He was found unresponsive on the city bench with a needle in his hand. The first responding police office shook him and he was able to come around with naloxone. By the time I arrive, he is alert and angry. Three police officers stand around him with their arms crossed. He doesn’t want to go to the hospital, which is okay with them, as long as it is okay with me. They want me to check him out.
He is, I’m guessing in his late twenties, a lean likely once handsome man in an army jacket. His face is now pockmarked and scabbed, as are his arms. “Leave me the fuck alone!” he says. “I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got rights and I fought for them!”
“I just need to ask you three questions,” I say, holding my arms out in a peace offering. “I have to ask them of everyone. What day is to day?”
“Thursday,” he says, refusing to look at me.
“Where are you right?”
“The fuckhead, just like all of you are fuckheads.”
“Okay,” I say. “Just a couple more questions if I can. Do you know where to get help if you need it?
“You know where to get clean needles?
“Yes, I just came from there.”
“You know where to get naloxone?”
“You know you can started on suboxone in the ED.”
“I don’t want to get on suboxone. I don’t want to stop using. My girlfriend, that crack bitch, just cashed her stimulus check and we got a motel and we were bingeing and then she took the fuck off on me. You think I trust anybody? You think anyone gives a shit about me. Fuck all of you!”
“Just trying to help.”
“I don’t need any help. I went to both hospitals and nobody can help. I’ve got bad sores. I can’t even walk on my legs they’re so fucked up. No one can help. Leave me the fuck alone.”
“We’re happy to take you to the hospital, if you want to go. You can get you something to eat, maybe they can help find you a bed. At the least they get you something for your abscesses.”
“No, fuck all that.”
“It’s available to you, if you want us to help.”
“There’s no help for me. Nobody gives a shit about me.”
“We all do.” The officers nod in agreement. We are earnest about wanting to help, but right now he is not taking anything in. His anger is too strong.
“You think I’m a scumbag,” he struggles to get to his feet. “You all think I’m a scumbag. Look at this.” He takes out his cellphone and furiously hits away at the screen. “There look at this. This is me.” He holds it out defiantly for us to see.” It is a young man in full military uniform in front of an American flag. “I’m no piece of shit. So fuck all of you!”
He turns from us then, and starts walking down the street with an awkward painful gait. He gives us the finger and then turns away for good.
From under the bench I pick up the syringe and a torn heroin bag that has a number one on it and the words in blue “Way to Go.”