No matter what kind of game you find yourself in, no matter how good or bad the luck, you can change your life completely with a single thought or a single act of love.— Gregory David Roberts, author of Shantaram, a novel.
The world we live in has been rocked by crisis after crisis. First the Coronavirus slipped in amongst us, taking, at first, the most vulnerable populations from our nursing homes, Veterans’ Homes, Senior Living Facilities and then attacking the people who have the least access to medical care because they are financially stressed, Black and Latino, and many of them are on the front lines of our essential work force.
Workers in the food industry, nurse’s aides, nurses, Emt’s and even, yes, I’ll say it—the police. Despite the blue wall, I believe that most of the police really care about what they are doing. This is a strange period where the police and the people they are tasked to protect have found themselves at odds with each other. These are strange times indeed.
Now we have the brazen, thoughtless, sociopathic killing of George Floyd, caught on camera. A white police officer kneeling on his neck while he cried out, “I Can’t Breathe,” for close to nine long minutes. I watched this on my computer at first and I could not believe my eyes, yet I know my eyes were not lying to me.
The United States of America went wild! Because the police officer wasn’t arrested right away, as he should have been, and his 3 fellow officers went free when they should have been arrested for complicity in this horrendous murder which took place on camera for all to see. The four police were fired but big deal!
When is enough enough? How many Black citizens have to die before a broken system is altered to make it possible for Black men and women to feel safe in our country? Obviously, I am not the only one who feels this way because the people of our land took to the streets in protest.
Yes, there was violence. But the majority of the people protesting were peaceful and many of them engaged in public prayer on their knees for the 8 and ½ minutes that it took one sociopathic police officer to slowly, on film, choke the life out of George Floyd while he begged for him to stop and called desperately for his mother in between his statement, “I Can’t Breathe.”
When this happens to one Black man, then it is happening to all sentient beings across the land and it is our duty to speak up and pray and protest because next “they” will be coming for us. Unfortunately, at this time, we have a President who cares only for himself and has no compassion for the people of our fine land.
He says, “Make America Great Again,” yet our country, flawed though it is, has always been sown with greatness. Yet through our land are people who feel that they are more entitled than others because of the color of their skin. You know who I’m talking about, don’t you?
There are the Amy Coopers’ of our land, walking her dog without a leash in Central Park, which is against the law, and when a Black man asks her politely to “leash the dog” she threatens him and calls the police saying that a Black man is threatening to attack her. The Black man was lucky that he was a well-known “birder” who was often seen in the park. Just lucky instead of shot dead!
Now the streets of our cities are full of people of all races, religions, ethnic background, from Black to white to yellow to red; who are marching in our cities and towns because they have seen this horror of police brutality of our Black and dark skinned folks be struck down over and over.
George Floyd is just the tip of the iceberg. There was Breonna Taylor, executed by gunshot, while resting in her own home due to a mistaken “no knock warrant,” killed because the police went to the wrong address. The list of names of Black men and women killed unjustly is endless. The police almost always escape unscathed. In 2019, data from the National Academy of Sciences showed that Blacks are 2.5 times more likely to be slain by police than whites.
I have a Black friend, who wishes to remain nameless, who went out to get a pizza, wearing a mask as the law requires, and when he came out of the pizzeria there were two police vehicles parked by his car on this quiet suburban business district. Nothing happened but it could have gone deadly had the wrong police been in those cars.
The people are in the streets calling desperately for change while our red-headed idiot of a president tweets, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” and calls for the authorities to get the vicious dogs ready to attack the demonstrators, peaceful or not.
The times are ripe for change and for our country to recognize the rights of Blacks, Latino’s and others who are just trying to survive in a place where a minority of Nationalist’s exist and think they are more entitled than others and can kill with impunity. Some of them are police, unfortunately.
So the good people of America march and pray, while a minority of them attack police, loot stores and throw Molotov cocktails. This is not the message that the people desire. As John Lennon said, before a gunman cut him down, “All we are saying, is Give Peace A Chance—All we are saying, is Give Peace A Chance.”
We can’t say it enough. Will the horrific event, the killing of George Floyd by someone who was tasked to protect us be the final straw that breaks the back of the inbred racism of our country? Pay attention please. “All we are saying, is Give Peace A Chance.”
If I made funny noises and ran around the room, I wouldn’t have to tell the therapist anything. I know my mother told him I wet the bed all the time. But no one else knows about the boy who said he would play doctor and stuck the stick up my rectum. And no one else knows about the baby sitter who had a boyfriend who did things to me with a banana. I was only nine and I lived in my head. It wasn’t safe. My mother went to therapy too. When I asked her why, she told me it was because I was sick. She told me I hated my father. I remember crying when she told me that and I made up my mind that I would hate her too. But most of all, it was me. It was me that I hated most of all. I just wanted to shut my mind off but the dials were inside my head. It was 1954.
If someone had said to me, in June of the year of my graduation from high school, that I would have a rat’s chance at being alive in the year 2005 I might have swished my tail at them, pulled at my whiskers and said, “The life span of a junkie, dipped in a vat of heated depression molasses, struck hard with a severe anxiety disorder that simulated heart attacks is guaranteed to be shorter than a man with a heart condition shoveling snow while gasping for breath in between drags of a Camel non-filter cigarette who’s idea of a rest break is a quick shot of cocaine and heroin administered intravenously, and then back at it again.” So then, the question is, “what kinds of events have been most stressful for me,” has many answers.There is a knock at the door. I go to it, see that it is a policeman, run to the bathroom with my two grams of pure amphetamine, think about flushing them because I am already wired tighter than Harry Harlow’s dangling monkey in the pit of despair, but snort them rapidly instead. Two hours later I am hooked to an intravenous flow of Valium. I sleep 36 hours, eat for the first time in days, then fall back asleep again. I wake up 20 hours later, they tell me I need to go to a drug program, I sign AMA papers and leave. Customers have been waiting.
