Saturday, April 6, 2019
What It Was - Chapter 25
I stayed on my bed and cried. I couldn’t believe what had happened and how Jordan had just left like he did.
It was about forty-five minutes later when I heard the key in the door and right away my brother’s voice, “Shay, it’s me.”
I called him from the bedroom.
Chad came rushing in a moment later. I sat on the bed and he quickly took off his jacket and sat down next to me. He put his arm around me and held me, not saying anything; instead he simply let me cry in his arms once again. I didn’t know what I would have done without my brother. He never judged me and always knew exactly when to say something and when not.
After a few minutes I mumbled while Chad was still holding me, “Jordan freaked out on me. He thought I had taken his drugs and it’s like he didn’t know who I was.”
Chad held me and listened as I continued, “He was having withdrawals I think and wanted to shoot up and then he didn’t have any drugs. Even though yesterday he had told me he had brought some hits so he could stay with me. But then he didn’t have any more in his back pack and he accused me of having taken the stuff or flushed it down the toilet. I don’t know if he actually did or didn’t even have any more drugs on him.”
I sat up and pulled a tissue from the box, blowing my nose.
Chad waited until I was done and then replied, “Yeah, he was possibly dealing with something. Maybe he’s also dealing with some mental issues Shay. If that’s the case, he could’ve had an episode and that’s what happened.”
I sniffled my nose again, “I asked him who I was and it took him a while to answer.”
Chad pressed his lips together and nodded, then said, “That’s what I mean. He possibly didn’t know where he was or what was going on. Of course, that’s not a good thing, it’s actually pretty bad.”
I stared at the phone, “He also left his phone here so I’ve no way to get in touch with him.”
Chad glanced at the phone, “That sucks.”
I stared at the floor and then started lowly, “Chad, I’ve to tell you something.”
Chad shifted on the bed and turned toward me, “What is it?”
I took a deep breath, “Yesterday morning after I got up and I hadn’t heard from Jordan or anything, I drove around the city to look for him. I found the camp he had told me he was staying at sometimes. I went there to look for him.”
I stopped talking and looked up at Chad for his reaction. He just sat there simply listening.
I took a trembling breath and continued, “It was very scary and very bad there. Jordan wasn’t there but I met his friend…a guy named Charlie. Jordan had told me about him and that guy talked to me. He was nice but the camp…it’s so horrible.”
Chad didn’t react shocked or judgmental, instead he asked calmly, “Where’s the camp at?”
I explained to Chad where the camp was located and he nodded knowingly and then remarked, “Yeah, there are lots of places like this around the city. It’s bad really. You know that was dangerous that you went there?”
I nodded and sniffled my nose, “I know, Jordan told me the same thing and said he never wanted me to go there ever again.”
Chad nodded, “He’s right and I feel the same way.”
I tilted my head and took another trembling breath, “How are people living like this? Why is this happening?”
“It’s a bad situation nowadays. There is not much you or I can do. Just appreciate what you have.”
I sniffled my nose again, “I don’t want Jordan to live like that but I don’t know if I can actually deal with everything he’s going through.”
Tears started streaming again and I cleared my throat, “I love him but it hurts too much and I don’t think I can go through these situations over and over again. I want him to get help or I don’t know if I can keep doing this.”
Chad nodded again and I leaned my head onto his shoulder, he put his arm around me again.
I reminisced, “It was the wheelchair I saw first, that’s what it was and then Jordan pulled me in with such a force. I thought I would have enough strength to do this but maybe I was naïve and thought love could be enough but I don’t know any more if it’s enough.”
Chad held me and said, “Don’t give up on him yet. I’m sure he does love you and appreciates that you’ve been there for him. He just can’t help all the things he’s dealing with but yes, he needs to get help if he wants to sustain the relationship with you. You probably have to give him an ultimatum.”
As I sat there, I thought about how any other brother would have been very much against this whole thing from the start, but just as I was different, Chad was too. He liked people and he had a big heart. That’s why he was an awesome counselor for young people and lovingly but stern always tried to guide them in the right direction. I knew that Chad would one day make a wonderful father to his children.
