Putting the pieces together
I live in a city with 88,000 residents and 17 dollar stores. I also work for the local newspaper, and my desk is next to the police scanner. I hear everything first.
On a Tuesday, the day before the first really cold day of the year, the scanner's screechy garble told me a man had overdosed outdoors, on the bit of grass surrounding a local apartment complex.
Polite people, like the people who do "special reports" on television, invariably say that cities like mine are "at the center of America's opioid crisis." We are, too. We're deadeye, bull's-eye, dead center, and we're as used to it as people get.
Our "drug of choice," as the addiction counselors say, is heroin. It's what America sends us as a trade for sending our kids to Afghanistan.
It's like a game show.
"Mr. and Mrs. Garcia," the fevered announcer says. "You sent your boy Petey to Afghanistan! Afghanistan is sending YOUR neighborhood 700 pounds of heroin!"
But the announcer doesn't really have a fever. He's dope sick, and his stomach is cramping from the need, and the sweat's sliding down his skeletal face, and he can't wait to get backstage so he can roll up his pants leg and find his last good vein.
And the scanner said the guy was lying in the grass, dying like a first-term senator's conscience.
But wait, there's more!
The next call on the scanner said there was a guy in the window of one of the apartments, and he was throwing rocks at the guy who was overdosing.