The woman with the cellphone stands outside the car. She explains that the male in the car has been smoking crack, taking benzos and doing heroin for several days. I ask if he is breathing. She says yes, but he is asleep right now. When she picked him at his friend’s house in their suburban town an hour earlier, he was out cold. His friends were going to give him Narcan, but the girl with them said don’t waste it. The girl then punched him hard twice in the chest and put ice in his pants. I ask what is her relationship to the person in the car. He is my son, she says.
I approach the car. A heavily tattooed man wearing basketball shorts and an NBA jersey is fully reclined in the passenger seat. His mouth is open and his eyes are shut. I can’t tell if he is breathing. A police officer is standing next to me now. He opens the front door, I open the back door. A sternal rub and the man springs forward. “What? What the fuck!” he says. “What’s going on?” He is in his mid-twenties, a powerfully built thick necked young man with short hair and missing teeth. “What the fuck? Mom? Where did you take me? Hartford? The cops? Really? Mom, really?”
“You need help,” she says. “You need rehab, and your foot is infected.”
“My foot is infected. Yeah, my foot is infected. I’m a drug addict! Mom. Of course, it’s infected!”
The officer says, “I’ve dealt with you before. What’s your name?”
“No, I’m sure I have.”
“It was probably my brother. We look alike. People mistake us.”
The mother says, “You need to let them take you to the hospital.”
“No, I’m not going to the hospital. You’re taking me back to my boyz. I can’t believe you did this?”
“I’m not taking you back. You either go to the hospital or you can walk home.”
“Walk home? It’s twenty miles! I don’t have socks. You’re going to leave me here on my own in Hartford without socks and shoes!”
“You have shoes right there.” I point to the sneakers by his feet.
“These aren’t my shoes! Jesus, Mom, you could have at least grabbed my socks!”
“Maybe its cause your feet are swollen.”
“I told you I’m a drug addict.”
“He injects in his feet,” his mother says. “He just got treated for an infection, but it’s worse.”
“Please, dude,” he says to the cop. “Make her take me back to my boys. That’s cold what she did.”
“It’s between you and your mom.”
“I don’t want you in my car,” she says. “I don’t want to see you anymore. I am done with you and your brother both.”
“Fine, but give me a ride back to my boys. You brought me down here now take me back!”
“Your mom wants you out of the car,” the officer says, “It’s her car. You have to get out.”
“But I have no socks. I have no socks! That’s not fair.”
“It’s not fair,” the officer says, “but you’re a man, you have to deal with it.”
“Mom, just take me back. Take me back to my boyz.”
“I can’t take this any longer,” the mother says.
“I have no fucking socks!”
This goes on for about fifteen minutes. It is like a symphony with repeating refrains and instrumentation. “I have no socks.” “I’m done with you.” “Be a man.” “I’m a drug addict!” “I can’t take this any longer!”
In between there are some actions. He knows where he is, the date and the president. He denies suicidal thoughts. He tries to light the butt of a cigarette found on the floor boards. His mom says he is going to kill himself. He misses all his rehab appointments. He apologizes for that, sincerely, he says, but says he is still not getting out of the car. She is worried about the fentanyl and the elephant drug. And she can’t spend her nights looking for him anymore. She is sixty years old, she says and she is tired. Still not getting out of the car. I tell his mom how to get Narcan by going to the pharmacy and getting the pharmacist to write her a prescription on the spot. Insurance will pay for it except for a small copay. She should always have it on her. But she doesn’t allow her sons in her house anymore, she says. But you’re still involved with them, I say. Yes, she nods, she is.
He says now he hasn’t eaten for days, we point to the hospital and say he can get a hot meal there, and he can get his foot looked at.
“I’m not going to the fucking hospital. I got to get back to my boyz!”
“All right, all right,” the mother finally says. “I’ll take you back to your boys if you just shut up. After that I’m done with you!”
The officer asks her if she is sure, if she feels safe with him.
“He is my son,” she says.
I tell her again how to get Narcan and to keep it in her purse.
She nods and says, she’ll do it.
She gets in the car. “Put your seat belt on,” she says to her son.
He shakes his head, but he puts the seatbelt on.
They drive off.