I saw a man sitting on the pavement, his back against a dumpster. A line of cedars screened him from general public view, but I had taken a short cut through a broken-up parking lot of an abandoned restaurant and practically stumbled over him. He had no possessions that I could see except for an upright, empty bottle of MD 20/20. He appeared passed out, perhaps dead.
Rain began to fall. I stepped away from the man and wondered if I should try and help. How many of us experience this daily in America? Ten times a day? It’s chipping away at the foundations of our individual and collective morality.
On the other side of the cedars, two police officers gloved up to deal with another man, splayed near the service entrance of a convenience store.
I bent down for a better through look under the cedars.
The officers stood the man up and he somewhat revived. They searched him, then put on handcuffs. They were pretty gentle about it. There was a familiarity with him in their voices.
Doubtless the officers would transport the man to the station, and in short order, he would return to the county jail where he had probably been incarcerated 50 times for the same probation violation. He’d spend a week or 30 days in jail and go cold turkey. He wouldn’t receive any treatment for drug and alcohol addiction except the cold turkey leg. This is what passes for drug and alcohol treatment in rural America and I have seen it with my own eyes.
What is to be done? I believe in the coming years, if things can swing my publishing way, I will shine my special type of editorial attention to this reality, or irreality as it more properly should be called. I am seeing more clearly than I ever have in my life, new. strange sights, many of them terrible. In time, I will follow that clarified path and speak about what I have seen.