Friday, September 7, 2012

Short: High Has Sunk So Low

There have been a lot of things I've seen during my 27-year career. I've witnessed grizzly deaths, I've experienced both triumph and heartbreak; none more vivid than when Karen was taken away from me on what was supposed to be my wedding day. However, I could never imagine what I witnessed the other day.

Jessica and I happened to be making our way to The Beach for a nice little dinner out; something to help us unwind after solving another case together. As we were driving along Queen St. East, towards Woodbine Avenue, we noticed a commotion out by the Greenwood Tele-theatre. It's situated on the site of the old Greenwood horse racing track, but they've turned part of the old Grandstand into a little horse betting parlour where one could wager on various simulcast thoroughbred and harness races from around the continent. I was going to drive on past it; thinking it was a matter that would be handled by the officers at the nearby 55 Division, but something in the back of my head told me to rubberneck and see what it was all about. Looking back, I probably should have ignored it altogether.

Apparently, one of the patrons had gotten unruly to the point where he was escorted out of the facility and was being threatened with trespassing charges. Detective Emerson thought such a complaint was excessive, but we would later find out that the offender had previously self-excluded himself from all Ontario Lottery and Gaming venues, and for some reason, he felt compelled to try his luck at playing the ponies; thinking such an edict only applied to casino and slot facilities across the province. The ejected patron was noticeably agitated and was shouting obscenities at the security guards. Fearing the situation would get out of hand, I pulled over, and both Jessica and I decided to interject ourselves in a bid to defuse the situation. I asked the unruly individual to calm himself down, and as he turned to me; that was when my heart had sank. I knew the person who was creating all the fuss. It was my old writing companion, Highlander.

Both my girlfriend/partner and I would accompany him to the nearby police Division, and as much as we apologised for stepping on the booking officers' toes, we took him into one of the Interrogation Rooms to find out what the hell was going on with him. It was then that my illusion of the budding writer had shattered. While he was still struggling to get an initial work published, he confessed to both Jessica and myself that he was a problem gambler who had been seeking counselling for his addiction; even going as far as self-excluding himself from all casino and slot facilities last April; however, about a month ago, his one-on-one counsellor explained that such an edict only applied to those certain facilities, and not lottery kiosks. Upon the knowledge of this "exemption", he had fallen back hard onto playing the daily lotteries. It was only today he attempted to see if it applied to the Tele-theatre near The Beach, since he knew Woodbine was off-limits to him. It was a gamble that didn't pay off. Then again, gambling in general rarely does and one usually ends up losing more often than winning.

After all was said and done, Highlander was let off with a Warning: if he were to ever show his face down at the Queen East facility, he would be formally charged. Jessica and I drove him back to his place, and left a message with his one-on-one addictions' counsellor to inform him of this lapse. It's a shame that my friend had hit a tailspin. Before he recently slipped he had been clean for 5-1/2 months. I don't know if he can successfully get back on the wagon, but considering he stuck his neck out for me during the hostage siege last month, I sincerely hope that he does.

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