BY Page 4
Saturday, August 11, 2001
For a while, Ross tried to maintain a front of normality, to spare his parents the pain of knowing that a second son was also addicted. "We'd go to Hornby [Island], and I'd detox. I'd be really sick for the first couple of days. I'd tell my dad I had the flu."
Ross got himself a dealer who delivered to his house in 25 minutes, "faster than a pizza." When the dealer demanded a $40 minimum purchase, Ross dropped him, preferring to make the daily trip to East Hastings Street to buy a $10 hit to get him through the day at his North Vancouver private school.
Other times, he would panhandle or steal shampoo and meat from Safeway for resale at variety stores on the Eastside. As John had, he mined his parents' house for cameras, computers, jewellery, anything of value. When his parents began locking valuables in their room, Ross ripped off his friends' parents.
Sometimes, his mother would give him $50 to go skiing, which he would spend on drugs, then return home, fabricating a story of snow conditions on the slopes.
Nichola says she had known Ross was troubled, but she never considered that he was using hard drugs. But in 1997, the Halls discovered Ross was using heroin. It was just before Christmas, according to Nichola's journal, but she cannot recall the exact day. "We had been struggling with the ADD and his marijuana use. [John] was already using. It's hard to sort out."
She does remember what she felt - fear, grief and helplessness. She confided in no one, not even her mother, who died suddenly last year. "It's a very, very hard thing to tell other people."
Ray says his wife was inconsolable. "It's been excruciatingly difficult for Nicky. She couldn't get past all the promise they showed."
Ross was asked to leave school. The teachers were fed up with his truancy and drug use. After that, the Halls plunged themselves into trying to get him help. In the spring of 1998, Ross went to Edgewood, a private centre in Nanaimo, but he was asked to leave after a month because he disobeyed ground rules and distracted other clients.