Akbar Del Piombo
Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 101 in 1998.
Collages and pictorials by Norman Rubington
Fuzz Against Junk
The Sage of the Narcotics Brigade
Sir Edwin Fuzz enjoying an hour of leisure in his London club. Foremost narcotics expert of the United Kingdom and sleuth par excellence, he reads, unaware of the impending significance for himself, stories of sudden outbreaks of violence ravaging the streets of New York...
Sudden deaths due to narcotics...
And the most hideous case of the swollen corpse: death induced by an overdose of heroin. Faced with an outbreak of criminality which reached Gargantuan proportions, the New York police, their back against the wall, had no recourse but wire an urgent message to Sir Edwin Fuzz, requesting his services to help them smash the drug ring responsible for all this mayhem.
Arriving in secret in New York, Sir Edwin's first view of the city's life convinced him it was a seething hell of criminality. Little time was lost in acquainting the famous detective with the methods and facilities at his disposal. He was noted to scrutinize the women with exceptional attention : "Know your enemy," he explained, "that is the keystone of my methods."
Sir Edwin undergoing rapid debriefing. State and Federal authorities co-operated to put at his fingertips all the data accumulated in years of combating the spread of drug addiction. Some of the more striking exhibits are presented on the following pages and will convince the reader of both the thoroughness of the police, and the ingenuity and craft of certain of the more redoubtable criminals.
"Junkie" receiving daily dose. Stomach incisional system is in use only as a last resort when no more puncturable skin surface is available.
Fig. 1: Californian two-hour pelvic region "fix."
Fig. 2 : "Opium Vapor Bath"; upright position for two-hour "fix."
Fig. 3: "Quickie" vapour bath, upright position, for limbs only.
Examples of "stoned" subjects.
New York detective demonstrating complete inflexibility of "stoned" subject.
Here we find one of the most amazing hauls ever made in narcotics history. Intensive laboratory examination has not yet revealed the functions of all the curious instruments pictured. Sir Edwin is at a loss to explain the clocklike instrument in the lower right-hand corner, obviously the work of Swiss craftsmen. Most of the needle-like objects were meant for intravenous hypodermic syringes and their considerable variety of form, the use of wheels and drilling apparatus suggests they were employed by a fanatical sect of masochistic "junkies." (Junkies: criminal term for Heroin addicts.) At the top left, one sees the more classical syringes with gadgets that served equally for self punishment or clandestine obstetrics. Top right and bottom left show two possible functions for the clock mechanism; one of Sir Edwin's pet theories is that the addict of low means could hereby attain his daily dosage by some process of osmosis, whether by placing the special head on the surface of the lung or through the fingers as demonstrated.
Photos found in the possession of San Francisco "Beatnik" and representing a typical jazz-poetry gathering, complete with a prototype bongo drum and orator reciting. Often accompanied with the smoking of "pot." Pseudo-bohemian atmosphere and typical disarray customary with this group. Note the brutish attitudes also common to their type, characteristic of the dope action referred to as being "stoned." The host is a prominent writer for them, although his principal vocabulary centers predominantly on the use of four-letter words, and the stories contain no action other than what is normally considered obscene.
We come now to the mysterious personage known in the "milieu" as "The Man." Here is the key figure in the narcotic drama. Around him centers all the activity of the underworld for he is the principal dispensing agent of the drugs so desperately craved by the criminals. Note particularly the sadistic temperament of this criminal, his extraordinary capacity for dissimulating his appearance in the most outlandish of disguises, which has kept him for years out of the tentacles of the police. It was in fact their long-standing inability to capture him which induced the FBI to seek out the services of Sir Edwin Fuzz. It will later be related how Sir Edwin managed at long last to snare this prize catch, to his everlasting glory in the annals of police victories.
"The Man" and his Wife.
"Gentlemen!" Sir Edwin Fuzz cried after the briefing was over, "Gentlemen, after what I have seen, it is perfectly clear that the root of the evil lies not in New York, but in San Francisco!" A great murmur followed his statement. "It is clear," he shouted, "that the masterminds as well as the major activity of these criminals is centered in San Francisco. Here you have but the body of the viper … but the head is in California…" He immediately proposed an expedition to the West Coast. "Unthinkable!" came the response. "Unheard of…" etc., etc.
Protocol having raised its nasty head and the principle of noninterference in the affairs of another State (a principle which had already caused a civil war), Sir Edwin picked up his coat. "In that case I am returning to England," he cried, "for by the same token I am only interfering in your private affairs!" Dumbfounded, they called him back, and a hasty conference was held in which his views finally won the day. "They won't like it though," was the unanimous feeling.
Special armament shipped overland to San Francisco, destined to implement Sir Edwin's campaign.
Detectives in San Francisco, waiting for the arrival of Sir Edwin Fuzz, obviously determined to sabotage New Yorkers butting into their affairs. Instantly aware that the San Francisco police had no intention of co-operating in his campaign, Sir Edwin Fuzz was obliged to resort to subterfuge. He thus ordered his men to disguise themselves as Californians. "You are now secret agents in every sense of the term," he told them. Consequently they were masked most of the time, rarely went abroad in daylight and then only to the nearest bookshop where they secured the necessary reading material to implement their disguise. "You are 'Beat' from now on," Sir Edwin instructed them, "and you will act accordingly. Bone up on 'Zen.' Refrain from washing and let your hair grow. Listen to music … the stuff they call 'Cool' … learn the names of the bands … become adept on the 'Bongo' drum … and …! I am afraid it is necessary also … learn to take a 'fix'! If you cannot familiarize yourselves with the 'Beat' vocabulary, keep your mouths shut and write poetry. For that you need only extract passages from the Farmer's Almanac and inject obscene words in the right places…"
A month later, bearded and unwashed, Sir Edwin penetrates for the first time into the holy of holies, a gathering of notorious "Beatniks" seen here in the act of absorbing narcotics, the two visible being Opium and Cocaine. Sir Edwin himself is smoking "pot," and in spite of the disagreeable sensations, is very ably managing the "cool" countenance necessary.
Sir Edwin was not long in discovering that the prize he sought was on the premises. In fact "The Man" was in an upstairs room preparing a "fix." While Sir Edwin was smoking "pot," secret agents strategically deployed prepared to spring the trap. Among the "Beatniks" were several detectives who had succeeded in passing themselves off as criminals, following Sir Edwin's example.
The raid! Infuriated "Beatniks" attempt to storm the exit while hard-battling plainclothesmen drub them into submission.
Thinking of "The Man," Sir Edwin dashed upstairs and burst upon a couple in an already half-drugged state and apparently preparing a sinful act.
The spectacle in the next room was far more pathetic for there a degraded couple were in the act of leading an innocent woman to her doom. Sir Edwin's ire knew no bounds… The woman went to her knees in gratitude.