"He was a good guy with an addiction," we say.
The officer has steady black eyes, a glittery badge. "It stinks in there. He's been dead for awhile."
"His sister said she was coming to get him into rehab. She never showed." We crane our necks but can't see up the stairs. "He has a twelve-year-old boy in Orlando."
The officer blocks the door and we move to the swing under the big oak tree. We sip tea in tall glasses.
"He hung himself," the officer says.
"We should have called someone," we say. "We should have done something. It's plain to see."
"Don't feel bad," the officer says. "Some people can't be helped."
We drink our tea. We swing our swing. We stare at our shoes. A breeze stirs and we zip our windbreakers. A blossom drifts through the air and settles on the grass. We whisper, our words so soft they linger on our lips.
"It's a shame," we say. "A real shame."
Creative Nonfiction by T. J. Forrester
R. McDonald smoked crack and lost his family, his job, his truck, his money, his apartment, his self-respect. He thought he could use drugs responsibly. He thought he had things "under control."
In the end, he beat his addiction the only way he knew how. I don't hold it against him.
Letter to Crack Dealer
May you rot in hell.
Note to R. McDonald's Sister
There is more than enough guilt to go around. Your brother was a kind, articulate, intelligent man. May he rest in peace.