Survivors Guilt – Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Fiction

Survivors Guilt – Drug Addiction and Alcoholism Fiction

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The following is an excerpt from a book about addiction and alcoholism fiction.  This literature has never been seen before, and has yet to be published.   I thought it was compelling enough that I agreed to post it on Spiritual River, in the hopes that it will be picked up by a publisher.

It is being offered to you here as a free sample of some real-world recovery literature….this is not your typical “celebrity-gets-sober-and-writes-a-book” trash.  It is a really good read (thus far), and left me wanting more.

The author’s name is Michael Barnes and he is looking for a publisher. If you are interested, contact him at:

michaelbarnes4719@att.net

Enjoy!

- Approved Treatment Center -

about-treatment

#####

Curt

The best friend I ever had was Curt.

Curt died in 1984.

Curt was friendly, giving, helpful. He could be funny. Definitely had a sense of humor. There was almost literally nothing that he wouldn’t do for me. He saved my life once. His very existence probably saved my life many times. Curt had a way with women, and he was a raging alcoholic.

When Curt died, I was in the midst of a break-up with the woman I lived with at the time, Donna. We got into a fight when I was drunk, and she wouldn’t let me back into her apartment. Since this was not the first time Donna and I had broken up, I had an apartment of my own, which currently was occupied by another unemployed, alcoholic friend of mine, Charlie. I was willing to go back to my own apartment, but I wanted to retrieve a bag of clean laundry that was just inside the door of Donna’s apartment. She, of course, didn’t want to let me back in (and, in hindsight, what the hell was wrong with me that I thought she would open the door and give me my stuff? She was throwing me out!).

Anyway, I solved the problem with some atypical ingenuity—by kicking the door open, taking the bag, probably calling her a bitch or some other sweet nothing, and leaving.

Fifteen minutes or so later, as I approached my apartment, a squad car rolled up, verified my identity, and arrested me for criminal damage to property and battery. (When we got back together later, for the third or fourth or fifth time, she told me the door had hit her, which accounted for the battery charge.) I spent the night in jail and was bonded out in the morning by Charlie, moments before I would have been shipped off to Cook County Jail, a place I greatly feared.

If I remember correctly, I was unemployed at the time. I was also major-league pissed off that the woman who was supposed to be my beloved would have done this to me, and, as it turned out, that she had started seeing another guy almost immediately, a guy who was an even bigger low-life than I was. Go figure. I started doing something that I had done before, and would become ever more of a pattern with me. I decided I would show her by quitting drinking and remaking myself through diet and exercise.

I went to the neighborhood taverns every day and drank 7-Up, did calisthenics at home (mostly push-ups and a few sit-ups), drank a lot of water, ate celery, and had one can of Campbell’s soup per day.

This went on for a month. I dropped from 200 to 170 pounds. However, I didn’t lose any anger, or resentment, or guilt, or remorse, or grief. These feelings multiplied and fed upon themselves, but the fashion in which I normally dealt with these things—drowning them in alcohol and chemicals—was out of the question. By sheer effort of will, I was never going to drink again for the rest of my life.

I know there are many more people with greater problems and misfortunes than myself—then and now—but I could have sworn I was the most miserable son-of-a-bitch on the planet.

And that’s exactly how I acted. I whined to anyone who would listen about how my girl had wronged me, and how I needed a job, and how I was going to, alternately, get even with her, or win her back. What a self-centered, egotistical, cry-baby, childish jerk.

Then Curt called. He was almost in tears. Maybe he actually was in tears. He told me that his cancer, which had been in remission, had returned.

Little Bea’s and The Crew

Curt was recovering from Hodgkin’s Disease when we met. I was fifteen, and he was seventeen, when I got a job at Little Bea’s, a hot dog stand.

Little Bea’s Drive-in was on the corner of Milwaukee and Sacramento, right across the street from Ryan Brothers trailers. Kitty-corner from Bea’s was a used-car lot and a couple of taverns, the Club Hello and the F & Z. “F & Z” stood for Fred and Zelda, but they were no longer the owners. (Six years later they became, however, my grandparents-in-law, but we’ll get to that later.)

The “L” tracks run down the alley parallel to Milwaukee on the south side of the street, and a small side street named Linden runs parallel to the tracks. When I was in grade school, the Blue line terminal was there, ending at Logan Square; all the trains were stored up in the air on huge timbers.

