"The Grippers": Getting Homeless Without Even Trying

The “GRIPPERS” (Getting Homeless Without Even Trying) was introduced here, in serial form, on June 6, 2011. It ran for 20 weeks (episodes) and followed the journey of Bob and Tracey Slider and their son, Jake, 12, as they plummeted downward toward the murky, scary world of being homeless. If you would like to start at the beginning scroll DOWN to the first chapter.

The “Grippers”  is being made into a novel and I hope to have it published sometime in 2013. OOPS!!!   2016   Can you believe it?  That is three years already.  I turned 72 yesterday. Better get my ass in gear..LOL

"Grippers" FINAL EPISODE (how to get homeless without even trying)

Final Episode: “Down & UP”

Bob had been right when he told Tracey that Greg was a “good guy”. Greg, feeling partly responsible for Bob’s back injury, had “forgiven” their rent payments for October, November and December. But now it was January and Greg, seriously impacted by the tough economy, was strapped for cash. He needed his rent payments from all of his tenants. Tracey, bringing home a meager  $780.00 a month from her part time job, was terrified. She was actually having nightmares about being “homeless” and kept waking up soaked with sweat as she visualized Jake and herself cowering together under a bridge as rain pounded down around them as they attempted to stay dry. Bob, at that moment in time, was quite useless and Tracey felt as if she was almost alone. Having been to several Nar-Anon meetings with Judi Pavano, she had started praying.  She was now praying as hard as she ever had in her entire life and was finding a certain inner peace when talking to God. Just like that one of her prayers was answered.

Tracey arrived at work and her manager called her in to the office and told her that one of the full time cashiers had abruptly quit. He offered her the full time position and, just like that, Tracey’s income doubled. When she went on break she called Greg Margolese  and told him what happened and then asked if he might possibly rent them a smaller house with a smaller rent payment than the one they occupied. Greg happened to have a two-bedroom, one-bath vacancy only six blocks away from where they were living and readily agreed. The rent would be $250.00 a month less.Tracey, suddenly re-enforced by her new job and Greg’s cooperation gathered her inner strength and resolve, said a prayer, and went home and packed a suitcase with Bob’s belongings. She placed it in front of her husband and told him, “Either you enter re-hab today or Jake and I are leaving you.”

Bob Slider, possessing an inner strength he did not realize he had,  was admitted to the Rosedale Wellness Center an hour later. Tracey gave him a big hug, told him that she loved him, and watched as he walked down the hall with a nurse to the elevator. She was sick to her stomach and simultaneously happy. That Sunday she and Jake went to Mass with Judi and Tommy. It was the first time that either of them had gone to any kind of church service in years.

Bob was released from re-hab 28 days later. Tracey drove him home to their new house. She had, along with help from Jake, Tommy, Judi and  a few neighbors, completed the move. Bob was stunned but relieved. He began attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings three times a week, enrolled in school and a year later received a certification as an X-Ray Technician. He got a job at Memorial Hospital and remained in school to get further certifications in CT Scans and MRI’s. His pain meds now consisted of only non-narcotic NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs) like ibuprofen. The previous year’s events had brought them to the very brink of homelessness. The love that flowed among them as a family had been their greatest ally shoring up their weakened defenses in their struggle to survive.. They had beaten the odds. Many do not.

On Easter Sunday, Bob, Tracey and Jake began their day at an Easter Sunrise Service. They were all dressed up and, when the service ended, they had somewhere to go.

PLEASE PRAY FOR ALL THE HOMELESS who are not as blessed as Bob, Tracey and Jake Slider.——

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #18)

Episode #18 “Christmas” (click on the “Grippers tab for previous episodes)

A year earlier Bob and Tracey Slider both had full-time jobs, health insurance, two vehicles, a nice house, and were bringing home over $4300.00 a month. Their success as an average American family was obvious as the twinkling lights from the Christmas tree sent out tiny flashes of color that bounced off the wrapped gifts below. There was peace and contentment in the hearts of the Slider family. Two days later, Tracey was laid off.

