There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Sticking my head out of the old pickup’s crank-down window, I could see the dry, tan-colored, rolling hills becoming more prominent. I could also feel the warmth of the sun, piercing through the cool December wind, luminous upon my unshaven face. The sulfury, sea-smell dissipated miles ago, welcoming in a heavy trail of pollen and cedar, letting me know we were back in the Texas Hill Country.
Welcome back allergies.
Staring out at the setting sun, I could foresee new beginnings on the stunning horizon. I felt the sense of a new venture coming my way and was looking forward to whatever it brought me.
We were on our way to my hometown of Austin. The drive couldn’t have lasted any longer. The tickling ants of anticipation were at it, crawling around my stomach. They had been unstable the entire two-and-a-half hour drive up from the gulf coast city of Corpus Christi. There still lasted an hour or so of driving until I could see the love of my life—at the time—Scarlett.
After her relapse that crazy night, I called my parents, whom already knew all about Scarlett via my every-other-day phone calls, and told them about what had happened with her. Also, how worried-sick I was about her and her recovery.
Scarlett’s parents had had enough of her relapsing and wouldn’t allow her to come back home. She had been to four other rehabs prior to this last one. All of them for heroin.
Thanks to my parents’ compassion and their never-ending love for my eternal happiness, they offered to let her stay at their house. She would stay there with them and my younger brother until she was ready to come back—or “clean.”
I couldn’t imagine how awkward it must have been for both my family and for Scarlett, but it actually worked-out. She stayed in my old room and hung out with my mom, for the most part. They did almost everything together—shopping, going out to eat. My mom even brought her to a Texas Longhorn football game, where she got to meet up with her aunt and spend time with some family.
My mom and her ended up becoming good friends, practically sharing each other’s secrets and such. On the days they weren’t together, Scarlett would spend time in my room writing, reading, and snooping through all my old things, I’m sure. That is, if she wasn’t on the phone with me.
I just couldn’t get over how cool my parents were for letting her stay there, while knowing full well that she was a heroin addict who just relapsed. However, what my family and I didn’t realize, was what it meant to be a heroin addict—even if they are moved to a new place, not knowing anyone in town, an addict will still find a way to get their fix.
At this point, that was neither here, nor there. She spent about two weeks living with my family until she finally made it back to Kerrville. She took another drug test and passed, letting her back into her sober house. I couldn’t help smiling when I saw her back in her house. I felt like a proud parent wanting to put her test on the refrigerator.
After that and staying with my family, I felt closer to her than I ever had. Also, if we ever decided to get married, she would already have met my them, who were subsequently cool with her.
So, Randy, Callie, Scarlett, and I were back together again. We just had to be extra careful with our “little heroin addict.”
About five months living in Kerrville, all of us were beginning to get sick of our halfway houses, with all the rules and such. Like the addicts we were, we were in the midst of a craving; not for dope, however. We craved more freedom and we figured, if we all stuck together and held each other accountable, we could make it through anything. Therefore, we decided to look for a place for the four of us to call our own.
We looked at several small houses in the Kerrville area. All of them being very quaint and decently priced, but we couldn’t settle on one. We continued browsing each block in every neighborhood, still not seeing a house we all agreed on. Until the last street we decided to drive down before we called it a day, had the perfect house.
It was spacious with a 70s vibe to it, complete with shag carpet. It even had a tiny white-picket fence surrounding the front yard. Still, the house only had two bedrooms when we needed three. I wanted Randy and Callie to start dating already so it would work out, but they both weren’t each other that way.
Callie was a pretty girl, naturally, with short hair as dark as the midnight sky. She would ordinarily wear old-time, hipster dresses that looked like they were from the 50s. I didn’t care much for her taste in clothing, but she could definitely pull it off. It was her dorky personality and great taste in music that had made her a winner in my book.
But both she and Randy agreed they were strictly “just friends.” I tried to put them together, but it never worked out, and in all actuality, I couldn’t care less.
The dining room was separated into its own room, so Callie took one for the team, saying that she would fix it up and sleep there. This house was now in our future, it seemed like. However, it wasn’t available for a little while, so we decided to wait it out and save up more money.
Sounded perfect, except for one thing: we were addicts and alcoholics, and we wanted— and were used-to having—instant gratification. Like how a shot of dope hits you instantly, we wanted things to happen, now. I’m pretty sure that is why we did what we did next…
I was working a morning shift and had about two hours left, when all three of them came waltzing into the restaurant with a new plan. The place wasn’t busy so I had plenty of time to hear out their new idea.
