Portsmouth Ohio – once known for making things (steel – shoes – bricks) is now known for drugs and labeled by some as the ‘pill mill of America’.
The city peaked at 40,000 people in 1940 and as it emptied of factories and jobs – some made obsolete – some moved away – it also emptied of people and hope.
Now it is a town half the size – filled with despair and filling with drugs.
On my first night in town a beat-up car parks next to me – positioned in the darkness cast by my van.
The passenger – a middle-aged woman – injects the driver in the neck.
He stays still – head tilted to expose a vein as she works the needle in – while two young boys play in the back seat.
Done – they pull away as I try to fool myself into thinking I didn’t see what I saw.
For six days in Portsmouth – over three trips – I keep trying to fool myself.
Eventually I am unable to just watch and listen.