Catch up on Chapter Four here.
TW: Substance abuse. SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
Halloween and Thanksgiving came and gone almost as if they were only days apart. School was winding down for the semester before we would leave these bland and poorly lit hallways for three weeks of holiday break. Finals are going to start next Monday and then that was it. I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone until January, until the new year made its way. Hendrick started visiting me at lunch more and more before Halloween. Some days he was coming down from his high, others he was still very high, hyperactive and unpredictable. The meth took over most of his waking days until one day he just stopped showing up to school. On the Friday before finals I got called to the office again. I walked down the hall towards Mr. Jackson’s poorly decorated office. There were two police officers and neither one was one of the school resource officers. Mr. Jackson immediately walked over to the door and ushered me to come in. My mind thought that this is it, my dad was dead too. I was now an orphan right at the cusp of 18. I sat down while the officers stood on either side of Mr. Jackson.
“Canaan Adams?” The officer on my right said, staring at me with a stone cold stare, her brown hair was pulled tight in a ponytail and she held her hat in front of her against her stomach. “Do you know a Mr. Hendrick Dedison?”
“Do you know where he may be?” The officer took a few steps forward towards me.
“No, I haven’t seen him since like October? Why? Is everything okay?”
“We… we’re not sure. His parents reported him missing, they haven’t seen him since Monday and they gave us your name saying you are his best friend. Do you happen to know if he is involved with anything that might harm him?”
I looked around. Mr. Jackson looked concerned but not as angry as he usually does when I’m around him. I knew what they were asking. Was Hendrick just another countless number of cases that are living on the streets trying to turn a dollar to get his next fix? I looked up at the officer. “Not that I know of. He told me he was going through some stuff but didn’t tell me what kind of stuff.”
“Have you ever seen him use any illicit drugs?”
“Aren’t all drugs illicit when you’re 17?”
“Mr. Adams!” And the Mr. Jackson I was used to seeing popped out for a second before the other officer gave him a look telling him to shut the fuck up. The other officer joined the other one at the front of the desk. He held his hat in almost the same spot, his hair almost buzzed completely off.
“Listen.” The male officer said. “We just need to know what rings you and Hendrick are involved in so we can try to bring him home.”
“We, are best friends and we are 17. We don’t have rings.” I looked at both the officers and the female one leaned in to me.
“Well, if you think of anything here is my card. Please give me a call Canaan, okay?”
I walked out of the office and back towards my class. Should I have told them that Hendrick was addicted to meth? Should I have told them that I watched Hendrick partially OD with Max? I didn’t want to rat him out but I also didn’t want Hendrick to die or get in more trouble than he can get himself out of.
I sat at my usual table, now pretty much just a table for one. I sat facing the cafeteria watching the mix match of tables filled with kids laughing and gossiping getting ready for the holiday break. This was the last lunch before finals. The last lunch of this semester. The last lonely lunch, hopefully. The chicken tenders on my tray were dry and burnt around the edges, the fries were baked and hard. The chair across from me slid across the floor and Kayleigh placed her bag on the table as she slid the chair in closer to the table. Her black hair was tied back in a loose ponytail and her olive skin brought out her green eyes.
“Isn’t this like sabotaging your social status sitting here?” I said taking a bite out of one of my tenders. I looked at her as her eyes began to swell and fill with water. “Jesus, this table is turning into a park fountain at this point, what is wrong?”
“Have you seen Hendrick?” She wiped the water away from her eyes and her voice didn’t shake.
“No, but he seems very popular today.”
“Did the police talk to you too?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know where Hendrick is. Maybe you should go talk to Max.” I stood up and walked towards the trash.
“I have, he has no idea either.” Kayleigh stood up and walked a few steps behind me. “I just don’t know if we’re okay.”
“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” I stopped and turned around. “Hendrick is missing and you’re worried about if your relationship is okay, not if HE is okay?”
“No, that’s what I meant. I don’t know if he is okay.”
“No… You know what Hendrick is probably fine. Probably ran away because he realized how fucking useless everyone in this city is.” I dropped my tray into the trash can and began to open the doors that lead to the hallway. “He probably ran away because you’re a self-centered bitch.”
“Canaan, please that’s…”
“Bye Kayleigh.” I heard the door to the cafeteria slam shut behind me and the sound of the thousand gossip groups became muffled.
Come English I was completely over the day and still had another 8 hours of work before I could go home and just pretend I didn’t live in this Hell hole anymore. Madyson and I sat in the hallway against the lockers studying for finals. The hallway was cold and drafty compared to the classroom.
