Ben was a life-saver. He took on Donny's troubles as if they belonged to Benjamin alone. It also helped that Ben knew the lady issuing the housing referrals at the YMCA.
"How ya been, Nancy?" Ben asks with a disarming smile.
"Oh, can't complain," Nancy says, "how can I help you gentlemen?"
Nancy is a bit flirtatious with Ben. The 40ish year old woman was nothing buy smiles when talking to Ben. She kept biting on her pen incessantly, and arching her back. Donny is mildly amused. The lady was okay-looking, wearing a pale green blouse and matching skirt. Her tits were big, but they had to be saggy, considering her age. Whether Ben was aware of the infatuation or not, Donny did not know, but the charm was poured on pretty thick.
"My friend here is in a bad predicament," Ben says, motioning to Donny, "he's been on the street for many years, and he needs assistance."
"Have you applied for housing here before?" Nancy asks, wiggling her mouse so her computer will turn on.
"Yes," Donny says, "I filled out an app out a few days ago."
Nancy asks for his name and Donny gives it. Nancy begins typing. After a few attempts at opening her computer program, she tsks in aggravation.
"I'm sorry," she states, "my computer is running a bit slow. Please bear with me."
Minutes scrape by in agonizing slowness. Nancy shakes her head.
"I apologize," she says, "but my computer has apparently decided to lock up on me. I'll need to restart it."
"Can you let me take a look at it?" Ben asks helpfully, "I'm a certified repair technician, and network administrator."
"Knock yourself out," Nancy says, pushing her chair away from the desk. Ben steps behind the monitor and begins to work his magic.
"Geez," Ben says playfully, "this computer is positively ancient!!"
"Tell me about it!!" Nancy concurs, "we got these machines 3 years ago, and they've been slowing down steadily since then."
"Have you ever thought about doing an upgrade?" Ben asks innocently, "it just so happens that I also sell computers for a living."
Donny admires the subtleness of Ben's approach.
"We haven't been approved for our yearly budget yet," Nancy says, "those pinheads in Washington D.C are really grating on my nerves!!"
"Well, it looks like you don't have enough memory to run your programs efficiently," Ben says, "but I think I can fix that."
Ben commandeers the mouse and begins going into menus, and making changes.
"You could allocate a larger amount of virtual memory," Donny suggests, "that way you can use more of the hard-drive as RAM."
"My thoughts exactly," Ben says absently, as he makes the proper adjustments.
Nancy takes her reading spectacles off and studies Donny.
"Are you into computers also, Mr. Grieves?" she asks.
"Yup," Donny says, with pride, "I actually used to work with Ben here. He was my boss, for awhile."
"That's great," Nancy says, "we have job placement services here. Computers are a great field to have experience in. We should be able to help land you a job, no problem."
Ben continues making little noises to himself, as he continues scouring the computers resources.
"I see the system could use a defragmantation as well," Ben says.
Nancy stares at him with blank-face.
"I have no idea what that means," nancy says with a nervous laugh, "we don't have an IT person here right now, as of late."
Ben grins even wider. He makes eye-contact with Donny. Although Donny is weak, and the comedown has now begun, he smiles at Ben.
"I know how frustrating it can be, when your computer doesn't work," Donny says with effort, "I used to go on service calls with Ben, to our corporate clients."
"Really?" Nancy says, while nodding, "sounds okey-dokey. Can I ask what happened that made you homeless?"
"Drugs." Donny says matter-of-factly.
"In my profession, I see a lot of that," Nancy says, "I think there's a direct correlation to it."
"Yes, indeed," Donny says, and stares at his lap. It was difficult to be this open with a stranger. He was climbing the walls, all strung out and wrong in the head. He didn't even really get a long high from the injection. There was the initial wave of feeling, but then he passed out. The Narcan canceled out the drug, and Donny was steadily sliding downward.
"What steps are you trying to make, for sobriety?" Nancy asks.
"I've made arrangements to be put on welfare," Donny says "in order to cover the costs of the clinic each month,"
"Unfortunately, a lot of people can relate to your situation right now," Nancy says, "things are getting bad for many folks."
"Yeah, 10% unemployment," Ben says, jumping into the conversation, "I just need to restart the computer now."
