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HEROIN ON MAIN STREET: ‘Life’s just starting’

  • Tracy Marie Chalke of Jaffrey. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Tracy Marie Chalke of Jaffrey. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Tracy Marie Chalke of Jaffrey. Staff photo by Ben Conant



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tracy Marie Chalke’s scrapbook begins with a newspaper photo of a crumpled up car with the words “CAR ACCIDENT” above it.

Below is a cut-out rose and the tagline of the Foster’s Daily Democrat “The Region’s Largest Newspaper” and the date: April 21, 2000.

Following those pages is a news story of the accident. It details the death of 21-year-old Lebanon, Maine resident Gerard Ouellette Jr. in an April 2000 crash involving him and Chalke, who was then known as Borrelli.

Chalke and Ouellette were two weeks away from getting married when the accident took place.

She has Ouellette’s name and the date of the accident tattooed on the right side of her chest, below her shoulder.

Shortly after, Chalke said she “stuck that needle right in my vein.”

The rest of Chalke’s scrapbook, the first in a set of three, highlight her downward spiral into addiction. There are certificates of her completing the 12 required sessions of the drug and alcohol program at Strafford County Department of Corrections, complete with cut-outs of the words “Help me” and “heroin” along with pictures of Bacardi bottles.  

There are newspaper clippings of untimely deaths in Wilton and of a Dover man who died unexpectedly in Gloucester, Virginia. There are photos of friends, mostly men, interspersed, and some of them have “RIP” written in pen next to the images.

There are parking tickets, traffic tickets and citations for DWI taped to pages.

She said some of it is hard to look at, but she continues to fill the scrapbooks.

“I did this stuff,” said Chalke. “This is my life.”

A life in heroin

Chalke started using in Maine after the accident to cope with the loss of her fiance. She moved in with her father in Greenville about 12 years ago. Her first unsucessful try at beating the addiction.

“(It helped) for a few years, but then I just turned into a raging heroin addict,” Chalke said.

She said it was “super easy” to get. And it got easier as the years went on. She said she’d just ask someone on the street and they’d point her in the direction of heroin.

“I wouldn’t say any respectable looking adults, if you go to some punks on some streets somewhere, I’m sure you can get it,” Chalke said.

Heroin is sometimes sold for $50 a half-gram or $300 for a finger of heroin (10 grams), Chalke said. A typical dose is about 0.1 grams. At its highest poitn Chalke’s tolerance grew to 20 grams a day.

She would go to work doing car restoration in the day, then hustle at night — buying heroin and selling it to feed her habit.

In September of last year, Chalke was arrested for a second time for distributing heroin and fentanyl, according to a story in the Foster’s Daily Democrat. She was indicted by a Strafford County grand jury. The paper reported that she faced life in prison. She got two years’ probation and one year in a drug treatment program.

“That pretty much sobered me the f--- up,” she said. 

Chalke sees an addiction therapist in Natick, Massachusetts as part of her treatment program. 

“It’s very helpful, he puts you in a chair and counts down from 10, it’s like nap time, and he plays music around you,” Chalke said.

Her husband, Tyson Chalke, interjects.

“Almost like hypnotism, but not really,” said Tyson, who is also in the program.

Tyson, who is from New Ipswich, met Chalke at a drug dealer’s house in 2002. They connected off-and-on through the years. When Tyson went to prison for attempted murder and robbery for his role in a Fitchburg, Mass. convenience store heist, Chalke sent him a letter. When Chalke went to her father’s attic to detox two years ago, she texted Tyson. He texted back. They were married in October of last year.

Tyson said he stopped using heroin after he woke up in an ambulance after an overdose.

“I don’t have it in me to do drugs no more,” Tyson said.

The two are also on Suboxone.

“It makes you live a normal life, and not crave it,” said Tyson of Suboxone.

“I wouldn’t define it as normal,” Chalke said.

“For us, this is normal,” Tyson said.

Life’s just starting

For the first time in 15 years, Chalke, who is 38, went Thanksgiving shopping.

She was invited back to her father’s Greenville home for a holiday dinner, something she hasn’t done in 12 years.

She said it was “nerve-wracking.”

“I cooked everything, it was amazing,” Chalke said. “I nailed the turkey — it was nice and moist.”

Daniel Borrelli, Tracy’s father, said this was the first year he spent Thanksgiving with his daughter in 12 years.

“It was great,” Daniel said. “But it was also very difficult. [Tracy and her husband] are both addicts. I’m trying to be supportive and I don’t blame them anymore, but it’s hard.”

He said Tracy’s addiction ruined their relationship for years. Now they’re trying to figure out how to repair it. 

The Chalkes said despite their pasts, they are moving forward and “we’re happy.”

“We have money, we have a home, we have everything we want, we have a dog,” said Chalke, as her elderly Chihuahua mix named Tango sits next to her.

Tyson can see a change in his wife.

“She’s actually happy, she wasn’t happy when I first went and saw her, she was happy to see me, but you could tell she wasn’t happy with herself,” he said.

At one point Friday, Chalke laments about the things she’s done. The things that fill up her scrapbook. The arrests, the deaths and the traffic tickets.

 “I’m 38, I just wasted 20 years of my life,” she says.

“Life’s just starting,” Tyson adds.

 “That’s what he keeps saying, ‘Life’s just starting,’” she says.