Angela is a big dyke. She is loaded on codeine based cough syrup and Doriden, just like me. We are sitting on stools at a diner in West Orange, New Jersey. I watch her as she eats two more Doriden. Suddenly she falls off her stool, she can’t stand up, everyone in the diner is watching us, she is attempting to tell me something but I can’t understand her, a string of drool spills from one corner of her mouth onto my shirt as I lurch for the door of the diner, bearing her weight is a terrible chore, I can barely bear my own, I drop her, she giggles as I hoist her up on my shoulder again, we are almost at the door, I stumble and Angela pulls some more pills out of her pocket and attempts to eat them, I say “hey, you’re going to get us busted” and just then the plainclothes dicks burst into the diner with a bunch of bluecoats. I try to explain that my girlfriend just got sick and we’re going home, we just need help to get to the car and all of a sudden the handcuffs are on both of us, Angela is calling the cops “a bunch of pig-mother-fuckers” and I realize that we’re not going to be able to talk our way out of this. I have been eighteen years old for three days but I’ve been high on pills and cough syrup and heroin for almost a year and a half without missing a day. Seven bottles of Robitussin-A-C, a blank stolen pad of prescriptions and a pocket full of seconals and Doriden and all I’m going to get is a back-room beating and a phone call seven hours later. Angela lights her mattress on fire in her cell. It is 1964.
I’m weaving down Interstate 91 with 70 bags of heroin and 9 bottles of methadone with 90 milligrams in me in my pick-up truck. I side-swipe a car and I hear the horn blowing and I’m wide-awake now with my foot pressed to the gas pedal. I can’t even look at the speedometer because I’m swerving in and out of the traffic so fast. I’m in the moment because I know that if I get caught I’m going to back to jail faster than you can say, “you’re busted mother-fucker” and I’m still in Connecticut but I’m turning off 91 onto Interstate 84 and I slow down to the speed limit and I’m so frightened that my foot on the gas pedal is doing the bounce-bounce beyond my control. I’m not high anymore, or if I am I’m not aware of it. I pull into a rest area and run in, piss, grab a coffee, and head into Peterborough, New Hampshire, where my wife works the night shift at a group home. The four older women, they called them retarded back then, are asleep and my “buddy” Ritchie is waiting in his truck outside. I told him not to wait, that I would call him, but you know how it is, I had asked him to keep me company for the ride to New York City, but he had other things to do but he’s been waiting for me right there for hours. 20 of the bags are his, he gave me the money in advance, his money paid for his twenty and twenty of mine. The women are sleeping and Sascha tells us to keep it down; everybody is dumping dope in the cookers, I tell them to only do one because the dope is killer, the best on the streets of the city and now the best in Peterborough. Sascha sneaks a second bag into the cooker, and I’m feeling the rush and finally leaning back to relax, when I hear the death rattle and Sascha drops to the floor. “Richie, Richie, help me,” I yell, and I pick Sascha up and she’s not breathing as Richie grabs his dope off the table, looks at me with heavy-lidded pinned eyes and says, “I’m outta here,” and he is. Cold showers, beating on her chest, wiping the puke she’s choking on from her mouth and trying to get a breath in her; she wakes up, says I’m all right and her eyes roll up all white as she drops to the floor again. I pick her up and shake her, throw the door open and drop her in the snow; she jumps up, she’s knows she’s in trouble and starts to run around with a wild expression on her face but then she drops again like a beheaded chicken and I drag her back in, I don’t even notice the cement walk is ripping her nails out of her bare feet until later, I do CPR and pray; I can’t call for help with fifty bags of heroin and I’m not gonna flush them. It’s three hours later and she’s breathing normally. She looks at her feet and says, “Fuck, what the hell did you do?” and I just look at her and tell her “I told you to only do one, but you never listen.” “Why didn’t you just let me die, it would’ve been easier,” she says and I tell her “You didn’t act like you wanted to die.” It’s 1984 now.
I skipped the part in 1986 where, twisted on methadone and benzo’s, I flipped my pick-up truck and Sascha broke her back. I had a major head injury but that’s what I started with since I was a child.
In 1998 on December 7th, no one was there to bring Sascha back. They found her alone in a bathroom with the needle still in her arm. On December 8th I turned 53 years old.
I didn’t skip 1991 where I got hit by the pickup truck doing 65 miles an hour on the shoulder lane while I worked on my motorcycle. That’s in another story I call Getting Fixed in South Carolina.. The guy holding the flashlight for me died instantly. I smoked a Camel non-filter while I waited for the ambulance when I wasn’t blacked out.
I’ve had one or two really good counselors, quite a few that didn’t really measure up and some that just filled the room. I’m a counselor myself now. There are those that say I’m good. I don’t know what they say behind my back. I hope I help.
I still remember what I used to think when I was sick. Actually that helps me as a counselor because when you say you’re not ready to quit shooting dope, I know exactly what you mean.
The biggest obstacle I ever faced was my mind.
What makes me hopeful about the future is how much I have changed in the face of adversity. What scares me most about the future is what I can’t see yet.
I can count on my fingers. I can count on my teachers. I can count on myself, but only if I’m there. It’s 2005 now. It’s almost 2006, but I’m not there yet.
First of all, the COVID-19 makes me rethink Senior Assisted Housing. I’m watching the death toll from Senior Assisted Housing, nursing homes & Veteran Facilities skyrocket. They are like petri dishes enabling the virus to leap from one human being to the next.
I’m 74 years old and my wife is 72 and I’m grateful that we haven’t made the transition to any of those places for elder care. When my parents lived in a Senior Housing complex in Florida, visiting them became a nightmare, even when there was no plague causing residents to quietly disappear.
What was bad was my father talking to me about how nice it was when they first moved there (several friends in their 50’s all applied at the same time) but years later many of those friends were sick and dying. I can only imagine what it is like there now. I’m grateful my parents did not have to live through this.
Maybe the idea of Senior Housing needs to be re-thought and done away with. Places like that didn’t exist in the 1920’s, just one-hundred years ago. It seems unnatural to group silver-haired men and women together without the support of the rest of the family living close by.
Across the street from where my wife and I live is a two-family house where grandma and grandpa live downstairs and their daughter and their son-in-law live upstairs with their children. It gives us great pleasure to see the elder citizens sitting on the front porch playing with their grandchildren.
We’re missing our adult children and grandchildren because our daughter is working in Cairo, Egypt with her family and our son is living in Honolulu, Hawaii with his family.
Living with the virus at our age is not easy. We hate to ask friends to shop for us, but we actually get nervous when we have to go grocery shopping. We’re both in our 70’s with pre-existing conditions and would not make the cut for a ventilator. When they pick and choose who gets to live, we would not be first in line. This is a terribly strange time.