I mumbled, “I don’t know if I’m strong enough Chad.”
Chad seemed to think for a moment, then said, “Well, right now you can’t do anything. He left, his phone is here and even though you know where the camp is, I want you to promise me right now, that you won’t go there by yourself. If…”
He paused a moment, then continued, “If we go there, I’m going with you and we will try to help him.”
I nodded, “Thank you for being so understanding Chad.”
“No problem. You’re a good person Shay and you’re Jordan’s chance to get help and get clean and hopefully he’ll realize that. I don’t know what rode him tonight to take off like he did but I believe it was the drugs talking, not him.”
Chad squeezed me to him and suggested, “Should we go get something to eat? Distract you?”
“Isn’t Amber waiting for you?”
“No, I told her I was coming over here.”
I sat up and thought about the idea.
Chad said, “We could go over to “Luciano’s”. I want some Ravioli and it’ll get your mind off what happened.”
I agreed and after I had freshened up and changed into some regular clothes we headed out. Luciano’s was a small Italian bistro not far from where I lived. As we drove over there, I looked out the window and thought of Jordan. I couldn’t stop thinking about him and how things had turned out earlier. I was really upset that he had left like this. I was also extremely worried about him.
At least it wasn’t raining and I hoped he would stay dry and somewhat warm. It was difficult for me to imagine Jordan out on the streets all the time, exposed to the elements. It was November now and it had become cold and wet, winter was here. Several months of darkness were upon us as the days were short and sunlight would have a difficult time coming through. Thanksgiving was only a few weeks away.
We made it to Luciano’s and had dinner. Even though I was not really focused, Chad was telling me about some of the programs for detox or drug rehab and what would maybe be a good option for Jordan if he would decide to get help. As I sat there talking about this with Chad I wondered if I would actually ever see Jordan again and while Chad was talking, a few tears ran over my cheeks.
Chad was concerned, “Shay, what’s up?”
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. I’m so worried about him and that I may not see him again, ever.”
Chad tilted his head, “Don’t worry too much. Let’s wait a day or two and if he doesn’t come back, we’ll go look for him. Try to relax right now.”
I shook my head, “I don’t think I can. I’ve this weird feeling.”
Chad tried to assure me, “He’s been living out there for many years. He knows how to survive, Shay. He’s resilient and tough. And even with the addiction and the paraplegia, he’s been surviving on the streets for a long time. He’ll be all right.”
I couldn’t relax and not worry about Jordan. He hadn’t been himself when he left, he had been anxious and angry and I knew that wasn’t who he was. The drugs had control of his body and his mind and he was in a constant battle with this. I believed he was tired and exhausted living this kind of life.
Chad took me home after dinner and I assured him that he didn’t need to come up anymore.
“Are you sure?”
I still sat in the passenger seat of Chad’s Nissan, “I’m sure. I’ll just go upstairs and to bed.”
Chad nodded but he looked slightly skeptical, “You sure?”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’m completely beat.”
Chad gave in, “All right, you need to rest then. I’ll call you in the morning and if anything changes call me, I’ll leave my phone on tonight.”
We hugged and said Good Bye and I got out of the car. Chad waited until I was in the building and as I closed the door, I heard him leave.
Instead of going upstairs into my apartment though I took the elevator down into the garage. Fortunately, the garage was lit up brightly and there were cameras everywhere. The garage belonged to the apartment complex and really no outsiders could come in there, it was locked to the public. None of my neighbors were in sight; I was the only person in the garage but I still hurried to my car. I turned the key in the ignition, and as the metal gate opened for me, I drove out of the garage and onto the street.
There was no way I could just go to bed and not worry or think about Jordan. Chad was probably right that it had not been Jordan but the drugs that caused him to act irrational earlier. He wasn’t well and I couldn’t just sleep like nothing had happened. I loved Jordan and I needed to at least make an effort to find him.
