“It’s all your fault,” he told me. “If you hadn’t walked down that alley that day . . .” He was referring to an incident back about five years ago. What that had to do with getting help replacing a tree was a mystery to me. First let me tell you about the great stuff that happened today.
I posted on facebook a picture of him doing the heavy part of the work. Before I knew it, one of those facebook friends I’ve never met in person stepped forward and said he needed someone with my friend’s skills. He had a job available if my friend was interested. I couldn’t find my friend last night — where he camps out is not the kind of place one wants to explore at night. But today, I put the word out, and soon his friends told him to find Don Ray for a possible job.
Postscript: February 14, 2014.
I made a big mistake. I forgot to remember to never forget that I am powerless over alcohol. All of the optimism I had embraced was for naught. It was the rain that derailed everything, but if it hadn't rained, it's likely he would have found another obstacle to embrace — another excuse to turn to booze to kill the pain.
You see, when the weekend arrived, so did the rains. You can't do a yard sale in the rain. He told me that he could stay sober until the next weekend. He kept his word, but the rain intervened again. He was sure he could be at my place the following Saturday.
I was up early on the third attempt. Clear skies. But my friend wasn't outside setting up his stuff. People were already gathering in the front lawn. I had to ask a neighbor to take over while I looked for my friend. I found him where many of Burbank's homeless gather in the morning. He was drunk. He didn't remember saying he'd be at the yard sale. He had fallen prey to the addiction. I knew that I'd have to wait for him to decided to dry out. The yard sale was pretty much a failure without him — there's no one better at yard sales than my friend. And the job offer vanished in the rain as well.
I ran into him several weeks ago. He was wearing a sling. Someone had broken his left arm above the elbow. All he remembered was that the police had picked him up for public drunkenness, but he wasn't drunk, he insists. At his demand, they took him to the hospital where he hoped they could prove he wasn't intoxicated. The last thing he remembers is that the police officers escorted him out of the hospital — nobody had tested anything — and they were going to un-cuff him and release him. He woke up a couple of hours later outside the back gate of the hospital with a broken arm and fractured rib.
He was certain the police had done it. I arranged for an attorney to meet with him the next day, but during the interview, it became clear that my friend had downed a fifth of vodka and was drifting into his typical routine. His friendly, happy, cooperative attitude morphed into slurring defiance. The attorney left. No way he was going to take the case if his client was so unreliable. It was clear that there would be no way of proving what really happened. And if the police were involved (as the attorney strongly suspected, given the story my friend had told), it would be impossible to pursue any path to justice.
My friend calls me occasionally. He may or may not require surgery.
I still have no control over alcohol. My wife wants me to remove all of my friend's yard sale items that are stashed at our place.