Lord Fear: A Memoir, 2015
In the old industrial city back East, I wake up early and take the dog to shit on a little dirt patch by the edge of a parking lot on the corner. I’m spacing out, and I look down to see her nosing a hypodermic needle that’s been javelined into the dirt. There are fresh blood flecks around it. I pull the dog off and hear a motor running. A few feet away, someone parked for the night to get high. The window is cracked just enough so they don’t suffocate; the heat is on so they don’t freeze to death.
These are the small moments that still mean too much to me, that I have a hard time walking away from quickly. I stand over the car, staring through the cracked window. It’s a boy, younger than me. His seat is reclined as far back as possible. At first I can’t see him breathing and I don’t know what to do, but then his chest moves, just a little, up and down, and then again. Then he shivers in his sleep. I put my hands on the roof of the car and lean closer. He looks ordinary. Everything about this is ordinary.
It’s the commonness that’s most wrenching.
This is a good parking lot to get high in; they never tow. When this boy wakes, he will drive away and do this again somewhere else because that’s what he does, that’s what a lot of people do. Eventually, I assume, he won’t wake up. I have this urge to tell him, Hey, I knew someone who didn’t wake up. Not as a warning or anything, but because maybe he would be interested.