I drove around the neighborhood, looking over to the sidewalks and into doorways and I cried. I tried to think of where Jordan could be heading to and as I assumed, he would make his way into downtown or toward the camp I got on one of the main roads heading toward downtown. It was a desperate attempt to find him, and even though I didn’t think I would find him, I still drove around. I imagined how much pain parents of missing children felt or parents whose children had ran away from home.
I had only Jordan on my mind and drove toward downtown, slow enough to be able to look over onto the sidewalks. I saw homeless laying there in the doorways and I saw some tents but I didn’t see a wheelchair.
Without thinking any more about it, I drove toward the overpass on Mercer Street. I didn’t care, I needed to see if Jordan was there. I parked my car and I didn’t even take my crutches but actually found the path Charlie had shown me leading up to the camp site. I was scared and I was shaking but I needed to find Jordan.
The path was lit up somewhat sparsely but there were no pedestrians or bicycles here at this time of the night. My foot hurt, I pulled my coat tighter, and in my hand, I held my car keys between my fingers, ready to stab someone’s eyes out if I had to. My courage was stronger than my fear though. I was numb to rational thoughts at the moment.
I hurried up the path and reached the bushes which hid the dirt path leading to the camp. I left the paved path and pushed some branches out of the way. The light became weak as I walked further through the brush on the dirt path. I saw a weak light in the distance. The cars speeding on the Interstate above me were loud and the noise cancelled everything else out really. As I got closer to the camp site I was frightened when a figure stepped out from the bushes right in front of me. It was a person with a large frame and I could barely see their face.
I held my shaky hand out with my key between my fingers.
The person spoke, “Shay?”
As my eyes adjusted to the person’s silhouette, I quickly realized it was Charlie, Jordan’s friend.
I tried to breathe normal, “Charlie?”
Charlie sounded surprised, “What the hell are you doing up here in the middle of the night, Shay?”
I gasped, “I’m looking for Jordan again.”
Charlie sounded frustrated, “What the fuck girl? You should not be here. He’s not here. I thought he was with you.”
I explained, “He was but he left again and he wasn’t well. I worry about him.”
Charlie stepped closer and I was distressed when he grabbed my arm and led me back again, “Let’s go! You need to leave! What the fuck are you thinking coming here at night?”
I didn’t fight Charlie, but I felt my eyes well up with tears, “Is he not here?”
Charlie sounded nervous, “No, he’s not here, believe me!”
As Charlie basically led me toward the path again, I asked, “Do you have any idea where he could be?’
Charlie took a deep, tense breath, sounding frustrated, “I don’t fucking know, Shay. I don’t know everything he does.”
I pushed on, “Where would he go to find some…to find dope?”
We had reached the path again and Charlie now looked at me. There was a lantern and I could see his face now and his crossed eyes.
He replied less tense, “Shay, he could be in a lot of places.”
I now asked weakly, “Would you go with me and show me some places where he could be?”
Charlie shook his head in disagreement, “Shay, Shay, Shay…what are you thinking? Leave him alone. You shouldn’t go after him or anything. It’s too dangerous out here and definitely out there where he possibly could be to get some fucking dope. You’ve no business here or there, especially at night. You should go home. He’ll find his way back to you again.”
I quickly told Charlie how everything had gone down and he stood there just listening. I cried while I was talking.
I finished with, “I want him to get help.”
Charlie now sounded understanding and warm, “On his terms, yes. Not on yours. When he has to go, you have to let him go. Don’t let him bring you down with him.”
I swallowed my tears, “He accused me of having stolen his stuff, his Heroin because there was none in his back pack. He had told me when he got there last night that he had brought about three or four hits though, but then he used one and he had none left apparently and thought I had taken the stuff.”
Charlie thought for a moment, “He did have a couple of hits yesterday afternoon. Because he came here after you had been here. I told him you had been here. We shot up and passed out for a bit. It could easily be that someone stole his shit. I didn’t but I know he had some stuff on him.”
