Scenes from an American Diner: A Story in 26 Parts
of us have had our lives touched in some way by the disease of
addiction. Be it a loved one, friend, family member or even ourselves
no one is immune to the impact of this devastating illness. This story
is dedicated to all of those people, especially the ones who have found
recovery through the 12 step fellowship.
"So what, you just call and call and call- forever?" Scott asked, trying to turn the conversation onto someone else. He found that people were all too willing to focus on him, the 'newcomer', and he couldn't take too much of it without squirming.
"Ask him," Ted said, nodding at Stew.
Stew went to respond, then shut his mouth and nodded back at him. "What do you think?"
"I think this shit's hard," Ted said, sighing again.
He surveyed the room again, a favorite past time. The late night crowd varied widely from the patronage of Sunday morning. He could tell that some of the customers had recently come from the casino and the sounds of their complaint about the house rigging everything let him know they'd lost. One particular couple in the corner had the look of desperation on them- that slightly frenzied expression of the eyes as they darted around the menu pages beholding prices that now seemed entirely too steep.
"There should be more GA meetings around here," he observed.
"You're doing it again," Stew said.
"Man, he rides you hard, don't he?" Greg said, smiling a smile that let Ted know he was enjoying watching him suffer.
"I guess..." he hesitated, watching the man sitting at the counter struggle to pull coins out of his pocket. "I guess it's about the effort. You know, in our addictions we were willing to do anything- didn't matter what- to get our booze or our whatever. We'd screw people over, lie to anybody, move heaven and earth."
"Neither rain, sleet, snow nor hail," Greg joked.
"I guess the effort we put into that can't be more than the effort we're willing to put into trying to repair some of that damage."
The table went quiet as everyone suddenly became very interested in something other than the conversation. Ted went back to observing the couple who were now bickering in a way that edged on harsher words. Greg stirred his coffee and watched the brown liquid swirl in cup. Stew stared off into nothing, contemplating the weight of his sponsee's words.
Scott had a haunted look about him, his eyes moving back into the past and observing something unseen by the rest of them. A grimace flew across his face and before it could settle he returned the focus to Ted. "What happened anyway? I mean, why's he so mad at you?"
Ted sighed again, the honesty tiring him. "Lets just sum it by saying that when his mom died I crawled into a bottle chasing what I'd lost. That kid suffered a lot from that, more than a few unreturned phone calls worth."
"So you keep calling," Stew said, a nod letting Ted know he'd done good.