I was staring back at myself.
Eyes wide, full of hate.
I pulled the hair that surfaced my angry brow down as hard as I could.
I wanted to feel pain. I wanted to feel anything.
How was I back in a place like this? I wasn’t ready for it. Not yet.
Staring at the mirror, I had a strong desire to punch my reflection’s face. I had had enough practice from destroying all those twenty-dollar clocks at the apartment whenever Scarlett and I would fight. Our fights would always ended with it smashed, and ended with me buying the same clock at Target the next day. And there on the wall it would hang, waiting for that day where tensions would boil from the piercing screams and shouts, ticking down to the day it would have its hands up, waiting for its imminent, clockwise doom.
At least two weeks of this hell, and then another thirty days after that, is what I kept telling myself.
I couldn’t take it any longer. I wanted to cut myself again; though, this time, I would make it count.
I turned the silver knob labeled “H.”
Water started gushing out as cold as ice and remained stagnant. I should’ve felt a powerful wave of anger wash over me with the inconvenience of there being no hot water, but I felt nothing.
I cupped both my palms underneath the faucet creating a pool of frigid water. Once it started flowing over my thumbs, I raised my “handmade” bowl and splashed my face.
The shivering water pierced my pale face like tiny ice spears. I continued this until there was no feeling left.
It started to build up, first on my nose, then lips and eye lids. By the end, the numbness had taken over the entire front half of my head.
This is what I wanted. To be as physically numb as I was inside.
At least the meds were doing their job.
I reached over to grab a clean towel.
That’s when I heard it…
Knock, Knock, Knock
“Come in,” I answered, already knowing who it was.
I had been waiting for him ever since he told me he was going to check on me ten minutes ago. He was a big, black man named Tank, coming into the bathroom to drug-test me.
“You ready, champ?”
Oh my God, don’t ever fucking call me ‘champ.’
“Ready as I’ll ever be.” He was a nice guy, so I let it go.
“K, here you are.”
Here I was. He handed me a clear cup with a white screw-on lid. I couldn’t tell you how many of these I’ve had to use in the past. Whether they be from my parents, work, or the god-awful methadone clinic. They were now a normal part of my life. I closed my eyes at the thought of it.
Tank stood to the side, leaning up against the door. I guess he was going to watch me. I had never particularly enjoyed doing my business in front of people, but I had no choice in the matter.
I undid the top three buttons of my jeans then waited a little bit longer than usual. After thirty seconds I felt a drop of sweat wondering if anything was going to come out. I couldn’t stop thinking of the heroin I had shot the night before that I knew was going to be filling the cup. Eventually I proceeded to relieve myself, filling the cup first, then aiming the rest at the toilet bowl with clear precision. It’s a tricky task that does involve skill.
I couldn’t believe I was back in this shithole. I was going to spend the next two weeks in the coldest realm of Hell known as detox. It was literally freezing on account of it technically being a hospital, even having the same antiseptic smell.
I thought about what had happened that landed me here…
While smoking crack, I had a Grand-Mal seizure, which is multiple seizures in a row. I remember seeing Josh’s face, then Scarlett, and then the next thing I knew, I was in the hospital with my parents. My mother crying, telling me I was going back to rehab.
I had overdosed on crack/cocaine while driving. I never thought that would happen from smoking crack. I also don’t know how in the hell Josh had parked the car.
While I was in the driver’s seat seizing-out, he had managed to park in a grocery store parking lot, right across the street from my video store.
I was strongly against going back to any rehab, but my mom had told me, while sobbing, she “wasn’t going to watch me die again.”
They wanted to stick me back in Arcadia, but apparently, the treatment center wouldn’t take me due to how much methadone I was on.
So, for two weeks, I had to detox off of it at this place called Texas Cania. After that, it was another thirty days at good ‘ol ‘Starcadia.’
I don’t remember anything in the hospital, but supposedly I had had a few visitors, including Randy, who had talked to me for a while. I wish I could recall that, at least.
After all that, any normal person would see that they had just escaped death;
They were given another chance at life.
But I’m not a normal person.
I am an addict. And back then, I was a full-blown, balls-to-the-wall addict.
And I wasn’t done using…
The first dreadful week was a blur. They had me on so many meds—Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, blood pressure pills, muscle relaxers, and an antipsychotic to help me sleep. That’s basically the only thing I can recall doing. My daily cocktail of meds, then sleep.
I skipped all their cute, little meetings. None of them had any idea what recovery was like. This had been my mentality, which had gotten worse once my body had adjusted to the meds.
I felt above everybody else because I had been sober before. I had done the deal and had even relapsed and survived it. I also knew the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) cover-to-fucking-cover. I didn’t need this pussy rehab crap. I’d already had it shoved down my throat; I didn’t need any more of it. Nonetheless, I had to swallow my pride and deal with my shitty situation.
I had tried the food, but it was inedible. I’ve had bologna sandwiches in jail that tasted better. At this point, Arcadia sounded like paradise. I couldn’t wait to walk out the doors to this joke of a rehab.
