Walk Down Misery Street

Father and son disappeared after a few sessions and then turned up again two years later. By then, Frank had stopped experimenting with pills and moved on to shooting heroin. He looked like a madman. His eyes rolled around and there were scary-looking abscesses on his arms. He couldn’t sit still even for a minute. Frank pressed his briefcase to his chest, not wanting to part with it. It was easy to guess that the briefcase was full of dope bags and syringes.

Frank asked for help. He was tired of living that way. He’d gone so low as to steal fire extinguishers and sell them on the black market. Once upon a time, he’d worked as a computer programmer at a prestigious company.

I told him that, first of all, he needed to go to detox and sober up—he was shooting fifteen to twenty bags a day (at a cost of $150-200). While I looked for a detox for him, Frank, who was sitting next to me, took a needle from his pocket and poked at the rotten abscesses on his arm. By doing this, he was clearly in bliss—dope users love the needle. Just touching the needle to their body, especially the place they shoot up, brings them incredible pleasure.

When I found a detox and told Frank, he clutched his briefcase to his chest and ran to the bathroom. He locked himself inside a stall and shot up. He would have to go to detox and leave dope! How would he manage to survive?

Meanwhile, his old father Sean was sitting in the waiting room. For sure, he blamed himself for divorcing his wife who drank and raising his son alone. He should have shown his son more warmth and care. That’s why Frank was having so much trouble.

When he found out that the detox would accept Frank, Sean was hopeful, got his son in the car, and drove him to the hospital.

Frank left detox that day or the next. Drug treatment is voluntary. Until it becomes mandatory.

I can still see old Sean, a short, puffy-cheeked man who often wore a Yankees baseball cap. He used the word “portfolio” to describe Frank’s briefcase.