Newspaper Archive of
Catholic Northwest Progress
Seattle, Washington
December 14, 1962     Catholic Northwest Progress
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December 14, 1962

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lost sheep here were fantastic, eerie things--howling and writhing grotesquely. There were enormous hideous beings and blobs of deep purple, -sombre black, sickening green, and putrid yellow. There were disfigured and mutilated remnants of human beings if one could recognize them as such. There were large seas- foaming and twisting and hissing in their murky depths. And suddenly there was a vio- lent earthquake and the ground opened up to a great abyss and there was a sound as of someone calling, weakly calling from somewhere in the depth below. Charlie Rucker awoke with a start. He blinked his eyes at the unaccustomed brightness. "No junkies in here, buddy. You'll have to get out," said a harsh voice and some unknown form grabbed Charlie by the collar of his coat and pushed him roughly out the door. He responded meekly. The flashlight that had been shone cruelly in his face had transformed his eyes into fiery balls burning fiercely in his skull. His head felt like a sledge hammer had just crushed it in. He felt sick--mentally, physi- cally, and emotionally. And that he was. For Charlie Rucker was an addict--and a confirmed one. l Alone In The Cold Night He stumbled down the stairs outside of the door from which he was so mercilessly cast. He groped his way along a dark alley full of old newspapers and rubbish, and started teetering down the lonely street. A startling gust of icy wind pierced him pitilessly as he turned the corner onto the street and, as he drew his threadbare coat tighter, he shuddered. He had no idea where he was. As he trudged alone, however, his thoughts recollected themselves a little. He remembered going into the rat-infested fire trap nauseated and sick with every symptom an addict displays when in need of the "stuff." Charlie knew a pusher lived there--a dirty, greasy little man with gigantic eyes made more noticeable behind a pair of thick lenses. Charlie had grouped his way up the stairs, had knocked the special knock at the door, and had purchased a small bit of heroin ' from him. Forced TO Leae The pusher was no fiend himself--simply handled the stuff and encouraged newcomers to the habit. He always got a rather morbid pleasure in seeing people who badly needed his frightful medicine. But Charlie had no time to waste study- ing the peculiar character of the little man. In his anguish, his tormented mind was set intently on one objective: heroin. Not even bothering to inject it (though he would have felt the results faster had he done it,) he simply raised the "precious" stuff to his parched lips and gulped it down. He felt his way down the stairs and fell drunkenly at the bottom. It was the accursed pusher that had forced him to take leave. Heard Christmas Carols As Charlie wandered down the street, he could hear the children running up and down from house to house singing Christmas carols, for it was Christmas Eve. As he walked along, Charlie's feeble mind wandered back just one year earlier on Christmas Eve. Charlie and his wife and two-year-old son had been driv- ing to her parents' home for Christmas. Suddenly, from out of the dense falling snow, there loomed a gigantic truck out of control on the icy pavement. Charlie had spun the steering wheel sharply left, but it was too late. Everything had gone black. When Charlie had awakened the next morning -- Christmas day--his good friends Dr. Mitchell and Father John had been standing over him. He had known immediately what had happened to his wife and child and he moaned in ;,.; despair. During the next year, Charlie had been completely lost. He had become drunk the day he had been released from the hospital. There, in some obscure tavern, a haven for derelicts and addicts, he had begun the "habit" with a couple of reefers. ! ............................... ' t ............................................ ] / :,I Northwest . ember 14, 1962 The marquana had a startqing effect on him, t eased his pain, and took away his feelings. It was exactly what he wanted. No Way Out A few weeks later he had tried heroin  first in tiny capsules but gradually in large doses taken introvenously. He had been intitiated into the habit. And there had been no way out. For Charlie had not only lost his feelings, but he had lost his soul. He had lost his job. He had lost his friends, except a few close ones. Father John had warned him time and again of the evils and he had tried to help Charlie but with no avail. Dr. Mitchell had recommended him to a hospital but he had refused and had lost himself amid the throngs of their crowded city. He had lost all contact with decent human life. He had completely stopped going to Mass and receiving the Sacraments. As he wandered along reflecting, he had absently returned to his old neighborhood. He had not traversed those old streets for some time. He ambled along glimpsing Christmas trees and packages and hearing the laughter and caroling. He drifted along like a lost sheep as the evening wore on. Not until two months ago had he resorted to petty theft to get the money for his habit. He looked around desperately for some source of income: a small store, perhaps, or a lady with a purse. Finding none after a half hour's search. Charlie began to become worried. His stomach pains were increasing steadily. All the stores, however, were closed and every pedestrian had deserted the streets because it was Christmas Eve. Charlie heard the sound of church bells. He hastened his pace and soon found himself entering his old parish church, intent on some special purpose. Church Was Deserted Inside, it was deserted. A few candles burned on the altar, which was bedecked with flowers for the coming midnight Mass. Charlie glanced around fearfully. Seeing no one, he ambled bravely up the center aisle, opened the gate which led to the altar, and paused. He recalled bitterly the last time he had been at this very spot--on his wife's and his wedding day. All was changed now. But, oh the ghosts that haunted him ! This was only a brief pause, however, for Charlie's acute pains were almost unbearable now. He focused his bleary eyes on the altar, approached it, and stood gazing at it. The gold tabernacle and candlesticks glittered temptingly before him. He knew a miserly old pawnbroker who was so frugal he surely would pawn some things for Charlie torfight, even though it was Christmas Eve. And, furthermore, he would ask no questions. With one simple, quick little theft, Charlie could have enough money to buy drugs for the remainder of the week. As for next week . . . well, he could think of crossing that bridge when he came to it. He stood gazing motionlessly. A strange sensation passed through him as the flickering candlelight played on the large, exquisitely carved wooden crucifix, on the delicate features of the statue of Our Lady, and on the robust figure of St. Joseph. The charming face of the Christ Child in the large manger to the right seemed to communicate to him some meaningful secret message. Charlie felt suddenly strong. He genuflected deeply and made a large, grand sign of the cross. And with superhuman will he turned his heel and walked back down the center aisle. At the exit he encountered his old pastor, Father John. With one mighty sob of relief, Charlie fell senselessly in a swoon at the feet of the priest. Father immediately called Dr. Mitchell. And hence it was that on the eve of the birth of the Good Shepherd, a lost sheep was found, pulled out of the depths of the pit of despair, and once again embraced into the fold. And the little Christ Child in the manger beamed in happiness as though rejoicing over the rebirth of another sacred soul. Mary Mclnerney, a 15-year-old junior at Aquin- as High School, Tacoma, comes to the Pacific North- west by way of Germany where her father, Lt. Col. H. B. Mclnerney, was last stationed. Now at Fort Lewis. the McInerney family which includes a brother at Bellarmine and a sister in the fourth grade, has lived in Oklahoma City, where :Mary was born, Texas and Louisiana. i