Category Archives: desperation

The final cure

She watched the smoke rise, aimlessly observing that today it looked more blue than grey; and trying to figure out exactly what trick of light caused it to sometimes appear more grey than blue.

But this was not an important consideration. In the depth of her belly the longing, the hope, was always present. She stared at the narrow, hand-rolled stick, at the wisps rising from the ember in twirling lines, dispersing into the atmosphere, and she thought of all those death-giving chemicals disappearing into thin air. She took a hungry suck at the spit-dampened tip, and another, felt the poison sink deep within her. She would not let the smoke be eaten up by the ether. The cigarette burnt down to the end. She extinguished it into the overflowing ashtray, and rolled another thick one.

All troubles receded into the background in the face of her resolve. Ignoring the nausea, she focused on her lungs, on disease, on death. Cancer, a final cure for all of her ills. She put her faith in it.

If it worked, her children would grieve, recounting the times they had begged her to stop smoking before it killed her. Mercifully, they would never know that they had given her the idea.

©Jane Paterson Basil

A plea to my friends

People tell me I am strong and brave. They tell me I am open and honest. But it is not so. I have been hiding the truth because I am so ashamed. Oh, it’s easy to admit to what Paul did to me two years ago – that was then, and I have grown stronger, but he has also grown stronger. His drug-free prison time gave him back all of the wit he lost through years of drug abuse. It is true his has been ill – he’s still unwell, but that’s down to him returning to his filthy habits, and although he can’t possibly be stupid enough to inject, because he knows how dangerous it would be for him, he is still using various kinds of “pain relief”.

I have been unable to fulfil my promise of honesty, even though I ask others to do so. I’m setting the record straight, out of a sense of guilt and in the hope that it will save me.

Paul has been extorting money from me ever since he returned to the area. For days he will behave impecably – he’s a wonderful companion and he helps around my home, cooking lovely meals and cleaning the flat. But all of that changes when he runs out of what he calls his pain-relieving medication. With his agreement, I have been looking after his bank card for several months, taking his money out every fortnight, with the idea of giving him an allowance, passing housekeeping money to his father, because he lives with him, and keeping some as repayment of the debt he has built up over the past few months. Every single fortnight, just before the money goes into his bank account, he tells me he will not need to buy any more of his self-prescribed medication, and yet not long after the first week is up he has had all of the money, and also managed to get his housekeeping money and more out of his father. If I don’t cough up he becomes threatening. He traps me in the flat and he tries to take my phone, although often he has it already, because his doesn’t work, and he needs to make constant calls.

So many times I have promised myself I will not be tricked again. He takes the money that I need for food and then I have to use the savings which I will soon need in order to keep a roof over my head.

Perhaps yesterday was the final straw – I hope so. It came at the tail-end of a particularly nasty piece of coercion. Although he owes me a horrifying sum (not taking into account the many thousands of pounds he begged, “borrowed” and eventually stole from me, particularly over the last six months before his prison term, when I often didn’t know where my next meal was going to come from) he accused me of “fucking him over”. I have returned his bank card to him. I want no more to do with it. In return he has promised to repay what he owes at the sum of £100 a fortnight. I should be so lucky.

Today I got a few begging and demanding phone calls. Again, I was accused of “fucking him over”.

Inside Paul there is a genuinely good and gentle person, loyal to his true friends, entertaining, funny and intelligent, but that man is buried beneath his addiction. Any kindness he displays is not to be trusted, because it will be followed by his need-fed cruelty and greed.

I love my son, but I must not let him into my home. I must try to avoid even seeing him without an escort to protect me. I will talk to my two older daughters, and ask them if he can visit me at one of their homes, should there be a need for visual contact, though I think it would be best avoided.

This post is an honest and desperate plea for help. I don’t know whether it will ever be safe to embrace Paul again. He may be lost to his family forever. I am humbly asking my friends on WordPress to ask how things are going with him, now and again, and if there is a whisper that I have allowed him into my home or met him without physical backup, please pull me up about it. It could be that he will sort himself out, but if he doesn’t, and I allow him back into my life, I will lose my home, and have nowhere to go except my daughters’ sofas, and I couldn’t inflict that on them.

I may not be able to do this without your help. I have tried before, and failed, and though at this moment I feel resolute, I could suddenly crumble.

Thank you to all who have taken the trouble to read this. Please forgive my crushing weaknesses.

This post is a follow on to one I wrote earlier today.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Black Crow


edges frayed by those
needles which seduced you
unreachable in your coat of brown powder
you curl on piss-soaked concrete
the tool of your destruction
invading a sunken vein

the back-street vendor
limps down a stinking alley
to don his own shady shawl
to dice with his own demise
just another victim after all

the feeling of relief is all too brief
too soon the greedy ogre in your head stirs
and roars for the next course, as
grasping your muscles he squeezes
he tucks itching powder beneath your tattered skin
your eyes fill with tears and your nose drips fluid
he pulls out every trick he can muster
while you yawn and
sweat glistens on your face

agitated hands a-quiver
you make essential calls
“Hello, it’s Laura. Just 15… oh, I see… OK…”
the supply is drying up and and you need to find a dealer who will let you have a 15 as you’re running out of dole and it’s all that’s in your pocket so you ring a few more numbers but there’s no-one who can serve you and you’re walking to the corner where some others are assembled and they’re clutching at their mobiles and discussing possibilities and someone stumbles off with a miserable expression and calls are being made but the huddle isn’t smiling and you feel the goosebumps rising and your abdomen is cramping and there must be a solution and your skin is getting thinner and

a car pulls up beside you
a voice speaks your name
your rescuer has arrived with promise of plenty
tucked away safely with generous heart
hidden in the back of his bedside drawer

eons ago with innocence intact
this act would have been unthinkable
if you had seen the dissipated wretch
into which your addiction has built you
you would have glanced slant-eyed
and within whispering earshot
muttered in disgust and disdain

but a black crow circles your addled head
a needle within its beak, its talons beckon
cawing out its offer of a beautiful release

lately, tipping into bed and revealing
the oft shared corners of your physical self
seems little to pay for such magnificent return
with nothing left for him to steal
he’s simply borrowing your body

afterwards you slip into the bathroom with your pay
and prick your way to an absence which is never as
complete as you had desired

the black crow lands on your shoulder
its mocking promise broken
paradise has evaded you again

© Jane Paterson Basil