Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Medication and Isolation (42)

 Every single word written here is an extraordinary exaggeration of events that have played out in my head... based on the stories I have heard from people I have met in jail or while I was dealing with my own stupidity and carelessness, resulting from my own addiction to alcohol and drugs. This is in no way a glamorization of drug use, but a tool to lend some humanity to a subculture that has been demonized and written off as a hopeless and worthless part of our human family. I do not condone or promote any of the behavior or activities herein.

So long to all of my friends, 
Everyone of them met tragic ends, 
With every passing day, 
I’d be lying if I didn’t say, 
That I miss them all tonight… 
And if they only knew what I would say, 
If I could be with you tonight… 
I would sing you to sleep, 
Never let them take the light behind your eyes… 
One day, I’ll lose this fight… 
The Light Behind Your Eyes
My Chemical Romance

            The experience of hallucinating horrific visions of my wife’s reanimation shook me so deeply that I didn’t speak a single word to my sister-in-law during the first leg of our journey back to my house.  Thankfully she didn’t press the matter, and drove quietly while I did my best to fend off lucid memories of the incident while battling my way through wave after wave of the relentless heckling my subconscious was offering during the moments I began to believe my anxiety was subsiding.  Tears dropped randomly from my eyes, as I quietly allowed them to drip from my nose and chin. 
            Instead of backtracking the country roads we had driven earlier, my wife’s sister took the main highways home.  This brought us through several small villages and towns along the way.  When we approached the last town before the turnoff we needed to take to get me home she spoke quietly towards me.
            “I’m going to make one stop at the store here in town and get something.”  We passed our turn and instead veered left into the brightly lit gas station and package store.  “Good, they’re still open,” she offered aloud, apparently talking to the steering wheel or windshield.  When the van came to a stop she let herself out stating, “I’ll be right back.”
            I watched her disappear into the store and continued to stare blankly at the door that she had used to gain access to the establishment.  Several minutes later she emerged carrying a large paper grocery bag in one hand, and a small plastic sack with several bottles of juice and soda swinging from her wrist.  She let herself in through the driver’s door and set the bulky paper bag on my lap as she climbed into her seat and fastened her seat belt.  She placed the plastic bag on the counsel between us.  I sat up and peered into the cavity of the brown bag to see two one-liter bottles of clear liquor.  The bottles clanged together as I moved to retrieve one to examine the contents. 
            Vodka.  God bless her, she was going to get me drunk.
            “Please don’t drink that all tonight.  I don’t think I can handle another experience like we just had.” She paused and turned to look at me.  “You need to try and sleep sooner or later.  Maybe some booze will help you unwind so you can absorb some of what you’re experiencing.  Use those medicinally, okay?  I’ll check on you every couple of days from here on out to see if you’re eating and try to help you however I can.”  She started the van and pulled out of our parking spot.  “Go ahead and have a drink if you want one, I’m not going to tell you to wait.”
            “Thank you,” I replied softly.  I stripped the shrink-wrap seal from the neck of the bottle and twisted the cap off.  I pulled deeply on the bottle and felt the warmth of the alcohol burn as it passed from my mouth and tongue through my throat to finally settle my belly.  The aftertaste of the off-brand spirit was horrifying, but I was grateful to almost instantly feel the mellow effect of its high proof on my overworked brain.  I spun the cap back onto the bottle and reached for a container of whatever chaser I could grab from the plastic sack to my left.  When I had washed the taste from my mouth I repeated the ritual and sighed minutes later as the rabble rousing phantoms in my mind began to succumb to the effects of alcohol.
            “Feel a little better?” she asked as we finally turned onto the road leading to my house.
            “A little, yes.”  I’m not sure if numb was a significant improvement, but it was better.  “I’m kind of embarrassed about what happened at the morgue.  I’m sorry if I embarrassed you at all.”  I kept my face turned towards the window of the passenger door, and watched the silhouettes of rail fences and trailer homes whizzing by.
            “I have to be honest since you brought it up.  It really kind of freaked both me and her out.”  Her voice trailed off towards the end of the sentence.  “What the hell spooked you like that?”
