Otis spent a lot of his adult life in prison, and spent a lot of his time in prison, in solitary confinement.
our first-time meeting approx, 1997-98
“Trying to hide, are we? I like hiding too’,” his striking voice grabbed me, thanks to panic my gaze was pushed to the filthy nightclub floor. Awkwardly my eyes lift and latch his attention. I was captivated by this goliath man.
Enthralled momentarily by the pirouetting lights upon his scalp, rational thought absconded, making it ok for my hand to inappropriately stroke the top of his head. I don’t know why I did it.
‘I had dreadlocks once’, he whispered, I pulled my hand back
‘you’re a nice little girl’ he whispered in my ear, his hand reached to hold my chin and my face responded obediently. My stomach flipped joyfully at the praise.
“What happened to your dreads?”
‘I pulled them out in a police cell’
Intrigue forced me to ask, ‘why did you pull them out?’
‘I had to attend an identity parade. I was in custody and was fucked if I didn’t get rid of my hair. I’m not returning to prison he laughed ‘I thought my hair would grow back.’
And it worked, he was successful in escaping a conviction on this occasion. He made me laugh back then, I liked him, his hair never grew back.
Our paths crossed numerous times before this meeting, I’d seen him around and had secretly fantasied about him. Otis had the most incredible facial symmetry and piercing eyes. He was different, not only intoxicatingly with his 6ft something height and oxen frame, he exuded strength from every cell.
it was early hours in a really shit nightclub, I’d lost my friends as usual when I spotted his shiny bald head before we collided. It was instantaneous shared fascination delighting, in each other’s weirdness. Otis quickly became obsessed with me, and I devoured the attention. I couldn’t understand his fascination with me. Nonetheless, he enchanted me with the grace of a snake charmer.
Otis relished in my vulnerability and naivety and believed I was something I wasn’t, a ruthless criminal. When steaming drunk, I told him some stuff I’d got up to with the murderer and another a guy called Silver, it was small time petty fraud stuff. I tried to explain this wasn’t me and that I wasn’t really a criminal. Otis misinterpreted my down play on my criminal life, as evidence of me being more advanced in my criminal career.
He fantasised that he’d found a female partner in crime, he thought I understood his world and his unusual approach to making money and treating others. Otis’s interest in others was solely based on what they could offer him; everybody was a potential target or pawn in his games. I wasn’t the first or the last to be drawn in by this man.
A toxic relationship developed faster than we could line up our coke trails. And within a month my wardrobe had transformed into a variety of ill-fitting oversized men’s clothing again. I watched him cut up my fitted jeans and miniskirts,
“why would I want my gal wearing dis tight up stuff” he smiled lovingly to me.
I felt loved and gutted, I’d put a lot of time into stealing all these clothes. I was a stranger in my skin and welcomed his affections over the miniskirts. I had this funny and constant feeling that my blood was connected to electricity, like a gentle frequency humming throughout my body.
I was pointless. I’d failed to excel at anything at all in life. At school, I was picked last for sports and country dancing; I had a talent for playing the piano but lacked the self-belief to pursue my father’s dream of going to the Royal college of music. The lack of interest from my family when I played the piano or wrote music didn’t help fulfil that dream, it wasn’t all my fault. Otis, however, made me feel special. He would stare into my eyes, he saw me, and he listened to me. I wanted to talk to him and tell him stuff, I’d never told anybody. He found me funny and wanted to be with me all the time, I felt so fucking loved.
Toby kept well away, he was shit scared of Otis, “lexia you will be fucked by Otis, he’s evil” I didn’t believe him, Toby was full of shit. Otis was a lovely, clever, handsome Man. who would pop me over his shoulder and carry me around like a doll. I loved kicking my legs around squealing and begging to be put down, hoping he’d keep me there forever.
