So, it was yesterday that Ashley Grimes OD’d, and Richard Donkle found an oxycodone tablet in the family room where his kid and his friends hung out. It looked like the opioid epidemic had invaded Happy Meadows. The next evening about 9 o’clock I was home, chilling, and the phone rang. Mike answered the phone and I heard him say that no, it wasn’t too late, and that fine, come on over and we can talk.
A few minutes later the doorbell rang and Mike opened the door to let in, guess who, Richard Donkle.
“Please come in,” said Mike. “I made some coffee. How do you like it?”
“Oh, thanks very much,” said Richard. “Cream and sugar if you have it.”
He extended his hand. “We’ve seen each other around but I’ve never introduced myself,” he said. “I’m Richard Donkle. You can call me Donk.”
“Mike Gordon,” Mike replied. “I’ve never called anybody Donk before, at least, not to their face. It might come out as Richard.”
“I will answer to either,” said Richard.
Mike led him into the family room, offered him a seat, and returned shortly with 2 coffees. You might think I should describe Richard a little more, in terms of how he was dressed, his general appearance, and so on, but in fact, I don’t pay much attention to that sort of thing. You’ll just have to use your own imagination. That might be more fun anyway.
“I want to talk to you because of your expertise in substance abuse,” said Richard. “No doubt you’ve heard about Ashley Grimes overdosing yesterday.”
“Yes I did,” replied Mike. “I understand that she survived and will be going into treatment.”
“I have heard the same thing,” said Richard. “I am here in 2 capacities. As president of the HOA, I have an interest in the general welfare of the people in the neighborhood. I would like to know if you have any ideas about what we can do as a neighborhood to address the problem with drugs which we obviously have right here in Happy Meadows. I’m also here as a father. I found this pill in my family room last night.”
Richard handed the tablet to Mike. He had it in a small vial. Mike took a look at it.
“Oxycodone 30 mg,” said Mike. “You say you found it in your family room?”
“Yes,” Richard replied. “Ashley Grimes is a good friend of my son’s girlfriend, Hallie. They come over frequently. It appears that they do drugs at my house. I have to tell you that I am very concerned about this, and especially concerned about what my son might have gotten himself involved in. Of course he said that he hasn’t used drugs himself when I confronted him with this tablet.”
“It is never their tablet,” said Mike. “It’s always somebody else’s. So, how can I help you?”
“I would like advice on what to do about making sure that Richie is not using drugs,” said Richard. “I already went to the store and bought a drug test and had him take it. He tested negative.”
“It would probably be a good idea for you to have him evaluated by someone who is an expert in this area,” said Mike. “How old is Richie?”
“Nineteen,” said Richard. “Almost 20.”
“Is he in school?” Asked Mike.
“He’ll be starting his 2nd year at Georgia Tech,” said Richard. “He is a business major.”
“I see,” said Mike. “Have you noticed any unusual behaviors that he has demonstrated or anything else that you have been concerned about regarding Richie?”
“Not really,” said Richard. “But I now realize that a hell of a lot can be going on in my house that I don’t know the first thing about. I wonder if you could talk to Richie and let me know what you think. I would really appreciate it.”
“It might be better if I stay on the sidelines and not get directly involved,” said Mike. “I think I could be more helpful to you that way. With us living in the same neighborhood I can see some conflict of interest developing that could interfere with open communication between Richie and myself. I don’t want to appear to him to be acting on your behalf. I would rather be supportive in an informal sort of way. But I can recommend a very good doctor for him to see. Dr. Rebecca Kingsley is an addiction medicine specialist and colleague of mine. You can rely on the quality of her evaluation and what she might have to say.”
“I’m disappointed that you don’t want to see Richie,” said Richard.
“It’s not that I don’t want to see him,” replied Mike. “It’s just that I have a good sense that I can be more helpful working from the sidelines. I hope that you can trust my judgment in this.”
“So, how do I reach this Dr. Kingsley?” Asked Richard.
“I’ll text you her office number,” said Mike. “Also, with your permission I will call her tomorrow and give her a heads up about what’s going on.”
“I would appreciate that very much,” said Richard. “Can we talk about the neighborhood matter sometime soon?”
“Absolutely,” said Mike. “I think it’s a great idea to have a community-wide approach to dealing with the opioid problem. And people haven’t quit drinking either. I’m aware that there is a great deal of alcoholism afoot in Happy Meadows.”
Richard seemed to relax a little, took a sip of coffee, and looked around the room. That was when he noticed me for the first time. “Well, hello Sambo,” he said, “What are you doing here?”
Mike appeared startled. “This is our cat, Black Magic,” he said. “Has he been visiting you?”
Richard smiled. “Yes he has, a welcome visitor. He comes over fairly often for a dish of cream and to bully my dogs.”
“Really?” Mike responded.
“Well,” said Richard, “he had to bully them only once. Now they give him plenty of space.” He finished his coffee. “I shouldn’t keep you, I know it’s getting late. Thanks for your time and your help.”
They both got up and walked back to the kitchen. They put their cups in the sink, and Mike walked Richard to the front door. They shook hands.
“Thanks again,” said Richard.
“No problem at all,” Mike replied. “Let’s talk again in a few days.”
“Definitely,” said Richard as he left. Before he left he glanced over at me. “So long, Sambo,” he said.
Mike closed the door and looked at me. “Cream? Really? Cream?”
I stared at him for a minute and then looked away. Mike headed upstairs, at the same time calling to Judy, “Judy, you won’t believe what Black Magic has been up to.”