I know from watching hundreds of hours of sci-fi movies that after the Apocalypse the strange and rag-tag survivors – by turns piteous and terrifying – will wander the wreckage of civilization, scavenging for whatever they need to survive.
I happen to run into them quite a bit. They are called “junkies”, scavenging change and spending it on heroin. Thanks to the ACLU Worcester has no enforceable rules against panhandling so they are out in force at traffic stops throughout the city, mostly white men in their 20s or 30s. They also discreetly cruise the supermarkets and shopping centers, quietly sharing their tales of woe with likely marks (which I seem to be, must be my bright, cheery disposition).
Between the efforts of church and state none go naked, hungry or shelterless, but sacred and secular authorities are both at a loss for dealing with addiction itself. Not a month goes by that some dopey kid doesn’t OD. Stop and chat with members of the clergy and they inevitably bring up their last funeral for a 20-something knuckhead who shot up, fell asleep, and never got up. “Everyone’s blaming a bad batch of heroin” one priest told me “I’m trying to explain that the batch isn’t the problem…” and he trails off.