As I said in my last post, the cops who came to the house were straight-up Nazis, all buzz-cuts and steroids. If I was black, I’d probably be dead. They pushed me out of the house and left me to find my way somewhere. With just sixteen cents in my bank account, I had few options.
Other than my laptop, my proto pipe (with a barrel filled with weed), my backpack, and the clothes on my back, I had nothing. I ended up in the tiny park in the Phoenix City Center, considering anything other than stepping out in front of the light rail train. I watched the unhoused who were hanging out in the park and realized I was one of them, that they were my guides to navigate the space where I’d landed.
Ima backtrack on this, back to the tobacco. I’d been Grandma’s caretaker for over a year, not paid a cent other than room and board, sharing a bed with a woman who despised me for a number of reasons (not least the relationship I had with you) but mostly because she lacked empathy for the trap I was in. With my funds depleted, I was cold turkey with nicotine—not a good way to ameliorate the negative effects of depression, anxiety, and a sense that I was despised for being unable to break out of a bad situation.
There was no violence but my rage at having no resources was palpable. Deeming me unstable for all of that, N contacted the local crisis agency—Bridge to Tomorrow (BTT) or something like that—and made an arrangement that, if I checked in, I’d get three packs of rollies (I was rolling my own back then). Got in the back of the cheap city-owned white sedan and zoned out the mindless chatter in the front.
After having my smokes, cell phone, and shoes taken from me, I was buzzed into the back with the other crazies and addicts. There were no beds but only recliners that had to have been purchased from a plasma center liquidation sale and the blankets felt like they’d been donated from U-Haul. Intakes were processed throughout the night, the junkies were hurling loudly, and a woman kept complaining loudly that rats were eating her pussy. I didn’t sleep.
As soon as the morning shift rotated in, I was at the desk and asked when I’d be seen. It took them forty-five minutes to get me an answer. Their answer was, the next morning. OK, I said, I need a cigarette, please give me my tobacco. There’s no smoking here, they told me, I’d have to wait until I was discharged. Again, I went ballistic and demanded to be released. They said no, we can’t do that. I asked if I was on a 72-hour hold and they said no, you’re here on a voluntary status. I said I was no volunteer and demanded they give me my shoes and my fucking tobacco and show me the door.
I walked over six miles back to N’s house, chewing on the sides of my mouth as I composed what I would say about the injustice of having me care for her dementia-addled grandmother for no pay. Walking in Converse high-tops with no socks (IDK what the morons at BTT did with my socks) in 109-degree weather, little to no shade for the entire trek, I was again fueled with rage.
Once I climbed the fence to get into N’s backyard, I rolled another smoke and sat back to wait for her to get home from work. BTT must have contacted N because the Nazis were there about an hour after my first cigarette. Along with her and her idiot son (in the years we’ll take to catch up, you’ll hear about that dipshit).
After sitting back in City Center, smoking a bowl, and staring at the sky for answers of how I would fix my predicament, two light-rail cops approached me, not to harass me but to see if I was good or if I needed any help. Yeah, I said, I need lots of help. So they made a request and told me a van would be by in about an hour to take me somewhere for help.
There were a half-dozen others in the windowless, seatless van. They were all zombie-eyes and a puddle puke swirled just beyond the tips of our feet.
The van made a stop at the city detox then made its way to the BTT facility on the bad side of town.