriced driveway to our butthole of a house on Guss Drive, my other sweet angel, my little Scarlett Rose, ran outside and jumped in my arms. Daddy! And I always hoped for the same reaction from my wife, but all I got was: um, can you take out the trash. It was never a question, just her insolent decree. I always granted a silent yes by disposing of the garbage. I’d smoked a fat bowl of weed, the culprit to my bad breath, I’m sure. (But in her defense, and mine too I suppose, she didn’t know, or was in complete denial of my hourly substance abuse; so to her, my rank breath only appeared as an innate quality, not a chemical reaction to my junkie teeth and tongue).


Nearly every night, my little Scarlett Rose demanded, although in a sweeter tone than Mama: Daddy, let’s go outside so you can show me the moon up in the sky! Show me, daddy, show me! And she’d point up to the stars. Umm, let’s see, it’s right there baby, there it is, see! I’d point to the full, half, or thumbnail moon that crawled towards Venus and the stars. I see it, daddy I see it, she’d say, now show me another moon Daddy! So I’d pick her up and spin her around a couple times. See baby, there’s another moon! Whoa daddy, look it, look it! It looks like the other moon Daddy!


So yes, I lied to my sweet little girl every day about the moon in the sky, to my other dollface, and my wife about work. I was one big lie. And I hated myself for it every single day.


On Tuesday’s was band practice. I got to the studio, and told my crappy bandmates about the Sweeney:


Don’t tell, you know who, but, I went to the movie today instead of work. I was Sweeney Todd. I was inspired, and in a decent band, despite the cry-baby syndrome that altered the overall melody of our group. How come we don’t get free beer tonight, some would wail, you’d think the House of Blues would splurge a little more for the bands. I agreed completely. The House of Blues could afford it, no problem. But I’d say: that’s why we brought our own booze, right? Let’s just drink our patron and mezcal and chase it with our beer, yeah? But the lead singer moped like a little kid with too many tattoos.


Our band was a punk band. I played the organ/piano which made us kind of gothic, (not shitty punk like the rest of the noise we heard). And every band member amazed me with their craft. I was the only member deep into drugs, but I always told them the truth about anything and everything: money for shows, recording, the drugs I was on, etc. But since I lied to my family on the daily, and since tattoo man married my sister in 1996, (which made him my n’ law), he knew I lied all the time; he knew everything about me, (and his paranoia didn’t help my sitch either).


But why did I lie to my family and not those silly boys, who wore shorts and flip-flops onstage sometimes, and loathed every bit of me, and the sound of my Pee-Wee Herman voice? That’s the easiest question I’ll ever answer: I didn’t give a flying turd what they thought of me and my leadership and disease.


I already knew.


My point is, an addict lies to the people we love the most because we don’t want to upset you at all; (not that I cared about the ticket girl as much as my girls, but unique incidents occur). To upset my girls, was and is, the last thing I ever wanted to do; this includes my now, and not too surprisingly, ex-wife. (The band can bury their heads in the needle infested sand on Heroin Beach for all I care. I’ll dig the hole: their narcoleptic souls won’t notice a thing).


In Huntington Beach, California, (I now live two hours north in Santa Barbara) being an addict (or dark-skinned, but that’s a whole other story) was and probably still is a horrible crime. And anyone so ignorant to addiction always knows what’s best for a junkie, a tweaker, etc. I’ve even heard: you do drugs to hurt others on purpose. I’ll have to disagree with all my heart and soul and that presumption. Because, believe me, addicts don’t enjoy being sick and half dead; or when the world turns metallic, and a slimy shade of orange; or when our bottom line unknowingly depletes, then quickly disappears. Or when our aluminum skin turns to salt from the lack of black tar junk, cut with god knows what. Or when death looks romantic, and we are no longer human at all.


I hope this all makes sense, dearest reader.


We lie to those we love the most because we care the most about what you think of us. And we don’t want to let you down. Addicts are ashamed when the needle pops the skin, or when the puddles dance in the pipe. When I used drugs, I lied to give my family what I couldn’t. I lied to give my little baby the moon that was already there, and to my other little doll so she might see me as a god. To my wife, at the time, for the same type of reasons.


So, from a sober junkie to a devoted listener, I implore you to hug your addict sweet loving today. Tell them that you love them more than you ever have. Lie if you have to. Kiss them on the cheek or on the lips and squeeze them tight like you used to…it could very well be your final chance.





Jon Vreeland

Jon Vreeland is a writer of prose, poetry, plays, essays and journalistic articles. His memoir “The Taste of Cigarettes: the memoir of a heroin addict” will publish May 22, 2018 on Vine Leaves Press, Australia. Vreeland lives in Santa Barbara and is married to artist Alycia Vreeland. He has two daughters, Mayzee and Scarlett. Vreeland has not touched heroin in almost 4 years. You can read more of Vreeland’s work on his website.

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1 Comment

  1. Jennifer January 09, at 08:37

    Excellent writer. Love this man's work.


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