But there are few people who aren’t touched in some way by the virus or the country’s response to it. It appears, according to the Boston Globe, that there is some kind of coverup at the Holyoke Veterans’ Home, where so many have died and are sick with the virus. Bennett Walsh, the man in charge who is suspended with pay, says he and his staff were in constant contact with the Secretary of Veteran’s Services and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Department of Public Health. Walsh claims, “We provided updates on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. These updates were by phone, text, e-mail, conference calls and official report forms.” Which raises some questions for Governor Baker.
I’m sure there will be an electronic trail showing who is telling the truth and who isn’t, but the tragedy is that there are so many elderly veterans who have paid the ultimate price.
Because I was homeless for a long time, and imprisoned for a few years, I especially remember feeling totally cut off while I was in prison and I knew that, if a crisis occurred, I would probably die in prison. In that instance, I got lucky and made it out alive. But my heart goes out to all those trapped in steel and stone, living in a giant petri dish of disease and loneliness.
Loneliness. That’s one of the most frightening aspects of this Plague; that when sick our loved ones can’t be around and people, like us, die surrounded by strangers in masks and costumes. I’ve reread part of Stephen King’s book The Stand and his story really hits the mark as Captain Trips, the Super Flu, wipes out most of the people his fictional world.
COVID-19 isn’t quite like that but I always worry that the coronavirus will mutate into a more lethal strain. That’s not beyond the realm of possibility in the world we live in.
To end this column on a lighter note (but still not a very good note), I wonder how come liquor and beer are regarded as essential but marijuana is excluded except for medical purposes? Governor Charlie Baker says he doesn’t want people from out of state coming in to buy weed at our local stores, but that’s easily remedied by having people show identification and if they aren’t from Massachusetts they can be turned away. No problem, right?
It’s actually very important to have marijuana accessible because our population of Veterans can’t buy medical marijuana since marijuana is not legal on the Federal level. They risk losing their Veteran’s Benefits if they buy medical marijuana. Baker should open the weed stores; if booze is essential, why not grass, eh? Also hit by unemployment, the marijuana industry had to lay off close to 8,000 people who could be hired back with a change in the law.
Well, I’ve certainly spoken my tattered mind on my thoughts about matters related to the Plague, as I work up my courage to go to the grocery store. I’m looking forward to the end of it, yet it doesn’t seem to end any time soon. And Trump—-well, no, I won’t even go there.
Red hair, pouchy bags under his eyes, lips that are always open when he is lying to the people of the United States and the world. When did he sell his soul to the devil; how long ago was it? He has little demons that he employs; one of them is named Barr; he is an attorney general who speaks to free criminals like Stone.
The demon speaks the language of bullies all over the world and our children watch him and imitate him like the two kindergartners in Utah who told a Latino boy that Trump, the red headed demon, would deport him back to Mexico. Teenagers in Maine spoke out and said “Ban Muslims” to a classmate wearing a hijab.
Sanctuary cities are being attacked by the demon’s minions to terrorize immigrants and the Statue of Liberty is weeping tears, but the demon doesn’t care as he flaunts his evil ways across the country. The demon always chooses cruelty but has his little demons do his work because, deep inside him, despite his blustery mouth, he is afraid, like most bullies are.
The demon sends his uniformed demons with guns and badges calling them the department of homeland security into the Boston area from February to May. Other cities under attack by the red headed demon in the white house are New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, N.J.
This action by the demon team is quite possibly unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the use of excessive force by demons of law enforcement. A sanctuary city does not allow their police to work with ICE demons whose sole duty is to deport immigrants back to hell.
The most recent action to depose the demon has caused him to draw circles around himself by firing people who have worked in the white house for many years. The demon can’t trust anyone but other little demons who yearn and burn for his cause which is to destroy the United States freedom that we used to take for granted.
Even his little demon son, the Donald Trump, Jr. said on the internet that the attack was useful because it “unearthing who all needed to be fired,” into the sights of the hell world. The demon has said disloyalty to hell is disloyalty to the United States. He is spinning a cocoon of protective fire around his demon self and is aflame with fury that none of his attackers have been arrested.
The demon says, “Be paranoid. Now that sounds terrible. But you have to realize that people, sadly, sadly, are very vicious. You think we’re so different from the lions in the jungle? I don’t know.” These are words from the lying lips of this demon from hell from a motivational seminar that took place in the year 2000 before the demon ascended to the oval office.
Even the bullies at high schools across the country follow the example of the demon-in-chief. “They hear it. They think it’s OK. The demon-in chief says it . . . . Why can’t they?” says Ashanty Bonilla, a Mexican American high school junior in Idaho. Inflammatory language pervades the classrooms across the country.
Also, the demon-in-chief doesn’t want to be subjected to truth through the Freedom of Information Act. Hell is a place where lies prosper. Demons don’t want honesty; they want shadows and lies.
If it wasn’t for the FOIA we wouldn’t know that the government of demons had Black Lives Matter activists under surveillance. We would not know that coal miners were being shut out of their health benefits for black lung disease. And we would never have found out the truth about the demon’s decision to stop military aid to the Ukraine.
The demon-in-chief doesn’t like MuckRock working to get hidden information about what led to the attack on the red-headed-demon from hell. Not only do Black Lives Matter but the Truth Matters Too! Demons like to do their work hidden from the people and are hoping to overturn our Democracy.
The demon-in-chief even wanted to subvert the Census, which determines how the Electoral College counts votes by putting a question in asking about citizenship which would frighten legal noncitizens from answering the Census. Even noncitizen residents of the United States count when it comes to elections.
The demon-in-chief wants to subvert our Democracy and steal another term so he can dismantle our country. This thing in the oval office wants fascism to overtake our freedoms because demons like to rule, not govern.
Demons are not rational. Demons are xenophobic. When our demon-in-chief saw the statistics about Nigerian immigration in the United States he cried out in 2017, that once the Nigerians were in the U.S., they would never “go back to their huts” in Africa. More than 1 in 3 Nigerian immigrants work in the US health industry. They also work in science, technology and engineering fields.
The demon said once, “why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” This red-headed freak who is posing as President is imposing travel bans and closing the windows and doors on a quarter of Africa’s population.
Every step It takes, the demon shreds our freedoms, attacks people with disabilities, attacks LBGQT people and women’s rights and brings our country closer to the gates of hell, which is fascism. We must force the xenophobic demon out and take his cronies out too. There is no time to waste. “If not now, when? If not you, who?” The climate is on fire and not just here but everywhere.
