“The last time, I threw it as hard as I could, only, I didn’t watch to see where it landed. I turned around the very second I felt it leave my hand and walked away from crack for good. That was 5 years ago and I never used it again.”

Though he sat right across from me, he was a million miles away. He was envisioning a time when he was lost and his expression revealed the suffering he experienced in those dark days. He recounted how much he hated himself and how he lived. Life without crack cocaine proved to be much better for him. “What made you launch your pipe for good?”

He snickered a little and said, “I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, but really, it was the cactus cops that made me quit.” He nodded as if to agree with himself, but didn’t say anything else. He just smiled and nodded.

I had no idea what or who the in the hell cactus cops were, though. “What are ‘cactus cops’ and how did they make you quit?”


“Oh, right, you weren’t there. Well, it started one night after I scored some rock. There were some cops driving around my connect’s neighborhood and for some reason, I got scared out of my mind. I’d been using crack for a long time, probably 15 years already and I never gave cops a thought. It didn’t strike me that I was doing anything other than partying. But that night, I got freaked out.”

“How long after that night did you quit?”

“Well, it took a while. See, once I got home and lit up, everything was good in the world and I forgot all about the cops. But they must have made an impression because once I started feening again, I felt scared and paranoid and after about a week – I saw them, the cactus cops.”

“Which were…?”

“I didn’t have money and it’d been a day or so since I scored so I stole a bike from my neighbor’s yard and pawned it because I was desperate, man. I wasn’t a thief; I just liked my coke and needed a fix. But when I got home and looked out my window, there they were, a mess of cops coming to get me. Some had their guns drawn and some had their batons; but they were all in the field in front of my pad, coming to haul my ass off to jail. I hid my rock, grabbed my pipe and launched it as far as I could. I didn’t want them to find it when they busted through the door. I did, however, make note of where the pipe might have landed. But when I went back inside and looked out the window, they were gone. I figured they must have come while I was outside and split because there was nothing in the field except for the same old cactuses.”

“So is that when you quit?”

“Hell no! I went out with my flashlight and found my pipe and smoked myself into a nice buzz. The problem was that the cops came back then next night and night after that, always waving their guns and batons at me. They freaked me out man. I’d sweat like hell and even started smoking my stash while they were there – I needed to calm my ass down somehow. They’d always leave, but they’d always come back, night after night. Finally, I one night, I called my cousin and told him about the cops and how they were coming for me. He said something about me being crazy and that I needed to get off that shit. But I begged him to come over so that I could show him the cops.

“He came over and, sure enough, they came. This time though, they weren’t leaving. ‘Look,’ I told him. ‘There they are those bastards, they’re coming for me. Quick hide me, don’t tell them I’m here,’ I said and ran around my apartment. My cousin looked outside but didn’t see anything but cactuses blowing around in the wind. ‘Hey asshole, come here,’ he said and I came out of the closet where I was hiding. ‘Those ain’t cops, stupid, they’re cactuses, look dumb-ass.” He pointed out my window and he was right, there was nothing in the field except for a bunch of cactuses. I ran out into the field and looked around and saw tall cactuses with their branches waving. I felt like a complete loser and realized that I was losing my damn mind all because of crack. I mean, hell, I had been tired of the hustle for years, but you get used to it you know? But I’d never hallucinated and got so paranoid. Seeing those cactuses and thinking they were cops freaked me out beyond belief.”

“Is that when you through your pipe for the last time,” I asked.

“Nah, I still used for a few more months, on and off. Each time I would, though, I’d chuck my pipe, but watched where it landed. But after a while, I got tired of looking for the damn thing and so, I went into the field, and threw the thing with all of my strength and walked away for good. I’m sure it’s still somewhere in the cactuses. But each time I see them, I think of cops. I call them the cactus cops and thank them for making me quit crack. I don’t miss that life at all. It sucked.”


So, for him, the cactus cops showed him how much he’d lost. He asked me to share this story so that others might also learn from his hallucinations. To me, the cactus cops are real and they really were coming to get him.


Photo note: I took the pics using a Nikon Dr3300