“Where does he get the stuff from?”
Charlie shrugged his shoulders, “Who knows, could be anywhere and anyone. There are dealers all over town.”
“I beg you, Charlie, go with me and show me some of the places where he could be!”
Charlie sighed loudly and looked around nervously, then back at me, scolding me, “You’re crazy, Shay, you know that?”
I lowered my eyes and then looked back at Charlie, “I love Jordan and I need to find him.”
It was now almost eleven o’clock at night and Charlie said, “Let me grab something real fast. Stay right here. I’ll be right back.”
Charlie disappeared in the brush again and I stood there and waited for him nervously for a few moments. It didn’t take long and he came back with a small back pack over his shoulder.
“Let’s go, where’s your car?”
“Not far from here.”
As we somewhat quickly made our way down the path, Charlie asked, “Doesn’t he have a phone now?”
“He left it at my house.”
“Shit, it ain’t doing no good there.”
Soon we sat in my car. Charlie filled my car with a repulsive smell of a person who had not showered in a while, smoked cigarettes regularly and other bodily odors I couldn’t specify. My car air freshener didn’t help with covering up the unpleasant smells but I didn’t care. I hoped Charlie could help me find Jordan.
Charlie directed me back into town. We drove down to the waterfront and he guided me into some side streets where it was very obvious that these were places where regular people didn’t really hang out, especially at night. There were random tents on the dirty sidewalks and dark silhouettes hid in the shadows or sat on the sidewalk, alive but not living. It was very obvious that a drug deal was going down right at the corner when we drove by and saw two figures exchange something and then split again.
Charlie said next to me, “Look out for his wheelchair!”
I nodded and Charlie then added, “His wheelchair is a real wheelchair, you know…like a real one, not a fake one that some fuckers use just to make people feel fucking sorry for them and shit.”
I remember how Charlie had told me exactly that the day before when I had met him the first time. I knew very well that Jordan’s wheelchair was a “real” wheelchair. I knew exactly what it looked like; I even knew the noises it made when Jordan pushed the rims.
As we came to the end of the alley, Charlie told me to pull over for a moment. I was slightly worried about that but I assumed Charlie knew what he was doing. Letting the window down for him actually felt good momentarily because some of the unpleasant odors escaped in exchange of some breezy, cool air.
Charlie hung out the window and clicked his tongue in a strange fashion which caused some movement in the darkness next to a building.
Charlie then hissed, “Eddie, are you there?”
A figure appeared out of the shadows and I made out a beardy and fragile looking man. He dragged his feet and neared the car.
I was concerned but the person named apparently Eddie now said, “Who’s there?”
Charlie replied, “It’s me, cross eyes Charlie.”
Eddie appeared in the faint light of a street lantern next to the car.
“Cross eyes fucking Charlie, what are you doing in a car?”
Charlie laughed and said, “I have a chauffeur now.”
Eddie came even closer and leaned down to look into the car and I met his glossy eyes, “Who’s that? Did you find your long-lost daughter?”
Charlie took a breath, “I wish. Hey, have you seen wheelie kid?”
Eddie right away knew who Charlie was referring to, “Jordy?”
“Yeah, have you seen him?”
“Nah man, I haven’t seen him in days. He doesn’t come around here anymore. Why are you looking for him?”
Charlie explained, “This girl here is his girlfriend. She’s trying to find him.”
Eddie looked into the car again, “Girlfriend?”
Charlie sounded irritated, “Yeah, so if you see him, tell him we’re looking for him and he needs to get his ass back to his girlfriend.”
Eddie nodded, “Okay, sure…but I doubt I’ll see him.”
“Well, if you do, tell him!”
Charlie said Good Bye to Eddie and we took off.
I asked, “Where to now?”
Charlie replied, “Let’s head up to Chinatown and Pioneer Square.”
I followed Charlie’s direction and we drove all through town, even passing by my work place and the Rite Aid store where I had seen Jordan for the first time. My heart ached thinking about it.
