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A MILLION LITTLE PIECES: Chapter 20


The clock on Miles’s nightstand reads three forty-seven.

I am wide awake.

It feels as if there’s a Phantom in the Room. A Phantom that wants to kill me. Slowly and painfully. Kill me.

I sit up. I look around the Room. It is dark, but I can see. Miles is asleep in his bed. The door is shut, the window is closed. Everything is as it was when I fell asleep. Though I know there is not, it still feels as if there’s something in the Room.

I get out of bed. I walk to the Bathroom. I splash cold water on my face. I do it again and again. It doesn’t make a difference. I still feel the Phantom.

I walk out of the Bathroom and I put on my clothes. I get Hank’s jacket, a pack of cigarettes, my lighter. I leave.

I walk through the Unit. It is quiet and still everyone is sleeping. I go outside. I feel as if something is following me.

I walk to the benches in front of the Lake. I sit down on the middle bench. I light a cigarette and I stare at the frozen water. It is silent and black, unmoving. There are sticks and leaves trapped within it. Solitary bats dive along its surface.

The Phantom starts to take shape. It reveals itself as fear. I don’t fight it or even try. I don’t think I could fight it if I wanted to fight it.

I am scared. I don’t know what I am scared of, I am just scared. As I sit and I smoke and I stare at the Lake, my fear starts to form itself.

I am scared. I am scared of leaving here. I am scared of losing the protection and security that exists within these boundaries. I am scared of going to Jail, I am scared of what is going to happen to me there. I am scared of alcohol and drugs and I am scared of drinking alcohol and using drugs. I am scared of what might happen if I do. I am scared of what might happen if I don’t. I am scared scared scared. I am scared of everything. I am scared of sex, of a Job, of money, of having a place to live. I am scared of the thought of having these things, I am scared of the thought of not having them. I am scared of Lilly. I am scared of loving her and I am scared of letting her love me. I am scared of having her, I am scared of losing her, I am scared of living with her, I am scared of living without her. I am scared of having my heart broken. I am scared by her fragility and dependence. I’m scared of living. I’m scared of dying. I’m scared of living. I’m scared.

I sit and I stare at the Lake. I smoke. I watch the sky turn gray there is no Sun. I ask a bank of thick gray clouds what to do. I ask a bat what to do. I ask the grass, the ice, a frozen stick, a dead worm, the benches. Each of the benches. What do I do?

Fear is only fear. I already know that nothing can hurt me more than I have already hurt myself. I know there is no pain that I cannot endure. I know that by holding on each moment each hour each day the days add up each week each month if I hold on I will be fine. I know I am strong. I know I am strong enough to confront what I fear and I know I am strong enough to hold on until the fear goes away. I believe this in my heart.

I laugh. I laugh out loud. The answers to my questions are simple if I allow them to be simple. They are all in my lap I just need to look down. I am scared of everything. I am scared because I allow myself to be scared. There is nothing that should scare me. I laugh out loud because it is so simple. I shouldn’t be scared of anything. I am not scared of anything. Simple as that. Not one fucking thing.

I stand and I walk back to the Unit. I open the door and I go inside. The men are awake now. They are doing their morning Jobs, reading the newspaper, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. I go over to the shelves and I tear a piece of yellow paper off one of the pads and I take a pen from the mug. I put them in my pocket and I go to my Room. Miles is standing by his bed. He turns around and he looks at me.

Hello, James.

Hi.

Are you excited to be leaving?

I smile.

I am. Are you excited to see your Wife?

I am very excited.

I hope it all works out for the two of you.

I have a feeling that it is going to.

I smile again.

Good.

I pull the pen and paper from my pocket.

I was wondering if I could get your address and phone number?

If I can have yours.

I don’t really have either one.

When you get them will you give them to me?

Of course, but you’ll hear from me before that.

I would hope so.

He takes the pen and the paper and he sits down on his bed. He puts the paper on his lap and he writes down his information. He stands and he hands the paper and the pen back to me. He speaks.