In February, Bob’s hours were cut and on the Friday prior to Memorial Day his company, Bildot Building Supply, closed its doors and went out of business. In September, Bob hurt his back and was unable to work at all. Ignoring the warnings about the dangers of prescription pain pills and constantly seeking pain relief he began taking more meds than were prescribed and became a “prescription junkie” using the last bit of the family’s monies to buy pills on the street. Then he was arrested for DUI. He wound up on probation, had to pay heavy fines and was required to do community service. Tracey, who had been hired as a part-time cashier at the local super-market, was fighting the good fight to make ends meet but the pressure to pay bills and Bob’s addiction problem were pushing her to the edges of despair and resentment.The only time that Bob seemed like the “old” Bob was when he had a few pills in him and had a supply stashed somewhere. However, being an addict it never mattered how many pills he had because it would never be enough. An addict is always scheming about how to get more drugs even if their pockets are filled with them.

 Christmas morning arrived and the usual joyful atmosphere that accompanied the day was absent. Jake was inside a vacuum he did not really understand. His dad had changed and his mom seemed so unhappy. Tracey did her best to make sure her boy received some gifts but it was impossible to live up to the standard of past years. Jake, whose grades had slipped and who had become somewhat withdrawn and distant, had reached inside of himself and had planned to do something special for his mom for Christmas. In addition, he had asked his folks for nothing for himself. The 12 year-old had been greatly underestimated. He pulled her aside Christmas morning and gave her a card. In it was $100.00 in cash. Jake had quietly been working after school hustling lawn jobs and cleanup jobs around the neighborhood. Tracey did not have a clue. “Mom,” he said, “I’m not a baby anymore. I can see what’s going on around here. This is between you and me. I don’t think you should tell dad. Merry Christmas, love you.”

Tracey looked at her son and just began to cry. It was the greatest Christmas gift she had ever received. She hugged her son so tight he thought he might break. It was the best feeling he had ever had.

Next Time: “Here We Go Again”

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #17)

Episode #17  “Here comes Christmas” (Click on “the “Grippers tab for previous episodes)

It was almost noon and Bob was just sitting in the lounge chair, feet up, heating pad on his lower back and eyes closed. Tracey had come to a point where she did not believe his condition was nearly as serious as he kept saying it was. He had been to physical therapy twice a week for three months and she was acutely aware of how often he would move around normally. She knew what she saw and Bob’s actions and behavior had numbed her into cynicism. The truth was, Bob’s back was definitely better but far from healed. The slightest wrong move could cause excruciating pain and when he tried to get up in the morning it might take him ten or fifteen minutes just to straighten up. However, his pill usage, constant complaining, the lack of money and daily pressure, topped off by his cleaning out the checking account to buy “street drugs” had Tracey desensitized.

“Bob, what about the Christmas lights?”

“Huh, oh, what about them.”

“”You always put them up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, that’s what.”

“I can’t today, Tracey. Maybe tomorrow. My back is killing me.”

Jake came out from his room. “Hey, ain’t we putting the lights up today?”

“Not today, Jake. Dad’s not feeling good. Maybe tomorrow.”

Jake mumbled, “He’s never feeling good anymore. Whatever.”

“What did you say to me, Jake?”

“Nothing. I didn’t say nothing.”

“Yeah, well, just don’t get smart with me. I’m not in the mood for any of your 12 year-old nonsense. I just hope that you never have to go through what I’m going through. You don’t have a clue, so be quiet.”

That brief encounter more or less set the mood  that would embrace the family on its four-week trek toward Christmas Day. It was different this year—very, very different. Unemployment, disability, lack of money, overdue bills and Bob’s addiction joined forces to create a constant, unending anxiety that was slowly but surely tearing the family apart.

Next Time: Christmas Day

'Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #16)

Episode #16 “Thanksgiving” (click on the “Grippers” tab for previous 15 episodes)

Tracey was standing in her own living room feeling completely lost and helpless. She had managed their meager finances with painstaking care and just like that there was no money, no food and she could not follow through on making her agreed payment with the power company. Embraced by a sense of despair she instinctively hurried over to Judi Parano’s.

Judi hugged her and said, “C’mon Trace, I’ll make some coffee and we can sit down and talk.”

Judi quickly became Tracey’s navigator and began guiding her friend and neighbor on a straighter course. The first thing she did was reach into her purse and pull out $80.00 and hand it to Tracey. “Here, put this in your pocket and don’t tell Bob you have it.”

Tracey tried to say something and Judi said, “Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to say anything. Now, I want you to call the St. Vincent De Paul Society—“

“Oh no, Judi. I can’t. They just helped us about two or three  months ago. I’d feel so embarrassed asking again. I don’t think I can.”

