Live high in the bedroom on the second floor where the smell of smoked cartons of cigarettes filter down to the basement, reeking a link to the smoke of hell.
And smoked steamed a stink across a narrow street through my thin walls. Smoke is a sign of trouble, like the pills sucked down that were bottled by white coats.
Easier to buy on the street or steal from a dresser drawer. Faking bad backs gave a dose to drug-stung lives that thrive all over the country. Now, here, where everyone from cop to grocer know who uses.
They all watch and wait, and gossip, because they say the user does one of two things: moves out of the area or dies.
I felt for the wife as she shoveled snow from the weathered porch for two harsh winters; The salt of life souring on her tongue as she licked cold sweat from her upper lip.
We shared stories with each flick of the crystal white snow as her husband slept. Back surgery, she said, after she got help tumbling down a flight of stairs. I could see her pain throbbing in the cold air.
She with that sunken grin. Her voice a foghorn in a darkened bay... sea smoke slipped out of her mouth and hung like a wrinkle, freshly peeled off her ghostly face.
But I liked who she was under the remains of dissolved bitter chalk, her outline fading before my eyes. I wondered if she saw it too: The graying of her skin matched weathered shingles, and the slurring of her words separated like the warm slush of spring snow, under a heavy boot.
I wanted to see her break away from this closing-in as I overheard her give no-wise advice to her adult kid, doing drugs like it was a natural family inheritance.
Deep down these people were good people but that haze that they fed each other swelled, and collapsed her lungs one night as the gray princess slept in bed.
Police Scanner: 'Unattended death.'
When I looked out the window at the ambulance lights, they glanced and glared frigid red off of snow-white banks, and I wondered, which one died.