PORTRAITS OF DETROIT: RAMIR OBABIE - PATRICIA ABBOTT
Ramir watched his father die in ’93, swearing he’d never touch the stuff. Not drugs, nor drink. The smell in Daddy’s room was enough to put him off. Daddy never got past Nam, talked about it for the next twenty-five years, dreamed about napalm, Agent Orange, rounds quickly jammed into a gun, jungle stuff. Hot sweaty nightmares, bone-chilling ones, waking everyone up with his moaning, yelling, thrashing. A bed board pounding the wall didn’t mean sex in the Obabie household. Daddy went to a Vet’s group once or twice, but no one down there encouraged his return. Tyrone was too damned angry for anyone to deal with. Except his wife—and not always her.
The three kids could hear Mama soothing Daddy in a sing-songy voice on those nights. “Gonna be alright, Baby. Gonna be alright.”
It wasn’t all right, though. Tyrone Obabie, who’d picked up the habit during his 1969 tour, cashed out because he couldn’t remember how much heroin he’d already put in his veins.
“Would’ve killed a horse,” the White Coat in the ER said.
“Maybe he wanted it that way,” Ramir’s older sister told White Coat in the corridor in her sassiest voice. She never was any good at dealing with men like him.
“Thirty years of drug use—should’ve done him in years ago.”
Ramir’s older sister had no quick comeback for that. White Coat turned his back on the Obabies.
“Your Daddy wasn’t meant to be a solider.” The children turned to look at Mama. Mama had never said a bad word about Ty, even if she was pretty much used-up by then. Was anyone meant for war, Ramir wanted to ask.
Ramir’s two sisters grew up to be school teachers—one teaching math in a community college. They married, even when nobody else was doing it. Had kids. Moved to Southfield—bought ranch houses with deep back lots that their husbands mowed on Saturdays. Put their father and his ranting and his drug use behind them. Helped their Mother out when she needed an extra twenty, a weekend away, a grandkid to hug.
Ramir—well nothing worked out the way he expected. Didn’t finish high school—even 11th grade—despite his sisters’ team-ragging him whenever they could. Him being the baby only got Ramir so far, and he was just a no-count drag on them eventually.
Mama—she finally tossed him out too— tired of finding his drug shit everywhere—scared of cars stopping outside the house late, sick of coming in from her job book-keeping at an auto parts supplier to find him unconscious on the sofa, weary of dialing 911, sitting by his hospital bed to see if he was gonna join his Daddy.
The only thing Ramir had going for him was his looks. Sometimes girls did tricks, then turned over the money. Not that he was a pimp. They did it without him asking—least most of the time. Put a ten or a twenty in his hand, stuck their hand down his pants. He put their hard-earned money in his nose or his vein. Had a girl out in Troy, white girl too, who earned a hundred dollars a pop. Fixed him up with a new dealer when his old one got sent to Wayne Country Correctional. Said this guy had some sweet stuff for him to try. Something new. Sheila, she was his favorite coochie all right. Took care of him good.
He did everything right, new needle, cleaned the vein, but that drug—that sweet stuff Sheila found—took him to another place, place he’d never been. Couldn’t move, couldn’t shout, couldn’t blink his eyes even. And eventually, he couldn’t breathe.
BIO: Patricia Abbott has published more than fifty stories in literary and crime fiction outlets. Check out more from Patti at Pattinase.