The Consequences of Successfully Passing Rehab
The circles that Tom traveled through were notorious for their legendary drug use but he had a general aversion to playing with his synapses so, with the rare exception of the occasional beer and constant exposure to second-hand pot smoke, he was about as straight as people in my neighborhood came. At least he was until the day his grandmother, whom he lived with, stepped unannounced into his room and caught a friend of his rolling up a joint. Wrongly assuming that her grandson was on drugs as well, she packed him off on a lengthy vacation at a detoxification institution where he picked up a myriad of new vices. His reasoning was that if he was going to get blamed for something, he might as well reap the satisfaction of having done it. To celebrate his newfound freedom upon his release, we decided to throw a party in his honor (which was as good of an excuse as any) and since my parents were out of town, I offered up my house to serve as the epicenter.
The only problem with having a party in Tom’s honor at my house was the fact that it was situated right across the street from his. Tom’s grandmother was watching him like a hawk and would have him right back in rehab at the first suspicion she had that he was ingesting alcohol or drugs. With this in mind, we had to keep things low key. I asked people to park on the street behind me and sneak into mine through the back yard, out of sight of Tom’s grandmother.
At first, the party started small. There was just me, Tom, Mad Dog, Lucky, three cases of beer, two fifths of cheap tequila, a carton of cigarettes and a bag full of herbal sunshine that Tom was rolling up and lighting as quickly as he could. At first I found it hard to believe that someone who had only possessed the habit for less than a week could smoke so much, but as time wore on I found out that, though he could definitely smoke it, he was not quite as proficient at handling it. This became evident after the first newcomer to the festivities knocked on my back door. Tom practically leapt out of his seat, his eyes wide with terror as he instantly broke out into a cold sweat. “Who the #$%@ is that!?!” he gasped as his eyes darted around nervously as if he were scoping out a place to hide or an avenue of escape, “WHO IS IT MAN!”
I got up and looked out the back window. “It’s just The Giz, dude.” I answered. “Chill out.”
Gizzarelli walked in, congratulated Tom on his release and took in a beer and a shot to try to catch up. Tom did a shot as well to try and calm his nerves but did not seem to be all that successful. He was still shaking like an over-bred Yorkshire Terrier forced to share kennel space with a Great Dane afflicted with an overactive libido. It was obvious he had what Hunter Thompson once aptly described as “The Fear”, the overwhelming and paralyzing paranoia that afflicted some users of illicit drugs. I was susceptible to it as well, which is the main reason I usually preferred to stick to alcohol.
About a twenty minutes later, Tom seemed to have gotten a hold on himself and settled down considerably. That was about the time my new girlfriend showed up, without bothering to knock. Once again Tom shot out of his seat, but this time he startled The Giz, who scooped up an armful of evidence and took off after the guest of honor. Figuring that Tom and the Giz had seen something they didn’t, Mad Dog and Lucky followed suit. By the time Carla was inside, I was the only one standing in the kitchen. I helped her carry in her milk crate full of records (the vinyl kind, this was 1985) and introduced her to the friends of mine she had not yet met, which was mainly Tom and Lucky. Lucky caused me a little bit of concern as from the moment he saw Carla, he seemed unable to take his eyes off of her. I didn’t feel threatened by this as she was not into midgets, but I guessed that if he did not give up the staring bit, things would eventually get rather uncomfortable.
As everyone was getting acquainted the telephone rang, which actually set off a little bit of The Fear in me. My parents were on vacation and would certainly soon be checking in. I frantically gathered everyone into the kitchen and told them to be absolutely quiet. I informed them that if it was my mother on the phone and she heard ANYTHING in the background, the party was over right there. They all piped down into total silence as I picked up the phone. “Hello?”
“Hello. JEP?” It was not my mother. It was Lucky’s.
Mustering all the wholesomeness that I could into my phone voice, I pulled the telephone handset closer to my mouth and said, “Hi, Mrs. Lucky! How are you doing?” As I said this, Lucky frantically jumped up and, in a frantic flurry of hand motions and improvised sign language, made it clear to me that he did not want to talk to her and did not want her to know that he was there.
“Hi, JEP. Is Lucky there by any chance? He took off without telling me where he was going.”
“No, I haven’t seen him.” I thought that I needed to soothe her fears a little though and try to keep her from panicking and putting out a missing person’s report, which she was very capable of. “I thought I heard him say something about going to some sort of party tonight though. If he went there, I wouldn’t expect him back until late.”
“Party? What party? Where?”
“I think he said somewhere in Southgate. I’m not exactly sure.”
“Why aren’t you going to it?” she asked suspiciously. It was a good question, one that I had not anticipated.
