Perspective on a Crash + Burn episode

On a snowy Christmas Eve in Montreal, Quebec circa 1970, at the age of 15, I became what is known as a juvenile deliquent.

President Johnson's 1967 White House Christmas...

President Johnson’s 1967 White House Christmas card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember the snow; beautiful fat flakes falling steadily, coating the ground and making all the shoppers on St Catherine Street hustle more.  For once what was happening around me was moving at a speed equal to my own internal frantic pace.  Not only were the masses rushing about to finish their last minute Christmas shopping before the stores closed, they had to hurry before the pre-supper snow blocked their departure from downtown.

My hustle and bustle was nothing near as picturesque as theirs.  I was on the hunt for my suppliers of amphetamines.  I was nothing if not quick on the take only too happy to capitilize on the Christmas spirit that seemed to afflict everyone but me.  Even the street people seemed filled with the “giving spirit”, which is why I was there, searching for every pusher’s face to get my “gifts” and thank them for their generosity.

My pockets quickly filled, not only from the abundance of drugs I got but because they were pretty small pockets.  Even though it was winter, in the middle of what turned out to be record snowfall, I was dressed in my black jeans, thin fitted black jean jacket and my runners.  My standard look whenever I managed to hitchhike my way to the downtown area from my father’s home, which was about an hour away from downtown Montreal.

How many little Dexedrine tablets did I swallow?  Beats the hell out of me.  Many.  Too many.  How did I spend my evening once the stores were closed?  Again, beats me.  I remember nothing after that…

until the next morning.

I woke up, as usual, in a brain fog that was all too familiar, having lived with that morning brain fog every single day of my life.  That slightly disoriented feeling was comfortable too.  I always woke up feeling this way.

Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I was able to identify a small window high above, close to the high ceiling.  I could feel the hardness of the bed I was lying on. The scratchy thin blanket I was wrapped in.  I still had on all my clothes and my shoes.  I put my hand flat against the wall next to me.  It was cold and rough.  I could feel the cinder-block pattern.

Where the hell was I?!

I started hearing unfamiliar sounds;  keys rattling, doors clanging, shrill voices rising and falling from far away.  Those sounds approached me but I remained prone, eyes closed and unmoving.

I heard keys clinking against metal, louder this time, a squeaky metal door opening and someone talking.  I was there but not there…my mind floating away, full of questions about what was going on.

I finally felt someone touching me, shaking me roughly, urging me to get up, wake up, sharp voice rising to screeching porportions.


Nuns (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I jumped off my bed, landing directly in front of a nun in full habit wearing a comical expression of anger, dismay and a little bit of fear as she stepped involuntarily back from my sudden closeness.  Barely missing a beat, she shooed me towards a line of other young girls just outside the cell door.

A photograph of a cell block in the Wisconsin ...

A photograph of a cell block in the Wisconsin State Prison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


SHIT!  I was in some kind of weird prison.  Run by religious people?  What the hell was going on?

We were herded towards the washrooms, which resembled the room I just left, cold cinder-block walls, rows of tiny sinks to the left, toilet stalls to the right…not a mirror in sight.  Matter of fact, it was a weird public washroom.  Stuff was missing.  Other than the missing mirrors, there was nothing else on the walls that’s normally found in public washrooms.  Like something to hold the paper towels to dry your hands with. No hand dryer.  Just stacks of paper off to the sides of the sinks.   And in the toilet stall there was no toilet paper holder.  The toilet paper rolls were either sitting on floor or on the backs of the toilets.

photo of toilet seat

photo of toilet seat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once we were done doing our business we were pushed towards some sort of cafeteria…in an orderly line of course.  Lining up was expected of us.

I would not recognize a single face of a single person in that room.  I did not meet the eyes of anyone, not registering how anyone looked.  All I wanted was hot coffee and a smoke.  And where the hell were the rest of my stash?  Surely I didn’t swallow everything!!!

Once I had downed a couple cups of coffee, one standing up in front of the coffee pot, the other sitting at a long table with the other girls, I was ready for my smoke.  Of course there were no smokes.  There was a steady drone of voices though.  People talking to each other, fast and furious, in French, getting louder and louder as the seconds that felt like hours passed.

No sooner did I start to look around I was grabbed from behind by another nun and brought back to my cell.  She pushed me inside, slammed the door behind me and locked it bustling her fat ass away from me.  I paced to and fro in that cell, which was 8 steps long and 6 steps wide.  Other than the “bed”, which turned out to be just piece of wood attached to the cement wall with a thin mattress on it and the flattest pillow I ever saw, the room was empty.  I grabbed the piss poor excuse for a blanket, which was so thin I could practically see through it, and wrapped it around my shoulders.  I was freezing my ass off at this point.  And working myself into a most foul mood.  Pissed off actually.

How dare they treat me this way?!  Pushed and pulled, grabbed and ignored, I felt like an animal.  A caged animal.  I suddenly felt very sympathetic to the caged tiger in the zoo.

Angry cat

Angry cat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Actually, I was feeling very much like that pissed off caged tiger by the time another nun suddenly appeared in front of my cell, with some type of cop in tow.

Hey.  Today is Christmas.

Français : Lendemain de tempête de neige à Mon...

Français : Lendemain de tempête de neige à Montréal, rue de La Roche (Petite-Patrie) English: The day after a snowstorm in Montréal, rue de La Roche (Petite-Patrie) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

merry fuckin’ christmas to you.

(to be continued tomorrow and the following days…this is a long story)


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