“You can. I’ll stand right next to you for moral support.  Now, I have this pamphlet I want to give you. I know you have not said too much about Bob’s pill problem but I know he has one and he will need help with that. But you need help dealing with it. This is a schedule of Nar-Anon meetings in the area.”

“What’s Nar-Anon?”

“It’s like Al-Anon which is for families and friends of alcoholics. Nar-Anon is for families and friends of people hooked on drugs. Tracey—I’ve been there. My brother Anthony is a user. He was tearing the family apart.”

“Anthony? The computer guy with the great job. I had no idea–“

“Tracey, he USED to have a great job. He was fired for missing so much work and he blames everyone else and, oh my God, we don’t even know where he is. Haven’t seen or heard from him in two months. I’m sick over it but I have learned that I cannot do a thing about it. We’re here for him if he decides he wants REAL help. But, in the meantime—–Anyway, you need these meetings. Trust me, there are so many people out there with family members that have gotten caught up in this prescription pill insanity you wouldn’t believe it. You need to remember that Bob Slider, your husband, is still the man he was. That person has been taken over by an evil entity that has transformed him. The real Bob will be back. He just needs you and Jake to be there when he begins his journey home. Understand?”

Ron and Jan from St. Vincent De Paul came out again. Once again they were able to assist with the power bill. They also included Tracey in their “Thanksgiving Giveaway Program” and, on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, Tracey went over to Sacred Heart Catholic Church and was given a holiday “basket” which included a frozen turkey and all the “fixins” including dessert for Thanksgiving day.

Thanksgiving turned out to be a good day in the Slider home. Bob had his “medication” and was acting normal. He and Jake were watching football together and joking around with each other. Tracey, temporarily upbeat and enjoying the moment, happily prepared the meal. On this Thanksgiving day they all had something to be thankful for.

Next time: Here Comes Christmas

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #15)

Episode #15: “Here come the Holidays” (click on the “Grippers” tab for previous 14 episodes)

Tracey Slider was frazzled and had reached stress levels she had never before encountered. She was not smiling, she was abrupt with Jake, she could not sit still for more than ten minutes at a time, she was not sleeping well and a sense of impending disaster monopolized her thoughts. She was doing her best to manage every penny she was earning but there are no finish lines  when you are riding on a merry-go-round.

It was November 12, less than two weeks until Thanksgiving. Tracey  had worked her six hour shift and, upon clocking out, started to do shopping for the family. She knew to the penny how much was in their checking account, $143.00. She filled the cart with about $60.00 worth of grocery items including two cans of cranberry sauce, two cans of corn and two cans of sweet potatoes which would be used for Thanksgiving. There would be $83.00 left and $75.00 would go to the electric company as per her arrangement with them. There was enough gas in the truck to get them through payday which was four days away. She was proud of herself and deserved to be. She was like  a car running on fumes and now the gas station was in sight.

Tracey unloaded her items onto the checkout counter and watched as her friend, Helen, scanned the items. They were chatting about nothing important when Helen said, “Okay, Trace, that comes to $60.28.”

Tracey smiled, “I can’t believe it. I wanted to spend $60.00 and I went  28 cents over. Not bad.” She swiped her debit card and keyed in her pin number. A message popped up, Insufficient Funds. Tracey was startled and smiled at Helen. She swiped her card again. Insufficient Funds. She looked at Helen, “I don’t understand.” She tried again. Insufficient Funds.

Customers were lined up in back of her. She was wearing the store’s company uniform. It is a fact that humiliation can embrace a person in a nano-second. Tracey instantly wanted to be somewhere else. She fought the panic rising within her and garnered some composure. She took a deep breath through her nose, exhaled and said, “Okay Helen, I’ll just leave the stuff over here. I’ll be back in 15 minutes.”

She left the store, got into Bob’s truck and began to tremble. Taking a few more deep breaths she wiped her teary eyes and headed home. All she could think was, It has to be a mistake, it has to be a mistake. How could they do this. She hurried into the house and right past Bob who was sleeping on the sofa. Sitting down at the computer she logged into her on-line banking site. The screen opened, she keyed in her password and stared at the screen. Balance–negative $89.00. Transactions–there had been two. Friday afternoon a $100.00 cash withdrawal had been made and another one for $60.00. Then there were two bank charges of $36.00 each, one for “insufficient funds” and one for an “over limit” fee. She stared and stared. She thought —-I don’t understand–I didn’t—Oh my God—-She jumped up from the chair and rushed into the living room yelling, “Bob, Bob, wake up! Wake up!”