I did manage to make one friend in detox. A fellow heroin addict named Garrett, who was a year younger than I had been, ginger, and also played guitar. It was his first rehab, poor kid. He would’ve been better off had he not met me.
Besides the no-eating, just sleeping all-day, I could make all the phone calls I wanted. I didn’t take much advantage of that though. Who would want to talk to me besides my parents, whom I resented at the time? Whenever they did call, I would beg and beg them not to send me to the thirty-day treatment center, but they weren’t having any of my bullshit. All of our conversations had ended with me slamming the phone down while they were in mid-sentence—disrupting everybody else’s class or meeting. Whatever. I cared more about hurting that poor phone than I did their class or my mom and dad. You want to see a demon? Throw a drug addict, who’s not done using, in detox. That was who I was then. Horribly angry at the people who were trying to help me.
However, one day I had talked to Scarlett. I don’t remember who called who, from all the meds I was on, but we had talked. She had told me she missed me and had pretended like nothing had ever happened between us. That was okay with me. I still loved her to death. She planned on coming down to visit me on Friday, the day they allowed visitors. I was excited and hoped she would bring some dope.
So, the day came when we were allowed visitors. I told my parents to forget about coming. I’m sure that just crushed my poor mom.
I waited all day for Scarlett to arrive.
I waited… and waited. Until, there were only ten minutes left before everybody had to leave. That’s when she walked in.
She looked damn good too. I didn’t know if she did herself up in a special way, or if it were my hormones coming back. Either way, I wanted her so bad.
I remember introducing her to Garrett and her secretly handing me something. We had talked, but I couldn’t hear what she said. All I had thought about was her naked body pressed against mine, right there on the couch, in the middle of everything. I wouldn’t even charge people to watch. I also had thought about that time in the Walgreens bathroom. I was so turned on.
After about a few minutes, she left.
But she had made an inconspicuous delivery. She gave me something that I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the dope I had hoped for. Just a white ladder of Xanax. The stingy bitch. I took half and gave the other to Garrett.
“Happy First Rehab, buddy,” I told him as I placed the broken half in his hand while he was watching T.V. He was grateful it seemed.
Just minutes after she left, I was in pain. It was almost as bad as my appendix rupturing. I knew what it was. I walked to my room, closed the door and masturbated. The pill then kicked in and everything felt better. Women suffer from menstruation cramps, men suffer from Blue-balls. It’s real.
One thing that Scarlett and I had talked about was meeting up before I had to go back to Arcadia. It turned out that there was going to be one night I’d have to stay at my parent’s house before I went to treatment the next day. They wouldn’t let me go back to my syringe-littered apartment which was okay with me because they had said Scarlett could stay the night. Bad move. This was where my devious plan had come into place.
She would buy a gram of smack that night, then we would shoot it all, and made sure we had one for the next morning, too.
All I had to do was make it through one more week of detox. But without eating, I didn’t know if I’d make it.
July 2007 A Week Later…
That last week was the longest week of my life.
Either time had been going too slow, or I was going too fast. I am going with the former. All I had done was become the worst patient Texas Cania had seen.
Well not the worst.
But I was a huge nuisance and pain in the ass for the staff.
Until, I had become sick and tired of yelling and complaining every day.
I had laid in my bed thinking of ways to escape. I had found a tree in the backyard, where we smoked, that could be climbed. If you were part monkey, like I was, you could easily hop the sharp fence posts. I contemplated it hundreds of times but would always come to the conclusion that I had no idea where I was or how to score any dope. In hindsight, it was right around the corner, I would later discover.
At last, it was finally my last day.
I had to get through this day before my dad would pick me up around dinner time, he had said. I spent the day with everybody else, thinking it would kill the time. We watched Leaving Las Vegas that starred Nicolas Cage as a hardcore alcoholic and Elisabeth Shue, whom I have had a crush on since the sequel to Back to the Future. That, and smoking cigarettes all day made the day go by a bit quicker, but not quick enough.
So, I decided to sit in on one of their many lectures, just for shits and giggles. The topic was higher power and how to find it. Where’s my pillow?
It was just about over when I finally saw my dad walk in and start talking to the staff. Just then, the woman giving out lecture called on me.
“…and what about you, Mr. I’m going home today so I don’t care?”
What was that shit? I guess I did deserve it since I never did a single thing they asked of me, except take my newly prescribed pills. “Yes, what about me, ma’am?”
“Do you have a higher power? Or, have you even thought about it?”
Oh, so this was how it’s going to be? I wanted to unleash the beast. Crush them with all the knowledge I had about recovery, the big book, higher powers. So, I did.
I told them what pages to turn to, then quoted a few lines I knew about finding your higher power. I then told them my “semi-burning bush” paperclip story.
Once I got to the part about how the paperclips held my life together, their jaws dropped.
Oh, did that feel good.
Take that assholes who thought of me as just some punk.
After that, I said goodbye to a few staff members, and then Garrett. I told him to hang in there and to try to not let them brainwash him too bad.
“Fuck off, Cania.” I muttered. Though only a few patients heard it.
After that, it was time to get high once more before another round of rehab…