EMS responders go through more wallets than pickpockets. Unresponsive person in an alley. We need to ID them. Check for a wallet. Dead person in a hotel. Got a wallet. Unresponsive in car. Check his pockets. You are looking for the driver’s license, but you can’t help but notice how much cash they are carrying or not.
I will tell you this. There are a lot of people out there without any green in their wallets. Particularly opioid users. Some may have been rolled before we got there, but it seems the same even when we find them in locked bathrooms or cars. Not a single bill.
OD in an apartment stairwell. 2 mgs Narcan IN. Bag for a few minutes. Comes around. Immediately goes for his wallet. It’s not there. A firefighter holds it. He has been writing down the demos. He hands the wallet back to the man, who looks frantically through it. “Where’s my money? There was a twenty in there!”
“You were with people when you used?”
“Yeah, my boy,”
“Your boy, here?”
He looks around. “Where Jamarie at?” He demands of the onlookers.
“Jamarie knock on my door,” a woman says. “He tell me to call 911. He save your life”
“Where’s my twenty dollars?”
“Service charge?” I venture.
But what about the fatal OD behind locked doors? The person who used alone? They never have any money in their wallets.
I have a theory.
Dude shoots up in fast food restroom. The bag of A plus he bought on the corner has fentanyl in it, and because fentanyl doesn’t mix naturally with heroin it tends to clump, and he gets a hot spot. He injects and before he can withdraw the syringe, he starts to seize, his body stiffens, his face turns purple, then blue. He falls forward striking his face on the toilet.
Enter the Reaper. Huge man, in black robes, face hidden deep in hoodie. He looks over the scene, careful not to tamper with any evidence. He notes the syringe on the ground. The vomit. The torn heroin bag. He finds the wallet in the man’s back pocket. He’s not looking for the ID. He already has the man’s name on his clipboard. He’s looking for green. A twenty. He palms the bill. Dude won’t need green where he’s going, he thinks. And I have use for it.
EMS finds the body an half hour later, after another customer complains the door is still locked. A body is blocking the door. Syringe. Vomit. heroin bag. Not good. Heart Asystole. Wallet empty. We think he spent his last dollar on dope.
Meanwhile across town a young bearded man stands at the intersection by Walmart, looking down at the backpack at his feet. He holds a sign “Homeless, Need Food.” His girlfriend sits around the corner, out of sight of the traffic, anxiously watching.
A black sedan drives by slowly. The tinted window rolls down a few inches, and a boney hand emerges from a black sleeve to hand the man a single bill.
Minutes later the young man and the girl abandon their spot and head toward Park Street.
And awhile after that, sirens.
And so it goes…
No end in sight.