In Chinatown, Charlie led me through some dark alleys and he asked a few people for Jordan but no one had seen him.
We made it to Pioneer Square and Charlie told me, “It would be better if you would park somewhere and we would go up there so I can talk to some people in this one area.”
I was very scared to park my car and walk with Charlie. I saw two police cars driving by and even though this made me feel just a bit more at ease, I was still worried to actually get out of the car in the middle of the night in an area known for drifters and tweakers to hang out.
Charlie seemed to sense my fear, “You can also wait here and I go look for him. I know this is where he buys his dope sometimes.”
I looked over at him and nodded, “I think I’ll wait.”
Charlie nodded, “I understand. Just don’t open the door for anyone, don’t get out and wait here.”
I parked in an open parking spot and Charlie grabbed his back pack from the floor and got out.
Before he shut the door, he looked into the car once again and demanded, “Just stay put!”
I nodded obediently and as he shut the door, I made sure the doors were locked. I would have liked to keep the windows open some but decided not to and just deal with the smell in my car. I watched cars drive by, pedestrians walk by, and the police cars were obviously patrolling the area which made me feel a bit safer. But I also felt very alone with this situation and I pulled my phone out and tried to distract myself but it made me feel even more alone when I saw everyone’s social media entries, normal people with normal lives. I found Matt’s newest entry where he announced how excited he was that he finally booked his flight to Hawaii for December. I clicked on his pictures and looked at him and I felt so bad.
I then brought up my gallery and I looked at the pictures I had taken earlier when Jordan had been at my place. We were laying together on the couch and both smiling in the camera. He looked happy and content and like he was okay. In the background was his wheelchair. Another picture I had taken was with me on his lap. I found the photo I had edited with a heart around it and “I love you” written on it, I cried and longed so much for us to be a normal couple.
I watched the digital lit up numbers of the clock in my car and it had been almost an hour since Charlie had left my car. It was after midnight. I debated if Charlie had forgotten about me or possibly had actually only used me as a chauffeur to get him to this place and not really because he wanted to help me find Jordan. My hands were on the steering wheel and I was just about to turn the key in the ignition when all the sudden it knocked on the passenger window. It was Charlie.
I unlocked the door and he jumped into my car.
He seemed out of breath, like he had walked fast or maybe ran, “He was here but he’s gone and I think I know where he is.”
I sat up, “What did he do here?”
Charlie pulled the door closed, “He bought some dope.”
The car was filled with Charlie’s unpleasant human odors again and among the smells from earlier I also smelled very obvious Marihuana on him.
I looked at him, “Where to?”
“I’ll tell you. Just start the car.”
I turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of the spot.
I looked over at Charlie, “Are you all right?”
Charlie looked at me with a smile, “Yeah, I’m good. I did a hit and got some weed, I’m good. Let’s go.”
He directed me through the city again and I followed his physical and verbal directions. He was fidgety and seemed to be moving the whole time. Either his leg was hopping up and down or his hands were playing with his clothes or his head was turning. He was constantly moving but kept telling me where to go.
It seemed like we drove through too many streets and alleys and I asked him, “Do you know where to go Charlie?”
“Yes, yes, yes…we’re going to Pioneer Square.”
I thought my ears didn’t work, “Charlie, we just came from there.”
Charlie looked over at me, “We did?”
I was frustrated, “Yes, we just came from there and you said Jordan had been there and is gone again.”
Charlie was quiet for a moment and then broke out in laughter, “Oh shit, you’re right. We did come from there, didn’t we? Jordan wasn’t there. Jordan hadn’t been there.”
I pulled over and stopped the car, “Charlie, please don’t let me down. I know you’re high. Where is Jordan? Was he there at Pioneer Square?”
Charlie had stopped laughing, “No, he wasn’t there. We can check another place or maybe you can take me back to the fucking camp. I’m getting really tired actually.”
I was angry and disappointed, “Are you serious now?”