Slightly further to the south, at Fullerton and Sacramento, was Jerry’s service station, where you could actually get a car worked on, and across Sacramento to the east was a funeral home. The same distance to the north, there was a small spit of a street, Willetts Court, that paralleled Milwaukee. It was about three hundred feet long, and my uncle had a cookie factory at the end of it named Formel Baking. He made coconut macaroons for Nabisco.

Curt taught me the ins and outs of working at Bea’s, and he was absolutely the coolest guy on earth. The Crew gave him the nickname “Curly.” He knew about and owned cars. He was building a glistening, chromed 327 engine in his basement, to be installed in a yet-to-be-purchased 1963 Impala. It had fuelie heads, whatever those were. He got all the women he wanted—and he wanted a lot of them. (This was true right up to the day he died.) He taught me to be a greaser. I wanted to be just like him.

Curt also taught me how to drink. One time, probably in the first year that we knew each other, Curt said to me, “If I ever catch you doing drugs, I’ll whip your ass.”

Over the years, our roles reversed. I’ve never been anyone’s role model, but I suspect that it was because he made it to the later stages of alcoholism before I did. I became the guy who could hold a job and had money to spend. I was a foreman, I ran work, and I was healthy. I quickly bounced back from car wrecks and beatings. Not much to hang a hat on, but things that are missed if you have them and lose them. The health in particular.

Little Bea’s was where I met Curt. It was where Curt taught me how to drink. The way it usually went was that someone would make a run for us. They would go to the liquor store and pick up a half pint or a pint for us, usually Seagram’s 7. There was a big ice machine in the back room at the hot dog stand, and we would keep the bottle shoved down underneath the cubes. There, it was safe from discovery by all but the most exhaustive of searches, and nobody had any reason to look. We didn’t reek of alcohol or get so buzzed we couldn’t work. Plus, twice a week we cut onions. Trust me: after a couple of hours of cutting onions, no one was going to get close enough to smell alcohol.

Little Bea’s had a soda-dispensing machine, the kind where you hook up various tanks of syrup in conjunction with a tank of seltzer. The ingredients combine in some kind of mixing chamber, and out comes the kind of pop that the customer ordered. We used large cups, filled halfway with ice. Next, we added whiskey almost to the top of the line of ice, maybe a little lower, because we hardly ever had anything larger than a pint, and the drinks and drinking had to be measured and timed to last until about a half an hour before closing. Then, we topped our drinks off with the soda of choice. Curt liked Coke. I generally went with 7-Up. The final touch was a to-go lid and a straw. This made the ice last longer and guarded against accidental spills.

We needed to finish up by a half an hour before closing because one of the owners, Harry, lived about five houses down the street, and, unless he was too drunk, he would come over to close. Harry was a hard drinker, but he seldom was in bad enough shape to not show up and take the money home. I also think that he knew pretty much everything that was going on (drinking, employees supplementing their incomes out of the register, and so forth), but he was content to leave things alone as long as nothing was outrageously out of kilter.

Harry died after I had been working at his place for about eight months. I believe he had a stroke. I never knew how old he was, but it couldn’t have been more than sixty. We all went to the wake in The Duper’s car, a bright orange 1969 0r ’70 GTO Judge.

The Duper. Everyone who hung around the place had nicknames, and the whole bunch together was loosely called “The Crew.” I don’t remember The Duper by anything other than his nickname, but there were seven or eight guys that comprised The Crew. Mike Stipinski was Big Mike. Curt was Curly. The Swede was The Swede (I can’t remember his given name, either). Then there was Plumber (because of what he did for a living), Monk, Buzz (whose real name was Walter), and a few others I can’t recall. Casey and Larry were brothers and didn’t have nicknames. The Crew talked it over one day and christened me with the name “One Eye,” which spoke volumes about my hair style.

On the way to the wake, Curt made jokes about spinning hole shots on Harry’s head. I felt kind of uncomfortable with that, but I didn’t let on. Everyone was older than I was, and if I was going to be a tough guy, I had to act like they did: Laugh it off.

In those days, in Logan Square, there were only about four or five basic classifications for people: adults, dupers, greasers, jocks, and freaks.

Adults, of course. You had to deal with them, but they basically didn’t count—unless they caught you at something. There were also some younger adults who were pretty cool. They had grown up, had jobs, some even had wives and families, but they hadn’t forgotten how they had come up. These guys would come in and bullshit with us on their way home from work, or on their way to work, or, in the case of the cops, while they were at work. Official policy for the police was free drinks and half off their food orders. Our policy was they could have anything except the building and the cash register. We did not get traffic tickets in the 14th Precinct.

