Most of the time Paul’s heroin is wrapped in tin foil but this time it’s wrapped in paper.
I’m in my final year of graduate school. Paul is nodding in and out of consciousness on the couch next to me.
We chat when he is awake enough to talk. My apartment is his. I let him come and go as he needs. I even go with him sometimes to score.
When the dope is all gone I unfold the paper it came in, a note reads:
You started shaking uncontrollably and I made you lay down. I have been with you for a while because I am worried about you but your breathing is fine and I think you are just sleeping.
Please be more careful in the future. Don’t use things that might have bacteria. Other than any of that, it was good to see you.
Please let me know you’re okay. I hope you wake up feeling better. I am moving in the morning so it’s my last night in my old place. I have to finish packing or I would try not to leave you.
I wish you didn’t feel bad because I wanted to spend more time with you. I want to see you again soon. You have been nothing but good to me and Zoe and we appreciate it! I hope you feel better.
Jason lives in a halfway house downtown, walking distance from my apartment. I’ve never been inside, but Paul has. Jason shares a floor bathroom and has his own room. Paul tells me his room is a mess and that he is rarely in it unless he’s sleeping or using. Anytime I’ve met Jason, we were on the street somewhere.
The note remains tucked away with those other items that you don’t want to give up. I often keep it in the pocket over my heart when I leave the apartment.
Years go by. Paul moves back home with his family and gets clean. He meets a girl, gets a job - a rare second chance. I remain in the city.
Now I walk the same streets that I did all those years ago. I keep an eye out for Jason. I used to see him occasionally leaving a 7/11 at an intersection near my place. I can’t remember the last time I saw him.
I hope he got away.