Pearsall's Books

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


An addendum, of sorts, to the previous post.

There is something authentically tragic about addicts, in the way the wreckage of their lives is both freely chosen and somehow fated. They are both casualties of a condition that is believed to have a genetic component, and committed collaborators in their own downfall. They deserve pity, always, and often they inspire contempt. We collared one crackhead, bumping into him by accident as he stood in a lobby counting out a handful of vials. He was a street peddler who sold clothing, and he had about eighty dollars in his pocket. He had the shrink-wrapped look that crackheads get, as if his skin was two sizes too small. He moaned and wept for his infant child, who would starve without his support, he told us. Yes, he acknowledged, the baby lived with the mother, but he was the provider. They were only about ten blocks away, in a playground, so we drove to meet them. The mother was a pretty and well-dressed woman, though her soccer-mom demeanor was heightened by the contrast with her handcuffed spouse. We called her over, and her look of mild confusion became one of mild dismay as she saw our back-seat passenger. She didn't look surprised and didn't ask questions. He took out his wad of cash, peeled off three dollars and handed it to me to give her. "You've gotta be kidding me," I said. "You give me all this father-of-the-year shit, just to throw her three bucks?"

"C'mon," he said. "When you get out of Central Booking, you're hungry, you want some real McDonald's or something."

I gave him back the three dollars and took the wad for the mother. "The Number Two Special, two cheeseburgers and fries, is $2.99," I told him. "It's what I get, and it's all you can afford." For an addict, the priorities are never unclear. (p. 175)

Edward Conlon Blue Blood
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