“You’re extremely quiet today.” Madyson said looking up from her notes.
“Did I piss you off or something?”
“No. I’m just so over this day.” I put my notebook down on the dirty tile floor. “The cops talked to me today, they told me Hendrick is missing.”
“What? Oh my god! Have you tried calling him?”
“Yeah I mean our last conversation wasn’t exactly one where I think he would still have my number saved on his phone but…”
“Do you know where he might be?”
“No, honestly I haven’t seen him since like October. Maybe he got out.”
“Got out of what?” Madyson raised an eyebrow.
“This place. This white trash, meth infested excuse for a city.”
“But, do you think he is the type of person to do that?”
“I mean… the old him loved it here. The new him I’m not sure.”
I picked up my notebook and began going over my notes again on the books we read that semester. The final bell rang through the hallway. Madyson and I made our way through the hallway and out to the parking lot. Before we reached the car Madyson stopped.
“Hey you can head on to work without me. I’m off tonight anyway.” She said as she stood in the middle of the parking lot.
“I mean I can take you home first like usual still?”
“No it’s really okay.” She turned around and I saw Henry walking out the door to the school waving at Madyson as she waved back.
“Got it.” I quickly threw my backpack into the passenger seat and shut the door. Madyson walked over to the window.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Nope. Have fun with Henry.” Madyson threw her arms up in the air, confused, as I backed out of the parking spot. In the rearview I saw Henry walk up and guide Madyson over to his car. I felt like I wanted to throw up. I felt like I wanted to cry. I could feel this rage build inside of me as I drove down the street.
After work I drove down to the spot Hendrick and I hid our alcohol in front of the elementary school. It felt weird being there alone, no one to watch for cars driving past or anyone walking by. In the bushes was a bottle of vodka, rum, tequila and a half empty box of Natural Ice. I looked around and grabbed the bottle of tequila. When I got home my dad was asleep with the TV on in his room as the blue light lit up the hallway. I opened my window and onto the fire escape. The metal felt like it was frozen in the cold night air. The breeze smelt like a memory. It smelt sweet and fresh mixed with the remnants of my mom’s perfume and tobacco. It was cold but comforting. I sat against the frozen metal. The last drops of tequila felt warm as it made its way down into my stomach. The yellow glow of the city drowned out the stars and the occasional car driving by broke up the silence. Looking out I didn’t see anything of value. The apartments that lined the street all looked to be in the same condition as mine. Why do people choose these types of places to take root? Why did my parents leave their lives to live here? All these questions and thoughts filled my mind although I knew they would never be answered. I rested my head against the edge of the window. I thought about Hendrick and where he might be. At this point My heart felt like it ripped by a million shards of glass, why did Madyson like Henry and not me?
My bed felt warm and comfortable, while the air around it felt like the inside of a freezer. It was still pitch black with the exception of the yellow light. The subtle sound of cars starting and driving past outside reminded me that it was morning. I leaned over and saw five missed calls from Madyson on my phone all from the last hour. It was only six in the morning on winter break. I hadn’t talked to Madyson a lot. She spent most of her time with Henry now, I would see them every so often when I would leave work. Madyson would wave at me and I would wave back. That was about it. It was weird that she called me five times but it was too early to care about the reason. I felt myself falling into a dream when a knock on my door woke me up again.
“Canaan? You up bud?” My dad opened my door and stood in the doorway.
I readjusted myself and looked up at my dad. “I don’t want to be.”
“Something bad has happened.” My dad walked into my room and pulled the desk chair over next to my bed and sat down.
I sat up leaning against the pillow and my wall.
“Canaan, they…” he choked on his words clearing his throat he continued. “they, uhm found Hendrick.”
I knew that that wasn’t it. The world didn’t feel right. I looked up at my dad now with tears in his eyes.
“Uhm… he’s, well he’s dead, Canaan.” My dad’s voice was soft like it was after my mom died.
I didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t feel that there were words that would measure up to the moment. A part of me felt like it was my fault. I was a bad friend. If I just listened to him that day in the cafeteria he would be alive. A part of me felt angry, another sad, and another just content. Not content with his death, but just that this was so normal. I couldn’t say I was shocked. My dad continued to tell me that they found him strung out in an alley off of Temple Street. He asked me if I was using drugs and if I knew if Hendrick was. I wondered if Hendrick died because of the drugs or if he got too high and the cold air took life from him. We were best friends. I could remember every good memory now so clearly. But I couldn’t when he was asking for help. I was a bad friend. Hendrick was dead now because I was a bad friend.
Jump to Chapter Six