I remember, when I was about 14 years old, I was asked if I could baby-sit the two year old daughter of a friend of my brother and sister while she went out to a party. This would have been in 1985.
The two year olds name was Serena but everyone called her Whinny. The mother’s name was Anne Marie but everyone called her Lou.
Anne Marie was 17 years old and a single mother. She lived in a group of Housing Trust flats and the neighbours in the surrounding flats had all become one big group of friends.
I was happy to baby-sit for her and I think I was given $5 for my time.
I went over to Lou’s place half an hour before they were all due to go out to the party. Everyone was crowded into Lou’s little flat, all sitting around on various seats with spoons, syringes and lighters. They were all boiling up a substance on their spoons and then sucking it up with the syringes and injecting it into themselves.
Serena was just sitting there watching them. I remember feeling disgust welling up inside me; I grabbed Serena and took her upstairs to her room and read her a book. I knew that everyone smoked weed but until that moment I had no idea they were on hard drugs, or even what hard drugs were. We stayed upstairs until they left, then Serena and I watched some TV and played, and then I put her to bed with another book.
After a while I heard a loud banging and growling from somewhere in the flat. In fright, I ran to Whinny’s room to see if she was safe: she was sleeping soundly. I grabbed her from her bed, wrapped her in a blanket and carried her downstairs and outside. I rang my dearest friend and told him what was happening. He told me he would come straight over. This was at about 11:30 at night and he lived four suburbs away but Gavin rode his pushbike all the way to the flat. He found me at this strange address in record time. I don’t believe the police would have arrived any sooner!
He went into the house to investigate and found that there was a puppy locked in the laundry. No one had told me it was there. I felt foolish and annoyed for having woken poor Whinny and having dragged Gavin all the way out there.
I went upstairs and put Whinny back to bed. She seemed surprisingly unfazed by it all.
Gavin very kindly stayed with me for the rest of the night until I was relieved of my duty. I told him all about the drugs and we discussed how we would never do them. Gavin wouldn’t even touch caffeine. I was so grateful that he had come to my rescue. Gavin was always that person in my life: he was a genuine hero.
I heard, a few months later, that Lou had died of an overdose. I have no idea what happened to Whinny after her death. I was so angry and distressed at what these drugs had done to their so very young lives.
I have seen so many healthy, functioning human beings being eaten up by these drugs, until they are dry husks of their former selves. They always finished up so much sadder than they were before they turned to drugs to make them happy.
I hope beyond hope that Whinny is alive and well and happy somewhere in the world today.
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