It has been an honor getting to know you, James. I appreciate everything you have given me. I’ll always wish you the best and I’ll always be there if you ever need help with anything.

That might be the first time anyone has ever said it was an honor getting to know me.

He laughs.

Thanks for all your help, Miles. Whether you admit it or not, I know you helped me in Ohio, and I’ll always owe you for that.

He smiles.

You’ve been a great friend, and I’ll miss you.

He nods again.

You too, James.

He reaches out his hand and I take it and we shake hands. We release each other’s hands and we hug each other. We hold each other for a moment and Miles says good luck, James, and I say you too, Miles.

You ready for breakfast?

I nod.

Yeah.

We walk out. We walk through the Halls and we walk into the Glass Corridor separating men and women. I look for Lilly and she isn’t there. We walk through the Corridor and Miles gets a tray and a plate of eggs and cheese and I get a cup of coffee. We walk over to our table, the table where we sit for every meal. The table in the corner.

I sit and I drink my coffee and I look for Lilly. Miles eats his eggs and cheese. Ted and Matty and Michael join us, and I ask them for their addresses and their phone numbers. Michael gives me both, Matty gives me his address, but no phone number, Ted doesn’t have either one of them. I ask Matty to sign the bottom of the paper and he asks me why. I tell him I want his autograph and he laughs and he says it ain’t worth shit no more. I tell him I want it because it is worth something to me. He smiles and he writes To James, the goddamn Middleweight Champion of the fucking Drug Center. I hope we live long enough to see each other again, that would be fucking nice. Your Friend, Matty Jackson, former undisputed Featherweight Champion of the World.

I take the paper and I put it in my pocket. When I am sure it is deep and safe within, I take a sip of my coffee. I take a sip and I wait. I take a sip and I wait.

I see Lilly walk through the Corridor. She is with her Unit Supervisor and she does not look over at me. I watch her as she gets in line, gets a tray, gets a cup of coffee and gets a donut. I watch her as she walks into the Women’s Section and she sits down at a table. I watch as her Unit Supervisor makes Lilly sit so that her back is facing toward me.

I stand. I say good-bye to my friends. They ask me if they are going to see me again and I tell them only if it’s on the outside. I hug each of them. I thank them for their friendship and I wish them luck and I tell them that I hope everything works out for them.

I pick up my cup and I put it in the conveyor. I stand and I watch as it is carried away to cleanliness. It is the last coffee mug I will use here. I say good-bye to it. I turn and I start walking down the Corridor. My eyes are on Lilly even though she can’t see me. About halfway down the Corridor, I stop walking and I turn and I stand in front of the Glass and I stare.

Lilly’s table is about thirty feet away. There are four or five other tables between me and it, there are about thirty tables in the women’s Dining Room. All of them are filled.

I stand and I stare. I stand and I stare. At the back of Lilly’s head, at her long beautiful black hair, at her hand as it brings her donut to her mouth. A woman a couple of tables away from her motions toward me and the rest of the women at that table turn and look at me. One of them says something to a woman at the next table and all of the women at that table turn and look at me. One of those women says something to Lilly’s Unit Supervisor, who looks up and glares at me. I don’t move. I’m not going to move. I stare at Lilly’s beautiful hair and beautiful hand. I smile because she’s eating a donut and I think it’s funny. The Unit Supervisor motions for me to leave, but I am not moving. No fucking way.

Lilly sees her Supervisor glaring at me and motioning at me and she turns around and she sees me. She smiles. I stare at her at her beautiful face at her beautiful blood red lips at her beautiful skin so pale at her deep water eyes. Those beautiful blue deep water eyes. She is all that I see. Beautiful Lilly. She is all that I see. Beautiful Lilly.

