Late on the second to last night of nineteen seventy, unsatisfactorily loaded on wine and wanting something stronger, I drive for the first time to the fine Las Vegas house of my dealer and knock. We usually hook up at the casinos on the strip or tough bars on the west side of town. I knock again and a little louder than advisable say, “You home?” No one answers so I walk around back and find an unlocked window I open and crawl in. Am I a brave or particularly formidable fellow? No, but my drinking and coke and heroin snorting are accelerating toward the cliff at a rate similar to that of the homeowner, a man you don’t mess with unless you’re armed.
I have no plans to shoot Sonny but pull my gun out of a coat pocket since I know what he’ll do if he discovers me inside. Really, it’s not only drugs why I’m here. I want to see Sonny because I like him. He’s witty when he knows you and you’re in private, and there’s an aura about a heavyweight champion. They’re always the champ, kind of like former presidents are forever the chief. Still, I point my gun straight ahead and tiptoe around until I decide it’s time to go upstairs. Half way up I see there’s a light on up there. “Sonny, you home?”
There’s no response. I take each step real slow to the top and ease toward what I sense is the master bedroom and peek around the doorjamb. Sonny, dressed only in underwear, is sleeping on the bed. He’s awfully still. And his head’s near the foot of the big bed. “You okay, Sonny?” Continuing to point my gun, now toward the muscular man before me, I inch forward until I’m right over him and don’t think he’s breathing. I shake him. “Sonny, wake up.” He’s still warm and isn’t stiff. Maybe he’s not dead. “Sonny, it’s me. I apologize coming in like this, but you know how it is. Sonny…”
There’s a syringe on the floor next to the bed and a small, open plastic bag of white powder on the counter in the bathroom. I twist the bag closed and put it in my pocket, wondering when Sonny started using needles, and open every drawer and cabinet in all the bedrooms, and then go downstairs and check all cabinets and drawers, and find several more bags of stuff before I go back upstairs and say, “Sonny, I’m real sorry. I wouldn’t have come here but couldn’t find anything and I’m dying. I swear. I’d have paid you, you know that. God bless you.”