For weeks I've been sitting in this rocking chair on my back porch. I slowly rock back and forth while staring blankly ahead. Once in a while my little sister and her boyfriend will poke their heads out to check on me, I see them from the corner of my eye but usually continue staring straight ahead. At times my stare is blurry from being drunk, other times it is foggy from crying. Outside of the tears, I am virtually Catatonic. The problem with being drunk, high, catatonic, and occasionally crying is that I have work in three hours....
Each day for me since I started relapsing has been the same fucked up routine. I wake up, check my pulse, my heart is beating----sometimes I'm surprised by this, sometimes I wish I was dead, sometimes I promise myself I'm going to pull it together today. Once I determine that I'm still alive I turn my phone on. Any time now I expect a message from my boss firing me. I’ve been drinking his liquor at my Bartending job for about a month now. It is a ten-hour shift, so I'm drinking a generous amount of his product. There are cameras everywhere around the Bar, I am not careful about my consumption, nor do I really care if I get caught. My phone is now on, 6 messages from concerned friends of mine, no message from my boss. I guess I will work today.
It’s hard to describe how I feel this afternoon, certainly not like a human being. My nose is filled with cocaine boogers, I eat one, it tastes like Cocaine, I like cocaine, I’ve been snorting about 3 grams per day, I do not count eating coke-snot towards my daily intake. I am disgusting and hate myself. There are 14 cans of Budweiser scattered across my room. On my desk there is a fifth of cheap vodka with a shot or two left in it. Next to the shitty vodka is a Narcotics Anonymous book with 3 lines of cocaine neatly divvied out across “The Anonymous”. Step one towards my favorite reading material is a success, step two lands my foot in a pile of my own puke on the floor, this does not slow me down. Upon the third step I am able to snort the first line, I save the other two for after I start drinking.
At this point I've been awake for about 10 minutes. I can feel the cocaine start to hit me enough to make this miserable day seem worth living. It is 2:15, I have work at 5.
You might be asking yourself at this point “Luke, you were Sober for 15 months, why can’t you just get your shit together again”. Good question my friend! Here’s the thing, at this point in my relapse I am physically sick and dependent on the booze and drugs to function. If I go more than a couple of hours without using, I will get sick, my hands will shake in a violent manner. All of this doesn’t even account for the mental anguish and embarrassment my slip up has brought me. Only a couple of months ago I was so fucking proud, people were proud of me, why did I have that first drink, that first line? How could I throw 15 months away?
I've been awake for 20 minutes, I take a shot of Apple Vodka, then I take another shot of Apple Vodka. It burns, the drip from the cocaine mixed with the vodka makes me want to puke. I never really liked Apples that much. I can feel the vodka coming up, I swallow my own puke, I need the vodka, I need my hands to stop shaking-----and they finally do.
Next on my agenda is finding a ride to work. My car is broken, I had been using the car of my little sister. She thinks I have become too drunk, high, and reckless to trust me with it. I agree. Most afternoons I would catch a ride with my drug dealing uber driver (I know, quite the find), but today he is unavailable. I message our newest bartender at work, who I am stuck working with tonight. We will call him Timmy. I didn’t want my owner to hire Timmy. The bartending community is tight-knit and his reputation was less than spectacular. Over the summer I have worked beside over 20 different bartenders, I get more and more pissed with each new hire. The more pissed I get, the more I drink and snort at work. Most of the hires are mixology frauds, inexperienced, and lack the talent/basic cocktail knowledge necessary to tend bar where I work. Timmy is the epitome of all these bartending tragedies. As an added bonus, he annoys the fuck out of me.
My new bartending partner agrees to come pick me up. This brings a modicum of relief to me. I decide to celebrate and go snort another line. It is 3:15. I deserve nice things and head to the refrigerator and crack open a tall-boy Budweiser and take it with me into the shower. Upon completion of the beer and shower, I throw on my work uniform and half-heartedly style my hair. I glance quickly into the mirror, I'm careful not to look myself in the eye, I have a sketchy mustache, my skin is pale and blotchy, I am unhealthy, I want to die. I also want to work tonight so I can have cash to buy more Coke. So, I guess you could say that I want Cocaine more than I want to die? Maybe in a weird way Cocaine is keeping me alive.
30 minutes till I depart for work. Time to go sit back down in the rocking chair outside. With me I take a fresh tall-boy of Bud and my phone. I’ve gotten in the habit of checking all of my ex-girlfriends Facebook pages because I enjoy kicking myself in the balls. They all seem to be happy, they all have moved onto new boyfriends, or are engaged, or have kids. By all accounts these women are better off without me I think to myself. This thought begins to swirl around in my head, I can’t make it stop, around and around it goes------I rock back and forth, a tear rolls down my cheek. I’m now in the grips of a pity party that I invite myself too every afternoon, not much can slow me down when I get stuck in this thought pattern. A peculiar thought keeps penetrating my mind “I don’t want to be drunk and high, but I also don’t want to be sober.” I feel evicted from life.