She turns away. I see her Supervisor mouthing words, but I can’t see what she is saying. I see Lilly’s jaw move, she’s saying something back. The Supervisor speaks again. I can’t see the words, but I can see her face. She’s angry and her anger is rising. I see Lilly say something back to her, I see Lilly stand and push her chair away. I see Lilly turn and start walking toward the entrance to the Corridor. I see her Supervisor stand and yell something at her. I see Lilly ignore her and keep walking toward the entrance to the Corridor.

I turn to her as she comes around the corner of the glass. I smile at her as she walks toward me. I start walking toward her. My heart is beating beating beating. I’m smiling and she’s smiling. She starts walking faster toward me. She’s beautiful so beautiful. Inside and out. I love her. Coming toward me. I love her.

I open my arms. She runs into them, into me. I close them around her close them tight hold her tight as tight as I can hold her. She closes her arms around me. There are no words. There is no noise. There is no one around us. I can feel her heart beating against my chest. I know she can feel my heart beating against her chest. Nothing else matters. Nothing else exists. Just her and me. Her heart and my heart. Her heart and my heart.

I kiss her neck, smell her hair, hold her body she’s so small and thin I hold her body. I can feel her crying on my shoulder silently weeping her tears on her cheek her tears on my shirt. I whisper I love you. I love you. I love you. I whisper I love you into her ear.

She pushes herself away, but not out of my arms. She pushes herself away so that I can see her face and she can see mine. She is smiling and there are tears streaming down her cheeks. Her lower lip is shaking and her eyes are more blue with the wetness contained. I smile at her. I speak.

I love you, Lilly.

I love you, James.

I’m going to miss you.

Where are you going?

I’m leaving in a little while.

Where?

I have to go to Jail in Ohio.

No.

It’s only for a few months. I’m going to write you every day, and I’ll call you whenever I can.

No.

You’ll hear from me every day. In some form, you’ll hear from me. When I’m done, I’m coming to Chicago.

I’m going to be alone.

No, you’re not.

I am.

You’re not.

You promise?

Remember the word.

What word?

Ever.

She smiles.

I like it, that word.

Remember it.

I’ll miss you. I’m going to worry about you.

Worry about getting better. I’ll be fine, and I’ll come to you as soon as I can.

I love you, James.

I love you, Lilly. I love you.

She leans toward me and she closes her eyes. I close my eyes and I let her come. Our lips meet, softly, gently, slowly our lips meet and our arms are tight around each other and everything is good and safe and getting better. In each other’s arms, everything is good and safe. Everything is getting better.

Our lips separate. Our eyes open. I stare into deep water blue. She stares into pale green. I reach up with one hand and draw it down her cheek. As it slides off, I step back. Deep water blue into pale green. I smile. I turn around and I start walking away.

As I walk down the Glass Corridor that will lead me out of here, I know Lilly is standing in the space where I left her and I know she is waiting for me to turn around and say good-bye. I know if I do my heart will break. I know if I do I’ll start crying. I know if I do it will be something I have never done before. Turn around and say good-bye.

The glass ends and the Halls start. I stop and I turn around and I look at Lilly. She is smiling and there are tears rolling down her cheeks. I say I love you, and though I know she can’t hear me, I know she understands. She is smiling and crying. I lift one hand. I hold it in front of my chest and I say good-bye. She nods. I close my hand into a fist and I say get better. She nods. I stand and I stare at her and I smile. She stands and stares at me and she cries. I can see her eyes from here. I am going to miss those eyes. Deep water blue. I am going to miss those eyes.

I turn around, and I walk away, and the light of the glass Hall fades, though the image of Lilly does not. I will hold that image of Lilly beautiful Lilly standing alone and smiling and crying in my heart and in my mind for the rest of my life. Dearest Lilly.

I walk through the Halls and I go to my Room. I get Hank’s jacket and the small black bag that holds my belongings. I leave the Room and I walk to Joanne’s Office. I knock on the door. She says come in.

I open the door and I step inside. Joanne and Hank are sitting together on her couch. They are drinking coffee and Joanne is smoking a cigarette. Joanne smiles and she speaks.

Hi.

I walk to the chair opposite them.

Hi.