“Oooooohhhhh, I have to work early tomorrow morning. I really want to get to bed at a decent time tonight.”
“OK. Well if you happen to see him, tell him that he is to come straight home. STRAIGHT home.”
“I’ll tell him. I wouldn’t worry if I were you, Mrs. Lucky. Lucky’s a good guy and I am sure that he will make responsible choices.” As I said this, I glanced over at the kitchen table and witnessed Lucky and Tom trying to fashion a bong out of a cardboard toilet paper tube and a piece of tin foil, having run out of rolling papers.
“Quit trying to bullshit me, JEP. He’s a screw up. Tell him to come STRAIGHT home.”
“OK. Bye.” I hung up the phone and turned to Lucky. “Your mother said to tell you to come straight home. She also said you’re a screw-up.”
Tom looked up at me in disbelief then faced Lucky. “She said you’re a screw-up? Dude! That just ain’t right.” Tom then turned to address the rest of us. “Did anyone see how quick Lucky put this bong together? This dude’s got his shit together!”
After that, I walked into the living room with Carla to help her get the music going and the party finally started migrating out of the kitchen. We ordered pizza, which set off another of Tom’s panic attacks when it arrived, and embarked upon a gluttonous feast to the tune of Siouxie and the Banshees. We then got into a session of quarter bounce as people began arriving in force. Tom eventually stopped freaking out every time someone opened the door but it was obvious that he was still very on edge.
At some point, I was sitting on the couch with Carla when Lucky came out and took a seat across from us. He was pretty drunk by this point and his ogling, which had not been very subtle since it started, became increasingly obvious. I was just getting ready to say something to him when he finally spoke up and asked Carla, “You went to Sunday school at Cabrini, didn’t you?”
Carla eyed him suspiciously and tentatively answered, “Yeeeaaaaah……”
Lucky jumped up and exclaimed, “I knew you looked familiar! I’m Davey!”
A look of sudden recognition suddenly flashed across Carla’s eyes as she said “Oh My God! How are you? That was so long ago!” The two of them then proceeded to start catching up on what they had been doing over the past ten years. Relieved that Lucky was not going to make a fool of himself, I excused myself to let them keep talking and went to the kitchen to grab another beer. Tom was in there with Mad Dog, making a serious dent in the stash of marijuana he had brought.
Just as I opened my beer, there was another knock at my back door. Once again, Tom froze but managed to keep from panicking this time. I looked outside to see who it was and spotted a middle-aged bald guy in a leather jacket standing outside beneath the back light. It was Carla’s father.
Carla’s father was a pretty cool guy. Carla had a very open relationship with him and told him everything so he knew all about the party I was throwing and that we would be drinking. I got along with him very well and he trusted me, not so much because of my high moral values but because, as a highly decorated paratrooper in Vietnam, he knew I was terrified of crossing him. I was not in the least bit concerned about him finding alcohol in the house but I had no idea how he would handle seeing the stuff that Tom was smoking. I paused while I contemplated how to handle the situation.
Seeing my hesitation, Tom’s paranoia began setting in again and he asked in a cracking voice, “Who is it, JEP?”
I looked back at him with a feigned expression of fear and whispered, “It’s the cops.” I didn’t know what the hell I was thinking.
Tom dropped everything and booked for the front door before I had the chance to tell him I was kidding. He burst through out onto the front porch, which was fenced in by metal railing that was bolted into the cement. Instead of going around or over the railing Tom went right through it, ripping it out and taking it smashing into the front lawn with him. He then took off at a full sprint down the street. This started a minor panic among the rest of the revelers which I managed to calm by telling them there were no cops there. I then immediately touched it off again by saying that it was only Carla’s father, who hearing the commotion inside, had let himself in by this time. He was the one who soothed their fears the second time around, assuring everyone that he was there to make sure nothing was getting out of hand and telling everyone that he was free to give anyone a ride home if they ended up too drunk to drive.
Once he left, I walked back towards the front yard on my way to survey the damage that Tom had caused. As I passed through the living room, I caught a glimpse of Carla and Lucky. Apparently, they did not get along at all when they were in Sunday school together and their reunion had re-opened some old wounds. They were in a corner reciting the various offences each one had committed against the other and their exchange grew more and more heated with each sentence. It had reached a point that demanded intervention before things turned violent and Lucky got hurt. Unfortunately, I had a broken railing to attend to so someone else was going to have to protect him.
When I got outside, Mad Dog was already inspecting the damage and shaking his head in dismay. “I think you’re screwed, JEP. He ripped the anchors right out of the cement. The railing’s toast.”
“There’s no way to fix it? Can’t we just pound the things back in?”
