John’s Job

John came back at night with a job, provisionally, as a landlady’s handyman if he satisfactorily finished off the room he was given to clean, paint, repair cupboards of and plumbing to by next day. This was good news in so many ways, not the least being probable access to a better bolthole than the one he’s got in Terry. A sense of doom was lifted. The bad news, he eventually came out with, was in order to see him through to completing the job, since he was out of tablets, he’d bought a small piece of heroin. “Trust me,” he said.

Last time it was he’d been so good getting off heroin, he deserved a treat of heroin. I was not happy with his taking heroin again or, for that matter, with all the heroin substitutes he’s been taking in the meantime. A sense of doom returned.

I was giving him a hard time. Whether he told the truth, as to me, or lied, as he had to his previous partners, he was given a hard time, he claimed, head bowed, as if being given or not being given a hard time was a criterion. I read out from the topic, culled from ‘the book’, I’d read to the Writers’ Group to underline his previous relationships were in bad faith if he lied and that’s why they were bound to fail. Good faith is the sine qua non of his with me but there are other considerations. What else I could’ve drawn from the topic content was that once you tell the truth, you also have to do no wrong. Taking heroin is a wrong incompatible with work and reopens the prospect of criminality to pay for the habit, which makes him more liable to being arrested and what’d ensue from that, prolonged incarceration and probable suicide. Any hard time I might give him to keep him relatively straight is as nothing to the hard time he’s given himself throughout his life by following his bent. I may mention that.

I haven’t yet. He came back loquacious about sitting in a pub for two hours lost in reading papers, as he likes doing. Later he was sitting sideways on the pan, depressed at the likelihood of a job when his friend hadn’t come up with the Subitex to get him off heroin or its substitutes; his friend had given up on him. He had tried coming off twice and failed. He had good cause to be depressed. He might love me but he loves heroin more.

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About johnbrucecairns

I'm a retired history teacher who's written for most of his life with a book readied for publication.
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