He remained still and quiet on the sofa. She started yelling at him and pushing his shoulder, “Bob, wake up right now. C’mon, wake up!”

Her groggy husband opened his eyes. “Huh—what? I’m sleeping. Leave me alone. What’s your problem anyway?”

“Did you take money from the ATM yesterday?”

“Huh—the ATM. No–I don’t think so. What’s the difference anyway?”

“”Oh my God, Bob, you did–didn’t you.”

“Fine Tracey, I did. So what. I needed some medicine and I can’t get any until next week. So yeah, I took some money. I suppose I should just lie around here in pain. Now leave me alone.”

“Oh my God, Bob. You’re buying drugs. You’re buying drugs.You took our food money and our money for the power bill and bought drugs from someone. Your stupid two withdrawals overlapped and you caused us to be minus $89.00 in our account. How in God’s name could you do this to me and Jake. How could you?”

Bob was pretty well stoned so he shrugged, rolled over on his side and went back to sleep. Tracey looked down at him and at the moment all she could feel for her husband was contempt.

Next time: “Thanksgiving”

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #14)

Episode #14: “Living with Consequences(click on the “Grippers” tab for previous 13 episodes)

From the Webster Dictionary: Con’ se-quence,  n.—that which follows as the result of some preceding act, cause, etc.

For the Slider family the act was Bob’s driving into the side of a new Toyota as he parked his truck. The cause was his having taken too many prescription pain pills that had severely dulled his senses. Did this just affect Bob? Not quite. Consequences oftentimes have this insidious ability to give birth to tentacles that reach out and wrap themselves around others in an unexpected and seemingly inescapable grip, clutching so tightly that the person(s) trapped have no idea how to break free. It also follows that the first people these tentacles reach out for are those closest to the person who had activated the whole process, in this case Tracey and Jake.

Having one vehicle had been sufficient for Tracey to get back and forth to her part time job, for Bob to go back and forth for doctor visits and his 3x a week physical therapy treatments plus, get Jake to his after school activities, winter baseball practices and weekend games. Now it was all on Tracey. She had to somehow get her husband and her son to where they were supposed to be and still be at work. It was a daunting, almost impossible task. The consequences of Bob’s Halloween “fender-bender” included his having to put in three hours a week of community service (which he was able to do at the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store) sorting and separating donated clothing. He needed 50 hours so this was, at best, a 17 week commitment. He also had to go to DUI class, the “Law & Substance Abuse Program”, get to physical therapy and, of course, report to his parole officer once a week. .

Tracey managed, after some serious pleading, to get her manager to let her begin working from  6:a.m to 11: a.m. Thursday through Sunday. This gave her Monday through Wednesday to schedule Bob’s probation requirements and PT appointments. It was, to say the least, a tenuous arrangement. Bob had to be somewhere at least four times a week. Since his dad’s appointments were “absolutely necessary” to keep, Jake was forced to quit playing winter baseball. There was no way Tracey could get him back and forth to practices and games,  get her husband to his various appointments, get to work, run errands, and do all of the other things that take place outside of the home.

Jake took this very hard. He tried to understand but he didn’t. Baseball meant so much to him. It ain’t fair. How could they let this happen. It ain’t fair. It really was not the baseball. After all,  it was only winter-ball, sort of an instuctional league where the kids prepared for the regular season. It was just the catalyst that drove the boy’s feelings to the surface and these feelings began to exhibit themselves through a sullenness, a drop in grades and, in a few instances, by playing “hooky”.

Tracey, like her son, was slowly developing an unwanted bitterness towards her husband, the man she had truly loved since high school. She had the inner strength to deal with all the adversity, confusion, tension,  financial chaos, and the mountain of uncertainty that had entered her life over the past year. What was seeping into her psyche was that Bob had turned himself into a “victim” and had climbed upon a train called the “Pity Party Express”. This journey that he had embarked upon was like a slowly moving knife, cutting deeper and deeper into his wife. Bob had no idea and could not see past  himself or his need for “medication”.

