by Lucas Thomas
Houses tucked away behind swirling farm roads, carved from the woods of countless rural Maine towns often defy the logistics of GPS technology, justified by my mystification of 139 Garland Road’s whereabouts. After passing it three times I’ve finally located the muddy driveway and when my car rolls in pot holes ravage the floor pan. Stepping out, six creaky steps lead to a musty porch. After a knock I’m greeted at the door by a large man in his early fifties–probably six-foot-two and 270 pounds, holding himself up
with crutches on each arm. He invites me inside his home, where nothing would ever be mistaken for modern architecture. The house is clustered and dusty, not really dirty but very apparent that cleaning is not an everyday occurrence in this home. I’ve spoke with this man on the phone several times so we are familiar with one another and he welcomes me into his home to tell me his story. I take the first seat and throw my notepad down as Ron Baroca White Rum fills the available space in a glass sitting on the kitchen table of Lester Carrow’s Exeter, Maine home; a home he’s dubbed “The Exeter Ghetto”.
It’s a striking image, one that inevitably leads me to a mental split screen. On the left is the current image described above of Lester as he sits with me in his home; the right side plays a mixture of pharmaceutical commercials that my brain is accustomed to seeing. They depict a middle aged couple bathing in a hot tub on top of a grassy hill in the middle of nowhere, holding hands in love, another one shows man and woman walking along the beach as their golden retriever runs along the edge of the breaking waves to fetch a stick, and the last one that seems to strike me is the family picnic on the prototypical family picnic day, not a cloud in the sky.
I ask myself: how would the nature of prescription drug use in America be different if Lester’s image—rather than that of a happily married white couple who, by their outdoor physical activities, are still vibrant and healthy well into their mid-50s—was the scene as the soothing voice of an AstraZeneca spokesperson explains to me why I should ask my doctor about Seroquel?