"Mill Town Heroin"
North Shore, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
⠀ A newborn takes his first breaths. His parents carefully take him home, pulling out of Allegheny General Hospital onto a cold, snowless East North Avenue. His mother holds him tightly in the passenger seat. ⠀ ⠀
Right across the street a different mother's son also holds something precious. The aggregate sum of his entire work week's wage distilled down to a gram of white heroin carefully packaged in ten square translucent waxpaper bags called "stamps". They are similar to the stamps one uses to send letters places except that they send everything to the same place; Hell.⠀ ⠀
Everything in the room is in complete disorder except the essentials for getting high organized neatly on the bed. The minute hand does a full revolution as he desperately searches for a vein to inject heroin into. The veins and dreams in this room have been collapsed for years. The needle finally aspirates red, the opposite meaning of traffic light red, as the Steelers fumble a touchdown. ⠀ ⠀
The messy room has a medieval smell of rotting flesh from untreated bacteria infections in both legs. An United States Air Force veteran flying dangerously low. It's hard to tell who failed him but what is clear is that his story is coming to an end. The final chapter in a largely unread tragedy. A silent race between sepsis and fentanyl for who will claim his soul. There is no parachute for this prolonged suicide.⠀ ⠀
I'm back on the sidewalk alone just taking it in. Standing still but my thoughts playing over and over. The new parents in the SUV turn the corner just out of my sight. She looks into her infant son's eyes, her imagination excited with vivid thoughts of her son having his own his own success decades in the future, "I love you forever" she quietly whispers. ⠀