As I was leaving work yesterday, Marvin and his new dog appeared. My heart sunk when I realized he was leading a young, pit bull down the walkway between the buildings. Marvin is an alcoholic, sometime meth user, who does odd jobs at the store. Now with this dog, and his pregnant wife, he is the portrait of the New American Street Gothic. Marvin is black, his temporary wife and dog white and since Caroline, his wife is also in the grip of the same addictions that plague him, the baby will surely be born with fetal alcohol syndrome. Four souls doomed to a life none should live but living non-the-less, as best they can.
The dog is not a good addition. While the town I work in has no pit bull ban, per se, the dog is big and very strong. It was cringing at Marvin’s harsh, slurring words and jerks on his leash, but you could see something in his eyes that seemed to say he would only put up with this loutish behavior for so long. He is as much a survivor as these people are. I think he used to live a few blocks over and animal control knows him well. Earlier in theday, Marvin proudly told me, he had been bred to a neighbor’s pit bull. Continuing the sad cycle that brought about his own existence.
Marvin and Caroline drift between a tent under a viaduct to a room some do-gooder’s home. Usually they are victimized for their SSI checks when they move indoors, but at least they are warm at night when then pass out. The young pit was shivering in the sharp wind yesterday and will surely deteriorate if he remains in this makeshift family.
As I was talking to Marvin, I was acutely aware of how little can be done to better this family’s life. They will gladly accept any substance to numb their pain but not a full time job or place to live. It defies common sense, but maybe not the common sense of the chronically homeless and addicted.
Maybe the pit bull will find temporary happiness with his new family before he goes to the shelter when they are no longer able to care for him. Maybe Marvin and Caroline will give their baby a chance and he will go into an adoptive home where he will receive more than his parents can give him and he will grow up to be in another picture of the New American Gothic.