EXCERPTS & Audio, Go Ahead and Shoot Me
Chapter Sample, "Paula: Freedom from an FPS#." Narration, John Heerema and Lorene Shyba.
Excerpt from "I Know Who Killed My Little Brother"
by Doug Heckbert
Joseph, age 28, construction foreman
That night, Joseph and the others left the community they were living in, and drove to a nearby community.
All I did was just walk into that house, that’s all. I didn’t have a weapon, I didn’t take anything. I seen somebody got stabbed, and I just got out right away. There was an altercation. I vaguely remember going in ’cause I was so messed up. I remember seeing that guy get stabbed and then it was like I sobered up real quick and saw what I was doing and then just ran out. What have I got myself into? I couldn’t sleep for awhile after, man. I was just fucked right up.
Joseph ran from the scene of the home invasion and several of the others were quickly arrested by police. An extensive investigation by police was launched and police eventually determined that Joseph was involved. The pressure on him was building. He continued using, and he felt like his life was a mess. Then came the overdose.
An overdose occurs when there is so much drug or mixture of drugs in the body that the body is functionally poisoned and, to protect itself, its systems shut down. Basic physiological functions like breathing and pulse are compromised to the point that death is a real possibility. Overdose is a critical physiological condition.
I was getting more and more screwed up. Then I went to a rodeo with a bunch of dope—I did an ounce of cocaine for myself in a day and a half, which was unheard of. I had an eight-ball left so I swallowed it, then it blew up in my stomach and that’s how I ended up in hospital. That was the overdose—that’s what pushed it over to the edge. That one bag blew up in my stomach. It ruptured my guts—I was puking blood. My nose was a faucet, bleeding like it blew up. I was hallucinating, couldn’t stop throwing up blood—it was just like someone cutting a vein, just coming out. I looked at my hand; I was totally covered in blood, right down my arm. Once the ambulance got there, they tried to put an IV in me. They moved the rig for ten minutes, trying to poke and get the IV in me. They got the IV in me. The cops showed up first, and I told the cop, ‘Yo, my phone is not working’. I was like, ‘can you call my dad? Call him and tell him I am sorry.’ The cop wouldn’t call him—wouldn’t call my damn house. You know what I’m saying? I still don’t get it. You know, what the hell? Call! It was practically my last dying wish for someone to call my house and nobody did. You know what I mean? Only the nurses called when I got to the hospital in the city. They called home when I was in hospital. They put me in that room to die.
For my overdose, when that happened, I had a cocaine problem—big time. It started at the age of fifteen and it didn’t end until I was twenty-four years old. At the time, I thought it was a good run.
I woke up when I seen my dad cry after I got out of the hospital from the overdose. He drove across the country in four days to come and see me. He said, ‘I don’t ever want to see you overdosed again.’ He was crying, said he was supposed to die before I die. It’s going to be a hard day.
My mom showed up at the hospital the day after I overdosed. My dad got a hold of her somehow, so she left work and drove all the way to the city and got there when I was in the emergency room. They put me in a room to die. They told me I was going to die. They told my mom they don’t know why I am still alive and that I’m gonna die. I’m sitting there and I’m all messed up. My eyes are rolling in the back of my head. I just remember they put me in the room to die, man. My system was dying, starting to fail and she come in there with my step brother and one of my uncles. They just rubbed me with holy oil and prayed for a few hours. Then the doctor come running in and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to take him into surgery’. They took me in and they told me I might not wake up. I said there was a good chance, whatever. I’m already this far gone—you might as well try.
I was told I was a walking miracle. God has big plans for me. That’s what I was told. The doctor at my overdose couldn’t believe it. Every blood vessel in my face was collapsed, my whole face was purple-veined, everywhere. My eyes were just black. I weighed like about one hundred and twenty pounds. I don’t ever want to see anyone’s face like that again. I never want to look at myself like that in a mirror. I looked at myself the next day in a mirror and said I should be dead.
At this point, Joseph did not care if he lived or died.
Up to now, Joseph had not been too interested in or involved with his Indigenous heritage. He was aware of his background but it had not been an important part of his life. That now was about to change.
I pulled through. My mom, my step brother and my uncle told me they seen life come back into me. Then, after that, she took me to see a medicine man. A couple of days later, she took me to a ceremony. We offered him tobacco. I got doctored. I asked to be forgiven for everything I’d done in the past. I didn’t want those demons with me anymore. I didn’t eat anything white or anything. I took some medicine, and it wasn’t white; and what I threw up were big chunks of white—I don’t know what the hell it was.
The medicine man was quick to scoop it up and go bury it in the woods. It still boggles me to this day. I asked for the demons to come out, and I seen some shit come out—it is pretty crazy. I didn’t believe in that stuff up until that day. My dad told me it was sorcery, but, at the end of the day, that is my heritage. That got me a little culturally attached. Later, I would go see that medicine man once in a while when I was on day parole.
When I went to jail, I stayed away from cultural stuff until I got to minimum security, a healing centre in the city, and then I started going to cultural programs, sweats and other ceremonies.”
I haven’t gone to sweats or ceremonies in a long time—I’m due. I’ve been working so much. I don’t really do much for myself either. Just come home from work after up to twelve hours on the job, spend time with my fiancé and that’s it.