He fiddled with his raggedy jeans and then said, “Yeah, I’m fucking serious. He wasn’t there. I don’t know where he is.”
I asked angrily, “So, you basically just got high back there while I waited? You did use me as your chauffeur.”
He now changed his voice into an apologetic child-like tone, “I’m sorry. My guy was there. And I got some good weed, do you want some?”
Tears had come up in my eyes and said angrily, ”No, I don’t want any freaking weed. I want to find Jordan. That’s all I care about. Any you were supposed to help me find him. You let me down, Charlie.”
I was angry and Charlie had lowered his eyes and was picking on his pants.
He didn’t say a word and I added angry and under tears, “Get it together Charlie, are you going to help me or not?”
I was tempted to kick him out of my car and was just about to tell him to get out when he mumbled, “There’s one other place where he could be.”
I wiped over my face, “Okay, where is it?”
Charlie gestured with his hand, “Just go this way.”
I pulled out again and we drove along. Charlie was quiet now and had stopped moving so much.
After a while of just driving along a main road I asked, “Just keep going straight here or what?”
“Yes, just keep going.”
I knew we were nearing Mercer Street again as we came closer to the Seattle Center with the Space Needle lit up and passing by the modern building of the Museum of Pop Culture.
Charlie then told me to turn left and we drove again. We were actually driving toward where I lived.
I asked tensely, “Charlie, where are we going?”
He said, “We’re almost there.”
At an alley he told me to turn right and we drove down and came to a parking lot apparently next to a park I knew.
I asked hesitantly, “Here in this park?”
“Yeah, sometimes we hang out here.”
This park was actually not that far from where I lived and I thought about how we had driven all around the city and now were almost back at my place.
I parked my car. I knew this park and I had been to it often. I sometimes came here to run or to just enjoy nature. It had been at least since summer though since I had been there, but I knew some of the trails. I had never come in from this side though.
There were two other cars parked on an otherwise empty parking lot lit up by a few lanterns. The park itself was not very inviting at this time of the night.
I asked Charlie, “You think he could be in there?”
“Yeah. We’ve to go in and walk a bit.”
I was now getting very worried again at the prospect of having to get out and possibly walking into a dark park in the middle of the night with a homeless man who was high.
“How far in do we have to go?”
Charlie thought for a moment, “Maybe ten miles.”
I looked at him, “Ten miles? Charlie, what are you talking about?”
He corrected himself, shaking his head almost like he was trying to get a clear thought, “Shit, I mean maybe ten minutes.”
He was obviously still high.
I sighed and said, “I don’t think I can go in there.”
Charlie now looked at me, “You scared?”
I nodded, “Yes, actually I am.”
“Are you scared of me?”
I didn’t answer right away and Charlie now seemed to have a clear moment, “I won’t hurt you. Jordan is my friend and I know you care for him for some weird fucking reason. And because Jordan is my friend, I would never touch you. You can trust me. I may be high right now and I’m sorry I used you earlier to drive me around but I’m almost certain he’s in there.”
I took a deep breath and shrugged my shoulders.
I really didn’t know what to do and Charlie shifted and turned toward me, “Look at me Shay!”
I looked at him and a few tears were running over my cheeks. I felt hopeless.
Charlie continued, “I won’t do anything to you. You remind me of my daughter and Jordy is like a son to me you know.”
I was surprised, “You have a daughter?”
He nodded, “Yes, I haven’t seen her in a long time. She’s about thirty now.”
“Where is she?”
Charlie shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. I think she lives in Portland, that’s where I’m from you know.”
I stammered, “What about her mom?”
Charlie now smiled and his eyes drifted into another zone, “Oh, she was beautiful. Kind of like you. She was beautiful and good and she was kind like you.”
I wiped a few tears away and even though I wanted to find Jordan, I was also curious about Charlie’s story.
I asked, “What happened?”
Charlie now snapped out of the moment, “How about we find Jordy and I tell you while we walk through the park?”
I decided I just had to take a chance and nodded, “Okay.”