Years ago I had a friendly co-worker named [fake name] Joey C. He was ex-Navy, older than I, loved women, and made funny crude jokes. He seemed very enthusiastic about his work, and since I was a wide-eyed young supervisor at the time, I liked him, and never thought he had a dark side. I was friendly with his daughter, who also worked with us, and everything seemed cool.
One day he invited me over his house because his wife was celebrating her birthday party, and a whole bunch of people were there, mostly Latino. For some reason that seemed so innocent then, but painfully obvious now, Joey didn’t have a car available that day, and needed transportation from work to his house (we were working Saturday overtime).
However, on the way to his house, Joey asked me to make a little detour- no questions asked. He didn’t give me an address: he was giving me directions on the fly like “turn here” and “go up to Powerline”.
I saw the neighborhoods were taking a turn for the worse, especially for two white guys in a white Geo Metro, so I made some jokes about our destination, but Joey just quickly laughed it off, and provided no further details.
It was then I realized something wasn’t right, and I’d better keep quiet.
Under his direction, I pulled up in front of (what should have been a condemned) apartment building. I saw loose dogs, little black kids running around in front of an open fire hydrant, and black men riding kid’s bicycles.
Joey seemed to know this place very well, as he got of the car he said, “I’ll be out soon”. My heart was pumping now. What’s going on? Is he really…? Maybe it’s a woman…(this was before craigslist). Yeah, I was scared to be alone in a parked car in this place.
Perhaps 15 long minutes later he came out, all smiles, with a brown paper bag.
“Thanks, bro!” he chirped.
He was talking pretty fast and was back to his old self. At the party, I kinda lost track of him. He was usually behind closed doors in his bedroom or bathroom.
We never talked about it ever. But I suspect Joey C. has a crack addiction because he began to miss work, owed co-workers hundreds of dollars, and never answered his phone. Even his daughter was AWOL. I hope Joey C got the help he needed to stop using drugs.