William Moody often visits the riverfront in Waterville as he works to contain his anxiety and pursue sobriety. He’s shown this week at the RiverWalk at Head of Falls in Waterville. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

William Moody must have talked to the missionaries for 45 minutes.

I watched the two young men in their white, short-sleeved shirts and ties, black cases slung over their shoulders, listening.

It was late Wednesday afternoon at the RiverWalk at Head of Falls in Waterville, and I was parked in the lot overlooking the Kennebec River. Moody, whom I met later, sat at a picnic table, waving his arms and speaking animatedly to the missionaries.

I drove away, returned a half-hour later and walked across the grassy field to where Moody sat alone in the shadow of the Ticonic sculpture. I introduced myself.

A slim man with large, blue eyes and dark hair with a mohawk haircut, he was friendly and talkative and constantly moving his legs and arms around as he doodled with a pen at the table. His bike was beside him, a backpack and cellphones lay on the table.

It was a balmy afternoon, warm for mid-October, and two blonde-haired girls were leaning against a car in the nearby parking lot, tossing food to the seagulls, which flew around, squawked and swooped in to eat.

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Moody, 45, told me he had been living in a tent but now is staying with a friend in Waterville as he has no place to live and no money.

“I just got out of jail, so I’m on probation for heroin and fentanyl possession,” he said.

Moody suffers from anxiety and is on MaineCare. He used to be on disability for that, but lost his benefits last year and needs to try to get it back. he said. He can’t live at the local homeless shelter, because he got in trouble and was kicked out. He also goes regularly to the local methadone clinic, which is helping him stay sober.

“I can go to a sober living place in Bangor. I have to do the paperwork and I have to get accepted in that place and I have to move. But I have my child here, and my life. I’d rather not do that.”

Moody feels connected to Waterville, he said, and Fairfield feels like home because his happiest times were when he was a student at Lawrence High School where he played basketball and other sports, loved his art classes and felt a part of something. He graduated in 1995 and then came close to earning an associate degree in drafting from Southern Maine Technical College, now known as Southern Maine Community College, in Portland, but needed credits from an English course which he didn’t complete. Later, he studied at University of Maine at Augusta, but didn’t finish there either, for lots of reasons, he said.

“My father was sick during this whole time. My father meant a lot to me. He had emphysema, and he lived a rough life, and you could see the pain on him. He was quite a man. We lived in Connecticut until I was 4 and he worked for Lucas Tree. He was a street fighter, too. I had two older brothers. One is a state trooper.”

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They soon moved to Maine, he said, where his mother had family.

“We grew up in a little green trailer in Benton, a mile away from school and a few miles from downtown Fairfield. It was nice. It was in the country. My neighbors were firefighters and they had four-wheelers and dirt bikes. As far as income, we had no income.”

His father got a job babysitting for family members and while his mother didn’t work, she would go to beano games sometimes and she once won $3,000.

“I was always dreaming of having money, having a life,” he recalled.

When his father died around the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, it was a rough on Moody.

“I was so close to my father. My mother was awesome, but I didn’t want to be around her.”

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Somewhere along the line, he got into drinking and drugs and partied a lot.

“At 11, I was introduced to vodka and rock ‘n’ roll.”

He was also prescribed Vicodin and Percocet for a right shoulder injury, which was exacerbated by playing basketball in high school.

“After that, the rest is almost history, because it helped my pain,” he said.

Moody has volunteered as a baseball coach, but needs to get a job, he said. It would have to be one involving physical labor, because his anxiety makes it hard to do other things. He wants to visit his 12-year-old son, but is prohibited.

“The last time I tried to see him, I got pepper sprayed. I got arrested and I went to jail,” he said.

The sun disappeared and it became cool. Before saying goodbye, I asked if there’s anyone looking out for him, besides his probation officer.

“I have a couple of aunts in Fairfield,” he said. “They always have their eye out for me, ask me how I’m doing. They care.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear weekly. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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