It’s official. As of Monday morning, January 6, 2020 the Impeachment of President Trump is on the second page of the Boston Globe. Clearly our President took a lesson from a previous Republican president. When polls threaten to decline, start a war.
President Trump just assassinated General Qasem Soleimani, the top General of Iran. Of course the people of Iran are disturbed, upset, mourning, angry and threatening to attack Americans.
The Doomsday Clock is now at two minutes to midnight because of the Climate Chaos, the imminent threat of nuclear war and the basic instability of so many countries in the world. Iran is abandoning its pact to limit nuclear arms and announced it will enrich uranium without restriction.
Our halfway Impeached President Trump warned Iran that he has targeted 52 sites inside their borders, which include cultural sites. This is retaliation for the 52 hostages held at the US Embassy in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution in 1979, so he says.
It appears that we have a madman at the helm of state in America. Forget that he doesn’t believe in Global Warming or the incipient deep fry of our planet! Forget that he doesn’t really care about common people like us and only favors his rich cronies and crooked Senate pals like Mitch McConnell. We try to forget but we just can’t.
Our national debt has increased astronomically since Trump took office while losing the popular vote. I know, I know, what would Hillary Clinton have done? Well, I don’t believe that she would have done as much damage as Trump in the short time that he has been in power.
Do you feel safe yet? Does the fact that scientists all over the world think that Donald Trump is an idiot mean anything to you? Are we safe?
I remember in the movie Marathon Man with Dustin Hoffman when people kept asking, “Is it safe?” as the code which meant that things were totally out of control!
Folks, things are totally out of control. The fact that we have to ask the question, which Democratic candidate can beat Trump in the 2020 election; the very fact that we have to ask this question means that things are totally out of hand and the system is failing us all.
Okay, I enjoy these big football games coming up even though the Patriots are out of the running. I like the San Francisco 49’ers led by Jimmy Garoppolo and the Baltimore Ravens led by Lamar Jackson. Really readers, but so what!!!
Our world is on a high state of war alert just because we have a crazy red-headed stepchild at the nuclear control button. This isn’t about some crazy television show where he can just fire people, bomb people, burn the world to the ground around us.
The rain forests are burning; the continent of Australia is burning; the state of California is burning; New Orleans and Florida are beginning to drown; weather events are destroying the infrastructure of our civilization and only a 17 year-old woman named Greta Thunberg is making sense.
How did this situation begin? Are the people who keep Trump in power really this stupid or is it only in my quite active imagination that things have gone FUBAR? Is anyone controlling him? Who are they?
Is it safe? How safe do you feel right now? Do you know that homelessness is rising across the world in startling numbers? Just look around your cities. I mean really take a look. Should people in what is foolishly regarded as one of the richest countries be out on the streets begging?
And why do you think the suicide rate is rising? Why do you think the amount of people picking up drugs and alcohol to escape is reaching record proportions? Is it safe? How safe do you feel right now?
Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion and the Sunrise Movement and Greenpeace would make a better government than we have now.
Please people, wake up! The Doomsday Clock is two minutes to midnight and at midnight everything ends, so to speak. The question is what are we going to do to make things right? Somebody must make a move. This is checkmate folks.
I took a short ride in my car yesterday and was listening to a group called Jersey Dream put out by Clifton Records. They are an acapella group. The lead singer is a friend of mine named Ron Trautz. I was enjoying his voice and thinking about how much he has accomplished since we ran wild together back in the 1960’s.
Just to brag about his accomplishments for a moment, Ron Trautz obtained his LCSW & his LCADC and became the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Counseling Center in New Jersey after graduating from Rutgers University.
Ron has over 40 years of experience in the treatment of Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorders and is experienced in treating people both inpatient and outpatient. He also had a private practice and worked with other non-profit agencies.
That’s pretty wild when I think of the times we got loaded together on codeine based cough syrup back in the early 1960’s. We made many trips from Jersey to New York City, along with a group of other wild characters, in my 58 Plymouth Convertible Belvidere with a push-button transmission.
The first drugstore we hit was called Zelnick’s, named after the proprietor. I remember the first time I walked in there and asked for a jug of Robitussin A-C and the pharmacist looked at me and asked me how many people I was with. I didn’t understand why he asked that question and I queried him back.
He said, “Look, I don’t want a line of you guys running in and out of my store because it just doesn’t look good. Tell me how many bottles you want and I’ll give them all to you as long as you pay for them.”
I told him that there were six of us and we each wanted two bottles apiece. He went into his back room and brought out three 16 ounce bottles while I ran out, collected the bread (money) and ran back in. Needless to say, we were all thrilled and quite loaded by the time we hit our favorite diner on Route 3 in New Jersey to have a couple of cups of hot tea.
I was still in high school at the time and so was Ron. We used to go and “hang” at a friend’s house in Livingston whose parents took off every weekend. If the house wasn’t available we would go to Livingston Lanes and hang out at the coffee shop there until we became personas non gratas—in other words, until they kicked us out.
I remember how the town detectives would always follow us around, but back then they were too lame to make any definitive arrests. They would actually come to the parking lot at the Livingston Lanes and chat us up to see if they could glean any information from us. We were just teenagers but thought of ourselves as having the art of misdirection totally under control.
Some of us got out of the life, Ron being one of the lucky ones. There were others too. But I continued on the long road to heroin addiction and never wanted to stop, nor did I think I could.
Ron got clean, went back to school and studied to become a drug counselor and was a success. He kept singing vocal group harmony with his specialty being acapella. His album, called Jersey Dream, is just one of the groups he sang with. Ron sang lead vocalist with Jersey Dream and hearing his voice is like a trip in the way-back machine.
I struggled for over 3 and one-half decades with my opiate addiction and now I am about to celebrate 15 years of sobriety with my home group. I actually passed the 15 year mark in September but, because I dislike chairing the meeting, I put it off and then realized that it would be a good thing to do to show that a once hopeless case like me, can actually recover from this illness of the body, mind and soul.
I have to admit that sometimes I think about using or, as the term goes, “picking up” but every time I think of it, the thought of that terrible Fentanyl crosses my mind. Today, I love life, and I realize that if I were to stick the needle in my vein I might not be alive to pull it back out. That’s what happened to one of my heroes by the name of Lenny Bruce, a great comedian who was ahead of his time. He passed at the age of 37 in 1966. But it wasn’t Fentanyl, just an overdose but he is gone except for his comedic legacy.
