Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Relapse

 Scenes from an American Diner: A Story in 26 Parts
All 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.

"Where'd you find him?"

"What happened?"

"What the hell was he thinking?"

And other questions, none of of which had good answers, if any at all.  The few answers that were provided were met with curses and exclamations of anger, confusion and hurt.  It had been a concerted effort- coordinated phone calls and  text messages and searches of places where people in recovery shouldn't be.  And in the end they found their friend in an apartment in a part of the city where newspaper headlines were born and politicians never went to.

They'd expected a fight, protests against the inevitable.  But in the end he was too tired, too worn and too beaten to argue.  He let them carry him out, load him into the backseat of the car and be driven away.  They took him to the ER, the first stop in a series of institutions- one of the holy trilogy of invariable consequence of addiction, but certainly better than jail or death.  It was the phone call to his parents that stole the little life left in his eyes.

The four of them stayed there until his parents came, and Jared took the reigns in telling them what had happened, or at least what he knew.  Scott's father had been angry, and thrown harsh accusations at Jared which were unwarranted and misplaced.  He didn't take it well and responded by shutting down.  Standing with the imposing man screaming at him he looked all too child-like and Ted had found himself thinking bad thoughts about him.  Perhaps it was easier to be angry at him for failing as a sponsor than it was to ackowledge the reality of Scott's actions and the long line of events that would follow them.

Stew tried his best to calm the yelling man, taking him outside and speaking in even, almost quiet tones.  Ted was inside, sitting next to the boy's mother who for her part sat sobbing, unable to make any sounds of speech.  Ted said whatever reassuring things he could think of, which all sounded flat to his ears.  Jim, who had found him, just sat in the uniform chair and stared out at nothing.  He had a haunted expression on his face and Ted worried that he might collapse from the sheer weight of everything.

When the doctor came out, Ted sensed Scott's mother hold her breath and instinctively placed a hand on hers.  He started talking as his dad rushed in and made eye contact directly with the man, demanding his attention and implying that any interruption would result in missed information. He used words like "stable" and "strong heartbeat" which sounded good but inserted the word "watch" too often and too passively to really allay the fears of the group.  But his parents were permitted to go in and see him before they moved him upstairs and they all took it as a good sign.

"Lets get out of here, ain't nothing more we can do," Stew had said, and pulled Jim off the chair.  The others followed, retreating from the waiting room like wounded soldiers limping back towards base.

None of them wanted to go home and Ted doubted that Jim was really safe to, anyway.  So they clung to the familiar the same way goldfish swim in circles and returned to the diner to wait for the first meeting of the morning. 


  1. So sad. At least they stayed together afterwards, to watch one another.

  2. I like the tension created by this scene. I also liked the way you gave me a good glimpse of this dad without even any description. (I'm playing catch up again, as you can tell. :) )


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