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At The End


David A. Gillaspie

The drugs stopped at a mom and pop funeral parlor where the owners lived upstairs. A shiny metal coffin sat in the chapel with a beautiful young woman inside. She wore a conservative suit, the sort of clothes that get people hired at job interviews. Her four year old son ran up and down the aisle, stopping when his name was called by an aunt or an uncle. Itís hard to know what he understood as he went back and forth.

The young woman, a Catherine Zeta-Jones look alike, had been off drugs for six months, about the same time sheíd been out of jail for the last time. She had a job, an apartment, and saw her son more often than she did when she was in the life. But it wasnít enough. Then it was over.

Her life was marked by the ups and downs of methamphetamine use. She went from arrest, to rehab, to living with her parents over and over. They never gave up on her though, even when she re-entered the life and told her new drug friends about her fatherís car. It wasnít just any car. It was a restored Chevy from the mid-60ís with the best sound system you could buy installed in the trunk. The car was stolen and recovered a few weeks later, stripped clean in a parking lot.

I was at work the day the Drug Enforcement Agents came to her parentís door looking for her. They jumped the fence between our houses, figuring her for a runner, even though she wasnít home. They ignored the gate we had installed so we could visit back and forth. Her father came through the gate that evening and said his daughter had a warrant for her arrest describing her as a fugitive. He convinced her to turn herself in when she called, and she did.

What happened next had happened before; somehow, she met a new boyfriend in jail. She came out clean and sober and moved back in with her dad, ready to begin the next phase of her new life. The boyfriend followed soon after. Her father didnít know the boyfriend was an enforcer for drug dealers, that he collected debts when the money owed didnít come in on time.

As an enforcer, her boyfriend knew what happened to minor dealers who burned their suppliers; he beat sense into them. One night he carried an amount of meth in his car when a patrolman lit him up on 95th Street. Instead of pulling over like the rest of us, he floored his TransAm toward Greenburg Road. I donít know how fast he was going, he didnít slow down for the stop sign, but it was fast enough to catch air over Greenburg before slamming down and careening toward the railroad tracks along Commercial Street with a police car in pursuit. From my house, I heard a long, loud, scream of rubber against cement and the siren. The next morning! I walked to the school bus stop and saw the long, black, marks on the pavement.

The enforcer and the girl disappeared that night, but not for long. He ran from the police, remembering to take the drugs out of his car, but forgot his wallet. He got picked up and sent to jail, while the authorities searched for the girl. In the meantime, her father looked into the room they had shared at his house and found it full of expensive automotive electronics and burglary tools; He nearly gave up on her that time.

The beautiful young woman would have been a poster girl for the rehabilitative powers of the legal system. She had everything to live for when she got out of jail the last time. Sheíd gone from an emaciated addict in sunglasses to the true vibrancy of her age. She put her life back together and promised everyone that mattered that she would keep it that way.

In the end, none of it was enough to keep her interested. Working long shifts to pay rent and buy a bus pass paled in comparison to the excitement of the outlaw life she remembered. The guys her age working their way through college didnít appeal to her. The future looked like a long string of minimum wage jobs in noisy drive-thru windows.

Yes, she was clean and sober, but she was also drained of hope, and no one saw that. She kept her fearful demons at bay for a good six months, just long enough to make amends with those who loved her. She didnít die a drug addict, but it was drugs that pushed her to end her life, when she rode that needle one last time.

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