I have half a mind…
by Teresa Clark
(Plain Press, April 2019) While I was living in Akron, I came to know a young man, who was a ‘recovering meth addict’. This young man was in a loving relationship with a ‘recovering heroin addict’ and though both of them are in recovery, they got pregnant and gave birth to the most beautiful child. But soon the heroin dealer showed back up and the young mother relapsed, left the home and the baby behind with the recovering young father. The last thing this young father told me was, “I have half a mind to turn him (the heroin dealer) in.” That single statement left me speechless and without response. That statement was so profound to me that for the last two months since he said that to me, I’ve been walking around sighing a perpetual, “Hmm…”
All the scenarios of this fentanyl, heroin, meth and crack epidemic our society is suffering from blew through my mind. Both men and women selling their bodies and sometimes even their own children for drugs. Twenty-somethings losing all their teeth and turning into broken down 60-year-olds overnight while digging holes into their own faces. Mothers and fathers lying dead in their cars from overdoses while their children sit behind them strapped into cars seats. However, all those are just symptoms and aftermath, they are not the reason why grown men and women quietly step aside while their families are destroyed.
For three years I ran a community garden connected to a church in the Middlebury area of Akron. Middlebury is overrun with drugs, prostitution, and gang-related murders. The church, like most churches, did their best to keep the community fed and clothed. Because I was always outside in the gardens working, I witnessed first-hand the dysfunction in the community. Many of the prostitutes, who were drug addicts, would come and sit in the gardens, sometimes just to take a break, and on more than one occasion would come to me fearing for their lives.
One female, in particular, we’ll call her C, was always in very bad shape. There were days when she would come into the gardens suffering from heroin withdrawal, beat up, filthy, with her clothes literally falling off of her from sexual attacks. I would give her rags and soap and let her use the garden hose to bathe. I would then take garden twine and try to fix her clothes the best I could. However, C did eventually go into rehab. When C finally got sober and was released, she came back to the church and started working with me in the gardens and helping me prepare for the community meals at the church. One day while she was helping me do the last of the prep before we opened the doors to the public, a well-known pimp and drug dealer somehow got through the doors of the church and made his way straight to C. He leaned down and whispered something into C’s ear and she, in turn, told me she was stepping outside for a cigarette. Well, I’m not an idiot, but I couldn’t stop her, and trying to be a nonjudgmental, pacifist, Christian, I watched them walk out the door together and tried to keep my hope alive. Eventually, I also went outside and found the two of them back in the gardens. C had the crack pipe in her mouth and the drug dealer was very kindly lighting it for her.
Well, losing C enraged me and the pacifist Christian went right out the window. I waged battle against all the drug dealers and pimps who hung outside the church and around the community gardens just waiting to pick off any broken soul who attempted to come into the gardens or the church for help. And when I say battle, I mean “I” and nobody else was willing to physically fight against these men and some females. The females, who were slaves to their drug dealers were instructed to, “take me down,” and on more than one occasion a drug dealer threatened to put a bullet through my head. I kept a machete by my side and as a Christian, I am not ashamed to say this, I would have used that machete it in a New York minute.
So, let’s talk about the drug dealers I have mentioned. The pure audacity not to mention the energy these drug dealers put into just getting to “recovering addicts,” specifically to re-addict them deems them, predators. These are not red-blooded Americans practicing, “capitalism” or getting back at the man. Nor were they getting their share of the American pie any way they could because they grew up on the streets, their ancestors were slaves, their people were oppressed, yada, yada, yada…. Drug dealers are predators, plain and simple, no less than Ted Bundy, Jerry Sandusky or pedophile priests.
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