Dallas  49


Dallas was born in Texas, March 4th 1968, in the small town of Nocona just south of where the Red River creates the border with Oklahoma; but his family moved to Caspar, Wyoming, when he was 1 year old. Dallas should have stayed in Texas.

He did well in high school and lived a normal, family live. He had always been very close to his grandfather. But when Dallas was nineteen, his grandfather became sick and passed away unexpectedly. “I just lost it when he died.”  That’s when Dallas started smoking meth. “At that time, Caspar was the number one crank distribution place in the United States. As is often the case with meth use, addiction followed quickly and eventually came prison – the state penitentiary in Rawlins. He had an abundance of time to think about his future.

When Dallas got out he was clean from meth. He meant to stay that way. He went to college and received a bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology and Robotics. He got married and moved to Colorado, working as a clean room technician at Hewlett-Packard in Fort Collins. A daughter came along and everything seemed to be falling into place, until Dallas discovered that his wife was having an affair. He lost it, again. “When I found out she was cheating on me I went right back to meth. I was passed out in a parking lot that night.” Dark times had returned, and soon Dallas was without a job, or a place to live; and his young daughter didn’t want to have anything to do with him. Dallas came to Loveland and began living on the streets.

“I was a monster. I was mean and wore a trench coat all the time. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with me.” He hit rock bottom when he passed out in front of a mortuary one night. “When the guy came out in the morning he thought I was dead. But things have changed.” His daughter was having problems, but didn’t want to see her dad when he was using meth. “She needed my help, and I needed to help her. That’s why I cleaned up. To be with my daughter.”

Dallas struggled but was able to stop using meth, this time without prison assistance. He started picking up computer work and found a place to live. His daughter began to see him, regularly. He was crawling out of the darkness, again. Then, while walking home from church at around eight at night earlier this year, something went very wrong inside Dallas. His guts burst. “I was walking along and all of a sudden something happened. I blew a hole in my GI (gastrointestinal) tract and started spewing black liquid out of me until I passed out. I just laid there next to the street for three hours on a main thoroughfare and nobody stopped. The doctors were amazed that I was able to get myself somewhere to call for an ambulance.”

Tests revealed that Dallas had cancer. Looked like dark times were coming back. He lost twenty pounds within two weeks, could no longer work, and was soon back on the streets. This time, there was light. A friend was able to find a treatment program, and provided Dallas with a place to stay in Loveland. Chemo, then radiation therapy, began to fight the cancer and Dallas started regaining strength, and some weight. His daughter began visiting daily. That seemed to make all the difference.

“The first time I was homeless, my daughter didn’t want to have anything to do with me because I was on meth. But I got cleaned up and was doing great. Then I got cancer and just couldn’t do the work, so I was homeless again. I know both sides of being homeless,’ he says, staring at the floor. “But now I see my baby girl every day.” He looks up, his face all smile.

“When my cancer’s done I’m moving to California. I’ve never seen the ocean. I’ve only seen Colorado and Wyoming. I want to see the beach. Chase some bikinis.” He doesn’t see his future in Loveland. “I think people would be surprised if they really saw the dark underbelly of this town. You can find meth and heroin anywhere here. Just go across the street,” he says, gesturing across the intersection of 6th and Cleveland. “Heroin is surpassing meth right now. I’ve had three friends die from overdoses recently. It’s fentanyl. That stuff’s normally used as a pain med when you’re coming out of surgery. It’s 100 times more powerful than morphine. But it’s everywhere.”

It’s not just meth and opioids that homeless have to contend with in Loveland and elsewhere. “I’ve had four friends die from other reasons,” Dallas says, looking at the floor again. Some have died of exposure to the cold, others have committed suicide. “Nobody seems to notice.”

When asked what he would like to see locally to help those who find themselves living on the street – for whatever reason – Dallas makes a distinction. “Half of the (street) people in this town are happy to be homeless. They’ve got everything taken care of for them. That gives the rest of us a bad rap. People think we’re bums and want to be living on the street. It’s sad. I wouldn’t bring my daughter to downtown Loveland. We were at Canon Park near the lake the other day and she found a needle that wasn’t even capped. What I would like to see is that homeless people have a place to go if they’re clean (of drugs), so they can get help. Prisons and hospitals aren’t enough.”