sitting outside starbucks. Blowing hard on my coffee, its 38 degrees
and i'm sitting on a bench in front of the store. Need a cigarette with my coffee, what can I say. I'm willing to freeze for the privilege of killing myself.
I hear her before I see her. A tinny rattling sound. I do not look up. I have something pressing on my mind like an albatross. Its taking all my emotional energy just to raise the cup to my lips. I'm depressed, wallowing in self pity and just don't give a fuck about anything but this damn coffee.
But again there is that noise. It garners my full attention now and I gradually look up. She looks to be in her late 30's but experience has taught me that she can be 19, 20 at most. The sounds are emanating from the various bags and carry all's she has slung around her neck and shoulders.
One glance tells me her life's possessions are in those bags. They are rattling because shes 'drug sick'. Small framed and close to emaciated she attempts to hang on to the waste bin for support. Each convulsion brings to life the noisy bags. A tune for the lost, the forgotten. The drug addicted.
She cant make it to the bench, if that was her intention in the first place.
I throw my coffee in the garbage can and make my way towards her. She is frightened and mistrustful. I tell her what I do for a living and she appears to calm down...i think. Shes jonesing by now and I need to practically carry her to the bench. She needs sugar, something sweet. I ask her name and between clenched teeth she mutters “Amy” and something about her boyfriend “will be back soon”.
Yeah, right, i'm thinking as I make my way back into starbucks. I order the most sickly sweet coffee they make and grab a cinnamon bun and packets of sugar from the counter. Arriving back at the bench I find her hunched over and in still worse condition. I open and hand her the sugar first. She pours them in her mouth with shaking hands.
I offer to take her to the hospital..a mere mile away, she declines. Her fear is palpable, so vivid you can now see and smell it. I promise to stay w/her if she goes...she shakes her head no, barely even able to lift it. Breaking up the bun, I start giving her small pieces at a time. She takes them as though they were a sacramental offering. No matter how often I do this my heart is rent each and every time.
It doesnt take more than two minutes before she becomes sick..trying to lean over so as not to mess her clothing. I hold her, I beg her now...to please let me get her to the shelter just down the street. “no”, my boyfriend will be back soon. He took my watch to pawn it. Get me a nickle bag...just enough to feel better. My aunt says shell take me in. ill go back to school she says. Shes 17 and a life of unfair and shitty treatment by a father has brought her to this moment. To this corner on Main st..
the rattling of her various bags start up in a cacophony of sound. She is shivering and I am certain its her frail bones I hear and not those damn bags.
It's been 40 minutes now and I know she is not going anywhere...shes waiting for the boyfriend.
I take two twenty's from my wallet and tell her to go get a room to ride out the rest of this nightmare. I remind her this is only the first stages; the worst is on the way. Around the corner.
There is nothing left for me to do. Im helpless and cant wait to get to the car to scream out my frustration. I kiss her good bye, hold her hand a moment longer...shes crying and will not meet my eyes. I get in my car and start on my way home. A block away I turn and make my way back. She is already gone. I see her from a distance, her body trembling as she holds on to the brick alleyway.
Two mornings later im reading the paper. Young female found dead in the fountain of the Marshall Fredrick's statue in front of library. The headline screams this...or is that my own voice? Seems the boyfriend never did come back. She was a novice at heroin use and found a not so reputable pusher man.
He gives her almost pure for 20 bucks. She shoots up and makes it to the fountain before collapsing. Found in her bags...a twenty, her high school ID. and all that rattling? It was from a variety of childhood trinkets she had collected over the years.
Funny thing about that fountain...it is a famous sculpture of a woman being held up to reach the stars.
Amy's nightmare is over.