TWO The days immediately after my shame are a bit of a haze. They are not so clear to me so forgive me if the details are inconsistent. I spent much of that time drinking whiskey and smoking joints and puffing the weed pipe. I compare that t...
The days immediately after my shame are a bit of a haze. They are not so clear to me so forgive me if the details are inconsistent. I spent much of that time drinking whiskey and smoking joints and puffing the weed pipe. I compare that time in my transformation to almost like that dream that you have when you know you are sleeping and you know you are dreaming but you just can't wake yourself up. Or, like the dream you have when you try to get up and move but you can't. You stayed pinned and you are forced to watch yourself struggle for progress.
I think my low point would be considered what I deem to be the day that I spent the least number of minutes sober than any other day I have had in my entire life. My level of intoxication that day and night surpassed any celebratory or sorrowful moment that I had encountered previously. No twenty-first birthday. No college or law school graduation. No tailgate in the blazing sun at a Meteors game in the middle of summer could even hold a candle to the level of debauchery that I conjured up that day.
I awoke from a night of barbecue, Cheetos and whiskey to a half finished third bottle of Jack Daniels. With my head pounding from the night before and my basement fridge void of water, I felt at the time that my only option was to take a few drinks from the whiskey in order to get back on that horse and correct my equilibrium. About four glasses in, and after finishing off a stray joint I found on the floor, I believed myself to be strong enough to stand and drag myself up the stairs.
The thing that I love most about animals is that they offer unconditional love. Though I was mentally and physically fucked up, Layla made sure that I knew that at least one creature on the planet appreciated me, and for that, I let her run loose in the yard and conduct her business wherever she pleased. I was in no shape to hold on to a leash, and this was my gift to her.
I had carried the bottle of Jack Daniels with me up the stairs with me for comfort. After letting the dog out, I walked myself to my living room and plopped down on the sofa. The sofas were pretty expensive, the kind you would expect a young corporate attorney have. The kind that no one is really supposed to get too comfortable on. That kind. So I plopped muscled down on the sofa and turned on the sixty-inch television mounted on the wall. That was my third mistake of a day only in its infancy.
Have you ever had something that disgusts you to the point of you feeling like someone has just strapped a sandbag to your head? Just the sight or even a mention of that point of disgust makes your head drop in defeat. That is what happened the moment I turned on that television. There he was in his childlike undergarments whipping across the screen. The replay and slow motion in full effect. The scrawl moving overtime at the bottom of the screen. It was all too much to take in. God slapping me in the face. I needed another drink.
I went to take a sip out of the bottle only to discover that I had already drained it of life. For a brief flash, the thought of slamming the bottle on the floor entered my mind, but then I came to my senses concluding that that action was too cartoonish and in the end, I and I alone would have to perform the painstaking task of picking the shards out of the carpet. I did the only thing that I could- I walked out the door and headed to the liquor store.
In my state of slight intoxication, I quickly realized that it was way too early for any hard liquor selling establish to ethically be open, so I made the executive decision to bide my time by securing a six-pack from the bodega on the corner. I don't remember the brand of beer as quality was not the goal I was attempting to achieve that early in the day. Inside of the cab that I managed to hail, I sipped judiciously from my beverages. I just needed a bridge until a few establishments of fine drinking opened. Fortunately for me, this was New Troy and such establishments opened early in attempts to cater to the third shift crowd who would stop off for that after work drink in what would be their happy hour. I found such a place that late morning and that is where my whiskey adventure continued.
I was about three hours and eight drinks into my visit at the bar when two of those third shifters who had been sitting in close proximity to me began to strike up a conversation that was sure to annoy me. Both men, as my best guess we're some type of security or door men. By the looks of the style and quality of their uniform, I'm sure at they worked at some sort of manufacturing companyor multi-office building as opposed to those high residential building that are so common in the borough of New Troy.At this point, I was already losing the sharpness of my senses and my tongue felt in my mouth as thick as a tire. All my thoughts were jumbling a bit and I could feel myself in a constant battle with my eyes, forcing myself to hold my tears as I replayed my last few days and the various scenarios of my uncertain future in I'm my mind as if I were watching a DVR. These two lovely gentlemen decided that on the day and at the exact time of my weakest moment that they would have a conversation about the very person that was responsible for my current impoverished and impaired status.
"Man! If I had those powers." The taller darker skinned guard said. He was drinking some cheap domestic beer. Probably the worst kind. The type of beer I call piss water. Probably the same brand that I had bought just a few hours ago. "I would charge all these fools for saving their lives and saving the city…" His raspy voice gave away his affinity for smoking. "and if it was a planetary thing. forget about it. I'd be paid."
The shorter, wider Hispanic looking one nodded his head in agreement. "I would make them put money down first, before I even went into action. You know they city don't like to pay." Both erupted in laughter. How dare they.
I couldn't help myself. " What about all the people that get hurt during these epic battles and feats of heroism?" I took the shot of tequila that had been waiting on me for the last ten minutes. " What about them? The people that lose their houses and jobs and even family members as you crash and fight your way from building to building. You gonna take that out of your extortion pay?"
