Drugs Used to ‘Help’ Instead of Hinder
S.Q. Lapius was polishing a long black stick capped by an ivory knob carved to the likeness of a bulldog.
“Where did you get that?” I asked admiring its pristine contours.
“I’ve had it for years. It’s a cane. I’ve resurrected it from an attic of stored relics.”
“Did you damage your foot? Has the gout returned?”
“Nothing like that, Harry. I decided that I needed a walking companion, for which, these days, there would seem to be nothing suitable than an old fashioned walking stick.”
“You are not hinting darkly that you intend to use it as a weapon, are you?” I asked suspiciously.
“Yes Harry, but for defense only, mind you.”
“That seems extreme, doesn’t it?”
“Does it. It’s better than carrying a sword, which is what people will
probably be arming themselves with if the city continues to be dangerous.”
“What brought on this sudden concern for your safety?”
“Gautier. He was felled by some drug-crazed felon. Whacked on the noggin and robbed.”
“Is he okay?”
“Of course he is okay. Gautier is a lawyer, a breed noted for their steel-trap minds, skulls that can be penetrated by nothing less than amour piercing shells. But nonetheless he suffers occasional headaches and bright lights dance before his eyes although he says they are becoming dimmer.”
“It’s a terrible state of affairs,” I admitted.
“Of course it is. The government ought to start dealing with the drug epidemic in a more realistic manner. You know, if they would look into it instead of running away from it, some good might come of their investigations.”
“What would you suggest?”
“For starters, the pragmatic approach of the English seems to have a borne fruit. They give heroin to drug addicts. They have centers where addicts can get their fixes, for nothing.”
“That doesn’t cure the addicts, it perpetuates their habit.”
“Yes but it keeps them off the streets, relieves them of the burden of having to steal enough money to buy their drugs, and thereby reduces the crime rate.”
“Don’t you think a program like that is sort of giving a stamp of approval to drug addiction. It might even spread the habit.”
“On the contrary. The habit has spread anyway. But it does take the traffic in drugs out of criminal hands. Of course they should go one step further, which would be to provide sanitaria for the addicts. Nice places in warm climates where they could take their fixes and repose under the shade trees and meditate.”
“No government is going to pamper drug addicts; reward them for their dereliction.”
“Of course not, Harry. But it’s a good idea and would get them off the streets. As society became more civilized, pedestrians sheathed their swords, hid them in canes, carried canes only, and finally dispensed with walking sticks altogether. The trend seems to be reversing, and we are going to our weapons again. Besides, if the governments stopped acting as if they were so afraid of drugs, they might be able to use them to good advantage. Once they could be dispensed legally to addicts, some might be used medically.”
“But we do use them medically.”
“Mainly for pain, Harry. But it occurs to me that the use might be extended to mental anguish.”
“We have tranquilizers, don’t we?”
“Yes,” Lapius mussed. “But I was thinking of drugs like LSD and its like, which might be offered in some controlled form to the hopelessly ill, the slowly dying patients, whose bleak lives must cause nothing but daily repetitions of mental anguish.”
“You mean make drug addicts of the chronically ill?”
“Well, offer them the opportunity, anyway.”
“But Simon, you will be robbing them of their free will, their freedom of expression. You will be obtunding their minds. You will deprive them of the opportunity to come to an agreement with death, to accommodate their morality.”
“Perhaps. But on the other hand it might simply hasten the religious experience, do away with fear and self-pity, bring them to realms of mind-expansion they never knew existed before. After all, Holmes sniffed cocaine, DeQuincy, Coleridge, and possibly Byron, perhaps even the young Chatterton, were under the influence of laudanum when they wrote their most inspired works. Why not offer these pleasures to patients who are the unwilling prisoners of paralysis, bed-fast arthritics, the victims of injury and neuromuscular wasting who realistically can hope for no release other than death.
By God, we’re cruel,” Lapius expostulated. “We put them into the sterile, managed atmosphere of nursing homes where they are ministered by strangers, and even deny them a simple dreamy pleasures of alcohol. We do this for our loved ones, consider how we would treat our enemies.”
Lapius had finished polishing his walking stick. He brandished it in the air and took a few practice swings. “There, that seems suitable. No one will threaten me tonight, not while I have this with me. See you later.”
“Are you going to take a walk?”
“Of course not, Harry. Call me a cab, like a good fellow.”