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Tom Scotus

The Last Place on Earth

Sheep gate - geograph.org.uk - 677802The Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth, Minnesota, is aptly named: It’s the last place on earth that you should patronize. Every business day, when the owner isn’t under arrest or behind bars, people line up inside (and often outside) to buy synthetic recreational drugs. From what I’ve read, the long-term effects of these drugs have not been tested and some users have experienced convulsions or heart attacks. They’d be better off smoking real marijuana, although I certainly don’t recommend that either!

The Last Place on Earth in downtown Duluth, Minnesota, is aptly named: It’s the last place on earth that you should patronize. Every business day, when the owner isn’t under arrest or behind bars, people line up inside (and often outside) to buy synthetic recreational drugs. From what I’ve read, the long-term effects of these drugs have not been tested and some users have experienced convulsions or heart attacks. They’d be better off smoking real marijuana, although I certainly don’t recommend that either!

On a recent trip to Duluth, my wife wanted to visit an antique store on Superior Street. The only parking spot we could find was right in front of the “Last Place.” Behind that spot was a police car, and two of the city’s finest stood in a nearby doorway. According to a newspaper article, the owner of the Last Place is obliged to purchase this daily police presence for about $34,000 a month. No problem. He allegedly makes a lot more than that by selling his poisons.

Curiosity got the better of me and, while my wife visited the antique store, I went into the “drug store” to see what was what. Inside, it was your typical head shop. Bongs, hash pipes, other drug paraphernalia, and sex toys were for sale. Hardcore pornography was available in the back. Unwashed and unshaven, sordid clientele stood in a long line, loudly joking about the police presence outside. They seemed to think they were really smart, really “with it.” No doubt, they believed that they were victims, innocently practicing their right to get high, misunderstood by the squares and persecuted by the police. I’m sure they never gave a thought about the terrible effect on business their presence had on nearby stores.

Later, we attended Mass at Christ the King Cathedral in Superior, Wisconsin, just across the bridge. We got there early, in time for confession. Only two people waited ahead of us to see the priest. I thought about the perpetual long lines at the Last Place and I remembered Jesus’ words, “For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).

I remembered one of the young men I saw in the “drug store.” He stood apart from the long line. He had some kind of sore on this face, a distant look in his eyes and a silly grin. For some reason, even now, this memory sticks in my mind. It isn’t a long way from the Last Place on Earth to Christ the King Cathedral, but sometimes it seems so impossibly far off. I remembered the chilling words of Scripture, “…between us (those in heaven) and you (those in hell) a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:26). We can’t, of course, judge the state of men’s souls. We can only pray for their salvation.