It was with Otis, I discovered I was actually good at something. I felt so damn proud, when he said, ‘lex man, You are a junkie bitch.’ We started with a few joints, I could already cane amphetamines and knock back booze like a sailor and blowbacks were a delicacy I’d mastered in my early teens. I wasn’t keen on trying cocaine, I was scared of it, to be honest, but he convinced me we’d have fun. None of his ex-girlfriends would party with him like me. I hated his Ex-girlfriends as much as he did, they were all horrible to him. I wanted to prove I was different, I wanted to be the best. I didn’t realise how competitive it was or how silly that was.
My first line was heavenly, and after a while, (I don’t know the timescale) of serious commitment to the coco, my nickname was J Edgar, as in Hoover, A short-lived title, because I buggered up my nose and left eye. Due to the intense usage of cocaine, it was natural to progress to crack. Crack was my new medicine. I became hooked after that first lick on the pipe, and upgraded or descended depending on your perspective to licking it off the coke can, the best and most efficient way to take crack and the most addictive.
Drugs and alcohol played an integral role in our life together, once hooked which didn’t take long. Drugs offered solace from him and his non-stop mouth and noise. After we’d drunk every bottle of Tennent’s super lager, licked the bags of Coke clean and spent an hour looking on the floor for bits of crack, we’d convinced ourselves we’d dropped on the floor, we give up. I’d comply with being “fucked”, knowing the best peace and escapism awaited me, sleep.
Crack smoothed into our life. I was terrified to take it and really didn’t want too. Otis said I’d be fine and if I could handle this he would be impressed. As a good junkie, I was highly competitive, I took the gauntlet and ran for the finish line. A problem for me was drugs made me talk without a filter and I didn’t talk, I was an observer, Otis showed such an enthusiastic interest in me, he listened to all I had to say, he was kind and understanding, he just got me.
Drugs and alcohol act like truth agent, I’d waffle on and on and on, about a whole bunch of pointless shit, while he stroked my face and told me, I was beautiful and wonderful and clever, the love poured from him in these moments, I felt it, it was real at the time, I’m sure this was the real him, that why I preferred him on drugs. This was the light in the darkness; these moments were, what I was addicted too, I felt cared for and loved.
He rarely slept and after a heavy night, he would usually wake around 5 am after an hour or so of sleep. His paranoia was itching his skin to integrate me and tell me ‘how I fucked up’, and how, ‘I’m gonna fucking suffer for what I said last night’
He would grill me, tease me and taunt me and laugh maniacally with his face in mine. Within seconds he’d switchgear and stroke my face and whisper in my ear, “I want to kill you little lex, you belong to me and you’re so naughty I can’t let anyone else have you” his lips would tighten before spitting in my face, sometimes his excitement would force him to bite my face. ‘You’ve been a silly girl and need to be punished” this would go on for hours. He would pause to make me overeat and then carry on.
I used to sob with desperation and try to convince him, I’m not sleeping with anyone else, I didn’t look at the bloke, I hate all men, except him. I’d promise, I’d try to convince him that I want to be a better person and be strong like him,’. I’d recite his previous sermons and share my disgust at white people and agree with everything he said. ‘White people are evil’, I’d say with sincerity, “Id wish death upon any ex-boyfriends, I promise to kill them if they approached me. This would please him, and he’d commend me for finally learning to use my full power. He enjoyed hearing how I’d do it, “I’ll knife them in the heart and stamp on their faces Otis’ I hate saying it.
Otis would listen with wide eyes and a kind smile, “you’re a good girl really lex” and stoke my face, before getting a boner. I’d hide my relief and let my viscous tongue run its lyrics. This is a shameful strategy, but it worked so many times in the past, I keep it up my sleeve and his anger would eventually wane.
