Thursday, August 29, 2013


Jim continued looking for a job, but it was a grueling and disheartening process. Day after day, nothing but rejection and so worn out from walking and walking and riding city buses and filling out applications and walking some more and riding city buses home without a job every day, he at last gave up.

So instead of looking for a job, he would wait till Heather left for work in the afternoon and take the spending money she gave him and go to the liquor store and buy a fifth of bourbon. He would mark the label halfway down as a reminder not to drink any lower, but most evenings would end up ignoring the mark and drink the entire bottle.

He drank because the evenings were so difficult, waiting for his wife to come home after exposing herself all evening at the club, giving strange men lap dances, and he with nothing else to do but sit in front of the TV like a dumbass. Any man would drink under this kind of pressure, he told himself.

At first he hid the bottles so Heather would not see them. But later, noticing the unmistakable signs that she too was drinking and using (her inability to wind down when she came home, her too-relaxed demeanor mixed with flashes of irritability and her tweaking) he stopped bothering to bag the empty bottles and carry them out to the trash can but left them sitting on the coffee table. And she, seeing this, no longer bothered to hide her own drinking and meth use. Thus, without a word they stopped praying together and working the Steps and gave up their commitment to be clean and sober.

One night—it was the night of her encounter with Officer Sam Reynolds at the Pink Kitty Kat—Heather came home earlier than usual and rushing to Jim, grabbed him and asked him to hold her.

He was three-quarters of the way through a bottle and at first held her tight without a word. But then his mind started working. She's acting guilty, he thought. What's she been up to?

“Something’s wrong,” he said. “What happened?”

“Nothing’s wrong. I just need you to hold me.”

She’s been with another guy, he thought, growing angry. She's turning tricks. And now she feels bad about it and wants me to pet her and make it all right. Well it's not all right.

“What have you done,” he said. “Tell me Goddamn it.”

“Oh Jim—” her voice broke, and for a moment he sensed a deep hurt inside her and would have gone on holding her without another word had he been sober.

But he was very drunk and snarled, “What have you done, you sorry little slut—”

She broke away and fell off the couch onto the floor. He stood over her. “Goddamn you,” he raged. “You come home wired and loaded every night. God knows what you’re doing and I’ll bet it doesn’t stop with a simple lap dance. You think I was born yesterday?”

Her face at first was pale and blank with shock, but in a few moments she too was in a rage. She screamed, “You drunk! You loser! Get yourself thrown into prison and leave me NOTHING! It’s not my fault you can’t get a job. Not my fault Jason was taken away from us, loser. Not my fault I have to dance in a bar to buy your booze. LOSER!”

He stood there, swaying drunkenly, eyes bulging, wanting to hit her. But instead, his anger suddenly vanished and he fell to his knees in a terrible anguish saying, “I’m sorry Heather. Let’s pray—”


He was out the door in a heartbeat, running through the night. Running down dark streets of houses and front yards with Christmas lights and silly Christmas displays. He wanted to kick over a Wise Man or Baby Jesus or puncture an inflatable Santa or Frosty, but instead kept running, wild with anger and tears streaming down his face.

(To be continued)