Saturday, November 1, 2014

Parable of a Happy Dope Fiend

In memory of Rick

Rick was a happy dope fiend. He loved shooting dope in the Tenderloin of San Francisco, though he used to shoot dope in the Fillmore, but that was in the old days when the Fillmore was jumping, bumper to bumper cars, Negroes with big hats and long coats, ladies strutting like peacocks. Jazz clubs everywhere. That was before Negro removal came to town. When Negro removal came, Rick started hanging out in the TL, that funky multi-ethnic ghetto a block from downtown.

He was happy in the TL, along with all the other dope fiends, sex workers, derelicts , mentally ill, homeless and working poor.

Whenever Rick was on the streets of the TL, he had a big smile and laughed so hard you had to laugh with him, even if what he was laughing about wasn't funny.

He dressed clean like a real dope fiend from the old days when dope was good, not like that punk dope they have today.

Sometimes Rick would be in the middle of the street loaded to the gills, laughing out loud with one of his dope fiend friends.

Then something happened to Rick. He disappeared for awhile. We heard he was in a drug recovery program. We were happy for him.

He came out of recovery a changed man. He got a job driving yellow cab. He moved out the TL to Oakland. He'd found a house, bought two cars, one a Cadillac Seville.

But when we ran into Rick he was somber, quiet, mellowed out, didn't laugh anymore. He wasn't the Rick we knew. But he was clean and sober, had money in his pocket. But he didn't have that old smile, the laughter was gone.

Time passed.

We saw Rick one day down in the BART or subway station. He was with a girl. She was telling him to hurry up, come on. Rick did as he was told. He had a smile and was laughing.

It was the last time we saw Rick. We know he died happy, doing his thing.
--Marivn X
from The Wisdom of Plato Negro, parables, fables, Marvin X, Black Bird Press, 2012, $19.95. Order from Black Bird Press, 1222 Dwight Way, Berkeley CA 94702.

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