Timmy messages me and says he is out front. I tell him to give me 5 minutes. This leaves me enough time to stroll back inside, take 3 more shots, fill a Gatorade bottle with vodka, and snort my last line of blow. I’m now inside my bar partners car, he attempts to make small talk and asks me how my day has been. I decline his invitations to conversate, I see no point. Instead, I sip on my vodka and text one of my drug dealers. It is of the utmost importance that my dealer meets me at work immediately, I am not balanced----way more drunk than high. At this rate I will not make it through my shift.
We arrive at the Irish Pub where I tend bar. Walking up, I see all of our regulars on the patio, I adore them and they adore me. Most of them know I have been relapsing, some know I have been fucked up at work. They watch after me, when they look at me, it is not with disappointment but with hope that I can get back to being myself. I love them.
I’m now inside the building, it is 5:01, I've got 10 hours to go. First priority is finding my drug dealer, I see him, he motions me over. As I begin to walk towards him, I see my boss, he motions me over. Without hesitation, I choose dealer over boss. I tell my boss “one sec, I'll meet you in the office”, I have my money inside a pack of cigs and I dramatically launch it behind my back, through the air, and perfectly into my dealers hands----the magnificence of the throw impresses me. It does not impress him. He tells me to be more fucking careful. I tell him to shut the fuck up and relax, to give me my coke, that I will need more for later. It worries me that he is currently out of more product, he says he is getting more, but I have my doubts.
Before meeting with my Boss, I stop by the bathroom and do most of the tiny half-gram I just received. On the way out I check my nostrils for powder residue in the mirror---I'm careful not to look to closely in the mirror, the last thing I want right now is to see my ridiculous pupils or look myself in the eye.
I’m now in the office with my boss. He enjoys chatting with me before every shift. Boss-man likes me, I am unsure of him. I constantly wonder how he has not noticed how fucked up I've been at work. He reminds me of Michael Scott from the office but less caring, his penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong times amuses me to no end. To him, I’m just a bartending mercenary, someone to help line his pockets with cash. After making a few jokes and shooting off some fake air guns with him, my meeting with the boss ends. It’s time to go serve the public....
The bar isn’t busy. I’m thankful for this. We keep a bottle of Fireball chilled in our ice well. I poor a shot, it is not for a customer. With irrational confidence I decide to leave from behind the bar and go visit the regulars on the patio. I walk through the dining area towards the patio, a rocks glass of fireball is in my right hand, without hesitation or regret I take the shot as I'm walking towards the patio door. In dramatic fashion I kick open the patio door, the regulars cheer, I shoot off fake air guns at them, they do not return fire. Perhaps they see me and know that I'm not going to be their bartender for many more nights.
On the way back inside through the dining room, I see a pretty girl. She is drunk. I strike up a conversation with her. I’m blatantly staring at her tits, she does not seem to mind. Jokingly I ask her for her social security number, I am romantic, she laughs and writes down her phone number for me. I strut back behind the bar. Timmy says to me “did you just take a shot”, I tell him to mind his own fucking business and learn how to make a Royal Flush before speaking to me again.
It is now 6:30 or so. I am dripping arrogance like the sweat off a beer bottle. A family of four arrives at one of our hi-top tables. Most nights, I don’t jump at the chance to wait-on a family-----however tonight I am carpeing thy diem and decide it would be great fun. I take another shot of fireball on my way over to the bar, I place the empty rocks glass on top of the table next to them. “Hola, me llamo es Lucas.” I say to them. They look uncomfortable and say nothing. I try again, “Cervezas para sufamilia?” I’m disappointed that they do not seem to speak Spanish. My guess is that the family is disappointed that I'm speaking Spanish whilst working at an Irish pub. They could also be disappointed that I smell like I have taken a bath in a tub of Fireball. It is all very speculative on my part, and at this point I couldn’t care less. Truth be told, I am galactically inebriated.
The next four hours are a part of my life that I just can’t remember. Blacking out while working is never ideal, yet highly recommended if you don’t want to keep your job. Am I trying to get fired? Is this messy evening a cry for help?
My next memory is in the bathroom with my drug dealer yelling at me “pull it together mother fucker, pull it together, snort this.” I feel invigorated and head back towards the bar. Timmy is running around in a circle of incompetence. Looking at him I see a liar, a fake-bartender, a stain on the bartending community. In retrospect I could say the same things about myself that night.
More Fireball is what I crave so I poor myself a shot. Timmy looks at me, I glare back at him and take the shot. He begins to speak and I interrupt him with a verbal assault on his bartending credentials that leaves him crying behind the bar. Pleased with myself, I step outside on the patio to enjoy a cigarette. My crying bar partner follows me and witnesses me kick a cigarette bucket over the patio railing. A friend of mine consoles me as I sit on the parking lot curb projecting and spewing an anger I have never let spill out of me. My recollection fades away from there....
The next day my boss informs me that I'm fired. My cry for help has been answered, I am relieved and delighted that I no longer work for him, no longer have to bartend, no longer have to pretend I'm alright. Over the next few weeks the embarrassment of the evening smacks me in the face often, I don’t retaliate or make excuses------I just get Sober again.
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