About your Book:
Dependence is set in 1970s London, and is a revealing novel about the disturbing consequences of a drug addiction. It is also the intense and poignant love story of a young couple, Anna and Fitz, and their struggle to combat the increasing domination of Fitz’s dependence.
On a summer afternoon in 1975, Anna is ambling along a Fulham street when she accidentally slips over.
She is helped up by the fiery-haired Fitz who, as usual, is buzzing along under the effect of amphetamine sulphate(speed). So begins their deeply loving relationship.
At first, Anna doesn’t appreciate the severity of Fitz’s addiction, and it is only when she moves in with him that she realises how much speed he is using and how it is beginning to govern his life.
Although she loves him passionately, there are times when she wonders whether she can live with the hyperactivity and mood-swings that, at times, turn him into someone she barely recognises?
Anna makes friends with John, a long-time friend of Fitz’s, who has a room in the house they share. Anna is aware that the gentle and solitary John is someone who Fitz trusts and in whom he confides, and she is relieved when John assures her that Fitz, despite his sometimes malicious words, loves her more than she can realise.
When Fitz recognises that he is beginning to lose control, and sees the effect his addiction is having on his and Anna’s relationship, he makes a real effort to stop using the amphetamines. For a while, life seems almost normal again and despite her initial misgivings, Anna is optimistic that all will be well.
But there are too many temptations and Fitz’s abstinence does not last.
Anna is unhappy and considers leaving, but cannot bring herself to end the relationship. At the same time, she wonders whether it can survive the dominating influence of what sometimes feels like another person endlessly demanding Fitz’s love and attention?
And then something happens that throws into stark reality the true and horrific damage that Fitz’s speed addiction is causing, forcing him to at last acknowledge what he is doing – to himself, and to those around him – and forcing him to take action.
The strength of love and the shattering power of addiction – you will make up your mind which ultimately triumphs in this moving and sometimes disturbing story.
Targeted Age Group: 25-60 (Based on the age range of people who have been entering my book Giveaway on Goodreads)
The Book Excerpt:
I would watch him preparing it. He’d sit at the table, or kneel down on the floor with a tray upside down in front of him, and that reverential expression would settle onto his face and I’d be reminded of a priest setting out the bread and wine for a communion.
The sound of him cutting into the powder never failed to set my teeth on edge. Chop-chop-chop with the edge of the razor-blade, his pale fingers delicate as a dancer’s, his silver puzzle-ring glinting in the light. The repetitive movements were mesmerising. Chop-chop-chop until the speed was as fine as sieved icing-sugar.
His face would change in an almost indefinable way; his features would become taut and then set with a rigid concentration while his mounting excitement permeated the room. The intensity of it would flood me with an overwhelming urge to shatter the ritual and I longed to sweep my hand through the air and send everything flying. I could see it all – the mirror, the blade, the fine white powder – scattering in smooth slow motion. I imagined the expression on his face, his reaction, and I kept my hand to myself.
When the cutting part was completed he would manoeuvre the speed into a neat and narrow line and then out would come the pound-note (still around then, back in the Seventies). Any old piece of paper would have done, and did do later on when Fitz was broke and all his pound notes went to pay for the vile stuff. Then he used old bus-tickets, straws, whatever was handy. He always took ages rolling it up, making a perfect tube. Prolonging the pleasure of anticipation. As he did when we made love, but then it was different because I would be involved. With the speed I was always on the outside looking in.
The sound of his long indrawn sniffs made me squirm. The line of boogaloo, which is what he sometimes called it, disappeared up the tube and into Fitz. I’d think of it, voyaging through his body. Before long he would be buzzing and something indescribable altered in him. It was as if he went Whoosh! and took off.
I’d never tried it. It didn’t appeal, somehow. Before I met Fitz I had always regarded speed as reasonably harmless. Being with him I soon discovered how mistaken I’d been. I found out about the highs and the lows and all the empty, wild craziness in between.
Fitz was a speed freak. He was addicted to amphetamines.
Amphetamines are a stimulant. They arouse all body systems, including the brain. Fitz, too, was a stimulant and he aroused all my body systems, including my brain. And my heart. And everything else. Which was why I fell in love with him.
