Powder Man

I just finished watching a preview for a soon to be released movie. I didn’t go looking for said preview, it just sort of invited itself to the illuminated window of my television screen. The first thing I noticed while becoming increasingly transfixed to its boasting message, was a deeply moving musical score that permeated the entirety of this ephemeral set of images.


It is a story about a boy. A young man. He is a helpless addict that is manacled to his poisonous vice. His unpremeditated actions ripped at the fabric of his family. They felt as though they were dying as they bore witness to this boy’s precipitous descent towards a hole in the earth. A hole that is 6-feet deep. Big enough for only one…

The raw emotion that poured from the actors on screen began to pull at a very specific memory that lives deep within me. It circumnavigated my consciousness and slithered its way into the recesses of my injured mind. Before long, I was no longer watching a preview… I was reliving a moment once lived by a younger me. Paramedic me…


The walls of my apartment began to melt away and my surroundings soon gave passage to the beckoning echoes of the past.

Steeped within somber reflection, I was now standing overtop of a man with a skeletal physique and sickly presentation having just declared him dead. He lay at my feet slackly strewn atop of the matted carpet within his apartment. His eyes were lazily open and void of anything. The eyes of the dead are always an unsightly thing to see. His skin was pale, like damp compacted powder. In his arm, a needle that clung to the inside of a wiry blue vein. A lasting legacy of his final decision. Of his addiction’s decision…


The man was dead. Of that there was no doubt. He lay at my feet, and beside him, crumpled into a fallen heap of grieving person, was his lover. She too had a sickly presentation about her. But she was alive. Very much alive – her ghastly wails reaffirmed that certainty beyond any contestation.

She pleaded against reality while using her hands to rock the body of her now absent lover. She was drowning beneath a sea of her own tears and there was nothing I could do. Nothing except watch. She cried horrendously while lamenting her wounds into the air. From where I was standing, I could see pocketed dots of scarification that walked their way up her arms. She too was an addict. And now, she was alone. Alone in the presence of uniformed strangers.

Every now and then during her introspective bartering with acceptance, she would throw a fleeting glance towards either myself or my partner, and beg through hiccupping speech for us to, “do something, please…” But there was nothing we could do. And she knew that. I think…

At one point, she withdrew the needle from the powder-man’s skin and examined it with a scrupulous yet tear glossed gaze to see if there was any of the poison remaining, there wasn’t. The look of defeat that washed over her expression assured me of this. She lamented once more…

I didn’t want to feel bad for her, but I did. I was watching in real time the worst rendition of Romeo and Juliet. All she wanted was her lover, or the poison – and to be blunt, I am not sure if she knew which-was-which… and to be honest, I was unclear of that also…

That night on the third-floor of a rundown apartment complex, while standing in a dimly lit shanty, my heart broke for that woman and her alabaster skin. My heart broke for her because she now had nothing. I mean nothing. All they seemed to possess was a shared love of the elixir of the devil and a small, well-worn mattress that graced the floor with its presence. The only piece of furniture within their place. Actually, there was one other thing, it sat tilted beside the mattress below the window – it was a picture frame that held the likeness of this grieving woman and her ghostly skin, and a smiling figure that resembled the powder-man. It was the two of them at another time in another place. Alive and together. Poignantly, there was a haze of residue that muted the imagery within the frame. The glass was coated in what used to be powdered vice. A sad irony, I thought…


This woman had nothing, and I was looking at all of it. As for me, I was on my last call of that evening – I was about to go on vacation later that morning after my shift had ended.

I always found it difficult to categorize those events as, “normal” aspects of the job. To me, there was nothing normal about declaring someone dead and then watching as the one left behind searched for more junk to push into their own veins while in the company of strangers and death… It did become “normal,” though – in a way… Sad sights such as that one repeated themselves within different apartments on different days involving different people. The only constant was me – I watched it all. Then I went on vacation. Fucking crazy, isn’t it?!


This photo was taken only hours after the Powder Man…


Taken that same day, hours after landing.

Needless to say, this is a movie that I do not think I will be seeing. I guess I could make the argument that I have already seen it… a couple of times…

I think this rumination was so vivid for me because of how recently I left rehab myself. Granted, not for drugs. But I was in recovery with people whose maleficence came in that very same needle, the one that killed the powder-man.

I may not be going on vacation this time, but I can assure you that my visit to the past is done. This is just something that I felt that I had to write before laying my head down to go to sleep. Get the poison out, so-to-speak…

The dead can rest in the chasm of the past now. And I hope that they do, because then I too will be able to find rest here in the present. Away from it all.

Tomorrow, I think I will watch a comedy. Yeah, that seems like a good idea.

Goodnight everyone.

Be safe!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Website Built with WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: