I was talkin’ to my dear pal Lil-e on the horn the other night… well …let’s start from the beginning. Lil-e’d sent me a letter where she said she was doing some “face painting” for this thing. I was like, “What the fuck? I need some explanation on this one.” So when I was talking to her on the phone, I said, “What in Judas’s name is up with this ‘face painting’ gig?” “Oh,” she said, “That was for charity.” I immediately pictured in my sorry old head that some charity she was working for was setting up outside some stadium down there in Portland where Lil-e lives, and painting faces for the fans of whatever football team they got down there. You know how when you see one of them assholes pictured in the newspaper, where he’s hollering’ like an idiot for his home team made up of players from other states; and he’s got his face all painted up with the colors of his team. That’s what thought popped into my noggin. And Lil-e said, “Oh no!” It was nothing like that. It was this craft bazaar for the community center . . . and she would paint people’s faces and hands . . . little turtles and hippos and stuff . . . then they’d make a donation to keep the community center alive.
It was Sunday. The day the center considered a “fun day.” No fun. A bit of a change from the weekly all day trial of lectures, hounding by counselors, group sessions, more lectures, and bad food though. On Sunday they let us watch movies (on drug and alcohol related issues), see family (oh boy!), and eat more bad food. Every Sunday started with us all shuffling into the conference hall to hear some dude from the outside, that had once been here on the inside, tell how he cleaned up, was living the sober life, and how all the joys of heaven had descended on him. A load of hot air to put it precisely.
I’d missed the first Sunday speaker because I was in emergency detox. I was certainly here for this one . . . with every shattered nerve, I was sitting there with my new pal Mike who’d been sent down by the oil company he worked for in Alaska because he’d smoked so much meth he thought he was an antelope. So . . . well . . . what can I say? This old dude dressed up like a clown pops up on the stage! “Holy Moly!” I thought . . . and this clown starts to tell his story . . . from the gutter up . . . a regular gut wrenching tear jerker . . . with interjections of whacky jokes and toots of his plastic horn. I turned to Mike, “Mike . . . Mike! Man, I think my d.t. hallucinations are coming back . . . ‘cause I’m seeing a fucking clown up there giving a recovery spiel.” Mike said, “No Fishspit, man, it’s real man. There’s a clown up there all right.” Not trusting Mike, being that his brains were all toasted out from all that damaging dope, I turned to this gal named Pam sitting’ on my left. “Hey Pam! Pam! Do you see a clown up there?” “Holy Mother of God,” was her only response as her eyes remained transfixed on the fella wearing the red afro wig, red ball on his smeller, painted face, and giant, giant shoes. Pam was pretty fresh out of the detox ward too.
This just wasn’t right. It’s sheer madness (or sadism) to inflict people fresh out of the detox ward (like me, Mike and Pam) to this sort of scene. This was the sort of set up that was sure to send at least a dozen of us scrambling back to that dark wing . . . where they strap you down real tight, shoot you full of anti- seizure meds, and let you scream and kick as (in my case) giant, evil, menacing tumbleweeds rolled through to put the heebee jeebees on my brain . . . or once in a while, that goddamned, son of a bitch crocodile would drop by to chew on my leg. God my leg was a mess! (They will give you Librium doses if you is coming off certain drugs in which withdrawal can kill your sorry ass . . . and thank god they gave me Librium doses . . . God bless Librium!)
Your withdrawal hallucinations depend on your personality . . . at least that’s my belief. Take my pal M.F. It was Smurfs with him. Seriously! I’m not treating you to my sack of hokum here reader . . . little blue Smurfs kept running all over him. Still, you never get a break when it comes to withdrawal hallucinations. It ain’t no candy land . . . no puppies to pet or daisies to sniff. No the puppy will puke out your mama it has just eaten and the daisies will bite you on the ass. So these fucking Smurfs were really doing a doozy on M.F. Giving a blast of the most malicious calumnies they could provide . . . and poking him every so often with tiny blue toothpicks. I understood it though . . . it didn’t confound me. M.F. is a gentle, flower child, hippy type. He would get Smurfs as his d.t. hallucinations . . . just a shame they had to be such little shit-asses.
Over time you start to get your marbles back. A few at a time. I survived the clown and settled into life at the center. I became real good pals with this Vietnam vet named Cecil. Cecil lost his leg, from the knee down, in the war. Me and Cecil sent a few newbies back to detox ourselves . . . ha ha ha . . . yeah . . . it was fucked up . . . maybe even cruel . . . but you gotta entertain yourself somehow in there. I was coming off a surgery because of a leg I’d smashed up real bad. I had to walk with a cane. Me and Cecil would hobble around together (they called us the Crips there in the center) shooting the shit and trying to keep the demons off our ass . . . the demons and the counselors. He was a real good pal.
