Gerry's apartment was upstairs from a downtown restaurant we all used to hang out at. One night, around midnight, me and Gerry were sitting outside on the steps that led up to his place. We were both stoned and drinking beer in paper bags. We were talking about the latest Sabbath album, comparing it to earlier albums and debating whether or not it was a good or bad thing that they'd started using more keyboards. We noticed a guy stumbling up the street toward us. As he got closer I realized that I recognized him. When I was a kid there had been a small church in my neighborhood. It was always empty through the week, but on Sundays these yokels from the countryside would drive into town, file into their church, and proceed to sing songs and scream things like "praise the lord!" and "Satan, get thee behind me" and a bunch of other stuff. The guy stumbling up the street had been one of their kids about the same age as me. We'd assumed he was drunk when we first spotted him, but as he got close we could see that he was white as a sheet. He was holding his right forearm. We asked if he was OK, but his eyes were all glassy and he just gaped at us. He stumbled and had to let go of his arm to grab a parking meter to keep from falling down. Blood started gushing from his other arm as he did that, and he fell to his knees. Somebody'd cut him pretty badly. We took him to the hospital in Gerry's beat up old VW, but Gerry bitched for weeks about the bloodstains on the seats.
He's 15 and it's only a few days before he starts high school. It's a Friday night, and he's sitting in an alley between a couple of dumpsters. He's drunk. He'd poured a little bit of booze from each of the bottles in his old man's liquor stash into a plastic Coke container and smuggled it out of the house. He's been here for a couple of hours now, drinking the booze, smoking cigarettes, and thinking about things. A couple of guys walk into the alley to take a piss and they notice him. They see his bottle and tell him to hand it over. He tells them to fuck off. They beat the shit out of him. He wakes up in jail.
Gerry was a terrible driver, and driving anywhere with him behind the wheel was generally a white-knuckle ride into terror. I say "generally" because when Gerry was on the glue he drove like a little old lady out for a Sunday drive. One night me and a couple of buddies arrived at Gerry's place for an evening of drinking and getting high (and, of course, listening to Black Sabbath, although Gerry had been a bit "out of sorts" since Ozzy had quit the band). When we arrived Gerry seemed a bit tense. He said he was going out for smokes, but that we should go in and hang out until he got back. We understood that he must have run out of glue, and that he was going out to pick some up. Apparently, on his way to the hardware store Gerry hit a woman with his car while she was crossing the street. The woman was killed instantly. None of us ever saw Gerry again.
He's 16 and it's been a few months since he quit school. It's the middle of the day, it's hot, and he's completely fucked up. He's sitting on the steps that lead up to some apartments above a downtown restaurant that he and his friends hang out at. He's just thrown up all over the steps and the sidewalk. People walking by are looking at him with disgust. He's studying the needle mark on his arm and the puke all over his sneakers and jeans, and wondering if he's ever felt this bad. He sees a shadow approach and stop in front of him. He looks up into the face of some old guy with a concerned look on his face. The geezer stares at him for a moment and then tells him that he lives upstairs and asks him if he wants to go up and get cleaned up. He lets the old guy lead him up the stairs.
"What's your name, kid?" he asks. He tells him his name.
"OK, cool. I'm Gerry... You like Sabbath?"