I had to pee……

….and we were in town returning a borrowed cane to The Red Cross.  I parked in front of the red brick building located at the end of a small side street.  There was an alley around the side.  Sal went in to the office, I got out and looked around.  Pretty private.  Private enough for me…..I am not ‘picky’ that way….and, anyway….who’s gonna look down an alley…..? More to the point: do I care?

I walked around the corner of the building and there, sitting on the ground under a blanket, was a young woman.  She had a bright red top-knot of hair sitting on a black, blunt-cut base.  She looked up.  “Do I have to leave?”

“Not on my account.  I was gonna pee there but I am happy to move on down behind the dumpster.”  But I didn’t move right away.  I stopped and looked.  Her hair was clean.  The blanket was clean.  It was raining slightly.  She had a small pack sack acting as a cushion for her back against the wall.

“Homeless?”

“Yeah.”

“How long?”

“Four months.”

She looked pretty good for being homeless that long.  “Addicted?”

“Yeah.”

“How long?”

“Off and on since I was 13.”

“How old are you now?”

“Twenty three.”

“Drug of choice?”

“Chrystal Meth”.

“Ten years is a long time on meth.  You could be too far gone.”

“Can’t.  Gotta get off it.  I have a son.”

“Where’s he?”

“With my parents.  He’s good.  But I am gonna get him back.”

“How?”

“I’m workin’ on it.”

“Oh…..that’s good.  What are you doing when you are workin’ on it?”

“You know, just workin’ on it…you know…thinkin’….gettin’ by til I am ready to….”

“Well, I hope that works for you but it hasn’t worked that way for anyone else.  Gettin’ by means going deeper. You need to get away from whatever you are doing and try doin’ good work with good people. Change your friends, change your life or something like that…you know…..?”

“Yeah.  I need a place to go to. I am gonna apply for a residence in a treatment centre or something.  I have my name with some social workers…and….like, maybe she’ll get me in somewhere.”

She was intelligent in a way.  Well spoken, at least.  Sentences made sense.  She was almost charming. Definitely pleasant. I had interrupted her as she was writing in a small notebook. It was some kind of journal.

“What’s your name?”

“Ashley.”

“What’s your kid’s name.  How old is he?”

“Alex is four.”

“Go to the forest.  It’s healing.  Find some cabin or something.  Just get out.  Get out to some place like where we live, a remote island up the coast.  No meth.  Nothing.  Just go to the forest, work at a resort somewhere or take care of an old couple or something.  Work for food. Or just get some food and camp.  If it doesn’t work out, go to another place.  Get out of the city.  There’s no real help here.”

Sally had joined me by then.  She and Ashley started talking about island life.  I went to the dumpster.  When I came back, she asked “How do I get in touch?”

I gave her my name and phone number.  But I told her that coming to our island is hard.  She’d work like a dog.  “Wood, gardening, no TV, no young people. I’m grouchy. We just do chores out there but it’s easier doing that in a paradise like ours.  Easier for us, anyway.”

We got back in the car.  We had those just-mentioned chores to do.  We drove in silence for a few minutes.  Sal said, “Breaks your heart.  She seemed alright, you know, deep down.  Not a good idea leaving your kid with the parents, tho.  She gonna make it?”

“No idea.  But do not be fooled by her charming manner.  All addicts tell the truth to the ‘mark’.  Telling their story is easy after awhile.  It works for them.  Then, when the mark believes them because of their sincerity, they set up the mark for some kind of exploitation – usually theft.  Addicts tell the truth to manipulate.  It’s how everyone is fooled.  Addicts know what to say.”

“Yeah.  I know.  What are we gonna do if she phones?”

“Answer the phone.  How do you not?  She’s a kid in trouble.  You have to.”

“What can we do?”

And so we drove and thought about Ashley.  We did not talk about her much but we were both thinking.  I had spent years working with wayward youth and drug addicts.  I even knew someone from my past life in this town. Then I remembered the burn out and depression not to mention constant stress. “We can’t help her. Especially if she wants to bring her son. If she calls, I’ll refer her to an ex-addict I know. We’re a bit too old for that stuff now. It’s an ugly truth but I think she is already way beyond us.”

“I agree. But, it is sad.”

10 thoughts on “I had to pee……

    • Depressing but true. It would not work out. She’d screw up. We’d send her packing….what is the point? Still, I feel we may have to do ‘something’….I’ll play it by ear. But, I also KNOW the social worker thing was mostly a lie. It was what I was supposed to hear…..I am sure some SW has been to the house a few times. Threatened to take the kid, probably. Parents ‘save kid’ from government care (good) and, instead, provide their kind of parenting to their grandkid (bad). All around, a mess.

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  1. So sorry that you decided to engage with this woman. You are too friendly for your own good! Sometimes you just have to go badass!
    Worst is you know going in what it was, still you engaged. You are both a hero and a sucker.
    Thanks for trying.

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    • Hmmmm …..too old for heroics, too smart to be sucked in….but I must admit, there is a pull. Thank God the otg pull is stronger, eh? Still……kids….waddya gonna do?

      Like

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