Ron is the other side of the story. He spent 40 years of his life treating people with addictions as both a counselor and the Director of the agency I mentioned earlier.
Unfortunately, Ron is quite ill now with various age-related afflictions, but he is totally valued by his wife, family and friends. When I think back at how wild we were, I find it amazing that he accomplished so much. Of course, he was one of the brighter people in the club we called the Hats in Livingston High School.
I guess both of us are lucky, both Ron and me. I worked as a drug counselor for a few years, but it was at the Cambridge Needle Exchange and it was too close for my hungry monkey. I relapsed on the job.
Now I work as a writer and I’ll soon be having a book published of short stories and poetry. I’m looking forward to it but keeping my life in the moment so I can stay drug free. After all, I know I’m not bullet proof.
I met my beloved wife in 1994 at a support meeting for alcoholism. Both of us were closing in on our 50’s. We often went out for coffee together and became fast friends. Each of us was struggling with our own demons, yet we were able to give each other loving support. The key word is “loving” and not until 1999 did we start dating, very casually, going out to movies, eating dinner at her place, listening to her play the piano while I kicked back. One night Mary Esther and I went to a party where her close friend was celebrating many years of sobriety. After the party, we came back to her place and just because it was time, we fell into each other’s arms for our first passionate kiss. We didn’t have time to consummate the strong desires that we both were feeling because I had to get to the station to make the train back to the recovery house, called Moore’s Way, that I lived in on the North Shore in the great town of Gloucester.
We both promised to deal with this gift the next time we saw each other. Both of us were dealing with some major wreckage of the past and we both agreed that we would not consummate our relationship unless we both comitted to a monogamous relationship. Needless to say, we agreed and have enjoyed a wonderful relationship over the years. However, there have been dark shadows. On April 7, 2001, we came home from church and were eating dinner at her place when she started having tremors and couldn’t stop shaking. I asked her if she could take some deep breaths and she couldn’t. We both realized this was serious and I asked her to get into her car and, despite the fact that I still had no driver’s license (for some major infractions that took place many years ago), I drove her to Mt. Auburn Hospital which was the closest hospital. We parked by the Emergency room and I walked her in. Immediately the staff there recognized that something serious was happening and they took Mary Esther right in and hooked her up to various intravenous machines and then they let me come in to sit with her while she was being evaluated.
The physician was very concerned because all of her vitals were skewed a bit and he said, “We’ll keep her now for observation until this clears up.”
Suddenly, all her vitals started to crash. The physician and staff ran a line to her heart and told us that they were going to have to intubate her because she was rapidly losing the ability to breath on her own. Our eyes met and I was as frightened as she was as they led me out of the room so they could deal with this major event. To make a long story a bit shorter, what they found out was she had Sepsis. There was a cyst on her kidney that had started to leak poisons into her bloodstream and that was what started the tremors. While she was on the table in the Emergency room, the cyst burst and flooded her system with the lethal poison. For about two days we did not know whether my wonderful woman was going to survive. A priest that she knew came in and gave her Last Rites. I had called her mother, who lived downstairs from her, and she came to the hospital. Her name was Mary and she was around 88 years old at the time.
At the hospital, she looked at me and said, “Remember, she was mine first!” I looked her in the eye and said, “I know that, and I will always be grateful that you brought her into this world to grace my life.” She came into my arms and cried. By the end of the second day, Mary Esther started to improve, and they were able to take the intubation out and she could breathe on her own. She still couldn’t talk because they had a mask on her face to help her lungs with pressure. When I leaned over to kiss her forehead, Mary Esther gave me a head butt! It was the only way she could communicate and she wanted me to know she was still there. I realized then that she was going to be okay. For the 12 days she was at Mt. Auburn Hospital, the doctors brought resident physicians around to meet the woman who had survived Sepsis. They told us that if she was not at the hospital when the cyst burst, she would have been lost.
During her recovery, I actually watched Mary Esther go through all the stages of growing up. At first, she was like a little child but then, as she recovered, she grew up into the woman I had fallen in love with. While she was in the hospital, I asked her to marry me because we both felt that time was shorter than we knew. Even though she was committing to a homeless drug addict struggling in recovery, Mary Esther accepted. We were married at a friend’s house, in a large backyard on June 22nd, 2002. It was a great wedding, totally alcohol and drug free, and even the caterers had a great time and didn’t want to leave.
Obviously, there is more to this story, but I have run out of space. It is now 2019 and the leaves are coloring, and the acorns are dropping as the holiday season creeps up on us. Mary Esther and I believe that, for us, God saved the best for last.
I took a short ride in my car yesterday and was listening to a group called Jersey Dream put out by Clifton Records. They are an acapella group. The lead singer is a friend of mine named Ron Trautz. I was enjoying his voice and thinking about how much he has accomplished since we ran wild together back in the 1960’s. Just to brag about his accomplishments for a moment, Ron Trautz obtained his LCSW & his LCADC and became the Executive Director of the New Brunswick Counseling Center in New Jersey after graduating from Rutgers University. Ron has over 40 years of experience in the treatment of Substance Use and Co-Occurring Disorders and is experienced in treating people both inpatient and outpatient. He also had a private practice and worked with other non-profit agencies. That’s pretty wild when I think of the times we got loaded together on codeine based cough syrup back in the early 1960’s. We made many trips from Jersey to New York City, along with a group of other wild characters, in my 58 Plymouth Convertible Belvidere with a push-button transmission.
The first drugstore we hit was called Zelnick’s, named after the proprietor. I remember the first time I walked in there and asked for a jug of Robitussin A-C and the pharmacist looked at me and asked me how many people I was with. I didn’t understand why he asked that question and I queried him back. He said, “Look, I don’t want a line of you guys running in and out of my store because it just doesn’t look good. Tell me how many bottles you want and I’ll give them all to you as long as you pay for them.” I told him that there were six of us and we each wanted two bottles apiece. He went into his back room and brought out three 16 ounce bottles while I ran out, collected the bread (money) and ran back in. Needless to say, we were all thrilled and quite loaded by the time we hit our favorite diner on Route 3 in New Jersey to have a couple of cups of hot tea.
