Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Shadow of the Spectre

A pall has fallen over the streets of Portland, and the streets are all abuzz about it and its cause: methamphetamine. Poor ol' junkietown's gotten itself all spun out, hearsay declaring the Mexican cartels have flooded the market; I know one can buy quarters (of grams) for as low as ten dollars. (I don't do the stuff, though I used to on occasion for two or three days.) I've been talking about tweakers off and on since I've been out here, but I have a feeling I've only been seeing the shadow of the spectre all this time — the foreboding, as opposed to the menace per se. Last Friday I went to my old freeway confluence stomping grounds, in search of free boots from a church school bus from Chehalis, and I saw tents and tarp-draped shopping cart pillboxes strewn all over the place; I'm guess the average block held AT LEAST ten people. Piles of junk, too, of course; every single one of the slinking figures I saw had sunken cheeks and scabs on their face. Tweakers, the real children of the corn.

It is a menace, too. Not only are they negative attention attractors because of how much crap they accrue and nest themselves in and how much of a nuisance they are as around-the-clock scrappers and thieves, but they can get outright sketchy and violent. In fact, one of them called me out at the boot line last Friday when I objected to his claim of being at the head of the line (which doesn't even exist — it degenerates into a (literal) bum rush as soon as things are unloaded out of the bus)! Of course, I wasn't even about to deal with that crap; I just walked away determined to can up the money for something decent at Goodwill. A peer of mine just told me a couple days ago that he had a knife waved at him over four bottles he'd just canned. Considering the floodgates of heaven have finally opened up on us, heralding the return of our dark drizzly monsoon season, tempers are bound to grow more excitable.

One benefit to the otherwise inconvenient and uncomfortable rain is that it tends to wash most of these guys downstream to the overpasses and bridges, leaving those of us on loading docks or camped out in the woods alone for the most part; it really is nice to be able to stash stuff and not have to worry about it being pilfered! It's also good for washing the pollution out of the air. But, still, it would have been nice to have gotten a pair of boots that night! I managed to soak me feet pretty thoroughly in the cross trainers I'm still wearing from summer; so far today it's rained 1.20 inches. I'm going to have to start making daily trips to thrift stores as soon as I can up fifteen dollars, since the free lines now not only disappoint but also imperil. Yup, as much as wary as I am of the tweakers I'm more concerned about the rain, a concern which adds up in dollars I need to expose myself to the elements to get.

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