Next time: “Here come the Holidays”I

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #13)

 (click on the “grippers” tab and scroll down for the previous 12 episodes)
Content review:
  1) Intro: “Homelessness and the Grippers”
  2) Episode #1: “Meet the Slider family”
  3) Episode #2: “Bob Slider is laid off”
  4) Episode #3: “Confronting finances over beer & pizza”
  5) Episode #4: “Meeting with the landlord”
  6) Episode #5: “Running out of money”
  7) Episode #6: “Out of money”
  8) Episode #7: “Lights out”
  9) Episode #8: “Here come the church people”
 10) Episode #9:“The Home Visit”
11) Episode #10“Good news & Bad News”
12) Episode #11“What about Jake?”
13) Episode #12“Trick or Treat”

Episode #13: “Getting out of jail–Now what?”

Bob Slider, husband, father, hardworking family man and solid citizen had gone through an unwanted and unexpected metamorphosis. Reborn into a strange world of unemployment, disability and prescription drug addiction, he now found himself being processed into the county jail. After enduring the indifferent, matter-of-fact fingerprinting, mug-shot taking and humiliating strip search, he was placed in a holding cell with a bunch of other guys. Some were laughing, some were crying, some were trembling and some appeared to not give a damn. One thing was the same–they all were wearing freshly laundered orange jump suits with bold, black letters emblazened on the back that said, COUNTY JAIL. As for Bob, his back pain was raging, he was feeling frightened, lost, victimized,  misunderstood and strangely, all he could think of was one thing, I need my pills.

Bob, because he had never been in any kind of trouble before, was released at 10 a.m. the following morning on ROR (on his own recognizance). Judi Pavano had to drive Tracey to the jail to pick Bob up because his license had  been temporarily suspended and his truck impounded. Judi waited in the car while Tracey met Bob at the jail exit.When he saw his wife he began to cry. She could not believe how pathetic he looked. She, too, began to cry. They hugged each other for several moments and then Bob took a breath and asked Tracey, “You got my pills?”

“Uh—no Bob, I don’t. C’mon, let’s get you home.”

“I need the pills Tracey. I can’t believe you didn’t bring them. I’m so sick. You don’t understand, I need my medicine.”

She was a bit stunned that his primary concern was his pills and it was this moment that impacted her with the reality of his addiction “Okay, okay. We’ll be home in 15 minutes. Just hold on.”

Bob’s blood work and urine sample showed that he had more oxycodone and xanax in his system than had been prescribed. His license was officially suspended for six months and he was fined $250.00, the minimum allowed under the law. He also was sentenced to complete a “Law and Substance Abuse” program and  received one year probation which also included doing 50 hours of community service. Since his truck was the family’s only means of transportation it was released from impound for Tracey to use. Being caught up in the criminal justice system was a miserable, unpredictable and downright scary place to be. Factor in two extremely painful, herniated  lumbar discs that almost prevented him from standing up straight and having no money pushed Bob Slider into a deep pit of despair. He was pulling Tracey and Jake with him but Tracey had an unknown  inner strength and resolve inside herself  that would enable her to pull back and fight the forces working against them.

Next time: Episode #14: “Living with Consequences”

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying #12)

Episode # 12  “Trick or Treat” (click on the “grippers” tab and scroll down for the previous 11 episodes)

Summer and the balance of September were gone and October had taken the time baton and charged forward. It was Halloween and the Sliders were  now full fledged “Grippers” financially drowning and just barely “treading water” as they tried to avoid being sucked under and lost in the abyss of abject poverty. They had been tossed one lifeline which Tracey grabbed onto. Through her friend Judi’s recommendation she had been hired as a part-time cashier at the local supermarket. She was working 20 hours a week and being paid $12.00 an hour. Her first bi-monthly paycheck had come in and she had received $390.00. At $780.00 a month they were now $256.00 a month better off than when receiving unemployment. The extra good news was that the possibility of being promoted to full-time was very real.

Bob, unable to collect unemployment, was moving around very slowly because of his injured back. He had qualified for medicaid through the Department of Children & Families and he was going to physical therapy three times a week. He was also taking oxycodone pills three times a day and had  been prescribed xanax to help him “relax” . It had taken less than two months for him to become addicted to these pills. The once happy-go-lucky, vibrant, hard working husband and father had turned sullen and quiet and was absorbed in his own personal “pity party” telling his wife, “You just don’t understand. You have no idea how much pain I’m in.” He was wrong. She understood much more  than he thought she did. She realized the pills had changed him dramatically and that  all he seemed to be concerned about was having enough of them.

