On our way to the overdose call, I couldn’t help but think how ironic it was that I currently had a fresh batch of narcotics coursing through my veins.
This person, did the same exact thing I had just done 5 minutes before, except for them– it was the last thing they would ever do. I stared out the window and wondered to myself what the person must have been thinking. Maybe there were going to shop in Walmart but needed a fix first so the cold air hitting them as they entered the store wasn’t excruciatingly painful.
Maybe they were having a bad day and just needed to forget, or maybe they had a great day and paused to do a celebratory hit.
Whatever the reason, I am certain that they did not know that they wouldn’t be leaving their car ever again. That the driver’s seat would be the final place they took a breath. When that person dressed themselves this morning, they had no clue that it would be the last outfit they ever wore.
Jesus, I need to stop thinking about it, it’s totally killing my buzz.
As we pulled up to scene of the overdose, I noticed the vehicle was surrounded with yellow caution tape. My mom used to decorate the front of our house with it on Halloween and it was so eerie to see it in real life.
“Why don’t you stay here for a minute, Babe, while I go check it out.” Chuck said unbuckling his seat belt.
“Uh, hell to the no. I’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life. Pleaaaase can I go check it out? I won’t look in the car or anything–I just want to see how something like this is handled in real life.” I gave him my puppy dog pout in a desperate attempt to sway him. In a sick, twisted way — I figured that somehow, some way, seeing a dead body might help me stop using. Seeing the consequences of it in real life might be exactly what I need to scare me straight.
“Sorry, I need you to stay here. It’s protocol that if we have a passenger on a ride-along, unless they are currently enrolled in the Police Academy they aren’t allowed to be present when someone is deceased. It’s a privacy thing. I’ll be as quick as I can.” he said shutting the door and adjusting his belt.
I watched eagerly through the windshield as Chuck made his way up to the scene. I thought about the person in the car. The person was probably a heroin user. I had heard awful things about heroin and people in my town were dying at an alarming rate. Ever since I’d started shooting up, Kayla and Javier had tried to get me to try Heroin a few times, but I always declined.
I was afraid that I would like it too much, and for some reason it made me feel better about myself knowing that what I was doing was “technically” legal. Pills aren’t a street drug—they’re prescribed by doctors. So I felt like it made me higher up on the “Morals” chart than those who used the hardcore stuff.
I watched as the paramedics and various Law Enforcement officers methodically worked their way around the scene. Someone was taking pictures, another person was opening a stretcher while most of them stood around with their hands rested on their belts talking. I could see Chuck pointing into the car and talking to one of his buddies about something. They all simultaneously burst out in laughter and I squinted to make sure I was seeing it right. How could they be laughing at a time like this?
Chuck made his way back to the car and leaned into the drivers side window with a smile on his face. “What is so damn funny?” I asked, unable to fathom how they could find humor at a time like this.
“Dude… it’s not funny, but it’s kind of funny. When I looked inside the guys car…” he paused to laugh again, “the guy is wearing a friggin shirt that says ‘Shit Happens.”
I tried my best to force a smile, but I couldn’t hide the sadness I felt. Only a twisted person could actually laugh at something like that. That was someone’s son, someone’s friend… He was obviously lost and alone. It was f***ing tragic, and these guys were able to laugh during a time like this.
They get to go home to their families, he gets to go to the morgue. I mean granted, he clearly did this to himself, but he was a person. A person worthy of respect. I suddenly had an incredible amount of resentment toward my boyfriend bubbling just under the surface.
“The guys don’t need my help they got it covered. I’m gonna go say by the Searg and I’ll be right back.” He said patting the side of the car and walking away.
My phone vibrated inside my purse causing me to jump and when I saw Jacobs name on the text, my heart started to race.
“Where’s my money?” he wrote. I shoved the phone back into my purse just as Chuck opened the door.
I stared out my window, because I was afraid if I looked over in his direction I would snap. “Is everything okay?” he asked me as he started the car.
I took a deep breath, trying to compose my thoughts. “No, it’s not. I gotta be honest, Chuck, it kind of pisses me off that there is a dead guy inches away, and you guys are pointing and laughing like a bunch of bullies. Like, it’s disgusting actually.”
I glanced in his direction with a look of disdain, there was nothing he could say that would justify it.
“Babe, I totally understand how bad that probably looked. But I need you to put you anger aside for one minute and think about what I am about to say.” he turned the car off and shifted in his seat to face me. ” Last week, I showed up to a house where the parents had left their child in the car. Completely forgot the kid was in there. I saw the boys lifeless body, glistening with sweat. I sat next to the mother on the porch as she screamed at the top of her lungs about wanting to die. Last month, I responded to a scene where a girl blew her head off in the bathtub. I saw it all. I respond to at least two overdoses a shift, and have seen and smelled more dead bodies this past month than any normal person would in two lifetimes. I try to find something to detach myself from the situations because it makes it less real. Sometimes it manifests itself in humor–and I know it’s f***ed up, but if I didn’t do it, I would have ended up in a looney bin by now with all the s**t I see daily.”
I paused for a moment processing what he’d said. It made sense. How would I react if I had to stand a foot away from pieces of brain matter and shards of bones? I’d probably be a nutcase.
“It’s a tough job, Hun, it really is,” he continued, “an if you don’t believe me, you can come up to the door with me at our next stop.” He said, turning the car back on. My phone vibrated again in my purse. I knew it was Jake. He wanted his money, and I didn’t have it. I ignored the buzzing.
“Come up to the door at the next stop? What do you mean?” I asked feeling confused.
“Yeah, we gotta go notify this guy Javier’s family that he just OD’d.”
” Javier?” My heart started to pound as I turned to face Chuck. Chuck suddenly turned to me with a look of realization, “Hey, he had a Barron’s Roadhouse hat on, didn’t your friend Kayla used to work there?” he asked looking back at the road.