This one time we were sitting around these low tables with a cushy couch spread around it. People made puzzles on the table. They did let us make puzzles . . . though it’s pretty hard to make the pieces fit in a puzzle when you can’t get them to fit in your burnt out cranium. Like I was telling you . . . a bunch of us were sitting on them couches around the table . . . me next to Cecil. It was taking a risk . . . I couldn’t remember exactly which one of Cecil’s legs he had lost. If I hit the good leg, Cecil was gonna holler something wild and then bust me up something awful. I figured it was worth the risk. I took my cane and with a hefty upward then downward swing I cracked Cecil’s fake leg with my cane. It was the right one . . . and his fake leg was of sturdy plastic product and it cracked out a thunderous noise something creepy and awful. Cecil didn’t budge . . . in fact he smiled. Not many people knew about Cecil’s fake leg . . . especially the newer entries. You should of seen the astonished looks on them ugly mugs (nobody is pretty in treatment . . . still don’t keep the sickest ones from trying to make a play). You should have been there reader . . . it was something to witness! The astonishment! The horror! The molecularsmashillation of them peoples beans! It was amazing. The silence that ensued . . . that was something to hear . . . that was real silence! The flabbergasted looks on them pusses. The absolute horror on some of them. Watching the newest ones faces meta-morph was a study in science itself. The confusion as their drug addled and mixed up noodles tried to fathom what had just happened. Me and Cecil sent a few back to the detox ward on that one.
Later, on our after-shock walk, Cecil said, “That was a good one Fishspit . . . but you is fucking lucky you got the correct leg. Let’s pull that some more in the future.” So in the spaces between that incessant, unceasing chatter and info- education madness on drug abuse and alcoholism, me and Cecil would take a little trip down to the dark end of the ward . . . detox . . . and as the few that had been unstrapped stood in the doorway trying to comprehend how it had all come to this (God bless them!), I’d give Cecil a great big thwap on his fake leg with my cane. That’d send ‘em back to their beds! They’d even be begging to be strapped down again. “Shoot me up with some more of that anti-seizure sauce please . . . a feel a big one coming on!”
Being in a treatment center is also a lot like being in a nuthouse. I speak from experience as I’ve been in both (I’m sorry dear reader that I’m such a fuck up and that I’ve made such a mess of it all . . . I really am . . . but it’s my history and it hasn’t been fun . . . but it helps to tell you all . . . a cleansing of the soul). After a person has detoxed, and is pretty much cleaned up and got the twist- ems out of his grey matter, the underlying mental illness they were trying to escape from by booze or by drug, comes to the surface.
To give an example . . . to give a little incident . . . one time a bunch of us were sitting around the common room . . . about a half dozen or more of us . . . just complaining and lying and shooting the breeze . . . and this huge, six foot, burly dude comes busting in hopping mad . . . he screams at us, “Which one of you assholes put all those fucking penguins in my room!” We all shut the fuck up fast. This looked like it was going to get real ugly. And this dude had been out of the detox ward for well over a month. Scary! There was this other shit-ass in the place named C.K. I hated his guts . . . and I can hate deeply. He was a predator . . . and the poor women there sure couldn’t feel so safe with this creep haunting the halls. He was despised throughout the wards. So I spoke up to our burly-boy, hulk looking at us with slaughter in his eyes. He wanted to crunch some bones and I’d already had my leg smashed up enough . . . I didn’t want no more pain, so I spoke up; “Oh! That’s what C.K. was doing! I was wondering what he was doing putting all them penguins in your room.” Our angry giant said, “C.K.? You mean that kid that thinks he’s such a bad ass?” “That’s the one!” I said, “That’s him!”
As gigantor went off to tear C.K. a new asshole, I went down to the big fellows room (no locks on any doors in treatment . . . ‘cept for the ones on the doors going to the outside world) to have a peak. I wanted to be sure for myself that there weren’t any penguins in there. For my curious reader, no . . . no penguins.
C.K. by the way, got hauled off one night when he walked into one of the girls’ rooms (remember, no locks . . . four girls to a room for the curious reader) and crawled into bed with some poor unsuspecting gal. It was nice to see him go. He wouldn’t get it so cozy in jail.
Treatment is also the sanctuary of many folk avoiding jail time by doing treatment time. Also it’s packed with liars. You hear a lot of whoppers in treatment. The counselors had a saying, “How do you know when one of these assholes (that’s us) is lying?” “How?” “His lips move.” Let’s take Barrow . . . called so because he was an Eskimo down from Barrow Alaska. A dumber lug of cat turd you’d never meet. He told us he was avoiding prosecution by coming down and being put in treatment. “Prosecution for what?” “For killing three pigs while I was cranked up really high.” Maybe he had killed three pigs . . . but it weren’t the cops he was claiming they were. Or maybe he had . . . in his head . . . his poor stupefied and useless noodle. He was either so brain fucked he thought he’d killed cops or he was just telling us some real fat ones.
I was no exception. Let’s not be a hypocrite here. Me hobbling around on my cane . . . constantly being asked, “What happened to your leg?” Oh, I told them some fabulously first rate fibs! Like once, when asked, I said that the mafia thugs broke it because I couldn’t come up with the drug money. It turns out there was a fellow in the treatment center that claimed he was a mafia thug . . . but he was probably lying. Yet who knows. Me and him got along just fine though. Everyone hated him because he was so sleazy and ugly . . . but those are the type of folks that will pal up with me . . . because I’m so nice and loving to everybody . . . ha ha . . . especially the rejects . . . I’ve always got a reject taking sanctuary under my wing . . . a regular saint I surely am.