Making tracks at 810 Wheeler

Lying in his bedroom at 810 Wheeler, Chris Ouellet insists cocaine saved his life. It’s a tough sell.

Lying in his bedroom at 810 Wheeler, Chris Ouellet insists cocaine saved his life.

It’s a tough sell.

The 41-year-old addict has ugly open wounds several inches wide running up his swollen arms. These troughs are filled with pus and blood.

On Thursday afternoon, he said he wasn’t high.

Life slowed down at the notorious drug house after Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods issued Ouellet and his mom a warning in late May.

“I’m happy about SCAN,” said Ouellet with a laugh.

“I never wanted that traffic here.”

When he was dealing, Ouellet was making up to $4,000 a day.

“There are lawyers doing the shit,” he said, noting they bought from him.

“Some cops I’ve done cocaine with,” he added.

Ouellet saw as many as 100 clients a day.

“We were about as busy as Tags, and probably made a lot more money than Tags,” he said with a grin.

Ouellet isn’t ashamed of his occupation.

“I don’t deal to nobody under 19,” he said.

“Same as the fuckin’ government.”

Alcohol is a worse drug than cocaine, he said.

“Alcohol turns people into animals.”

It almost killed Ouellet.

By the time he was 20, Ouellet was downing a twenty-sixer and a case of beer daily.

“I was a total alcoholic and I quit that before I died,” he said.

“Alcohol I didn’t have control of at all, it had control of me — if I didn’t have a drink, I had a seizure.

“Cocaine saved my fuckin’ life — that’s how I quit (booze).”

Ouellet remembers the first time he stuck a needle in his veins.

He was in a room at the 202 Motor Inn.

“It was called The Shannon back then,” he said.

“When I did that needle I knew right away that that was it.

“That I would never, ever fuckin’ stop.”

More than 20 years later, he’s still using.

Though, since Safer Communities shut down his business, Ouellet’s been a little short on cash.

“I’m doing it if somebody’s got some, or they owe me or something,” he said.

In the last 10 months, Ouellet’s shot more than $250,000 worth of the drug into his arms and legs, he said.

“But I’m actually only using one fifth of that, or one eighth of it, because I miss.

“I miss so much — it takes me five tries or eight tries to hit once.

“I just can’t find a vein — they’re fuckin’ stashed.”

His arms pay the price.

“I miss the vein and it stays under the skin,” he said.

“I don’t get high or nothing.”

Cocaine is cut with chemicals and acts like acid, said Ouellet.

“It will just eat your flesh.

“I’ve never done my dink or my neck,” he added, though he knows people who do.

Ouellet grew up in Riverdale.

His dad was a carpenter and his mom babysat.

As a teen, the young francophone got into hockey and Motocross racing.

“I was the best goalie at the Arctic Winter Games,” he said, taking a drag of his Export A Green.

A yellowed newspaper clipping on the wall above his bed showed a young Ouellet and a few other guys standing beside their dirt bikes.

“I even went to Anchorage to compete in Motocross,” he said.

“I was written up in a cycling magazine.

“I had 25 trophies.”

Ouellet’s helmet lay beside him on the bed, next to a porn DVD, his phone, a well-used marble slab and a few packs of smokes.

There were bloody Kleenex and used needle packages spilling out of a plastic bag on the floor beside his bed.

His mom, who lives with him and his sister, came in with a chunk of homemade brownie.

“Can I have some more brownie?” said Ouellet a few minutes later.

“I’m just like an old kid or something,” he said with a giggle.

“I’m just like I was when I was 16.

“I still listen to AC/DC cranked up full blast, I’ll still lay rubber on Main Street, and do 90 down the highway.”

Having kids and a day job doesn’t interest him.

“That’s fuckin’ boring,” he said.

“You only live once, man — that’s it.

“Choose the way you want to live, but I don’t want to go home after work and watch TV and take care of the kids — fuck that, man.

“They’re just saving money so they can die and give the money to somebody else.

“I live day by day.”

Ouellet has a 13-year-old daughter. Her mother died of a heroin overdose in Vancouver. The little girl lives with her grandmother — Ouellet can’t see her.

“I can’t do anything because my ex said the kid’s not mine,” he said.

When he was just a year older than his daughter is now, Ouellet started working at Yukon Fiberglass. The training led to a 10-year gig at Irving Collision.

He still has all the tools for bodywork, he said.

They’re in the backyard, scattered around next to his dirt bike.

But he lost a bunch of tools when bikers burned down his garage.

“They insisted I work for them,” he said.

When Ouellet refused, the bikers beat him up and cracked him over the head with the butt of a gun.

Then they placed a guy in his house, to sell drugs for them.

This went on for a year or two, until the police got him out, said Ouellet.

The phone rang.

Ouellet, still lying in bed with his head propped up on his dirt-bike helmet, yelled to his mom, “What phone is that?”

It was lying on the bed beside him, ringing.

He eventually found it and answered.

Someone was looking for a hit.

“I don’t have any,” said Ouellet, hanging up.

“If I had all the money that was owed to me, I could retire right now,” he said.

But Ouellet doesn’t enforce his drug debts.

“I don’t do that shit,” he said.

“If someone doesn’t pay a couple times, they just don’t get anymore.”

The family has lived on Wheeler for the last 20 years or so.

Ouellet’s dealt the whole time.

He’s in control of the drug, he said.

“If you can overpower it so you can eat and sleep, you’re laughing.

“But if you let it ride you so you don’t eat or sleep, it’s not very good because you wear yourself down and end up weighing 20 pounds.

“I’ve been through that before.

“I’ve had the drug take control for three, four years at a time.”

Ouellet’s addiction has landed him in jail a number of times, and in the hospital with serious infections caused by the open wounds along his arms.

“It’s got its downfalls,” he said.

“It’s not a good way to live if you’re going to rob people, or rob stores and all that shit, to get your drug.

“I’m not into that shit — stealing for it.

 “If it comes to that point, you’d better pack it up.”

Ouellet’s sister walked in to bum a smoke, her bleach-blond hair in a loose ponytail.

She was wearing black shorts and a red tank top.

“You’re all dressed up — go get me a hit,” said Ouellet.

She walked out with a laugh.

On the wall beside the door was a picture of a happy-looking family sporting ‘70s hairdos.

Ouellet and his sister were barely recognizable.

“If I could go back in time, I’d keep doing Motocross,” said Ouellet, staring at the ceiling.

But he doesn’t have regrets.

“I’d do it all over again,” he said.

“It was fun.”