I was still in high school at the time and so was Ron. We used to go and “hang” at a friend’s house in Livingston whose parents took off every weekend. If the house wasn’t available we would go to Livingston Lanes and hang out at the coffee shop there until we became personas non gratas—in other words, until they kicked us out. I remember how the town detectives would always follow us around, but back then they were too lame to make any definitive arrests. They would actually come to the parking lot at the Livingston Lanes and chat us up to see if they could glean any information from us. We were just teenagers but thought of ourselves as having the art of misdirection totally under control. Some of us got out of the life, Ron being one of the lucky ones. There were others too. But I continued on the long road to heroin addiction and never wanted to stop, nor did I think I could.
Ron got clean, went back to school and studied to become a drug counselor and was a success. He kept singing vocal group harmony with his specialty being acapella. His album, called Jersey Dream, is just one of the groups he sang with. Ron sang lead vocalist with Jersey Dream and hearing his voice is like a trip in the way-back machine. I struggled for over 3 and one-half decades with my opiate addiction and now I am about to celebrate 15 years of sobriety with my home group. I actually passed the 15 year mark in September but, because I dislike chairing the meeting, I put it off and then realized that it would be a good thing to do to show that a once hopeless case like me, can actually recover from this illness of the body, mind and soul. I have to admit that sometimes I think about using or, as the term goes, “picking up” but every time I think of it, the thought of that terrible Fentanyl crosses my mind. Today, I love life, and I realize that if I were to stick the needle in my vein I might not be alive to pull it back out. That’s what happened to one of my heroes by the name of Lenny Bruce, a great comedian who was ahead of his time. He passed at the age of 37 in 1966. But it wasn’t Fentanyl, just an overdose but he is gone except for his comedic legacy.
Ron is the other side of the story. He spent 40 years of his life treating people with addictions as both a counselor and the Director of the agency I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, Ron is quite ill now with various age-related afflictions, but he is totally valued by his wife, family and friends. When I think back at how wild we were, I find it amazing that he accomplished so much. Of course, he was one of the brighter people in the club we called the Hats in Livingston High School. I guess both of us are lucky, both Ron and me. I worked as a drug counselor for a few years, but it was at the Cambridge Needle Exchange and it was too close for my hungry monkey. I relapsed on the job.
Now I work as a writer and I’ll soon be having a book published of short stories and poetry. I’m looking forward to it but keeping my life in the moment so I can stay drug free. After all, I know I’m not bullet proof.
I kept drinking the wine so the withdrawal from the Klonopin wouldn’t hit me. I didn’t want to have a seizure out here in the boondocks. My wife, Debbie, has already gone into detox at a place called Scatterberry Farm. St Dismas House said that they had an opening for me but it would not be until Monday. It was Saturday morning and they might as well said eternity.
I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could make a doctor. I pulled out the phone book and flipped to the yellow pages. There’s not a hell of a lot of doctors close by in the hills of Vermont. I felt a chill and threw a couple of logs in the wood stove. I came back to the phone book and dropped my finger on a doctor that was in the town of Ludlow. A woman doctor.
Sometimes that’s a good thing and sometimes not. Usually a woman doctor can be conned the first time, but every now and then you can run into a real bitch. I crossed my fingers and then dialed the number.
Two rings. Click. It was her nurse or secretary and she said she had an open time at 1:30pm. I looked at the clock on the wall. Almost 11 o’clock. Fuck. Two and one-half hours. And not even a sure thing. But I had to stop drinking the wine because she’d never come off with the script if I smelled like a boozer. I thought that I would try for both cough syrup and the pills. That would hold me until Monday.
I smoked a joint of the homegrown and walked outside. The rabbit cages were covered with snow again and I brushed them off and put fresh food inside the little bowl. I brought their water bowl into the cabin, popped the ice out if it, filled it with warm water, and brought the bowl back out. I looked into the hutch and realized that there was only one rabbit left. I decided to eat the last one. I pulled out the black and white bunny by the ears and put it down on the ground under my foot. Held it tight while I pulled out the .38 and pumped one bullet into its head. It jerked for a moment and then lay still. Slit it and cleaned it and pulled its skin off like taking a foot out of a wet sock.
Then I brought it inside and made some sauce for it to soak in. Usually I like to let it soak for a few days to improve the taste but I was out of food and didn’t want to waste money on food that I might need to cash the scripts. I’d cook it tonight if I was loaded. If I couldn’t get any drugs I wouldn’t be hungry anyway.
I looked at the clock. Almost half past twelve. I figured I’d pull out and go to the doc a little early. Maybe her first appointment wouldn’t show. Maybe I could just catch her going in and she would take me first. Maybe maybe maybe. Three miles of dirt road in the snow and seven of country highway. Good to get a start on things anyhow.
I grabbed my props: an old bottle of syrup from a previous script and a vial of pills with just the right run out date on them. I always could come up with them because I had a satchel of them saved just for this purpose. A lot of doctors would come right off with the drugs if they saw that another doctor where I used to live gave them to me. Chronic medical conditions. Bronchitus. Anxiety because of the respiratory ailments. I’d chain smoke non filters all day before the appointment and my lungs would sound like I was really congested.
I used to love it when I came down with a real bad chest cold because then I would travel all over the countryside making doctor after doctor. I could even get people to come and bankroll me on the scripts because they knew I was almost a sure thing. It always seemed funny to me how, when I was high, the doctors would come right off for me but if I was dope-sick, that’s when I would have the most trouble.
I was dope-sick. And I was nervous. I tore apart the dresser drawers just hoping to come up with a pill or something. I went through the satchel with all the Tussionex and Hycodan bottles to see if maybe I had left the wash in one of them. No luck. I guess I had gone through them and already done that. The thought crossed my mind that this seemed all too familiar.
I put the rabbit in the pan up on top of the fridge, got my hat and coat and boots on and grabbed the keys to the truck and crunched down the drive to the pickup truck. It cranked slow because of the cold but it kicked over and I rolled down the incline into the dirt road. I had snow tires on all four wheels and the back of the truck was loaded with sandbags so the going wasn’t too bad. I smoked a joint and then ate a lifesaver to kill the smell. I don’t know why I smoked the joint because all it did was make me more paranoid. By the time I got to the doctor’s office I felt like my head was going to explode.
I really wanted to smoke a cigarette to calm down but I didn’t want to walk in there stinking of tobacco, so I just took some deep breaths and listened to the phlegm in my chest rattle. It sounded great. When she put the stethoscope to my chest she was going to hear all the right noises.