“We can try.” Mad Dog offered, “But I don’t think it’s going to work.”
He was right. We put the railing back into position and the bolt anchors slid effortlessly into the holes in the cement. Too effortlessly. It was autumn and the air had turned colder and much windier. The first stiff breeze blew by shortly after we had positioned the rail and knocked it right back down. Mad Dog put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t sweat it. We’ll come up with something to tell your parents later. Let’s get back to drinking.”
We walked through the front door just in time to witness Carla and Lucky’s argument reach its pinnacle. Both of their faces were bright crimson with anger and just inches apart as they hit each other with traded insults. “You’re an asshole, Lucky!”
“You’re a #%@!#& bitch!”
“CU..oomph!” Lucky should have known better. Muttering the “C” word to a woman will only bring instant and paralyzing physical retribution. Before he could even finish that single syllable, Carla had sent her right foot sailing through the air towards Lucky’s groin. She missed the crown jewels but still managed to plant it right into the pit of his stomach. Lucky doubled over as all the air he contained was forced out of his mouth. He then turned green as the contents of his stomach threatened to follow suit. He clamped a hand over his mouth and with terror in his eyes, searched desperately for somewhere to get sick into. After spotting the milk crate containing Carla’s records, he shot her a final look of defiance and made a break for them. Before she realized what he was up to, he had fallen to his knees by the stereo and added an inordinate amount of semi-digested pizza, cheese-flavored corn chips, El Toro tequila and cheap beer to her contingent of Depeche Mode. Unable to help it, I felt myself beginning to laugh until I saw he was also threatening to unintentionally do the same thing to my speakers. I rushed over to haul him into the bathroom.
As Carla came completely unglued in the living room, Lucky had my toilet in a death grip. His body would periodically convulse into a violent contortion every time he heaved, wreaking havoc upon his aim. One spasm would cause him to soil the bathtub, the other would cause him to spew all over the sink cabinet. Precious little seemed to be making it into the intended receptacle. I eventually found myself holding his head down into the toilet. This was the position I had him in when Carla broke through to us and snuck up from behind for a sneak attack. This time, her foot found the intended target. The kick was delivered so hard it lifted Lucky right off of his knees. I was not about to reach in to check, but I would not have been surprised if a stray testicle found its way into the mess forced out of Lucky’s mouth and nostrils after that last blow.
Left with no choice, I had to let go of Lucky and get Carla out of the bathroom before he suffered any further injuries. I grabbed her in a bear hug and carried her into the kitchen while the Giz took my place. As soon as I set Carla down, the phone started ringing again. I took a deep breath and yelled, “QUIEEEEEETTTT!” The house immediately fell silent once again. If nothing else, we were a very disciplined lot. The only person making noise was Lucky and he was far enough away to avoid being any real danger. I picked up the phone to find Lucky’s mother once again on the other end.
“Hi JEP, it’s me again.”
“Of course.” I did not say that out loud.
“I’m starting to get worried. I can’t find David anywhere. Are you sure you haven’t seen him?”
A plethora of smart-assed responses flooded my head but in the end I just said, “I’m pretty sure. I would have remembered something like that.”
“Well, if you see him, make sure you tell him to come home.”
“I’ll tell him to come STRAIGHT home.”
I went back into the bathroom and found Lucky stripped down to his underwear and passed out cold. The Giz handed me a pile of soiled clothes. “I think you need to get these in the washer before this junk gets all over the place.”
“Good idea.” I said taking the pile. “We need to do something with him also. I don’t need him puking all over the house.”
I nodded. “Bathtub.” I set the clothes in the sink and helped The Giz pick Lucky up and roll him into the tub. He never moved a muscle. After we set him down, The Giz asked who was on the phone. “Lucky’s mom.” I then reached down and peeled one of Lucky’s eyelids back. “LUCKY! YOUR MOM WANTS YOU TO GO HOME RIGHT NOW! STRAIGHT HOME YOU BASTARD!” He never moved.
I gave up and went back to the party after throwing Lucky’s clothes in the washing machine. Within a half hour, things were going full tilt. The house was full, the music was loud and mind bending substances flowed freely. The festivities started taking a toll on my house though. At first I tried to keep things under control but eventually just gave up and joined in, resigning myself to the fact that I was probably going to get busted anyway so I might as well enjoy myself.
At some point, the smoke in the air became suffocating and a couple of people decided to move outdoors into the brisk autumn air. I thought this might attract some unwanted attention but overall, could save some wear on my house so at first I let them go. After an hour or so though I had to break up a fight in the back and saw that the entire yard was littered with beer cans and all sorts of other debris so I was forced to coral everyone back inside. It was like herding cats but I finally succeeded in the end.
