Sunday, August 17, 2008

Two stories about junkies

There is only one street in the Financial District that I will not walk down. I once ventured about 20 feet into it, in bright, bustling noontime daylight, only to quickly turn around and walk back out. That was about two years ago. Last night I walked down it with a friend, because we were in a hurry and it was the most direct route and I had grown naive and he didn't know any better. Well, my god. It was like running for that ever-receding door in a nightmare. It was very quiet and almost completely dark, the only light and sound coming from the flickering tv sets which the junkies have somehow figured out how to hook up outside. It smelled like piss, and nobody said anything to us, and I even felt sort of bad for disturbing them since it was just so obviously their alley and not my shortcut.

Today I was walking around Tribeca, killing a hangover and shopping for the luxuries I have been denying myself for months until I got my financial self sorted out (foaming hand soap! bedside Kleenex! moist towlettes for my purse!), and I saw a junkie lying next to a subway entrance. This is a somewhat common sight, but this one looked different. I couldn't see his face, only 8 filthy white bony fingers, and he was tiny the way that bodies only are when they are no longer alive. And too still. I actually walked for three blocks until I found a cop (which I hesitated to do because I didn't want him to be harassed), and walked him back to the spot, whereupon he took one look and said, "No, he's just a junkie. Look, he's breathing" - in a tone that said, "Sometimes people sleep on the sidewalk, little girl. It doesn't mean they're dead."


Kate and/or Mike said...

There was this street in Amsterdam that was notoriously dangerous (back in its day) because it curved and it went for a long time before there was a break in the block. In short, for awhile, there were no intersecting streets and you could not see what was ahead or behind. It was like Star Trek's curving hallways meets Gangs of New York. Of course, now it's clean and lined with police cameras and tourists.

Christian said...

At least you're not kissing hobos like Kate does. Okay, in all fairness it was a busker, not a hobo.

I love this guy. You might appreciate this bit, at 4m20s particularly.

Anonymous said...

Aww! Little girl, you did the right thing. But next time, sweetheart, just give him a kick.