Sometimes, on rainy nights, when things were slow in the police business, some of the cops would play “chase” with some of the Crew. If the cops won, the loser was supposed to get a ticket. Big Mike in his ’65 Impala, Case in his gold ’71 Chevelle, The Duper in the Judge, or maybe Timmy Corrison in his sleeper 396 Impala, also a ’65, would roll out the back of the hot dog stand, down Linden, or Milwaukee, or Sacramento, any direction—north, south, east, or west—with a two- or three- or five-minute head start. The cops would make some phone calls, finish their coffee, maybe finish writing a report, and roll out into the night after them. The Crew always operated at a disadvantage. They couldn’t idle down alleys with their lights off or lay in wait under the el tracks or in front of a big truck. We knew a lot of cops, but we certainly didn’t know them all, so just looking at a squad wouldn’t tell you if your friend was driving it.

Instead, Crew members would drive around inside predetermined boundaries, in hot rods that stuck out like sore thumbs, maneuvering out of sight of any patrol car, trying to be unobtrusive, only using speed and driving skills when stealth was no longer an option. Caution had to be the watchword, here, because, as noted above, not all police were playing the game.

Usually the game ended before either side won. The police, of course, had police work to do, and when a call would come, that was it. I never heard of a member of The Crew getting a ticket while they were playing “chase.”

There was a policeman I never met but heard a lot about, named Kalata. He was a tough, mean, no-nonsense cop who would bust you as soon as look at you. The Crew was always telling stories about him. I suppose he was kind of a neighborhood legend. The original version of community policing.

One day, they were telling a different story. It seems this cop had found one of the guys they knew from school, puking, stinking drunk in Palmer Square. Instead of hauling him in, he picked him up, treated him gently, sobered him up, and made sure he got home okay. Community policing. Some people would call it enabling. All I know is that I heard nothing but respect when the guys talked about Officer Kalata.

I respect and admire policemen, in particular Chicago policemen, who are consummate professionals. When I was a kid, I thought they were good people, and I still believe that now (in spite of my own run-ins with them). They do a difficult, thankless job, and they do it well. I’ve given my share of grief to many of them over the years, and the truly amazing thing is that one never held a phone book on top of my head while the other used a billy club to see if he could thin the book down a little.

The next class of people were dupers, also known in some circles as collegiates. They finished high school; some went to college. They had jobs in offices or in management. They were basically inoffensive and nondescript, and dressed in turtlenecks and corduroys. Like how I dressed before I became a greaser.

Greasers were tough guys. Tough but fair and fun-loving. Fast cars, hot-looking women hanging on their arms. Hair slicked back, black leather three-quarter-length jackets, dark blue or gray baggy pants (known as baggies), and combat boots from the Army surplus store.

The gangs of the day didn’t fuck with any of the greasers that I knew. Hell, the gangs of the day were greasers themselves. Some Latin Kings gave us some grief a few years later, as the neighborhood started to change, but even that wasn’t much of a big deal. Anybody who has read the book or seen the movie The Outsiders knows how it was. And so did anyone who lived it.

This tough-guy identity that I so eagerly embraced was tailor-made for me. During grade school, I had been bullied, not often, but often enough, because I tried to live the way my mother taught us to. My mother was Catholic with a huge capital C, and she did most of the parenting of and for the eight of us (me and my seven siblings). I sang in the choir, served as an altar boy, tried and sometimes failed not to resolve any differences by fighting (at school; home was a different story), and lived in constant fear of the nuns’ wrath, which they were very liberal with. As a consequence, I was a target. When I graduated from eighth grade, I was already forming a plan. Everything would be different in high school because I’d be starting fresh with all new people, people who knew nothing about the past, and who, hopefully, wouldn’t be swayed by the lies and misrepresentations of the jerks I went to grade school with, if only because they never met. Everything would be different. A fresh start.

(I laughed my ass off when I read John Powers’s books The Last Catholic in America and the sequel Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? The parallels were astonishing.)

Although in grade school I did not yet drink, and I inevitably graduated and went on to high school, my attitude was already the same as an alcoholic seeking what is known as a “geographic,” the attempt to escape the past and get a fresh start by changing geographic locations, and, by doing so, replacing all the familiar faces with fresh ones. The fallacy in this kind of reasoning is that no matter where you go, no matter what you do, you always bring yourself along. So, if you’re the problem, going somewhere else won’t change it a bit.

