“The books about drug addiction are in non-fiction section 484. by the fireplace,” the helpful librarian said. Her youthful face and stylish clothes suggested that she was young enough to be Linda’s daughter.
“Miss Perkins,” the librarian’s nametag read, “must wonder why an old lady like me is interested in that subject,” Linda thought. Then those old tears started to flow again. She walked slowly to the non-fiction section hiding her sorrow. As she looked through the books, her mind turned to Eric, her godchild. And, she reminisced. . .
“He nestled in my arms wearing a long white satin gown that crinkled with his every movement. It seemed like he was enjoying the time as his bright brown eyes beamed at the baptismal candlelight. Although there were crying babies and ceremony sounds, he seemed peaceful and content during the service. This same peace and contentment ruled his nature during his childhood. As the reverend sprinkled the tepid water on his head, he twitched and wailed. Yet, it was only for a moment. His parents and we grandparents were so proud. It seemed like Jesus was smiling upon infant, Eric, illuminating His glorious plans for Eric’s life. But, despite a promising future, he lived with nagging torment and ended in shipwreck.”
Linda listened to the soft pattering of feet sauntering throughout the library and gazed at the patrons. She chose a book, Community Blight, sat at a desk, and began leafing through it. Pictures of marijuana and peyote plants glared up from the pages. But, she didn’t see them; her eyes were glazed with tears. Images of Eric as a young child raced through her mind, and those memories blocked her concentration. . .
“He had the most endearing smile, warm like the noonday sun. With a speck of mischief, his brown eyes smiled, too. Like all little boys, he was involved in wholesome activities; baseball, soccer, and Cub Scouts. He enjoyed these things, and his coaches and friends were enchanted with his effervescent personality. Eric could charm a bird from a cat’s claws. He could also be a little rascal. A funny incident occurred when he accidentally threw a baseball through a neighbor’s bathroom window. The man was indisposed at the time and became very angry. The neighbor settled down after Eric’s parents offered to pay for the window.”
Book pages rustled a soothing song in the library, yet they couldn’t sooth Linda’s melancholy mind. Resurgent tears trickled down her cheek as she recalled. . .
“Eric’s charmed life started to unravel in his teens. Rumor had it that Eric’s dad was an alcoholic, who beat him in drunken rages. Finally, his mother and dad divorced, and the family dynamics were shattered. Eric was grief stricken, and his self-esteem and identity crumbled.
Instead of school activities, church programs, or community projects, Eric chose to run with a wild crowd. He found a sense of comfort and belonging in this group whose bonds were built upon drug experimentation.”
“Drugs, drugs, drugs,” Linda thought. “They eat youth up then spit them out into a sea of waste.”
“After high school nothing was left for Eric. He drifted from job to job, was incarcerated for a year in a correctional institution, and continued dabbling in drugs. I remember that my attempts to help him were spurned. He ran from me, the church, authority, and loved ones. He was embarrassed.
The Internet brings news of all kinds, but the shocking news of Eric’s death devastated me. I prayed then I called all my friends to seek the truth. Tragically, the news was true. Eric was dead. He died from an overdose of heroin.”
Her tears dried, and an emptiness filled her like a punch in the stomach. She looked around, and saw the lights dimming and patrons leaving. She aimlessly placed Community Crisis on the desk then ran to her car.
Yes, Steven’s life was another statistic in the column of heroin deaths. But, he was more than a “junkie;” he was everyone’s heart.
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