“We are going to move to Corpus!” One of the girls had yelled.
I had already known Randy was from Corpus Christi. It was a city I’d never been to—being along the coast, close to Padre Island. It was about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Austin; only three from where we were.
“Randy said he could get us all jobs down there, and imagine us living along the coast! Plus, I’d be a lot closer to my brother,” mentioned Scarlett, who was originally from Houston. “He lives in Rockport, which is right next to it.”
I walked away to clean a table I had been neglecting. I’m glad I hadn’t touched it yet. It gave me a reason to think about this crazy decision they were impulsively making. They all were certainly gung-ho for it. But, it was old, addict behavior for me——doing things without clearly thinking about the consequences. Yet, I was five-months sober and nineteen-years old. Plus, I had plenty of money saved up (I didn’t like banks, so I had all my money hidden in a Monopoly™ box because no one ever played that horrible game).
I walked back to the table they sat themselves at, after bussing only the drinks off that one table. “OK… I’ll go. Let’s do it.”
“Alright!” they yelled.
I guess my on-duty manager had listened to our conversation because when I walked up to him, telling him I was going to leave, he already wore a sarcastic smile on his plump face.
“You ne’er gon’ come back?” He asked. He was a big guy with a thick, country twang in his southern accent that I loved and was going to miss.
“I don’t think so, I’m being kidnapped,” I told him, “I’m really, really sorry man.”
“Mmhmm,” he grumbled. And with that, I was gone. The addicts have left the building!
But, of course, things didn’t end up the way we planned: The girls wanted to go back to Austin first to grab some of Callie’s things, then they were going to meet us down in Corpus. So, Randy and I packed our stuff up and said goodbye to as many people as we could before we hit the road. My housemates told me not to go and that it was a bad idea, but I was so excited for a new start, I neglected them and promised I’d be alright. Plus, my parents didn’t have a problem with it. I was an adult and on my own, so why not? And the next thing I knew, we were on the road, with Randy driving my Chevy Blazer.
Three days later…
I had never been to a more boring place in my life. There were only two things that I liked about Corpus:
One: it possessed the first Whataburger™,
two: it had many places to play Bingo.
I couldn’t get enough of it.
Randy had been a bingo caller for some years before he had went to treatment and met me. He, also had a following—groups of old ladies, who loved Randy as much as the game.
He was a character too! Give him the microphone and all the “cowboy-ness” about him perishes, leaving just the goofy, funny side of himself. The boring bingo I was familiar with, became, not only bearable, but boisterous. I had also found it cute and funny how every older lady had their “lucky” trinkets, Troll™ dolls, and pictures of family surrounding the hundreds of playing cards they had. I had no idea how they could play so many cards at once, while I could barely keep up with three.
Randy had the crazy idea of me becoming a bingo caller. All I had to do was fill out some information online, wait for a phone call and POOF, I had a gambling license, allowing me to call bingo. Not what I wanted to do, but I had signed up anyway and received my license. But after the three days we were down there, there was still no sight of the girls.
Every time I talked to Scarlett, she’d say they were “leaving tomorrow.” After the last time I talked to her, I couldn’t stand being in Corpus anymore. I had to leave. I wanted to go home and be with my babe. I told this to Randy, and thankfully, he had understood completely. However, he wanted to drive back to Corpus with his truck. So, he drove us up in his old pick-up, leaving my car down in the grimy, seaside city.
So, we made it to Austin.
My home base.
Back in my element.
Back with my family.
Dorothy hit the nail on the head, “there’s no place like home.”
Scarlett and I moved back in with my parents until we could afford our own place, since I spent most of my money in Corpus. I had to leave my car there too, since my license was still suspended. We had to make a plan to drive back down there to grab it and make it back. Randy had driven back down Corpus after he dropped me off because he had to get back to work.
It was my job to get the ladies to get their shit together and drive back down to meet Randy, but fortunately, that didn’t happen. The three of us wanted to stay in Austin, since both Callie and I lived there and I told them how much I hated Corpus. Still, we said “sorries” to Randy and told him to come back up whenever he could.
Back in my house, in my room that I loved so much, felt peaceful. As if all the stars were aligned right just for my sake.
