Scott has the straps of his book bag in his right hand, lifts the bag, and loops it over his arm and onto his shoulder and part of his back. He then walks way out of the ER to the sliding doors leading to the parking lot. Once through the doors, he will wind his way around the parked cars to the left and down a short hill, taking him to Traders Park.
The park gets its name from the paintings on the low walls forming each of the four tennis courts. The painted depictions include carpenter, bricklayer, coach driver and, blacksmith. All these trades did exist back when his hometown came to be, but none are the heart of the town. This title belongs to the train station. Its trains have taken people across the state and up to New York for more than a century.
And it still holds on as the heart of Fanwood despite most people in town and others touching it, reaching their destination by cars over the train. So the ones who make use of the train station’s station outside of the ticket machine and trains are the homeless and addicts because they have bathrooms and old showers.
The train station workers do not like the messes some leave behind, but mostly they get left alone. It is not always the case in the trees behind various businesses when those too far gone mentally or from drugs live. And who will make their way out to raid the garbage containers for something to eat. The cops get called, and it’s either a few days in jail or a drive to a shelter.
For others like Scott, who barely holds onto an apartment with three buddies, the wooded area down a steep hill next to a bridge to the left of the train station is a place to hang out. The place where they can be around others without being seen with ease. Sure they can’t stay in the area for hours on end or even live in tents or inside of a giant cardboard box like a small number do because the cops will get called to clear them out. However, during certain times this area is safe to be.
cott plops down on the ground near a red-headed guy wearing a motor oil-stained red shirt and blue jeans who is smoking pot. His hands have motor oil that brings out the whirls and lines. Silently he takes the roach cigarette from his lips and offers it to Scott, who takes a few puffs then hands it back. The red-headed guy holds the roach cigarette between his right forefinger and thumb and says, “I heard you had a close call this morning.”
“Yeah… I should have stayed in Ocean City. I could have called Tyler instead of seeing him in person.”
“Hey, he is your brother. He has surgery, and you want to see him through it.”
“I could have called him. Instead, I choose to come home, and the nice reunion quickly has the daggers come out. My Mom, Ryan, Dad, and Lilly; yes, they have concern for Tyler, but boy did they get into it. How could you let him play rugby? His knee gets torn up, and he has to have surgery. Shame, on you Frank and Sheila, for not warning him about this sport. Geez, like Tyler is still a kid and not a nineteen-year-old. Then they turn to me and my supposed issues and the drugs. It got under my skin, and let them have it. I told them to butt out of our lives and let us live them. Poor choice of words. It led to an intervention of all things like I have a problem. I left before it was over and went to Jo’s apartment. Things got better for a few days. No family around, then I partied a bit hard yesterday that led to this morning.”
“Now that you are all better, you want to head back to Ocean City, but you need a little help.”
“Yes, I do not need not much $40 will do it.”
“I can float you the money, Scott. All I ask is you cut back on the degree you party for a while.”
“Why? So I pushed it a bit far. Yet here I am.”
“True, you are here.”
“I know you care. I will be okay. It’s just a phase that will be over soon. Look at you, got through your phase.”
“Yes, I did. I want to be just sure you have the chance to as well.”