I was also extremely shy about talking to girls. I really don’t think I expected girls to be attracted to me just because I was a greaser, and I soon learned that this was, indeed, not going to be the case. However, I was a tough guy, and I drank with tough guys because I was one of them, and that magic elixir did indeed loosen my soon-to-be-glib tongue. Enough so that I was able to speak to girls sometimes and even ask them to go out. Preferably on the phone during a call that I initiated, so I could imbibe the proper amount of tongue-loosening solution.

In high school, for the first time in my life, I was with a group of people who I more or less fit in with. I was the kid, so I didn’t fit all the way in, but there was a lot of camaraderie. And Curt was my brother. He really was, so much so that people would ask, sometimes, “Are you two brothers?” If it wasn’t for Curt, I might have been—probably would have been—shunned by The Crew. Because of Curt, I was accepted.

During this time of my adolescence, I learned and adopted character traits, and defects, that would serve me, at first well, then adequately, and then not at all, in the survival fitness training school that is life. If you spend a lot of time with a mean look or a scowl on your face, people tend to think that they’d be better off not talking to you, so they don’t if they can avoid it. They don’t know what you’re capable of. (Note to novices: this can backfire on you if you run into someone with a bigger chip on their shoulder that you.)

Dressing in the greaser uniform kept people away, too.

When that failed, you had to get right in the offender’s face and scream about what you were going to do to them. If that didn’t work, then you were going to be in a fight, unless you were somewhere where somebody would hold you back, or in school, where adults would break it up.

Fights are not always a bad thing, although certainly nothing to make a habit of. Fights are, after all, conflict resolution. While walking home from school in sixth grade, this little guy named Pete started up with me, poking and punching and taunting because, as I tried to ignore him, he had an audience. After about a block of this, and as it became increasingly painful, I picked him up, threw him on the ground, knelt on his chest, and told him he wasn’t going to do that anymore. He didn’t.

The only other thing I can say about fighting is that it works best when you’re sober (and least likely to get into a fight), and it works in direct proportion to how much you’ve had to drink. I have had to learn this lesson many times.

One definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results.

The next group of people was jocks. You know what jocks are. They’re sports nuts. The guys with the varsity letter sweaters. Guys who were in great physical shape because they played sports and acted like they were somehow special. Everybody was in great shape then—we were kids! Guys who thought their cute girlfriends were somehow better looking that your cute girlfriends. Guys who were generally mediocre students. These guys were so alien to us that it was like they were on a planet that orbited a different sun. There just was no interaction between the two groups.

Jocks didn’t fuck with greasers, either.

Then there were freaks. In the fifties there were beatniks, in the sixties there were hippies, and in the seventies there were freaks. Freaks were all right. They drove things like Volkswagen Beetles or old Ramblers. A lot of us drove beaters, but freaks drove cars that were preordained on the assembly line to become beaters. So, no competition for the good cars. Freaks got high, and they weren’t that particular about what—or who—they got high with. Sometimes we could form a mutual aid society. And the girls they were with were … different. Hip-hugger bell-bottoms, halter tops, long hair, no bras. Plenty of them were gorgeous, absolute stunners. You’d look at some of these guys and think “Him? With Her? How can this be? What could she possibly see in him?” I know this sounds insecure, because it is, but think: How many teenage boys are that secure in their manhood, since they’re not men yet?

Hippie girls were gorgeous, but greaser chicks looked great, too. They generally had shoulder-length or longer hair, ratted up a little in the back, and they’d wear things like velour hot pants, leather jackets, and satin blouses. Mini-skirts were in style then, too. I realize this sounds chauvinistic, and remembering the clothing may send shudders down your spine, but that’s the way it was. This ain’t revisionist history.

Freaks would actually try to mix it up with greasers once in a while, getting into fights. But there’s a simple explanation for that: They were high. When you get high, your mouth frequently, if not always, betrays you.

Liquor—and Laughter—Eases Pain

I’ve heard it said at AA meetings that, “I didn’t get in trouble every time I drank, but every time I got in trouble I had been drinking.” Substitute whatever substance you like for “drinking.”

Curt would talk nonchalantly about his cancer, a thing that he had beaten before and, if need be, would conquer again. He would readily pull up his shirt and show the huge, horrible scars on his stomach. When he was wearing a Dago-t (referred to in this era of political correctness as a tank top), all he had to do was pull a shoulder strap aside to show where the doctors had carved a lymph gland out of his armpit.

