Dugouts Of Despair

The needle laid indiscriminately between sharp blades of green grass. The summer scorch days away from turning the lush diamond into a hardened slab of dirt and dust.

The boy had previously been instructed by his coaches not to lay a finger or mitt on these discarded syringes yet by this point of the little league season he and his teammates had stumbled across so many of these “spikes” as they were known throughout this small New England town that they all might as well have been named honorary medical personnel.

The boy waved his arms in the air and the umpires brought the game to a stop so that the authority figures could assess the situation, a process which the boy found comical given that it was these drug addicted adults leaving needles strewn about the baseball field as if they were fertilizer.

Sadly though, more and more kids, some only a few years older than the boy, had begun experimenting with drugs. A slippery slope with a sad ending. For most, young and old, it starts with a simple pain. Either physical or emotional the remedy is usually the same. A pill a day will dull your senses just long enough for the problem to metastasize and turn into a cancerous lump of heartbreak and despair. Soon one pill’s not enough. Or two. Or three. And when the bottle dries up and the doctor gets suspiscious, that’s when the real hunger sets in.

The dope starts in cities like New York, Boston and Montreal before making its way up and down the interstates and thoroughfares of New England until finally mainlining on main street, threatening to change the chemical makeup of one of America’s most historic regions. Heroin, the new opiate of the masses has no care or concern for personal finances or social well being. The drugs are cheap and readily available. Rich and poor. Educated and self made. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.

Nowadays, junkies were trading train tunnels for baseball dugouts and the results extended well beyond the box score. The boy stepped away from the needle while his coach called the police. Authorities had done their best to keep things on lockdown but there were too many broken links in the chain to keep them all out. Some, were former players themselves who only years earlier were the ones hitting home runs and making memories. Unfortunately the passing of time had left too many former all-stars feeling alone, unwelcome. The only comfort and solitude to be found in a syringe.

As the police cleared the scene the baseball field was deemed ready for play the boy resumed his position in the outfield. Head held high. Future uncertain. For how long would it be until the drugs made their way into his home. From glove to glove box, bat to basement. Nothing was sacred. Not even the sports we play.