Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

Christmas Day Reverie…

Good morning, Netizens...

A Reverie on Christmas Day...

I had no great aspirations as I floundered through the snow on Christmas Day, save to buy some cigarettes at my neighborhood Mini-Mart and to give the employees there a brief Christmas hug, for they are as much family as my own; we know them each by name, the names of their spouses and children. As fate would have it, having given my abrazos to each, and many Merry Christmases later, as I was about to leave for home, I encountered a person who gave me considerable pause on Christmas Day in the snow.

A woman, gaunt and even a bit haggard, was standing at the corner of the building, deliberately out-of-sight of the store employees inside. She had tears streaming down her face, and was huddled against the building as if seeking comfort from its gray glass-and-stone wrapper. Her clothing spoke plain sentences about destitution, her eyes hollow and devoid of anything save grief which wracked her skinny out-of-luck body. Almost immediately I recognized her, although she is now in worse shape than when I saw her last.

Adrienne is a crack head. This most-hideous ongoing disease or social affliction has, in recent years. cost her her all visitation rights to her children, several trips to jail, a marriage, and on Christmas Day, now she has been told by her Mother, whom she came to visit, to leave the house until she is clean and sober. She needs a ride back to Crack Heaven on Sinto where she lives out a hellish existence with a pair of other Crack Heads. She once lived right across the street from the store in a faded yellow apartment complex until she was forced to choose between paying monthly rent or supporting her habit. The rent lost.

She is an expert con artist, shoplifter, thief and bunco artist, and has wracked up a considerable criminal history in just a few short years of her twenty-something life. Not to mention when she is truly desperate for a few ounces to stop her withdrawal symptoms, she has even tried turning a few tricks with the hollow-faced men who frequent East Sprague's meat rack, but now that she has been diagnosed as having HIV, even that source of income is beyond her grasp, it seems.

I normally would give anyone in need a ride, but I know Adrienne, and with expensive tools and equipment within easy reach in my van, I know I simply cannot trust her while I drive, for free of any remorse, she will steal me blind as quick as you can speak the price of a few ounces of Crack.

I tried and tried to find a resource she might use by cell phone, but to no avail. It seems no one is capable of dealing with a Crack addict tap dancing on the stage of addiction on Christmas Day, so long as she is unrepentant or at least unwilling to come to grips with the monster riding bareback on her soul. After half an hour standing in the cold and snow, futilely trying to find someone better equipped than myself to help her, a passing police officer who recognizes her on-sight, pulls up, calls her by name and in the parlance of the street, informs her that my friends inside the store had filed a protection order against her for stealing many months before, and now it was time for her to move on.

He offers to take her to Rehab, which she politely declines. He hints that she appears to be under the influence of a narcotic, which she denies, trying desperately to hide her symptoms behind an artificial wall of nonchalance and glitter-eyed calculation. Eventually, perhaps tired of the well-seasoned menu of the runaround, the officer gives her the choice of leaving the store parking lot by choice or winning a free ride to the County Lockup. It took less than a minute for her to begin walking down the street.

Driving away, as Adrienne began trudging through the snow, I remembered that the Baby Jesus was born in a stable, among the livestock and hay, because there was no room at the Inn. In retrospect, my greatest remorse is that it may be a dead-heat race between Adrienne dying at a very young age or or overcoming her disease. For it seems there is even a price to be paid for staying in a stable with the Baby Jesus on Christmas Day.


Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.