"Right," Nancy says, "one out of every 10 people in a room don't have work."
"Yikes," Donny utters, "that's not good."
"OKay, everything should be ready." Benjamin states, going back around the desk to sit down.
"Okay, what's it doing now?" Nancy asks uncertainly, "there's something happening!!"
"I set it to disc check automatically," Ben says, "just wait a few seconds to check the scratch drive."
They sit in silence as the computer does it's thing.
"sectors scanned," Nancy says, reciting the message onscreen that pops up,"3 errors found and corrected."
"That's good," Ben says, "it's fixed some of the problems."
"Now its," nancy says, pausing, "defragmenting disk?"
"Right, you can pause that for now, though," Ben says, "just click on the 'pause' tab."
"Where's that?" Nancy asks.
Ben quickly gets up and clicks the proper box.
"Oh, it's so much faster!!" Nancy squeals with delight, as she tries out her system. Now, her properly-running computer pulls up Donny's info in no time.
"I have your application here," Nancy says, "but I think you should also fill out our forms for those with addictive lifestyles, too."
"Okay," Donny says, "but right now I don't have an address. So I can't get any letters."
"We can put down my address," Ben says, "you can crash at my pad for a little while. At least, until a place opens up here."
Good ole Benjamin Masters. There never was a kinder fellow. Well, Greg, maybe.
"I also wanted to mention," Donny says, "that like I said before, I can teach a small workshop for people to learn about computers. I heard some folks here needed some skills training in order to get a job."
"Oh, I remember somebody mentioning that," Nancy says, "now that you said something, I was planning it out."
"I'll do whatever it takes," Donny says bluntly, "in order to help someone else. I was told if I contributed to someone getting a job, it could better my chances at getting shelter here."
"Well, you should talk to John Kiefer," Nancy says, "he's the one that was needing the training. He was applying for a managerial position at an insurance company. He has an expense account as a perc for working there. So, if he gets the job, he can move out right away."
Nancy pulls out a post-it-note and scribbles some information.
"Here's his room number, 301," Nancy says, "third floor. He really needs the training because, as I understand it, the insurance company has rigorous requirements for their database system. He needs at least intermediate computer knowledge to get past their training scenarios."
Not wanting to wait another day, Donny stops by 301. He knocks repeatedly, but no one is there. Donny writes a note and tapes it to the door. Their correspondence would continue, hopefully. Donny leaves Ben's cell number for contacting purposes.
With at least some of their ducks in a row, they then proceeded over to the Methadone clinic. It was all the way on the opposite side of Cedar Rapids, but Ben and Donny had a grand time, joking and talking. Donny continually brought up the aspects of Greg's good character. He wanted to reinforce Ben's opinion that the Pawn and Payday could be a contributor to success.
What it came down to was that the clinic needed money to provide services. It was true that Donny had applied for welfare, but in the meantime, he had to pay to play.
Ben stepped up and wrote a check for $300, to get Donny's first dose. Benjamin does so without hesitation. If ever there were a saint, it had to be his pal and former boss Ben.
The methadone was mixed with Tang, and had an orangey color. It tasted vaguely fruity as Donny swallowed it down. He had heard other bums on the street talk of methadone. They called it "liquid handcuffs". This name was applied because once a user gets on methadone, they must continually take it throughout their life. It was similar to Oxy in that way, because there was also methadone withdrawal. The bums stated getting off of methadone was even harder than OC, and sometimes the withdrawal might kill a guy. If someone is on methadone for 30 years they are not coming off. It is just part of their daily routine from then on.
Donny wasn't worried about making it a part of his life. It was legal now for him to take it. It wasn't "state-sponsored addiction" like they said in the movies. The doctor described it as a supplementing for what his body required. Donny was looking to build his life back up, and routine was needed. If he had to suck down a yucky liquid twice a week or so, he would do it without deliberating. It was what could take him off the street, for good.
Donny was feeling loads better. The methadone had a long half-life, and had yet to plateau. Being his first dose, the effects were even stronger. There was no real high, only the alleviation of the dope sickness. This truly was medicine, good and proper.
"Not bad, dude," Donny says with a strained grin, "we've got quite a bit accomplished today. I'm set for a month now, and should be able to help this Kiefer dude out, to get a job."