After a little “Oh I haven’t seen you in so long” sex, Scarlett and I were both laying naked in my bed. We both whispered sweet things and talked about how much we missed each other. But being back home, in my old room, with the posters of bands I didn’t listen to anymore, I started getting tiny flashbacks. Flashes of remembering all the good, drunken times I used to have. With that, devious thoughts and feelings came lurking about. I started to feel that urge for a drink, which I hadn’t felt since the middle of rehab.
I wanted to drink. But I had no idea as to what Scarlett would think about that. I was always true to her and never lied so I felt as though I should tell her. This is how it came out:
“You want to drink?”
She looked at me with eyebrows raised, “Really?… umm, OK.”
She knew exactly what I was talking about. I suppose we were thinking the same thing. Do ‘dumb’ minds think alike?
It was late, so my dad was asleep and my mom was still out with friends, like she always was. I hadn’t seen her home at night in a while, but I never questioned it.
I quietly ran down the stairs. I knew all the secret spots on each step to not make any noise. Something every kid should learn if they wanted to sneak out of the house. I also had the roof down too, just in case I had to sneak out of an upstairs window.
I snuck through the kitchen, passed the liquor cabinet I knew was empty, and into the garage. I knew my dad had a couple bottles of whiskey hidden in there and where each of them were. I grabbed a bottle of Gentleman Jack™ and a Coke, then walked the same course back upstairs and into my room.
Scarlett had a look of disbelief, surprised that I was actually sincere when I had asked her that simple, but serious, life-changing question.
I took a gulp and passed it to her. She mirrored me by doing the same. I could feel the warmth hit my stomach, then after another, my lips went numb.
I laughed out loud and exclaimed, “Heh, I forgot how numb my lips get when I drink.”
“Your lips go numb?”
“Yeah, don’t yours?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“Weird… Oh well.” So I had another swig.
We had to figure out a plan to get my car back up here from Corpus, so we started brainstorming ideas. Mainly, who could drive my car back up, since I couldn’t, and she needed to drive her car back. Her car was also manual and I didn’t know how to drive a stick yet, so she’d have to drive both ways. I felt bad since the whole point of going was for my car. The feeling didn’t last long, though. I was about 6 swigs deep, by now. The liquor all at once, became a wave pool in my formerly empty stomach, making my head spin.
“Damn babe, are you …as drunk as I am?” I burped. “I’m feeling… pretty good over here.” I managed to express.
“You’re drunk?… “ she paused. “Not as drunk as you, I guess,” then laughed.
I could tell something wasn’t right. Like she was in another place. Her body was physically present, but her mind wasn’t. She was immersed in something else I couldn’t see or think. She then, looked at me inquisitively.
She looked like she wanted to ask me something, but didn’t know how. If only she knew, how much I loved her. And how she could ask or tell me anything in the world.
I wouldn’t be mad.
I wouldn’t get offended.
If she needed me to do something for her… she would just have to name it.
I would’ve given her all the happiness in the world. At least, all the happiness I had, which was a constant, flowing stream of satisfaction. You couldn’t contain it.
I loved her so much.
Nevertheless, there was something about her. Almost as if she was harboring a dark and personal secret. I could see it in the deep abyss of her eyes. Two dark prison cells locking up something sinister and malevolent. But I would never ask her something so personal. If she wanted to tell me, she would to tell me when the time was right. Certainly, not right now when I’m inebriated.
I was wrong, once again.
Slowly, she asked, “Hey… would you want to drive through Houston on our way there?”
“OK, for what, sweetie?”
In a quiet, mousy voice, “To pick up some dope.”
There was a long pause while figured out exactly what she meant by that.
“Like—,” I started to whisper, “…heroin?”
Suddenly, it was as if everything I learned in school, with the D.A.R.E. program—which was a joke—had vanished. The only things I could recall about heroin, at the moment, were all the good things I had heard in rehab. Hell, I even knew how to shoot up.
Was she talking about shooting up?
Well, if you’re going to do something, do it right, I guess. Anxiety made a strong comeback after being on hiatus for a few months, but I was drunk and didn’t care.
It was almost as if she had planned all this. Intoxicating me so I wouldn’t be mad or upset at her for asking, or so I’d say yes. Except, I was the one who asked if she wanted to drink.
Maybe it was fate.
The same fate that brought us together in the first place.
The fate I loved and adored for that exact reason.
How could I say “no” to it, when it brought this beautiful, intelligent creature into my life?
With that, I found my answer…
“Alright…. Let’s go.”