I walked into the office. There was an old woman sitting there. Doctors that treat old people sometimes are easier to make than others. I nodded to the old lady when she looked up at me and then sat down and picked up a magazine. I flipped through the pages but I couldn’t keep my mind on the articles, because I was thinking of what to say to the doctor to get the drugs. My stomach was all nervous and I could feel it gnawing at itself. I had to urinate and I looked around for a bathroom. I didn’t see one and I hoped it wouldn’t be too long before I could go in.
The door opened and the doctor came out. She looked to be in her late thirties and wore brown glasses. Her hair was brown and hung loosely onto her shoulders with a little wisp over her glasses. The thought crossed my mind that I was glad that her hair wasn’t tied up in a bun. An old man followed her out of the office and the old woman sitting near me smiled at him and stood up as he walked over to her. My heart leaped in my chest. They were together and I was next. The old woman was just waiting for her husband to come out of the office. I saw the scripts in his hand and I wondered what the doctor had given him.
They all talked for a few minutes and then the doctor motioned me in. Good. No nurse. I chatted with her as she took my weight, my blood pressure, and my respiration and pulse. I looked as she charted my blood pressure and I was happy to see that it was elevated. That always helped me get the pills.
She got up and left the room for a minute and I looked around to see if there was anything worth taking. Then she quickly returned. I told her how my chest was all congested and I had trouble sleeping at night with all the coughing.
“This happens to me every winter. Maybe I should move south. I don’t know. I just like the change of seasons.”
“Maybe you should quit smoking,” she said.
“Well, I’ve cut down a lot. I only smoke a few cigarettes a day.”
“You should quit altogether.”
“I’m planning on it soon. I haven’t smoked yet today.”
“I smell cigarettes on your clothes.”
“Oh, yeah. My wife is a heavy smoker. It would be easier for me to quit if she didn’t smoke so much.”
“I see. Well-” she paused.
I held my breath. My props were in front of her. My heart felt like it would pound out of my chest and my stomach felt like it was full of ice-cold water.
She pulled the prescription pad out and I watched the pen move. Yes. Yes. Yes. She wrote for the Tussionex. Only four ounces but I didn’t have to share it with my wife because she was in treatment so it would be enough. She wrote for an inhaler. Screw the inhaler — I would trash that scrip. And she wrote for the Klonopin. The benzo’s are great opiate boosters and my heart was dancing and leaping around in my chest. She pushed the papers to me and I folded them up and put them away quickly. I was afraid the doctor would change her mind at the last minute.
She made out the bill and I paid part of it and told her that I would mail the rest of it in. She took down my address. I always paid part of the bill if I had the money because it was better in case I went back there again. I could pay it off then and owe a whole bill next time. If a doctor kept writing I would keep paying. If they didn’t write I wouldn’t pay at all.
I left the office and drove over to the pharmacy. I hated this part. Some pharmacists were real assholes and would do their judgment thing and say they didn’t have the drug in stock just because they didn’t want to give it. I pulled into the parking lot, turned off the truck and got out. I took a deep breath and walked into the store.
The pharmacist had grey hair and his glasses rested down on a bump in the middle of his nose. The counter woman came over and I handed her the scripts. She asked me for my address and wrote it on the scripts. I hated when they did that if they didn’t cash them because then you had to take it to another pharmacy and the evidence was there that one pharmacy had already turned you down.
She walked them back to the guy and he looked at them for what seemed to be an eternity and then he started to type. He walked to the back and I saw the yellow thick liquid in the Tussionex bottle. He shook the bottle. I feel as if I might have said something if he didn’t shake the bottle because it says that the active ingredients settle to the bottom and to shake it before you take it on the prescription instructions. He poured and it came out slow and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I heard him shake the pills into the dispenser and then he finished typing and he handed the two packages to the counter woman.
She called my name.
I can’t describe the feeling when you walk out of the drug store with the stuff in your hand. It is like the whole world is yours and you got over on the best of them. I wanted to dance out of the store but I just walked. I strolled over to the coffee shop next door and took that piss that I had been holding since the doctor’s office and then ordered a coffee to down with the pills and the medicine. The hot coffee pumps the drugs into your system and there’s nothing so good as the cigarette with your coffee after the medicine slides down your throat. Then the high comes on.
I looked around the parking lot to see if anyone was watching. No one seemed close. I threw three 2 milligram Klonopin into my mouth and lifted the Tussy jug to my lips. I held it up until the last of it spilled into my mouth. Put the cap back on it and stood it upside down on the seat for the residue to drain into the cap so I could suck it out later. Lit a smoke and sipped my coffee as I decided what to do next.
I figured that I would visit my wife. That was my first mistake.
Right away she could tell that I was high and was pissed off that I didn’t save her any. I told her that I still had Klonopin to give her but that wasn’t good enough. She started yelling at me and the people at the treatment center told me that I had to leave and she said she was coming with me and that I better have another croaker all lined up for a script so she could get high too. I just wanted to enjoy my high and all hell was breaking loose and I knew that it was going to be a big hassle to cop for her and she would bitch the whole time there until we got it. I wished she would stay at the treatment center and I wished I hadn’t gone to see her there but it was too late now.
I don’t know how I always keep making these mistakes over and over again.
They told her that if she left with me that she couldn’t come back and that if she stayed they didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to come any more. I knew that if she stayed they would try to turn her against me and tell her that she should find another place to live, so even though I wanted her to stay I told her to come with me.
I was high and so I knew I would be at my best now for making doctors.
She threw her shit in her bag and we blew out the door of the treatment center. She ate two Klonopin as soon as she got into the truck and made me buy her a beer to wash it down. We stopped at a phone booth and looked in the book for another doctor. There was a doctor in Brandon and I called him and he said that he had one appointment left and could I get there by 4:30. I said yes and let her drive so I could dig my head.
She bitched at me for the entire ride. I chain-smoked and nodded while she talked.
Finally we pulled into the parking lot. The office was in an old colonial house and I went in. The waiting room was empty. He came out and beckoned me in and I laid my rap on him. He took my vital signs and listened to my chest. He thought it sounded terrible and wrote me a script for four more ounces of Tussionex and gave me one of those garbage inhalers and some antibiotics.
We raced to the drugstore because sometimes in these little hick towns in Vermont they close real early. I filled the antibiotics with the cough syrup but I threw away the script for the inhaler. I had learned that those inhalers cost a lot of money from past experience.