            “I haven’t gotten any sleep for awhile, ya know?”  I felt awkward justifying something I had witnessed so vividly.  “I guess my feelings of guilt and responsibility for her accident joined forces with the voices in my head that have been relentlessly accusing me of any number of things since I found out about all this.”  I drew a deep breath and continued, “I guess seeing her lying on that table all battered, broken, and lifeless while realizing that this was the birth of my new reality was just too much for my brain.  I saw her talking to me and barking the same indictments I was listening to in my head.”
            “Oh my God…” her jaw was hanging as she spoke.  “I think I would have cracked up too.”
            “Yeah, then we’d be really fucked, and instead of going home we would have landed in the third floor psych unit.”  I smiled in spite of myself.
            “I’m going to handle the arrangements with my dad…” She paused.  “Fuck me, I haven’t told ANYBODY anything yet.”  She shook her head loosely.  I imagined her contemplating the difficult conversations she would have to engage in without me.
            “I don’t think I can be any help with that.”  I stated flatly.
            “I wasn’t going to ask you to do anything more today.” She responded quickly.
            We pulled into the gravel driveway leading to my house.  When we had offered our awkward goodbyes I gathered the booze and juice she had bought for me and turned my back on the van and walked the path to my house.  I let myself in, and wandered into the living room and sat heavily on the couch.  I retrieved the open bottle of booze from the bag, and dropped the rest at my feet.  I swilled from the bottle and paid close attention to the reliable effects of the alcohol on my mind.  I stopped thinking about things that were happening any farther away from me than I could see or reach out and touch at the moment.  I laid my head on the armrest on the closest end of the couch and didn’t bother to lift my legs onto the other end.  A lumpy, awkward object poked the small of my back and caught my attention.  I reached behind my back and fished one of the cordless phones out of the tangled mess of blankets I was resting on.  I held the device up to my face and saw that I had missed 15 phone calls since I left with my wife’s sister this afternoon on our unfortunate errand.  I began paging through them only to stop after a half dozen had come up repeating.
Littleton County Jail
Bull had been calling repeatedly to check on me.  He was probably worried that I did something drastic in the aftermath.  The last time he called appeared to be 25 minutes before I walked through the door.  The call before that was 30 minutes prior, and another appeared 30 minutes before that.  I could only assume that I would hear the phone ring any minute if the pattern persisted.  I glance to the clock on the wall, and it was just turning nine o’clock.  He’d call soon because the phones don’t shut off until ten o’clock in Littleton County Jail.  I set the phone on the floor near the base of the couch and returned to the sitting position and tugged on the bottle once more.  As I reached for the bag of juice bottles to find a chaser the phone rang.
I didn’t bother reading the caller ID.  I pressed talk and listened to the automated operator recite her instructions while rinsing the taste of cheap vodka from my mouth with some kind of Gatorade knockoff.  When she finished I pressed the appropriate button and waited to hear Bull’s voice on the other end.
“Brother?” Bull’s voice sounded relieved.  “Is that you?  Are you still drawing breath and exchanging oxygen?”
“So far, so good, boss.”  My words were beginning to slur.
“Found yourself a drink I think, huh?” Bull chuckled into the phone.
“Fuck right I did, it’s been a fucked up day, man.”
“I can’t imagine, brother.  I simply cannot imagine what you’re going through.”  He was calm and collected and didn’t seem to be in a hurry.
“What’s up boss?  You’ve caught me red handed and on the road to Shitfacedville.”  I sighed deeply.
“I just wanted to check on you.  I’ve got a plan.  Now isn’t the best time to fill you in on the details, but when your head clears and you see your way through your current obligations, I need you to find get me an application to NewLife Recovery System.   A preacher-man showed up here after we talked this afternoon.  I guess his church received some letters that you wrote about me and he thinks I’m a good candidate for this rehab program.  He thinks if I can make it through, then I will only have like a decade’s worth of probation, maybe more.”
“Shit Bull, that’s that Bible thumping religious place.  Nobody we know has ever made it through.”  I laughed awkwardly.  “You want to put yourself through that?”
“Get this… Preacher-man had me pray with him today through the cell door.” Bull laughed briefly.  “I did it too.  Bowed my head and everything.  I said ‘Amen’ when we were done, the whole nine yards.”
“How do you feel about that, boss?”
“It isn’t any harder than dealing with those head-busting turnkeys in DOC.” 
“Ok Bull, I’ll see what I can do.  I’m gonna get drunk now and try not to think about my dead wife.”  I snorted.  “Oops, I thought about her.”
“Yeah brother, you go get your head right.  I’ll talk to you more when you’re on the upside of all this… G’night boozey.”
“Bye boss.”
I hung up the phone and proceeded to get mind-numbing drunk, and  I stayed that way for a good, long time.

This work is the intellectual property of Jerome J. Panozzo

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