Eventually, I had to use the bathroom. At that time, my house only had one toilet so I found myself waiting in line for a very uncomfortable period of time. When it was finally my turn, I rushed in and did what I had to do. I was mid-stream when I realized something was amiss. I looked over into the bathtub and noticed that Lucky was missing. After finishing up, I started asking around. Neither The Giz, Mad Dog or Carla had seen him and I wondered whether or not he had left. While we were talking, Mad Dog spotted something on the floor in the living room and picked it up. It was a black Member’s Only jacket, Lucky’s trademark attire. “He wouldn’t have went anywhere without this.”
I shrugged my shoulders. “He may have. I’ve seen him without it before.”
The Giz then said, “So have I but I doubt that he would have tried to go home in his underwear. Are his clothes still in the wash?” I went down and checked and found that they were. I threw them in the dryer then went back upstairs to make an announcement.
After quieting everyone down, I shouted, “Listen up! Has anyone seen Lucky anywhere?” Most people shook their heads to indicate they had not but a few people that I did not recognize just gave me a blank stare. “He’s a little guy with brown hair. He was last seen in his underwear, lying in the bathtub covered in his own vomit.” An expression of recognition flashed across the faces of those who did not personally know Lucky before they gestured that they had no idea where he went. We then embarked upon a room-to-room search finally finding him underneath my little brother’s bed, once again passed out cold.
We pulled him out and set him up on the floor with an easily cleanable rug as a blanket and an oversized stuffed panda my brother had won at a carnival as a pillow. Mad Dog then asked if they could have some fun with him. After I gave my blessing, they grabbed a camera and started arranging Lucky into obscene positions to simulate sex acts with various members of my brother’s collection of stuffed animals. I helped for a little while, but soon I had to leave after hearing someone burst through the back door.
I arrived in the kitchen and found that Tom had returned, having tangled himself in someone’s clothesline along the way. He looked to be in bad shape. “I’m not going back to rehab, man.” He panted, being completely out of breath. “I’m not going to let the cops take me down!”
“What’s up with the clothesline?”
“If the pigs get me cornered, I’m going to stab them with this!” He held up a piece of line to show off his arsenal.
“No, you’re not.” I countered, wondering what the pot he had been smoking had been laced with.
“I am too, dude! I’m not going back to rehab!”
“Tom, do you have any idea how hard it is to stab someone with a piece of string?”
Tom looked back at his weaponry and then back at me. “You’re right, man. I guess I’ll strangle them then.”
Mad Dog then walked into the kitchen to see what the ruckus was about, just in time to relieve me to take another call from Lucky’s mother who informed me that she had been driving around the city looking for him and was ready to call the police. As I hung up the phone with her, I had to go answer a knock at the front door. I looked through the peep hole to see who it was and was mortified to see that this time, it really was the cops. I mouthed to Mad Dog that the police really were here and, taking the cue, he shuffled Tom down into the basement and out of sight. As soon as I cracked open the door the officer, who I was actually on pretty good terms with, pushed his way inside. I was just about to protest his lack of a warrant when he cut me off. “Relax JEP. I’m not going to bust your asses or anything but we got our first noise complaint on you guys. The party’s over.” I tried to tell him that everyone had been on their best behavior but he begged to differ. “Bullshit. I’ve been driving by here all night and it’s been noisy as hell. I was just waiting for the call. Start clearing out. Now.”
The officer then took me into the other room as people started collecting their things. “I mean it, JEP. I want everyone out here, do you understand?”
I nodded. “I’ve got a couple people that I don’t think should be driving home though. Is it OK if they spend the night?”
He nodded. “Sure, but if I get one more noise complaint about this place, I’m running you guys in. Got it? I’m too busy for this shit.”
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“There’s a prowler in the neighborhood we’re trying to track down.”
“A burglar or something?”
The officer shrugged. “I don’t know. Nobody’s reported anything stolen but he’s been snooping around people’s backyards all night. The only thing to come up missing though is someone’s clothesline. He may just be a Peeping Tom. Seen anything?”
I shook my head hoping that Tom stayed quiet and out of sight. “No, but I’ll keep my eyes open.”
“Thanks. Concentrate on getting these people out of here right now though. I mean it, if people are still here when I come back, you’re in trouble.”
I escorted the officer back to the front door and started clearing people out of the house. It took some doing, but we even managed to convince Tom to risk going home. He took his clothesline with him.
