The woman with the cellphone stands outside the car. She explains that the maleÂ in the car has been smoking crack, taking benzos and doing heroin for several days. I ask if he is breathing. She says yes, but he is asleep right now. When she picked him at his friendâ€™s house in their suburban town an hour earlier, he was out cold. His friends were going to give him Narcan, but the girl with them said donâ€™t waste it. The girl then punched him hard twice in the chest and put ice in his pants. Â I ask what is her relationship to the person in the car. He is my son, she says.
I approach the car. A heavily tattooed man wearing basketball shorts and an NBA jersey is fully reclined in the passenger seat. His mouth is open and his eyes are shut. I canâ€™t tell if he is breathing. A police officer is standing next to me now. He opens the front door, I open the back door. A sternal rub and the man springs forward. â€œWhat? What the fuck!â€ he says. â€œWhatâ€™s going on?â€ He is in his mid-twenties, a powerfully built thick necked young man with short hair and missing teeth. â€œWhat the fuck? Mom? Where did you take me? Hartford? The cops? Really? Mom, really?â€
â€œYou need help,â€ she says. â€œYou need rehab, and your foot is infected.â€
â€œMy foot is infected. Yeah, my foot is infected. Iâ€™m a drug addict! Mom. Of course, itâ€™s infected!â€
The officer says, â€œIâ€™ve dealt with you before. Whatâ€™s your name?â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m sure I have.â€
â€œIt was probably my brother. We look alike. People mistake us.â€
The mother says, â€œYou need to let them take you to the hospital.â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m not going to the hospital. Youâ€™re taking me back to my boyz. I canâ€™t believe you did this?â€
â€œIâ€™m not taking you back. You either go to the hospital or you can walk home.â€
â€œWalk home? Itâ€™s twenty miles! I donâ€™t have socks. Youâ€™re going to leave me here on my own in Hartford without socks and shoes!â€
â€œYou have shoes right there.â€ I point to the sneakers by his feet.
â€œThese arenâ€™t my shoes! Jesus, Mom, you could have at least grabbed my socks!â€
â€œMaybe its cause your feet are swollen.â€
â€œI told you Iâ€™m a drug addict.â€
â€œHe injects in his feet,â€ his mother says. â€œHe just got treated for an infection, but itâ€™s worse.â€
â€œPlease, dude,â€ he says to the cop. â€œMake her take me back to my boys. Thatâ€™s cold what she did.â€
â€œItâ€™s between you and your mom.â€
â€œI donâ€™t want you in my car,â€ she says. â€œI donâ€™t want to see you anymore. I am done with you and your brother both.â€
â€œFine, but give me a ride back to my boys. You brought me down here now take me back!â€
â€œYour mom wants you out of the car,â€ the officer says, â€œItâ€™s her car. You have to get out.â€
â€œBut I have no socks. I have no socks! Thatâ€™s not fair.â€
â€œItâ€™s not fair,â€ the officer says, â€œbut youâ€™re a man, you have to deal with it.â€
â€œMom, just take me back. Take me back to my boyz.â€
â€œI canâ€™t take this any longer,â€ the mother says.
â€œI have no fucking socks!â€
This goes on for about fifteen minutes. It is like a symphony with repeating refrains and instrumentation. â€œI have no socks.â€ â€œIâ€™m done with you.â€ â€œBe a man.â€ â€œIâ€™m a drug addict!â€ â€œI canâ€™t take this any longer!â€
In between there are some actions. He knows where he is, the date and the president. He denies suicidal thoughts. He tries to light the butt of a cigarette found on the floor boards. His mom says he is going to kill himself. He misses all his rehab appointments. He apologizes for that, sincerely, he says, but says he is still not getting out of the car. She is worried about the fentanyl and the elephant drug. And she canâ€™t spend her nights looking for him anymore. She is sixty years old, she says and she is tired. Â Still not getting out of the car. Â I tell his mom how to get Narcan by going to the pharmacy and getting the pharmacist to write her a prescription on the spot. Insurance will pay for it except for a small copay. She should always have it on her. But she doesnâ€™t allow her sons in her house anymore, she says. But youâ€™re still involved with them, I say. Yes, she nods, she is.
HeÂ says now he hasnâ€™t eaten for days, we point to the hospital and say he can get a hot meal there, and he can get his foot looked at.
â€œIâ€™m not going to the fucking hospital. I got to get back to my boyz!â€
â€œAll right, all right,â€ the mother finally says. â€œIâ€™ll take you back to your boys if you just shut up. After that Iâ€™m done with you!â€
The officer asks her if she is sure, if she feels safe with him.
â€œHe is my son,â€ she says.
I tell her again how to get Narcan and to keep it in her purse.
She nods and says, sheâ€™ll do it.
She gets in the car. â€œPut your seat belt on,â€ she says to her son.
He shakes his head, but he puts the seatbelt on.
They drive off.