Image Source: Vivian Maier
“Ah Christ, there’s that bum again,” Harry said. “I see him here all’a time, passed out on the beach. What a drunken loser.”
He and Melinda were walking the beach in the morning, having cut class for an end-of-semester R&R day. The sun was up and already hard at work, and the man on the sand was starting to turn pink on the exposed right side of his face.
“Oh, don’t be so quick to judge, Harry,” Melinda said. “He’s sick. We should be helping him.”
Harry stopped in his tracks. “Sick?!? What, does he have the sniffles? How, exactly, is that no-good drunken bum sick?”
“From everything I’ve read in class, I can say that addiction is an illness,” Melinda said. “Just like schizophrenia or any other sickness. And I’ve talked to many recovering addicts, and I’ll guarantee you that none of them would have chosen to be addicted.”
“Sick, my foot!” Harry said. “If he didn’t want to be ‘sick’ all the time, he shouldn’t have started drinking. And now he should stop!”
“Yes, but how?” Melinda said. “How do you just stop? It’s not just as easy as that.”
“How do you stop?” Harry said. “Permit me to demonstrate!” He took a long pull from his Budweiser and threw the bottle deep into the water. “There! I stopped!”
“There are other factors, Harry!” Melinda said. “Biology, and family and environment and…mental components that we don’t even understand! Why would anybody choose to pass out on a beach? But why couldn’t he stop himself from doing so?”
“I was out drinking until 2:00 this morning!” Harry said. “Do you see me passed out on a beach like a bum?”
“Well!” Melinda said. “I’m glad your internal wiring is so perfect! And that you’re perfect enough to judge others. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to get the lifeguard!”
Harry walked away in disgust while Melinda flagged down help. She went over to the man, turned him on his back, and gently woke him. He could only mumble, and all he could say was “thank you, young lady” and “I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry.” Over and over, “thank you, young lady” and “I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry,” with tears streaming down his scorched, sand-encrusted cheeks. Melinda watched as the man was wheeled into an ambulance and taken off, and for both of them, the morning continued…
Dedicated to those that know the sickness. Strength to those that are fighting it, and peace to those that didn’t make it.
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