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As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Photographic Memory

Maintaining confidentiality in the midst of telling a true story in a blog can be especially challenging at times.  This blog is one of those moments.  Some of what I'm going to share won't make sense in the absence of the whole story which, for reasons of confidentiality, cannot be shared… 
So, when something doesn't make sense, just know I'm maintaining the privacy of the person… 


We sat near the corner of This and That Streets as I gave her a cell phone for her birthday.  The corner heroin dealer - or lookout - or whatever his role is  - looked on as I, this white guy from the suburbs, sat on the sidewalk in the birthday celebration of one of his clients.

As the gift-giving concluded, she told me that she needed to take her next dose of medicine.  She prepared it, injected it, and faded into a lump of bilingual, God imaged humanity with her photographic memory waiting to be developed through detox and rehab - but not today.

And we sat,

and sat,

and sat…

45 minutes later, her high came down and my friend reawakened for conversation and kindness.  The dealer looked on, still seemingly confused by the sitting-on-the-sidewalk white guy from the suburbs and his client, the birthday girl.

Six weeks of continuous guarding of that phone by this previous birthday girl gave way to a brief moment of theft.  The phone was gone, never to be found by her again.

I called it twice a day for the next three days.  It rang each time which I thought odd for a phone whose battery should have died within the first few hours of waywardness.

On the third day, just before my decision to suspend the account, I called one more time…

It rang four times and then,


The woman on the other end of the phone explained that she had found this phone in a trash can[1] three days earlier, knew it belonged to someone, kept it charged and hoped for a call in search of it.

She and I met an hour later at another corner of This and That Streets in the Heart of Kensington, a section of Philadelphia, in the bull's-eye of the heroin epidemic on the east coast of the United States of America.

In a day or so, I hope to re-gift this phone to its original recipient with her photographic memory waiting to be developed through detox - maybe that day.

[1] With a passcode having been created for this phone, the thief would have found the phone useless and, therefore, thrown it away as soon as possible.

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