I got back out to the truck and I told her that I was going to do one ounce of the syrup because I went in to make the croaker and did all the work and she complained but there was nothing she could do about it. I ate two more pills and did a heavy ounce and then let her do her three and she drained the bottle and took a few more pills.
I took over the wheel after we had coffee. We were turning into Route 7 heading into Rutland and I heard a screech of brakes and this guy almost hit us as we came onto the main highway. Then the creep starts riding my ass. I just hadn’t seen him and it wasn’t my fault and he was beginning to piss me off so I turned around and flipped him the bird. He had an older woman in the front seat and someone was sitting in the back seat too.
My wife said to let it slide but the dude was riding our ass real close so I slammed on the brakes just for a second and he came up on me and freaked because he though he was going to hit us and he locked up his brakes and his car spun sideways as I hit the gas and pulled away laughing like a loon.
He was on us again like maggots on garbage. Coming real close and looking real grim when I peeped into the rear view mirror. We were coming into town and the lights on the highway were green. I saw that the light by the Mobil gas station by one of the main roads into the shopping section of town had changed to orange and he was still coming up on us so when I stopped I looked into the rear view mirror and I saw him ripping out of his car with a crow bar in his hand and he looked like this giant woodsman over six feet tall and I knew that we screwed the pooch.
I figured I’d have as much chance as a pigeon in a wolf pack if I went physical with this Vermont mountain man and I was so frightened that my bowels felt like they’s been turned to oil. I hit the gas and turned the steering wheel and flew through that Mobil station like it was an interstate. My wife yelled at me as we pulled out into the adjacent roadway as an oncoming car swung wildly around us blaring on the horn and I told her to “just shut up” and she did. The guy chasing us jumped back into his car and was on us again.
He had anger fueling his jets but I was running for my life so I had some edge on the creep. The light turned red ahead and I flew through it like it was bumper-car city and pulled a sharp right with my wheels screaming for mercy. Looked back. Heart pounding. Debbie yelling at me. The guy was coming but he’d lost a little ground. The thought of the gun back at the house ripped through my head and I knew just why I never carried it with me anymore.
Red light ahead. Cars stopped in my lane. Debbie screamed as I crossed the line into the oncoming lane and took a left through the traffic. Horns blowing and the screech of brakes and I didn’t look and I hit the gas and the stores and people were flying by the truck in what was once the quiet streets of Rutland. I looked back for a second and didn’t see him. I kept going making rights and lefts and found myself in the residential section of town.
I slowed the truck down and my head and heart was still racing. Time to head home. I felt like my head from the drugs was almost gone but I figured that if I ate some more pills that it would creep back. So I did.
The next thing I remember was we were back at the house and the rabbit was in the wood cook stove. I had a glass of wine in front of me and Debbie was rolling a joint and talking about calling the detox tomorrow to see if she could get back in. We nodded out and the rabbit burned all on the outside and we picked away the burnt flesh in the morning and cut up the meat that wasn’t burnt and ate it for breakfast. It was one hell of a good rabbit.
Debbie called the detox and they said the only way she could come back was if I didn’t’ come there to visit or call her. She decided to go and I dropped her off at Scatterberry Farm.
The next day, sick and shaking, I checked into St. Dismas House and that put another forty mles between me and Debbie. They had to medicate me heavily for about five days so I wouldn’t have a seizure.
I was still being withdrawn slowly from the Klonopin and I had been at St. Dismas House for seventeen days when they called me into the office. My counselor was there and they told me that they had something important to tell me and they sat me down. I knew it was about my wife.
I was right. They said they had to tell me that my wife had left treatment this morning. She left with someone else. Another guy.
I felt like my whole world spun into black holes and I got dizzy and didn’t know what to do. I wanted to run. I wanted to get high. The counselors talked to me for a while and I don’t remember much of what was said but my throat hurt all the time they were talking.
They kept talking and then gave me an extra dose of medication and they said that I could stay an extra 21 days because they thought I needed it. I said I would stay.
My wife and the guy had rented a small place in Ludlow and after eight days the police came and picked him up for violation of parole because he was court committed to the treatment center as a condition of release. They lugged him back to prison.
Debbie started coming around to St. Dismas House and asked me if I would go back with her. The counselor there said he thought I should go into a halfway house and keep away from my wife for a while. He started the process to get me into a halfway house that was affiliated with them. Right before the interview for the house I left treatment and moved back in with my wife but things just didn’t seem the same.
Three days later I cashed a refill for some Klonopin and then went to a doctor for some Tussionex. We didn’t have enough money to fill the script so we pawned the guy’s tools that he had left in the garage behind the apartment house. On the way back I was too messed up to drive and sideswiped a chain link fence. A section of it came down and my wife took over the wheel and we sped away before anyone came.
Two days later when my retroactive disability check came I went to a doctor to get another script and he said that the pharmacy had called him and that I had been going to doctors all over the northern part of Vermont to get narcotics and everyone had my name. He told me if I ever came back again he was going to call the police and I was through around there. He was still yelling at me and I gave him the finger as I left the office.
Debbie and I went to a bar and had a few drinks so we could think straight and we decided to move to South Carolina with the $9000 we had. This way we could start fresh and make a new life for ourselves. That night we loaded the truck with the stuff that we wanted and left for South Carolina at sunrise. I was starting to get dope sick so we stopped in the Great Brook Valley Projects in Worcester to buy some heroin so we could make it into New York City. We figured we could get enough heroin in New York to hold us for the entire trip.
The stuff we got in New York was so good that we stopped in a motel just past Washington DC and didn’t leave the motel until the dope was all gone. We started hitting doctors in the small towns on the way down. Once Debbie fell asleep at the wheel on Interstate 95 and we scraped a cement bridge and the truck spun around on the highway but nobody hit us. I took over the driving.
When we got to South Carolina we found a place to rent really fast and it was a lot cheaper than up north. We were really excited as we moved into the new place and I went to a small medical center and got a script for Tussionex and Klonopin and we celebrated that night.
I fell asleep with a cigarette and when I woke up the couch was smoking and I could barely see. I opened the windows and the door and poured water on the couch. I fell asleep next to Debbie on the bed with my clothes on and that night I had a dream about being in a church. The church was empty except for me and I woke up crying. The crucifix was upside down and there was a pool of blood beneath it with a bent motorcycle wheel in a slow spin.