Monday, September 26, 2005

Priscilla Stops By II

It took Priscilla at least 20 minutes, maybe half an hour, to fall asleep. She was twitching and scratching herself in that way crack addicts have before her breathing slowed and she stilled.

Earlier, we had been talking while she ate. "You got a lot of novels in here?" she asked me. She picked up Mark Kurlanksky's Salt and I laughed.

"That's a boring-ass book," I warned her.

"You don't have any V.C. Andrews?"

"No, I don't. You like V.C. Andrews?"


"What else you like to read?"

"Dean Koontz." She told me she read Cujo once but Stephen King is too long and too scary for her. Dean Koontz is OK and maybe she read some R.L. Stine, too, when she was a kid.

She told me she flew to Colorado once, when she was 12. She went mountain climbing there. I told her my sister and her husband do rock-climbing in California.

"I don't think I could do that," she said.

"Oh, I think you could," I told her. "You have the arm strength." She smiled shyly at that.

She told me she's been doing crack for six months. "I'm 21 years old. I look like I'm 30. I feel like I'm 60," she said. "I don't want to do this anymore."

We talked about where she could go for treatment. She knows of some religious place on Hermitage that offers treatment. It's not Teresa House (they don't do treatment).

When I went through her jeans pockets before putting them in the wash, I found her crack pipe. It was the only thing she carried. It was very small. I set it on the dryer.

About 11 p.m., when her clothes were about halfway dry, I woke her up and made her take a shower. She stumbled to the stairs, eyes still red from drugs and lack of sleep. She was ready to fall asleep on the guest bed after the shower, but I wouldn't let her.

"Please, could I stay the night? I won't steal anything."

"I am not ready to do that yet," I said, very calmly.

"I understand," she said, with just a hint of disappointment.

When she was dressed, bandaged (her feet had cuts and blisters) in socks and sandals, and five dollars richer because that's how much it costs to stay the night with some lady who takes in overnight guests to make a buck, I showed her the pipe.

"I found this in your pants pocket," I said, holding it out to her.

She took it, then said, with a slight edge of resentment, "Why did you have to give me that back?"

"Because it's yours. Do you want it?"

"I could give it to somebody..."

"Is that really helping them?"

She handed it back to me. "I'm going to that place on Hermitage in the morning," she said.

I hope to God she did, but I don't expect it.

As she left, I told her, "Priscilla, you know this is the last time, right? No more money, no more food, no more showers. If I see you again on the street, I'm going to ask you about treatment, because that's the first thing you need. Do you understand?"

"Yes," she said. "I respect that."

Then she asked me to leave her sneakers out on the steps for her to pick up in the morning.

This morning I left them in a white plastic bag on the bottom step.

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