When it was all over, I collapsed onto the couch with Mad Dog and The Giz, finally able to enjoy a beer in quiet. Lucky was still passed out in my brother’s bedroom. I looked around and surveyed the damage. There were beer cans all over the place, overflowing ashtrays and a cloud of smoke so thick in the place our eyes were burning. I had the urge to start cleaning up but decided that I would get to it in the morning. It was already 2am. The three of us started to recount the night’s events but eventually dozed off.
Sometime after three, we were woken up by another knock on the door. I stumbled to the door to answer it, thinking it was the police again making sure everyone was gone. I was horrified to see Lucky’s mother standing on the front porch close to tears. “JEP, I’ve been driving around all night looking for David. Could you please help?”
“Mrs. Lucky, I would if I thought he was in trouble but I’m positive he’s fine. I really have to get some sleep otherwise I’m going to have one rough day tomorrow.” That was the last straw. By hook or by crook, I knew right there we had to get that kid home, even if we had to carry him there after his mother left. “Look, if you don’t hear from him by morning, I will leave work and help you find him. I’m sure he’s just out pulling another all-nighter. It’s not like he’s never done this kind of thing before.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry to keep bugging you but I’m just really worried.”
“It’s OK. Just go back and get some sleep.”
I went to shut the door but she turned around to say something else. She then saw past me to my couch where Lucky’s jacket was draped over the back. Her demeanor did an immediate out-of-phase shift. “You #&$^!@ son-of-bitch!” she snarled as she opened up the screen door and kicked open the main, which hit me in the nose. She then pushed past me and went for the coat. “He’s here!”
Now, I had heard about mother’s intuition but I never realized how accurate it could be. To my knowledge, Lucky’s mother had never set foot inside of my house. She had dropped her son off a couple of times but never went farther then the driveway. Still, she walked right down the hall and went right to the room were her son was passed out and threw open the door. Lucky was still in his underwear, and still in the last position Mad Dog had put him in for the panda pornography pictures. It looked as if he was sodomizing the critter from behind. His mother rushed over and, for the second time during the course of the night, Lucky took a direct kick right to the stomach.
Lucky jumped up spoiling for a fight but as soon as he saw that he was facing his mother, his courage bled out. He stared at her in disbelief for a moment, then I watched as his abdomen convulsed, filling his cheeks with whatever was left in his gut. He looked disgusted, but still managed to swallow the bilious fluid that was in his mouth. His mother then commenced her verbal bludgeoning, punctuating each sentence with a vicious slap to the back of his head. In between gags and dry-heaves, Lucky asked me where his clothes were. I directed him to the basement.
As Lucky got dressed, his mother turned her fury on me. She told me never to speak to her son again and forbade me from ever setting foot on their property. The same went for Mad Dog and The Giz. She promised that she would be telling my mother everything as soon as they returned and informed me that she would probably be calling the police to report the under-aged drinking, threats that, thank God, she never followed through on. When her son emerged from the basement, she grabbed him by the hair and pulled him to the front door where, with a swift kick to the rear, she launched him out into the front yard. Still screaming insults at me, she threw him into the back seat of the car.
As she got into the vehicle, the dome light went on. I caught a glimpse of Lucky, finally losing control of his digestive system, getting sick in the back seat. The two of them then sped off. I lifted the porch railing back into place and then went inside to go to bed.
The following morning we all woke up in very bad shape. Still, we focused our efforts towards getting the house put back together. We wiped down the walls, cleaned the carpets, dusted every flat surface we could find, pulled beer cans out of the gutters and ended up doing an incredible job. In fact, it was a little too good. We spent the final half hour kind of messing it back up a bit so that we did not arouse any suspicions. The only thing we could not put back was the porch railing. No matter what we did, it kept falling back over. I spent the next 36 hours constantly putting the thing back up. In fact, on the day my parents were due back home, I was just putting the rail back into position when I spotted their car coming down the street. I rushed back inside and prayed that this time it stayed upright.
I watched as my family pulled into the drive and noticed that the wind had died down a little, which definitely worked to my favor. I then saw my step-father get out of the car and lift a large suitcase out of the trunk. He dragged it to the porch and then grabbed the rail to help pull himself up. I then watched the rail lift right up and fall over onto the grass. Seeing my opportunity, I burst out the front door and surveyed the scene. I then looked at my stepfather and, feigning false shock and surprise, cried out “Holy Shit, Chuck! What the hell did you do?”
Shocked himself, he looked around in disbelief and anger and replied, “I have no idea! I just grabbed the damn rail and the piece of shit fell over!”
Fortunately, Chuck is a tried and true technophobe with an entrenched fear of the internet. He does not own a computer, nor does he read The JEP Report. It’s a good thing too. Twenty years after the fact, he still thinks that he is the one that broke the railing.