I sit. Hank speaks.

We’ve been waiting for you.

I had breakfast.

Joanne speaks.

How was it?

It was beautiful.

She smiles.

I’ve never heard anyone describe a meal here as beautiful.

I smile.

That’s what it was. Beautiful.

Hank speaks.

You ready to go?

Yeah.

You scared?

I was earlier, but I’m not now.

Joanne speaks.

What were you scared of?

Everything.

And what happened?

I decided not to be.

Simple as that?

Simple as that.

I hold up Hank’s jacket, toss it to him.

I brought your jacket back. Thank you for letting me use it.

He tosses it back to me.

I want you to keep it.

I toss it back to him.

Thank you, but no. I want you to keep it so when I come back to visit, I’ll be able to wear it.

I’ll make that deal on one condition.

What’s that?

You come back here sober, as a Visitor, not as a Patient.

Have no doubt about that, Old Man.

He smiles.

That’s my motherfucking Boy.

Joanne speaks.

Watch your mouth, Hank.

Hank turns to her.

I can swear around him now. He ain’t a Patient anymore.

He’s a Patient until he walks out the front door.

Hanks turns to me.

You care if I say motherfucking around you?

I smile.

I’d be fucking offended if you didn’t.

Hank laughs, slaps his knee.

That’s my motherfucking Boy.

I laugh. Joanne speaks.

You’re all set to be picked up?

Yeah.

Have you checked out yet?

No.

You should get going.

I nod again.

I know.

She stands.

Give me a hug?

I stand.

Of course.

I step forward and I hug her. There is emotion in the hug, and there is respect and a form of love. Emotion that comes from honesty, respect that comes from challenge, and the form of love that exists between people whose minds have touched, whose hearts have touched, whose souls have touched. Our minds touched. Our hearts touched. Our souls touched.

We separate. Hanks steps forward.

I ain’t much for words, Kid.

He puts his arms around me and he hugs me so hard that it hurts. My arms are pinned to my sides so I can’t hug him, but I don’t think he needs it. He lets go of me and he takes a step back and he puts one of his arms around Joanne’s shoulders. He speaks.

Make us proud, Kid.

I’ll try.

Do better than try. I want you back here wearing that fucking coat in a year.

Joanne speaks.

Hank.

Hank looks at her.

He’s not a Patient anymore.

Joanne shakes her head, turns to me.

Stay in touch.

I nod.

I will.

I turn and I walk out of the Office. I close the door behind me and I walk through the Halls. I go to the Administration Office and I sit with an Administration Officer and I fill out my release papers. When I am finished, I sign my name on the bottom of a page and I am done. The Officer tells me I am free to go.

I walk out of the Office and through a short Hall. I walk into the Lobby where I sat waiting with my Family in a different life. I say hello to the Receptionist and she says hello to me. Through the windows I see my Brother’s gray truck, which is the type of fancy passenger truck common in the Suburbs, sitting in front of the Entrance. I open the front door and I walk out of the Clinic. I am free to go.

My Brother sees me coming and he opens the Driver’s door and he steps out of his truck. He is smiling. He speaks.

What’s up, Buddy?

What’s up, Motherfucker?

He hugs me. I hug him. A good strong fraternal hug. My friend Kevin steps out of the Passenger’s door. He is my size, has short dark parted hair, and a newly grown beer belly. He sells commercial real estate for a living, but when he is not working, he dresses like a bum. He smiles and he speaks.

What’s up?

Nothing. What’s up with you?

Came to make sure you’re okay.

I smile.

I am.

He hugs me. I hug him. My Brother speaks.

You ready to go?

Yeah, let’s get out of here

I pick up my bag and I open the door and I climb into the backseat. As I close the door, Bob and Kevin get in the front seats and Bob starts the car and we pull away. I turn around and I watch the Clinic recede into the distance from the back window. I am free to go. Free to go. Free.

