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the vice reader

The Chemically Superior

A fictive story about the flow of ketamine from India to Sydhavnen. And genitalia-shaped fingers.

All illustrations by Grace Pelham-Dann

"I never lie" he said. "It's much easier to tell the truth".

I nodded. I didn't have any reason to doubt him. Not that I cared.

"Show him your finger" laughed the bartender whom I knew from back in the day. He was missing half of his left index finger right above the middle joint. A line circled the stub, only interrupted by another vertical line in the middle.

"Cockfinger" the bartender laughed while pounding the counter hysterically. It did look like a small dick.


"Can you suck your own dick?" he enquired.

I couldn't. And even if I could, I'd probably still prefer getting someone else to do it.

"Wanna know how I lost it? It was back in India. I lived there for 20 years. In Goa".

I knew very well what Goa was: the hippie part of India, where hash, shrooms, LSD and every other type of psychedelia were savored on beaches filled to the brim with massages and cheap food, far away from Sydhavnen and rainy Denmark. He went on about how the Indian mafia had him cornered in some filthy back room, about to cut off his fingers. See, I would've found the story much more plausible had it been the Pakistani mafia. Them I'd heard of. For all I knew, the guy had just clipped off his finger in the door to his shitty bathroom, drunk as fuck, without ever getting any further than his shitty Sydhavn apartment.

The guy was just about old enough to have been part of the hippie movement. He was worn down and poorly clothed. He sported both hat and scarf from "BK Frem"; a football team that tooth and nail had clawed its way back into "2. Division East". If he was a gangster - or a courier - he wasn't all that successful. Then again I knew from experience that it was far easier to throw away a couple of million, than to earn them.

I leaned closer to the bartender.

"He is full of shit", she whispered and smiled softly.

"Actually, I was the one who brought ketamine to Denmark" he hissed at the back of my neck.


That caught my attention. He continued his story, in which he had left the back room in Goa and was now headed through customs at Copenhagen airport, leaving a trail of unsuspecting K-9's in his wake. He had a tight grip on a suitcase full of special K and one hell of a story. If he was for real, that was.

Rumor had it that K was used as horse tranquilizer back in the day, but that they stopped using it due to the side-effects. These days it had found its niche as a party drug - especially in the gay community - and was currently experiencing a hipster renaissance along with MDMA and classics like hash, shrooms and LSD.

I took out my press credentials and smiled while catering to his self-esteem, which seemed significantly smaller than his "cock" finger. His ego ballooned as he started unveiling the chemical tricks to hiding the ketamine scent from the K-9's. He even made the ketamine himself. Not that he was a chemist or anything. No way.

I met up with him the next day. He lived in one of the barracks for the homeless and marginalized put up by the municipality out in Sydhavnen. The banner for his football team and a poster of the band Sum 41 hung over the toilet. I remember they had that one song "Underclass Hero". We sat in the main room surrounded by a bunch of his homeless friends. Getting the other guys quiet enough for my iPhone mic proved near impossible, and I had to pull out all the stops to explain to some chubby chick dressed in black, that quiet meant no talking. At all.


His voice was clear and precise, teeming with the kind of cool confidence belonging only to veterans of calculated risk. His first time doing ketamine had been on a Danish beach with a bunch of his friends. The year was 1996. They danced to techno, the sturdy rhythms pumping through their collective subconsciousness' trancelike state. The electronic mix of 909 kicks and dub-bass rocked his intoxicated self gently towards an orgasmic experience. Psychedelic sounds formed a stream of colours which carried him into a meditative parallel universe. He was hooked.

Eventually, an older bloke he knew from Ungdomshuset convinced him to come to Goa with him. Ketamine was cheap there and it quickly became his drug of choice. 25 kroner would get you around 0.6 grams of the stuff, which was enough to get seven or eight guys seriously wasted. As for making it himself, he wasn't exactly a Walter White level chemist with his ninth grade education and all. But then again, it only took me 3 seconds to find a 6-step-easy-to-make recipe for ketamine. Google suggestions and everything. So he started out cooking it for himself and his friends.

"How did you get it into the country" I asked him.

"It's as easy as grabbing your suitcase and strolling through customs" he laughed.

"What about the dogs?".

"That's the beauty of it" he grinned. "They are only trained to detect opiates. Heroin, coke, amphetamine… They can't smell ketamine".


The biggest load he ever carried was 8 kg. With the price he had mentioned, the street value would have been about 333.300 kroner if sold purely. Double that if you cut it with, let's say, creatine. 666 thousand for one batch was a lot of bloody dough to make off a small bunch of acid trippers looking to become one with nature. It just didn't add up.

"What you're telling me doesn't exactly sound like something just foryou and your buddies.Let's back up a bit. Who did you work with? How did you distribute it? How much K do people usually take, and when? We're sitting here two meters from the can in your dump in Sydhavnen. You're full of shit."

He fell silent for a moment.

"OK, there were three of us. A small guy who was good with numbers and had a lot of green. I was the courier to Denmark. And then there was another courier who distributed to Thailand, Morocco, and all the other places. We ran the operation for 15 years without getting caught. Our customer base grew to a couple of thousand people, but spread to other communities."

I couldn't decide whether or not this guy was for real. But I had heard of those communities, and even been to one of those parties downtown. Fair enough. Why not?

Still, what was he doing here in Sydhavnen where the first snow had started to creep in through the cracks of his dump of a home? He didn't get quiet or sad when I asked him about it, but instead told me a story of sorrow, anger and abuse. His boss, the kingpin, had OD'd on liquid MDMA thinking it was tap water. Textbook irony.
In the mean time he had seen his friends' children grow tall and wasted while he clung to his youthful innocence. I emptied my glass. And as the interview progressed from low-voiced and serious to being the incoherent ramblings of a loser drowning in cries for attention from his ghetto bitch, the door swung open. It was a guy called Stoneface. Two meters tall, longhaired and rough as a whetstone. The place went quiet.

"Bastian blew his own head off. He is fucking dead."

He didn't cry. Not on the outside. Maybe he had never done so; maybe no one had ever taught him how. Bastian was his younger brother. Had this happened in any other part of society, they would all have gathered around him and empathetically crawled into his tragedy. Instead they gave him a glass of whiskey and a bump of coke. My last.

I sensed that suicide was a real and accepted way of escape. An exit people understood and quietly accepted. One last exercise of control. The shortcut out of hell was the two-lane expressway leading out of Sydhavnen past the highway hookers. Otherwise make sure to put your entire head in front of that shotgun kid. Hunter's choice.

I'm still not sure how much of Cockfinger's story is actually true. Who knows? The thing I'm absolutely certain about though, is that there's a different reality which lies right outside Copenhagen's front door. A reality that Linda P and everyone else laughs at. It's a world no one wants, and only few can escape. And that's the truth.