Recollections from a rehab – part ten


Continued from recollections from a rehab part nine…

Joe arrived at Mountain Vista about a week after me and during his first few days he barely said a word to anyone, he just sat on the sidelines, watching.

He was quite a striking figure, tall and dark-haired, with a vague hint of Mexican or Native American to his features, a strong jaw line and very dark brown eyes.  He was dressed shabbily and having approached him after dinner one day, he told me this was because he had been admitted to the hospital as an extreme emergency about a month before, having been found unconscious and bleeding internally, which was in turn coming out of his mouth, causing what I imagine was a pretty shocking sight.

He’d had his clothes cut off him in the emergency room, he said, which meant that by the time he’d come to be discharged, he didn’t have any clothes to wear and had to pick out some from a box of clothes left by previous patients, which were used for this very reason.  This meant that ill fitting jeans, a shabby sweatshirt and ugly garish sneakers were what he was wearing on the day he had pulled up in a cab.  This I could tell was causing him embarrassment so I lent him a couple of shirts right off the bat, as I sure as hell would have wanted someone to have done that for me had I been in the same position.  Little gestures like that, when you’re in treatment feeling lost, lonely and vulnerable mean a lot and I was glad I could help.

He said the bleeding had been from his oesophagus, an unfortunately common affliction with chronic alcoholics, especially those who drink spirits, and which is often fatal but luckily Joe had been found in time and they had been able to stem the bleeding and perform a transfusion which kept him alive.  He had only been allowed to leave hospital on condition that he admitted himself straight into treatment to address his drinking, which clearly was about to kill him.

He told me that his previous career (before his drinking career) had been as the chief of police of Reno, Nevada, which put me on the back foot a bit due to my natural aversion to all things ‘law enforcement’, having until very recently been a walking collection of possessions and behaviours, which the law would quite happily have crawled all over and ‘enforced’ but as time wore on the old war stories started to pour forth, the majority of which were entirely captivating and we spent many a happy hour shooting the shit and swapping tales with each other.

We also tried to figure out increasingly creative ways in which to get to drink a cup of real coffee, (caffeine was a banned substance) with Joe always seeming to pull through, magically producing a bag of grounds from somewhere, whether that be from under his mattress or hidden in a drainage gutter somewhere on site, wherever he produced it from he was pretty damned determined that he was not going to be prevented that particular luxury, regardless of who decreed it!

One day in a group session, Joe opened up and shared an incident from when he had been in the police out on patrol in his car.  He was driving behind another car and as they both approached a four-way stop sign, the driver in front (presumably not noticing he had the police behind him!) just carried on driving through the stop sign without slowing down even slightly, causing him to run straight into a small kid on his bicycle and end up in a ditch at the side of the road, with his car lying on its side.

Joe relayed to us that he immediately jumped out of his cruiser and ran over to the little boy who was covered in blood and clearly had quite a few breaks to his limbs, coupled with serious head injuries.  He could see the driver of the other car was conscious and trying to climb out of the window, so he put all his efforts into trying to help the boy.  He put a call in over the radio for paramedics to get on their way over there and sat down next to the child who was drifting in and out of consciousness.  He put his head in his lap and tried talking to the little boy to keep him awake, but to no avail, and after a few minutes he quietly slipped away and died there by the side of the road.

Joe, already angered by what he had just witnessed, walked over to the car, where the driver had been unable to free himself and climb out through the window.  As Joe leaned into the car to help him, he was hit by a powerful waft of alcohol coming from the guy’s mouth, followed by the statement “That fucking kid nearly got us all killed, the fucking piece of shit!”

There was deadly silence in the group room as Joe was recounting this story and you could feel the rage growing as he continued.

“I had managed to unhook the seat belt from its socket and was trying to pull the guy out with one hand under his armpit and one round his neck, which was the only place I could get any purchase, but when I heard what that motherfucker said, something else took over, a rage that I had never known before filled my entire being and all I could see was the face of this poor little boy whose life this fucker had just extinguished and before I knew what I was doing, I just very quickly twisted with the arm that was around his head, and just like that, he was gone…i’ve never told anyone this before”

No one said a word; you could have heard a pin drop in that room and a couple of the guys (it was a ‘men’s group’) quietly got up and walked out stating that they needed to get some air, at which point the facilitator reminded everyone of their responsibilities concerning confidentiality, and brought the session to a close.

 

To be continued….

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3 Responses to “Recollections from a rehab – part ten”

  1. John Middle Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    “Everything in moderation” actually Mr-Auto-replybot.

  2. My Oh My ……Strange Days Indeed …..Bj

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