It was 8 p.m. on Halloween. Tracey was next door at Judi’s and they had been greeting  all the little “trick or treaters” since six o’clock. The onslaught of monsters and ghouls and super-heroes and various other creatures was almost down to a trickle so they went inside to have some coffee and chat. Tracey thought she heard Bob’s truck start and hurried to Judi’s front door. She was just in time to see his  truck going down the street. Wonder where he’s going, she thought. Hope he’s all right.

He wasn’t all right. Having taken too many xanax along with his oxycodone had caused him to “fall asleep” as he pulled into the convenience store a half mile from the house. He proceeded to unceremoniously  smash into the side of a new Toyota Corolla. By 9:30 Bob was in handcuffs and on his way to jail. Charges were DUI with property damage. Tracey would not hear from him until 11:30. By then she was frantic about where he might be. When she heard her husband tell her that he needed to be bailed out of jail her mind went momentarily blank and she almost fainted. Fortunately, Judi and Tommy were both  there. Judi, standing next to Tracey,  quickly put her arm around her and helped her to sit down. She took the phone and began to gather the information from a nervous voiced Bob. Tommy quickly sat next to Jake who had started to cry. More dark days were ahead.

Next time: Episode # 13  “Now what?”

"Grippers" (how to get homeless without even trying # 11)

Episode # 11 What about Jake  (click on the “grippers” tab and scroll down for the previous 10 episodes)

Lest we forget 12 year old Jake. What has been going on with him through all of this?

Jake, an only child, (he did not know that he had a sister that had been still-born two years before he had been born) had been the “shining star” in the lives of his parents. However, he had not been overindulged. His parents assigned him certain chores that were his ongoing responsibility and they checked his homework every night. He received a bi-monthly allowance and if he had not completed his assigned chores part of his allowance was withheld. He was being taught that there are consequences to what you do and do not do, an extremely important lesson for the character development of any child.

Bob, a blue-collar, fix-it type of guy, had Jake by his side anytime there were house or car repairs to do. Jake knew all about hand tools and power tools, could change the oil in the car, pull the spark plugs, maintain the lawn mower, mix concrete, and had, under his dad’s watchful eye, replaced the broken belt in the electric dryer. Bob had Jake out in the back yard at four years old teaching him how to throw, catch and hit a ball and Jake had been in Little League since he was six. Jake loved his parents deeply and his dad was his hero.

Bob and Tracey had decided to be honest with their son about the family situation. They did their best to explain the unemployment situation, why they had sold mom’s car and the two TV’s (they still had the big TV in the living room) and why new clothes and shoes for the beginning of 7th grade were going to have to be put “on-hold”. Jake understood it all the best he could and was happy that his parents had trusted him with this “grown-up” information and had confided in him. What he did not understand were the changes in his parent’s moods, their new abruptness, their ongoing  pre-occupation with things inside themselves and the sudden lack of laughter as the joking around and good natured teasing that used to seem to always fill the air was mysteriously absent. Bob had no idea the effect his new found cranky quietness was having on his boy.

Bob had always taken good care of his family and was proud of it. But his ego had taken a hit when he was laid off even though it was not his fault. Suddenly, not having the necessary monies available for paying bills and taking care of other things was new found territory he was traveling in. He could not turn around and go back to where he had been and this provided another heavy shot to his ego. The two roofing jobs and work for his landlord gave his ego a temporary reprieve. It had felt good to be sweating again. Then came the back injury. Making things more stressful than they had been was the fact that he had been cut from unemployment because his injury had caused him to be temporarily unable to work. He had been humiliated once again when he was forced to apply to the Department of Children & Families for emergency medical assistance (only poor people get medicaid) and that application was still pending. The fact that he had applied enabled him to get some medical help contingent on the application being approved. It also allowed him to acquire his new monthly prescription of 90 oxycodone pills for “pain management”. Quickly and unexpectedly those pills were becoming his “new best friend”. He was supposed to take three a day. A few times he took four. The problem with that was a person would run out of their “meds” prior to the renewal date and with strict rules in place about prescription renewals, especially on “controlled substances”, being out of an addictive medication  two or three days before it could be refilled could present quite the dilemma for the patient. The fiend called withdrawal would rear it ugly head.

Jake, bewildered at his father’s behavior, did not and could not understand. He began to withdraw into himself, his grades began to slip and he was suddenly feeling insecure and unhappy. Tracey was beginning to notice the changes in her boy. As for Bob, he did not have a clue.

Next time: Episode #12  “Trick or Treat”