“Carved” is probably too kind of a word because it implies a little finesse. The guy who worked on Curt—and I remember his name—had no closing ability at all. The areas where the lymph glands were removed looked like they were done with an axe. I know that the interior work he did was successful, if only because he removed anything within about a two-foot radius of the cancer, but I could have closed better, in my drinking days, with a needle and thread. Truly.

I think the reason Curt was so willing to show his scars was a preemptive move on his part, especially concerning women. If there was any chance he was going to wind up in bed with someone, a surprise like that could really put a damper on the festivities.

Every so often, Curt would suddenly go back into Michael Reese Hospital, usually for an extended stay. Sometimes he’d get radiation and chemotherapy, although most of that was done by the time we met, or more surgery. Sometimes they’d work to undo the damage that they had done to his arm: When they took the lymph node out, the circulation in his arm was ruined, and the arm would swell. Fluid would go into the arm, but wouldn’t come back out, so the arm was permanently swollen. Over the years, it became twice the size of his other arm. It also caused him a lot of pain and loss of strength. I have no claim to medical expertise, but I never understood how removing a gland could wreck the circulation in that arm, especially since the circulation where the other glands were removed was untroubled.

Of course, there was information I was not privy to. Any doctor worth his salt would have been after Curt to quit or slow down on the drinking, which, after a while, generally is not conducive to circulatory well-being.

In the last couple of years before Curt died, his doctors were talking about amputating his arm. I was adamantly opposed to this. My reasoning was simple: They wrecked the arm; therefore, they were responsible for fixing it. It was pretty much a useless appendage toward the end, although he could still pick up a glass of vodka with it. When Curt was buried, both arms were folded across his chest.

About a year before he died, the intellectual bureaucratic wizards that issue Social Security Disability decided that Curt was cured and that he was perfectly able to work. This in spite of the fact that when a prospective employer got a look at the arm, it was “Don’t call us, we’ll call you.” (A song we both liked.) Remember, this was before entitlement programs had been decimated by the Right, so the only reason to call Curt “cured” would be incompetence.

Curt liked going into the hospital, I think. It was always a nice, extended stay, quiet, peaceful. I went to see him as often as I could. Many other people did, too. Curt was a nice guy, and he had a lot of friends. And girlfriends. He managed to successfully schedule their visits through extensive phone work and lies. He knew all kinds of medical jargon from being in the hospital so much, so he’d just go into a spiel about when and what he was going to be tested for and when the best time would be to come and visit him.

His friends, and brothers, and some of the girls, would bring him booze. It was okay, see, because you were just doing a favor for a friend who had had such a hard time of it up until now. And, besides, Curt knew his condition better than anyone, so if he said it was okay to bring him some liquor while he was in the hospital, then it was okay. It had to be okay, because if it wasn’t, then we’d all need to take a look at our behavior. Maybe even our drinking habits.

In the hospital, they medicated Curt.

Oral or injected Demerol, Darvon, sometimes Morphine. Prednisone for the swelling. A virtual smorgasbord of drugs. Drugs to help him sleep. (I’ve always gotten a kick out of the fact, when I’ve been in the hospital, that a nurse will come in the middle of the night, wake you from a sound sleep, and make you take a pill to help you sleep.)

And then, when the hospital stay was over, they would just send him back out to join the rest of us. The doctors had kept him happily buzzed on pain killers while he was there, and then they would simply turn him loose, cold turkey. After thirty or forty days of being doped up.

This, of course, didn’t last at all. Just like Curt convinced us—or we convinced ourselves—that it was all right to bring him a bottle in the hospital, he convinced the doctors that his pain and infirmities required medication on the outside. And who am I to say that Curt didn’t have pain? I’m sure he had plenty. I used to give him shit about how he couldn’t take pain, but the fact is, one man’s stubbed toe is another man’s broken leg. Pain is relative to what you know or have experienced … or fear.

One time, years after that last stay in the hospital, we were working together as partners, installing the guardrail in a train station parking lot. Northlake, I think. When installing guardrail, the posts frequently have to be offset—that is, they have to be driven in a location different than the one that would work with the pre-punched holes in the guardrail. Sometimes they have to be offset because of underground utilities: sewer, water, gas, electric; sometimes because there’s a big rock in the way, underground. When it’s time to bolt the guardrail to the post, the way to make the new hole that’s required is to take a sharpened drift pin (an ironworker’s tool) and drive it through the metal with a four-pound hammer, usually referred to as a beater. As the saying goes, “If it doesn’t fit, get a bigger beater.”