Other times, I beg and weep pitifully at his feet praying for forgiveness, dripping snot on his shoes. I had two choices- find drugs or be beaten. A constant battle and the most insane avoidant tactic ever, a perpetual vile circus. I loved that stuff crack. Me and crack met somewhere out of space, I left my body behind. I preferred crack to Otis and quickly climbed the dizzy heights of licking the can. “I’ve not met anyone who can lick a can like you lex” clicking his fingers in the air in celebration with delight. He was so complimentary to me. Otis mixed with the wildest people, I thought I knew weird people, but Otis took it another level which fascinated me. I suppose you have already gathered I am attracted to mad people. Yes, I know projection.
His pals or acquaintances as he’d prefer me to say, he didn’t do friends. Were mostly career criminals who danced on the fragile fringe of society. Their intention was to make shit loads of cash and beat the system, and he thought I was better than all of them. I couldn’t understand how he saw this, but my ego waltzed in delight at the recognition.
My jewelled crown, being a junkie bitch gave me a sense of status’. And my appetite for crack became insatiable which is really inevitable for anyone who kisses the crack pipe. Being a junkie bitch wasn’t fun it was a fucking bind making me more dependent on Otis. With a pickled brain, I couldn’t think straight, but listen it wasn’t all misery, we did have some really bizarrely funny times where we laughed liked feral children, I just can’t remember as all memories had one ending, a fight. One night we were so coked off our faces, we’d licked all the rock and hoovered the floors with our eyes, nibbled at our coke bogies before syphoning petrol out the car, but nothing helped curb our desire. It was roughly a 7mile drive into the city to our dealer. Otis and I jumped in the car, yep remember, I don’t have road tax, MOT or a driving license and to make us even hotter, we play “I’m a Firestarter”. By the prodigy full blast, I don’t know how we got away with It, but we did.
I was driving like a dickhead, pretending to a gangster, taking the piss of our rudeboys with my arm on the top of the steering wheel and my seat reclined and windows low and his big black face on display, talk about blatant. We end up in an Indian restaurant not for food, for a cheeky brandy and an unforeseen fight, Otis thought I fancied the waiter, and to prove I didn’t, I smashed my brandy glass on the bar and threatened to glass the waiter. I can’t imagine what the poor diners’ thoughts as our live Jeremy Kyle show unfolded before their eyes. I didn’t glass the waiter, but Otis punched me in the mouth and we left quickly in case the police had been called. We made our way to score some crack, I’ve no idea what happened after that, usual shit we got shitfaced, scrambled around on the floor looking for crumbs of crack while we clucked, smoked a load of dope to come down fucked like rabbits and fell asleep.
To sum up, my experience being on crack, after the initial euphoric dissolving of my consciousness and meeting the divine in a mesmeric clash with the cosmos, this terribly moreish experience was a short-lived, approx, 5 minutes dance with God. What followed this beautiful high was the biggest drop into an acidic dismal misery where my mind transformed into a cinema and all my shitty life memories would play non-stop. The knowing of my aloneness in life and the realisations of how unwanted I was, drowned me in the weirdest emotions. The reliving of how pointless my life was only reinforced my self-hatred and anger towards me, my life and everyone I knew, ultimately, I hated humanity.
Paranoia festered and multiplied invading any space available in my mind. I saw the world through a paranoid filter and everyone was against me. I knew I truly was invisible and see through pointless piece of shit, whilst being under a scrutinises eye of the world, why is everyone so fucking bothered about me. (no one was) Being off your tree and neck deep in a dark drug infested mind had its moment of euphoria and fun, but mostly for me, it was dark, cold and painful.
Reality was far more painful and the come down from the drugs became increasingly more horrific. Coming down from drugs meant pain in every sense, which of course led to needing more drugs and alcohol to avoid the pain. The measures ones go to get their chosen drug, is shocking. I’d never judge an addict, its desperate, if you haven’t lived it, I’d recommend you shut up with your judgments. Judging an addict without walking that path is like judging a dog for licking its balls. You ain’t been a dog and never licked ya own balls.
The pain of the comedown coupled with the anticipation of Otis’s lectures and interrogation made me want to keep us both in drug world. His lectures went on for hours and hours, with reading from books and videos, he was organised to be fair. He would rewrite the rules most days and set up labyrinths with devious traps that were impossible to navigate and only led to physical pain, id constantly get it wrong.
