Tuesday, December 27, 2016
From my semi-autobiographical novel Saint Mary Blue, below is where and what I was on this day thirty-five years ago. The names have been changed to protect the guilty:
Just before Christmas they came to eat dinner. That was the cover story. Ulterior motives were dripping from the rafters. But Jacob hadn't noticed. He had spent the day examining the inside of nothing; exactly as he had spent the previous six days.
After the meal, there was some television. They watched a video tape of Apocalypse Now. Talk about your heavy symbolism.
Della, Jacob's part-time secretary, said that they wanted to talk.
"Okay, said he, "let's talk."
The words came through distorted as if they had been reflected from the audio equivalent of funhouse mirrors. He could tell that they were worried.
---But, why? What about? Lay it on good ol', I can fix anything, Jacob. Put down your burden---
"We're worried about you, Jacob."
"Why? What about? I stopped drinking on the seventeenth."
He glanced at Ann, demanding her support, but her eyes were closed, her arms folded, a frown crouching upon her brow. The three friends sat before him like a jury, their accusations couched in phrases of concern. Jacob played with the words, deflecting the concern, trying to keep the subject on anything but Jacob Randecker. But they were persistent.
"Now, listen," said Kate.
Della's hands were occupied with wringing the life out of a scarf. "We have a friend who went through Saint Mary's." The scarf was unwrung and rewrung in the opposite direction. "We've been talking with him, and he says that Saint Mary's is just what you need."
"What for? I said I stopped drinking."
Larry rubbed his eyes and shook his head. "Six days ago?"
Larry smiled. "Seven, then. Why did you stop?"
"Not that it's any of your business, but I made a fool of myself. I went to get my Ativan prescription refilled. I had been up the night before drinking ..." Jacob shrugged and smiled sheepishly. "I smelled bad. The doctor wouldn't write the new prescription."
Della began throttling the opposite end of her scarf. "Jacob, how do you feel?"
"Yes. Happy, sad, mad---"
"---Depressed. Very, very depressed."
"Saint Mary's can show you the way out of that. It's not just stopping drinking. They can show you how to live."
"What kind of program is it, anyway? I don't want to get near any bible-thumping bunch like A.A."
"What do you know about A.A., Jacob?"
"Not a damned thing, and that's the way I want to keep it."
"Saint Mary's isn't a religious program."
"Oh? That's why it's called Saint Mary's? Hmmm?"
"The Catholic Church runs the place, but it isn't a religious program."
"Just think about it," said Larry.
Jacob sat, staring at his friends. They were overreacting. He couldn't just hack a month out of his life on a whim and go to wherever. Minneapolis. Minneapolis is a joke. Mary Tyler Moore, WJM, and Ted Baxter....
"Think about it," Larry repeated. His friends got up to leave.
"I will." He closed the door after them and stood muttering, "Yeah, I'll think about it. I'll think about it a whole bunch. So why don't you go home? Why don't you go the fuck home and mind your own fucking business."
He looked at the couch. Ann was fast asleep. Jacob roused his wife, and they went to bed. "You don't look so good," he said.
Her words were clipped, all emotion ironed out. "Are you going to go to Saint Mary's? What did you tell them?"
"I didn't say yes or no."
"Will you at least see Doctor Hamund, tomorrow?
"Sure. I'll see Don the shrink."
Ann went to bed and Jacob stood in front of the bathroom mirror eating a quadruple dose of Ativan topped off with a Librium. In bed with the lights out, he put his head on his pillow and dropped to sleep through a cloud of quiet tears and silent curses.
It wasn't anyone's business. And they read it all wrong.
---If they could look through my eyes for a second, they'd understand. Talk to the shrink, my ass....
Tomorrow, if I remember, I'll post the next day's meeting with the shrink.