Curt was doing this, and of course he was having trouble, because of his arm. He took a swing, and the beater glanced off the pin and hit his knee. He let out a howl. I snickered and told him to quit being a candy-ass. I told him that if he would hit the pin instead of himself, he wouldn’t have any problems.

He took a big swing, and this time he hit his knee hard enough to do some damage. He fell to the ground, in pain. I started giggling.

Curt handed me the beater and the pin, and I said that was fine, I’d show him how it was done. I wound up, and drove that four-pound beater into the side of my hand at about ninety miles an hour. Now we were both on the ground, in incredible pain, laughing so hard we both thought our sides were going to bust. Just rolling on the ground, laughing so hard that tears were coming from our eyes.

Laughter eases pain.

Eventually, Curt carried around a special pill case with a variety pack of meds. Darvon, Seconal, Prednisone, three or four others. He would arrange them all in his hand, make sure everything was there, throw them into his mouth, and swallow. No wash, unless we were in a tavern.

Family Ties

“I had a buddy at Khe Sahn, fighting off the Viet Cong, They’re still there, he’s all gone.”
—Bruce Springsteen

Little did I know that at the time I was so enamored of becoming a greaser, we were going out of style. I was an anachronism when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. Nevertheless, the survival skills I learned as a greaser served me well.

The world was changing, and it was in turmoil. Actually, it had been for quite some time, but kids are notoriously self-centered and frequently oblivious to such things. When I used to see Walter Cronkite on the news, which my father insisted on watching—on the only TV in the house—talking about a body count half a world away, it meant absolutely nothing to me.

That’s not quite true. It served to imbed the name of the country of Vietnam into my brain. Whenever Cronkite talked about it, my dad made a kind of a snorting, harrumphing noise, which meant that he was displeased.

The fact that my old man was against the war in Vietnam went completely over my head at the time. I was too busy fearing and loathing him to pay much attention to what he thought.

I was a sixteen-year-old male with a chip the size of a railroad tie on my shoulder. I had all of the adolescent hormonal things going on, and I was an alcoholic understudy. If my old man thought something was black, I would swear it was white. If my old man thought the war in Vietnam was wrong, why the hell should I care?

In the basement of our house, my dad had a workshop and, in a cubbyhole at the end of that, he had what our family called the den. He had a big metal cabinet (locked), a long work table with a Smith Corona manual typewriter and a manual movie film editor/splicer on it, and metal shelving with metal boxes full of metal canisters full of home movies, of us, the family. And metal filing cabinets full of 35mm negatives of everything he had ever taken a picture of, in a special order, so he could go right to a picture, no matter when or where it was taken. All of this was neat with military precision.

And, incongruously, a framed picture on the wall of Lyndon Johnson.

Incongruous because the picture frame was a toilet seat cover.

Up until a few years ago, I thought my dad couldn’t stand Lyndon Johnson because of The Great Society programs he introduced. I was wrong. My dad didn’t like Johnson because of the war in Vietnam.

There were many things I didn’t know about my father, many things I’ll never know. In any relationship, there are varying degrees of closeness and understanding of the other person. In my family, things have always been kind of distant. There is a reason for this. There is an analogy of an alcoholic, co-dependent family that speaks of a giraffe or an elephant in the middle of the living room. Everyone in the room, everyone in the family, ignores the giraffe or elephant, acts like it isn’t there. They move the furniture so they can see the TV and talk louder if the giraffe farts or the elephant burps. Whatever they have to do, they do.

I’m from a family of ten, including my parents. Because my mom had some miscarriages before I happened along, we didn’t become a family of twelve. Pat came along first, and she’ll tell all of us that she was Dad’s favorite. Mary Sue, my sister who is currently geographically the closest, was next. Donna followed, and then Sheila. Our family arrived in two waves, and they were the first. The fifth child, and first boy, was yours truly. I was Dad’s favorite, because he was getting pretty tired of having girls by this point. I can even prove it, because when Dad ran away from home, when I was about four or five years old, he took me with. So there. (Tongue sticking out.) Following me in short order were Christy, Rosanne, and Tom. Poor Tom. My dad did not want any more children before Tom came along. Guess who bore the brunt of that?

There wasn’t a whole lot of space in the living room for the elephant, but we managed.

######

Hopefully you enjoyed this thus far.  If you would like to read more, you will have to wait for the book to come out, which has yet to land a publisher.  If you know of an agent that might be interested, go ahead and pass this along to them, as it is a completed manuscript that is yet to be published.

 

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