When I can no longer see the Buildings, I turn around. Almost immediately, the Fury starts to rise. As if the walls of the Clinic kept it in check, as if my freedom is its freedom, as if my walking papers were its walking papers. The ascension is fast and brutal, and though I’m not shaking on the outside, I am shaking on the inside.

Kevin turns and he looks at me and he speaks.

How’s it feel?

I see Bob looking at me in the rearview mirror.

I don’t know.

Bob speaks.

What’s that mean?

I don’t know.

Kevin speaks.

What do you want do?

I want to go to a Bar.

What?

I want to go to a Bar.

You’re fucking kidding me.

No, I’m not.

My Brother Bob is looking at me in the rearview mirror. Kevin looks at Bob, Bobs look at Kevin. There is concern, dismay and shock on both of their faces. Bob looks back at me, shakes his head.

We’re not going to a Bar.

You might not be, but I am.

You just got out of Rehab.

I’m going to a Bar.

You just got out of fucking Rehab.

I am going to a Bar. You can come with me or not, either way is fine, and you shouldn’t waste your time trying to stop me. I’m going to a fucking Bar.

Bob looks at Kevin, Kevin at Bob. Kevin shrugs, Bob shakes his head. I light a cigarette and roll down the window. Even though it is cold, I like the air. It is free.

The drive takes an hour. No one speaks. Bob stares out the front window, Kevin stares out the front Passenger’s window, I stare out my window. Occasionally I stick my head out and let the freezing air whip against the skin of my face. It hurts, but it feels good, and I do it because I can. I no longer have Rules and Regulations I have to follow, I no longer have Counselors and Supervisors and Psychologists demanding answers, my schedule and my actions are once again my own. As it was before I went to the Clinic, and as it will be until the end, I answer only to myself.

We pull off the Highway and into the City. I look at the clock on Bob’s dashboard it reads eleven-thirty. I ask him if he knows somewhere that is open now and he says yes. I tell him I’d prefer a place that serves cheeseburgers and has a pool table. He does not respond. He just stares out of the front window.

The Fury has risen. It is at full strength, it is beyond full strength. It is different now, at this moment, it feels different. It feels stronger, quieter, more patient. Simpler and more powerful. As if it is secure in its victory over me. As if the fight with me has fortified it’s might. As if it knows its time has come again, as if it is waiting to unleash itself.

I don’t fight it. I don’t challenge it. I sit and I wait and I anticipate my arrival in a place that feels like Home. I sit and I wait and I save myself for what is to come when I step inside a Bar. The Fury is stronger than it has ever been before. I sit and I wait for what is to come.

Bob pulls into a small Parking Lot. Next to the Parking Lot is a large brick Building. There are tall dark windows along the front of the Building. There is a neon sign that reads Billiards, Bar and Grill.

We get out of the truck. I don’t have any money, so I ask Bob if I can borrow some. He asks me how I much need and I ask him for forty bucks. He asks me why I need so much and I tell him because I do. He takes his wallet out of his pocket and he opens it and he gives me two twenties. I thank him.

We walk through the Parking Lot. We walk along a short stretch of sidewalk. We come to the front door and I reach for it and I open it. I motion Bob and Kevin through, and after they have gone through, I follow them inside.

It is dark. There are tables in front of us, a long, worn oak bar runs the length of the wall to our right, at the end of the bar, and to the left, is a room with six pool tables. Next to the pool tables, a bored Waitress sits at her station watching a television that hangs from the ceiling. Behind the bar, a Bartender sits on a stool reading a newspaper. Neither of them look up.

I look at Bob and Kevin. I speak.

Why don’t you guys go shoot some pool.

My Brother looks at me.

What are you going to do?

I need a couple of minutes alone.

His face is full with fear and disappointment. It is none of my concern. It is time for the reckoning. It is time for the Fury.

