aa034411.jpgYoung Latroy has a problem. As he stares out of his window, with a basketball in hand, ‘Troy (as his family calls him), fondly imagines a world in which he could go in and out the house and into the streets and be a normal kid.

Play some ball. Spend the night over one of his buddies’ crib. Go to Six Flags. Hit on girls. Whatever. Anything but being chained to the interior of a dilapidated shelter, dealing with the steady influx of male visitors, coming to do God-knows-what. Troy tried reaching out to a third-party, but he stopped after two people: his dad and his grandmother. He didn’t want to tell anybody else because he didn’t want to embarrass his mother any further than she was embarrassing herself.

To say that he desperately wants to get out of that environment is a massive understatement. Not only is the situation diminishing to his spirit, but it’s perplexing too. Last week, he walked into his mother’s room and saw something odd: a razor next to something white. He wondered what the white powdery substance was in his mother’s room, at first thinking it was sugar, then salt, but settled on spilled baby powder.

He is nine years old. What does he know?

But on this day, as he stares out of the window, there is no one out there. Just trees and a company of rickety homes that makes his home look like the model home in the neighborhood. To compound matters, it was Saturday. Saturday to a child is like payday to an adult; only today this adult wasn’t getting paid and like so, this child wasn’t having any sort of fun. In fact, he was depressed. A nine year old who is depressed: what are the odds?

As sullenness further set in, Troy’s sister, Brianna comes sauntering in the room, after several attempts of getting her mom to arise from her slumber. It was going on 1 p.m., and the two siblings have seen no hint of daylight (other than the view out of the window), for the fourth Saturday in a row. For things weren’t always this bad, only since the divorce between the children’s father and mother. The courts, being the courts, granted custody to the mother without even acknowledging or realizing that the mother was too “unkempt and f’d up” – as Troy overheard his grandma say – to keep her kids.”

So now, nearing the end of the first month of staying with their mother exclusively, Troy and Bri’ have seen some of the dregs of society – though they didn’t know it, they were quite naïve and innocent, plus Brianna was only seven – come in and out of the house consistently. Luckily this didn’t affect their schoolwork, for they both were exceptionally bright and eager learners. In fact, this only forced them to embrace school activities, for the more time spent in school, the less time spent at home.

Troy often wondered the effect that this would have on his sister, so he kept her heavily guarded at all times during company (Bri’ denies anything happening to her while with her mom. Troy suspects otherwise).

“Let’s go up the street and use Ms. Mack phone,” said Troy, “and call grandma and tell her to pick us up.” Troy wasn’t really asking, he knew his sister would do whatever he said. Why not, he was all she had – when dad was not around. Troy wanted to call his father, but he knew he couldn’t or his dad might go to jail. Though young, Troy knew what the terms “full custody” meant. No daddy, not anytime soon.

As the two put on their clothing to head – more like sneak – out the house, their mother clairvoyantly comes charging into the room.

“Where are y’all going?!”

“Nowhere. We are just going outside to get some fresh air,” said Troy.

“Naw, come back in. NOW!”

And with that, Troy and Bri dutifully comes in the house and takes off their coats. It was amazing how their mother had this radar of knowing when to burst in the room, for this wasn’t their first time pulling this stunt. The first time resulted in a bevy of slaps to the face, which resulted in blood for Troy and a bruise for Bri’ (Troy always got the worse of mom’s beatings). This, however, didn’t stop them from trying the escape again. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. But Troy is nine, what should he know about desperation?

——————

Sitting in the living room later that day, staring at the cable-less tube, Troy hears a loud sniffing noise coming from his mother’s room. He dismissed it as his mom fighting a cold or something. Another sniff followed, followed by a cackling cough. By this time, Bri is fast asleep on the couch next to Troy. Troy was watching the Braves play on TBS, which meant that a fire alarm wouldn’t be able to tear him away from that couch. Commercial came, and Troy went back to the bedroom to check if everything was cool.

“Ma, is everything ok?” he asked.

“Yes, baby, e’rything’s cool,” said his mom, in her sleep. It was then, when Troy realized the source of the sniffing and coughing – and it wasn’t because of a cold. Dropping his head to that source, he went over to the plate with the razor and unknown white material on it, and carried it off to the kitchen and flushed it down the sink. The razor, he threw in the trash.

His mom, comatose to the world, would not find out about it for another few hours. But Troy’s life, following his great enlightenment, would never be the same.

There are many LaTroys and Briannas out here, who are realizing at too early an age the results of drug abuse. This leaves the LaTroys and Briannas to fend for themselves at too early an age. Far too often, the stories of Latroy and Brianna are left untold. Untold stories equals unsolved problems.

  • Ashley B.

    Unfortunately, that’s real life for sooo many little black kids. The media never tells it, so no one really cares. Well, thanks for telling it, you’ve just inspired me to action.

  • http://www.tyramade.etsy.com Tyra D.

    I, like this fictional LaTroy, “discovered” my own father’s addiction when I was very young. I remember looking quizzically at needles laying around in my parent’s bedroom or in the bathroom. Later, I would get confirmation from him after sitting in his lap and noticing a succession of brown spots (which I now know were tracks) on his arm. Being close to my father, I asked him what the spots were, and he told me the truth. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it wasn’t a good thing. Even later, the truth would literally meet me head on when I walked into the kitchen while my father was shooting up. I saw the needle in his arm and a distorted look on his face. And yes, like little LaTroy, my childhood was changed forever.

  • tremaine

    This story needed to be told. Most of us (children of addicts) grow up to be achievers, successful, with a willingness to learn and a drive no one can kill. It’s sad that not too many people are willing to fight a good fight for the children involved; it’s almost always better to be the outsider and *hope* and *pray* things get better. Great article.

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