(Warning: The following contains disturbing details and graphic imagery.)
Defeated, she sits on the edge of the bed belonging to a fragile senior resident whom she has known for years, has harbored her before, and shares some of the same habits. After a three week crack binge, which I doubt is yet over, she is famished and for the privilege of making and eating four grill cheese sandwiches in a flash is massaging that woman’s sore feet and shoulders. Anything to ensure she doesn’t get thrown out again. Far from her home across the city, without money and in no condition to bargain, she knows no-one else will open the door for her tonight. Running amok for days, several violent outbursts against people and property have angered and alienated her peers, so she is lucky to have this temporary sanctuary.
“I black out. You know I black out? I have an anger problem. I was living with my mom (who has mental health and anger issues herself). We moved out of housing to get away from this, I went to talk to the counselor two times a week. I’ve been working so hard to stay straight. Why did I come back here?”
Twenty-nine years old, the same age as my daughter, but by the Grace of God she isn’t mine. This girl was emotionally, physically, sexually and physically abused from the age of three, and been addicted to the darkness of The Crack Game* for a long time. Heavy circles under her eyes, hair greasy and astray, body unwashed, she is not as alluring as she was a decade ago when men would indulge her whims and pay big bucks to spend time with her. It’s almost midnight and she hasn’t had a drink or a toke for hours and is becoming increasing distraught. The hit of heroin someone injected into her veins this morning (not her drug of chose, but not one to refuse a freebie) is wearing off and she is alternating between shivers and sweats. Soon she will crash into much needed sleep.
“I lost my boobs. They used to be so big,” she says sadly while removing her tee-shirt, (not because she is hot, but likes to strip nude no matter the company). She cups her tiny breasts encased in a black lacy push up bra, her voice a hoarse whisper, explaining that earlier she had swallowed a piece of burning Brillo, sucked it right out of the pipe where it was being utilized as a screen. It lodged deep in her throat while the crack smoke carried tiny particles down to her lungs. She coughs black phlegm onto a paper towel before asking her friend for another drag of their shared last cigarette and then reaches to touch my arm.
“You know I love you? You’re a good person. I am telling you, it was so hard,” she mumbles, her eyes closing, “I was clean for nine months. I tried. I really did! It’s not easy.”
They say that she travels holding her stash in a plastic Kinder egg; a few pieces of crack (when she has it), a cigarette butt, a pack of bent matches, and a sleeping pill pushed up inside her, along with a pipe, in the likelihood that she flips out, gets arrested, and ends up in jail. According to one man who witnessed her retrieving the paraphernalia from between open legs, the stench was enough to make him nauseous, quite likely the result of chronic vaginal infections and lack of hygiene, and definitely an effective deterrent should a female officer get the task of delving deep to check for contraband before placing her behind bars.