I turn and I walk to the bar. I pull out a stool about halfway down its length and I sit down. There are mirrors and bottles in front of me. The mirrors run from the ceiling down to a set of shelves. The shelves are lined with bottles. There are whiskey bottles, vodka bottles, bottles of gin. There are rum bottles, tequila bottles, bottles of strange liqueurs from foreign Countries. There are clear bottles and brown bottles, there are red bottles and blue bottles, there are multicolored bottles designed to please the eye. Some of the bottles are short, some are tall, some are wide, some are thin. They are all filled with alcohol. They are sitting in front of me. They are filled with fucking alcohol.

I look toward the Bartender. I speak.

Barkeep.

He looks up.

Yeah.

Give me a little help?

Sure.

He sets down his paper and he walks toward me. When he is standing in front of me, he speaks.

How ya doing today?

I’m not here to talk.

You in a bad mood?

I’m not here to talk.

What can I get you?

I look at the bottles. The beautiful bottles filled with alcohol. I let my eyes wander until they settle, avoiding the mirrors, avoiding myself. I stare at a black bottle. A thick black bottle with a thin neck that is filled with Kentucky Bourbon. It is the bottle the Fury most craves, the bottle with which it is most familiar. I point to it, stare at the Bartender, and I speak.

I want a glass of that. I want a big glass. Not one those bullshit cocktail glasses, but a big fucking pint glass. I want it filled to the top.

That’s gonna be expensive.

I set the forty dollars my Brother gave me on the surface of the bar.

Just bring it.

The Bartender stares at me like I’m crazy, like he’s debating whether he is going to give me what I want. I stare back, let him know that I’m not leaving until I have it. He turns around. With one hand he reaches for a tall, thin pint glass, and with the other he takes the black bottle from the shelf.

I watch him pour the drink. As if in slow motion, I see every drop. When the glass is full, he turns around and he sets it in front of me.

Thank you.

I’ll be down there if you need anything else.

Thank you.

He walks back to his newspaper. I stare at the glass. The Fury rises from its silent state it screams bloody fucking murder it is stronger than it has ever been before. It screams you are mine, Motherfucker. You are mine and you will always be mine. I own you, I control you and you will do what I tell you to do. You are mine and you will always be mine. You are mine, Motherfucker. I stare at the glass.

I put my hands on the bar. I put them on either side of the glass. They are not touching it, but they are close. Close enough so that when I decide, the glass will be within easy reach. I lean down. As my nose moves toward the strong brown alcohol, I can smell the fumes drifting from its shimmering surface. They enrage me. They make the Fury scream louder. They taunt me. They draw me closer.

I close my eyes. I stop moving when the tip of my nose hits the liquid. I close my mouth and I take a deep breath and it comes comes comes. With all of its strength. The beautiful aroma of oblivion. The foul stench of Hell. It makes me shudder, shakes me. Inside and out it destroys me and fortifies me. Though it has not met my lips or entered my body, I can taste it. Like sweet strong charcoal mixed with bitter gasoline. I can fucking taste it.

Time stops. I do not move. I sit with the tip of my nose in a glass filled with alcohol. I breathe. Deep thorough breaths. All the way in, all the way out. It ebbs when I inhale, ripples when I exhale. I can smell it and I can taste it and I can feel it. Inside and out.

The Fury screams pick it up pick it up pick it up. The Fury screams drink it drink it drink it. The Fury screams more more more more more. The Fury screams want need have to have can’t live without I own you, Motherfucker, pick it up drink it give to me or I will make you pay. More more more more more.

I open my eyes. I see the clear amber brown, the tip of my nose submerged, the rim of my glass. I start to slowly lift my head. I keep my eyes straight ahead, fixed and focused, they will not blink. The liquid disappears from view, the rim of the glass disappears. I see shelves and bottles, the edge of the mirror. I keep moving up I see the edge of my chin, my lips, my nose. I keep moving up. I see the edge of my eye, the lash, the white surrounding. I keep moving up. I see pale green. Straight ahead. Fixed and focused. They will not blink.

I look into myself. Into my own eyes. There is a glass of alcohol in front of me. Though I can no longer see it, I know it is there. I put my hands around it. My hands are on the glass. I look into myself. Into the pale green of my own eyes.

