Yesterday, I attended an all-staff meeting at the bar. My boss (we’ll call her Lucy) arranged it so that we could get any problems and/or concerns out as well as tell her what she needs to purchase to make our jobs easier. I gave my two cents and so did everyone else. Lucy mentioned that two of the gals wouldn’t be attending the meeting because they were at a funeral in New Jersey. Apparently, a regular, and an ex of one of the girls, nodded off in his apartment while high on heroin and burned himself to death.
The mention of nodders drove the meeting in an entirely different direction. One of the veteran bartenders voiced his concern about the rise of heroin use in the area. Apparently, there are several people who like to come in and nod off in the bathroom or at the bar while sipping coffee. But no one sounded more intriguing and scary than a person known as “The Ghost”.
The Ghost is a kid who was actually IN the movie Kids. He is around 25 now and is a full-time junkie. He’s harmless
– more or less – and he’s known for sneaking into bars in the area and stealing whatever isn’t nailed down. Most recently, he stole the plunger from the bathroom. The hell?
The Ghost has been told over and over again he isn’t welcome. Ever. But apparently he still sneaks in and will attempt to steal whatever he can get his hands on. The turntable needles are no longer with us. I imagine they were sold for a few bucks on the nearest corner. I’m assuming the movie Kids didn’t do much for his acting career. (Oh how I hated that film. But that’s a story for another day.)
There are others, too. But I won’t bore you with the details surrounding the Brooklyn heroin population. I just never knew it was so prevalent! Today I thought about the women I work with and how awful they must feel. I thought about all the folks who live in the area and those who frequent the bars. Most everyone I work with lives within walking distance. Most of our patrons are locals as well.
About a week and a half ago, during that hellish ice storm, sirens streamed past my kitchen window up the boulevard behind our apartment. I noticed fire trucks and police cars, ambulances and more fire trucks. I remember thinking, “Someone is in trouble.” And then I continued cleaning.
The next day, my brother called to say that a house that lay between our two apartments had caught on fire. The sirens I heard were on their way to douse that same fire. The top floor apartment burned up completely but the firemen were able to put it out before it hit the other floors. The house was damaged so badly, that all the other residents were forced to find new places to live. And more recently that house was brought to the ground entirely.
I can’t help but wonder if I saw was the same fire that claimed that kid’s life. It’s as if I need to know that my imagination isn’t correct in thinking that the world is indeed that small and predictable.
Lastly, I’d like to think that if someone I knew was in trouble and giving their life up to addiction, I’d have the power to stop them. But I realize how naive that is. I’d like to think that I’d tie them up and lock them in a room until they are free. I know that isn’t possible. I know it isn’t that easy. Still, that kid had a mother. He was once a little boy. And somehow, just knowing that affects me greatly.