Things seem to be spiralling out of control. I took an impromptu leave of absence. In this line of work I’m off whenever I want. Notification isn’t required. I just don’t go out there. Don’t log on. Don’t make deliveries. But again, no pay. It’s not great for your standing with the folks at Central either. They work 7 days a week sometimes. As long as you build some sort of reputation as a grinder, it shouldn’t be an issue. Someone who is moving the cardboard. Day in, day out. This is only the second time I’ve taken such a leave. And I’m starting to wonder how long I can extend it.
A few nights earlier I visited my nearest liquor store. Where I’m not entirely welcome. I don’t exactly remember why. There have been numerous incidents. I’ve managed not to be completely banned though. The deal is I have to hold up a payment source upon entrance so as not to get loudly escorted back out. On that night it was a credit card. Albeit one that’s nearly maxed. The next transaction will surely put it over the limit. I step up to the counter and request a deal on a case of vodka. Something good from the stockroom. As if they owe me for my business. They’re cordial enough. They know I’ll help rid them of something they haven’t been able to sell.
Almost ten minutes later a cloud of expected dust plumes up into the fluorescent lighting when they set the box on the high counter in front of me. I don’t even open the box for inspection. I ask no questions, and offer the card before the bottles stop clanking together. They eye me and then the card briefly before swiping. Unable to resist moving the merchandise. I’m a bit nervous waiting for this transaction to process. What’s the backup plan? Years ago I would’ve used a personal check in such an attempt. These days that would raise red flags. No one uses checks anymore. Making it very suspicious. The phone rings. They don’t answer it. This place probably still uses dial-up. The transaction is unlikely to be declined. But it may take until closing time.
A few days later and the case of vodka is less than half empty. It sits next to my mattress serving as food and drink. I don’t care for the taste of every other bottle. This only makes me power through to the next. I don’t get out of bed. Except to use the bathroom. Part of me knew it was going here. The eternally thirsty part.
Carrying on this way starts to take its toll. At times I will only wake to drink another bottle. Then return to complete horizontality again. When not sleeping I try to chat on the same dating app as before. The conversations bland as well as brief. I would also compose a few texts to Myra. Never hitting send. The pride that attached itself to that good decision would motivate me to pull out of this tailspin, eventually.
At first the hangovers were mostly nonexistent. I didn’t leave much time for that kind of withdrawal. By remaining constantly saturated. No drying out. As the hours and days rolled on I began to get sick whenever I awoke. A waste basket became a bucket. This would be placed on the opposite side of my mattress to avoid confusion. Fill with the bottles on the right. Empty into the bucket on the left. This most vicious of cycles continued until I was no longer pleased with the routine. Something must be done.
I planned to score from Peter, another courier. He uses speed to improve his job performance and well, speed. That type of motivation requires a counterpart. To bring things down once there are no more deliveries in a day. He often possesses both. Late at night I walk to meet him just after finishing my last bottle. I grab an order of french fries on the way. It will be the first meal I’ve had all week. Nothing settles the stomach like good old white potatoes. Yeah, it’s fried food. But I’ve got bigger problems.
I’ve obviously done this before. The only way to break the cycle is to sleep for a really long time. The risk is always substantial. I must be certain there’s not too much alcohol in my system when I enact this plan. That would be an irreversible and pathetic mistake. From past experiences I keep a box of adult diapers on hand. It works best with one on each the inside and outside of my underwear. An unconscious detox I call it.
I make my way under some train tracks, then up a little path through the grass. It’s very dark and creepy there. I always wonder what could possibly be waiting for me up and around that trail. Usually it’s just Peter. Pacing out of necessity by the tracks. I like Peter. He doesn’t judge.
Unfortunately, Peter is nowhere to be found. It’s desolate, dark. I check my phone. The tracks rumble from an approaching train. Still a distance away. Now I’m the one pacing. I finish the last of the fries. The meal indicates to my stomach it’s time for pills. Which also serves as a reminder I’m out of booze. I debate just getting more, somehow.
Back down the path. Under those same tracks I puke up half of the fries. The train thunders by just above me. I stand there slightly bent for quite awhile afterwards. Trying to hold the rest back. My eyes closed tightly and listening to the steel gradually stop rattling. Struggling hard to regain my bearings. Then the thought that I will end up here one day. With nowhere else to go. No other options. That scares my feet enough to race each other. Not an any great speed. Just trying to stay in front of one another. Soon enough I’m back in bed. Sick and tired. But not really sure how to stop the extreme withdrawal that comes next.