Lorraine is at the podium. She’s going on and on about it being
March Madness and how that man of hers, Jerome, is bringing home
beer to watch the basketball games. “Beer in my house!” she screeches.
She’s a stone-cold wino and Valium addict, but beer is beer. It ain’t right,
him puttin’ the temptation right in her own fridge! On and on she goes.
I sneak a look at Jesse. He’s shaved his face too rough; the left side is
red. Jesse is my sponsor. He’s a good guy. He’s tough. Doesn’t give me
any wiggle room. Largely because of him I’ve been sober, yes, really, for
almost 120 days. Every day of it has sucked. Jesse’s been sober for fifteen
years. I can’t imagine.
I have twelve days left on my court-ordered sentence. I’m counting
down the days. Summer is coming, and I can’t imagine a summer without margaritas, daiquiris, cold beer, chardonnay, or gin and tonic.
I keep driving by the Oasis, a warehouse-size liquor store on the
other side of town. No reason for me to be on that side of town, but I
keep thinking about walking the brightly lit aisles with the little neon
signs marking the sections: gin, vodka, tequila, whiskey. I dream
of all the shining bottles so gloriously displayed, each offering its own
specific truth. I keep sweating. Every day that the calendar flips over, I’m
closer to April 24 and getting my real life back.
My DUI wasn’t much. I was leaving Ricky’s Tavern, a downtown bar;
I was backing out of one of those angled parking spaces, and my car
brushed a homeless guy on a bicycle. Some weird mission downtown
provides bicycles for their “clients” to help rebuild their self-esteem and
give them some autonomy. The bike frame was warped, but the guy, Jamal Parker, wasn’t hurt. Just some torn jeans, scraped knees and palms.
I was working it out with him, twenty dollars in cash and my gold bracelet, which was 24-carat; he could walk one block over and pawn it for
more cash. Jamal was being cool with it. But some do-gooder sitting in
the coffee shop on the corner called the police.
Suddenly, Miss Serious Policewoman was there, saying shit like “You
could have killed this man! I smell alcohol; have you been drinking?”
And though I tried to claim otherwise, the do-gooder had reported that
I had, indeed, walked out of Ricky’s. And later, video from the bar would
show me sitting there for an hour and a half, drinking four Coronas,
knocking back two shots of Cuervo. Shit, who knew Ricky’s Tavern had
cameras! Even before that video surfaced, Miss Serious Policewoman
was more than happy to take to me jail after I declined the Breathalyzer
test. Every barfly in the world will tell you to refuse the Breathalyzer or