Sunday, January 4, 2009

Angels I Don't See PART III

Part I here and part II here

The ten solid days that I spent drinking were a welcome respite from the worry that was consuming my every thought. While drinking, no matter what is going on around me, I am able to simply shut everything out.

Around day eight I knew that I needed to find help yet again. I was nervous that the amount of alcohol I was consuming – half a gallon to a gallon of vodka a day – was going to result in alcohol poisoning. But I was also worried that detoxing myself might send my body into shock and kill me. Though I had always detoxed myself in the past, I was aware of the dangers inherent in doing so. My days were numbered as far as withdrawing from alcohol and I was not going to take that risk again.

Finding a detox that has an available bed is harder than one might think. I called six detox centers before I found one in Princeton, New Jersey that said they could take me, and it would be a few days before a bed would be ready. Therefore, while waiting for them to call, I continued to drink and continued to notice Ric degenerate.

Finally, on a Monday, the detox in Princeton called and told me to come right away.

After six days in Princeton, I took the train home. I was excited to see Ric and our dog Trotter. Ric told me that he cleaned the loft and it was spotless and I was ready to spend a few days relaxing at home while I began the process of sobriety once again.

The smell I encountered upon entering the loft was disgusting. There were dishes piled high in the sink, clothes and sticky messes all over the floor, and the garbage was overflowing everywhere. Trotter appeared to be sick and Ric appeared to be dying. And I was mad as hell.

“This is what you call spotless?!?!”

“I cleaned. Look at the couch. I cleaned all the stuff on the floor and put it on the couch”

“You mean to tell me that you believe that the ten minutes it took to pick the crap off the floor and simply throw it on the couch is your idea of cleaning?”


As I sat down on the one part of the couch that was free of debris, I went through my mail from the previous six days. I noticed a number of envelopes were from lawyers. Since I rarely receive anything from lawyers I knew something was very wrong.

Dear Mr. McDonald

Leaving the scene of an accident is a very serious charge and, if found guilty, you could find yourself having your license suspended and even facing jail time. We at the firm of Scare, Yoo, and Shatless have represented countless individuals in your situation. It would be a mistake to attempt to represent yourself in court…

Dear Mr. McDonald,

You are probably worried about your upcoming court date. I understand. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious charge and you deserve the best possible representation. I encourage you not to go to court alone. Don’t be fooled into believing that you can do this on your own…

Confused and a bit panicked, I came to my final piece of mail. Inside a handwritten envelope from the police department was a court summons requiring me to appear in court for “Leaving the scene of an accident”

My heart began to race. I mapquested the location where the summons said the accident took place, which turned out to be just outside our bank. I then looked up all the transactions I made the day the summons said the accident took place. And, like I thought, I had not been at the bank the day the supposed accident took place. But Ric had.

Ric had been at our bank that day at the time of the supposed accident to take his name off of one of our joint accounts and open another account that was exclusively his. He said his reason for doing so was because he was afraid that during my relapse I would spend all the money we had. The problem with that was that there was not any money in any of our accounts for me to spend. We were broke. Therefore, anything I purchased during my relapse was put on my credit cards.

There was another problem as well. Ric has not had a driver’s license since his expired nearly two years ago. Though we originally bought the car for him to get to work in New Jersey, he was quickly promoted back into the city and the car, which is in my name, became mine exclusively to use. When his license expired, we took his name off the insurance to save some money and if he needed to get somewhere that could not be reached by public transportation, I drove him.

“Ric, I got a court summons and about a dozen letters from attorneys saying I left the scene of an accident. I know I didn’t do this. I never drive while I am drinking and the time the accident took place was the exact time you were at the bank changing the accounts”

“Ok, so?”

“So the accident took place right outside of the bank”


“So I was not at the bank that day and you were. I did not go anywhere that day”

“I took the train to the bank. I remember, because it was so cold that day and I had to wait a long time for the train to come”

“Are you sure?”


At my wits end I called a friend of mine who is a cop. I’ll call him Paul, though that’s not his name. He told me that I needed to get a copy of the police report and read what it said. He also told me that, whatever I did, I was not to miss my court date.

The next morning, I walked into my precinct and requested the report. I was relieved to learn that there appeared to be no damage to the other car and the report seemed to be nothing more than a perfunctory request from the other driver for possible insurance purposes.

When I returned home, I told Ric that I got the police report though I did not tell him what the report said. His response was telling.

“Well you know you were driving so just go plead guilty and it won’t be that bad”

“It won’t be that bad? I face possible jail time and/or license suspension and you’re telling me it won’t be that bad? I depend on that car! And I know I didn’t drive the car that day! I know it!”

The reason I knew it is because in all my years of drinking the one thing I never did was drive. Never. I did plenty of other deplorable things but I never drove. Driving was never a part of my drinking DNA.

But maybe this time was different. Maybe this time I did drive. Maybe the disease had progressed to the point that I simply did not remember driving under the influence. Maybe it was just a coincidence that unlicensed Ric was at the bank at the exact time the accident took place outside the bank.

Maybe I was going crazy.

Maybe I was already there.

Part IV of Angels I Don't See here

Psst, the clue is in the title

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