The Fury is screaming. Screaming like it has never screamed before. Its scream is stronger and more powerful, full of rage and need, of hostility and hunger. It is screaming for me to pick up the glass. Pick up the fucking glass.

I have a decision to make. It is a simple decision. It has nothing to do with God or Twelve of anything other than twelve beats of my heart. Yes or no. It is simple decision. Yes or no.

I look into myself. Into the pale green of my own eyes. I like what I see. I am comfortable with it. It is fixed and focused. It will not blink. For the first time in my life, as I look into my own eyes, I like what I see. I can live with it. I want to live with it. For a long time. I want to live with it. I want to live.

The Fury screams bloody fucking murder. The Pale Green softly speaks. It says you are mine, Motherfucker. You are mine and you will always be mine. From this day forward I own you, I control you and you will do what I tell you to do. From this day forward, I make the fucking decisions. You are mine and you will always be mine. You are mine, Motherfucker.

I let go of the glass. I look at the Bartender. He is sitting on his stool and he is reading his newspaper. I speak.

Barkeep.

He looks up.

Yeah.

Dump this shit out for me.

What?

I motion to the glass.

Dump this shit down the fucking drain. I don’t want it.

He stares at me for a moment like I’m crazy. I stare back and let him know I’m not. He stands and he starts walking toward me. I stand and I walk away. I leave the glass on the bar and the two twenties next to it.

I walk into the Room with the pool tables. My Brother Bob and my friend Kevin are finishing a game. There is one solid ball on the table, one striped ball, and the eight ball in a corner. I sit down on a stool along the wall. There is table next to the stool and an ashtray on the table. I light a cigarette.

As my Brother lines up a shot, he sees me sitting in the corner of his eye. He looks up and he speaks.

You all right?

Yeah.

What were you doing over there?

Nothing.

Did you drink?

No.

Why’d you order one?

It was something I needed to do.

But you didn’t touch it?

I touched it and I smelled it and I felt it, but I didn’t drink it. I’m done drinking. Won’t ever do it again.

He smiles.

Congratulations, Buddy.

I smile.

Thanks.

As my Brother lines up his shot, I ask if I can play the Winner. Kevin asks me how long it’s been since I played and I tell him it’s been a long time. He asks me if I’m ready and I smile and I tell him that I am. He asks me again he wants to make sure. I tell him yes, I’m ready.

Yes, I’m ready.


Michael returned to work at the University. Three weeks later he was arrested for Solicitation of Prostitution and Possession of Crack Cocaine. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Roy attacked two Children with a baseball bat. He was sentenced to thirty to fifty years in an Institution for the Criminally Insane in Wisconsin.

Warren fell off the back of a fishing boat in Florida while he was drunk. His body has never been recovered.

The Bald Man started drinking eight weeks after he returned home. His Wife threw him out of their house and his whereabouts are unknown.

Bobby was found dead in New Jersey. He had been shot in the back of the head.

John was caught carrying fourteen ounces of cocaine in San Francisco. He is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at San Quentin State Penitentiary in California.

Ed was beaten to death in a Bar fight in Detroit.

Ted was captured by Authorities in Mississippi. He is serving a life term without the possibility of parole at Angola State Farm in Louisiana.

Matty was shot and killed outside of a Crackhouse in Minneapolis.

Miles is alive and well and continues to serve as a Judge. He is still married, had a second Child, a Daughter named Ella, and he has never relapsed.

Leonard returned to Las Vegas and retired. He subsequently died from complications due to AIDS. He was sober until he died. He never relapsed.

Lilly committed suicide by hanging in a Halfway House in Chicago. Her Grandmother had passed away two days earlier. She was found the morning James was released from jail, and it is believed that she was sober until she died.

Lincoln still works at the Clinic.

Ken still works at the Clinic.

Hank and Joanne got married. Both still work at the Clinic.

James has never relapsed.


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