I first met him on a Thursday afternoon in the middle of August 1975. I was browsing along Munster Road, humming, feeling the pavement hot through my flip-flops, glancing into the windows of the antique shops and enjoying the warm, lazy freedom of an unexpected day off. And then suddenly, my foot turned over and before I knew what was going on I was on my knees in the gutter. A squealed “Ow!” escaped before I could stop it, and I immediately felt stupid and embarrassed. I tried to heave myself up but found I couldn’t put any weight on my left foot; all it did was tremble and then slide out from under me. I cursed tautly behind my clenched teeth.
A young girl with a plethora of thin plaits and a floaty skirt looked down and smiled benignly, but she didn’t ask if I was all right. No-one did. This was London. It was clearly quite normal for a person to be kneeling in the gutter, muttering to herself and, even if it wasn’t, it was still best not to interfere.
When Fitz came along he stopped at once.
‘Help you up,’ he said. It was more a statement of intent than an offer of assistance, but I still nodded, trying not to appear too grateful and attempting to retain some semblance of dignity.
His mass of fiery hair tumbled forward when he bent over and slid his arms underneath mine. He counted to three under his breath before gently hoisting me up. My head whirled with suddenly being vertical again. I put out an arm to steady myself, and accidentally knocked an old lady. She tutted crossly, and looked ready for battle, even though I had only brushed the edge of her shoulder.
‘Whoops,’ I said. I grimaced and then grinned at the guy with the hair and he grinned back conspiratorially.
‘Are you okay?’ he asked.
I nodded. Now that I was upright my foot felt fine. I looked into the wishy-washy blue-green eyes of this stranger who had not been afraid to stop and help. Within the blue-green his pupils were like black sequins. He wasn’t much taller than me and he had wide cheeks and thin lips and a nose which would have looked better on a woman. It was an odd face. Bewitching. I had to stop myself staring.
The tinkling sounds of ‘Tubular Bells’ drifted from somewhere nearby. Cars hooted. I looked away and then looked back again. He – whoever he was – was still staring at me. He smiled and asked me my name and after I’d told him he said that he was Fitz. It was an abridgement of his surname, Fitzpatrick, although he didn’t tell me that until another time. And then he said “Come for a coffee” and I nodded and said “All right then” and that was the start of it.
We went to the Wimpy around the corner. It was hot and stuffy and I wished we had bought a couple of Cokes and gone to the park instead. But we sat down at a table by the window and before long it didn’t much matter where we were.
We talked. Or rather, Fitz did. He was speeding that afternoon, although I wasn’t aware of it then, of course. I was entranced by him. I loved his exuberance and the way his voice slithered up and down and how, every now and then, the tip of his tongue wiped over his lips. I missed a lot of what he said because I was distracted by other things – the pale skin of his neck beneath his hair, and his hands dredging the air as he made pictures of what he was saying. He had narrow nails and long, shapely fingers and I imagined them describing pictures across my stomach and up and down my legs. And that lizard tongue doing the same. I hoped my eyes weren’t giving my thoughts away.
He rambled on about Solzhenitsyn, and Scriabin – some Russian composer I had never heard of – and the Incredible String Band, a group I did know, and we drank the coffees he had bought, and then the ones I bought. Fitz’s eyes flashed and his hair caught the sun through the dusty window and I was hugely conscious of my every movement because I wanted him to be too. He contemplated me with disquieting and stomach-jumbling directness, and I was suddenly alarmingly certain that my eyes had betrayed me.
Just when I was beginning to feel at ease with him, he suddenly jumped up, banging his thighs against the edge of the table and making our empty cups rattle in their saucers.
‘Got to split,’ he announced, shoving his matches and tobacco and papers into his pocket. ‘Meeting someone. Can’t be late.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘Right.’
What did I mean, “Right”?’ It wasn’t right at all but I was thrown by the abruptness with which the scene had changed. I was so disorientated I couldn’t speak. I watched in silence as Fitz produced a comb and dragged it uselessly through his thick hair. I wondered who he was meeting.
“In a moment he’ll be gone,” I thought to myself. “I’ll never see him again. I shall be left sitting here on my own and he’ll just be someone with whom I had a coffee one afternoon in August. And I’m letting him go! Smiling like an idiot and making out I don’t give a damn. What’s the matter with me, for heaven’s sake?”
He leaned over, his head so close to mine the ends of his hair brushed my cheek. Moths in the dark. I thought he was going to kiss me goodbye – a quick peck on the cheek and a hurried “Take care” before he whizzed away.
‘I’d like to see you again,’ he said softly. ‘How about it?’