Both men stood in silence, eyeing me from across the corner of the bar. I tried to mean mug them, but apparently it was a failed attempt as they both began to giggle at my presentation. As a think back, I'm pretty confident that the laughter wasn't as dramatic or antagonistic as my inebriated self was perceiving. Unfortunately, I was in an altered state and I took offense. Forcing myself to stand, I began to curse the men and their mothers and sisters and daughters. Now the exact wording that I used I can't quite remember. I have to assume it was vulgar and offensive because in a few short seconds it felt as if the room closed in on me. Claustrophobic in my drunkenness, I took a swing and connected with something so hard, I could feel the vibrations run up my arm and to my teeth. A few microseconds later I was in a struggle. I was being pinned to the floor and I could feel knuckles pounding against the back of my head as I tried to cover up and protect myself. I believe I may have felt a few boots stomping on my ass and the back of my legs. Suddenly the barrage ended and someone pulled me up to my feet by my bicep.
I was about to swing on the guy that he a clinch on my bicep when I noticed the light brown eyes that were tearing a whole into me. She was short, she was mean, and she was beautiful.With skin so dark and smooth it looked as if she were coated in primer. Her tightly wound braided hair that twisted down to her waist. Everything about her screamed feminine. Everything accept her attitude. Yes, that afternoon Janine Trinot saved my ass. She lured my attackers away with kindness and drinks and ushered me to the back of the bar, swearing at me as she maintained her claw like grip. I would eventually find out sometime later that the orgin of Janine's grip was from growing up in a house with six brothers and a father who pushed her into several martial arts disciplines so that she would be able to handle herself during family disputes.
I don't really know if Janine was pissed off at me or slightly amused. I do know is that she helped me wipe the blood off of my shirt and gave me a couple glasses of water. As I tried to gather my senses, Janine informed me that the victim of the one punch that I had connected so well with was the counter top of the bar. I had just finished my second glass of water when Janine, opened the back door and pulled me into the alley. Before I could even ask what was going on she had shoved me into the back of a livery car, leaving me to watch her stare me down as the car drove off. I watched as the tiny woman shrank even more and suddenly my world blackened.
When I opened my eyes, it was pitch black and I was lying face down on the hard concrete of my front stoop. I lifted my head to gain my bearings, I separated my head from the concrete and I could feel the sticky substance slide off my cheek and that's when the smell kicked in. I had vomited. I have no idea when or even where, or even how many times. I do know that the evidence of frequency was spread on my face and clothes.
Any person in their right mind would have gone straight in the house and crawled in the bed. I am not that normal person. I did in fact walk into the house only to head straight for the back door to let Layla into the yard to relive herself. I'm sure her gut was busting all day. I changed my shirt and pants and walked right back out of the house. My choppy memory of this night is consistent as I don't remember how I got there but I do remember finding myself in the basement of a gambling parlor in China Town. As I faded in, was in the middle of s game of Mahjong. The smoke of the parlor was so strong that it was probably the odor that snapped me back into awareness. Apparently, I was doing very well because I had in front of me a mountain of chips, cash, and a couple of watches. I also had three very angry Asian men string at me from around the table.
I had learned to play Mahjong in high school. It was a game that one of my AP friends, Ben Mao, had taught me as a way to pass time when we finished our projects ahead of class schedule. It was my ongoing desire to visit a gambling parlor, but Ben had advised me not to take such risks, that the atmosphere could be very dangerous for the non- Chinese at times. The alcohol in my system overrode any sense of caution I had that night. So there I was being mean mugged by three Chinese businessmen, after completing my winning hand, when someone slammed down an empty shoe box down on the table. For the second time that day I was grabbed my bicep and pulled to a standing position. When I turned around to confront my aggressor, who I was sure was not going to be a counter-top this time, I was greeted with a smirk. At the other end of the smirk was Benjamin Mao.
Benjamin's father was a well know figure in the Metropolis Chinese scene. He owned five or six gambling parlors throughout the city and it was traveling with his father that Benjamin became so knowledgeable in the games of chance. After high school, Ben went on to college and began a financial career with one of the largest and most respected financial firms in the city. But when the economic downturn hit, Ben was let go. With the job market dry, Ben decided to join his father's business and eventually, because of his financial intellect expanded the family businesses into the legitimate world. But they made sure to hold on to what got them there and those keepsakes were money makers.
It had been almost five years since I had last saw him, but he still looked as young as that kid that I knew in high school. It was his eyes that gave away his age. Ben had the eyes of someone who had seen far too much starting from a young age. Next to him were two of the largest Chinese men I have ever seen in person. Both were over six foot three and on the heavy side of two-fifty. Without so much as a hello, Ben had one of his goons load the shoe box with my winnings. The other locked my armpit in a vice grip and began to walk me away from the table. My feet were almost gliding on the floor as I moved them to keep balance. The three gentleman walked me to the door and once again that night I was staring at a back alley. My old friend just looked at me, leaned forward and whispered in my ear. "Please don't come back. I'll call soon." He gave me a shove and I stumbled into the opposite wall. I put it together after a day or two. Ben was running a business. How would it look if his clientele found out that the outsider who was cleaning them out was friends with the owner of the establishment? That would have been not only bad for business but bad for me and Ben. After I hit the wall, I decided to stop pressing my luck and head home. But first, I stopped off at the liquor store and secured another bottle.
Getting home was not memorable. Just a cab ride where I forced myself to stay awake by randomly texting my AWOL girlfriend. I reached my front door and that's when it happened again. A rush of vomit streamed from my mouth. My chest and stomach heaved so violently, I was using muscles in my abdomen that I didn't even know were there. I pushed my way into the house and lay on the tile. I pushed the shoe box under the sofa as a keep sake to remind me how stupid and how low I allowed myself to go. I needed to change my life. I couldn't keep living like this. I just wasn't ready to do so right then.