Recollections from a rehab part twelve

Continued from recollections from a rehab part eleven…


A couple of days after Joe vanished without a trace all of my dysfunctional coping mechanisms predictably began to fall into place because that’s what they do.  As soon as i experience feelings of shame, abandonment, humiliation, loss or a whole host of others, i can begin to swiftly lose the plot and start planning outrageously inappropriate courses of action with only one outcome in mind: killing the myriad intolerable feelings swirling around on the inside, by behaving in an increasingly extreme manner on the outside.

So, using the ‘contraband’ cell phone i had secreted away in my room, i booked a taxi and fled rehab, in the direction of San Francisco, stopping only at the liquor store in Glen Ellen on the way where i got myself a pint of the best whiskey they had.  This of course ended up being some kind of bourbon, as the delights of single malt scotch whiskey have eternally, and most annoyingly,  been lost upon those living outside any of the major cities right across North America, which is probably the reason behind all major crime and the faltering economy but let’s not go there right now.

I checked into the Kabuki, a Japanese-themed hotel on Post street in Japantown, which was not too far from where i had lived through the latter part of the 1990’s, in fact i probably picked that area because it was familiar, although not consciously, at the time it just looked to me like a clean, well-lighted place, not far from the mission district and although i didn’t know much, what i did know was that the mission and i would not be strangers to one another over the coming days.

I found my room, threw my bag in and jumped straight in a cab to the corner of 16th and Mission Streets, scored, and jumped back into another cab back to the hotel.  A process i repeated many times over the next week or so, a process made a little easier after hooking up with a street dealer who i could meet every time i went down there, saving the hassle of constantly having to seek out someone new.

He was a black guy, with what appeared to be the unfortunate skin condition known as Vitiligo, causing parts his face and hands to display pink marking.  I mention this because it was with reference to this condition that he had obviously decided upon the street name two-tone, which was what everyone knew him by and which i thought was a pretty humorous way of deflecting away from what was in reality a pretty hard situation.

Sometimes two-tone was in a wheelchair and other times he wasn’t, the reason for this being, as i quickly observed, that there were a few different people down on the corner who shared that same wheelchair, possibly for reasons of sympathy when panhandling or disguise when the cops drove by, either way it wasn’t hard to spot two-tone as he only had one leg, so if he wasn’t in the chair, he was hobbling, quickly and usually right at me, whilst using one crutch to make up for the side missing the leg.

As i write this i have just, on instinct, googled the name two-tone along with 16th and Mission which took me to the blog of another guy familiar with that particular corner of San Francisco, causing one thing to lead to another, as these things tend to, and up popped this photo of the man himself, sending me headlong down a tunnel of memories and feelings associated with the time i am here attempting to describe.



It really is strange how in such a short space of time, and under such stressful circumstances as are experienced when trying to evade going to jail, that quick, intense, but also very real, relationships are formed.  I spent a fair amount of time with two-tone, meeting in fast food places, down alleyways, by phone booths, developing a unique language with him so he could warn me when plain clothed police, or other forms of danger, were near and he really did look out for me, as i did for him.

I became quite concerned when he wasn’t around one day, as did a number of people on the corner, with everyone asking around after him and enquiring after his welfare.  It turned out he’d been arrested for some minor infraction and was back out again the next day, with the air of someone who’d had a warm night’s sleep and a decent meal for a change and i was glad to see him, more than perhaps should make sense, but a fast and deep connection with the underdog does seem to have made up a large part of the achilles heel on which i have been required to hobble through the years, causing many short, intense, chaotic relationships (both genders) with no real responsibility required on either side, where perhaps longer investment in people would have been more fulfilling, although would have brought greater risk.

Still trying though.

Back and forth i went between 16th and Mission and the Kabuki smoking crack and the awful black tar heroin that is pretty much all that is available in San francisco, without going on some pretty involved mission to find anything else and I could feel myself getting sicker and sicker by the day and the paranoia brought on by the crack really getting out of hand, with me quite convinced on several occasions that the police were about to burst into the room at any moment and haul me off to jail.

After nearly a week of this, and only this, rarely eating and compelled beyond any mere matter of choice, to continue down this particular rabbit hole, scurrying and scrabbling, wondering how it would end, i finally managed to fall asleep.

I awoke sometime in the middle of the night, confused and disoriented, with the light from across the street shining in my eyes.  I stood up and made towards the light, with the intention of shutting the curtains and falling back into bed but without my glasses on and also forgetting that the room was a Japanese-styled two-level affair, with paper-paned sliding doors, with my bed being on the higher level to the rest of the room outside of the sliding doors, so as i made my way towards the window (on the lower level), between two of the open sliding panels, i just stepped out into fresh air, falling head first towards the window sill.

I put out my left hand to try to stop myself smashing my face into the floor or the sill, or anything which might hurt like fuck, but to no avail, as i cracked my head on the sill and bent my fingers in unnatural angles under myself before finally coming to a groaning, mumbling halt on the floor about eight inches lower than the place from which i had so gracefully launched myself.

It took a good few minutes for me to get myself together and drag myself back to bed, but back to bed i crawled, where i immediately, and thankfully, passed out.

Upon awakening the next morning, all it took was one look in the mirror, one look at blood spattered space that used to pass as a hotel room and a glance at the ring finger of my left hand, the end of which was bent at close to 45 degrees and pointing towards the floor, to convince me that i really wasn’t doing very well out in the world on my own, causing me to pick up the phone, swallow, then dial the number for Mountain Vista who thankfully allowed me to return right there and then…but not before firstly having visited the hospital for stitches to my head and attention to my broken finger.



And of course, I also had some explaining to do to the hotel management.


To be continued…












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