Those beatings would habitually result in torture, tying me up with head buts, or cushions my face for I don’t know how long, his favourite punishment was dunking me in the cold bath. I often wondered, why I kept taking drugs? Short time avoidance and escapism, comfortably numb by pink Floyd, was poignant.
Otis was hell bent on beating the compassionate, soft, forgiving nature out of me. He despised my softness. “you are weak and your weakness makes me sick” he’d spit and scream with disgust. That anxious electricity inside me made it impossible to respond despite my head screaming to react. My body would freeze and suspended in time, knowing, I was going to suffer, id switch off, I got so good at this, I convinced myself I was dead at times and be surprised and disheartened when I returned. I couldn’t get away with that growing high voltage fizzing and stealing me by blocking my throat and eyes so I couldn’t see. The clocks would start ticking when I returned from where ever I went too.
Otis loved wrapping his hands around my neck being nose to nose close, ‘we are nice and close lex’. He desperately wanted me to be ruthless, he’d shake my head against to wall and try to force this out of me, I knew it would never happen, despite wanting it to, so the pain would end. The strange thing is without my naivety and kindness, he would not have been in me in his life, it was my soft, forgiving nature that kept me stuck with this crazy man. I felt for him. I was confused to why he was so cruel and mean.
With two siblings diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia, I suspect his father had schizophrenia too. His mother left him as a child; she returned to the West Indies. She had taken enough of his father’s violent beatings. His Mother ran off and left her children and the violence increased towards the children as a result of her departure. So as a little boy, poor Otis was abandoned and left with a cruel, abusive father.
As time passes my anxiety, grows further out of control, I developed a stutter and sweat noticeably. My mind was so puddled. I would make one silly mistake after another which appeared to Otis that I was hiding something. He saw my hypersensitivity as, guilt and with that, my anxiety escalates to an unmanageable level. I just shat myself in the middle of town when I called me when I wasn’t meant to be out. Could he see me? Who had reported me?
My health suffered during this, excruciating IBS and my eyes were giving up, I don’t blame you little blue things, you saw more than me. I kept getting terrible ear infections and bronchitis hacking up buckets of green butter, but what troubled me the most, was my teeth. I didn’t want to see a dentist. I was afraid of what might he would say to me, or what he might discover about me. I couldn’t afford the risk. The dentist was a local man. His children went to the same school as my little girls, I have to keep it all a secret, nobody can know.
To soothe my decaying teeth, I rubbed cocaine onto my gums, It took away the pain and saved my nose from bleeding, it was a win-win. Yeah, I know, in hindsight it was crazy idea. I lost a few teeth. I found a couple in the bed one morning, I don’t know how they fell out. I used to dig at my teeth with hair grips to try to remove the smell from them, I was convinced they were rotten. I damaged them, and it hurt me, but I enjoyed the pain. It was refreshing and kind of eradicated, my inner pain for a while. Despite my efforts to avoid dental care, it was inevitable. I visited my dentist surgery situated on the private housing estate. My teeth were in such a bad way and several visits were required. Drug use was daily, so the issues become more profound. Eventually, my teeth at the back of my mouth had to be removed. I was pleased the dentist pulled them out. Little smelly fucking teeth.
The more teeth the dentist removed, the more paranoid I became, and each tooth was evidence towards my convincing story, that the dentist was in an agreement with a large building company, who were collecting people’s teeth to resell them. I know, this seems absurd, but at the time it appeared very plausible. As I was still working on a mental health ward I recall telling one of the night staff, they shrugged their shoulders and said ‘it’s unlikely they would want your teeth lexi’ I guess they were used to madness like I was.
An extract from my book, please drop me a line and let me know your thoughts on this chapter. I’d welcome to feedback.
Love and thank youssss in advance
Alexia x x